28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 1 1.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 24 citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully showeth:
1 ) That Australian citizens place great value on their freedom to choose their own doctor in all aspects of medical care.
That we believe in a doctor’s freedom to provide a personal service based on personal responsibility within a system based on quality rather than quantity, as opposed to an impersonal service in which doctor and patient lose their identity.
3 ) That proposals to change the existing health scheme are unacceptable to the people of Australia.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
Petitions in identical terms from 256 citizens and 128 citizens of the Commonwealth were presented by Senators Jessop and Young respectively.
– My question, which is directed to the Acting Minister for Transport, refers to a question I asked him last week in his capacity as the Minister in this chamber representing the Minister for Transport. He will recall that I asked him at that time whether the Government had received an application from Qantas Airways Ltd for a 6 per cent increase in air fares and, if it had, whether it had made a decision on that application. At that time the Minister undertook to take it up with the Minister for Transport to obtain an answer. I now ask Senator Cavanagh, as he is now the Acting Minister for Transport: Can he give me an answer to that question?
-The Leader of the Opposition has put me in a somewhat embarrassing position. I realise that I did undertake to take this matter up with the Minister for Transport. I have done so, but I have not received a reply. I cannot very well use that as an excuse now that I am Acting Minister for
Transport. I have to admit that I do not have the reply. However, I will take the matter up immediately.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I refer to the alarming reports which are coming out of Vietnam as to the renewal of conflict in that country. Is it not a fact that the attacks of the character which have been made for the South Vietnamese Government, the South Vietnamese fuel supplies and so on are activities contrary to the cease fire agreement which was made earlier this year? Will the Government protest to North Vietnam and, if it will not protest to North Vietnam, what condition has to exist in that country before the Government will give expression to its much vaunted belief that peace should prevail in that area?
– I ask that the question be placed on notice.
– I ask the
Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs the following question: In view of North Vietnam’s latest attack on the South which is described as the biggest assault since the ceasefire, is it obvious that the Vietnam war is far from over and that the renewed hostilities increase the dangers of the development of a wider conflict in South East Asia? Was the lessening of military activity in Vietnam one of the reasons advanced by the Government when it decided to reduce Australia’s defence capacity? In view of this and the situation in the Middle East, is not the Government’s decision to reduce the size of the armed services premature?
-I ask that the question be placed on notice.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I point out that the British Government and the New Zealand Labor Government last year gave a Christmas bonus to all pensioners. The present Prime Minister did not give such a bonus last year on the ground that the Government was newly elected and time was too short. I therefore ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister: Will the Government give this year a Christmas bonus to all pensioners?
-I am informed by Senator Douglas McClelland, who represents the
Minister for Social Security in this place, that we backdated pension increases to the date of the election. In fact the Government has always behaved most. generously in regard to pensioners and, if it can do better, it will.
– By way of preface to my question, which I address to the Minister for the Media, I would like to point out that because of construction work involved in the colour television conversion program of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in Hobart, the available space has been reduced considerably and accommodation difficulties are being experienced by the staff. In view of the intention to appoint additional staff this financial year as the Commission develops its programming arrangements, will the Minister ask the Commission to look at this accommodation matter as one of urgency in order to ensure that reasonable working conditions are available to the staff of the ABC in Hobart?
– It is a fact that a colour conversion program is under way in Hobart and that this has caused a reduction in accommodation from that which is normally available to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. This financial year, as a result of the Labor Government’s making available an additional $ 10m to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Commission intends to increase considerably, amongst other things its educational programming arrangements. The Commission already has drawn this matter to my attention. Recently the ABC sought and obtained my approval to lease space in a building now being erected in Macquarie Street, Hobart, which is reasonably close to its existing premises. I understand that the building is expected to become available to the Commission by some time in March 1974. Its availability will ameliorate some of the accommodation difficulties about which complaints are now reasonably being made.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Supply. I ask: Can the Minister state how many days or weeks the current rocket firing program will continue at Woomera in South Australia? Is the Minister aware of the high fire risk to large areas of the country over which rockets are fired due to the well above average growth induced by the favourable season in this area? What steps are being taken to reduce or avoid the fire risk? Will the Minister or his Department have discussions with the respective property owners concerned regarding the current rocket firing program and the associated fire risk?
– I understand that the firing programs from Woomera have been operating for 25 years and that during that time there has been a continuing liaison between the Department and the property owners in the area. It is customary for the firings to cease in the middle of December and not be resumed until 2 1 January of each year. The types of rockets which are prone to create fires are not used on fire ban days. When they are used it is customary for additional precautions to be taken. I understand that these are mainly the redirecting of the rockets into areas in which there is less possibility of a fire being caused. Additional fire fighting equipment and helicopters are also kept on standby. On the information available to me all reasonable precautions have been taken. As to the specific point that Senator Young raised concerning liaison with the property owners, it is my understanding that there has been such liaison over the years. I feel confident from my knowledge of the subject that this will continue.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Housing and Construction. I preface it by saying that the Minister is no doubt aware of the way in which the recently imposed increase in interest rates on all bank loans is creating a strain on many people who entered into an agreement with their banks or building societies to buy a home prior to their imposition and that the new rates make it quite impossible for many young couples who are trying to obtain their first home to get a loan.
– Order! The honourable senator should ask the question.
– I ask: Has the Government investigated whether it would be possible to make known to people borrowing money for houses just what the maximum interest rate is that they will be forced to pay so that they will know where they stand when they sign an agreement? Secondly, can the Minister give any indication as to how long the present squeeze will go on so that young people can make plans for their future?
– I do not think it would be possible at any time under our monetary system to give a guarantee to anyone entering into an agreement as to what the interest rate may be during the period of the agreement. It could be adverse to borrowers on occasions if the interest rate throughout the period of a loan were to be stipulated. The Government is at present giving active consideration to the provision of some assistance to those who are experiencing difficulty in financing the purchase of a home, especially the low income earners. The Government hopes to make some announcement on this matter in the very near future. It must be remembered that applications for home loans are today in excess of the capability of the industry to supply those homes.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as Minister for Customs and Excise and, in another respect, in his capacity as Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the great increase that there will be in boating activities around the Australian coast with the approach of the holiday season, can he indicate what stage has been reached towards the establishment of an Australian coastguard, which I believe is eagerly awaited by responsible boating organisations and others in the community? Can he say what form and areas of responsibility such a body would cover and how its activities will be made to fit in with the activities of organisations concerned with water safety which desired to assist in every way possible?
-No, I am not able to answer the honourable senator’s question. I wish that I were able to do so. There is a need for a coastguard service. There has been a good deal of co-operation in recent times between the Navy, the Air Force and the Department of Customs and Excise in an endeavour to have the proper surveillance that should exist in these areas. I regret that the establishment of a full coastguard service has not yet occurred. I assure the honourable senator that it is my wish- and I will endeavour to carry it out- that such a coastguard service should be established as soon as possible, because it is obvious, as the honourable senator has indicated, that there should be such a service.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Is the Minister aware of a report in today’s ‘Australian’ about a 15-year old Aboriginal boy in Western Australia who appeared unrepresented in the Supreme Court and the District Court yesterday? Without prejudicing the issue, will the Minister give the Senate a report from his Department on the circumstances of this case and what action, if any, the Minister can take to prevent any recurrence which, on the face of it, would seem to go against our system of justice?
-I have not seen the report and I know nothing about the case. I am surprised that he was unrepresented. Government policy, as announced in the policy speech, is that no Aborigine need appear in court without counsel. It is difficult to get this across to the Aboriginal people. We have established legal aid services in all capital cities, extending out to country areas where Aborigines are assembled, for the purpose of trying to convey this advice to Aborigines. If the case has not been finalised I shall make some provision to see that legal aid is made available.
– I think that under Queensland law the Protector of Aborigines and the Inspector of Police usually have to be present at the hearing.
-I know that in Queensland there are laws governing Aboriginal court cases. There is no need for any Aboriginal who has been charged to appear in court without counsel. Some Aborigines do so because they are unacquainted with the service that we provide and we find difficulty in informing them of the service. I think that anyone who knows Aborigines can convey it to them. Through a publicity campaign conducted by field officers employed by the Aboriginal legal service we are having it more widely accepted, and I believe that in the near future Senator Murphy’s department will extend the legal aid which may be provided for Aborigines.
-Mr President, may I comment?
-If I may supplement Senator Cavanagh ‘s answer, the point raised is of very great importance. I think that probably one answer may be to issue some advice to the courts so that a court itself would take action and advise the person concerned. I am surprised that that would not be done on the initiative of whoever was the presiding officer. I will see that that message is conveyed and that at least the courts are requested to do that.
-My question which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the
Senate, follows his comment in answer to a question relating to Labor’s interest in pensioners which he acknowledged is quite great at this time. I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate- I have asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security without getting any answer at all- whether he is concerned that under Labor the base pension at this time is less as a percentage of average weekly earnings than it was prior to Labor coming to office. I will give the Minister a chance to get some information before he answers the question.
– Order! Please ask the question.
– I ask the Minister: Is he alert to that situation? What does Labor intend to do?
– Labor intends to carry out what it said it would do; that is, to adjust the pension. It is doing that. I think that its policy in this area has been generally approved. I acknowledge that the honourable senator is concerned for pensioners and that he wants the Labor Government to do more for them. It is a pity that when he was in a position to influence the former Government he did not exert his efforts so that pensioners might have obtained some of the benefits which they have received under the present Government.
-Mr President, I seek approval to ask a supplementary question. I think you will recognise that my question was not answered. I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he was aware that under Labor, at the present time, the base pension as a percentage of average weekly earnings is less than it was prior to Labor’s coming to office.
-The answer is no.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing and Construction. In view of the rapid escalation of housing prices, has an overall review of defence Service homes property values been carried out so as to ensure that insurance is sufficient to cover the replacement cost of the houses? Does the Minister agree that deduction allowances for depreciation in the present situation of escalating values is a sure way of ensuring that properties are undervalued rather than correctly valued? Will the Minister take steps to advise all defence Service home owners and, for that matter, all home owners that their properties may now be undervalued for insurance purposes? Will he ensure that his Department keeps this matter under continuous review?
– A number of complex issues in relation to this matter are currently being examined by the Department of Housing and Construction. Therefore, until those issues are considered I cannot give a complete reply. On the question of defence Service homes, the Department supplies a booklet to those home owners to keep them advised. They are asked to look at their insurance to see whether it is adequate to cover the value of their property. Often, through oversight or neglect, it is found that properties are underinsured with a resultant loss at the time of any damage. I have found that there is a tendency on the part of insurance companies, when renewing insurance, to advise of the possibility of undervaluation. Among the complexities is the tendency to insure on the value of the property against those risks which may frequently occur to a construction, but the value of the property takes in land. The insurance is taken out on the whole value. The risk to land is very slight and it should be a lesser insurance rate. All these problems are being considered. I shall take the matter up with the Minister for Housing and Construction and get him to give a written reply.
-Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Labour been drawn to a circular letter being used by the Department of Labour in South Australia for circulation to school leavers relating to employment assistance opportunities? Has he noted the last sentence of this document which states:
You are reminded that persons who are not working and are 16 years of age or over are eligible to apply for unemployment benefit. Payment of this benefit is not automatic and only commences from the date of personal application. If you wish to claim you should call at this office as soon as possible.
Does the Minister agree that this invitation is counter-productive with respect to filling job vacancies particularly at harvest time, which is imminent, and an encouragement to irresponsible people to bludge on the taxpayers of Australia?
– I have not seen the circular to which Senator Jessop referred but from listening to his explanation of the document it would seem to me that what the Department is putting into the statement is simply advice for the information of school leavers. After all, as we know, although there are job opportunities the fact is that in some cases school leavers are not able to get those jobs when it suits them. Although it might suit the organisation concerned or the employer, there may be some time between application by the boy or girl for the job and occupying the job. Consequently, it seems to me to be pretty good advice to young people who may have families which are somewhat dependent. I know, as Senator Jessop knows because he has inspected the premises, that the Minister for Labour and the Labor Government generally have done a lot of new things to advise people about job opportunities. I refer particularly to what has just been established in the centre of Adelaide, a new agency to which young people can go and get advice, both orally and visually, about all sorts of occupations.
– That is a good thing.
-That is a good thing, as the honourable senator says. From the way that Senator Jessop put this matter in his question, it seems to me to be good sense but I will make inquiries and see that the information is given to me. If I can give Senator Jessop any more information I will do so.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. I refer him to a question I asked on 29 November regarding negotiations between the Australian Government and the New South Wales Government on the release of Sydney Harbour foreshore land occupied by the Australian Government. Has the New South Wales Premier yet conformed with protocol and written to the Prime Minister? Secondly, will the Australian Government accede to the pleas of the Middle Harbour conservation groups to preserve the Bantry Bay region as it is?
– This question was asked last week and I have discussed it with the Minister. He advises me that the Premier of New South Wales wrote to the Prime Minister last month about this question. The Premier suggested that negotiations should start now on the handing over of land occupied by the Australian Government in a number of areas around the foreshores of Sydney. The Australian Government has been concerned for some time that land should be made available as a Sydney Harbour national park and is quite prepared to undertake negotiations with the New South Wales Government. I believe that the Deputy Prime Minister reported yesterday in answer to a question in another place that a number of Ministers and their Departments were involved in this question and were making a co-ordinated approach to respond to the Premier’s letter. I am informed that Bantry Bay is an important area in any future discussions between the Australian Government and the State Government but the Australian Government would not treat the area in isolation from other areas. There are a number of areas in Sydney which could be considered for national parks, for conservation or for other uses desired by the Australian Government. We want to discuss all these questions with the New South Wales Government on an inter-government basis.
-I refer to the AttorneyGeneral to 5 questions, Nos 196,197, 199, 201 and 204, which have been standing in my name on the Senate notice paper since 10 April this year. I ask the Minister: For what reasons have the answers been delayed for 8 months? Since the questions all relate to the Croatian issue and to the raid on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, since all facts necessary for detailed answers are fully available to the Minister, and since all such information is important both for public knowledge and for the Senate Select Committee on Civil Rights of Migrant Australians, will the Minister make available full and factual answers?
– It is strange that the honourable senator should raise this matter now. Firstly, he made up his mind, without getting the facts which he apparently now wants, and voted for a proposal in the Senate. Then he voted, along with others, to set up an inquiry to find out the facts. Now he asks -
– I rise on a point of order. The Minister was asked a question. He is not replying, he is seeking to debate the matter. It is disparaging to impute motives to the honourable senator who asks a question and to avoid answering a question. These matters fall within the prohibitions which you, Mr President, earlier laid down this year.
– I wish to speak to the point of order. Senator Carrick, I understand, asked me why. I am answering why, and I am answering in my own way. May I proceed?
-After all that, there is an inquiry proceeding. I informed the Senate earlier that I would give some consideration as to whether I should answer questions which are on the notice paper, in the light of those events and in the light of the fact that an inquiry is proceeding. I have answered some, I have not answered others. I have taken into consideration that various events, and that is why those answers have not been given. I will have another look at the matters to see whether some further answer might be given to these questions at this stage.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware that the sea food export industry is experiencing continuing difficulties in obtaining sufficient shipping space? Will the Minister take the appropriate measures to ensure that a sufficient number of containers is available to accommodate sea food exports in 1974?
-I would imagine that this matter is rather one for the Minister for Transport. If there is a problem of the nature outlined by Senator Keeffe. I shall take it up with the Acting Minister for Transport and see what can be done about it.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. Is it not a fact that Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights asserts that everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own? Is it not a fact that Australia either has signed or proposes to sign, under the new Human Rights Bill, that Covenant? Is it not a fact that in November of this year, Mr Mato Goreta of Sydney, a Croatian, was refused a passport, thus being effectively imprisoned on this island of Australia? Has Mr Goreta been convicted of any offence against Australian law? If so, what is that offence? Are any police charges pending against Mr Goreta? If so, what are they and why have they not been pressed? Is it not a fact that Mr Goreta ‘s home was searched in the notorious April Fools Day dawn raids this year and that no incriminating evidence was found?
– I am not able to answer all the honourable senator’s questions but the main burden of them seems to be that the gentleman in question is being prevented from leaving Australia. My understanding is that it is not necessary to have a passport to leave Australia, and that ought to be well known. I think that some quite famous figures have travelled around the world without an Australian passport. There may well be circumstances why those responsible for the issuance of passports take the view that this man should not be issued with a passport. I am not familiar with the circumstances, but I would imagine that, in accordance with traditional practice, very careful consideration would be given to the question before a passport was refused.
– Would you check whether he has any convictions?
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Media. In September this year I asked him about the seventh stage of the development of national television stations at Roma, Miles and Emerald. At that time the Minister indicated that there was a delay due to the difficulty in obtaining television transmitters. Can the Minister inform the Senate whether he is yet in a position to indicate a scheduled completion date?
– I can advise the honourable senator, firstly, that the Postmaster-General’s Department is responsible for the installation of the necessary equipment to establish these stations. The station at Miles commenced operating on 30 November; the one at Roma is due to commence operating on 14 December; and the one at Emerald is due to commence operating, I think, a week later on 2 1 December. I wrote to the Federal members of Parliament representing the electorates in which those towns are located earlier this week in relation to these stations. I understand that provided there are no technical difficulties the Australian Broadcasting Commission will be transmitting programs on those dates to the towns involved and that the programs will be relayed from the national television service in Brisbane.
-As the Leader of the Government in the Senate has shown by his introduction of a Bill of Rights that he nas a strong belief in the rights of people I desire to ask him the following question: Is he aware that a journalist named Alan Ramsey was employed for some years as a political feature journalist for the ‘Australian’ newspaper which is a segment of the multi-national news media organisation of Rupert Murdoch, who is a friend and supporter of Mr Whitlam as distinct from being a Labor supporter and is not a supporter of the Leader or of the Caucus? Does he know that the Murdoch multi-national group wanted to transfer Alan Ramsey from the ‘Australian’ to the ‘Sunday
Telegraph’, which is another newspaper in this group, to enable it to transfer a strong supporter of Mr Whitlam from the ‘Sunday Telegraph’ to take Alan Ramsey’s place on the ‘Australian’? Is he aware that Mr Ramsey, because he was happy in his position on the ‘Australian’ and no doubt because it gave him a national readership as against what would mainly be a State readership with the ‘Sunday Telegraph’, did not want to make the change? Does he know that Mr Ramsey was sacked by the Murdoch multinational media group because he declined to transfer to the ‘Sunday Telegraph’?
Because of the belief of the Leader of the Government in the rights of the people, does he think a journalist or any employee should be sacked because that person does not desire to transfer from one position to another within the same organisation, when that person is carrying out that position successfully and is happy in that position? Does he not consider that this action by Mr Whitlam ‘s friend and supporter- Rupert Murdoch’s multi-national group- is a brutal exercise of employment authority? Does he not consider that it is a flagrant breach of the rights of an employee to be sacked because he wanted to remain in the position and work in which he was happy and successful? I am suprised that Labor senators, who are interjecting, should be afraid to stand up for an employee.
– Order! I would like to make the observation that the honourable senator may ask for leave to make a statement but I do not think he should make a statement in the form of a question.
-I shall leave aside the political overtones in the honourable senator’s question and I will not pursue the matters where Mr Whitlam was brought in. Obviously important questions are involved here in relation to the rights of an employer and the rights of an employed person. I do not know that this raises a fundamental question of human rights. I am pleased to see the honourable senator espousing the view that employees should be given more consideration then they have been in regard to the kind of work they do. I trust that the honourable senator is voicing the views of his colleagues which have found expression in other parts of the world in the movement for worker participation or worker control of various branches of industry. I would like to give the whole matter some consideration. The area of relations between employer and employee has traditionally been held to be an area in which relations ought to be resolved between the 2 groups. The honourable senator raises the question of whether there are rights which presumably ought to be regulated by government or by law to a greater extent than they are now. Insofar as that raises fundamental questions I would like to consider the matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Does the Minister agree that the serious situation which occurred in the Middle East recently and the uncertain truce which has existed since then increase the risk of a wider confrontation? Would he also agree that there is a danger of the present conflict in Vietnam spreading to other areas in South East Asia? With the threat of cutting off vital supplies held by fuel producing countries over consuming countries adding to world tensions, does the Minister agree that the Government’s official policy as outlined by the Minister for Defence that there is no threat to this country for 15 years is now much out of date? Will the Minister ask the Government to reconsider its decision to run down our defence forces?
– The honourable senator knows that the information and advice given by the Govenment’s advisers is always being brought up to date. The position, as has been stated most recently, is as far as I am aware the same now as it was previously. Senator Maunsell mixes up some economic matters with matters which are, of course, of importance strategically. Honourable senators can debate the advice given to the Govenment. If the honourable senator wishes, he can rise in the Senate and take sides on whether the expert advice from the Government’s defence advisers should be questioned. The Government accepts the advice of its advisers. No doubt, they will keep the Government apprised of any situation which requires special consideration. The honourable senator will have seen statements made by the Minister for Defence that there have been some discussions with representatives of the defence Services in respect to requirements for hardware and equipment for the next 5 years. There seems to be a more satisfactory basis to be obtained in that regard in the near future. I would think that the Government has done all it should do and all it can do to obtain effective defence Services in the light of its other obligations. As the honourable senator would know, these include providing new and improved conditions for members of the Services. Only last week the Minister for Defence announced, in addition to the $60m that has been spent previously during our 12 months of government, that another $47m would be added to the payroll for serving members of the defence forces. I can say only this: While honourable senators can debate the matters, I am quite confident that the Government is getting the most expert advice. Largely, the advisers are those who gave advice to the previous Minister and the previous Government during its term of office.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. When the Government’s Seas and Submerged Lands Bill becomes law and the Government will have the responsibility of the seas from the low water mark, what steps does it intend to take to police the coast of Australia, as the States are doing this work now?
-The Government would make all necessary arrangements for the policing of the lands and waters under its control. I imagine that under the Bill and other legislation arrangements would be made for the States. Everyone would expect that the areas which need to be supervised would be supervised, and that will be done.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. I refer to the interim report on aged persons ‘ housing from the Social Welfare Commission in which the Commission expressed concern that the practice of the founder-donor system has become an integral part of the housing for the aged program. Does the Minister acknowledge that the founder-donor system has enabled the widest possible extension of the programs for providing homes for senior citizens? Will he give an assurance of the Government’s support for this process, which provides the best possible opportunity for people and organisations to help themselves?
-Just recently I tabled in the Senate on behalf of the Minister for Social Security a report that dealt with this aspect. As I have not had an opportunity of discussing with my colleague in another place the subject matter raised by Senator Davidson, I suggest that the honourable senator place the question on the notice paper.
-I direct a question to the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence. It refers to regulation 29 of the Australian Military (Places of Detention) Regulations which provides for a No. 2 scale punishment diet. By way of explanation, I point out that a No. 2 scale punishment diet, which is provided for prisoners who are being held for various disciplinary offences, consists of the following daily meals: For breakfast, 170 grams of bread, 0.6 litres of porridge, and 15 grams of margarine or butter, with water; for supper in the evening, the same diet is provided; and for the main repast of the day, dinner, 170 grams of bread, 110 grams of meat, 225 grams of potatoes, and 55 grams of rice, and water. Does not the Minister regard this as cruel and inhuman treatment of Australian soldiers, and should the Government not do something to correct this most odious relic of barbaric times in the treatment of members of the military forces?
– Although this regulation has not been brought to my notice, I should be glad to refer Senator Wheeldon ‘s comments to the Minister for Defence. I have had occasion previously to question similar regulations. Some regulations relating to detention and punishment are not applied by local commands, in their strictest sense due to their age. I concede that that is not a good excuse for keeping the regulations. A re-organisation of the Services is presently taking place. It is proposed to bring in a new uniform disciplinary code. So these matters are under review. But I will certainly bring the particular matter raised by Senator Wheeldon before the Minister and ask that, in regard to this regulation and perhaps one other of which I am aware that deals with detention, legislation should be introduced more speedily in a piecemeal manner than will be the case when other regulations are overhauled.
-Will the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs table in the Senate the 2 reports on turtle farming in the Torres Strait, one by the American expert and the other by Senator Willesee ‘s committee?
-The report of the committee of inquiry which was established by the Special Minister of State, will, I understand, be tabled today.
-I will do it on behalf of the Special Minister of State.
– I desire to direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the serious damage caused by storm and tempest to rural industries in South Australia in recent days, as a result of which some cereal growing areas have suffered crop losses of up to 90 per cent, with the barley loss being estimated by the General Manager of the South Australian Branch of the Australian Barley Board to be between 3 million and 4 million bushels, and with estimates of losses in some cases of up to 90 per cent of fruit crops, will the Minister institute inquiries into the situation with a view to affording financial relief in cases of individual hardship?
– Of course, it is not new for primary producers to take out a cover against certain storms, and so on. It is my understanding that this method of protecting crops has not been popular amongst primary producers; it seems that most of them are prepared to accept the hazards that are normally associated with farming, in respect of the elements, anyway. I would not be averse to looking at the matter raised by the honourable senator. It would not, of course, be new for primary producers to take out cover, as I have indicated. I hope that possibly some type of scheme could be brought forward whereby assistance could be provided. The honourable senator made specific references to cases where losses have occurred. The question of whether assistance is warranted in view of the losses sustained is one, of course, for Government determination. I will be prepared to look at cases in my own general area. The Government would need to have submissions made to it from the industries affected before it could actually consider the specific cases.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Urban and Regional Development the following question: In the view of the Minister’s presentation yesterday of the report of the Commission of Inquiry into Land Tenures and the interest which this report will create, when may I expect a reply to my question No. 539 which was placed on notice on 8 November in regard to the establishment of regional organisations under section 17 of the Grants Commission Act 1973?
– I was almost going to suggest that the honourable senator put the question on notice because I do not know when a reply will be forthcoming. But I will take this matter up with the Minister today.
– My question, which I address to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, is a sincere attempt to find out something about how the Senate is expected to complete its work load for the remainder of the session. Is the Leader of the Government aware that there are 33 Bills on the Senate notice paper, that 7 Bills will be received by message today, that notice will be given of 2 others and that 2 Bills will be introduced? This will mean that a total of 44 Bills will be before the Senate which is a little less than 25 per cent of the total of 186 Bills already dealt with this year. In view of this information will the Leader of the Government inform the Senate of the total number of additional Bills which are expected to come to the Senate from the House of Representatives by message or which will be introduced in the Senate? How many of these Bills does the Government not require to be passed during this sessional period? When will the House of Representatives adjourn and when will the Senate adjourn?
– I cannot answer all of those questions because the decision as to when the House of Representatives will adjourn is a matter for it and the decision as to when the Senate will adjourn, of course, would be a matter for it. In addition to the Bills which are already before the Senate I understand that approximately 30 Bills are to come from the House of Representatives. The Senate would be expected to deal with those Bills. Everyone here would want the work to be dealt with. After all, this is only the beginning of December and we have many more days left. I would suggest that we should soon start sitting on more days of the week. We ought to be considering sitting at least on Fridays and perhaps on Mondays. Indeed, if honourable senators would like to set to work with a will there is no reason really why we should not sit each day of the week.
– You cut down the hours because you said that you were being overworked and that you were all going to hospital.
– The honourable senator is in error. I never referred to myself as a reason for the establishment of more sensible hours of sitting. Indeed, if the honourable senator likes to make inquiry of the leaders of the parties here I think that he will find that each proposal that has been put forward was put forward after a meeting of the various leaders of the parties and then concurred upon. The work needs to be dealt with. If we are to get through the work load I would suggest that some honourable senators on
Senator Marriott’s side of the chamber could refrain from speaking a little more lengthily than perhaps they need to and refrain from undue repetition. I know that most honourable senators realise the necessity for putting their cases briefly and perhaps more cogently than is done by some. There are a few exceptions. If they were to alter their approach, I think we might be able to get through the work load.
-I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that in the distribution of revaluation compensation to Tasmanian apple growers the Department of Primary Industry relied upon lists of exporters for the 1971 and 1972 seasons? Was any check made with those who exported in the year in which revaluation had its impact- 1973? In how many cases have cheques been sent to people who did not export any apples in 1973?
-The matters raised by the honourable senator were considered by my Department. I cannot inform him of the precise details. I will obtain a detailed answer for the honourable senator. I feel he will be assured by that answer that every consideration was given to all fruit growers who were affected by the revaluation.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that Amnesty International has published a report which suggests that there are 1 18,000 political prisoners in South Vietnam? Is the Minister aware that 17 Canadian members of Parliament and senators representing the 3 major parties in Canada- the Conservatives, the Liberals, and the New Democrats who are equivalent to the Australian Labor Party- have asked the Canadian Government to support a motion in the United Nations calling for humane treatment for and the ending of the torturing of and other indignities against all political prisoners in South Vietnam? Will the Australian Goverment give sympathetic consideration to this move and indicate its acceptance of the general principle that all political prisoners should be properly treated and that steps should be taken to expedite their early release to enable them to participate in the political life of their country?
-The Australian Government certainly would support the viewpoint that political prisoners ought to be properly treated. I think it might be best if I were to refer the specific questions which the honourable senator has asked to the Minister in question for a complete answer to be given. Naturally I think everyone appreciates the efforts of Amnesty International to endeavour in individual cases to alleviate the inhuman treatment of prisoners and to secure their release where it can be done. I am sure that the Government would do whatever can be done in the international field with respect to prisoners. I will get a specific answer to the honourable senator’s question.
– My question is directed to the Acting Minister for Transport. I preface it by remarking that I am sure that the issue of road safety is above party politics and that all honourable senators are concerned about the increasing death toll on Australian roads. I ask: Is the Minister aware of a statement made on the radio program ‘A.M.’ this morning by one of his colleagues in another place, the honourable member for Robertson, in which he pointed to the dangers involved in having a lot of our highways unseparated in any way? Is he aware that his colleague commented favourably on the system of autobahns whereby the main highways are separated by a divider, whether it be a grass strip or a strip of concrete or stone? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether the Department of Transport or any of the bodies associated with it have advocated what I will term ‘dividers’ on main highways, having regard to the obvious dangers of cars and trucks passing each other at high speeds when going in opposite directions with only a few inches separating them? Will the Australian Government give a lead by building dividers on the main road from Canberra to the border of the Australian Capital Territory on the Yass road and from Canberra to the border on the Federal Highway leading to Goulburn?
– I heard on ‘A.M.’ today the interview with Mr Cohen as Chairman of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Road Safety. He spoke of one of the recommendations that will be submitted and considered in due course by the Minister and the Government. As has been stated, road safety is receiving the attention of the Australian Road Safety Council with perhaps more support from this Government than from previous governments. All such questions raise the element of cost and the Government would have to consider whether the danger cited is sufficiently great to justify the cost of eliminating it. However, I can assure the honourable senator that the question will be given due consideration if for no other reason than that it will be considered with the report of the Committee led by Mr Cohen.
-I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.
-Mr President, I have now the information requested earlier by Senator Withers. May I now pass it on to the Senate?
– Yes. I just make this observation. Question time has come to an end. There is a tendency- I am not saying, senator, that you are using it as a device- to use the device of questions which are not on notice and to which the Minister wishes to reply.
-Today I was asked whether I would look into a matter. I found it embarrassing because I could not pass the buck any further. Now I have a reply. A recommendation by the International Air Transport Association to increase air fares to offset increases in fuel prices is being studied carefully by the Minister in consultation with Qantas Airways Ltd and the Department. The Minister was unable to conclude these consultations before he left for overseas last Friday but it is his intention to resume them immediately on his return. I would expect that he would be in a position to make an announcement next week. Honourable senators will appreciate that in view of the very substantial increase in the cost of aviation fuel to the airlines it would be difficult for Qantas to absorb these costs and that serious consideration must be given to the IATA recommendation on fare increases.
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That there be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations for inquiry and report the following matters:
The operation, control and conduct of the Applied Ecology unit:
The degree of ministerial or departmental control over funds expended on housing projects for Aborigines with particular reference to the Northern Territory.
-I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable senator claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, because of certain Press reports which appeared this morning arising out of answers to questions by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) in which certain terms were used, possibly without forethought. In particular, the word ‘dismissed’ was used concerning 3 directors of Applied Ecology Pty Ltd: myself, Mr Ray Thorburn and Mr Neil. I believe another director who is a departmental officer was also involved. The use of the word ‘dismissed’ led to certain newspaper reports which I believe misrepresent the situation and do me in particular some discredit but perhaps not so much the other directors. I refer to the ‘Australian’ newspaper which states in a headline:
Bustard back, Georges out, in turtle farm.
The report states:
Turtle farm pioneer, Dr Robert Bustard, has regained his job with the Federal Government’s Applied Ecology company after being dismissed last week. He will remain as a company director.
The true position is that yesterday the Minister indicated his intention to restructure the companies. In fact, I am still a director of Applied Ecology Pty Ltd and its chairman. Dr Bustard remains dismissed as an employee of Applied Ecology Pty Ltd and the associated company. He is and always has been a director of the company. It was not within the power of the directors to remove him but a resolution was passed seeking the Minister’s co-operation to remove him as a director. The Minister has indicated that he wishes him to remain a director. The situation is sadly misrepresented in this newspaper. The next newspaper states: ‘Farm critic sacked- Senator defied my order, says Minister’. The first section is not correct. I am still, as I stated, the Chairman of Applied Ecology Pty Ltd and will remain so until certain procedures under the Companies Act are undertaken. As to defying the Minister’s order, I am under some restraints here but I do not think that those words are an accurate reporting of the matter.
Another newspaper states: ‘Turtle farm board senator dismissed’. Again that is a misrepresentation of the situation. Use of the word ‘dismissed’ leads me to make another complaint. The word ‘dismissed’ indicates- I do not think the Minister meant this interpretation- that we were guilty, as directors, of misdemeanours. This is not correct and it will be necessary at a later stage to table the papers and other material on which we dismissed Dr Bustard.
– How do you spell his name?
-B-U-S-T-A-R-D. Perhaps it should be pronounced differently; I am not quite certain of this and I am not being facetious. I think I pronounced his name correctly. It will be necessary to table the papers and other material in order to show the position. Had the Minister not indicated that he was to restructure the company, had he indicated to us that he was not prepared to support our resolution to have Dr Bustard removed as a director, it is my opinion that 3 directors, myself, Mr Neil and Mr Thorburn, would not have been able to remain on the board. We believed that we would have been in conflict with the requirements laid down by the Registrar of Companies. I want to make it clear that had not Dr Bustard been removed the 3 directors would have been placed in a situation where they would have terminated their services. I go no further than that at this stage.
I think it is necessary for the Senate to determine whether the action of directors in dismissing Dr Bustard was based on firm ground. I want to make this point: Although the Minister may not have been fully aware of the situation, the Department was. The Department was aware of every report. The Department received copies of minutes. The Department received copies of every complaint included in the minutescomplaints upon which we based out decision. There are 2 departmental officers on the board of Applied Ecology. They represent the Department and also the Minister. The other 3 directors, of course, also represent the Minister because they were appointed by a Minister. When the motion for the dismissal of Dr Bustard was moved, 3 directors voted for it. The 2 departmental officers did not vote against the proposition; in fact they abstained. I do not want to come into open conflict about this matter but I think the Senate will accept that it is my right to put my case to the Senate and to indicate that what we did was fair and just in the circumstances.
-by leave- Yesterday, on the motion of Senator Byrne, the matter of the operation, control and conduct of Applied Ecology Pty Ltd and its associated companies was referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations. In the interests of full, free and open inquiry into this whole matter- the first thing which I mention is inter aha with other matters- I ask the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) to stay his hand in respect of the recasting of the Board of Applied Ecology Pty Ltd to ensure that the present directorate, including Senator Georges, Mr Thorburn and Mr Neil, remains in office until the Senate Committee has completed its inquiries.
– by leave- I somewhat deplore the attempt to make a political issue out of a project which I think we all desire to do the best it can to provide another means of livelihood for an unfortunate section of the community which has had one means of livelihood taken away from it. Yesterday I tried to give a full and truthful answer to every question asked of me. If there was anything in my answers which suggested that the use of the word dismissed’ connoted some guilt of misdemeanours, I apologise for having given that impression. I think it was possibly the proper use of the word that was intended, and I verified my intention by saying that the Board would be restructured. I have not anywhere condemned the action of Senator Georges in the dismissal of Dr Bustard. No one can point to anywhere where I have condemned the action of dismissal. I condemned the timing of the dismissal because I knew full well that the whole Board would be dismissed. I wished to stop the misinterpretations of the newspapers and to keep the matter out of the newspapers.
I attended a Board meeting the week before last and made a plea that nothing be done until the Cabinet had made its decision whether Applied Ecology Pty Ltd and the turtle farming venture could not continue in their present forms- the public ridicule was so bad that it would be politically dangerous to continue them as they were. The Government had received 2 reports. If it acted on neither, it would have to discontinue the project, and there was no need for this dispute. If the Government acted on the report of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Environment and Conservation, chaired by Dr Jenkins, the project would become a conservation project and would become the responsibility of the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass), and I would not be responsible for it. If the Government adopted the Carr report the whole Board would have to be restructured so that it consisted predominantly of scientists rather than nonscientists. As a result, I asked that nothing be done until the Government had made a decision. That was my only request.
The 2 departmental directors on the Board refused to vote because they were carrying out the wish of the Minister. That was their excuse for not voting. I have seen most of the minutes of meetings of Applied Ecology Pty Ltd. I have not seen the minutes of the last meeting at which I believe charges were made and at which the decision was made to answer those charges. There is no condemnation of the action of the directors; I am condemning only their timing. If they have proof of some mismanagement or some wrongdoing on the part of Dr Bustard, I agree that he should have been dismissed. All that I am saying is that the Board of the company has to be reconstructed in accordance with the Government’s decision. Three of the members on the Board at the present time meet the qualifications necessary for membership on the new reconstructed Board. Two of the present Board members represent only one interest, and the qualifications necessary for membership on the reconstructed Board include that members shall represent only one interest. Only two of the remaining members will be permitted on the Board for this reason.
I have been asked to reconsider the action taken in the light of the motion moved by Senator Byrne. I supported the motion calling for a full inquiry into the matter to show that I have nothing to hide. I think this is an unfortunate move because it is simply trying to smear a person connected with this company at a time so long ago that a Labor Minister was not even responsible for this matter. Such an inquiry would reveal many things which are not directed at the Labor Party because most of the things connected with the turtle farm happened before last December. But if the inquiry shows that there has been mismanagement or incorrect spending by Dr Bustard or anyone else, it does not alter the fact that we are trying to continue our policy of obtaining the best possible world expert advice. Unless we do so we can never justify the continuation of the turtle farm project and the continued employment of 120 farmers on the Torres Strait Islands at the present time.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Wheat Industry Stabilisation Bill 1973. Wheat Export Charge Bill 1 973.
– Pursuant to section 14 (2) of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1948-1973, I present the first report of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board dealing with the administration of Part III of the Act for the period 1 October 1972 to 30 June 1973, together with financial accounts.
– Pursuant to section 24 of the Metric Conversion Act 1970-1971, I present the third report of the Metric Conversion Board for the year ended 30 June 1973.
– For the information of honourable senators I present reports on an inquiry into the organisation, management and market prospects of a turtle farming project in northern Australia. They are reports by Mr L. P. Smart and Professor A. F. Carr and Professor A. R. Main on ecological implications of the turtle farming project. I ask for leave to make a statement relating to these reports.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I make this statement on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). It is a ministerial statement on reports of investigations into a turtle farming project in northern Australia. For the information of honourable senators I table 2 reports which have been prepared by consultants retained to advise the Special Minister of State on the turtle farming project which has been initiated in Torres Strait and elsewhere in northern Australia. These consultants were retained following a letter which the Prime Minister wrote to Senator Willesee on 23 August asking him to arrange for various aspects of the project to be studied.
The report on the ecological implications of the project was prepared by Professor A. F. Carr of the University of Florida in conjunction with Professor A. R. Main of the University of Western Australia. Professor Carr is an acknowledged world authority on sea turtles and a conservationist of note. Professor Main, a zoologist, is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and a member of the Council of the Australian Institute of Marine Science. These 2 experts were retained on the advice of the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Conservation and other expert sources. The report dealing with the organisation management and market prospects of the project was prepared by Mr L. P. Smart, a partner in Marquand and Co., the Melbourne firm of Chartered Accountants. Hp «–. engaged in the light of his outstanding record as a business consultant and his background of relevant experience in the meat industry.
Mariculture, including turtle farming, is a relatively unexplored field of knowledge fraught with complexities. There is only one other significant commercial enterprise in the world and that is a capital intensive operation by a company called Mariculture Ltd, which was launched about 5 years ago at Grand Cayman Island in the West Indies. It is based on an approach different from that adopted in the project m northern Australia. Against this background it is apparent that every effort should have been made at the outset to ensure that the project was launched on a sound basis. It is clear, however, from both reports that the turtle farming project has been allowed to develop without there being a proper basis of adequate research and sound administration. Because of this it has made little discernible contribution to research, to the conservation of the species involved or to the development of a sound commercial industry. For this situation the previous Government, in whose term the project was initiated, must bear prime responsibility.
In commissioning these studies Senator Willesee sought to discover whether the project, as it now stands, can be developed on a basis that is ecologically and commercially sound. In summary, Professor Carr and Professor Main consider that at present the project is not having an adverse effect on the wild turtle populations or on other resources in the area. They observed no great adverse effect on farmed turtles from existing husbandry procedures, although some stunting of growth was apparent, and a worm infestation affecting turtles on at least one island in Torres Strait has subsequently been discovered. It is their view, however, that several years’ research should have preceded the establishment of the project on a production basis and that further growth should be held back until a research program has provided answers to some of the biological and ecological uncertainties encountered. The consultants have stressed the absence of an adequate impact statement and recommend that such a statement be made a minimum requirement for any future growth. They also recommended a comprehensive program of research including the development of large enclosed areas in the sea- ‘sea crawls’- for growing turtles and the establishment of a breeding program to make the project independent of eggs taken from wild populations. A major theme in their recommendations is the need to allay the fears of conservationists about the project’s implications for the conservation of turtles throughout the world.
Mr Smart recommends that the growing of turtles for meat and shell should proceed as a commercial undertaking. The step to commercial production would involve establishing a large sea crawl in which turtles would grow from their two to three year weight of 15 lb reached on the individual farms to slaughter size of 100 lb plus at five to six years. This step need not involveand for the present should not be allowed to involve- any increase in the present base of the project, that is, the annual intake of hatchlings by present farmers. Mr Smart recommends reorganising the management of the turtle project to establish producer co-operatives and a processing-marketing company. The present company organisation would be abandoned although the company Applied Ecology Pty Ltd would be retained with a new and limited role as a purely research and advisory body to serve the turtle project, and possibly other projects envisaging utilisation of particular native species by Aboriginal and Island people.
After consideration of the various courses open to it in the light of these reports, the Government has decided to approve the contiuanon of the turtle farming industry as a pilot experimental project in which research is emphasised, as recommended by Professors Carr and Main, to determine the feasibility of developing it on the lines described by Mr Smart. In view of the many complexities which the reports have revealed, a final decision on the commitment of the capital funds required will be deferred pending the preparation of an adequate environmental impact statement, study of the constraints identified by Mr Smart in his report and pilot research into the space and feed requirements of large turtles. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) will see to it that these studies are put in hand. At the same time other research of a longer term character which has been recommended by the consultants will be commenced.
The Premiers of Queensland and Western Australia, where the project is operating, have been advised of this decision by the Prime Minister. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs will arrange for the Government’s position to be fully and promptly explained to the turtle farmers and for appropriate consultations to be held with the National Aboriginal Consultative Council.
Motion (by Senator Withers) proposed:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Senator Laucke) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
– Pursuant to section 14 ( 1) of Defence Forces Retirement Act 1948-1973, I present the twenty-fifth report of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board on the operation of the Act for the period 1 July 1972 to 30 September 1972, together with financial accounts and the report of the Auditor-General on those accounts.
– Pursuant to section 16 ( 1) of the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Act 1973, 1 present the first report of the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Authority dealing with the general administration and working of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1948-1973 for the period 1 October 1972 to 30 June 1 973.
– Pursuant to section 12 of the Immigration (Education) Act 1971, I present the annual report on migrant education for the year ended 30 June 1 973.
-Pursuant to section 17 of the Meat Research Act 1960-1968, 1 present the seventh annual report of the Australian Meat Research Committee for the year ended 30 June 1973. An interim report of the Committee was presented to the Senate on 1 8 September 1 973.
– I present the eighth report of the Publications Committee.
Report- by leave- adopted.
-As Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, I present the 148th report of the Public Accounts Committee.
Ordered that report be printed.
- Mr President, I seek leave to make a short statement.
– Is leave granted?
– How short?
– How short? Is that what you are asking, Senator Withers?
– A little over 5 foot 3 inches. Well, a silly question deserves a silly answer, and I do not mean that with disrespect to you, Mr President.
– I am merely defending the Senate, because sometimes honourable senators ask leave to make a short statement and it is not short.
– But I thought that you would know me from experience, Mr President.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Honourable senators will recall that on 28 November I tabled the 147th report which relates to expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer for the financial year 1972-73. The 148th report which I am tabling today relates to expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for that year and covers the remaining items included in the Committee’s annual examination of the expenditure results of departments.
In examining expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund each year, the Committee seeks to ascertain whether or not the principles relating to the formulation of estimates have been adopted by the department under examination. These principles, which are included in Treasury direction 16/9, have also been set out in chapter 1 of the 148th report. In recent years, the Committee has paid particular attention to the estimates and related expenditure of departments. As a poor standard of estimating has wide ramifications, the Committee has concerned itself not only with excess expenditures charged to the Advance to the Treasurer, but also with the over-provision of funds. The Committee has made clear that such overprovisions are undesirable, misleading and perhaps unfair to other departments whose financial needs might not have been satisfied.
At the same time, the Committee has emphasised that it does not regard the total expenditure of available funds under a particular appropriation item as an objective to be sought without regard to other important considerations. Indeed, undue emphasis on the need to match expenditure and available funds can give rise to unnecessary and uneconomic expenditure and can result in the distortion of administrative practices. In this regard, the Committee has, on previous occasions, criticised departments that have accelerated payments in order to prevent an appropriation from lapsing.
As this and previous reports relating to expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund show, there are explanations for expenditure variations from the estimates which are acceptable to the Committee. In this report, however, the Committee has also found it necessary to refer to cases of unsatisfactory estimating, inadequate administrative performances that have resulted in shortfalls in expenditure and inaccurate and inadequate submissions to the Committee. Attention has been drawn to these inadequacies where they have arisen. I commend the report to honourable senators.
-I present the forty-seventh report of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, being a general report of the work of the Committee during 1973.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– by leave-I move:
That the Senate take note of the report.
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to create a Court to be known as the Superior Court of Australia and to make provision with respect to the Jurisdiction of, and other matters in relation to, that Court.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to Marriage and to Divorce and Matrimonial Causes and, in relation thereto, Parental Rights and the Custody and Guardianship of Infants, and certain other Matters.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with an amendment.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That consideration of the amendment in the Committee of the whole be dealt with forthwith.
Consideration of House of Representatives Amendment:
Clause 3, page 2, paragraph (b), omit proposed sub-section (2), substitute the following sub-section:
Sub-section ( 1 ) does not exclude fish or other goods the produce of the sea specified in the Convention on International Trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora from the control of Customs where the importation into Australia of the fish or other goods, as the case may be, is prohibited, either absolutely or otherwise, by the regulations. The regulations shall specify those species of wild fauna and flora which are applicable to the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora. ‘
– I move:
That the amendment made by the House of Representatives be agreed to. This amendment, which is of a technical nature, came from the Opposition. We have not been able to find anything wrong with it Therefore we believe that it ought to go through. I think the amendment was moved to cover some situation which the Opposition thought might possibly not be covered.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Consideration resumed from 4 December (vide page 2437).
In this Part, ‘Commissioner’ includes an Associate Commissioner.
Upon which Senator Cotton had moved by way of amendment:
Leave out the clause, insert the following clause- 25 (1). There shall be a Temporary Assistance Authority, comprising not more than three persons, appointed by the Governor-General on a full-time or on a part-time basis as appropriate.
Members of the Temporary Assistance Authority shall hold office under such terms and conditions as the GovernorGeneral determines. ‘.
– I was cut off in full flight last night before I had finished my remarks. I will be as brief as possible in completing them today. I have moved an amendment to clause 25 of the Bill. Honourable senators will note that there are a series of amendments dependent upon this amendment. These amendments will be dealt with separately. As I said last night, the Opposition believes that the Temporary Assistance Authority would be better separated from the main body of the
Industries Assistance Commission. The Industries Assistance Commission has to deal with longer term issues and issues of perhaps greater detail and greater specification. This point is mentioned by Sir John Crawford in the summary of his conclusions. I am in no doubt at all that people can read various references and inferences into his report if they deal with the whole body of it. But Sir John Crawford in the principal summary of his report under the heading ‘Guidelines of the Commission’ says:
It should be provided with a broad policy framework, which should be consistent with the long term goals of national economic and social policy.
I believe that the Industries Assistance Commission is a very good device, and honourable senators will be well aware that the Liberal Party supports the proposal. We are of the view that some of the amendments are both wise and sensible. We have dealt with most of the amendments and the amendment we are now considering is the last one of any consequence.
As I have said, it is fundamental that the Temporary Assistance Authority should be separate from the Industries Assistance Commission. I have made it clear that there are people who hold differing views about this arrangement, but the view that I am putting to the Senate is the broad view that is held by members of the Liberal Party. The proposed Temporary Assistance Authority is designed to deal with the short term problems of great urgency. Under the old Tariff Board arrangement the Special Advisory Authority dealt only with problems that affected manufacturing industry. The proposed authority would deal with problems that affect the broad spectrum of industry- not only secondary and manufacturing industry but primary industry and in some cases industries in the tertiary sectors. Not only would it have to protect an industry against an urgent critical situation and give it some time to breathe and to adjust itself for a later and more detailed examination, but as a consequence it must protect the employment of people in that industry. This tends to be of much greater moment in manufacturing industry because it is in this sector that very often great numbers of people are employed and as a consequence can be put out of work. The industry itself may go out of business. Primary industry has problems but these problems do not tend to be of quite the same consequence as the problems experienced by manufacturing industry with its associated great blocks of employment.
The Special Advisory Authority, under Sir Frank Meere, was a one-man operation. As honourable senators will see from the amendment the Opposition proposes that the Authority should be separate from the Commission and it ought to be a 3-man operation, with people capable of performing in a part time capacity and capable of being drawn in because of their special qualities and knowledge of a special situation. We think that it would be wise to write this into the legislation. We would leave it to the administrative capacity of the Government as time went on to make such judgments on the permanency of the Chairman or members as it saw fit. The Government would be quite capable of altering the structure of the Authority from time to time so that those in the Authority did not become what I refer to as ‘locked in’ on any particular attitude. I believe that the special skills that could come to the aid of the Temporary Assistance Authority in special cases make the suggested change in the legislation well worth while.
In conclusion I would like to say that the whole of this arrangement would be one directed by government and responsible to government and the decisions and recommendations made would be finally decided upon by government. Sir John Crawford himself has said that the Commission should only advise government; it should not have executive or administrative responsibility to government. The Temporary Assistance Authority should be run as follows: It should be comprised of 3 persons and not one, and these people if necessary would have special skills. Someone might be in a critical situation in a particular industry. Because of a sudden flood of cheap imports, for example, an industry might be faced with the prospect of going out of business. That industry could appeal to the Government for urgent consideration of its case. The Government could refer that appeal to the Temporary Assistance Authority which would consider the case. The Authority could make a recommendation that some assistance should be given on a temporary basis. This recommendation would go to the Government. The Government itself would decide whether or not assistance would be given. If the Government decided that assistance would be given the whole matter would be put before the Industries Assistance Commission for examination after which the Commission would report back to the Government. This seems to me to cover the problem of the urgent necessity of considering a critical situation while leaving the Industries Assistance Commission to deal with the great broad issues of overall assistance in the Australian community across the full spectrum of industry.
I do not think I need say any more than that. What I have said covers the matter as we see it. We have a lot of work to do in the Senate, and having developed my arguments quite adequately I think that I should leave it to some of my colleagues who may wish to comment.
-My colleague Senator Cotton just mentioned that some honourable senators may have differing views on this amendment. I am one of those who have a differing view. I cannot understand the logic of this amendment. I have read the report of Sir John Crawford, particularly the paragraphs which apply to temporary assistance. I recognise and acknowledge that there will be cases in both secondary and primary industry where emergency protection will be required. Sir John deals with this in paragraph 78 on page 46 of the report. I think that Senator Cotton read out the relevant parts of his comments and I do not intend to repeat them.
I find my objection to the amendment to be one of principle. Some people say that when people start talking about principle they feel a bit ill. But I am on record in this Senate over many years as having been very critical of the activities of the Special Advisory Authority. Therefore I do not wish to see another authority established outside the Tariff Board, and in this case outside the Commission. I am impressed with the study that Sir John Crawford has done. I am also impressed with the fact that he had a good deal of personal experience as Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry of the operations of the Tariff Board and the Special Advisory Authority. Therefore I think that his views should be taken as the views of a man who knows the job. In paragraph 83 at page 48 of his report Sir John said:
I consider that the Commission would be the appropriate authority to provide advice on temporary assistance, because the scope for inconsistencies in the treatment of individual industries would then be minimised. Also, attempts are likely to be made to exploit provisions for temporary protection- either to keep relatively high (temporary) rates of protection operative for long periods, with minimum interruptions, or to slow down rates of tariff reduction (in cases where recommendations have been made to stagger tariff reductions over a period of several years).
We had many examples of the keeping of relatively high temporary rates of protection operative for long periods in the operations of the Special Advisory Authority in relation to which references were shunted backwards and forwards between the Tariff Board and the Special Advisory Authority. No doubt with this in mind, Sir John went on to say in paragraph 84 of his report:
I note that many of the industries which have been referred to the Special Advisory Authority have been more highly protected than most Australian industries, and some have expanded their operations under temporary protection which, on average, has operated for about 2 years.
That seems to me to be an inordinate period of time for temporary protection to operate. I know that some fears have been expressed about a member of the Commission who dealt with an emergency application then sitting on the inquiry when it came before the Commission. In paragraph 85 of his report- I think this is significant because I agree that that would be undesirableSir John said:
I envisage that questions of temporary assistance referred to the Commission would be handled by individual Commissioners, and that only a short period would be allowed for inquiry and report. These Commissioners concerned and their supporting staff, should not subsequently be required to review the permanent rates of protection or other assistance which should apply to the activities concerned.
That seems to me to be a commonsense approach. I have no doubt that that procedure will be adopted. I do not want to speak very long on this matter, although I have been almost provoked into doing so. I just want to say that temporary protection was first applied in 1958. The Special Advisory Authority at that time was a former Chairman of the Tariff Board. In 1960 a Deputy Chairman of the Tariff Board- in other words, a member of the Tariff Board- was appointed to hear cases where temporary emergency assistance was required. This procedure was changed in 1962. It was then that the Special Advisory Authority was appointed. One of the reasons given for this change was that the Deputy Chairman then would be freed for ordinary Tariff Board work. Dr Corden, who was one of the few academics to take very much interest in the subject of tariffs at that time, was critical of this decision. He said that he could never find any convincing arguments for the change and that the most likely explanation is that purely political motives were involved. In an article in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ on 20 November 1962 he summed up his feelings by saying:
One may guess that the real reason for establishing the Special Advisory Authority was that Deputy Chairmen were not sufficiently forthcoming in recommending temporary duties.
Between 1958 and 1962 some 39 inquiries, I think, were handled. In the period to 1972 there were 99 Special Advisory Authority reports of which 91 recommended increased protection. If one were to read these reports one would see that in many cases- many examples could be quoted and if I had time to do so or if I were challenged to do so I could quote them- there was a great deal of inconsistency in the reasons advanced for the provision of temporary protection. Indeed there are many contradictions from one report to another in the reasons advanced. I cannot accept that the establishment of a Special Advisory Authority outside the Commission is the proper way in which to deal with applications for temporary protection. I believe that the previous system was in all respects an unsatisfactory one. If one were to go back to when the Special Advisory Authority recommended high levels of protection one would see that in many cases when the applications came before the Tariff Board the Tariff Board then recommended much lower levels of protection. Without being critical of the person or persons concerned I have always felt, and have said on many occasions, that this was not a satisfactory way in which to deal with applications for temporary protection. I will not go into any further detail. I rose merely to say what I have said. I just do not understand why such an amendment has been moved. I do not think it is an advisable amendment. Having said that, I think I should rest my case.
– I wish to support the comments made by Senator Sim, who I think put some of the points involved very clearly. It is true that the Opposition’s amendment is concerned about the machinery whereby temporary assistance is to be granted. That machinery is covered by clauses 25 to 3 1 of the Bill. Under the present system the Special Advisory Authority, which deals with questions of temporary assistance, does, as Senator Sim has pointed out, create another body. It is the purpose of the original legislation to ensure that the decision on temporary assistance will in fact remain within the Industries Assistance Commission. Reference has been made to the fact that back in 1962 it was believed by some that the division between the Tariff Board and the Special Advisory Authority was an improvement and that the current legislation may tend to result in reversion to an earlier situation which was not as efficient or not as acceptable. But I think it is true to say, as was pointed out by Sir John Crawford- Senator Sim has gone through these points and I do not wish to restate them- that there is a greater chance now of there being consistency between the reports of the Commission and the temporary nature of assistance afforded. So the Government feels obliged to stand by its original position. I think it is unfortunate that the wisdom of the arguments which were advanced by Senator Sim is not appreciated by more of his colleagues. I do not wish to prolong the debate on this amendment. I think the Senate has made up its mind as to what it intends to do. I think the proper thing to do is to put it to a vote.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Cotton’s amendment) be left out
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman- Senator Poke)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Where it appears to the Minister that urgent action may be necessary to protect an industry, in relation to the importati on of any goods, pending receipt and consideration of a report of the Commission in relation to those goods, he may request the Chairman to nominate a Commissioner to undertake an inquiry, either in relation to the importation of those goods generally or in relation to the importation of those goods from a particular country or countries, and to report to the Minister-
) Upon receipt of a request under section 26, the Chairman shall, by writing signed by him, nominate a Commissioner to undertake the inquiry, and the Commissioner shall forthwith undertake the inquiry.
A Commissioner undertaking an inquiry under this section may conduct the inquiry in such a manner as he thinks fit.
1 ) A Commissioner undertaking an inquiry under section 27 shall, as soon as practicable but not later than thirty days after the date on which he is nominated to undertake the inquiry, report to the Minister on the matters that are the subject of the inquiry.
Where the Commissioner reports that it is necessary that urgent action be taken to protect an industry in relation to the importation of any goods-
if the Commissioner reports that the protection can appropriately be provided by means of, or by means of measures that include, a temporary duty- the Commissioner shall also report what should be the rate of that duty; and
if the Commissioner reports that the protection can appropriately be provided by means of, or by means of measures that include, the temporary prohibition or restriction of the importation of those goods- the Commissioner shall also indicate in the report the extent to which the protection should be so provided.
1 ) Notwithstanding sub-section 23 (3), where-
a Commissioner has, under section 28, reported that it is necessary that urgent action be taken to protect an industry in relation to the importation of any goods and that the protection can appropriately be provided by means of, or by means of measures that include, a temporary duty; and
the Minister has referred to the Commission for inquiry and report the matter of whether duties should be imposed on those goods or the matter of whether the rates of duties imposed on those goods should be increased, the Minister may take action for the purpose of the collection of a duty in respect of those goods (in addition to any existing duty) at a rate not exceeding the rate specified in the report of the Commissioner and not to operate after the expiration of a period of three months from the date upon which the Minister receives the report of the Commission upon the reference.
1 ) Notwithstanding 23 (3), where-
a Commissioner has, under section 28, reported that it is necessary that urgent action be taken to protect an industry in relation to the importation of any goods and that the protection can appropriately be provided by means of, or by means of measures that include, the temporary prohibition or restriction of the importation of those goods; and
This Part applies in relation to a report made by a special advisory authority under Part V of the Tariff Board Act 1921-1972 (including Part V of that Act as continued in force by sub-section 3 (6) of this Act) as if the report had been made by a Commissioner under this Part.
– I move:
In Clauses 28, 29, 30 and 3 1 -
Amendments agreed to.
Clauses, as amended, agreed to.
Remainder of Bill- by leave- taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wriedt) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 24 October (vide page 1409), on motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– As I mentioned in my speech when dealing with the Industries Assistance Commission Bill 1973, we had a cognate debate. This Bill is dependent upon the passage of the Industries Assistance Commission Bill. It is quite straightforward and complementary. It repeals section 1 8 of the principal Act which allows for deferred rates of duty to come into force at some future date. There is no need to debate it further. In my view. It could just go straight through.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 23 October (vide page 1348), on motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Northern Territory Supreme Court Bill seeks to enlarge the Northern Territory Supreme Court. It is proposed that instead of the existing one resident judge in the Northern Territory there should be a power to appoint a number of judges, that number being unspecified.
– Does the honourable senator know that the number is specified in the amendment that has been circulated?
– I am indebted to the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) for telling me that an amendment has been circulated. I think I know the general purport of the amendment but I have not seen a copy of it.
– I am sorry. I have shown it to Senator Withers. The number specified is three.
-Once again I acknowledge what Senator Murphy has said. I knew that this was to be proposed but I have not seen the text of the amendment. I feel it is appropriate to make some comments on the proposition as advanced by the Attorney-General. I notice that the justification for the course which he has undertaken is: . . the the volume of business in the Supreme Court, which sits both in Darwin and in Alice Springs, requires the services of a second resident judge as a matter of urgency.
I am using the words which the AttorneyGeneral used when he gave his second reading speech in support of this measure. Because I feel it would be helpful I invite him in his reply to explain the reason why a second resident judge is necessary. In his speech he went on to state:
The present system, dependent as it is upon the availability of the additional judges to sit in the Territory from time to time, has proved unsatisfactory and inadequate to cope with the volume of work.
I appreciate that it is always a difficult question to determine whether the size of a bench is adequate for the court to serve that community over which the judge or judges preside. But I feel that the Attorney-General ought to explain in some more detail the purposes of this measure. Last year I gave some attention to this matter and recognised that the time would come when an additional judge would be needed. But at that time we had a system which was serving the purpose very well. At the present time we have one resident judge, Mr Justice Forster. I have no doubt that he is fully occupied. But we also have a number of other judges who are judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court, judges of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court and judges of the Northern Territory Supreme Court. Over many years the practice has been for those judges to go to the Northern Territory as the occasion requires. I have examined their work load and extracted figures from an answer which was supplied to a question on notice and which I received within the last week.
This year, until 30 October, judges visiting the Northern Territory have sat on 49 days compared with 41 days last year. This certainly indicates that there is more work for them to do in that court. In the Australian Capital Territory they have sat on 102 days whereas last year they sat on 106 days. But in the Commonwealth Industrial Court this year they sat on only 1 73 days compared with 271 days for the whole of last year. I do not believe it is good forjudges to be unoccupied. I do not believe it is good for the standing of the judiciary for them to be seen to be holding a judicial office and not to be engaged in judicial activities. Whenever there is a desire to increase a number of members of a bench the need for that increase should be plainly made out. Of course the judges of the Industrial Court on their appointment have the opportunity to accept and perform other judicial functions outside the Industrial Court work to which they are primarily appointed. If the appointment of one, two or three additional judges to the Northern Territory Supreme Court means that the judges of the Industrial Court have less to do, I do not think that is in the interests of the judiciary or of the standing of the judiciary in the community.
I have extracted from the answer which was supplied to my question on notice the work load of the judges of the Industrial Court who also hold positions in the Northern Territory and in the Australian Capital Territory. For instance I note that this year Mr Justice Dunphy has sat in all jurisdictions together with the jurisdiction in Norfolk Island. He has sat for 62 days. Mr Justice Joske has sat in the Australian Capital Territory, in the Northern Territory and in the Industrial Court for a total of 78 days this year. Mr Justice Smithers has sat in the Industrial Court and the Australian Capital Territory on a total of 70 days this year. Mr Justice Woodward, notwithstanding that he has been on the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission, this year has sat some 1 3 days in the Northern Territory and in the Australian Capital Territory. Mr Justice Franki has sat some 57 days. I imagine that that is not an onerous workload for those judges. I appreciate that there are problems of distance, of scheduling sittings, of being able to ensure prospective litigants, their counsels and solicitors that a judge will be available on the scheduled day and of being able to cope with the emergency situations which arise from time to time in all jurisdictions. These are all problems with which court administration has to be concerned. But these are matters which I think require some attention. I mention them only because I feel that the problems with which the Attorney-General has been undoubtedly concerned in the Northern Territory could be explained in a way that takes account of the matters I have mentioned. Nevertheless I think they should be explained.
An earlier interjection referred to the number of judges. I am pleased that the AttorneyGeneral has responded to suggestions from the Opposition that it is desirable to limit the number of judges of a court. I think it is a sound application of the principle that there should not be a general ability at large for judges to be appointed without the authority coming from the Parliament. For example, the Judiciary Act states that the High Court shall consist of no more than 7 judges. If the number of judges is to be increased then Parliament must be asked to authorise the increase. The number of judges of the Industrial Court is nine. It is only recently that that number was arrived at, increasing it from seven. Of course, the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court consists of 3 resident judges. If that number has to be increased then a particular request has to be made. I think it is appropriate that that should be done in the case of the Northern Territory Supreme Court.
I must say that the Opposition initially thought that it would be adequate to have 2 judges. The Attorney-General accepted the principle that there should be three but the Opposition will raise no objection to that proposal. Indeed, with certain hindsight one might look upon the matter favourably because I am sure Senator Murphy will recall that in 1971 the number of judges of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court was increased to two at the beginning of the year but further legislation at the end of the year increased the number to three. Therefore we think it is a not unreasonable proposition to accede to the suggestion that there should be 3 judges.
Speaking now in more general terms, I note that the Attorney-General proposes to introduce a Bill- I imagine that this will be done before the Parliament rises this year- to constitute a Federal superior court. We shall be interested to see what is proposed. I think he is fully aware that in the latter part of 1972 the previous Government indicated its view that there should not be a Federal superior court, thereby ending what had been a fairly long period in which opinions had vacillated and differed as to the merits of a superior court. I hope that the opposition to the superior court still will be maintained and that the reasons for it will be expressed so that out of the debate which differing points of view will generate there can come a consensus which will lead to an improvement in the structure of our judicial system in Australia.
I venture for the consideration of the AttorneyGeneral, although I know that what he is espousing in the form of a superior court is a long held plank in the platform of his Party, that it is desirable in the interests of litigants that they should have one system of courts throughout Australia. A dual system of courts whereby you can possibly proceed in one court and be nonsuited, declared by the judge to be in the wrong court and then have to go into another set of courts, is an undesirable situation to have. It is the sort of situation which the Judicature Act over 100 years ago was designed to overcome in England and in the Australian colonies. Whilst there are constitutional problems at the moment, I would hope that we can look to the day when we will have the one system of courts with the High Court as the apex and that there will be no Commonwealth system of courts existing alongside the State Supreme Courts. I mention that at this time because I imagine that one of the propositions which Senator Murphy will advance m support of the superior court concept will be that it will be a court to which appeals from the Territory courts may be taken. I may be wrong in the assumption but I can well imagine that that is an argument that can be advanced. The fact that the argument can be advanced is one thing which I think has to be taken into account at the present time.
I believe that the Commonwealth must have, comparable with the State system of courts, a Territory system of courts- judges for the Australian Capital Territory, judges for the Northern Territory, judges for the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island and, if ever the occasion arises, judges for those other Territories to which the judges may have to go occasionally- and that this structure of Territory courts should contain within it an appellate system whereby judges who may be appointed as judges of the Territory court, alternating between the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, will provide a body of judges from which an appeal bench can be constituted. It is an omission at the present time- an omission which was acknowledged in the time of the previous government. Nevertheless such a system was felt not to be warranted at that time by the volume of business. Notwithstanding that it was not then warranted it was recognised that in the near future there would have to be some appellate structure within the Territory courts. It may be that we are approaching that time. When it does occur I hope that the appeal will not be to a superior court as is proposed but to a structure within the Territory itself.
I have mentioned these matters as an advance indication to the Attorney-General of a reaction to his Bill. I also express the hope that his mind is not fixed on the way in which he has indicated in the past that his Party desires to proceed but that some consideration can be given to ensuring, whatever be the ultimate system of courts that we have in this country, that litigants will not be penalised by facing the risk, quite apart from the ordinary risks of litigation, of finding themselves in the wrong court. I know that the amendment will be moved at the Committee stage and I have indicated that the Opposition will support it.
There is one final matter to which I wish to refer. I am taking the debate on this Bill as a convenient opportunity to raise it. I refer to the practice which has developed this year of employing new drafting techniques. This is fairly apparent in this quite short Bill. I notice in particular that this Bill deletes that section, which has been customary in Commonwealth legislation ever since there has been Commonwealth legislation, which sets out the parts into which the Act is divided. I think it is clause 3 of this Bill which repeals the section of the original Act which divides the original Act into a number of parts. I do not think that this is a Bill in which any objection should be taken to that procedure because I recognise- something has been said about this in the past- the way in which the draftsman is now producing the legislation. But that is not the only matter to which I wish to refer. The Schedule indicates that the pattern has been adopted to a degree, as set out in this Bill- there are other Bills in which the same pattern has been appearing of removing words. For example, I refer to expressions like ‘of this Act’ and ‘of this section’. Likewise, words are being replaced with figures. I suppose that it is a change which those who have practised in the law will take some little time to adjust to.
All I would ask of the Attorney-General, because I think it would overcome a lot of the difficulties expressed from time to time by senators who have no legal experience, is that he tell us what the new procedures are and, as far as possible, why they have been adopted. These things have now become apparent and I hope that at some stage he might prevail upon the Parliamentary Counsel to set down the new procedures in writing and circulate them so that we may see the changes which have occurred. Apart from those matters which are matters of comment at an appropriate time, the Opposition will not oppose this Bill but we look forward to the amendment which has been foreshadowed.
– The Australian Country Party will support this Bill and the amendment which has been suggested by the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy). The former Attorney-General, Senator Greenwood, has explained the position to the Senate. I think that in the past the old system has worked. I refer to the system whereby we had one resident judge and several supporting judges from time to time. However, there is no doubt that the workload increases and probably there is justification for 2 judges at the moment and a third later on. There is one thing I would like to mention however. When dealing with remote areas such as the Northern Territory, we must ensure that in all cases there is no hold up of this work. If it means that another judge has to be appointed so that there are no delays in justice being dispensed, as against having only one judge and justice being held up, then I certainly come down in favour of appointing extra judges. People often have to travel long distances to attend the courts. I hope that when this BDI comes into operation the Attorney-General will consider moving the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory around that big area because it is often easier to move the court than to have people travelling long distances to appear before it. The Australian Country Party supports this Bill.
– in reply- I thank the Opposition parties for their support of the Bill. I deal firstly with Senator Greenwood’s last suggestion about alterations in the style of Bills. I accept his suggestion and will table a report in the Senate, at some convenient time, or make a statement indicating the changes which have taken place in the drafting of Bills and the reasons for these changes. There have been quite a number of changes in the framework of Bills; apart from the style that is used. We think that they have improved the readability of the Bills. The law ought to be simplified. This is part of a lengthy process of introducing some simplicity into the Bills. The honourable senator also referred to the Superior Court. I do not quarrel with his statements about avoiding the difficulties which litigants might encounter in competing jurisdictions and about the necessity for Australia to move towards one system of courts. I think that those statements are correct. I think that our present system is not altogether satisfactory. I would envisage that the Superior Court would probably expand and would become an integral part of one system of courts. I think we should reserve our detailed discussion of this point until later.
I turn now with the reasons for the increase in the number of judges. The proposal was made, I understand, in the time of Senator Greenwood as Attorney-General, that there ought to be an extra judge in the Northern Territory. I have received representations to this effect. I went to the Northern Territory and looked very closely at the operation of the judicial system. I consulted the resident judge and the legal profession in the Territory. There is no doubt whatever in my mind that this Bill is necessary and that the system of having visiting judges is considered to be quite unsatisfactory. I do not need to say more than that. Some of the reasons were mentioned by Senator Maunsell. He referred to the necessity to have resident judges who could move about the Territory. There are other reasons- I think very strong reasons- why the existing system is quite inadequate for the Territory. There is a strong feeling there, which I share, that there should be an increase in the number of resident judges. The Attorney-General’s Department had a careful look at the matter. It seems to me that the proposal is quite warranted. There has been an increase in population and in the availability of legal aid not only generally but also through the Aboriginal Legal Aid Service. This will mean an enormous increase in litigation in the Northern Territory. The present system is unable to cope. So I ask the Senate to agree to the Bill. In Committee I shall move the amendment which I have had circulated.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Clause 5 reads, in part: 5.(1) Section 7 of the Principal Act is amended-
At end of proposed new sub-section (1) insert ‘, but so that the number of Judges holding office under this sub-section at any time does not exceed three. ‘
The effect of the amendment is that the number of resident judges is limited to three.
Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a third time.
Consideration of House of Representatives message.
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears- “acting Chairman” means an acting Chairman of the Commission appointed under sub-section 6(1); “acting member” means an acting member of the Commission appointed under sub-section 6 (2), (3) or(4); “Australian Capital Territory “ includes the Jervis Bay Territory;
Senate amendment No. 1-
In clause 3, after the definition of “Australian Capital Territory”, insert the following definitions: “ ‘Australian Education Council’ means the Australian Minister for Education and every Minister for Education of the States of Australia meeting together. “.
Senate ‘s amendment No. 2-
At end of clause 3 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. “.
Senate’s amendment No. 3-
In clause 4, leave out paragraph (b) of sub-clause (2), insert the following paragraph: “(b) fourteen other members selected or appointed as hereinafter provided.”.
Senate ‘s amendment No. 4-
In clause 4, leave out sub-clause (4), insert the following subclause: “(4) The Chairman and each other full-time member shall be appointed for a term not exceeding five years and each parttime member shall be appointed for a term not exceeding three years.”.
Senate ‘s amendment No. 5-
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 recommendations 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.”.
Senate’s amendment No. 6-
In clause S, at end of sub-clause (2) add: “of whom at least one shall be a member selected and appointed pursuant to paragraph 4a (c) “.
Senate’s amendment No. 7-
In clause 12, leave out sub-clauses (S) and (6), insert the following sub-clause: “ (5) At a meeting of the Commission a quorum is constituted by not less than eight members. “.
Senate ‘s amendment No. 8-
In clause 13, leave out paragraph (a) of sub-clause ( 1 ), insert the following paragraph: “ (a) The definition, in consultation and co-operation with the State Departments of Education, the authorities in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory responsible for primary education or secondary education in either or both of those Territories and with authorities responsible for or connected with non-government schools in Australia, parent and teacher organisations and such other organisations and persons as it may deem appropriate of desirable standards for buildings, equipment, teaching and other staff and other facilities at government and nongovernment primary and secondary schools in Australia, and the means and provision necessary for attaining and maintaining those standards; “.
Senate ‘s amendment No. 9-
In clause 13, lines 30-32, leave out paragraph (b) of subclause ( 1 ), insert the following paragraph: “ (b) The needs of primary and secondary school students in respect of buildings, equipment, teaching and other staff and other facilities and teaching aids and the respective priorities to be given to the satisfying of those various needs and to the improvement of the quality of education available for primary and secondary school students in Australia; ‘ ‘.
Senate ‘s amendment No. 10-
In clause 1 3, leave out paragraph (c) of sub-clause ( 1 ), insert the following paragraph: “ (c) Matters in connection with the grant by Australia of financial assistance to the States for and in respect of primary and secondary government and nongovernment school students, schools and school systems in Australia including the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory and whilst recognising the desirability of maximum flexibility and diversity and the right and responsibility of the State and individual school authorities to determine the specific allocation of such financial assistance the conditions, if any, upon which financial assistance should be granted and the total amount and total allocation of any financial assistance so granted; and”.
Senate ‘s amendment No. 11-
In clause 1 3, leave out paragraph ( a) of sub-clause ( 3 ), insert the following paragraphs: “ (a) Article 26 of the United Nations Charter of Human Rights and in particular the prior right of parents to choose the kind of education that snail be given to their children; “ (aa) the obligation for governments to provide or assist in the provision and maintenance of educational opportunities for all children which are of the highest standard and which recognise the prior right of parents to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children and where provided and maintained by or on behalf of a government ensure that these opportunities are open without fees or religious tests, to all children; “(ab) the rights and powers pursuant to the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act of the State Governments in relation to education; “ (ac) the need for research into education standards, quality, variety and opportunities in Australia; “ (ad) the importance of the improvement of the quality of education available to all students attending primary and secondary schools; “.
Senate’s amendment No. 12-
In clause 13, paragraph (a) of sub-clause (4), leave out “conducting ‘ ‘, insert “ responsible for or connected with ‘ ‘.
Senate ‘s amendment No. 13-
Clause 14, at end of clause add the following sub-clauses: “ (4) The Commission shall, as soon as possible, but later than six months after the expiration of each financial year, prepare and forward to the Minister a report on the operations of the Commission during that year for presentation of both Houses of Parliament. “ (5) A member may add a protest or dissent to any report furnished to the Minister.”.
Senate’s amendment No. 14-
Leave out clause 16.
Senate’s amendment No. 15-
In clause 1 7, at end of sub-clause ( I ) add: “provided that such request shall be related to the matters referred to in section 13”.
House of Representatives message:
Senate’s amendment No. 2 agreed to.
Senate’s amendments Nos 1 and 3 to 15 inclusive disagreed to.
Reasons of the House of Representatives for disagreeing to Senate ‘s amendments:
The amendments adopted by the Senate on the motion of the Opposition Parties are unacceptable. If they were accepted and become part of the legislation, their overall effect would be to embed conflicting interests and to institutionalise the inequalities which exist in Australian education and which it is this Government ‘s intention to remove.
The amendments limit the flexibility of the Minister of the day in the choice of people best able to contribute to the Commission’s activities. The majority of members of the Commission would be in effect delegates of particular organisations or institutions and thereby inhibited in their capacity to make decisions.
The Australian Education Council was not consulted before its suggested role was incorporated into the relevant amendments moved by the Opposition Parties in the Senate. A majority of the members of that Council do not wish it to make nominations to the Commission.
The amendments to the composition of the Commission constitute a complete departure from the proven model of the Australian Universities Commission which the Government undertook to follow in the case of schools.
The amendments reduce the emphasis on determination of assistance by relative need. They eliminate the requirements for the Commission, in the exercise of its functions, to have regard to the primary obligation of governments towards government school systems that are of the highest standard and are open without fees or religious tests to all children.
By eliminating the State and Territory Schools Commission Advisory Boards, the concept of consultation and co-operation between the Commission and interested groups throughout Australia on a continuing basis will be destroyed.
The overall effect of the amendments is to prevent the Schools Commission from being the national expert body to which the majority of Australian people are looking to improve the quality of education for all Australian children.
– I move:
That the Senate does not insist on the amendments disagreed to by the House of Representatives.
There was a long debate in the Senate 2 or 3 weeks ago on this very important Bill, which the Government says that it quite plainly and quite frankly received a mandate to introduce and implement from the people at the time of the last elections. The Bill proposes the establishment of a Schools Commission. One of the first acts of the Labor Government when it was elected was that of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), in his capacity as Acting Minister for Education, to appoint an Interim Schools Committee. The Government was elected by the people on 2 December. On 1 1 December the Prime Minister wrote to the States advising that an Interim Committee was being established. That Committee was established. A report was presented. It was tabled in the Parliament in May. As all honourable senators know, this legislation which flows from the report seeks the approval of the
Parliament to establish the Schools Commission in accordance with government policy.
The debate took place at some length over a number of days. Amendments were moved by Senator Rae on behalf of the Opposition and by Senator McManus on behalf of the Democratic Labor Party. By a combination of weight of numbers exercised by the Liberal Party, the Country Party and the Democratic Labor Party, the amendments were forced through. But the Government still believes, as I said when speaking on behalf of the Acting Minister for Education (Mr Lionel Bowen) at the time, that its proposals were being emasculated. We believe that gross inequalities exist in Austraiian education. The Opposition’s amendments to the Bill would gravely impede the Government in its announced intention to introduce measures designed to remove these inequalities. The amendments would impose a Schools Commission of members representative of conflicting interests. To that extent, the effectiveness of the Commission would be reduced and its decision making capacity would be severely and intolerably limited.
A Commission to be established in the way proposed in the Bill as originally presented would remove the issue of State aid from the present position which unhappily it occupies or appears to have occupied in the political field. The model proposed by the Government for the establishment of a Schools Commission closely follows that which was adopted by its predecessorsnamely, the McMahon and Gorton governments- in establishing the Australian Universities Commission and the Commission on Advanced Education. The policy speech of the Australian Labor Party delivered by the Prime Minister during the last Federal election campaign stated that we would establish a Schools Commission along the same lines as the Universities Commission and the Advanced Education Commission. The Opposition’s amendments reduce the methods of determination of assistance by relative need. The attempt to eliminate the Schools Commission Advisory Boards is unacceptable because in the opinion of the Government it would destroy the concept of continuous consultation and co-operation between the Commission and the community.
– As has been stated by the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) this matter was fully debated in this chamber very recently. It was debated upon a basis which, I think, made clear to most people who have available to them copies of the Hansard record of the debate or who heard the debate that the matter has been misrepresented by a number of people through the columns of the Press and through advertisements in the Press. This is unfortunate. A typical example of the type of misrepresentation appears in a letter which I have before me right now. It is a letter dated 5 November and is from a District Council of State Schools Mothers Club in Victoria. It reads:
The parents of children attending Government Schools in the north-east of Victoria are deeply concerned at the Liberal Party’s proposed amendments to the Australian Schools Commission Bill. We feel that these amendments will discriminate against representation by government school parents and teachers, who represent the majority of Australian school children.
We therefore urge careful consideration of the implications of these amendments.
As government school parents we ask your support for the Bill in its original form.
That a letter such as that could be written by a responsible organisation is in fact an indictment of the Press of this country, because it is only with the most gross misrepresentation of the facts related to this matter that any council of mothers clubs could believe that the amendments moved by the Opposition would discriminate against representation by the parents and teachers of school children. The fact is, as is well known to every member of this chamber, that one of the major aspects of the amendments which were moved by the Opposition and carried by this chamber was to provide a guarantee which does not exist in the Bill proposed by the Government that teachers and parents of children attending government schools would be guaranteed a voice on the membership of the Schools Commission. It is against that which the Government is now seeking to have this chamber review the attitude to which it came by a clear majority when this matter was before the chamber last. The Government does not want there to be any guarantee that parents and teachers be represented or have people on the Schools Commission who can express the views of their organisations.
The Government says: ‘We are not prepared to give any such guarantee. We wish to retain the appointment of the membership of the Schools Commission solely at the discretion of the Commonwealth Minister for Education’, totally disregarding the fact that within the schools of Australia there are 3 clear and separate administrative areas. One is related to the schools conducted by the Commonwealth; one is related to the schools conducted by the States, and they are the vast majority of the schools of Australia. Some 22 per cent of the school children attend schools in what may be regarded as the third general administrative area, which is the nongovernment school area. It is the view of the Opposition that if a Schools Commission is to work recognition must be given to the fact that there are 3 administrative areas and not just one. If the Commonwealth Government says: ‘We are so almighty; we have all the wisdom; we have all the knowledge; we must have all the power’, then it will insist upon a Bill which gives it absolute right, absolute control, over the Schools Commission.
If ever I have heard a fatuous argument being put forward it is the argument which has been put up by some sections of interested groups in trying to maintain their position on the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission. The argument which is put forward for their individual interests, I might add, the interests of persons. It is that the Commission, as proposed by the Opposition, would not be workable because it would be representative of conflicting interests. Funnily enough, there is a clear suggestion in the Karmel Committee report, and there has been a clear case put throughout the whole of the debate that has taken place within the community in relation to the creation of a Schools Commission, that it is important that the members be drawn from a wide variety of areas, including government school parents and teachers. Yet this argument is put up that it would be conflicting.
It is strange how, apparently when some of those associated with the Government wish to pull a few strings, organisations are prepared to change their views. Many organisations said plainly that they wanted representation but now apparently they have changed their minds and put their views in different terms. I simply remind the Government and the Senate that Mr Beazley, the Minister for Education, in a letter of which I have a copy and which I am quite happy to produce or table for anybody who wishes to inspect it- the letter is signed on the Minister’s behalf by his Secretary and is in answer to the question: Would there be representatives of the independent schools on the Schools Commission- said: Yes, there would be’. But apparently he has changed his mind also. The Opposition does not see that it should change the view which was clearly expressed in this chamber some weeks ago. We find it regrettable that the Government is intransigent. We find it regrettable that the Government is not prepared to consider that there may be some other view than its own. We find it regrettable that the Government is not prepared to have regard to the interests of education but rather wishes to see its own view upheld at all costs and is prepared to toy with the interests of education.
– You are trying to be the government in exile.
– What are you doing? Are you opposing the motion?
-When Senator Poke and others have finished I will continue.
– Order! Senator Rae, please continue.
– It is a pity that the Government is prepared to toy with the interests of children throughout Australia. We wish to see a Schools Commission set up, and I repeat that unreservedly. We accept that there are many things that can be done in the field of education in Australia in relation to which it is desirable that there should be a Schools Commission to be able to make recommendations, obtain information, and generally bring together the facts, the hopes, the aspirations, the ideas, the knowledge available within Australia and direct and funnel these towards the government of the day.
But as for the suggestion that the failure to have State boards and instead to increase the membership of the Commission to fifteen would in any way destroy this concept, it is quite clear that a much greater liaison could be had with all the States by this means than by imposing some intermediary organisation which will only create a bureaucracy and slow down the progress of the Schools Commission. Rather than help, it will almost certainly hinder development in Aus.tralia. But as I indicated in my remarks during the debate at the second reading stage and consideration of the Bill during the Committee stage, if it turns out that for good reason which is explained fully by the Schools Commission there cannot be a satisfactory organisation of the Schools Commission without regional advisory boards then the Opposition is quite happy to reconsider the matter. The firm view that we hold at the moment is that these regional boards would be a hindrance rather than a help. We see a Commission with a greater number of members, able to have sub-committees operating in each of the States, as being likely to speed up rather than to slow down its work.
There are many aspects of this matter to which I would like to refer. I feel that they have been referred to already. I would seek to have those who are interested in this matter avail themselves of the opportunity to read the Hansard record of this debate. I refer not just to the debate at the second reading stage but also to the debate in the Committee stage. I make a public offer now to anyone who so wishes that I shall make endeavours to obtain copies of Hansard so that people can read what happens and not simply receive distorted versions handed down through organisations of which people may be members, which versions do not reflect the fact of what happened and the fact of the argument in this chamber. The Liberal Party Opposition, for the reasons which I have stated, does not propose to accede to the suggestion made by the Minister and will vote against his motion.
- Mr Temporary Chairman, in accordance with Standing Orders I request Senator Rae to table the letter that he received and from which he read. I think that it was from some Victorian teachers’ association or from some body of that nature. I am not too sure, but I ask that it be tabled.
- Senator Milliner, will you move that it be tabled?
– I move in those terms if necessary. I move:
- Senator Rae, it has been moved that the letter be tabled.
– I would be quite happy to do so.
- Senator Rae has no objections. There is no need to put the motion. He will table the letter.
– I will have a copy made and table it as soon as it is available.
– I ask whether there is a signature to it. I just wanted to be sure that there is.
– I rise on behalf of the Australian Country Party to say that we will support the motion put forward by Senator Rae because of the remarks -
– Order! Senator Drake-Brockman, there has been no motion put forward by Senator Rae. The motion has been moved by the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland).
-We will oppose the motion moved by the Minister for the Media. I put it that way. It is the same thing.
– No, it is not.
-We will oppose the motion for the reasons mentioned by Senator Rae. I listened very carefully to the remarks of the Minister for the Media as to why he thought that the Government should move that the Committee not press with the amendments that it had previously carried. I would have thought that the Minister would spell out in detail the reasons why the Government was opposed to the amendments instead of putting up the same proposals that we heard earlier in the debate. I want to say quite firmly that the Country Party supports the Karmel Committee report and most of its recommendations. We do not seek to destroy the concept of the Schools Commission in any way.
– That is exactly what you are doing.
– I do not think that the honourable senator could have read the report. Nor are we trying to destroy the flexibility or the working of the Commission. All that the Opposition Parties are endeavouring to do is to take away from whoever is Minister for Education- I am not talking about the present Minister because tomorrow we could have another Minister -
– The Minister of the Government party.
-Yes, or any other Minister, should there be a change in government, the sole right of appointing personally -
– Why did you not do that in regard to the Universities Commission?
– I am asked why we did not do this on a previous occasion. Every time a committee or a commission is appointed, I have heard members of the Labor Party seek to have on that committee or commission some Labor Party representatives, some union representatives or representatives from some other organisation. We are seeking to have representatives of the teachers and representatives of the state school parents and citizens associations on the Commission.
– The teachers do not back you on that issue.
– I ask the honourable senator to look at page 158 of the Karmel Committee report. It states:
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.
– Read the next sentence.
-That is what we are suggesting.
– Read the next sentence.
– I am making the speech. The Minister can read every line that he wants to and take it all together. I believe the Government has given serious consideration to appointing members of this Commission. I believe that it came down in favour of the idea that if it carried on with the proposal of the Opposition it could run into too much trouble. It thought that it was not worth the trouble. All I want to say is that my Party believes that every section of education should be represented on this Commission.
– You would appoint 150 members.
-No, we did not say that.
– How will you choose between the parents and citizens organisations? There are about eight of those.
– Apparently, the Government to which the honourable senator belongs has said that it is too hard to do that. So it will not go on with it. For these reasons the Country Party is opposed to the motion moved by the Minister for the Media.
– I will speak to the motion moved by the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) although I really wanted to speak only in relation to the grants bills. The whole attitude of the Opposition is really one of nauseating hypocrisy. The whole position just makes me wonder what is going on in the Parliament. Senators on my right will not realise that they are in Opposition. They are insisting on their proposal because they know they have the brutality of numbers. So they do every fiddling, piddling huie thing they can. You are all to blame. You are all together and you have got yourselves into a God damn mess and I hope that you rot in it. You are in a complete mess and you do not know what to do now. Independent senators have to sit here and listen to his hypocrisy all the time. Did not members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party say when the Government was elected to office that they would not be obstreperous and that they would see that the legislation -
– See that the Government keeps its promises.
– That is what we are doing.
-That is very good. That is the interjection I was waiting for. Here is the DLP acting with nauseating hypocrisy. If these words apply to anyone, they apply to you because you have just stated the position. You are insisting that the Government carries out its promises. But time and time again during this session what you have done is to prevent the Government from carrying out its promises. Now you come forward because it suits your religion to do so. That is what I call nauseating hypocrisy.
– What is this about religion?
-Not your religion; I was referring to the DLP.
– It is not my religion, thank you very much.
– I am talking about the DLP.
- Senator Turnbull, please address the Chair.
– That was a slip.
-That is no slip. The honourable senator is supporting the Opposition in this motion. The point that I wanted to make, and which was so beautifully exemplified by the remarks of Senator Little, is that we have seen nauseating hypocrisy on the part of the DLP. We have a Bill before us to establish a Schools Commission. It does not matter who is on the Commission. The Opposition wants the people it nominates to be appointed and the Government wants those people who it nominates to be appointed. But Opposition members will not realise that they are not the Government now. So they put up this fight. They have to fight for every little thing that is in this Bill to show that they have the numbers. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.
– What about your attitude to the National Health Bill? When we wanted to make amendments you held it up. You thought that you alone knew best.
-No, I did not; the DLP was with me, so the honourable senator can blame his friends as well. He should not forget that the DLP voted with us and we carried the day.
– It was all right when you did that with the DLP.
-That is right, but when the Bill came up the second time, who reneged? It was the DLP. If that was not hypocrisy, give me another example.
– You were not even here, I suppose.
-How could I not be here if I was moving a motion?
– Because you never are.
-At least when I am here I am awake.
– That is a change.
– Yes, it is; the honourable senator sleeps. I do not know how he is awake for this debate: perhaps I was speaking too loudly. Normally he is sound asleep every day when I see him in his seat in this chamber. If he says that I am not here, I do not know how I can see him.
– You must have come at my bedtime.
-Okay, it is the honourable senator’s bedtime.
– On the rare occasions you attended.
– If the honourable senator wishes to pretend that he is a baby, let him do so. Let me complete my remarks, because I do not want to get up and speak on every matter, as some honourable senators do. Some honourable senators speak at every possible opportunity. The Opposition’s attitude to this amendment typifies its attitude to the Bill. Its attitude to this amendment does not indicate its attitude to the Bill as much as does its attitude to the amendment in regard to grants for schools, but it is the same sort of approach. The Opposition has the numbers, so it insists on hitting the Government over the head. It does not matter whether one, two or three members of this Commission are appointed by the Government- if the Government wants to appoint these members let it do so, as long as we get the Commission going. I have not seen one telegram yet that has supported the Opposition’s point of view, and this is embarrassing, considering all the telegrams that have been pouring in. It was lucky that I opened one telegram because it was a refusal by a friend of mine to go to lunch with me. Had I not seen that, I may not have been here to speak.
Anyhow, I have said what I wanted to say. I did not intend to come into the chamber and cast a vote with regard to any of these amendments, because all I was interested in was to see the Commission operating. It really does not matter which way the vote goes on some of these amendments, as they are just pin-pricking matters. Nevertheless, I felt that I should make my position clear. I have done that now, and what I have said applies to all the other amendments on this Bill that will come before the Committee.
– The mantle of a parliamentary purist sits rather oddly on the shoulders of Senator Turnbull. I am sorry that he spoke about nauseating hypocrisy on the part of my Party. There has never been any hyprocrisy about Senator Turnbull! I remember on one occasion in the Senate, when a member of the previous Government appealed to the consciences of honourable senators, Senator Turnbull said: ‘That makes no difference to me; I have not got a conscience’, and all honourable senators present said: ‘Hear, hear! ‘ I am not upset by the statements of Senator Turnbull, who makes a hit and run visit to the Senate every now and again. He says something which he hopes will be sensational enough to reach the Press in order to give the impression that he is a regular attender of the Senate. But I do not accept Senator Turnbull as a judge of morality. He has told us today that he is a judge of morality, for he has implied that he can determine what is hypocrisy and what is not hypocrisy.
- Mr Temporary Chairman, I take a point of order. The people of Australiathe teachers, the parents and friends associations and others- are awaiting the outcome of this debate. I believe it is quite outside the Standing. Orders for honourable senators to have this slam-banging fight. We have heard Senator McManus getting rid of his spleen. Let us stick to the motion and get a vote on this matter, because the young people in Australia who depend on education want us to get this Bill through. Let us stick to the motion and not deal with side issues and personalities.
– I do not consider that there is any point of order. A statement has been made by Senator Turnbull and I am waiting now for
Senator McManus, having replied to that statement by Senator Turnbull, to direct bis attention to the motion.
– Thank you, Mr Temporary Chairman. I can only say that, if Senator O ‘Byrne’s feelings are so strong, why did he not interject or take a point of order when Senator Turnbull was speaking? There is one obvious reason: His sensibilities are touched only when they are appealed to in a certain direction. I will now leave that matter. I merely say to Senator Turnbull that I am sorry that he raised the matter of religion; I believe that when he thinks the matter over afterwards he will be sorry, too. One thing I can say about the debates on this issue is that I have not heard the matter of religion raised, and I think that it has been a jolly good thing that it has not been raised. I am sorry that Senator Turnbull has been the first to inject into this debate something that ought not to be there.
Regarding the matter of schools, about which there has been much discussion, I point out that the schools for which the DLP is fighting to obtain basic grants are practically all Protestant and Jewish schools. That gives the lie direct to any suggestion that we have been motivated by religion. Regarding this motion, I merely want to say that we will persist with the amendments that we have moved. An issue has been raised by 30 or 40 Press representatives of the Government that if we persist in opposing the kind of Commission that the Government wants we will stop the children of Australia from getting $S00m worth of aid. Such an issue has not been raised at all: The issue has concerned the sort of commission that should be set up. I have been told by 2 Ministers and quite a number of Australian Labor Party parliamentarians that, if the Opposition ‘s proposal that each group should nominate its own representative is persisted with, all the Government has to do is use its power, without legislation, to nominate another Karmeltype committee, and all the money can be given without any trouble.
Strangely, the Government says that if it appoints all the members of the Commission it will be an independent Commission but that if the members are appointed by their own organisations the Commission will not be independent. I do not understand how any commission, all of whose members are appointed by the Government and all of whom depend on the Government for retaining their job, can be an independent commission. I have just spoken to a representative of the New South Wales Teachers Federation. I told him that I thought the advertisement he published yesterday was very hard on his own people. When he asked me why I thought that, I said: ‘You make a statement to the effect that, if you nominate your own people, they will be pettifogging, quarrelsome people, but that if the Government nominates them they will be all right’. He said: ‘If they are appointed by the organisation, they will be pettifogging, quarrelsome people who cannot do a decent job’. I said: ‘You know your own members best, but surely the Teachers Federation could be relied on to appoint a representative who is not quarrelsome and pettifogging, and this applies in le same way to the state school parents’. I told him that I was surprised that the New South Wales Teachers Federation thought that these people were not fit to appoint their own representatives.
All we say to the Government is that we believe that the organisations are quite capable of appointing their own representatives. In regard to the commission on education for the Australian Capital Territory, the Minister and the Government have provided that the organisations can nominate their own representatives. All we say is: ‘All right, if you do not agree with us you have the power without any legislation to appoint a Karmel-type commission and it can go and do the whole job’. What is wrong with that? The Government is saying: ‘We know we can appoint the commission we want, but we are going to force you to agree to a commission that you do not want’. I do not see any commonsense or justice in a proposal that we shall be forced to vote for a commission with which we disagree when at the very time the Government has the power in its hands to do the whole thing itself. As the Melbourne ‘Age’ said, this row over the Commission is a colossal bluff.
-On behalf of the DLP.
-If Senator McLaren lived in Victoria he would never accuse the ‘Age ‘ of being a supporter of the DLP. Senator Poyser knows this as do other honourable senators from Victoria. I have never seen such trenchant attacking leading articles about a political party anywhere in Australia as in the ‘Age’ on the DLP. Senator McLaren knows nothing about Victorian affairs.
– You are bluffing.
-Look, I think you should stick to feathers and not politics.
– I made a success of that, too.
– I hope that you made a better success of feathers than you have made of politics. The Government has it in its own hands to appoint the Commission. But what has happened? We all know that the brains trust- the Mick Young-Eric Walsh axis and the other boys-has got together and said: ‘This is our chance to get some electoral profit’. The 35 pressmen have been put on the job and the story is being put around: ‘Look at the Opposition holding up this Commission’. In short, they are saying that the Opposition is going to stop the kids from getting $500m. But the kids were never in any danger of losing a cent out of it. All that has happened is that this Government has decided to play political football with the welfare of the children in the schools of this country.
I conclude my speech by saying that if Senator Turnbull believes in attacking hypocrisy, let him attack the hypocrisy of what the Government has been doing in the last couple of weeks on this issue. The Government has it in its own hands without legislation tomorrow to appoint the Commission that it wants and it will not appoint it because there is a little bit of political propaganda and political trickery about and it thinks that it might make something out of it.
– I think that generally speaking what has been said today by Senator Rae, Senator Drake-Brockman and Senator McManus was said in the debate that ensued in this chamber some two or three weeks ago, with the exception that on this occasion some additional phrases and personalities, unfortunately, have been brought into the discussion. It has been suggested that this measure is a colossal bluff by the Government. We have heard that the Government is following a scheme that has been devised by the Eric Walsh-Mick Young axis and that the Government has decided to make a political football of the school kids of this country. Frankly, nothing can be further from the truth. The Government regards this as a very serious matter. The Opposition clearly is thwarting the will of the Australian people as expressed by them in the ballot box on 2 December 1972. Clearly the most major plank on which the Labor Party went to the people and for which it secured a mandate from the people was our education policy. Let me repeat what the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) had to say on education.
-Will this be the truth?
– I will ignore the honourable senator. If Senator Webster wants to know whether this is the truth he can check what I am saying, as it appears under the heading ‘Education’ at page 12 of the policy speech that the Prime Minister made before the last elections. The Prime Minister said:
It is our basic proposition that the people are entitled to know. It is our basic belief that the people will respond to national needs once they know those needs. It is in educationthe needs of our schools-that we will give prime expression to that proposition and that belief.
Clearly the Prime Minister was saying that this is one of the principal matters, if not the principal matter, in our election policy. He went on to say amongst other things:
The most rapidly growing sector of public spending under a Labor Government will be education.
We propose in our education plans for 1974 and 1975 to spend $694m. Under the proposals of the former Government $226m was to be spent in the same time. The Prime Minister went on to state:
Education should be the great instrument for the promotion of equality. Under the Liberals it has become a weapon for perpetuating inequality and promoting privilege. For example, the pupils of the State and Catholic schools have had less than half as good an opportunity as the pupils of non-Catholic independent schools to gain Commonwealth secondary scholarships, and very much less than half the opportunity of completing their secondary education.
The Labor Party is determined that every child who embarks on secondary education in 1973 shall, irrespective of school or location, have as good an opportunity as any other child of completing his secondary education and continuing his education further. The Labor party believes that the Commonwealth should give most assistance to those schools, primary and secondary, whose pupils need most assistance.
Again this is the doctrine of need as spelt out by the Prime Minister. Further on in his policy speech he said:
The Australian Labor Party believes that the Commonwealth should adopt the same methods-
I emphasise the words ‘same methods ‘- to assist schools as it has adopted to assist universities and colleges of advanced education- through a commission.
The Gorton Government and, I think from recollection, the McMahon Government established a Universities Commission and an Advanced Education Commission and provided that the Minister would make the appointments to those commissions. In our policy speech we said that if we were elected to government we would establish a Schools Commission along the same lines that the previous Government laid down for a Universities Commission and an Advanced Education Commission. But the amendments which have been moved by the Opposition in the Senate will not enable us to do that. In our legislation we suggested that a Commission consisting of 12 members should be appointed by the Minister.
– ‘Up to’- that is not the minimum.
– Well, up to twelve.
– That is at the discretion of the Minister. It is down to four. Let us be honest about it.
– Well, to be appointed.
– Be fair.
-Who would appoint them?
– Four to twelve- there is a lot of difference.
– Is there any difference between our proposal and your proposal about the way in which appointments are made to the Universities Commission and the Advanced Education Commission? Surely the answer to that must be no. The Opposition denies us the opportunity to appoint the number of members to the Schools Commission that we think desirable. Also, it does not want representatives from the State advisory boards on the Commission. The Opposition wants a commission made up of 15 members and of the 15 members I think the Minister would nominate only four. All of the others will be nominated for the Government; that is the difference.
– I question that the Minister can nominate only four. That is not what he told me.
-My impression of it is that the members of the Commission, on Senator McManus ‘s amendment -
– On my amendment but not on the Government’s proposal.
– I am talking about Senator McManus ‘s amendment.
– That is different. I am sorry. We are in agreement.
– I take it that Senator McManus agrees with what I have said.
– That is right.
– In answer to Senator McManus ‘s statement that the Government’s indignation is a sham, that it is all a colossal bluff because if the Government does not get such a Commission by way of statute it could set up another Karmel-type interim committee, let me refer to what the Prime Minister has said:
I propose to prepare for the statutory Schools Commission as Sir Robert Menzies prepared for the Universities Commission.
The Prime Minister went on to say that if Labor were elected to office he would write before Christmas to a group of leading educationists, including representatives of the State and Catholic systems. That was done. Here we are today with this proposition. Clearly on everything that has been said the Opposition is thwarting the will of the people. Before getting on to the amendments adopted by the Senate as a result of motions moved by the Opposition parties let me reply to what Senator Drake-Brockman had to say. He read from paragraph 13.6 of the report of the Karmel Committee on the structure of the Schools Commission, but he read only the first sentence. The first sentence reads:
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 asked Senator Drake-Brockman to read the next sentence. He told me that he would make his own speech. I will now read the next sentence for him. It reads:
That is, the Karmel Committee- the Interim Committee established by the Government- 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. This does not mean that the Commission should be insensitive to widely held views in the community nor that its membership should not display a range of experience and attitudes, but it does mean that individual members should be free from the responsibilities of representing constituent bodies.
That clearly was the intention.
– Our amendment would do precisely that. It would free them from any responsibility.
– Is Senator Rae talking about his amendment or the amendment moved by the Australian Democratic Labor Party?
– They are the same thing. The proposed clause 4b.
– I am talking about the amendment which was adopted by the Senate and which it has been suggested should be embodied in this legislation. The Government says that the amendments adopted by the Senate on the motions of the Opposition parties are unacceptable. If they were accepted and became part of the legislation their overall effect would be to embed conflicting interests and to institutionalise the inequalities which exist in Australian education and which it is the Government’s intention to remove. The amendments limit the flexibility of the Minister of the day in the choice of people best able to contribute to the Commission’s activities. The majority of members of the Commission would, in effect, be delegates of particular organisations or institutions under the Opposition’s proposals and thereby, we suggest, would be inhibited in their capacity to make decisions. We say, as my colleague in another place said, that the Australian Education Council was not consulted before its suggested role was incorporated into the relevant amendments moved by the Opposition parties in the Senate. The majority of the members of that Council do not wish it to make nominations to the Commission.
The amendments to the composition of the Commission constitute a complete departure from the proven model of the Australian Universities Commission, which the Government undertook to follow in the case of schools. The amendments reduce the emphasis on the determination of assistance by relative need. They eliminate the requirements for the Commission to have regard in the exercising of its functions to the primary obligation of governments to government schools systems that are of the highest standard and are open without fees or religious tests to all children. By eliminating the State and Territory Schools Commission Advisory Boards, which would have brought into the structure of advice about 80 people, the concept of consultation and co-operation between the Commission and interested groups throughout Australia on a continuing basis will be destroyed. We say that the overall effect of the Opposition’s amendments will be to prevent the Schools Commission from being the national expert body to which the majority of the people of Australia are looking to improve the quality of education for all Australian children. That is why I have suggested that the Senate should not insist on the amendments disagreed to by the House of Representatives.
That the motion (Senator Douglas McClelland’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman- Senator Wilkinson)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The question is that I report a resolution to the Senate that the Committee has resolved to insist upon the amendments of the Senate to which the House of Representatives has disagreed.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman- Senator Wilkinson)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 29 November (vide page 2333), on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The matter with which we are concerned is the States Grants (Schools) Bill 1973 which is a Bill introduced by the Government to replace from the beginning of next year legislation which has been in force for some years in various forms providing funds from the Commonwealth Government or, as it is now called, the Australian Government to the States and to the independent schools systems. This Bill provides for general building grants, supplementary science laboratory building grants, grants for recurrent expenditure, grants for libraries, grants for disadvantaged schools, for special schools for handicapped children for teacher development and for special projects. There are then contained in the Bill a number of schedules which set out the amounts of money involved. This Bill has become a somewhat celebrated piece of proposed legislation since it was introduced into the House a short time ago. It is unfortunate that there has been a great misunderstanding and a great deal of misrepresentation as to what is involved. So I wish to state the background very briefly.
Legislation providing for grants to schools and to students in Australia is not something novel. The novelty involved in this proposed legislation is, firstly, in the amount of the increase, which is substantial. It is an increase recommended by the Karmel Committee which was set up by the new Government shortly after its election last year. But the Government has not introduced something novel from the point of view of the Commonwealth providing funds to the States for the Government schools system or the nonGovernment schools system. The fact that that is so is important in relation to one matter which perhaps will be the most contentious matter in relation to this Bill, that is, the provision for recurrent per capita grants. At this stage, in referring to the legislative background, I make the point that for some years there has been provision for basic per capita grants to be made by the Commonwealth in respect of each child at a non-government school. The importance of that we will see in just a moment.
The Bill is welcomed in most of its terms by the Opposition. In fact, the only term which is not welcomed is an omission rather than a provision. There is an omission which the Opposition will suggest should be rectified by an amendment which the Opposition will request to be made to clause 15 (5). Clause 15 of the Bill provides for recurrent grants in respect of non-government schools, that is, for recurrent expenditure of nonsystemic non-government schools. The provision is that grants shall be made as provided in the Schedule. But the Schedule will have the effect of dishonouring a solemn promise given by the Government on many occasions in the period leading up to the election last year and reaffirmed by it on a number of occasions since it became the Government in what I think would be regarded by anyone as the clearest terms. What it will do is reduce the amount of grant to 40 per cent of the children of Australia who attend nonsystemic schools which they receive towards their education from Federal Government sources. This is notwithstanding the fact that all taxpayers contribute and notwithstanding the fact that we have a government which is abolishing fees for tertiary education and letting anyone regardless of his income, wealth or need attend a university without any payment on his part so that he receives the same kind of sustenance, subsidy or payment from Commonwealth Government sources as any other person.
This is so notwithstanding the fact that this Government has introduced that policy this year, that it has taken steps to abolish the means test, that it still pays child endowment- I might add, originally introduced by the present Oppositionupon a basis which means that every child in Australia, irrespective of the means of the parent, is entitled to child endowment. This is so notwithstanding an acceptance of the view throughout this community that in these respects there are certain rights which go with children, not with schools, not with their parents and not with some other relationship which may be attributable to them. We suggest that the child himself has a right to the basic grant from the public purse towards the child’s education so that his parents may on his behalf or later in his development exercise a right to attend whatever school he chooses and to receive the form of education he wishes to receive or which his parents wish him to receive.
We see as fundamental to the exercise of that right the continuation of the basic per capita grant with needs being provided for over and above that. I pause to make that point, because we have been misrepresented in this regard repeatedly by scurrilous advertisements placed by people who know better and who have therefore done it deliberately to mislead the public. Our position is clear. In relation to need we started a system while we were in government of providing on a basis of priorities. The new Government describes it as a basis of need. There is no real difference. It is a matter of identifying who has the prior right or the priority or the greatest need- whichever way we like to look at it- for extra assistance from the public purse. We totally support that. The Opposition will vote for the second reading of this Bill. I remind you, Mr President, and I remind honourable senators that in the House of Representatives the Opposition voted for the second reading of the Bill. We do not in any way oppose the positive provisions of this Bill which provide for what have become known as the Karmel funds to be made available to children throughout Australia. Any representation to the contrary is a scurrilous misrepresentation of the position of the Opposition in relation to this legislation.
Promises were made. There were many of them. They were made by the Government prior to the last election- made by the present Government. For instance, in a speech at the Festival Hall on 2 May 1972 Mr E. G. Whitlam stated:
We want to remove the inequalities in Australian education, and these are the greatest in the non-government sector, and my Party believes that where the need is greatest, there, this assistance should be given. We will not repeal or reduce any educational benefit which is already being paid. We will confirm any which there are already . . .
I repeat that speech was made on 2 May 1972. A tape recording of it has been played on a number of occasions over radio and, I think, on television. It is not disputed, as I understand it, by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). I remind honourable senators that what he said then was:
We will not repeal or reduce any educational benefit which is already being paid. We will confirm any which there are already . . .
I pause to remind the Government that at the time of that statement there was a provision for a basic per capita grant to be paid to every child at a non-systemic school in Australia. There is no argument about that. There can be no argument. The fact that subsequently legislation was introduced which improved the system under which that money was paid does not take away from the fact that on the date of that promise a basic per capita grant was available to every child who wished to attend a non-systemic school.
On 11 May the then Prime Minister, Mr McMahon, announced the program which was subsequently enacted in the States Grants (Schools) Act 1972. The full details of the legislation were announced on 1 1 May but it went through in late September. In Melbourne on 20 June the present Prime Minister, then Leader of the Opposition stated:
The ALP has never voted against any Bill proposing Commonwealth aid for education and it will support any forms of benefit already existing.
That is a repetition of the promise. After the then Prime Minister announced what the system would be and after full details of the legislation which was enacted in 1972 were announced, Mr Whitlam said that the ALP would support any forms of benefit already existing. It has Deen suggested, and no doubt it may be suggested here today, that by some magical twist of logic the Australian Labor Party moved an amendment to the motion for the second reading in the House of Representatives and in the Senate of the States Grants (Schools) Bill of 1972. The Australian Labor Party spokesmen said that the Government would set up a Schools Commission. They said that that was what they thought should be done. That was never suggested on the basis that it was the attitude of the then Opposition, now the Government, that there would be no honouring of the promise made or that there would be no basic grant. When one looks through the speeches made on that occasion it is interesting to see, looking back, the delicacy with which the path was trod and that no statement was made or really implied. It seems that people were keeping their options open at that time.
On 27 October 1972 at Haberfield in New South Wales Mr Beazley, the present Minister for Education, said something which was extremely significant. He said:
Whispering campaigns to the contrary, no private school under Labor will in future get less than the per capita grant it gets now.
That was on 27 October 1972.
– That was said by the present Minister for Education just prior to the election, as an election promise.
– Yes, Senator McManus. The present Minister for Education, Mr Beazley, made the statement to refute whispering campaigns. It now appears that if those whispering campaigns existed they were very well founded. To refute such statements the Minister said:
Whispering campaigns to the contrary, no private school under Labor will in future get less than the per capita grant it gets now.
This Government by this Bill would dishonour that promise. The Government, by its action in the House of Representatives, has dishonoured that promise. It is disgraceful that a government is prepared blatantly and flagrantly to dishonour a promise made in those terms. I want to continue, however, because this has been said on so many occasions by people on the Labor side. There can be no doubt that the people of Australia voted last year upon the basis that if they voted for the Labor Party it was going to retain a basic per capita grant. Why, even Mr Grassby, the famous Mr Grassby, placed advertisements in his local Press.
– Why do you say ‘ famous ‘?
– Because he makes such a show of everything and he made a show of this. He made a show of saying that he was going to be at certain places on 23 November and other places on 24 November, before the elections. In his election advertisement, which was headed ‘Go Forward with Grassby’, he had a message. It did not say that his Party would break all its promises. What it did say is this:
Independent schools will die in 10 years unless there is a new deal.
Al Grassby and his colleagues are pledged to that new deal which will immediately give another 1 S per cent on top of existing grants and aids.
I will read it again, Mr President. Just before the election Al Grassby said that he and his colleagues were ‘pledged to that new deal which will immediately give another IS per cent on top of existing grants and aids.’ He was referring, as he said, to independent schools which would otherwise die in 10 years. What the Government is doing now is killing them off in 2 years.
– Which ones? Geelong Grammar?
- Senator Poyser asks: ‘Which ones?’ I wish to table in the Senate a document showing which schools because there has been such an amount of nonsense about this matter. With the leave of the Senate I will table the document. If leave is not given, Mr President, it is because the Labor Party is not prepared to see the full list of schools which are being killed off by it, not just category A schools, not just category B schools, not just category C schools and not just category D schools, because category E and category F schools as well are getting reduced aid under this Government which pretends that it is a Government which would honour its promises. It flagrantly breaches them. Let me continue with the promises. On 28 October, and unrefuted on 28 October, there was a report of the speech made by Mr Beazley at Haberfield. In the ‘Daily Telegraph’ he was reported as having said:
No private school would get less under a Labor Government than the per capita grant it received now.
I quoted earlier from the actual copy of his speech which is called ‘Priorities in Education’. Then we find that in Mr Whitlam ‘s policy speech of 13 November 1972 he said:
A Federal Labor Government will:
Continue all grants under Commonwealth legislation throughout 1973.
And here is the important part:
Allocate the increased grants for 1974 and subsequent years on the basis of recommendations prepared and published by the Schools Commission.
Who would not have believed that he meant that there would be a continuation of all the grants that existed and that after that there would be increases on the basis recommended? No one could have taken it in any other way. I want to take the matter further. What I am about say no doubt will be of interest to the Tasmanians who are present in the chamber. Mr Beazley responded to a series of questions which had been asked in a letter written by the headmaster of one of the non-government schools in Tasmania. That headmaster asked a series of questions on behalf of a number of headmasters. The first question was:
Is it the intention of the Federal Labor Party to continue Per Capita Aid to independent schools for 1974 and following years?
The answer, in a letter dated 24 November 1972 and signed by Mr Beazley ‘s secretary on his behalf, was one word: ‘Yes.’ There was no equivocation, no question of maybe and no question of We shall see’. The answer to the question of whether it was the intention of the Federal Labor Party to continue per capita aid to independent schools for 1 974 and following years was the one word answer, ‘Yes’. The letter did not say: ‘We will cut out some of them ‘. It did not say ‘ We will reduce some.’ What it said was: ‘Yes, we will continue per capita aid’. What did Mr Whitlam say on 13 December 1972? In a letter to Mr J. Dixon, Chairman of the National Council of Independent Schools, written by Mr Whitlam as Prime Minister after the election, he said:
Per capita grants to non-government schools for the year 1973 will be paid at the rates already approved for 1973 under the provisions of that Act, -
He was referring to the 1972 Act-
Le. $62 per primary pupil and $104 per secondary pupil. Commencing in 1974 additional Commonwealth contributions -
I repeat those words- additional Commonwealth contributions towards the running costs of non-government schools will be determined on the basis of relative need as assessed by the Interim Committee and subsequently by the Australian Schools Commission.
– Who said that?
– That was said by the present Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, who had made the statements during the year, before the elections, and after the elections he repeated that there would be additional grants. In his policy speech he said that the grants would be additional to those which would be continued. I want to turn now to the terms of reference of the Karmel committee, which state:
The grants recommended by the Interim Committee will be:
for the period 1 January 1 974 to 3 1 December 1 975;
b) in addition to existing Commonwealth commitments;
I again draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that these grants were stated to be in addition to the existing Commonwealth commitments
Then there is a reference to existing Commonwealth commitments. The Karmel Committee stated on page 6 of its report:
The terms of reference specified that grants recommended by the Committee were to be in addition to existing Commonwealth commitment.
On page 7 of its report the Committee referred to the fact that the Government subsequently told it that the basic level of support for nongovernment schools would not be predetermined after 1 973 and that the nature and level of support for recurrent expenditure during 1974 and 1975 would be recommended by the committee. This was where the Government clearly broke its promise. It broke it at the time of a letter dated 1 3 April, Mr President; a letter held secret by this Government and never published. The terms of reference were published but the Government refused to make known this letter although it claimed to be engaged in open government. It changed the terms of reference of the Karmel Committee by means of a letter. It was done in an underhand way, privately, in a letter to Professor Karmel which was not disclosed by the Minister and had to be forced out of him in the
House of Representatives by a motion calling for him to table it. That is disgraceful conduct.
-No wonder members of the ALP are ashamed of themselves.
– No wonder that they are so ashamed of themselves. When one thinks of the sequence of events, it is one of the most shameful parts of Australia’s political history. It is nearly as obnoxious as the monstrous fraud which the Government has committed in claiming to have increased expenditure on education by 92 per cent. When one takes out the funds which have been shuffled away from the States, when one accepts that one-third of the increased expenditure in the Budget is simply an amount which previously was paid by the States and which will now be paid by the Commonwealth- that amount is taken away from the money which otherwise would be paid to the States and does not represent one cent extra for education in Australiaand when one realises that two-thirds of the remainder relates to amounts which were approved by the previous Government and does not represent one cent of extra funds provided by this Government, one comes down to a very small amount, nothing like the 92 per cent claimed by this Government in its mammoth misrepresentations on education. The greatest confidence trick and the greatest political hoax in the history of Australia is in relation to education and has been perpetrated by this Government this year. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the letter of 13 April 1973 which is addressed to Professor Karmel and which is signed Kim E. Beazley, who is the Minister for Education.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)- 13 April 1973
Dear Professor Karmel,
The terms of reference of your Committee specify that the grants you will recommend will be ‘in addition to existing Commonwealth commitments’. It is also relevant that the Government has undertaken to continue during 1973 all grants to schools made under Commonwealth legislation which was operative when we came into office. I want to set down the Government’s decisions about the phasing out of pre-existing programs after 1973.
We will honour as firm commitments offers of specific amounts for individual projects for science facilities in nongovernment schools which have been made for each year of the present program to its conclusion on 30 June 1975. The sums available for government schools under this program will be paid to 30 June 1975 also. Beyond that date it will be for the Schools Commission or, in the shorter term, the Interim Committee, to consider the treatment of science facilities in both government and non-government schools.
Some non-government schools had been informed by the previous Government that additional grants, up to the total reasonable cost of a project already approved, would be made available provided the Parliament agreed to extend the program and provided sufficient funds were available. We will not make any automatic provision for these additional amounts because under our system these projects should be considered by you in the context of overall educational needs and priorities. I have asked my Department to provide you with information about these projects.
A similar approach will be followed for the secondary schools libraries program. Specific offers have been made in respect of individual projects in non-government schools up to 31 December 1974 when the present authority will expire. The Government regards these offers as commitments and they will be honoured together with outstanding commitments for government schools under the existing legislation. After 1974 we will look to the Schools Commission to make whatever recommendations it considers appropriate about secondary school libraries.
Under the States Grants (Schools) Act 1972 provision was made for capital grants for government schools totalling $167m and for non-government schools totalling $48m over the five years commencing July 1973. In accordance with an undertaking we have given to the States, the grants for capital facilities in government schools will be made available as contemplated in the legislation. For the purposes of the Interim Committee those grants should be regarded as existing Commonwealth commitments. For the non-government schools the first year’s instalments will be made available under the Dougherty Committee mechanism. However, for the remaining four years commencing July 1974 the allocation of the capital moneys for non-government schools under the Act will be as recommended by the Schools Commission.
In the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory a capital aid program of a particular kind has operated for non-government schools. We intend that that scheme should continue under the existing administrative arrangements until 30 June 1974. For that time applications for assistance will be considered within the Schools Commission’s program. I would like the Commission and the Department to discuss appropriate arrangements before the Comission makes recommendations.
The Commonwealth per capita grants to non-government schools in the States in respect of recurrent expenditure are being paid during 1973 at the rates already approved- $62 per primary pupil and $ 104 per secondary pupil. In the two Territories the per capita rates are twice those in the States. We wish the Interim Committee to make recommendations for contributions towards recurrent expenditure in non-government schools for 1974 and 1975 on the basis of its assessment of needs and priorities. In subsequent years this will be a matter for consideration by the Schools Commission. The effect of this decision is that the Government will not pre-determine a basic level of support for all non-government schools after 1 973. It will be for the Interim Committee to recommend the nature and level of support for recurrent expenditure in those schools during 1974 and 1975, having regard to the overall assessment of needs and priorities and to the pre-existing situation.
Interim Schools Committee for Australian Schools Com mission,
– In that letter the Minister said:
It is also relevant that the Government has undertaken to continue during 1973 all grants to schools made under Commonwealth legislation which was operative when we came into office.
– You need to read that again.
– Order! The Chair has control of these matters. Senator Rae, I do not wish to interrupt your speech, but do you wish to withdraw your application for leave to incorporate the letter in Hansard?
– No. I wish to draw attention to one part in particular. The part to which I wish to draw attention is the final paragraph, which states:
The Commonwealth per capita grants to non-government schools in the States in respect of recurrent expenditure are being paid during 1 973 at the rates already approved- $62 per primary pupil and $104 per secondary pupil. In the 2 Territories the per capita rates are twice those in the States.
I pause there to comment that this Government, while taking away from schools in categories A to F, which represent over 53 per cent of all the children at non-systemic schools, gives increased aid to schools in the Territories. The schools in categories A to F are getting less then they would have under the 1972 Act. Perhaps the increased aid to schools in the Territories is given because the Government is frightened of the reaction which might come about in Canbera if it were to renege on its promise. The letter continues:
In the 2 Territories the per capita rates are twice those in the States. We wish the Interim Committee to make recommendations for contributions towards recurrent expenditure in nongovernment schools for 1974 and 1975 on the basis of its assessment of needs and priorities. In subsequent years this will be a matter for consideration by the Schools Commission. The effect of this decision is that the Government will not predetermine a basic level of support for all non-government schools after 1973.
That letter is a direct repudiation of the promises made repeatedly by the Labor Party prior to the election. It has repudiated its promises. It stands condemned for that repudiation. It is up to the Government to honour the promises and to see that there is justice for every Australian child and every Australian parent who wish to avail themselves of their right to choose the kind of education which the children are to receive.
Let me remind the Senate of what occurred. Mr Beazley, the Minister for Education, on 30 May this year expressed his personal view. It is reported in the House of Representatives Hansard at page 2844. The Minister said:
My view was that every school in the country, including the Geelong Grammar School, should receive a basic grant from the Commonwealth and that the Commonwealth should have an identity with the education of every child. If it has recommended, in good conscience, something that is different from that, it is its decision and not my directive.
That same man had directed Professor Karmel that this was not to be the situation. He had so directed the Professor in the paragraph of the letter which I have just read out. The Minister is a man with an incredible twist of mind if he is prepared to say that. It is interesting to note that on 30 August, when the Opposition raised a matter of urgency in the House of Representatives, following one a little earlier in this chamber, Mr Beazley did not deny a number of the promises which had been referred to. He said that he felt sure that the Labor Party would be conscious of its electoral obligations. But it has not been. To this day it remains not prepared to honor the obligations which it assumed when it made the promises before the election, and not prepared to honour the obligations which it assumed when, as a government, it repeated them after the election.
In the House of Representatives, the Opposition, being unable to move a request for an amendment or an amendment, indicated its opposition to the Government’s rejection of its promises by voting against clause 66 of the Bill. In the Senate it is not necessary for us to take that course. We can indicate our wishes by moving a request for an amendment to clause 15, and we will do so at the appropriate stage. If that request for an amendment is carried, it will no longer be relevant for us to indicate our objection to clause 66 which seeks to terminate the 1972 legislation. Therefore, we shall not worry about clause 66. 1 repeat that the Opposition supports the whole of the Karmel Committee’s report as to the allocation of funds. It wishes to see those funds made available at the first possible instance. I repudiate entirely these mis-statements and misrepresentations which have been made by the New South Wales Teachers Federation, among others, which would suggest that the Opposition in some way objects to what the Federation calls the poor schools of Australia receiving funds. We do not. When we were in government we had set about a program which would have involved extra money being made available to those schools. Now that we are in Opposition we will vote for this Bill which will provide extra money for these schools. We voted for it in the House of Representatives. We will vote for it in this chamber.
There is only one aspect to which I wish to return and that is if, in direct repudiation of the promises made many times by all those people to whom I have referred and many more, this Government intends to pursue this matter to an election, it will find itself having to face a situation in which the matter on which it has refused to act- a request by the Senate- is a matter on which it has refused to honour the promises made not once, not twice but many times before and after the election. I refer very briefly to an example for the benefit of some honourable senators opposite who seem to have tunnel vision in relation to this matter.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie)- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
Motion (by Senator Laucke) proposed:
That Senator Rae be granted an extension of time.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- All those in favour say aye, to the contrary no.
– How long does he think he will be?
– You refused to give him an extension of time and now you ask how long he will be.
– Despite Senator Webster’s interjection -
- Senator Webster wants everything said two or three times.
– It is only the lies repeated.
– Despite Senator Webster’s interjection, the fact is that the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast. There are speakers for and against a proposition.
– I take a point of order. Yesterday Senator Webster accused me of lying and he was forced to withdraw his accusation. He is now doing the same thing without rising in his place, and I ask that he be put in his place and be told not to make such accusations.
– He did not mention anyone.
– He did. He called me a liar.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie)- I did not hear that.
– It is normal practice in the Senate that the honourable senator leading in a debate on a proposition be given half an hour. However, on this occasion Senator Rae suggests that he needs a little longer. We are prepared to agree to a reasonable addition to his normal speaking time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I call Senator Rae.
-I thank the Senate. I will be very brief. There is just one further point which I did wish to make because I think it is important in the consideration of what is involved in the debate. It has been suggested- I have refuted it already- that only category A schools are involved in the principle about which we are concerned. Schools in categories A, B, C, D, E and F are all to receive under this Bill less then they would have received under the 1972 legislation. Under our proposal- namely, that the Government honour its promise- schools in categories A, B, C, and D will all get more than they will under this Bill as it stands at the moment. The reason for the difference is that the States Grants (Schools) Act 1972 provided an automatic escalation which would have carried all of the schools up to an amount above that provided for schools in categories E and F under this present Bill.
I would like to give an example of a school which is involved in this scheme. I went to that school last Friday. It is a school which has S3 pupils. It is a school at which all of the children are the children of migrants. It is a school at which most of the children are the children of working mothers or families on lower or lower to middle incomes. Most of the mothers of these children work so that they can pay the school fees. That is their reason for working. It is a religious school. It is a school which believes devoutly and firmly that the only sort of education which should be given to the children who attend it is the type of education which involves the particular religion available at that school. It is their right of choice in a free society. It is their right of choice in a society which believes that people have the freedom to worship and to believe as they choose. That is a right which should be protected by this Parliament. It is a right which is sacred in a democracy.
Notwithstanding the fact that the parents of those 53 children who attend this small school in a suburb of Melbourne were promised by a very eminent member of the Labor Party Cabinet just before the last election that if they voted Labor they would get much more money- they were told they would get nearly double- the school has been placed in category A and gets nothing because of the absurdity of the basis upon which the categorisation takes place. I give that school as an example because people talk about wealthy schools. I will take any pressman, any member of the chamber or any member of the public who wants to talk about wealthy schools in category A out to that school to see it. They can then see whether it is wealthy. Have a look at
Marbury College; have a look at the Australian Independent School in Sydney; have a look at Loreto Convent in Portland; have a look at any one of two dozen or three dozen schools that I could suggest and see whether they are wealthy schools. Having seen those schools, who would claim that they should be categorised as being wealthy? Yet, they are all receiving reduced or no aid under the scheme of this Government which wishes to break its promises, given so many dmes last year and repeated again after it came to power. The Opposition will stand firm on a principle in which it believes and in which I believe the majority of Australians believe; namely, the right of choice and the right to receive a basic grant towards education to enable the children of Australia to enjoy that choice.
-There is an old saying that if you are right you do not have to raise your voice, and if your are wrong, it does not matter how much you raise it because you are still wrong. Initially, I had not intended to enter into this debate but I do so because there is a matter which I think ought to be put in its absolutely clear and proper setting. We should lay to rest for all time the accusation which has come from the other side of the chamber that there has been a repudiation of an undertaking given by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) at the time of the election. What I propose to do -
– You do not doubt that, do you?
– Would you keep quiet, please? Please, can I appeal to every sense of decency in you, if any.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie)- Order! Senator Devitt, you will address the Chair.
-I will, Mr Acting Deputy President. I have just disposed of Senator Webster. I will now do that. As I say, I want to put the situation regarding the undertaking given by the Prime Minister in its right setting. I think it will be clear after I have made my remarks that there has been no breaking of any undertaking given by the Prime Minister. I say that for this reason.
– You are going to be scratching.
– It might take a lot to convince the hononourable senator, but I am not proposing to reduce my speech into the simple terms necessary to do that. I will use my own words. Reference was made, and has been made frequently, to statements attributed to the Prime
Minister at the time of the election. I want to recall to the attention of the Senate the fact that the former Liberal Government had before the House of Representatives in September of last year legislation similar to that which we are discussing now. An amendment to that legislation was proposed by the Labor Party then in Opposition. The legislation to which I refer was the States Grants (Schools) Bill 1972. That Bill was approved by the Parliamentary Labor Party. A motion was moved in the House of Representatives on 26 September of last year, which was about 2 months before the election, in these terms:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof:
I invite honourable senators to listen very carefully to the terms of this motion, which are as follows: the House, while not refusing a second reading to the Bill, is of the opinion that it should provide for the establishment of an Australian Schools Commission to examine and determine the needs of students in government and non-government primary, secondary, and technical schools, and recommend grants which the Commonwealth should make to the States to assist in meeting the requirements of all school age children on the basis of needs and priorities and that the application of this policy could not allow die continued acceptance of the provisions of the Bill and that therefore grants should not be made on the basis provided in the Bill in respect of any year after 1973 ‘.
– Nowhere did he say that some students would get nothing.
-Perhaps I could clear the honourable senator’s mind on that point. I think that perhaps Senator Davidson ought to just ponder this motion again. I will go back to the particular passage of that motion which touches upon the question he has raised.
– Why do you not read Mr Beazley ‘s speech in support of it?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTOrder! Interjections must cease. I will not stand for any more interjections. I call Senator Devitt.
– Thank you. I think that I should clarify the point for Senator Davidson because when I read out the motion apparently he did not get the significance of the passage which refers to the matter he raises. The motion reads in part:
The words ‘needs and priorities’ are the crux of the matter. We may bandy words about meanings and so on, but to me it is perfectly clear that assistance will be given on the basis of needs and priorities. That was not the first occasion on which the Labor Party made a statement as to its attitude on this issue. It has been the policy of the Party for years and years. That was just another occasion on which the Party philosophy in regard to this matter was put into the record. So on 26 September 1972, 2 months before the Federal election in which the Australian Labor Party was elected to office, a motion was passed in those terms. I repeat the final passage of that resolution: this policy could not allow the continued acceptance of the provisions of the Bill -
That is the 1972 Bill- and that therefore grants should not be made on the basis provided in the Bill in respect of any year after 1973.
Surely that ought to be clear enough to anybody. What is all this nonsense about a repudiation of an undertaking? In his policy speech the Prime Minister said that the Federal Labor Government would continue all grants under Commonwealth legislation throughout 1973. We did that and we are doing it. The second point he made was that the Government would remove the ceiling on grants imposed by Commonwealth legislation in 1974 and subsequent years. In other words, the ceiling which had been imposed by law up to that stage would be raised. There is no question about that. We have done that in perhaps the most dramatic form that this country has ever seen. Is it any wonder that we are receiving telegrams from parents associations and school bodies expressing their concern at the attitude that has been taken by the Opposition?
The third point that the Prime Minister made was that the Government would allocate the increased grants for 1974 and subsequent years on the basis of recommendations prepared and published by the Schools Commission. I recall that when the Opposition moved a motion in the Senate on 22 August 1973 to debate a matter of urgency I made the passing observation that it was curious to find the Opposition raising as a matter of urgency-I accept the terms of that urgency motion- a general proposition based on one of the finest documents ever put before the Parliament. I questioned the wisdom of the Opposition and the paucity of argument that Opposition members were able to put up when they selected as a subject for debate as a matter of urgency the recommendations of the Karmel Committee. I thought it was a most curious thing to do and I said so at the time. If I may say so, it was also politically stupid. This is where the community gained the impression that the 3 Opposition parties as a combined body were in actual opposition to the recommendations of the Karmel Committee.
I do not want to pursue the matter any further. But I thought that it was absolutely essential to put this matter in its right setting and to throw back into the faces of those who have accused the Prime Minister of a repudiation the fact that, if they were to look at the House of Representatives Hansard record for 26 September last year, they would find the very things that we are saying now written into the record of the Parliament. How, in the face of that, could the Prime Minister get up on the hustings during the election campaign and make some other statement which would be contrary to the provisions of the amendment moved in the House of Representatives last year? The whole idea is absolutely stupid. It is absolute and utter nonsense. If that is the basis upon which the Opposition will rest its case and base its judgment as to the acceptability or otherwise of legislation, it is a pretty poor stand.
– That is right.
-Senator Webster seems to be nodding his head in my direction. I am glad that I have him on my side at long last. He is approving what I am saying and, of course, he is going on to further fortify that. Let us have no more nonsense about this suggestion that the Prime Minister has repudiated an undertaking. Here in the record of the Parliament 2 months before this Government was elected to office is his statement that we would continue those grants in 1973 but not thereafter. That is the course that we are set upon at this moment. If honourable senators opposite want to destroy the opportunities for the Australian schools to get this additional aid that the Karmel Committee report and the States Grants (Schools) Bill before the Parliament now promise to give them, they should pursue the course that they are now pursuing and take the cop from the community as a consequence.
– The issue has been very clearly laid down in this debate. It is the credibility of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitiam) and the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley). The previous speaker, Senator Devitt, has denied that the Prime Minister ever promised that the per capita payments being made last year or this year- 1973- would be continued. He said very definitely that the Prime Minister gave no such undertaking. I am a witness. I was on the platform at a meeting in the Festival Hall in West Melbourne attended by thousands of people at which the Prime Minister made the categorical statement: ‘All aid being given at the present time will be continued. No aid being given at the present time will be withdrawn’.
– You will remember that I was there with you.
– That is good enough for me. Senator Webster was on the platform and he is an additional witness that the Prime Minister made the promise.
– I was there too.
-Senator Hannan was there also. The Prime Minister has never denied that he said it. The Prime Minister could not deny that he said it because if he ever denies that he made a promise to continue the existing basic per capita payments I am prepared to hold a Watergate afternoon in the Senate when I will play a tape recording, which has not been interfered with, of the Prime Minister’s own words. I would challenge any member of his Party, having heard that tape recording, to continue to deny that the Prime Minister made that promise.
But even if he did not, surely the Minister for Education is involved. We have heard Senator Rae quoting the exact words which were not only said by the Minister but also were printed and distributed in a number of private schools before the election. In that statement the Minister for Education called upon the schools to disregard the whispering campaign to the effect that the Government would not continue the aid. Mr Beazley, within 5 weeks of the election, as the prospective Minister for Education, said that the Labor Government would continue the basic per capita payments to all schools as at present. I do not want to continue to worry the subject. Senator Rae has quoted innumerable instances of the promise being made. What I want to say is this: Apparently the Prime Minister wishes to break his promise. I do not accuse Mr Beazley of breaking his promise. I have a high regard for him and I believe that he wanted to keep it but he was overruled. But in the case of the Prime Minister, I say that he made a promise. What we have asked the Prime Minister to do is to keep his word.
There has been a smokescreen of unscrupulous misrepresentation drawn over this whole issue. All that the Opposition has asked for as far as I am aware, is that the Prime Minister should keep his promise which would involve the expenditure of $3m, $4m or $5m. We are considering a Bill that will give almost $500,000,000 to a wide variety of schools, particularly the poor ones. Handouts from Government sources have stated that the Opposition is proposing to give immense sums of money to wealthy schools and to take money away from the other schools, the needy ones. We never suggested anything of the sort. My Party has been prepared to vote and will vote to give every cent proposed to be given by the Government to the schools to which it says it will give the money. All we ask is that the Government add on $4m or $5m in order that it can then be said that the Prime Minister has kept his word.
People say that the Government’s proposed action is necessary because it must look after the poor rather than the rich, but this Government has just decided to pay the fees of all university students. If the Government believes in the needs angle, why would it not refuse to pay the fees of university students whose parents are wealthy, and why would it not give the money to needy students? It does not believe in that angle. Every student will have his fees paid, irrespective of whether his father is a millionaire or a wharf labourer. Moreover, the Government is wiping out the means test for pensions. We have seen newspaper reports about people who are supposed to be wealthy- I am sure some of them are not wealthy- and who have applied for the pension. Yet the Government says: ‘We will not prevent wealthy people from getting the pension and giving that money to the needy’. It says that all people who are eligible, whether or not they are wealthy, will qualify for the pension. What happens with regard to child endowment? Does the Government ask mothers and fathers how much money they have? Of course it does not. Child endowment is paid to all those eligible to receive it, without the application of any means test. I sense something queer or sinister in the fact that the Government intends to apply a means test in the case of independent schools. The story is that all these schools are wealthy. It is an outrageous lie that all the schools that are wealthy are in category A.
– That is in the fifty.
– The fifty. Senator Rae has referred to a number of schools which are in difficulties and which will get nothing. I refer to the case of the Rabinovitch Yeshivah College at 30-36 Flood Street, Bondi, New South Wales. This is a small Jewish school that caters for the children of orthodox members of the Jewish faith. It is situated in four 50-year-old cottagesthere are no magnificent buildings here- and in the basement of a synagogue in Bondi. The school has 119 pupils in the primary section and 12 pupils in the secondary section. Of these pupils, 85 per cent come from lower-income families and are able to attend the school only because of bursaries provided by members of the Jewish community.
-Didn’t the school appeal?
– The honourable senator will hear about it. Of the remaining 15 per cent, most pay only part fees and a very small number can afford full fees. There is an average of 7.5 teachers in the primary school and 3 teachers in the secondary school. The teachers all accept low salaries because of a dedicated spirit and in order to keep the school going. The school will finish this year with a $40,000 deficit, although it has tried to keep going by getting donations from Jewish people. Under the Government’s plan, all aid is expected to be withdrawn from this school.
– On what basis of reason could anyone do that?
– No-one can find out. The school appealed against its classification in category A, but without success. It then asked the Minister, or officials of the Commonwealth Government, at least to visit the school and see its difficulties at first hand, but this approach met with no success. The Department simply wrote a sympathetic letter to say that the decision was final and was not based on religious or other criteria. The Headmaster, Mr Breakspear, says: The only reason that I can give for the Government’s refusing us aid is that it imagines that every Jewish child has millionaire parents’. That is only one case. That school appealed and the appeal was refused. Senator Rae referred to other similar cases where applications have been refused. However, according to the Government’s propagandists, who seem to have had such a wonderful run, all these schools are wealthy, and every child comes to school in a Rolls Royce. That is the nonsense which has been manufactured by the Government to provide what it believes will be a good election issue.
I repeat that the Opposition is being attacked on the grounds that we want to take away nearly $500m from the schools to which it has been allocated and give to the wealthy. We have not advocated the taking of one cent; we will vote for every cent to be given to those schools. All we have said is that when the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education promise people before an election that they will continue to give at least basic aid to all schools, they should keep their promise. On the needs issue, we say to the Government: Give those schools that aid. When the Government has given that basic aid, all the money that it provides for education in future can be provided on the needs basis. That would be our policy, and before the election it was the policy of the Whitlam Labor Party which made it its policy at that election. I, myself, heard the Prime Minister say this, and Mr Beazley said it on innumerable occasions. We are asking them to do now what they told the people of this country, when they were trying to win an election, that they would do.
I point out to those who think that the Government is on a good thing electorally on this issue that I do not think it is. Let us look at some of the Press comment in leading articles, where this matter has been properly evaluated. The ‘Age’ describes what the Government is going on with in its propaganda campaign as an elaborate bluff over schools. Its leading article states:
The Prime Minister undeniably has a flair for the dramatic flourish that captivates the gallery and confounds his opponents. With some highly deceptive foreplay by his Acting Minister for Education he has created the illusion that the Government’s whole schools aid program is being irredeemably jeopardised by Opposition obstructionism . . .
Later, the article states:
It would be a neat trick if he could pull it off, but it would be a trick; there is always the risk that people would not be fooled.
It also states that the DLP is not proposing to defeat the relevant legislation or to reject the allocation of schools aid on a needs basis or to redistribute the allocation of funds already announced. The article concludes:
On the contrary, the Opposition Parties are trying to induce the Government to give just a huie more- apparently $5m more.
Do honourable senators opposite disagree with that?
– What about $ 1 14m more?
-It is not $114m. That was the most disgraceful suggestion in this whole propaganda campaign. Never at any time did the Opposition ask for $1 14m- that was the propaganda trick of the Government’s hired writers. On the contrary, what we said was that all we wanted was $5m so that the Prime Minister’s promises would be kept. The leading article in the Brisbane ‘Courier Mail’ states:
Threats of a double dissolution aside, the entire Federal schools grants program could be held up by this week’s Senate clash.
The Opposition demands are reasonable- that schools which have lost their grants under the Karmel Committee report should continue to receive them.
This would allow all schools to continue to receive some Commonwealth Government recognition.
In his speech, Mr Beazley said that he personally would like all schools to be associated with the Commonwealth in this way. This article also states that there is nothing in Labor’s policy speech for the last election to indicate that grants are to be withdrawn. It states that last year Mr Whitlam, as Opposition Leader, said that the Australian Labor Party would support any forms of benefit already existing. Even the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ had something to say on the issue. I do not have dme to quote the article in full, but it merely states that this is not a genuine campaign by the Government to defend the under-privileged schools, and refers to this as point scoring, and that is all it is. The paid propagandists have been put to work to manufacture this into an election issue. I repeat that never at any time have we suggested taking a penny from the schools to which money has already been allocated and giving it to the wealthy schools. All we have said is: ‘Give them the lot and we will vote for it. But at least carry out your promise and give the $3m or $4m to the schools to which you promised to give it’. This promise was made by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education before the last election.
I am very disappointed with the attitude of the Government. I wish that it had allowed itself to be advised on this issue by Mr Beazley. I have every confidence in him. Any suggestion that he may have made a promise and broken it would not be a valid one because we have to remember that although he can make a promise he is bound by the decision of his Party. I have every respect for him and I believe that the Bill before us would have been different if he had had his way. I am not terribly keen on all this talk about giving money to schools. I believe that we should talk about giving money to children. That is why I support money being allocated on a per capita basis. As far as I am concerned we are not giving money or we ought not to be giving money to schools. What we ought to do is to allocate money to children and the parents of those children can choose the school to which they will go. But I am also aware that there are people in the community who would like to make a legal challenge to any aid to independent schools. Those people would be suited down to the ground if they could prove that a subvention was being given to a religion through a school instead of a child receiving an education grant.
No one can cavil at the principle of money being given to children. As a teacher for 19.5 years I was always under the impression that all Austraiian children were entitled to equal rights. What about some of these so-called wealthy schools? I know the position of these schools because I have been to them. In some instances a child is kept at one of these schools because the parents out of a feeling of sacrifice feel that the child should be there. I know of many cases in which the fees are paid not only by the father but also by the mother who has to go to work. Do honourable senators realise that a considerable number of children who attend one of the socalled wealthy schools in Melbourne get there on scholarships and would not be able to attend this school otherwise? I think that those people who suggest that these schools are rolling in wealth have never been near them. I suggest that it would be a good thing if they had a look at the balance sheets of some of these so-called wealthy schools. But, as I have pointed out, it is not only the wealthy schools that will be affected by this legislation. Senator Rae and I have given examples of schools that are in a difficult situation. Senator Devitt was shocked when I mentioned a Jewish school which has been disadvantaged because of the categorisation. He said: ‘Why did they not appeal?’ I said: ‘They did appeal but they were turned down’. Senator Devitt said that there must be something wrong and I agree with him.
– I did not say that.
– Well, I am sorry. It was someone on his side of the chamber. I withdraw that. But Senator Devitt definitely- definitely, I say- did make a plea on the basis that the prime Minister had never made the promises which I heard him make and which I am prepared to play at a Watergate afternoon in this place on any occasion he wishes.
– God forbid.
- Senator Devitt says: God forbid’. I agree with him. It would be a pity if we played them because it would destroy our faith in the Prime Minister in the same way, perhaps, as President Nixon has had his faith destroyed. Down at that same meeting at which Mr Whitlam promised aid to schools a person said: ‘Let us take 2 people in the community, both with the same income and the same assets. One decides to send his son to Melbourne Boys High School which has magnificent buildings and a magnificent staff. There is not a wealthy school in Australia at which one would get better teaching. Everything about that school is top class. It is an elitist school and it is only one of a number. This boy is going to get, according to the needs basis set out by this Government, practically everything except some small incidental sports fees and others. The Government will pay everything. But another man says that he will send his son to a private school at which he has to pay $1,000 or, the way fees are going up, $1,500 a year’. The Prime Minister was asked how he could account for a method whereby a boy in a
State school gets exactly the top elitist education which is received by a boy in one of the top private schools, the former without his parents paying practically anything and the latter with his parents having to pay enormous sums because the Government believes in a needs basis. The Prime Minister was asked: ‘How do you answer that?’ He said: ‘I cannot answer that question’.
This year education costs are rising steeply. Every school, particularly a private school, will find that it will be called on for heavily increased sums of money. However, the Government has determined that this is a good time to take away from certain schools the assistance that has helped them to keep going. What about the position of the father and mother in the country who in most cases have to send their children to private schools in the cities because the Government, except in a few instances, does not run boarding schools? What the Government is saying to those parents in the country is that it will discriminate against them. But these people have to send their children to one of these big private schools because it is only schools of this type which can afford to have boarding areas. The Government will force up the fees of children who attend boarding schools.
The situation makes one wonder. I went to a university years ago only because I received scholarships. Today the rich can go to universities and trie Government pays for everything. The Government also pays wealthy pensioners as well as the poor pensioners. There is no needs system for people attending universities or receiving pension payments or child endowment. The means test is out. Why then is the Government imposing a means test in the case of schools? Some parents who have children attending what they regard as deprived schoolssome of these are religious schools- have said to me: ‘Look, we are going to get more money; you ought to vote for this ‘.
– The new term is ‘politically disadvantaged ‘ schools.
– Yes. These people write to me. I say to those parents: ‘Do you not realise that the aid promised by this Government is only of a temporary nature? If the aid enables the school that your child attends to be improved, at a certain point under the Government system aid will be cut off’. Who is going to tell me that this method will not result in a system whereby gradually the independent schools are phased out because of rising costs and lack of resources? That is the fact-the ugly fact- that they have to face.
I conclude by saying once again that all the unscrupulous propaganda has been to the effect that we want to take money from the poor schools and give it to the wealthy schools. We have never at any time said that. All we have asked is that every penny continue to be given to the government and the underprivileged schools. We have said that we will vote to give them every penny the Government proposes to give them. All we ask of the Government is this: Having made a promise before the election and received thousands of votes because of that promise, it should keep its promise and give to the small number of A class schools that are left the basic per capita grants which Mr Whitlam and Mr Beazley pledged themselves as honourable men to give.
- Senator McManus has suggested to the Senate that the issue before the chamber this afternoon is the credibility of the Minister for Education, Mr Beazley, and the Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam. With due respect to the honourable senator I would suggest -
– That is no longer in doubt, is it? They have lost it.
-If honourable senators opposite will give me a chance to do so I will prove that they have misquoted and misreported them. I hope I will be given a chance. I suggest that the real issue is whether the Opposition intends to go to the barricades with Mr Malcolm Fraser or go to water with Senator Rae. Let us go back to the bold words of a few days ago when threats were being made by Mr Malcolm Fraser in the other place and in various sections of this building, including the Press headquarters, where we are told he had some sort of a confrontation with the alleged spokesman on educational matters for the Liberal Party of Australia. I would like to quote from the House of Representatives Hansard of 27 November. Discussing this Bill in another place, Mr Malcolm Fraser said:
The Opposition is opposing clause 66.
Honourable senators will recall that clause 66 of the Bill is the provision which seeks to remove the continuance beyond the end of 1973 of the special privileges which the top schools have come to expect from Liberal-Country Party governments over the years. I would like honourable senators opposite to listen closely to what Mr Malcolm Fraser went on to say. I have awaited some sort of declaration from honourable senators opposite- the great adherents of consistency, the people who like to quote the words of one of the Labor Party’s Ministers against the words of another of its Ministers- as to what he said. I would like them to tell us whether they apply the same standards to themselves and whether we are going to see an application of these standards in this debate today. I go back to what Mr Malcolm Fraser said on 27 November, which was just last week. He said:
The Opposition is opposing clause 66. All this clause does is to limit legislation standing on the statute books. We would hope our attitude would be followed through with more likely effect in another place.
That is what Mr Malcolm Fraser hopes. I waited with bated breath throughout a maudlin display of phoney indignation by Senator Rae this afternoon for some solid confirmation of an intent to carry out this threat, but it did not arrive. We also did not get anything from Senator McManus. I can only conclude from the fact that there was no repetition of this threat this afternoon that the Opposition and perhaps the Australian Democratic Labor Party are in headlong retreat from the barricades which they were prepared to man last week and that they are attempting to cover this retreat with a torrent of words about alleged broken promises.
Senator McManus made great play of the greater faith he has in Mr Beazley than in Mr Whitlam. I take it from that that he would be prepared to accept, because of his great faith in Mr Beazley, that Mr Beazley was giving an honest statement of intent when in the other place on 27 September 1972 he moved an amendment to the States Grants (Schools) Bill 1972, which clause 66 of this Bill seeks to amend. His amendment was in the following terms:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: the House, while not refusing a second reading to the Bill, is of the opinion that it should provide for the establishment of an Australian schools commission to examine and determine the needs of students in government and non-government primary, secondary and technical schools, and recommend grants which the Commonwealth should make to the States to assist in meeting the requirement of all school age children on the basis of needs and priorities and that the application of this policy could not allow the continued acceptance of the provisions of the Bill and that therefore grants should not be made on the basis provided in the Bill in respect of any year after 1973.’
– Who moved the amendment?
– Was that his personal opinion or his opinion on behalf of the Party?
-That amendment was moved by Mr Beazley, whom Senator McManus is prepared to accept without reservation.
– I accept his personal opinion but not his Party opinion.
-That is a statement to which Mr Beazley, in his capacity as the Labor Party’s shadow Minister for Education, gave voice in an amendment he moved to the legisation we are now proposing to amend by this very Bdi. Senator McManus and Senator Rae have had the gall to suggest, while praising Mr Beazley ‘s integrity, that there has been some inconsistency and some going back on undertakings by the present Government. All they can point to is a statement made by Mr Whitlam some time last year prior to making his policy speech. I freely admit that it is not consistent with what he ultimately said in his policy speech. But can it be seriously put to this chamber or to the people of this country that the electors were in any doubt on 2 December about what they were going to get under Labor’s policy? What is demanded of Senator McManus and Senator Rae if they are to sustain their charge that we have fooled the people over this matter is that they point to something in the policy speech itself, which is the basis of our mandate, that is inconsistent with what we are doing now. Neither of them has attempted to do that. All we have had from Senator Rae is, first of all, a mixture of bold, indignant rhetoric combined with, as is his custom, almost tearful complaints about the terrible things that the Government is doing.
Of course, if we are in some sort of a contest about consistency and if we are to be involved in saying that we are held to what one of our Ministers who was in conflict with another Minister has said, I think we are entitled to ask Senator Rae today whether he is the spokesman for the Opposition on education matters or whether the spokesman is a man in another place who is alleged to be the spokesman on labour relations and who has made extraordinary progress lately, I have noted, in his words on labour relations. He has adopted what appears to be a tone of sweet moderation. In fact, I would say that he has progressed from the Neanderthal to the antediluvian. The progressive Mr Malcolm Fraser is making remarkable progress. But when he steps outside his shadow Ministry, as he so frequently does, he likes to speak also on the defence of the country against the invading yellow hordes. He cannot quite forget that he was once Minister for Defence. When he intrudes into the field of education he goes back to his natural Neanderthal position. Are we on the Government side of the chamber, when looking to what we can expect from the Opposition in matters of education, to take seriously the threats of this bold warrior,
Malcolm Fraser, who would risk all, who would go to the barricades, who would challenge us to a double dissolution and who had promised us, presumably without any consultation with the nominal spokesman for the Opposition on education matters, that there will be a real showdown here? Are we to listen to him or are we to listen to Senator Rae? It is very easy for the other shadow Minister for Education, Mr Malcolm Fraser, to threaten the ultimate contest in the other chamber, where he knows that he does not have the numbers, but in this chamber, where we come down to the nitty gritty and where the Opposition does have the numbers, presumably there has been some retreat from the barricades.
– Why does the honourable senator say that?
– Will Senator Wright assure me that there is going to be an attempt made in this chamber to have clause 66 deleted from the Bill?
- Senator Rae has announced the amendment that we are proposing.
-He has not. Senator Rae did not -
– You obviously did not listen to anything else I said. You missed that as well.
– Would you clear up my confusion by telling me now whether the Opposition proposes the deletion of clause 66?
– You have asked me to say many things -
– I am asking you one thing. Will you tell me that?
-You have asked me to say many things about broken promises. I presume you will move that I be given leave to speak.
- Senator, will you tell me that?
-I look forward to that opportunity.
– It may save me from having to say anything more. I will sit down if you will assure me now that the Opposition proposes the deletion of clause 66.
– Will you move that I speak?
– I am asking you: Will you tell me that?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Byrne)- Order! Senator Mcclelland, would you kindly address the Chair?
-Mr Acting Deputy President, it is clear that the threats, the dire predictions, of taking us on, of challenging us before the electorate, which fell from the bold Mr Fraser and from the less bold but rather talkative Mr Snedden a few days ago have gone and that they have had second thoughts about these bold plans and that we are not to get from the Senate -
– Do you propose to accept our amendment?
-Senator Rae, I ask you -
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTOrder!
-Over and over again in this debate the Opposition senators have quoted and misquoted statements designed to show a conflict between Ministers of the Government and various statements made by them, and they want to hold us to those statements.
– I rise on a point of order. It has been suggested that there have been misquotations. I ask that they be identified.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTThere is no point of order.
– It is very unwelcome to Senator Rae to have it pointed out to this chamber that all we have had from him is a lot of windy rhetoric that does not add up to anything. It does not add up to anything. A week ago these people were prepared to challenge us before the people of Australia about this Bill. They were prepared to say: ‘If you will not give money, as we wanted to give money, to the privileged schools in this country, you cannot have your Bill’.
– We never said that. That is a total misrepresentation.
-That was the purport of their stand. Their stand was calculated to have this effect but now, it is perfectly clear, despite all the windy rhetoric -
– You are a liar.
-Mr Acting Deputy President, despite-
– You are a liar.
– I rise on a point of order. I demand a withdrawal of that statement from Senator Rae. It is unparliamentary and it is not true.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTSenator Rae made an allegation about Senator
James McClelland in unparliamentary terms. It was provoked by the heat of the moment. I think that Senator Rae might be prepared to indicate that he thinks that Senator James McClelland is not stating the facts correctly. Use of that term is unparliamentary.
– I ask for a withdrawal of the statement that Senator James McClelland is a liar. That is the statement that was made. I ask for a withdrawal.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The term has been found to be offensive by Senator James McClelland. I think that the honourable senator might care to withdraw the phrase and if he wishes to indicate in other words that are reasonably acceptable-
– I take a point of order. It was an unparliamentary statement that was made by Senator Rae and I ask that the same treatment be given to the Government as is given to the Opposition.
The ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER- I call on Senator Rae to withdraw the expression which has been found to be offensive by Senator James McClelland. I call Senator Rae.
– I take a point of order. Mr Acting Deputy President, you invited him to express himself in another way. You are quite out of order in doing that. All you are entitled to do is to direct him to withdraw his unparliamentary remark and to invite him to do nothing whatsoever.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I am inviting Senator Rae to withdraw the expression that he used in relation to Senator James McClelland. It has been found to be offensive and is unparliamentary.
– I withdraw the unparliamentary expression which I used. I will, at the close of Senator James McClelland ‘s speech, seek leave to make a personal explanation in relation to all matters that drew forth the response.
– I can readily understand the confusion of the Opposition in this debate. After all, it makes them very uncomfortable to have made the bold threats which one or other of the Opposition spokesmen for education in the other place made and then over here when it comes down to the nitty gritty to have to go to water. That is precisely what the Opposition proposes to do. It is not prepared to face the judgment of the voters of Australia for depriving the needy schools of $700m in order that the privileged schools should continue to get the favoured treatment which they have come to expect from the Opposition- the Liberal and Country Party and Democratic Labor Party members of this place.
– When is the double dissolution?
-When Senator Rae wants it. Let him declare it on.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTOrder! Senator Rae, are you asking for leave to make a statement?
– I seek the opportunity to make a personal explanation.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Are you asking for leave or do you claim that you have been misrepresented?
– I claim that I have been misrepresented.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The honourable senator claims that he has been misrepresented. In those circumstances he may speak and indicate in what sense he has been misrepresented.
– Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. I claim to have been misrepresented by Senator James McClelland in a series of remarks which were totally without foundation. It was suggested that he would challenge me to do what I did not do in my speech, which was to refer to the policy speech and to the promise that was made by the Government. I did that. I now seek leave to table the full list of promises to which I have referred. They are covered by 3 pages plus a cutting.
– You want to add an additional 5 minutes to your second reading speech.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTOrder! The honourable senator is claiming that he was misrepresented and is explaining the circumstances of the misrepresentation.
– I would rather seek leave to have the pages and the cutting incorporated in Hansard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows)-
Speech by E. G. Whitlam, Festival Hall, 2 May 1972
We want to remove the inequalities in Australian education, and these are the greatest in the non-government sector, and my Party believes that where the need is greatest, there, this assistance should be given. We will not repeal or reduce any educational benefit which is already being paid. We will confirm any which there are already . . . ‘.
Address by E. G. Whitlam to Catholic Luncheon Club, 20 June 1972
The ALP has never voted against any bill proposing Commonwealth aid for education and it will support any forms of benefit already existing. ‘
Speech by K. Beazley at Haberfield, 27 October 1972
Whispering campaigns to the contrary, no private school under Labor will in future get less than the per capita grant it gets now (1972).’
Report in Daily Telegraph, 28 October 1972 on Public Meeting at Haberfield
No private school would get less under a Labor Government than the per capita grant it received now. ‘
G. Whitlam’s Polley Speech, 13 November 1972
A Federal Labor Government will:
Continue all grants under Commonwealth legislation throughout 1973.
Allocate the increased grants for 1974 and subsequent years on the basis of recommendations prepared and published by the Schools Commission. ‘
Letter from Dr A. S. Holmes, Principal, Oakburn College Questions for Mr K. Beazley, 20 November 1972
Is it the intention of the Federal Labor Party to continue Per Capita Aid to Independent Schools for 1974 and following years?
Letter from E. C. Whitlam to Mr J. Dixon, Chairman, N.C.I.S. 13 December 1972 (As printed in Hansard, Tuesday, 27 November 1973:)
The Interim Committee is being asked to bring forward recommendations for additional Commonwealth expenditure over the years 1974 and 1975.’
Per capita grants to non-government schools for the year 1973 will be paid at the rates already approved for 1973 under the provisions of that Act, Le. $62 per primary pupil and $104 per secondary pupil. Commencing in 1974 additional Commonwealth contributions towards the running costs of nongovernment schools will be determined on the basis of relative need as assessed by the Interim Committee and subsequently by the Australian Schools Commission. ‘
P.3 ‘The grants recommended by the Interim Committee will be:
The terms of reference specified that grants recommended by the Committee were to be in addition to existing Commonwealth commitment. ‘
Minister to Karmel Committee to be phased out.’
The rates for 1973, determined before the present Australian Government took office, were $62 per primary pupil and $104 per secondary pupil. The Government has indicated to the Committee that, although grants are being made at these rates during 1973, after that year the basic level of support for non-government schools will not be pre-determined, and the nature and level of support for recurrent expenditure during 1974 and 1975 will be recommended by the Committee, having regard to the overall assessment of needs and priorities and to the pre-existing situation. In subsequent years, the nature and level of support for non-governmental schools will be a matter for consideration by the Schools Commission. The Committee believes that there are some non-government schools for which no case can be made on an overall relative needs basis for this type of Commonwealth support However, abrupt termination of support may well place these schools in some difficulty. Accordingly, the Committee proposes a phasing out of recurrent grants for them. ‘
The final decision on the recommendations in the Karmel Committee’s report rests with the Parliamentary Labor Party when it meets to consider the legislation. I am sure that it will be sensitive to the Party ‘s obligations. ‘
Independent schools will die in 10 years unless there is a new deal.
Al Grassby and his colleagues are pledged to that new deal which will immediately give another 1 5 per cent on top of existing grants and aids.
Authorised by J. R. Hallam, Griffith, NSW 2680.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Senator, kindly resume your seat.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTSenator Rae, you are entitled to make a personal explanation but not to debate the issue.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTOrder, Senator Cant. I am speaking to the point of order. I have indicated to Senator Rae that he is entitled to make a personal explanation but not to debate the matter. It would be within the reasonable discretion of the Chair whether he has accepted that invitation. Senator Rae, have you concluded or nearly concluded your remarks? Kindly keep your remarks to the details of the alleged misrepresentation.
-The Bill the Senate is dealing with is the States Grants (Schools) Bill 1973. 1 mean to make a contribution to this debate but the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) has just asked me whether I am prepared to ask for leave to continue my remarks so that he can bring some business before the Senate. I now ask for leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had disagreed to the amendments made by the Senate to this Bill.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That the message be considered in the Committee of the whole forthwith.
Consideration of the House of Representatives message.
Section 128 of the Constitution is altered-
To facilitate alterations to the Constitution and to allow Electors in Territories, as well as Electors in the States, to vote at Referendums on Proposed Laws to alter the Constitution.
Senate ‘s amendment No. 1 -
In Clause 2, leave out paragraph (c).
Senate’s amendment No. 2-
In Title, leave out ‘To facilitate alterations to the Constitution and’.
House of Representatives’ message-
Amendments disagreed to.
Reasons of the House of Representatives for disagreeing to the amendments of the Senate.
The Senate’s amendments are not acceptable because they would remove the important provisions of the Bill that would enable the Constitution to be altered by a national majority and a majority in not less than one half of the States. These provisions are necessary because the existing requirement of Section 128 of the Constitution that the proposal to alter the Constitution must be approved by a majority of States as well as a majority of electors voting has proved a stumbling-block to desirable reforms, as evidenced by the history of proposals to alter the Constitution.
– I move:
I will not go into the matter because it was debated only yesterday. The Committee of the Whole is well aware of the arguments. There is a difference in view between the Government and Opposition parties. I simply put the matter formally.
– I quite agree with Senator Murphy. This matter was canvassed at length yesterday. The view of the Opposition has not changed. We oppose the motion.
That the motion (Senator Murphy’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman-Senator Wilkinson)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
– I ask for leave to make a statement relating to the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill (No. 2) 1973.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Byrne)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-This report is submitted to the Senate following the amendment on 22 November 1973 of the motion for the second reading of the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill (No. 2) 1973, Hansard, page 2097. The amendment provided that: the Bill be deferred until the Government reports to the Senate on the action it proposes to take on:
In regard to (a) above, revaluation adjustment assistance following the December 1972 appreciation was payable to industries which were facing difficulties and problems of adjustment at the time of appreciation, and would experience particular difficulty in bearing the consequences of it. The sectors of the fruitgrowing industry affected by the withdrawal of the sales tax exemption provided in this Bill are the apple sector and, to a lesser extent, the citrus sector. Only the apple sector is both affected by the withdrawal of the sales tax exemption and eligible for currency revaluation assistance.
As announced by the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) on 6 February 1973, and elaborated on in his further statement of 4 May 1973, post-revaluation adjustment assistance of up to $1,500 per grower was made available to growers of apples and pears for export, following the December 1972 currency appreciation. In addition, supplementary grants of $1,000 are available to such growers if they had applied for clear-fell assistance under the fruitgrowing reconstruction scheme by 30 June 1973, and are found to be eligible for that assistance. In the two main apple exporting States, Tasmania and Western Australia, which have in the past accounted between them for over 85 per cent of Australia’s annual apple exports, 1,416 growers- that is, over 97 per cent of those eli- gible in these States- have been paid a total of 1,275,176 in post-revaluation adjustment assistance up to 30 November 1973. A small amount of this sum would have been paid in respect of pear exports and of canning fruit, since the assistance scheme applies also to deliveries of canning fruit- apricots, peaches and pears.
In other States many growers involved in the apple and pear export trade also grow canning fruit and the isolation of figures related solely to apples is difficult. However, 85 per cent of growers eligible under either or both aspects of the scheme in States other than Tasmania and Western Australia have been paid a total of $1,402,950 up to 30 November 1973. The remainder will be paid as soon as possible. Disbursement of the supplementary grants takes longer, depending as it does on the administration by the relevant State authorities of the clearfell provisions of the fruitgrowing reconstruction scheme.
In Tasmania apple growers have made an appreciable use of the fruitgrowing reconstruction scheme. In that State, to 30 June 1973, 241 apple growers had applied for clear-fell assistance under the scheme. Of these, 175 applications have been approved and 36 have yet to be processed by the Rural Reconstruction Board. If the present average rate of approvals is maintained, a total of more than $200,000 could be payable to Tasmania apple growers by way of supplementary grants in respect of currency revaluation assistance. It is estimated that payments in Western Australia- the other main apple exporting State- could be of the order of $10,000.
When announcing the September 1973 appreciation of 5 per cent in the exchange value of the Australian dollar, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitiam) said:
As on the occasion of the December 1972 revaluation, the Government stands ready to examine sympathetically the position of any industries which are seriously affected by, and find it particularly difficult to bear, the consequences of (the) appreciation.
The Senate will be aware that growers of apples for export also benefit from the operation of the apple and pear stabilisation scheme. Payments by the Austraiian Government to apple growers under this scheme since its inception in 1 97 1 have averaged $2.6m a year. For the 1973 season, the payment to growers will be lower than payments in previous years, reflecting the increase in export prices for apples in the 1973 season. As regards longer-term adjustment, the re-structuring needs of the apple and pear industry were stated succinctly by the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry (Dr Patterson) in his second reading speech in the House of Representatives on the Apple and Pear Corporation Bill, as follows:
Such restructuring of the industry must be directed towards tailoring production, in respect of both quantity and quality, to the needs of remunerative outlets; to adaptability in introducing the most economic techniques and practices designed to reduce costs; and, most importantly, to the consolidation of viable farm units. Allied with the need for the restructuring of the industry on a broad front is the need for the industry to have a highly skilled, effective and nationally-organised body that can come to grips with the marketing problems that beset the industry.
The proposed establishment of the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation is designed to facilitate the longer-term adjustments required in the industry. The Corporation will supply the need, referred to by the Minister, for a highly skilled effective and nationally-organised marketing body.
In addition to the assistance to be provided by the Corporation, the industry has available to it the provisions of the rural reconstruction scheme and, more particularly, the fruitgrowing reconstruction scheme. The clear-fell provisions of the latter scheme assist those leaving the industry, while the partial-pull provisions aid those remaining in the industry who need ‘ financial assistance to help them change the pattern of their production. By the end of October 1973, 500 apple growers had applied for assistance under the fruitgrowing reconstruction scheme. On the basis that State administering authorities maintain the existing average rates of approvals and levels of assistance, approvals in respect of these applications could be expected to amount to about $lm. Approvals in respect of the 288 applications processed in Tasmania alone by 3 1 October 1973 amounted to $418,000.
With regard to point (b) specified in the amendment, the opportunity is taken to inform the Senate of the Government’s decision to make an amount of $5m available to the fruitgrowing and fruit processing sectors of the industry in the form of adjustment assistance. Funds will be made available to fruit processors, where cases can be substantiated, to facilitate any adjustments needed as a result of the abolition of the exemption from sales tax for carbonated soft drinks containing not less than 5 per cent of Aus.tralian fruit juice.
As announced by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) in the Budget Speech and reiterated by the Minister for Primary Industry in a Press statement on 17 September, the Government stands ready to provide reconstruction assistance to any part of the fruitgrowing industry that may be affected by the removal of the sales tax exemption. In his Press statement on 17 September the Minister for Primary Industry announced also that the Government was prepared to make available an amount of up to $20,000 to meet possible losses arising from the processing into juice of surplus lemons from the 1973 winter crop in New South Wales. At the same time the Minister invited other sectors of the fruit growing industry to submit claims co-ordinated by appropriate industry organisations for special adjustment assistance. A case has just been submitted by the Australian Apple and Pear Growers’ Association and is under consideration in the Department of Primary Industry.
Turning to point (c) which deals with promotion and research, activities in this area could be of significance in assisting with the adjustment problems arising from the withdrawal of the sales tax exemption. Part of the $5m to be made available to the fruitgrowing and fruit processing sectors of the industry could be utilised for such activities, where appropriate.
This apart, as mentioned above a Bill has been introduced to set up the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation in place of the Australian Apple and Pear Board. The development of new markets will feature prominently in the functions of the Corporation. With the trends in trade which are occurring in the traditional markets it will be imperative for the Corporation to investigate all measures in order to develop new markets. As the Minister has stated, one important aspect will be for the Corporation to conduct an expanded promotion program both in Australia and overseas for fresh fruit and processed products. It is also intended that the Corporation itself should be able to engage in trading operations to a limited extent, for the purpose of developing markets.
The Government has in mind that the Corporation will also have an important role in the research field. It will be able to encourage and, if necessary, initiate research into all aspects of the industry with emphasis on improvements in quality and the introduction of cost-saving practices, and in the development and improvement of processed apple products. It is considered that there is considerable scope for the development of apple products and work in this field should produce positive benefits for the industry.
In general the measures referred to above are generous and far reaching. They will do much to assist the necessary re-structuring of the apple and pear industry. They should also ensure that the abolition of the exemption from sales tax for carbonated soft drinks containing not less than 5 per cent of Australian fruit juice will result in a minimum of inconvenience for the fruit industry.
Motion (by Senator Murphy)- by leaveagreed to:
That the order of the day for the second reading of the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill (No. 2) 1973 be restored to the notice paper and that it be an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed (vide page 249 1 ).
-The Senate is dealing with the States Grants (Schools) Bill which comes before the Senate as a result of recommendations made this year by the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission and of the Australia-wide survey into the needs of education which was conducted by the Australian Education Council in 1969. Before I deal with the Bill, I wish to refer to some remarks which have been made by those honourable senators who have contributed to the debate. It seems quite obvious to me that Government senators have been at great lengths in this debate to endeavour to get the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) off the hook. This has been so evident that Senator McManus began his contribution to the debate by saying that the issue now before the Senate had developed into an issue of the credibility of the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education to honour their pre-election promises in regard to education.
Both Senator Devitt and Senator James McClelland went to great lengths to try to show the people of Australia that the Government was carrying out its repeated pre-election promises that any form of education benefit already existing would be maintained and, therefore, any aid would be additional to that existing in the field of education. Both honourable senators referred to the debate which took place in the House of Representatives on 26 September 1972, when the Australian Labor Party was in Opposition. At that time the House was debating the States Grants (Schools) Bill. Mr Beazley, as the Labor Party spokesman on education, at that time moved an amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Bill. He moved:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: the House, while not refusing a second reading to the Bill, is of the opinion that it should provide for the establishment of an Australian Schools Commission to examine and determine the needs of students in government and nongovernment primary, secondary and technical schools, and recommend grants which the Commonwealth should make to the States to assist in meeting the requirements of all school age children on the basis of needs and priorities and that the application of this policy could not allow the continued acceptance of the provisions of the Bill and that therefore grants should not be made on the basis provided in the Bill in respect of any year after 1 973 ‘.
Today Government senators have tried to hang their hats on that amendment, but they have taken no notice of the Prime Minister’s statement of 2 May 1972 when he spoke to a crowd of nearly 4,000 people at the Festival Hall in Melbourne. Senator McManus said, during the course of his speech today, that Senator Hannan,
Senator Webster and he were there to hear the Prime Minister make this statement:
We want to remove the inequalities in Australian education, and these are the greatest in the non-government sector, and my Party believes that where the need is greatest, there, this assistance should be given. We will not repeal or reduce any educational benefit which is already being paid. We will confirm any which are there already.
The Prime Minister made that statement when he was Leader of the Opposition. In the House of Representatives Mr Beazley, as recently as 27 October 1972, produced a paper entitled ‘Priorities in Education’. In that paper he stated- he has repeated it on many occasions:
Whispering campaigns to the contrary, no private school under Labor will in future get less that the per capita grant it gets now.
– When was that said?
-On 27 October 1972.
– That was long after the September statement.
-Long after 26 September. Mr Grassby, who is now a Minister in the Labor Government, went further. During his election campaign his campaign director, I take it, put in the newspapers Mr Grassby ‘s itinerary for 23 and 24 November last year. To make it really good and appealing to the electors, he said:
Independent schools will die in 10 years unless there is a new deal. Al Grassby and his colleagues -
I take it that all Government senators are his colleagues - are pledged to that new deal which will immediately give another 1 S per cent on top of existing grants and aids.
Senator Devitt endeavoured to counter all this evidence that the Opposition parties are putting forward. He said that he was surprised that in August of this year the Opposition parties should have brought forward a matter of urgency in the Senate in which they raised the Karmel Committee report and the assistance which it recommended for certain schools. Surely the fact that the Opposition parties raised this matter should have shown the Government that there was some concern among members of the Opposition and among the people of Australia that something was wrong. The fact that the Interim Committee, having reviewed the situation, reduced the number of schools in category A from 104 to 52 proved that the Opposition had a case. I do not know why Senator Devitt would want to express surprise at the action taken by the Opposition parties. Today Senator Murphy said that he had looked at an amendment that had been moved by the Opposition had he could not find anything wrong with it. I suggest that he have a much better look at some of the amendments that the Opposition parties have moved in this place. If he did, he might come up with the same result.
I want to return to the Bill. The Bill incorporates most of the Interim Committee’s recommendations, though in some cases with variations. I place on record my appreciation, and the appreciation of the Australian Country Party, of the great contribution made to education by the Interim Committee and in particular by Professor Karmel. The Committee was appointed by the Prime Minister on 12 December 1972 and was required to complete its work in time to allow a report to be submitted by the end of May this year- a working period of less than 6 months to undertake a survey of 9,500 schools and the systems under which they operate. This was a herculean task and the widespread overall commendation of the Committee’s report reflects great credit on the Committee’s dedication and ability to perform such an undertaking in very limited time.
My Party is concerned, however, at some of the provisions of this Bill. It strongly supports the second reading of the Bill and it supports very strongly the amendments foreshadowed by Senator Rae. We are deeply concerned about the attitude the Government adopted towards the Committee’s recommendations concerning grants for non-government schools. I am not critical of the Karmel Committee itself for recommending that per capita grants to what it classified as category ‘A’ schools should be phased out. After all, one of the Committee’s terms of reference was to make recommendations as to the immediate financial needs of schools, priorities within those needs, and appropriate measures to assist in meeting those needs. In other words, the recommendations had to be made on the basis of relative needs and priorities without a predetermined level of support to all non-government schools.
Obviously the Government paid far less heed to the terms of reference than did the Committee. I point out that the terms of reference laid down that the grants recommended by the Committee would be for the period 1 January 1974 to 31 December 1975, would be in addition to existing Commonwealth commitments, and would be directed towards increased expenditure on schools and not in substitution for continuing efforts by the States and non-government school authorities.
The Minister for Education, in a letter to Professor Karmel dated 13 April 1973, changed the terms of reference. Senator Rae incorporated the letter in Hansard. In that letter the Minister said the Government wished the Committee to make recommendations for contributions towards recurrent expenditure in non-government schools for 1974 and 1975 on the basis of its assessment of needs and priorities. This was the first indication of a charge. The Minister said the government would not predetermine a basic level of support for all non-government schools after 1973. He said it would be for the Interim Committee to recommend the nature and level of support for recurrent expenditure in those schools during 1974 and 1975, having regard to the overall assessment of needs and priorities and to the pre-existing situation. I believe we can say that the Minister’s letter changed the course of consideration of the needs of schools.
The Committee subsequently found that Government assistance to category A schools could not be justified, but it believed that sudden termination of the financial aid on 6 months notice could place some of those schools in temporary difficulties. The Committee therefore recommended a gradual phasing out of the assistance over 1974 and 1975. Why, I ask, has the Government decided that the per capita grants to the reduced list of category A schools will cease at the end of this year? Why take this decision in spite of the often repeated promises by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education that the old forms of assistance would continue? Could there be a clearer promise than the one made by the Prime Minister on this question at the Festival Hall on the occasion to which I have already referred? Could there be a clearer promise than the one made by the Minister for Education, Mr Beazley, in his paper in which he referred to ‘whispering campaigns to the contrary’? He said: ‘No private school under Labor will in future get less than the per capita grant it gets now’.
What, I repeat, motivated the Government deliberately to dishonour promises made publicly on numerous occasions by its Prime Minister and the Minister responsible for the Bill? That is a question that should be asked by every person who is interested in following the progress of this Bill and in assessing the stand taken by the Opposition. I want to make it very clear that the Opposition supported, and continues to support, the Government’s education program for 1974 and 1975, costing almost $700m. But we want the retention of the principle that every Australian child is entitled to assistance from the funds provided by Australian taxpayers, regardless of which school a parent selects for the child.
Let me quote a recent statement made by the Headmaster of a secondary school in Western Australia which has now been released from category A. He said:
I must continue to register my disapproval of the philosophy that allows a rich parent’s child to receive maximum benefit by attending a particular school and a not-so-rich parent’s child to receive less or none at another school. This is a perversion of justice in a system that is supposed to believe in equality of opportunity for all children.
The amendments to be moved by the Opposition merely insist that the justice referred to by that headmaster continue to be followed.
The issue is quite simple and cannot be clouded by the Government’s misrepresentation of what is at stake. It is false to claim that only wealthy schools would be advantaged by the Opposition ‘s amendment. Under the Karmel Committee proposals which are included in this Bill 53 per cent of the secondary pupils in independent schools will receive less money than they would have received under the former Government’s legislation. It is false to claim that the amendment involves additional expenditure of $114m. The sum involved is less than $5m a year.
The extra cost argument advanced by the Government should be dismissed. The cost is insignificant in the total education commitment. But the Government defeats its own cost argument by granting every one of the 33,000 children in category A schools the right to free education in the tertiary institutions. I can only assume that the Government’s reluctance to continue to grant aid on the promised level reflects very deep prejudice against non-government schools. I say quite firmly that there is no room for that type of prejudice in this Parliament. I repeat that the Country Party will strongly support the foreshadowed amendment and it makes no apology for adopting a stand that the Prime Minister himself took last year when he asked the people to give his Party the reins of Government.
-The States Grants (Schools) Bill 1973 is a massive Bill. The Bill itself is a large document and the second reading speech of the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) runs into many pages. The notes and other material also run to considerable length. Many facets are connected with the Bill and many areas are laid down in which the Government proposes to spend money and in which it proposes to advance the whole concept of education. To the extent that it is a massive, wide ranging, far reaching and complex Bill, I give it my support. I say this because it is established to provide for an ongoing and a ever-extending diverse system and program of education.
Of course, there are some things about the Bill which I do not like. One is that it has established many conditions for the States as to how they may or may not spend their money. There is another factor in the Bill which excludes certain areas of education and certain schools, namely the non-government or independent schools, from receiving grants or funds. The Government excludes certain schools and it knows perfectly well that the policy of the Opposition, stated last year when it was in government, and stated this year over and over again has been to establish a system of funding so that every child in the country receives a grant towards his education. It is a system which the Government is proposing to obstruct. It is denying the members of the community within Australia their rights as citizens and their rights towards education.
Let me remind the Senate that this is not the first time that we have gone through this exercise of a challenge to education. It is not the first time that this kind of debate has come before the Senate. I remind the Senate that the debate in August on the Karmel Committee report revealed quite clearly just how the Opposition felt in this regard. It also revealed quite clearly the difference in philosophy existing m this area. In our view there must always remain not only a flexibility in interpretation of education but also freedom of choice for both parent and student, freedom of opportunity for groups that wish to establish a school and freedom for teachers to express their vocation in any one of a number of educational systems. This is the area in which the Government would exert its principle of denial, refusal and withholding. Education is a cornerstone of our society. Governments have a duty to provide the maximum of opportunity and to set conditions for the widest possible range of opportunities. This includes the provision of funds. After all, the basis of education is to provide within our total activities in society a series of systems and opportunities whereby people can obtain the knowledge, skills and cultures which they wish to acquire. The Bill, related as it is to the Interim Committee for the Schools Commissionthe Karmel Committee- provides a great diversity of opportunities, a great amount of money and a great area of systems so that a great number of people in Australia can have a maximum opportunity for education. This is highlighted in the Minister’s second reading speech.
– This is what is in the Bill.
-I remind the supporters of the Government that I am talking about the Bill. The Bill sets out to provide sums of money for education. As I said in my introductory remarks, while I support the position as stated in the Minister’s second reading speech, there are areas with which I do not totally agree and there are areas in which the Government is withholding funds and opportunities rather than providing them.
Early in his second reading speech the Minister referred to the fact that $694m will be available to schools during 1974-75. The Minister added that the net cost of the recommendations of the Interim Committee will be $468. 5m. He went on to make the understatement of the year when he said that this expenditure constituted a dramatic increase. I draw attention to the fact that it does constitute a dramatic increase and the people of Australia might well take note of the fact that it does. They w3l have to pay for this dramatic increase in expenditure. They will be charged for this dramatic increase and they will be expected to dig deep into their pockets to pay for this dramatic increase in expenditure. When they dig deep into their pockets to pay for this dramatic increase in expenditure they will ask the Government for value for money. They will also want to ensure that as it is their money- the taxpayers’ money- for which they will be digging deep into their pockets to pay for this dramatic increase in expenditure, it is distributed equitably and fairly. They are entitled to ask for fair and equitable distribution. They will want to get value for their money and they will want answers to these questions. Mr President, I am saying to you that the Government is not giving us the answers to these questions.
I ask the Government and the Minister for an explanation of the relationship between the number of dollars spent and the excellence of the education standards? He has listed a whole range of areas in which educational facilities are to be provided. A high proportion of our resources today is spent on education. Students, teachers and other personnel form a large proportion of our population. They have an opportunity to create an influence not only on our present day society but also on our future society. There is a viewpoint that environmental influences of the home and of the neighbourhood persist right throughout a person’s life regardless of the expensiveness of education. This may tend to suggest that the amount spent on education will have little effect on the person who emerges at the end of an extensive and expensive educational career. I point out this Bill provides for a very expensive educational process. My own thinking is that this is not totally true. Of course, the environment and home influences are particularly strong. But today the educational system, especially that provided for in this Bill, will determine a great deal in the life, aspirations, personal achievements and satisfaction of our citizens of the next generation. So I am saying that this is an important measure.
The Government asks us tonight to agree to the expenditure of a great amount of money. Therefore, I remind the Senate and the people of the nation that the Government must not only give account of the way in which it will spend the money, but also it must persuade the Senate that the money spent extensively and expensively on education will yield satisfaction and will provide for the education of Australians. Early in his second reading speech the Minister pointed out that the Bill made provisions for primary school libraries. This was one of some seven or eight areas mentioned in the second reading speech. This expenditure is being made for the first time in the primary school area. It will provide facilities that will be complementary to those provided by other administrations in educational institutions and at other levels of education. I hope that there will be discussion on this matter in relation to the use of these libraries because a large amount is set aside for them. I also hope that they will enjoy the widest use by the community at large. I hope that there will be conversations at various levels which the Minister is able to interpret best of all so that the community gets the maximum value for this large sum which is provided.
Recently in the Senate there was a debate on the National Library. We drew attention to the fact that libraries in modern society play a major part in the whole field of education. Another one of the several areas is that of teacher training and teacher development. On the ninth page of the Minister’s second reading speech he draws attention to the crucial importance of the area of training for teachers and administrators to upgrade their competence. So he suggests that grants will be provided for the in-service education of teachers in 1974 and 1975. The Minister is not the first to think of this, and he is certainly not the first to put it to paper. I remind him, as I remind the Senate and the Government, of the Senate committee system, for which the Government takes so much credit from time to time.
I draw attention to the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts on the Commonwealth’s role in teacher education, which was tabled as late as last year. At page 54 of that report a chapter is devoted to the continuing education of teachers, and the Committee has expressed the belief that existing teacher training institutions should provide inservice courses within the limit of their resources. Then the Committee recommends that certain processes should be undertaken. It is pleasing that the Government has perhaps taken some notice of this Senate Standing Committee. All I wish is that the Government might acknowledge that fact in some way. I now refer to the part of the Minister’s speech relating to special education, with particular reference to handicapped children. Here again, the Minister is not the first to think of this matter, and neither is the Department of Education, because the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfareand the Government has been a great champion of the Senate Standing Committee system- contains a section devoted to the education of the handicapped. It set out a whole list of recommendations relating to the necessity for special education, particularly for those who are handicapped.
I now turn briefly to the part of the Minister’s speech in which he dealt with recurrent grants. The Government has pointed out that it intends to make grants for schools on what it calls a basis of relative need. I remind honourable senators, as I remind the Minister, that no-one has explained to the Senate during this debate what the reference to relative need really means, because by imposing this basis of relative need the Government introduces discrimination into the education community. This brings into the debate the role and the place of non-government schools and independent schools. As honourable senators very well know, the long-established policy of our Party, both in Government and Opposition, has been that every child attending a non-government school should receive a basic per pupil grant towards the recurrent cost of his or her education. This policy was put into effect in the legislation and announcements of the previous Government. The program provided for grants on the basis of 20 per cent of the average expenditure for private and Government schools.
The present position is that a number of schools have been seriously disadvantaged as a result of the Government’s plan to operate on what it has called a needs basis rather than on a basis of per capita grants. If the system of education in our country is to include a nongovernment or independent schools system- and the Government believes in the inclusion of that system, because it has not thrown it out- surely the Government must believe in a principle whereby those same schools can plan, budget and work with security, purpose and a prospect for the future. Under a needs doctrine, this is not possible, as the Government knows perfectly well because under such a doctrine situations change from time to time. The sum of money that a government that operates under a needs doctrine can be pleased to bestow can vary from to time, so that grave insecurity may arise which can work to the disadvantage of the schools concerned and indeed contribute to the downgrading of the whole independent schools system.
From time to time, the independent schools system has been defended on all sides of the Senate, but the Government has been busy with a complexion of its own which for some curious reason it has decided to champion and which does nothing less than divide the community. It is very disappointing that the Government had decided not to provide for all children in our community. I say to the Government that, if it persists in this needs doctrine, it will cause great harm to its own education program and to this massive Bill to which I have referred previously. The Government has failed to take account of the attention already given to this area of need in every independent and non-government school. As everyone knows, most schools set aside such funds as they can manage to meet these needs. Generally, this is expressed in terms of scholarships or student assistance. If the Government continues under its needs doctrine to penalise the independent schools system, the number of students at independent schools will fall, the number and types of teachers will decline, and the variety and dimension of education- and the Government has approached this aspect with such ambition in this Bill- will suffer. What is more distressing is that demands will be made on the State system that it will not be able to meet, and this will have a serious effect on the future of the citizens of this country, a matter to which I have referred earlier.
The serious aspect of this Bill is the Government’s failure to keep its electoral promises so that every child in the country may receive a per capita grant. As I said at the outset of my remarks, in August we had a debate on education that touched on the very matter that has been aired before the Senate tonight. That was 3 months ago, yet the Government has not taken the opportunity to note the fact that the Senate passed a very strong resolution relating to this matter. The Government just simply did not recognise that there were conditions and circumstances in the country that the community supported. Therefore, the Government has now introduced this Bill which discriminates against independent schools. Mr President I seek leave to continue my remarks.
– I call Senator Douglas McClelland, who will be closing the debate.
– I sought leave to continue my remarks.
– Leave is not granted.
– I did not hear it.
– Yes, Sir. At the conclusion of my remarks, I sought leave to continue my remarks.
-Is leave granted?
Government senators- No.
– Leave is not granted.
- Mr President, if you allow me to say one or two words, because I want to -
- Mr President, on a point of order -
– Order! Senator Davidson sat down when I was considering the matter, and he has now risen to his feet indicating that he wishes to continue his speech.
– I had received some message that asked me to stop speaking for a period of time, and I sought leave to continue my remarks. I have no indication what it is about.
– You are out of time.
– I am not out of time; I have been speaking for some 1 7 minutes.
– You can continue.
– I am drawing to a close, Sir. I want to draw attention to the factbecause it is important that it should be repeatedthat the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education have pointed out to the people of Australia over and over again, as we have pointed out over and over again, that they have given an assurance that they will not repeal or reduce any education benefit already being paid. Speaking about recurrent grants, Mr Whitlam said that the Australian Labor Party will support any forms of benefit already existing.
-On a point of order, Mr President -
– What is the point of order?
-I understand that Senator Davidson sought leave to continue his remarks and Government senators said: ‘No’. How can he now continue to speak?
-Because you refused him leave to continue his remarks. Now you are refusing-
– Now he is continuing.
– Order! The honourable senator is entitled to speak for 30 minutes when the debate is being broadcast and he has been speaking for 22 minutes. I call Senator Davidson.
– The Prime Minister, speaking at a Catholic luncheon in Melbourne, said that the Australian Labor Party would support any forms of benefit already existing. There has been great play by two or three members of the Government, including the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Science and the Arts, of the point that the Minister for Eduction on 26 September moved an amendment to the motion for the second reading of the States Grants (Schools) Bill. But nowhere in his speech did Mr Beazley say that some students would receive nothing at all. And the situation we have today is that some students are receiving nothing at all. In a paper the same Minister repeated on 27 October of last year that no private school under Labor would in the future get less than the per capita grant that it was getting at that time.
As I have said, this Bill is a big one; it is a massive one. It provides a wide variety of educational advantages and programs. To the extent that it provides the money for educational facilities I give it my support. But its big inconsistency is its discrimination. As everyone undertaking tertiary education will receive amounts of money and as everyone in the country will receive the age pension whether they are rich or poor, I fail to see the logic of the Government in denying a comparatively small proportion of the people per capita education grants. The Opposition has not retreated from its position. We challenge the Government to give effect to the promises that it made and at least to give the Opposition the credit for standing behind the promises which it has made and the convictions which is has expressed. I look forward to the Minister’s response.
-in reply- This debate has been proceeding now for some 3 hours and although it is on my motion that the Bill be read a second time I understand, to my amazement that the Opposition is not opposing it. Nonetheless, this is probably the most important Bill that the Government has introduced since it was given a mandate to govern by the Australian people on 2 December last. It is the States Grants (Schools) Bill which, if and when enacted, will enable us as a Government to provide to the people of this country the funds that are required to carry out the principal election platform of the Labor Party which was to make education the prime responsibility of a Labor government.
Senator Rae, who led for the Opposition here this afternoon, commenced his remarks by saying that the legislation providing for these grants is not novel. But he went on to say that if there is any novelty it is in the fact that the amount of the increase is substantial and is that which is recommended by the Karmel Committee. I would have thought that in addition to that novelty there is a very important principle which probably was highlighted by Senator Davidson, the last Opposition speaker, who virtually criticised the Government for adopting a principle of education expenditure based on needs compared with the former Government’s policies of per capita grants. I would have thought that in addition to the novelty, if I might use Senator Rae ‘s expression, of the Bill appropriating the largest amount ever expended by a government on education, which is what this Government is doing, there is wrapped up in the whole of this legislation the element of the principle of needs which was urged by the Labor Party not only at the last election but also at a time when we were in opposition. This principle was put to the people in the plainest of language last November and they determined it by popular vote on 2 December. Now we are endeavouring to implement the policy that we were elected upon.
Ignoring all that went on earlier about the establishment of the Schools Commission, if anyone is in any doubt about the basis of education expenditure being according to needs, let me reiterate what the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) had to say on this matter in his policy speech. He 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 Headmaster’ 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.
The Prime Minister went on to state:
We reject the proposition that administrative convenience should over-ride the real needs of the schools. We reject the argument that well-endowed schools should get as much help from the Commonwealth as the poorest state or parish schools, just because it is easier to count heads than to measure needs.
The whole basis of our election policy was wrapped up in those 2 paragraphs and is embodied in this legislation that we are now seeking to have passed through the Parliament. It is not a question, as Senator McManus said this afternoon when he spoke on behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, of whether the credibility of the Prime Minister or the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) is at stake. It is not so much a question of the amount of money that is involved, and the Opposition will admit that this is the greatest amount of money that any government has ever decided to spend on education. The whole principle wrapped up in this legislation is education expenditure based on priorities and needs and not according to the old Government’s formula of per capita grants.
– Equality of opportunity.
-And, as Senator Devitt says, equality of opportunity. Senator Rae said that this Bill is welcomed by the Opposition. But he then went on to suggest that there is an omission which the Opposition suggests should be corrected. The Opposition in one line, as it were, has set out to np up the whole principle, the whole political philosophy and ideology of the Labor movement- that is, eduational expenditure based on needs. The Opposition seek to amend that principle by joining with it the principle that was contained in its own legislation of 1972 which provided for recurrent per capita grants. That, surely, really outlines the difference in philosophy between us on the Government side- those of us who have been elected by popular vote to implement the policy that the Prime Minister espoused at the last electionand them, the collective Opposition.
As I have said, the difference between the Government and the Opposition does not lie in the amount of money that is involved. Basically it is a question of the principle of need and equality of opportunity. The Government has set out to spend, including $226m which was committed by the previous Government, a total of $694m on the educational system of this country in the next 2 years. The Opposition has come here today and said that it wants the Government to spend another $4m to $5m and $8m over 2 years. The Opposition set out this afternoon to refuse to give us the Schools Commission now it wants us to replace our basic ideology of needs with a combination of needs and recurrent grants. A lot has been said about what the Prime Minister had to say in the middle of last year- 6 months before the election campaign.
– Deal with what he said after the election.
– I will deal with the events in a chronological order. I remind Senator Rae, who led for the Opposition in this debate, that the Government was gracious enough to give him an additional 5 minutes in which to complete his speech. I hope I do not have to speak for the same length of time as he did. The Prime Minister has admitted that he made certain utterances when speaking at the Festival Hall in Melbourne in May or June of last year, but they were, of course, utterances on legislation which had been enacted by the Gorton and McMahon governments and which we of the Labor movement, when in Opposition, had not opposed at that time.
Then came the September 1972 legislation of the McMahon Government which embodied the principle of per capita grants. That legislation was debated in the House of Representatives in September and in this chamber in October. In fact it was debated in this chamber a mere 12 days before this House rose for the election campaign. On 19 October, in a debate in this chamber on the motion that the legislation be given a second reading, Senator Wheeldon, who was leading for the then Opposition, moved the following amendment:
At end of motion add: ‘but the Senate, while not refusing a second reading to the Bill, is of the opinion that it should provide for the establishment of an Australian schools commission to examine and determine the needs of students in government and non-government primary, secondary and technical schools, and recommend grants which the Commonwealth should make to the States to assist in meeting the requirements of all school age children on the basis of needs and priorities and that the application of this policy could not allow the continued acceptance of the provisions of the Bill and that therefore-
I emphasise these words- grants should not be made on the basis provided in the Bill in respect of any year after 1 973 ‘.
– What date was that?
-That was on 19 October 1972-12 days before this Parliament rose for the election campaign. The Labor Party’s policy speech was delivered by the Prime Minister on about 10 November- a mere fortnight or 3 weeks after this House rose. In the policy speech, in addition to the paragraphs I have already quoted, the Prime Minister said that a Federal Labor Government will continue all grants under Commonwealth legislation throughout 1973. That is exactly what we have done. It being the end of 1973 we want to implement the policy on which we were elected. We set up the Interim Committee for the Aus.tralian Schools Commission. The Interim Committee has laid down the foundation and set out the plans as to how the principle can be implemented. We have adopted them in our legislation. The Schools Commission Bill was emasculated a couple of weeks ago. The Government refused to accept the Opposition’s amendments to it. Now the Opposition seeks to amend the political ideology upon which the Labor Party was elected to government. It is against that background that the Interim Committee was set about its task as one of the first acts of the new Government.
Senator Drake-Brockman has admitted that within 10 days of the Australian Labor Party being elected to office the Prime Minister established the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission. The Interim Committee, which is now commonly referred to as the Karmel Committee, found a wide disparity in the use of resources among government and nongovernment schools. Insofar as non-systemic non-government schools are concerned- that is, the non-government schools which are not Catholic parish schools- the Interim Committee found that the typical school used about 40 per cent more teaching resources per pupil than an average secondary school and that some of these schools were using well over twice the volume of resources. Taken as a whole their use of resources ranged over a scale of from 40 to 270 against an average of 100 for the combined 6 State government systems in 1972 and a target of 135 to 140 for 1979. It is a fact that, notwithstanding its assessment of the provision, the Interim Committee recommended grants for category A schools- that is, those with the highest resource use- in 1974 and a lower level of grants for those schools in 1975. However, the Government was not prepared to adopt that proposal. It was impressed by the statement appearing at the beginning of paragraph 6.50 of the Interim Committee’s report, which reads:
Category A schools already use a volume of resources that well exceeds the 1979 targets; and the Committee believes that government assistance to these schools cannot be justified.
At the same time the Government did not accept the subsequent comment in that paragraph, which in all fairness I think I should also read. It states:
The Committee feels that the sudden termination of financial aid on six months’ notice could place some schools within Category A in temporary difficulties. Hence the gradual phasing out of assistance over 1 974 and 1975 is recommended; this implies that in 1976 schools whose resource use falls in Category A should receive no general recurrent assistance.
Having regard to its policy of making grants on the basis of priorities and needs, the Government, in adopting all the other recommendations for a 2-year program costing in all some $694m, decided that category A schools should receive no grants for recurrent expenditure.
Subsequent to the Government’s decision the Interim Committe published a schedule of nonsystemic non-government schools which included 105 schools with enrolment of approximately 58,000 pupils in category A. The Government agreed to receive appeals against classifications. As a result of the consideration of those appeals by a reconstituted Interim Committee the number of schools in category A was reduced to 50 with enrolments of approximately 33,000 pupils. I pause to reply briefly to something that Senator McManus had to say about the Rabinovitch Yeshivah College at Bondi. He said that it is a small school which has been placed in category A. I do not know all the circumstances involved. I understood Senator McManus to say that it has appealed against the categorisation and that the appeal has been rejected. But one of the bases, one of the criteria used is the basis of needs. According to figures given to me the teacher/pupil ratio for primary school pupils at that school is 1:17 whereas in government schools the ratio is 1:27.
– Is that your only measuring stick?
– It is one of the measuring sticks.
– It is obviously the main one.
-On the basis of needs it must be a measuring stick and it must be one of the major measuring sticks. I agree- and I admit- that other matters must be taken into account. But on the basis of needs comparing the primary school ratio of 1 teacher to 17 students with the government school ratio of 1 to 27 students and on a secondary school basis 3 students to 1 teacher at that school within a government school-
-Three students to 1 teacher. In a government school it is 17 students to 1 teacher. Surely on the basis of needs there is some justification for placing such a school in category A. The Opposition is now proposing that all schools, and in particular the category A schools, be guaranteed during 1974 and 1975 recurrent grants at per capita rates of $62 for primary schools and $104 for secondary schools; that is, the rates that have applied this year- 1973- in accordance with our policy as enunicated at the last election that ‘a Federal Labor Government will continue all grants under Commonwealth legislation throughout 1973’. The Government’s commitments are those that I mentioned earlier, namely, the statements made during the debate on the 1972 legislation and in the election policy speech.
– Order! There is something curious going on down at one end of the chamber. It seems to be valley speaking- speaking from one side of a valley to the other.
-We have said that after 1973 assistance would be on the basis of relative needs. Even the arguments advanced by the Opposition about the alleged promises of the Government could not be interpreted in any reasonable sense as going beyond the rates of per capita assistance which were in force during 1972; that is, $50 for primary school children and $68 for secondary school children. It is of great national importance that the comprehensive and forward-looking programs of assistance to both government and non-government schools, estimated to cost $694m during 1974 and 1975, be put into effect without delay. Notwithstanding this, the Government is not prepared to accept an amendment which would give a relatively small number of the better-off non-government schools grants significantly in excess of their needs as assessed by the Interim Committee in comparison with other schools. The basic rates proposed are also significantly greater than the rates which were applicable to all nongovernment schools during 1972.
There is one final matter. In his remarks the Leader of the Country Party in the Senate, Senator Drake-Brockman, referred to a letter which, I think, was tabled by Senator Rae and which was written by the Minister for Education, Mr Beazley, to Professor Karmel, the Chairman of the Interim Schools Committee for the Australian Schools Commission, on 13 April 1973. From that letter was read- I think by Senator Rae and certainly by Senator DrakeBrockman a portion of the last paragraph, which stated:
The Commonwealth per capita grants to non-government schools in the States in respect of recurrent expenditure are being paid during 1973 at the rates already approved-$62 per primary pupil and $104 per secondary pupil. In the two territories the per capita rates are twice those in the States. We wish the Interim Committee to make recommendations for contributions towards recurrent expenditure in non-government schools for 1974 and 197S on the basis of its assessment of needs and priorities.
They are the sentences in the paragraph which Senator Drake-Brockman read out. But let me read out the first paragraph of that letter to indicate the intention of the Minister for Education. I cannot make it more self-explanatory than the terms of the first paragraph of the letter. On 13 April this year, about 4 months after this Government had been elected to office, my colleague the Minister for Education, Mr Beazley, wrote to Professor Karmel. The first paragraph of the letter stated:
The terms of reference of your committee specify that the grants you will recommend will be in addition to existing Commonwealth commitments.
That is, the commitments of the previous Government. He went on to say:
It is also relevant that the Government has undertaken to continue during 1973 all grants to schools made under Commonwealth legislation which was operative when we came into office.
I want to set down the Government’s decisions about the phasing out of pre-existing programs after 1 973.
I cannot be more explanatory than the terms used by my colleague the Minister for Education. We say that we have a mandate from the people to put through the Bill in accordance with the terms of the Bill now presented. I know that the Opposition has indicated that it proposes to give the Bill a second reading passage but I sincerely hope that at the Committee stage commonsense will prevail and the Opposition in this chamber will not set out to emasculate this legislation as it did with the Government’s measure to set up a Schools Commission. I commend the legislation to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 14- by leave- taken together, and agreed to.
There is payable to a State under this section, in respect of each year to which this Act applies, by way of financial assistance to the State in respect of recurrent expenditure of each non-systemic school in the State, not being a school included in Category A-
if the school is a non-government secondary school-an amount equal to the product of the amount specified in column 3 of Table 3 in Schedule 2 opposite to the category specified in column 1 in which the school is included and the number of pupils receiving secondary education at the school on the date in that year that is the schools census date for that State for that year; and
-To clause 15 of the Bill which deals with recurrent grants to the non-systemic schools in Australia there is, as was indicated at the second reading stage, an amendment which the Opposition in this chamber would like to see carried. However, it is an amendment which we cannot move as such in this chamber and accordingly it is necessary for us to move a request. That is a procedural matter according to the Standing Orders. The option available to us in this chamber to seek a variation which would increase- and I take the opportunity to indicate the amount- by $5m the charge on the revenue, the expenditure from the public purse, is to make a request to the House of Representatives where it is necessary for a Minister to move the amendment if the Government so decides. Accordingly the position is that whereas the Opposition in the House of Representatives could not move an amendment of this nature, we can make a request, and we do make a request. The request which we make is that the House of Representatives should delete sub-clause (5) of clause 15 of the Bill and insert a new sub-clause. That sub-clause is substantially the same as the existing one except for the provision that as well as the grants to non-systemic schools which are provided for in the Bill, according to the tables which are set out in the schedules, there will be the following which I quote from paragraph (c) of sub-clause 5 of clause 15:
such further amounts as will ensure that, notwithstanding the foregoing or any other provisions of this Act-
To change that around into simple words, the situation is that the request which we are making to the House of Representatives is that in addition to the specific grants which are set out in the Bill, there will be a basic grant available to every pupil. The basic grant will be $62 in respect of primary pupils and $104 in respect of secondary pupils. Those are the amounts which apply throughout Australia at this time. They were provided for last year. They existed at the time the Government came into office. They are the amounts payable this year. I pause to point out that under the 1972 Bill there would have been an automatic escalation next year because the grant was based upon 20 per cent of the average cost of educating a pupil at a government school. The 20 per cent average means that the amount would have gone up next year to a stage which is slightly higher than the amount provided under category F.
But we see it as a matter of the Government’s making a promise. Notwithstanding anything which Senator Douglas McClelland may have said the nature of the promise is quite clear. We go no further than asking that the Government honour its promise. We do not go to the stage of asking for and we do not expect the Government to provide the escalated amounts. Justice requires that that should be done, but we are not saying that we can take the role of being able to provide full justice to students. But what we, as a Senate, can do is to say that certainly if the people of Australia were made a solemn promise before the last election they are entitled to have this chamber keep the Government honest. The people of Austrafia are entitled to the basic minimum grant which was promised.
To enable people to understand what I am talking about I refer to what Mr Beazley said in his paper called ‘Priorities and Education’. This was a statement he made many times but the occasion which I identify was at Haberfield on 27 October, long after this much vaunted speech in the House of Representatives in which he carefully obfuscated the question and made no reference at all to cutting out or reducing any grants. All he talked about in that speech was that the poorer schools would get more, a principle which we are supporting. But what he did not do and what he was very careful not to do was to give the slightest indication in the House of Representatives in September last year that there would be any reduction in grants. That would have been in direct conflict with what he and the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) had been saying throughout the earlier part of the year. What Mr Beazley repeated again on 27 October was:
Whispering campaigns to the contrary, no private school under Labor will in future get less than the per capita grant it gets now.
Now’ was 27 October 1972. Let us analyse that promise for a moment. ‘Whispering campaigns to the contrary’ means that Mr Beazley is denying rumours which he alleges are circulating that Labor will not honour its promise, that it does not intend to keep per capita grants. Mr Beazley is saying that that is not true. ‘No private schools ‘ means schools in categories A to H, systemic schools. No private schools under a Labor government will in future- not next year but during the term of office of a Labor Governmentwill get less than the per capita grant which it was getting then.
– That is ‘this year’ and the honourable senator knows it.
– Let me repeat it to Senator Wilkinson. I am quite happy to spend as long as the honourable senator likes to explain the promise made by the Labor Minister for Education. He stated:
He did not say 1 973 or 1 974. He did not limit the time in any way. He meant in the future, extending as far as it was possible to see a Labor Government extending, which in my horizon is about another 2 months.
Let us see what else was said. In the policy speech to which Senator James McClelland challenged me to refer the promise is:
A Federal Labor Government will:
Continue all grants under Commonwealth legislation throughout 1973;
Allocate the increased
I emphasise the word ‘increased ‘- grants for 1974 and subsequent years on the basis of recommendations . . .
There is no suggestion that the Government would cut out any grant. There was no suggestion that the promises made so many times by Mr Whitlam, Mr Beazley, Mr Grassby, Mr Crean and various others would be withdrawn or would not be honoured. There was no suggestion to that effect.
Many times during this debate these promises have been referred to. But let me to refer to one more promise in case there is any doubt that just before the election the present Government had a change of heart. I think this is perhaps the most important one. This is a letter which was written just before the election. It confirms what Mr Beazley said personally in the presence of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Barnard) when he visited Tasmania at the invitation of the Deputy Prime Minister who is as equally culpable in regard to these broken promises. Mr Barnard was present at a meeting of headmasters in Launceston. At their request he brought the future Minister for Education, Mr Beazley, to Tasmania. The promises were then made orally. They were made in writing in terms to which I shall refer. They were also made to headmasters orally. This is an answer to a question which was written to Mr Beazley through Mr Barnard. The question was handed to Mr Barnard to give to Mr Beazley. Mr Beazley replied in writing. The question states:
Is it the intention of the Federal Labor Party to continue per capita aid to Independent Schools for 1974 and the following years?
The answer is:
There is no question that it was not intended to be made in the following years or that it was to be reduced or there was to be nothing at all. It is a plain question:
Is it the intention of the Federal Labor Party to continue per capita aid to Independent Schools for 1974 and the following years?
The answer, without qualification, is yes.
How can this Government now claim that the promises were not made? How can it conceivably claim that? The Prime Minister made the promises repeatedly last year and in his policy speech. The Minister for Education made them repeatedly throughout the year and they are documented. There are tape recordings. Every conceivable sort of evidence is available to prove this. There are letters signed on Mr Beazley ‘s behalf. The Deputy Prime Minister and the Treasurer were privy to them. Mr Crean made the promises. If he denies that I will give him chapter and verse of his promises. Of this present Government the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Minister of Education have repeatedly made the promises throughout the year. Does this Government now turn round and say that they were not made? Do honourable senators opposite deny those men? Do they deny those leaders? I know that they are sniping at each other all the time. But do they deny them to that extent? But let me go on. We have even the colourful Mr Grassby putting advertisements in the Press on 24 and 25 November, or whenever it was about that time, that this sort of aid would be available on an increased basis under a Labor Government. What has it done? It has dishonoured the promise, dishonoured the advertisements and dishonoured the statements made by the Leaders and by Mr Grassby, who is at least a Minister.
– That is not true.
– Perhaps Senator Wilkinson would like to take the opportunity to explain what Mr Grassby meant in the advertisement. I am quite happy to send it across to him. But this promise was made again and again by the Labor Government. It induced the people of Australia on what, according to the opinion polls, is regarded by most people as the most important single issue, to vote by what has now turned out to be a falsehood. Are members of the Government not prepared to honour their promise? Are they not prepared for the sake of $5m to keep themselves honest? Are they prepared to say, by some sham of illogical reasoning, that they can get out of it because they moved a proposition in September of last year? That proposition was moved in a way which, if intended to be deceitful, certainly achieved its purpose. Nowhere in that proposition that they moved in the Houses of Parliament did they say that they would cut out any aid. In September 1972 Mr Beazley said:
This must mean that the poorer private schools will get more than they would under the Government ‘s flat rate legislation.
There was no reference there to saying that the richer private schools will get less or nothing; he said that the poorer private schools will get more. He continued:
If the sum total appropriated by the Government of Western Australia -
He was talking about what would happen in Western Australia- equals that being granted by the Commonwealth but is allocated on the basis of need it means that the poorer schools will get most.
The use of the expression ‘will get most’ must mean, as a matter of logic, that there are others getting less. That must mean that the richer schools will get less and the poorer schools will get more but everybody gets something. Those who deny that as a matter of syllogistic logic -
-Order! I ask Senator James McClelland and Senator Wilkinson to remain silent while the honourable senator is speaking; otherwise we cannot hear.
– Thank you, Mr Temporary Chairman. What it means to anyone who is not entirely bereft of logic is that there are some who will get less and some who will get more but everybody gets something.
– Where does he say that everybody gets something?
- Senator James McClelland, you are so devoid of logic that I do not expect to have to respond to you.
– Will you tell us where he says that?
– I will repeat it for Senator James McClelland ‘s benefit. It is not a bad point to repeat anyway. Mr Beazley said:
If it is said that the poorer schools will get most, then from the point of view of logic the converse is that the richer schools will get some but less. He did not say for a moment that the poorer schools will get all there is and that the others will get nothing.
– He did not say that the richest would get anything.
– Yes, he did, at Haberfield and various other occasions.
– Tell us where he said it.
– Order! This is not a debate between the 2 honourable senators from either side of the House. Senator Rae has the floor.
– Thank you, Mr Temporary Chairman. Senator James McClelland comes in here occasionlly listens to little of what is being said, then interjects. He had the hide to stand in this place a little while ago and say that no proof has been given of what was in the Government’s policy speech and no proof had been given of any statement after September 1972 by any of the people concerned. For his benefit, and for the benefit of people listening to this debate, I think it is important that I say again that promises were made by Mr Beazley himself one month after his September speech in the House Representatives. A month after that speech he said:
That was a month after the September debate. If the best that the Government can do is to rely on the September 1972 debate in which there was no statement that anybody would get nothing, that per-capita grants would be cut out, and it wishes to ignore totally the written statements of Mr Beazley and the Prime Minister made many dmes after that debate, then people can judge the Government on that basis.
I wish to reassert the philosophy of the Opposition. Our philosophy is that there should be a freedom of choice. Our philosophy is that it is important in a free society that people be able to make a choice as to what school, what system of school and what type of education they wish their children to receive. To enable them to exercise that right of choice it is necessary that people from the poorest to the richest should be able, if they wish, to choose a non-government school which provides the type of education they want. Many people have a philosophy which is not related to religion but to an approach to education. They believe that the modern or progressive type of education is best for their children. Parents, such as the parents of the children at the Australian International Independent school in Sydney, the Brisbane Independent Primary School and many of the other independent schools which are getting reduced aid or are not getting any aid, wish to send their children to those schools. They are not rich people. Most of them are of modest means. The mothers often have to work in order to be able to pay the fees. This Government would take any grant away from those children because it wishes to stick rigidly to some demonstrably unsatisfactory hard line system of categorisation on the basis of wanting to apply some indefinite needs principle. Therefore I move:
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the following amendment:
Leave out the sub-clause ( 5 ), insert the following sub-clause: “(5) There is payable to a State under this section, in respect of each year to which this Act applies, by way of financial assistance to the State in respect of recurrent expenditure of each non-systemic school in the State-
in the case of the year commencing on 1 January 1974-
if the school is a non-government primary schoolan amount equal to the product of the amount specified in column 2 of Table 3 in Schedule 2 opposite to the category specified in column 1 in which the school is included and the number of pupils receiving primary education at the school on the date in that year that is the schools census date for that State for that year; and
if the school is a non-government secondary school- an amount equal to the product of the amount specified in column 3 of Table 3 in Schedule 2 opposite to the category specified in column 1 in which the school is included and the number of pupils receiving secondary education at the school on the date in that year that is the schools census date for that State for that year,
in the case ofthe year commencing on 1 January 1975-
if the school is a non-government primary schoolan amount equal to the product of the amount specified in column 4 of Table 3 in Schedule 2 opposite to the category specified in column 1 in which the school is included and the number of pupils receiving primary education at the school on the date in that year that is the schools census date for that State for that year, and
if the school is a non-government secondary school- an amount equal to the product of the amount specified in column 5 of Table 3 in Schedule 2 opposite to the category specified in column 1 in which the school is included and the number of pupils receiving secondary education at the school on the date in that year that is the schools census date for that State for that year; and
such further amounts as will ensure that, notwithstanding the foregoing or any other provisions of this Act-
a sum of $62 in respect of every pupil receiving primary education at a non-government primary school on the date in that year that is the schools census date for that State for that year; and
a sum of $104 in respect of every pupil receiving secondary education at a non-government secondary school on the date in that year that is the schools census date for that State for that year, is payable to the school authority of the school. ‘ ‘.
– For the reasons I outlined in closing the second reading stage of this Bill the Government cannot support the request that has been made by the Opposition. We cannot support it because, for a start, it is opposed completely to the political ideology of the Government, the espoused policy of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Labor Party at the last Federal election, and the manner in which the Karmel Committee reported to the Government. Firstly. let me repeat that on 19 October 1972, when the former Government was in office, it brought in a Bill based on recurrent per capita grants. The Labor Party, then in Opposition, 6 weeks before the Federal election, moved that at the end of the motion ‘That the Bill be now read a second time ‘ the following words be added: but the Senate, while not refusing a second reading to the Bill, is ofthe opinion that it should provide for the establishment of an Australian Schools Commission to examine and determine the needs of students in government and non-government primary, secondary and technical schools, and recommend grants which the Commonwealth should make to the States to assist in meeting the requirements of all school age children on the basis of needs and priorities-
These are the important words: and that the application of this policy could not allow the continued acceptance of the provisions of the Bill and that therefore grants should not be made on the basis provided in the Bill in respect of any year after 1 973.
That was the proposition that we moved, that was the proposition that we voted for, and it was the proposition that all members of the present
Opposition voted against, including members of the Democratic Labor Party. That happened 12 days before this House rose and 6 weeks before the election. Three weeks after we moved that amendment, on 13 November 1972 the Prime Minister, in announcing the Labor Party’s policy speech, said:
A Federal Labor Government will:
Continue all grants under Commonwealth legislation throughout 1973.
Nothing is plainer than that. Nothing could be clearer than that. That is the policy on which we were elected and it is in conformity with the platform of the Labor movement. On 13 April the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) wrote to Professor Karmel, the Chairman of the Karmel Committee, and said:
The terms of reference of your Committee specify that the grants you will recommend will be ‘in addition to existing Commonwealth commitments’. It is also relevant that the Government has undertaken to continue during 1 973-
I emphasise the words ‘during 1973 ‘- all grants to schools made under Commonwealth legislation which was operative when we came into office. I want to set down the Government’s decisions about the phasing out of preexisting programs after 1973.
The effect of the Opposition amendment is to increase the grants to schools catering for 16 per cent of pupils in non-government schools and less than 4 per cent of pupils in all schools. The amendment would cost approximately $8m for the 2 years 1974 and 1975. All but a few hundred thousand dollars of that sum will go to nonCatholic schools. The Government’s objection is not to the sum involved but, as I said earlier, to the principle.
Our policy is quite clearly to provide massive increased assistance to all schools, government and non-government, on the basis of need. We have moved from an existing level of $226m to a new total of $694m, which includes an additional $63m for non-government schools. The Labor Government’s policy is that the assessment of need be made by an expert independent body-a schools commission or its interim committee pending legislation. At least all government schools and at least two-thirds of nongovernment schools will be better off under our program and under our legislation. We say that our policy was put in precise terms to the people at the 1972 election. The people endorsed our policy and rejected the Opposition’s acrosstheboard per capita approach. Now we allege that the Opposition parties are trying to use their weight of numbers in the Senate to obstruct the
Government from giving effect to its undertakings which received the support ofthe Australian people.
Senator Rae has moved an amendment to this Bill which is designed to afford pupils at nongovernment schools Government grants according to policies which were established by this Parliament before 1972. The Government has made great play of the amount which it is appropriating for education. The Treasurer (Mr Crean), in his Budget Speech, said that the appropriation for education was being increased by $404m and that the increase for tertiary education, universities and advanced colleges of education will entail an additional outlay of $179m. If one subtracts $179m from $404m one gets the true increment which the Government is appropriating for schools. It follows, from the figures in the Budget Speech, that the previous Government’s appropriation for education was $43 9m. It is history now that that figure had grown, in the period of Liberal-Country Party government, from almost zero to $439m during a period of 15 years when the States had multiplied their appropriations by 2.5. So this increment of which the Government is so boastful at present, representing about $200m to $230m for schools, has to be put in that perspective.
The first advance made by way of Federal assistance for education was when the Menzies Government, through the Murray Committee, gave direct assistance to universities, and then advanced that assistance to schools. A great reform was achieved after a few years of the application of that policy when the Federal Government recognised the need for assistance not only for government schools but for nongovernment schools. For the first 10 years after that policy was enunciated the Australian Labor Party bitterly and with bigotry, because of its hatred of the Democratic Labor Party which it identified with a considerable section of the nongovernment schools, namely, the Roman Catholic schools, fought against any assistance for the non-government schools. A large section of the non-government schools, purely because the Government of this day, the ALP, hated the DLP so much that it conceived a bigotry against the Catholic schools, was made the target of attack.
– That is true, from 1957, when Labor’s policy was changed in Brisbane.
-That is true. The ALP fought the principle with a bigotry which we all recall, until it had been defeated at successive polls and it realised that its opposition was a considerable millstone around its neck. When Mr Calwell gave way to Mr Whitlam the willow bent. He made overtures to the non-government schools for the purpose of attracting votes. Senator Rae has quoted several times tonight the repeated statements which were made during the last election campaign that no grants for nongovernment schools would be reduced by the Labor Government if it came to office.
The speech which Senator Douglas McClelland, who is in charge of the Bill, made to the Committee tonight shows the depth of deception to which even spokesmen for the Government can descend. He purported to quote from Mr Whitlam’s policy speech. He quoted this sentence:
A Federal Labor Government will: Continue all grants under Commonwealth legislation throughout 1 973.
He stopped there, which suppressed the truth. He did not quote the next sentence, which states:
Allocate the increased grants for 1974-
I emphasise those words ‘the increased grants for 1974’- and subsequent years on the basis of recommendations prepared and published by the Schools Commission.
– I read that in my reply to the second reading debate.
– The Minister suppressed that part, and it was a deliberate piece of deception which dishonoured the office of a Minister of the Crown. To show how shameful the distortion was, the actual submission of this proposition to the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission was couched in the terms of Mr Whitlam’s letter, when he became Prime Minister, of 12 December. He asked the Karmel Committee to make grants. He said:
The grants recommended by the Interim Committee will be: . . in addition to existing Commonwealth commitments.
At that time there were Commonwealth commitments existing in favour of all non-government schools, on a principle that is absolutely incontrovertible. That principle is that in this country the rich and the poor alike may attend all government schools and may attend all nongovernment schools if they pay the fees. Whereas the governments of this country administering the taxes that they collect from the people allocate 100 per cent of the expenditure on a state government school pupil to that school, the fees discharge only about 70 per cent to 75 per cent of the expenditure on the education of a nongovernment school student. We arrived at a principle that is equitable and sound, namely, the bridging of this gap of hatred of nongovernmental schools which were Roman Catholic in character and treating all non-government schools, irrespective of any sectarian situation, as being entitled to some assistance from the Government. We said that from the Commonwealth sphere these schools should be entitled to one-fifth of the expenditure that we appropriate for state government school pupils.
– Their parents pay taxes, the same as everybody else.
-The parents of the nongovernment school pupils, of course, pay taxes. If they are on a high income they pay much more tax than those on small incomes. But the principle is that every pupil at a State school is entitled to 100 per cent of the expenditure and every pupil at a non-government school, irrespective of means, irrespective of religion, irrespective of opportunity, and irrespective of the school to which he goes, is entitled to 20 per cent of that expenditure. Then by some quirk of the mind, some confusion impenetrable, the Interim Committeethe Karmel Committee- in its report brought forth a formula that required a considerable section of the non-government schools to forfeit their assistance. But on what basis were they required to do this? Anybody who has perused this report must be mystified, because that is the way in which the Karmel Committee formularised its basis of excluding these schools. In its report the Committee states:
The measurement of the quantity of recurrent resources used in a school or school system involves weighting the quantities of the various resources used within the schools by fixed salary and price weights, to form an index of quantum. The nature of the data available for analysis has led to the formulation of a simple, though not necessarily easy to construct, index. The recurrent resources used within a school have been taken to comprise the services of teachers, administrators, and support staff (both professional and ancillary), consumables, equipment, and, in the case of schools forming part of a system, resources such as itinerant specialist teachers, guidance and counselling personnel and curriculum advisers, provided at system level for use by individual schools. Excluded are resources devoted to teacher training, the conveyance and boarding of pupils, and, for systemic school organisations, those resources consumed in administrative activities not directly related to the running of schools.
The Committee went on to say that it discarded the liability of the school and that the pupilteacher ratio was of no real advantage. The Committee must have been frantic indeed to spawn such a confusion of ideas that has no relationship to equity, economy, or education and borders on the unreasonable or irrational. It is purported to give an appeal from an unknown formula for which no basis of reason is provided, and it is purported to have heard an appeal from itself on criteria which were never stated and to have given decisions for reasons which were unexplained.
In the light of the promises given by Mr Whitlam and his cronies for the purpose of capturing votes in order to gain office and receiving a report such as this which divorces the real benefits of our system from a significant section of the non-government school students, this Party would deserve to earn discredit if it did not fight to establish the principle that every child in this country is entitled to receive 100 per cent of the cost of his state school education if he wants it- and I took it- or, if he goes to an independent school, that he is entitled to such proportion of that expenditure as the Federal Government of the day decides. But this should be applied uniformly, without fear, favour or discrimination, to every child whose parents partly support him at a non-government school. That is the principle involved; not the distorted, rubbishing, ridiculous matter that we debated last week. All that is involved is this simple proposition. I stand here to support the terms of the clause that Senator Rae has moved be inserted in the Bill, and we will stand by that clause.
– We are debating an amendment which has been moved by the combined Opposition, comprising the Liberal Party, the Country Party and the Democratic Labor Party. The purpose of the amendment is this: We say that we will vote for every cent of the money which the Commonwealth under the Karmel Committee report said it would give to all schools except those grouped in category A. By saying that we will vote for all that money we disprove the unscrupulous propaganda used by the Government in the Press and the media to the effect that what we wanted to do was take money from the poorer schools and give it to the wealthy independent schools. We never put up any such proposition. It was thought up in the propaganda circles of the Government. All we said- this is what we say tonight- is that we will vote for every cent that the Government wants to give to the state schools and the poorer schools. All we ask is that the Government carry out the promise made by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Minister for Education, Mr Beazley, before the election, namely, that if the Labor Party were elected to office it would at least maintain the basic per capita grants given to every school. If anyone wants to deny that that promise was made, these are the words or Mr Whitlam delivered on 20 June 1 972 at the Catholic Luncheon Club:
The ALP has never voted against any Bill proposing Commonwealth aid for education and it will support any forms of benefit already existing.
By what he is doing today the Prime Minister has broken his word. On 27 October 1972 the Minister for Education, Mr Beazley, said at Haberfield:
That is the promise made by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education. We are saying that we will vote for the sum of almost $500m that the Government proposes to give to the other schools, but as the Government promised to maintain the per capita grants, why does it not maintain them at that level by increasing them by approximately $8m, as the Government says, or $5m, as we say? But we have achieved something. The propaganda put out by the Government when we first advanced our proposition stated that it would cost $114m. Tonight the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) who is in charge ofthe Bill has told us that it will cost $8m.
– There are 2 different propositions.
– I know that it is a different proposition. Of course it is. But where did the $106m go? It was a figment of the imaginations of people who were opposed to the action that we suggested. They thought up the figure in the hope that their propaganda would deceive the members of the community. What are the schools that the Liberal Party, the Country Party and the Australian Democratic Labor Party are fighting for? Nearly every one of them is a Protestant or a Jewish school. Originally, 105 schools were to receive nothing. The list was cut down to between 40 and 50 schools. We are assured that they are almost all Protestant and Jewish schools. They are the ones that are to be left out. My Party, the Country Party and the Liberal Party are firm upon the point that those schools are entitled to payments under the terms of the promise of the Prime Minister and the promise of the Minister for Education. When the Government says to us that it will fight an election on the issue, I tell it that we will welcome an election on the issue of whether the promises that the Government made when it wanted votes to win an election can be believed. I also tell the Government that if it fights an election on this issue, Mr Whitlam will not be Prime Minister when the election is over. If there is one thing that the average Australian stands for, it is fair play. The gallup polls show that the average
Austraiian believes in what was called aid, but what I call justice, for independent schools. I do not believe that the Australian electorate will accept a situation in which, for the sake of $8m, this Government says that it is prepared if necessary to plunge the country into an election. It will fight that election on the question of whether in future the word of the Prime Minister can be accepted.
-The Government is paying $ 1.5m for ‘Blue Poles’.
– We are asking the Government to spend an extra $8m. It will spend $700m on education. To keep that promise will cost an extra $8m. It cannot do that. But it can spend $1.5m on the painting ‘Blue Poles’. We are not talking about wealthy schools. We are dealing not with schools but with children. I have been given evidence by the heads of some of the schools that are to receive nothing under this scheme that they provide scholarships for hundreds of poor children to enable them to attend those schools without the payment of fees. I know of innumerable instances of mothers who go to work to try to give their children a better education. This decision of the Government to wipe out fees for a considerable number of schools means that fees in those schools will have to be increased. It will become impossible for the poorer parents to send their children to these schools. Instead of the enrolments at such schools being diluted as they are today between children whose parents are well off and children whose parents are not well off, this Government will force them to become schools exclusively for the elite, for the upper class. I believe that this legislation to that degree could be described as class legislation of a most unacceptable type.
In recent months we have had tears wept over the poor Catholic schools, in some cases by people who to my knowledge for 20 years were violently opposed to one penny of State aid for any independent school. They have suddenly discovered poverty stricken Catholic schools. Such people say that they are benefactors and that they are the people who really want to help such schools. I would think that the Australian Catholic bishops would have some regard for the poor Catholic schools. Do they agree with the Government ‘s policy? They disagree.
-What did Bishop Carroll say? Chew that one over.
-The honourable senator should go and get Mick Young. He can tell the honourable senator about that.
– I got you on the run then.
– I have never been on the run; I have always been able to walk. Let me point out what the Catholic bishops think of this program. Commenting on this legislation they said:
We most urgently ask the Australian Government to achieve this reconciliation by including in its program effective assistance to every child in the form of a basic recurrent grant. Meanwhile as a first practical measure, we ask the Australian Government to revert to the recommendation of the Interim Committee to continue aid to the schools in the highest categories in 1974.
Should some children be completely excluded from any share in Federal financial assistance, we Bishops, as a pledge of our sincerity would strongly encourage Catholic parents, schools and educational authorities to join with us in giving all possible support to these excluded children even to the extent of renouncing in their favour some of the aid allocated.
So the bishops are entirely opposed to this Government’s action and they do not wish Catholic schools to receive an advantage at the expense of the Protestant and Jewish schools which will be completely excluded from the scheme. I think that that is a sufficient indication of what is thought of this program by the people who, according to the Government, it is trying to help.
I have been a teacher and I know the problems that face particularly an independent school. We are coming to Christmas. What is the Christmas present from the Australian Labor Party to the independent schools that have been placed in class A by the Karmel Committee report? It is a complete cut-off of aid. Even the Karmel Committee commented on the damage that would be done to such schools by cutting off the aid at this time. This Government which can spend $1.5m on the ‘Blue Poles’ painting; which has wasted God knows how much in Torres Strait on a turtle farm; which is at present pouring money through the Australian Council for the Arts into enterprises which will do nothing to benefit the arts, to a degree which I believe will soon become a bigger scandal in regard to the Council for the Arts than was the case in regard to the turtle farms; this Government which has money to burn is not prepared to keep its promise to give $8m- so it says- or $5m, as we say to 45 or 46 independent schools that will receive a Christmas present of a complete cut-off of any assistance. This could practically bankrupt them and could cause a number of them to close. All this is done in the sacred cause of education. I believe that the Australian people have been hoodwinked by the Government’s propaganda that has stated that we are attempting to take $1 14m from the State schools and from other schools. The Government now says that this can be done for $8m. I believe the Government stands condemned as a Government that cannot be relied on to keep its promise. If the Government wants to do the honourable thing, when this amendment goes to the House of Representatives the Government will say that it will continue the present system, at least until there is an election and the people can decide. If the Government does that, at least it will be taking the honourable and democratic course. If it does not do that and decides to go to the country on this issue, I will have no compunction in fighting for the 45 or 46 schools concerned. My Party is not deterred by the suggestion that we may lose in our numbers as a result of an election.
– You are going to lose anyway.
– We have always been prepared to put our heads on the block. We have challenged the Government for nearly 2 months to go to the country on a double dissolution, but Government members do not have the intestinal fortitude to take up the challenge.
– You have heard about the boy who cried: ‘Wolf.
-I think that Senator McLaren has chickened. I believe it is an honour to support this recommendation that the Prime Minister should keep the promise that he and the Minister for Education made. The Minister has said that the Government is worried not about the sum involved but the principle. What principle could there be in saying -
– Economic needs.
– That is not a principle. The Minister said that economic need is not involved. He said that the Government was not really concerned about the money. What principle can there be in making a promise of aid and not keeping it? I appeal to the Government at this late stage to do the honourable thing and accept this amendment in the House of Representatives.
– I think that the amount of interest in this debate can be gauged by the number of honourable senators who have been present in the chamber. It seems to me that on the Government side an average of about 3 honourable senators have been listening to this debate, whereas on the Opposition side we have managed to sustain about 1 7 or 1 8 honourable senators in the chamber.
– Count them again.
– I believe that is a measure of the interest that the Opposition takes in education. I can understand why my friend interjects, so furiously, his conscience is pricked. He has not been in the chamber for quite a long period this evening. I suggest that this Bill has been chosen by the Government as a vehicle by which to conduct a malicious campaign against the Opposition. I believe the Government has been intent on deceiving the electorate throughout Australia. It has claimed that we are not interested in the Karmel report and oppose its recommendations, but that is a lot of nonsense; it is dishonourable for the Government to suggest that. We are anxious that school children throughout Australia should be given the benefit of the recommendations in the Karmel report; we are anxious to provide the $640m-odd for this purpose.
Of course, the main bone of contention about the whole business has been that the Opposition has chosen to adopt an honourable stance with regard to recurrent grants to systemic schools. The promise which was made by the Governmentby the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and by the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) - that it would not disadvantage any student as a result of its education policies has been repeatedly emphasised this evening. We note that the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) has referred to one particular category A school and suggested that the reason why it had been placed in category A was that it had a teacher-pupil ratio of one to seventeen. I think that this tends to bring out the cargo cult attitude to education of the Australian Labor Party. It is all very well for certain schools to have first-class school room accommodation, with perhaps the occasional swimming pool dotted here and there, but if they choose to spend their money on providing more teachers for the benefit of their students they are placed in category A.
– They are penalised.
– They are penalised for having the foresight of providing extra teachers. This again demonstrates the distorted view of the Australian Labor Party.
– Those parents are taxpayers, too.
– As the honourable senator says, they are certainly taxpayers. I wish to remind the Senate of one or two schools in category A that have been referred to this evening. Senator McManus referred to a Jewish school that is in dire straits because of the threatened Government action relating to per capita grants to its students. Senator Rae has given three other examples. One school in the suburbs of Melbourne has 53 migrant students, many of whose parents are both working to keep the child at this school. These people are being penalised because the school has been placed in category A. I understand from Senator Rae that the standard of the school is not pleasing at all.
– It is spartan.
-Yes. In all probability this is another example of a school which has a few extra teachers, and this factor caused it to be placed in category A. Senator Rae also mentioned the Australian Independent School in Sydney. I understand that he has had experience of that school. He has told me that the headmaster has a caravan for a study and that a converted bus is serving as the staff room. Because that school has a few more teachers than other schools, it is placed in category A. Senator Rae gave as an example the Loreto Convent in Portland, Victoria. Because there happens to be at that school a number of retired nuns who do some part-time teaching, its category has been lifted to category A. These 3 schools and the one referred to by Senator McManus have students whose parents have a modest background and, in fact, have to make considerable sacrifices to send their children to the schools. Yet the Government, which purports to represent the less affluent members of our society, has chosen to dishonour a promise made before and since the election with regard to persistent per capita grants for this type of school.
I was glad to hear Senator Wright remind the Minister of the statement he made earlier when he chose to refer to the promise by Mr Whitlam in his policy speech on 13 November that a Labor Government would continue all grants under the Commonwealth legislation throughout 1973. However, the Minister forgot to mention that the promise continued, stating that the Government would allocate the increased grants for 1974 and subsequent years on the basis of recommendations prepared and published by the Schools Commission. The terms of reference laid down by the Labor Government for this Schools Commission state:
The grants recommended by the Interim Committee will be:
for the period 1 January 1974 to 31 December 1975;
in addition to existing Commonwealth commitments;
directed towards increased expenditure on schools and not in substitution for continuing efforts by the States and non-government school authorities.
I believe that it is also relevant to read from a statement on the Karmel report made by the Australian Episcopal Conference in August 1973. The Conference of Catholic Bishops unanimously made the following brief statement on the report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission:
We have endorsed the report submitted to us by the Federal Catholic Committee.
Among other things the Conference made the following statement:
In view then ofthe many positive aspects ofthe Report, the Australian Bishops regret that some serious reservations must be made. We particularly regret that the principle of a basic recurrent grant to every Australian child has been abandoned. We support the overall right of all citizens to a freedom of choice in education, a right that the State should recognise in an effective way by giving all citizens, all children, some access to public funds for education. It is, therefore a matter for deep concern, with possible dangerous implications and consequences for the future, that the Interim Committee was unable to make a recommendation that would keep this principle inviolate, while reconciling it with the other principle that greater assistance should be given in areas of greater need. Such a reconciliation should be, we believe, the objective of future efforts aimed at removing divisions and disputes arising from a consequent sense of grievance.
We most urgently ask the Australian Government to achieve this reconciliation by including in its program effective assistance to every child in the form of a basic recurrent grant. Meanwhile as a first practical measure, we ask the Australian Government to revert to the recommendation of the Interim Committee to continue aid to the schools in the highest categories in 1974.
That sums up quite nicely the attitude of the Australian Episcopal Conference to this matter.
– That was unanimous, was it not?
– I have already said that.
– And included Archbishop Carroll, referred to by Senator Mulvihill.
– Those present were Cardinals Freeman and Knox; Archbishops Cahill, Carroll, Gleeson, Goody, Rush and Young; Bishops Brennan, Carroll, Faulkner, Fox, Gallagher Jobst, E. Kelly, J. Kelly, H. Kennedy, P. Kennedy, Little, McCabe, McKeon, Morgan, Muldoon, Mulkearns, O ‘Loughlin, Perkins, Prasko, Quinn, Rooney, Stewart, A. Thomas, F. Thomas, Toohey and Torpie
– And Bishop Satterthwaite.
-Thank you. I could not pronounce that name. I thank you Senator Rae for your help. But this is a matter of conscience as far as we are concerned. The Labor Party has no conscience with respect to honouring its promises. The Liberal Party, the Australian Country Party and the Democratic Labor Party fully support the implementation of the Karmel recommendations in this Bill. But we are adamant that the Labor Party should honour its pre-election and post-election promises that no student in Australia will be disadvantaged as a result of its education policy.
– This debate tonight may be said to be significant for 2 main reasons. The first is the attitude which the - Government senators have adopted of virtually absenting themselves from this chamber and certainly not indicating by their voice any desire to defend the Government’s attitude. It is a remarkably silent performance. The second aspect which is significant is the constant reiteration by members of the Opposition of the twin bases upon which the Opposition’s amendment rests. The first basis, of course, is that the amendment gives expression to a basic principle that where aid is provided to non-government school children that aid should be on a per capita basis and be available as a matter of principle to every child in this country. The second basis upon which the Opposition’s amendment rests is-that the Government is running away from-a promise which it made prior to the election and upon which many people would have believed that the Labor Party’s conduct in Government would be different from what it has turned out to be.
There are hosts of examples of promises broken by this Government. The Senate early this year had to keep the Government honest when it insisted that its promise of 4 weeks leave to all public servants was given to all public servants and not simply to those who were members of a union. Unfortunately we cannot keep the Government honest in respect of the matter which the Labor- Premier of South Australia has gone into the Press about and about which he said he has been so ashamed- a promise. given by him, as he believed honourably after having spoken to Mr .Whitlam, that the wine producers of South Australia would not have an impost placed upon them. But that is a promise broken. Now we have another promise which is probably the promise most often stated publicly and which has plainly been dishonoured. Countless speakers from the Opposition side have indicated what Mr Whitlam said at public rallies in June of last year, at the Catholic luncheon on 20 June 1972, as well as statements by Mr Beazley in numerous places. But what has not been said is the Press impact .which- was given to those statements. We have had stated often tonight- I repeat it again’ Because it is short- the following statement by Mr Beazley:
But what was the Press publicity about that? If one looks at the ‘Daily Telegraph’ which appeared on a subsequent day- and this would go through to most people in New South Wales I think- one will find the headline: ‘No private school would get less under a Labor Government than the per capita grant it receives now’. The Labor Party made that sort of assertion constantly. It took the benefit from it and now it seeks to disown it.
Senator Wright referred to the policy speech of the Prime Minister, a policy speech which clearly indicated that there would be additional grants. That indicated to everybody a consistency with what he earlier stated. There were statements made by Mr Beazley and letters written to numerous people before and after the election indicating his attitude. Indeed, as late as 30 May of this year Mr Beazley had indicated what his attitude was when he said in the course of a debate in the House of Representatives:
My view was that every school in this country, including Geelong Grammar School, should receive a basic grant from the Commonwealth, and that the Commonwealth should have an identity with the education of every child.
Why Senator Douglas McClelland wants to get up now and suggest that that sort of promise was not made I can only divine as a guilty conscience because he recognises the enormity of what the Labor Party is now doing.
Mr Whitlam himself after the election wrote to the Chairman of the National Council of Independent Schools on 13 December 1972, the day on which he appointed the Karmel Committee, and his words are instructive. This letter has been incorporated in the Hansard record of the House of Representatives and I will quote from that source. He said:
It is the Government’s intention that existing Commonwealth programs for specific purpose grants for the benefit of schools will run their course. Sir Ivan Dougherty’s Committee will be able to proceed with its task in respect of grants available for 1973-74, but we will need to review the arrangements for allocating the capital grants which are available under that program for the following 4 years.
The Prime Minister went on to say:
Per capita grants to non-government schools for the year 1973 will be paid at the rates already approved for 1973 under the provisions of that Act, i.e. $62 per primary pupil and $104 per secondary pupil. Commencing in 1974 additional Commonwealth contributions towards the running costs of nongovernment schools will be determined on the basis of relative need . . .
The constant attitude of the Australian Labor Party in the period leading up to the election of last year and in the months immediately after it cannot be challenged. The Opposition has, by its vote tonight and by the words spoken by all its spokesmen, shown that there is basically no disagreement with the basis of the Karmel Committee’s approach and with the amounts of money which have been recommended should be expended and for which provision is contained in this Bill. The Opposition supports the Bill. But surely it is important, as far as the future is concerned, to the schools which are dependent upon the certainty of revenue to be able to plan ahead, to appoint teachers, to propose the curricula and to undertake all the things which their boards feel are desirable for the future to know what their income is likely to be. The inroad has been made by the categorisation principle and the assessment on a quite arbitrary and changing principle of what should be the amount paid to these schools.
There cannot be a school in this country which is not apprehensive as to what policy might be adopted after 1975. Will all the non-government schools miss out? Will only some of them miss out? What will be the position? That is why the Opposition believes that this matter should be put on a fixed basis of principle. We of the Opposition accepted the principle in 1972 that we should work out the estimated average cost of educating a child at a government school and determine the proportion of that estimated average cost which would be provided for every student at a non-government school. It was agreed with the States that that proportion should be 40 per cent- 20 per cent paid by the Commonwealth and 20 per cent paid by the States. That is a principle to which we adhere. It is a principle on which we are prepared to challenge the Government to have an election, if the Government wants to have an election. We will not shirk the issue.
It has been suggested that the Opposition is doing something which it should not be doing. It should not be forgotten that every honourable senator in this chamber is as entitled to his place under our representative democratic system as is every member of the House of Representatives. We were elected by the people, just as the members of the House of Representatives were elected by the people. They have their obligations under the Constitution; so do we. But we run the risk that if we take a particular course of action it may involve the whole Senate in being put before the people at an election. Therefore the course of action we take must be responsible and must be one we are prepared to take to the country. We are prepared to take this issue to the country. Let there be no mistake on the part of the Government about the Opposition’s intentions in this respect.
There is one final matter to which I wish to refer. We have heard about the Labor Party’s attitude towards the maintaining of grants to all non-government schools in 1973 and about its deciding when in power that only some nongovernment schools will get grants. Why has there been a change in attitude? It is an issue upon which the Labor Party has been singularly silent. Relying upon the scribes who write in the newspapers one divines that it was because of some decision by either Cabinet or Caucus that the Labor Party changed its policy. Why? I think we all know why. For many years, as was evidenced earlier by Senator Wright, the Labor Party set its face, on some ancient, parochial, sectarian basis, against any state aid. It was only by, I think, one vote that Mr Calwell secured the numbers for Mr Whitlam at the Labor Party’s conference in 1967. But we know that there has always been within the Labor Party a group of people who are opposed to state aid. The Opposition has found expression from time to time in the decisions of the Victorian State Council of the Australian Labor Party. It has found expression from time to time in the motions which have come up to the Federal Council. It has also found expression in the Caucus of the Australian Labor Party. Today we heard Senator McClellandstrangely for him- justifying the Government’s assistance to Catholic parochial schools, to nongovernment schools. Yet the same Senator McClelland -
– Which one?
-Senator James McClelland. In the report which was presented in February 1972 by the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts there was a dissenting report by Senator James McClelland in which he quite clearly indicated a basic viewpoint. He said:
The provision of continuing religious indoctrination which is undoubtedly prized by Catholics and which is their main justification for the perpetuation of their separate school system, is a matter to be entrusted to their own religious orders, and should not, in fact, probably cannot under the Constitution be a matter with which the Commonwealth Government can concern itself. I
Shortly thereafter he said:
The Commonwealth’s constitutional power to support education is probably limited to helping finance the inculcation of knowledge which is, in a religious sense, neutral. It can concern itself with training men and women to be teachers, but hardly to be purveyors of a ‘Catholic theory of education’. That is the task for Catholics themselves.
Within the Labor Party there is a hidden voice which is opposed to all aid to independent schools. It is a voice which was submerged and subdued in the period leading up to the election because Mr Whitlam wanted to have his way and to present his case and Mr Beazley wanted to have his way and to present his case. But after the election the forces demonstrated their power and, of course, Mr Beazley was overridden. That is the real risk which lies in the future if there is not a basis of principle upon which these grants are made. That is the principle underlying the Opposition ‘s case. But equally with that principle is the ability which a majority of this Senate has and which it ought to assert to keep the Government to the promise it made. If it is prepared to dishonour that promise in this Parliament let it also be prepared to justify to the public at large the dishonouring of that promise.
– I support the Opposition’s amendment because of the very important principles involved. I do not propose to traverse all the words in it. This evening’s debate inevitably takes the minds of honourable senators in this chamber- no doubt the members of the other place also would have the same view- back to perhaps Australia’s greatest Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, who pioneered the just principle of the giving of some assistance to independent schools. At that time Sir Robert was fiercely opposed and attacked by the honourable humbugs opposite who are now screaming so loud and who are now weeping crocodile tears in respect of the poor Catholic schools. I have never heard such nonsense. The winds of change were blowing then and there was a move for the making of grants available for science blocks. I remember an honourable senator from the Australian Labor Party getting up in this chamber and saying: ‘This is the most iniquitous legislation ever to come before the Parliament’.
– Who said that?
Sentor HANNAN- Does the honourable senator really want me to tell him?
Senatory Poyser- Yes.
- Senator Hendrickson.
– What did he say?
– It is in Hansard. Go and have a look at it. I do not carry that sort of nonsense around in my head. I have quoted the very words he said. I was not going to disclose his name because I have, perhaps wrongly, a certain cavalier approach to honourable senators opposite, but since the honourable senator has asked me for his name I have given it to him.
– What date?
– I do not carry the dates of these idiot speeches around in my head. One of the most remarkable aspects of this evening’s debate was the crashing silence from honorable senators opposite until I started to speak. They have now become vocal- irrational and noisy, but vocal. I want to point out that in Victoriaand mind you, in this as in the Liberal Party and any other party Victoria is the mainspring in the heart of all political endeavour and I do not think there will be any challenge to that statement- the socialist left led by Mr Hartley and George Crawford are in a position of very great power. So strong was their criticism when poor Mr Holding attempted to say at the State election before last that he favoured a reasonable quantum of State aid he was disciplined by Hartley and Crawford and the rug was pulled out from under him, and of course he had no prospect whatever of forming a government.
– Tell us why your Party disciplined you?
– It did not discipline me; let there be no doubt about that. And do not rejoice too early. The mere fact that we have been given so much nonsense in the Press of recent days is living proof of the Government’s belief that it has sufficient hired pens and sufficient control of the media to ensure that one of the worst confidence tricks that has ever been attempted to be foisted on the people of this country has been given such publicity. The Government alleges that our action will deprive schools of $694m. Nobody on this side has ever said that. Nobody except the Government’s propagandists has ever said that. Nobody except the hired pens and the hired voices behind the microphones has ever suggested that that was the real position. It is simply not true. The Prime Minister’s credibility is at stake in this Bill. His credibility has received some very nasty shocks lately. The Premier of South Australia who can scarcely be said to be in Mr Snedden ‘s pocket has said: ‘I have been dishonoured by a broken pledge ‘. Why? Because Mr Whitlam told him before the election: ‘You can tell the brandy characters that under Labor this impost will go ‘.
– I rise on a point of order. What has the brandy issue got to do with this Bill?
– There is no point of order involved.
– I quite understand how sensitive Senator McLaren must be because in political circles a broken pledge is normally a matter of great significance. Let us go now to another broken pledge. Major Peter Young, a former member of the armed services and an adviser to the Labor Government on defence matters- though Lord knows what amount of defence there is to advise it upon now- said before the election as a result of what he was told:
The Services will be better off under a Labor Government’. Now Major Young has to get up and say: ‘I feel that I must apologise ‘.
– I wish to take a point of order, Mr Temporary Chairman. I would like to ask you to rule on what Major Peter Young, the Services and the wine industry in South Australia have in common with the States Grants (Schools) Bill which we want to finance and for which we seek the authority of the Parliament to help the under privileged children of Australia.
– Make your point of order.
– I ask you to rule whether the reference to Major Peter Young has any relevance to the Bill.
- Senator Hannan, kindly connect your remarks to the principle which you were enunciating.
– The point I was going to make was that this Prime Minister has a discreditable record of broken promises. We come now to the meeting held in the Festival Hall in May of last year. This was- I want to point this outwhat the then Leader of the Opposition would regard as a loaded audience. About 3,500 people attended this meeting. They included Senator Webster, Senator McManus, the now Prime Minister, myself and a number of other people. It is certainly true that the then Leader of the Opposition- the present Prime Minister- was prepared to trim his sails to what he thought this audience wanted to hear, and he said that no existing educational benefit would be eliminated under Labor. Now, without batting an eyelid, he is prepared to go through this ridiculous nonsense and take from about 55 per cent of the students of independent schools the benefits which he promised would not be removed.
– They are not benefits but the return of their own tax money.
– I did not want to debate the principle of that because I have only a couple of minutes left in which to speak.
– That is too long.
– I know that may be too long for people over there to hear the truth. It is refreshing to hear at least some sound from over there because the Government speakers, as I said earlier, have been guilty of a crashing silence for most of the night. They are ashamed. I think it is true to say that there are some honourable gentlemen opposite who are ashamed of what is being imposed upon them. We have had recently an example of the integrity of a senator from
Queensland who was prepared to attack one of his own Government’s administrative acts, for which I give him credit. But there are men opposite who are ashamed of this switch- this betrayal- which is being imposed upon them by their Cabinet. I know that if Mr Beazley were still Minister for Education it is unlikely that this imbroglio would be taking place. We know what are Mr Beazley ‘s views. We know that Mr Beazley is ashamed of what the Government has done. I cannot help but feel that most of the problems that have arisen over the past few days would never have arisen had he been here.
There are many other matters to which I would have wished to draw to the Committee’s attention but I feel that this will have to suffice in order to prove, with my colleagues, that the present Government is guilty of a grave breach of faith.
– I have already replied in the Committee stage of the debate and despite the remarks that have been added since by 5 members of the Oppositionit is significant that 5 members of the Opposition have spoken on a night when the proceedings are being broadcast- only 2 other things have been added to which I feel I need allude. Firstly, after I had replied, Senator Wright accused me of having adopted a form of deception of the Senate in that I had read partly from the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in saying that ‘a Federal Labor Government will continue all grants under Commonwealth legislation throughout. 1973’. The honourable senator accused me of not having read the third section of that portion ofthe policy speech in which the Prime Minister 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 expert Schools Commission . . .
Obviously Senator Wright was not in the chamber when I replied at the end of the second reading debate, because I included all those sections, and specifically that section, in my remarks. But so that I cannot be accused of further deception I now seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard the schools policy of the Labor Party at the 1972 Federal election as enunciated by the Prime Minister.
- Senator are you asking for the incorporation of the whole book?
-No, I am asking for that portion under the heading
Schools’ on pages 12 and 13 and portion of page 14.
-Is leave granted?
– Just a moment. I would like to be clear. Is the Minister going from ‘Schools’ down to ‘Pre-schools*? Is that the part? Is it right through ‘Schools’?
-Yes, right through ‘Schools ‘.
– Thank you. Yes, leave is granted.
– I shall read it if the honourable senator would like me to do so.
– No, I just wanted to know what was going in a -
– There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
The most rapidly growing sector of public spending under a Labor Government will be education. Education should be the great instrument for the promotion of equality. Under the Liberals it has become a weapon for perpetuating inequality and promoting privilege. For example, the pupils of State and Catholic schools have had less than half as good an opportunity as the pupils of non-Catholic independent schools to gain Commonwealth secondary scholarships, and very much less than half the opportunity of completing their secondary education.
The Labor Party is determined that every child who embarks on secondary education in 1973 shall, irrespective of school or location, have as good an opportunity as any other child of completing his secondary education and continuing his education further. The Labor party believes that the Commonwealth should give most assistance to those schools, primary and secondary, whose pupils need most assistance.
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. 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.
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. In December 19S6 tie wrote to Sir Keith Murray and some other leading educationists to advise him on the immediate needs of universities and their future requirements. They reported to Sir Robert within nine months.
I shall write before Christmas to a small group of leading educationists, including representatives ofthe State and Catholic systems. I shall write in precisely the same terms as Sir Robert, requesting for all schools, as he did for universities, recommendations upon ‘their financial needs and appropriate means of providing for these needs’. It will not be necessary to delay the appointment of the Commission until legislation has been passed by the new Parliament in 1973. Moreover, their report will be promptly published. In this way the Government and non-Government schools will be able to make their longterm plans right from the very earliest stages of a Labor Government.
A Federal Labor Government will:
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDHaving incorporated that part of the policy speech I think that is sufficient to reply to this spurious argument put forward by Senator Wright. The other matter to which I wish to refer is Senator McManus ‘s allegation that he had smoked us out by alleging that there was a difference between an additional expenditure of $ 114m as mentioned by my colleague the Acting Minister for Education (Mr Lionel Bowen) in the House of Representatives and the amount of $8m which I mentioned here tonight in relation to Senator Rae’s amendment. But when I interjected that the proposition put by the Opposition in the House of Representatives was different from the proposition put by the Opposition in the Senate-
– I am replying to the matter Senator McManus raised. I am saying that the 2 propositions, one enunciated by Mr Malcolm Fraser in another place and the other enunciated by Senator Rae in this place are completely different. If the proposition enunciated by Mr Malcolm Fraser had been pursued in this place I could have said quite frankly and honestly, that because of clauses 13 and 15 of Part III ofthe States Grants (Schools) Bill an additional expenditure of $114m would have been involved. But the proposition put forward by Senator Rae, as admitted by Senator McManus, is different from that which was proposed by Mr Malcolm Fraser in another place.
– But only for procedural reasons which I explained.
– I am not worrying about the reasons. The fact is that they were different propositions. An amount of $114m was involved in Mr Malcolm Fraser’s proposition. We say that there is an amount of some $8m involved in the proposition put forward by the Opposition here. Again I reiterate that the policy of the Labor Government was put in precise terms to the people at the 1972 election. The people endorsed our policy. They rejected the Opposition’s across the board per capita approach. Now the Opposition parties are trying to use their Senate numbers to obstruct the Government from giving effect to its promises. The Government cannot support the request made by the Opposition.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Rae’s request) be left out.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman- Senator Byrne)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Rae’s request) be inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman- Senator Byrne)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the clause be agreed to subject to Senator Rae ‘s request being complied with.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman- Senator Byrne)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to subject to request.
Clauses 16 to 65- by leave- taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 66 (Year to which Part III applies).
– I simply wish to indicate that as the request in relation to clause 15 has been carried the Opposition does not propose to do what was done in the House of Representatives where the Opposition opposed clause 66. 1 simply reiterate that in this House it was possible to move the request. That request was carried and we do not wish to make any comment in relation to clause 66.
– Order! It being 1 1 p.m., in conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate I formally put the question:
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the Chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of Bill- by leave- taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported with a request; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Douglas McClelland) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to draw the attention of honourable senators to a very serious matter. It is the withholding from the Parliament of information, by a responsible or irresponsible Minister of the Government, to which this Parliament was entitled to have access. I allege that the Minister deliberately withheld this information because today it has been drawn to my attention that the information requested in the Senate was made available for a radio program in Melbourne. As late as yesterday morning the Minister in the Senate representing the Minister in the other place told the Senate that he was unable to obtain from the Minister the information which was freely given today by the Press Secretary of the Minister in the other place. To make the point clearly to the Senate I must reiterate a little history to nail another misstatement of fact, a deliberate misleading of the Senate, that was contained in an answer given to my original question on this matter. I think honourable senators will recall that when I first asked the question in the Senate the Minister insulted the Senate by returning to it an answer couched in the terms of an answer given to a member in another place. The Minister is Mr Hayden. He concluded his reply in this manner:
When I was in Opposition I received no help from the Government and did the hard work myself.
– That was a change.
– It would have been a change. The honourable senator must know the Minister personally. The Minister deliberately misstated the facts. I have since ascertained the facts. In 1972 when that Minister, Mr Hayden, was in Opposition and did all the work himself, he placed on the notice paper of the House 30 questions to the Minister for Health and 20 questions to the Minister for Social Services on the particular item on which he said that he did all the work himself. If honourable senators would like verification of my statement I am prepared to read to the Senate from the official files of Hansard to verify whether Mr Hayden, as a member of the Opposition, or the Ministers of the Government of the day did all the work. It would take the next 3 hours to read the questions and the answers that were given to the present Minister in another place to the 50 questions which he placed on notice. That makes no allowance at all for questions that he asked without notice. Mr President, you will recall that I asked one simple question that required only an answer of yes or no from the Minister, and I was forced to speak in the adjournment debate to try to get the answer but I could not get it from the Minister’s representative here, although he informed the Senate that he had tried to get the information. I raised the matter again twice by way of question. The last time I raised it- only yesterday morning- the question was a simple one, as follows:
Is the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security now in a position to inform the Australian people whether the compulsory payment of 1.3S per cent of taxable income proposed to finance the Health Insurance Bill 1973 will itself be tax deductible? Are any other insurance commitments entered into to provide cover for private ward treatment in hospitals to be a deduction from income for tax assessment?
The reply ofthe Minister in this chamber was as follows:
I have sought from my colleague the Minister for Social Security the additional information required by the honourable senator but as yet it is not forthcoming. All I can say to the honourable senator is that I provided htm with an answer on behalf of my colleague last Wednesday and the honourable senator then raised the matter on the adjournment. In addition to that information-
Honourable senators will recall that that was no information at all but merely a boast by the Minister, Mr Hayden, of how he did all the work himself, which he did not do- with which I provided him I have sought additional information. As I said, that information, if any, as yet is not forthcoming.
Today my attention was drawn to a radio broadcasting program in Melbourne which is a talkback session. Mr Norman Banks, who conducts this session, was raising the question of health. I telephoned him and told him of the problem I had in getting vital information in order to make a comparison between the cost to the individual of the Government’s proposals and the cost that is met by people under the present health benefits scheme, and that no intelligent comparison could be made without this vital piece of information. I explained to him that I had sought it on 4 occasions. He instructed his secretary to telephone the Minister. Of course, the Minister’s Press Secretary replied, and the information that was not available to the Minister in this chamber or to the senators who are members of the Government Party in this chamber was readily made available by the Minister’s Press Secretary to a radio broadcasting program in Melbourne.
I make the allegation quite seriously. There had to be a reason why this Federal Minister, Mr Hayden, was deliberately withholding from the Senate- and from the people of this nation who have inquired from members of this Senate- the facts on this question and why he was giving deliberately misleading information to this Senate. The only possible conclusion that one can come to, after the publication of his White Paper which was alleged to explain all the details of his health scheme but which did not contain this information, and after his attention was drawn to what one might conclude because the money was to be raised in the manner of a tax on assessable income, is that it will not be tax deductible. But it was a fact that it could have been made tax deductible in a subsequent year. The Minister refused to disclose information to the Parliament which he must have had at that time. We must condemn in the strongest possible terms this sort of behaviour from any Minister who is trying to place before the people an entirely new proposition that will completely reorient the whole approach to medical services in this country.
The Minister has done his cause great harm. He has done his Party and his ministerial colleagues in this place great harm by withholding from them the information which they are entitled to have. Is it that the Minister does not trust his colleagues? Is it that the Minister has no confidence in the ministerial representatives of his own Party in this chamber? What are the reasons, if they are not the reasons that I have stated, for his deliberately trying to place before this Parliament a proposition in relation to which no proper explanation was given as to how it was to be funded? The Minister had made statements to the effect that 3 out of 4 people would be better off under the proposals that he was advancing. I give those statements the lie.
I expect the Minister for the Media, who is sitting at the table, to inform us whether or not the Press Secretary ofthe Minister for Social Security has correctly informed the radio station so that at long last we can have officially placed before this chamber of the Parliament the facts from the Minister himself instead of receiving them secondhand by way of information given to a radio station in Melbourne by the Minister’s Press Secretary. I challenge the Minister to verify the information given to the radio station. I would ask him to explain to us when he verifies it why Mr Hayden has refused to disclose the information. Answers given by the Minister for the Media to my questions asked in this chamber have revealed that he has repeatedly sought answers to the questions and was refused such answers by the Minister for Social Security.
It would be insufficient to say that one can read into the proposal that the scheme will be financed by everyone paying 1.35 per cent of his taxable income for that purpose, because traditionally medical charges have always been deductible under our tax structure. Whatever I may have read into the proposal as a member of this Parliament, who takes some interest in economics and in tax matters, the great mass of the general public would immediately conclude, unless publicity were given to this particular aspect, that, as all medical costs in the past have been tax deductible, whatever proportion of their taxable income they might pay under the new scheme would attract the same sort of tax rebates as they have always received in the past. So I take this opportunity to reveal to honourable senators, to members of the Government and, indeed, to the Minister at the table that an answer has been given. I request the Minister to place before this chamber tonight information as to whether the statements that have been made on a radio program in Melbourne are authentic. I point out to the Minister that the question was not related only to the 1.35 per cent being now taxable -
– Do you not think we have got the point by now?
– The honourable senator can now have the personal satisfaction of sitting down and working out what his own contribution will be. The Minister did not disclose to the honourable senator earlier that this payment was to be taxable. Honourable senators could not make that calculation. They should congratulate us for having gone to the trouble to enable them as senators at least to be able to explain the position to other people and to know it for their own satisfaction. - Honourable senators will not escape the costs of this free medicine program. When this question was posed it was amazing that the Press secretary to the Minister answered not only that the payment of 1.35 per cent would be taxable but also the other part of the question I asked of the Minister for the Media yesterday morning in this chamber. The radio commentator was told that the other insurance costs to provide coverage for a private ward, for a private hospital treatment and for a charge to the contributor of $5 for each attending doctor- that is, the doctor who operates, the anaesthetist and so on- in the free medical scheme would be tax deductible. Those are exactly the 2 components contained in the question that I asked the Minister yesterday. He told me that he could not obtain an answer from the Minister for Social Security. I now ask the Minister to tell us whether he has been admitted into this great secret conclave that has given information to a radio station in Melbourne or is he still in the position that he cannot answer that question in the Senate.
– I wish quickly to raise a matter of the abuse of privilege by 2 senators. I believe that they have admitted to what appear to be statements which are not based on truth, indeed, they have been made in respect of citizens outside this Senate. I have advised the two honourable senators of the points that I wish to raise. In the first instance, I refer honourable senators to a debate which occurred on 11 October 1973 in relation to the acquisition of land in the Northern Territory. Senator McLaren, in speaking to the debate on the acquisition of land in the Northern TerritoryI quote from Hansard page 1168 of 11 October 1973- said in short:
I know Mr Albert Albany and I know where his land is.
I know people who have bought land from him in the past.
I again quote what Senator McLaren said: ‘I know Mr Albert Albany ‘.
– I rise on a point of order. As one who believes in upholding the Standing Orders I question the propriety of discussing a matter that was the subject of debate in the current session of the Senate.
– Order! I have no recollection that it was the subject of a debate in the current session.
– But you could find out whether it was.
– Order! I do not intend to. I want to go to bed. I call Senator Webster.
– And you are not concerned with Standing Orders?
– Order ! Senator Cavanagh, I am concerned with the fact that any senator sitting in this place has a right to oppose the motion for the adjournment and that is the device that Senator Webster is using.
– Even if it is contrary to the Standing Orders?
– I cannot accept from the honourable senator a declaration of that order and nature. I call Senator Webster.
-The main point I wish to make is that Senator McLaren in his speech, in which he kindly used my name 22 times, made a statement regarding a Mr Lawrence Edgar. In the further declaration which Senator McLaren read, this Mr Lawrence Edgar apparently made a statement about Mr A. Albany approaching him to sign a petition against acquisition of land.
I have received a letter from Mr A. S. Albany of Post Office Box 39146, Winnellie, Darwin, Northern Territory. His letter states:
I wish to bring to your notice, certain comments made about myself by Senator McLaren during the Senate Debate on the Acquisition of Land in the Northern Territory on the 11th October 1973. These comments are recorded on pages 1168 and 1 1 69 of the Senate Hansard.
I feel that these comments are an injustice to my privilege as a free Australian Citizen, and, as lies, are detrimental to not only my personal character, but also to the welfare of my wife and family.
I have been in contact with my solicitors who have advised me there is very little I can do, because what was said, was under parliamentary privilege.
I pause there in reading the letter to make the point that it is the Government which at this stage is bringing forward to the Senate a Bill dealing with human rights -
– Order! Senator Webster, now you are starting to stray.
– I continue to quote from the letter:
It is to the following matters of concern that I draw your attention:
There are 5 matters that Mr Albany says are a little astray from the truth. I will deal with one or two of them. Perhaps Senator McLaren at an appropriate stage, even on another night, may advise the Senate of whether this is correct. The letter goes on that Senator McLaren stated as reported at page 1 168 of Hansard:
I know Mr Albert Albany and I know where his land is. ‘
Mr Albany says in his letter:
I personally have never met, spoken or written to Senator McLaren, so I cannot see how he would know me. It is possible that he may have erred, and should have said, ‘I know of Mr Albert Albany’.
Page 1 168-Senator McLAREN-‘This is the person who is capitalising on what the Government is trying to do. ‘
The letter goes on to state:
I wish to inform you that I, in association with other interested parties have been trying to subdivide my land for the purpose of establishing a satellite town or suburb since 1969. My latest proposals were submitted to the Administrator on 11th July 1972, by an Australian and World renowned Consultant Company. To date this application has never been rejected.
A number of points are made, but in particular I wish to refer to what was stated on page 1 169 by Senator McLaren. As Mr Albany points out, Senator McLaren said: ‘But in the main the biggest majority of them are in support of government action’. That is untrue because Mr Albany goes on to say:
My mathematical knowledge informs me that 5 per cent is not a majority.
He is referring to those who signed the petition in question as being in support ofthe Government:
It appears to me that Senator McLaren must consider the 95 per cent majority to be a gerrymander petition.
– Order! Senator Webster, you raised the matter in the adjournment debate by saying that you wished to draw the attention ofthe Senate to a matter of privilege. When you referred to the matter raised by Senator Cavanagh, you were in the clear. Now, you are getting into an area in which you are reviving a debate.
-Mr President, I must acknowledge that you prompt my debate. Indeed, I do not take the point kindly. I am quoting from what has been said by a citizen outside the Senate who believes there has been a breach of his rights. I believe that it is fair for me to put the points that he raises. . -
- Senator Webster, I am telling you what is the interpretation, the practice and the context of the Standing Orders. In other words, it is only a warning shot across your bows for the time being.
– I acknowledge the warning shots that are fired. I acknowledge ako that we could be here for a long time while we debate this matter if that is what is desired. I note, Mr President, that I gave you my name first to speak on the adjournment debate this evening. You elected to call Senator Little first, which you are quite at liberty to do. We may have some dissention on that matter also. _2. ‘.
– Order! That is not correct. Senator Webster, in that context you are not aware of what order I was informed or as to how I would give the call. That has nothing to do with the order in which honourable senators come to me and inform me that they wish to speak. I will call honourable senators as I see them. In fact, in the order that the names have been put on my list which I have here on my desk in front of me, Senator Little was in front of you anyway.
– I just make the point that I was the one who gave you Senator Little’s name before he gave it to you.
– Order! Senator Webster, I am not going to debate this. I will not allow you to make these observations. Senator Little informed me in the corridors earlier today that he intended to speak on the adjournment. Now, that is all there is to it.
-The point I was making is important to a citizen beyond the Senate. He was very concerned that the allegations should have been made that Senator McLaren had some person knowledge of the citizen. The citizen has written to me and told me that that is not a fact. He goes on to say in a number of other respects that Senator McLaren was probably astray. He was concerned about the fact of the declaration that Senator McLaren had read from Mr L. Edgar. The letter I h’aVe indicates that the statement which Senator McLaren made was inconsistent with what Mr Albany knew of the particular petition that had been taken around. The letter states:
Mr L. Edgar, who was the only person who refused to sign the petition and who admits to being a member of the Labor Party, advised me that a Mr Peter Denholm a leading light in the Labor Party in the Northern Territory advised him that if the land was compulsorily acquired he would see that Mr Edgar would be permitted to stop on his land, and that he would see that an all-weather road would be built to give Mr Edgar access to his property. Mr Edgar was acceptable to this, as the only legal physical access he has is inaccessible in the wet season. Since this man drank S cans of beer during our discussion, I very much doubt he could remember what he said in any case.
It is important that the civil rights of individuals be preserved. Perhaps it is an unimportant matter to the senators who laugh and who undoubtedly are affected from their activities earlier in the evening, but they should not laugh when a statement is made in criticism of an outside person. I come now to the point of Senator Gietzelt whom I have advised -
Government Senators- Oh, oh.
-Senators say ‘oh, oh,’ and make a great statement- and it is a great statement. Again, Mr President, I hope I have your approval in bringing up what was said in the Senate on 15 November. This matter appears in the Senate daily Hansard of Thursday, 15 November. It is interesting that Government senators laugh about this matter. They are well aware of what it is about and of the scurrilous attack that was made on a member of Parliament in another State, yet they are willing to laugh it off. I think they should be ashamed of themselves. Senator Gietzelt started to speak on the adjournment at 6.58 p.m. on Thursday, 15 November, 2 days before the New South Wales election, when the New South Wales Parliament was about to adjourn and would not sit again before the election.
– Truly cowardly tactics.
-Yes, they are a cowardly pack all right. Senator Gietzelt said:
I wish to raise a matter of the utmost gravity- a matter which can only be described as one ofthe greatest political scandals of the century in this country. The allegation has been made that the Attorney-General of New South Wales, Mr Ken McCaw, personally intervened to stop the investigation and prosecution of Alexander Barton and Thomas Barton who have been responsible for the loss of almost $2Sm by the public of Australia. These 2 master swindlers have been protected by the Attorney-General of New South Wales- the Minister charged with upholding the law in that state.
The investigation officer of the Corporate Affairs Commission of New South Wales is prepared to go before a public inquiry or royal commission and say that because he had ample evidence that they had been guilty of fraud and misrepresentation he contacted the Bartons solicitors, McCaw, Johnson and Company and told them he wanted to interview the Bartons.
Almost immediately, the investigating officer says, he was summoned to the office of the New South Wales AttorneyGeneral and told by Mr McCaw -
– I rise on a point of order, Mr President. My point of order is that this is tedious repetition. Reading from a Hansard record of a debate which took place only a few nights ago would seem to me clearly to come within the boundaries of tedious repetition. All honourable senators, if they wish to read Hansard, are perfectly able to do so, and all of them who were present on the last occasion have already heard all of this.
– I suggest, Senator Webster, that you should take the salient points of Senator Gietzelt’s speech, if you wish, and make a case about something that you have not yet disclosed, and not read out the whole speech.
– I realise that it is 1 1.30 p.m. However, perhaps it is necessary to put the whole case so that we understand the situation. I had reached the point where the report of Senator Gietzelt’s speech states:
Almost immediately, the investigating officer says, he was summoned to the office of the New South Wales AttorneyGeneral and told by Mr McCaw that he, McCaw, did not want him to proceed any further with the investigation of the Bartons.
I interrupt my reading to take up the point made by Senator Wheeldon. He said that this is tedious repetition and that all Government senators know about this, but I wonder where there is a Government senator with any stomach at all to get up and make some amendment to the dastardly statement made by Senator Gietzelt. Government senators are all quiet now. If I may, I will read another short paragraph and that will complete what I want to read from the Hansard report of Senator Gietzelt’s speech. Senator Gietzelt continued:
This is the most flagrant case of political protection of malpractice yet to surface in this country. There can be no doubt that had this prosecution been launched the public would have been warned and at least some of the funds invested in the Barton companies would have been saved by the public.
Undoubtedly Government senators read about this matter in today’s newspapers. A headline in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ states: ‘Official says McCaw did not stop prosecution’. In an attempt to be brief, I will read one or two paragraphs from this article, and I may ask the Senate to give me leave to incorporate the statutory declaration that Mr Pengelly made. The article states:
The Commissioner for Corporate Affairs, Mr F. J. 0. Ryan, has denied that the Attorney-General, Mr McCaw, ordered stoppage of the prosecution in late 1970 or early 1971 of a company controlled by Alexander Barton.
– I rise again on the same point of order, that this is tedious repetition. We have had Hansard read to us and now we are having this morning’s ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ read to us. We are all capable of reading the
Sydney Morning Herald’, without the adjournment debate being given over to a reading of it.
– Order! There is no point of order. It may be tedious to you, Senator Wheeldon, but to others it may be extraordinarily interesting. It is not repetitious.
– It is tedious to me that I have to read it over, but I am afraid that Senator Wheeldon prompts the point. Government senators read about this matter this morning, but they did not have enough stomach to come here and apologise for what has been said about Mr McCaw. That is an indication of the strength of the honourable senator who spoke and who laughs in such a comical fashion. This article continues:
Mr Pengelly’s statutory declaration was made on Friday, November 16, the eve ofthe last State elections, at which Mr Pengelly was a Labor candidate.
I hope that is not tedious repetition for those experts on the Government side. The article continues:
It was made following a charge by Sentor A. Gietzelt (Labor) in the Senate on November IS, that Mr McCaw had told a companies officer in 1970 that he did not want him to proceed any further with ‘the investigation ofthe Bartons’.
Another part of the article states:
His declaration does not confirm Senator Gietzelt ‘s charge.
I have marked this statutory declaration in various places which gives the he to the point that was made in this Senate 2 days before the New South Wales State election. So that this debate will not go on for a great length of time, I seek the permission of the Senate to include in full the statutory declaration made by Mr Pengelly.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. Senator Webster is seeking leave to incorporate a statutory declaration. Would you ask him whether he has the statutory declaration with him? I believe that if it is to be incorporated it will have to be produced.
- Senator Webster, are you seeking leave to include it?
-Mr President, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a copy of the statutory declaration.
– Do you deny leave?
– Order! Is leave granted?
-On some future day the Senate may perhaps see fit to take this matter further. I note that the Government has denied me the right to have the statutory declaration incorporated. I do not wish to delay the Senate any further. However, Senator Gietzelt undoubtedly accused Mr McCaw of protecting the Bartons. Senator Gietzelt ‘s charge is not supported by a shred of evidence. In fact, it is denied in the statutory declaration. I consider that Senator Gietzelt should apologise to Mr McCaw.
– We have had a wonderful performance tonight from Senator Webster. As a matter of fact, it has been so melodious that he has put Senator Kane sound asleep in his seat. It is very interesting to consider the 2 persons from the Opposition benches who have spoken on the adjournment in the Senate tonight. Firstly, we had Senator Little, and then we had Senator Webster. If we look at what is happening on the Senate ticket in Victoria we see that both of these gentlemen are vieing with one another to win a seat for Victoria in the Parliament. This episode tonight was nothing more than a political grandstand at the beginning of their campaigns. Senator Webster came into this chamber tonight and once again made false accusations against me. This is the third occasion on which he has done so.
Tonight, for the benefit of honourable senators, I shall mention those 3 occasions. In the first charge Senator Webster made, he quoted from a proof copy of Hansard. He berated me and said that I had misled this Senate and that I had done all sorts of thing to Mr Albany. If Senator Webster had taken the time to look at the weekly copy of Hansard, he would have seen that I said at line 16 on the first column of page 1 168 of the Hansard of 11 October that ‘I knew of Mr Albany’. Yet Senator Webster comes in here tonight and makes great play about this matter and tries to berate me and make me out to be something that I am not. Senator Webster has asked me and Senator Gietzelt to apologise. If he has the intestinal fortitude that he claims we are lacking he would immediately stand and apologise for the false accusations that he made here tonight.
Another accusation which Senator Webster made referred to an occasion when I spoke on the adjournment debate one night about the imprisonment of a young lad because he would not agree to abide by the national call-up. Senator Webster said that if the lad was not in gaol, he would be sitting in the gutter. This is the type of person we have in this chamber. He comes in here with these accusations. Senator Webster has falsely accused me of selling land and of using the proceeds to engage in property investment in this city. I asked Senator Webster to bring proof but he could not do so. That was another false accusation. On another occasion he said that I was looking after my business interests because I had an office at Murray Bridge in South Australia. That again was a false accusation. On every occasion that Senator Webster has stood in this place and tackled me I have proved him wrong. Senator Webster, who would talk under water, stands here talking day after day, week after week, and then sends his statements to the provincial Press in the western district of Victoria, hoping that he will get enough votes to send him back to this place. I challenge Senator Webster to send to the provincial Press what he has said tonight and what I have said in reply and then let us see what the constituents of Victoria think about him. I am an ex- Victorian and I have a good name in the western district of Victoria. I lived there for many years. My character would stand up against Senator Webster’s on any day at all.
On every occasion that Senator Webster comes into the Senate he tries to berate me because I bring forward in this chamber matters relating to the Northern Territory. I pride myself on trying to bring the problems of the people of the Northern Territory into this chamber. One of the matters which I raised in this chamber was the acquisition of land in the Northern Territory. Senator Webster has challenged me tonight in regard to a letter that he received from Mr Albert Albany who denies that he approached Mr Lawrie Edgar. I want to read again to the Senate a statutory declaration from Mr Lawrie Edgar which I quoted on 11 October. If the Senate wishes I will table the statutory declaration for the information of honourable senators. The original statutory declaration, from which I quoted is headed ‘Commonwealth of Australia: Statutory Declaration’ and states:
I, Lawrence Edgar, of Lot 7, Section 132 Vali Subdivision P.O. 39-311 Winn do solemnly and sincerely declare that about 6 weeks ago Mr A. Albany approached me to sign a petition against aquisition of land, he told me that if I signed, and the move was successful and I aligned myself with him I would stand to gain $40,000 for my land. I considered this to be an inducement to my signing, to gain cash, I refused.
The statutory declaration is signed ‘L. Edgar’ and is dated 20 September 1973.
That is the statutory declaration which was forwarded to me from Darwin on behalf of Mr Lawrence Edgar by another person who is held in high regard in the Northern Territory and whom Senator Webster has tried to denigrate here tonight. This person’s name is Mr Peter Denholm. I have a lot of regard for him. Mr
Denholm is in this area himself and he purchased land from Mr Albany. So I know a little bit more about Mr Albany than Senator Webster has tried to make out I know. As I have proved I said in the Senate that I know of him; I did not say that I knew him. I hope that when I sit down tonight Senator Webster will have the intestinal fortitude to get up and say what he has accused us of not having the guts to say. I would now like to refer again to what I said earlier about Senator Webster using this forum here tonight as a Senate election platform.
– To defeat Senator Little.
– Of course, that is all it is for. The ‘Age’ of 17 July 1973 carried the headlines: ‘Senator Webster tells the liberals a few home truths ‘. The article stated:
Senator James Webster, newly stabbed by his Liberal allies, prides himself on being a cautious man. And yesterday he was holding his fire.
He is quoted as saying:
I am still hoping that the Liberal Party will see greater wisdom and may be prevailed upon to see greater wisdom.
This is what he said when talking about his Liberal allies who had stabbed him in the back. Yet he comes in here and says that there are splits in the Labor Party. Where is there a greater split than we see between Senator Webster- this was expressed in his own words- and the Liberal Party? Yet we are told of the great marriage that will take place. The honourable senator talked about the acquisition. Yet he does not recall that it was the people that his Party was going to marry- the Democratic Labor Party- which saw fit to support the Government on 11 October. The DLP reversed the decision of 7 June and supported the Labor Party on the acquisition.
Senator Webster pointed out that Mr Albany said that only 5 per cent of the people in the acquisition area wanted the acquisition to go ahead. I would like to quote from a factual document which gives the general attitude to the acquisition. It states:
Following gazettal ofthe acquisition notice on 14 June, the Department of the Northern Territory, at the request of the Freehold Landowners’ Committee, conducted a survey of registered landholders in the acquisition area.
There are 132 registered landholders in the acquisition area. A number of these are not resident in the Northern Territory, and some were temporarily absent from the area and could not be contacted.
I break off here and point out that when the original petition was presented in this Parliament by Senator Prowse I was able to prove that there were very few people who lived in the area who actually signed the petition which was organised by Dr Letts. I was even able to point out that some of the people did not live in the Northern Territory. As a matter of fact, one of them lived down in the Murray /Mallee of Victoria. He was probably one of Senator Webster’s constituents. The document continued:
Despite press and radio announcements not all landholders responded. However, the survey covered 80 registered landholders, which was considered reasonable in the circumstances.
Some time after the survey had been completed three absentee landholders contacted the Department ofthe Northern Territory to request early finalisation of the acquisition so that finance could be made available. It appears not unreasonable to assume that most, if not all, landholders resident in other States would support the acquisition. The survey indicated that there were no absolute objections to compulsory acquisition.
I repeat: ‘The survey indicated that there were no absolute objections to compulsory acquisition.’ Yet Senator Webster says that only 5 per cent of those people living in the area were in favour of the acquisition. It is a complete untruth that he has told us again. The article continues:
Sixty per cent of those interviewed accepted compulsory acquisition without question, whilst 40 per cent indicated they would require an assurance of the following from the Government’
The issue of a lease or an agreement to issue a lease as soon as acquisition was effective;
Lease conditions to include:
Long term tenure;
no reduction in size of present holdings;
no interference to the purpose the current leaseholder had in mind for the development of the land.
Those undertakings have been given on behalf of the Government Again we find that Senator Webster tries to bolster up Mr Albert Albany. I pointed that out in my speech here on both occasions. I will not repeat it like Senator Webster did tonight but I will refer to an advertisement which appeared in the ‘Australian Financial Review’.
– Order! I pulled Senator Webster up for reviving the debate. I do not want you to revive the debate.
– 1 am not reviving the debate. I wish to refer to an advertisement which appeared in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ on Monday, 23 July 1973. The advertisement states:
Required partner or partners with financial resources and development expertise to develop 8 square miles of Freehold land adjacent to Darwin in the Northern Territory. This land is at present being zoned for satellite Town development.
Contact, write Land Development, P.O. Box 39146, Winnellie, N.T., 5789.
Who inserted that advertisement? It was none other than Mr Albert Albany. He is the man that Senator Webster upholds. He is the man who wants to prevent the people of Darwin building houses on land of a reasonable price. He wants the people to pay up to $5,000 per acre for a block of land to build a house. I proved here on a previous occasion that this is the type of person that Senator Webster is and these are the types of things he does.
I wish to prove once again that statements which Senator Webster runs around the country making have proved to come undone and have proved to be untrue. I wish to refer to the ‘Northern Territory News’ of 25 November 1972. At the time Senator Webster was in the Northern Territory campaigning on behalf of the present member, Mr Sam Calder. Senator Webster is reported as follows:
He said he is confident the Liberal-Country Party coalition would be returned to power.
How wrong he was. Both Senator Webster and myself were elected by the Senate to serve on the Joint Committee on the Northern Territory which investigates problems affecting the Northern Territory. Senator Webster tries to make out that he is a great champion of the Northern Territory. The Committee has heard evidence from witnesses on 2 occasions this year. It spent a full week in Darwin and Senator Webster did not show up. Last Friday the Committee sat all day in Committee Room No. 1 in this Parliament and again Senator Webster was absent. So, where are his thoughts for the people of the Northern Territory? He could not care less. His only interest is to look after the moneybags he represents and who send him into this Parliament. It ill becomes him to come in here and try to prove to any senator or anybody else that we tell untruths in this Parliament because I think that I proved unquestionably here tonight that Senator Webster is nothing but a spiv and a person who tries to denigrate -
- Mr President, you would recognise that there were a number of matters that I would wish to debate for a great deal of time.
– Point of order.
- Senator Webster is raising a point of order. Is Senator Webster raising a point of order?
– He did not say so.
- Senator Webster, you cannot enter the debate a second time.
– It is the point of order I was going to make.
– I am speaking on a point of order, Mr President.
– What is the point of order?
– The point of order is that the senator, during his whatever it was that he made a few minutes ago, requested one or two things. I would agree with his contention. Firstly, Senator McLaren, I regret that I have handed the copy of the Hansard I had -
– Order! No point of order is involved. If the honourable senator wishes to make a personal explanation he may do so before the debate is adjourned.
- Mr President, it may be convenient if I were to finish. I only want to say that I have handed my copy of Hansard to a Hansard reporter. Senator McLaren may have an altered copy. I apologise to Senator McLaren if what I said is not correct.
– I do not intend to weary the Senate to any great extent. I leave that chore to Senator Webster who, of course, performs in such a way in this chamber on every other day and who has endeavoured to waste the time of the Senate for half an hour tonight by raising 2 obtuse matters in the adjournment debate. During that time not one member of his own Party- the Australian Country Party- was present in the chamber. Only one member of the Liberal Party of Australia was present. He finally succeeded in driving out even the 4 members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party.
It goes without saying that the honourable senator is not able to assess what has been said over a period of time by Senator McLaren nor is he able to assess what I said when I made my statement on a previous motion for the adjournment of the Senate- only the second time that I have spoken on that motion during my 2.5 years in this place. On that occasion I set out to bring before the people of New South Wales a very serious statement of the situation which in no way has been negated by the very specious and superficial way in which Senator Webster has endeavoured to deal with the situation this evening. Senator Webster, of course, has based the whole of his case on a statutory declaration which may or may not be true and which may or may not have appeared in full or in part in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of this morning. He is taking it for granted that that is the only statutory declaration. Of course, he does not know all of the circumstances that led to the publication of that statutory declaration.
I want to assure the honourable senators who have read page 1 of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of this morning that Mr McCaw threatened the newspapers of New South Wales about their publishing of the statutory declaration, as indeed he threatened Mr Pengelly for daring to make any statement in respect of the serious allegations that Mr Pengelly made to me and others in New South Wales about the Barton scandal. It has to be said- the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ says it on page 1 of this morning’s issue- that 55 companies with which the Barton family was associated in New South Wales have collapsed and $2 5 m of money invested by the public has been lost. The self-same family has skipped the country. It has been indicated in Press reports that the family does not intend to come back to this country to face the music. Of course it is pretty clear that Mr McCaw does not intend to take any steps to have a full inquiry into this matter.
What has happened as far as Mr McCaw is concerned? Has he denied any of the statements that I have made? Has he denied any of the statements that Mr Pengelly has made? No. He has relied upon one of the officers of the Corporate Affairs Commission to get him off the hook. He has made certain statements, but in no way have they negated what I have said in this place nor what Mr Pengelly has said. It has been reported -Senator webster should take this into considerationthat Mr McCaw is said to have claimed that he summoned no officer to his office. Despite Senator Webster’s attempts to malign my character in relation to this matter, that question has been very adequately covered in the statutory declaration by Mr Pengelly who said that when he found irregularities associated with the Barton companies he went to McCaw Johnson and Co., solicitors, and that subsequent to the visit to that company he was summoned to the office of the New South Wales AttorneyGeneral. I point out to Senator Webster that that has not been denied. Yet Mr McCaw, according to a newspaper report, has said that he summoned no officer to his office. There is a clear area of grave contradiction in this matter. Mr McCaw has not answered, nor has Mr Ryan answered, the very serious charge that Mr Pengelly has made in the statutory declaration, and this is that section 40 sub-section 5 of the Companies Act of New South Wales was breached by the companies associated with the Barton family. So, in the circumstances, I do not intend to apologise to Mr McCaw and I certainly do not intend to apologise to Senator Webster or to this Senate.
I hope that the matters will be carried forward, either in this place or in the New South Wales Parliament, until the whole sordid story of the collapse of the Barton companies in New South Wales and the loss of millions of dollars of people’s money in those companies is finally aired and the people of New South Wales are given an opportunity to know all the circumstances associated with this problem. I feel that much more will be said before all this is properly aired. I hope that the time will come when I will be calling upon Senator Webster to support in this place a proposition for a proper inquiry into the whole Barton affair, including the collapse of the companies and Mr McCaw ‘s participation in acting as he did, without any contradication, in calling an officer of his Department to his office to discuss this very serious matter in his Department while he was the Attorney-General in New South Wales. So, in these circumstances, I do not feel that I am under any attack. I feel that I acted properly. I think this is the place to bring the matter before the public generally. Mr McCaw threatened to sue the newspapers and threatened to sue Mr Pengelly. It was not until papers were tabled in the New South Wales Parliament yesterday that the newspapers were able to make any further comment on this matter. In these circumstances, I think the sooner there is a public inquiry into all the facets of the Barton case in New South Wales the better it will be for the public of New South Wales.
– I have listened to this debate, and the first comment I make, without canvassing any of the facts to which Senator McLaren referred, is that, notwithstanding the cock-a-doodle-dooing he brings the chamber to a level which gives us no credit when he starts attacking the character of a person ofthe status of Senator Webster - (Government senators interjecting)-
-Those who join in a dingo chorus do not elevate the status of the chamber either. I am just saying that, if we cannot have an objective debate upon matters such as that being debated tonight without directly attacking each other’s character, Senator McLaren is denigrating the chamber that supports him at the moment.
With regard to Senator Gietzelt, I listened to the tedious repetition of points of order taken by Senator Wheeldon from Western Australia. He listened avidly a fortnight ago to the expression of Senator Gietzelt ‘s malice in taking the occasion the night before the election to make, under the privilege of this Parliament. accusations against people campaigning in another political sphere. I thought that Senator Wheeldon showed a keen sense of appreciation. I would just like it to be known that the only thing that I thought struck one point of credit in the debate from the Labor side on that subject was that he found it repulsive to be returning to the vomit of a fortnight before. That is distasteful, no doubt; but when Senator Gietzelt thinks that this Senate is a forum -
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. Senator Wright should note that there is only one ‘g’ in Senator Gietzelt ‘s name. The name is ‘ Gietzelt ‘.
– Order! I am sure that sometimes when Senator Wright is tired he has a slight impediment- I am not being facetious about this- and that he just had difficulty with a consonant. I noticed it. I take no objection to it; nor would Senator Gietzelt.
– It is immaterial to me whether he is a ‘G ‘ or a ‘ gee-gee ‘.
– You are an old nag yourself.
-Maybe. Senator Gietzelt claims credit for having 2.5 years experience here. This Senate may endure for 2.5 years after he has disembarrassed the institution of his presence. It would be for the benefit ofthe institution if he were to confine his accusations to matters pertaining to our authority and power. When he has accusations of a defamatory character to make involving people outside this chamber he should produce those accusations on a sound basis. Then we had the questions and answers referred to by Senator Little. I do not propose to debate them tonight but I hope that the Senate has taken note of the impertinent, inadequate and mendacious answers of which he complained.
-I want to say a few words because of the remarks made by Senator Wright. He said that he did not think it mattered whether it was a ‘G’ or a ‘geegee’ but we have listened to some asses from the other side of the House tonight. I am absolutely amazed that Senator Wright should make the references that he made to Senator McLaren after the vicious, unwarranted and proven untruthful attack which Senator Webster made on Senator McLaren. It was the most untruthful, undocumented, unfactual attack ever made. Senator Webster is a member of a committee concerned with the Northern Territory and allegedly has an interest in the Northern Territory, but on the evidence that Senator McLaren raised tonight he does not find it convenient even to attend meetings of that committee. He quoted from a document which he claimed to be a declaration. When we asked him to say from where it came, he said that it was a copy of a statutory declaration. This was a completely undocumented, unfactual case that he put before this Senate tonight.
It surprises me that Senator Wright, who is a legal man with a long history of declaring himself to be a person of fact and of honour should defend the deplorable case which Senator Webster put to the Senate tonight. Senator Webster deliberately set out to destroy 2 honourable senators because of statements they made in the process of exercising their rights in this place. Then when he got down to tin tacks, he tried to speak a second dme: He wanted a second bite of the cherry. In the final analysis, what did he have to do? He had to apologise to Senator McLaren because he had completely misrepresented the case that he wanted to make. As was said earlier, Senator Little and Senator Webster are fighting for the fifth Senate position in Victoria and they are cutting each other’s throats. We put up daily- and hourly- with speeches from Senator Webster which bore everybody in this place to tears. He would talk under water with a mouth full of cement because he thinks he is getting to the people in Victoria. He thinks that the people even read Hansard; he honestly believes it. He believes that all the words that he has ever spoken in this chamber will be read with avid interest by the 3.5 million people in Victoria. He honestly believes that this happens. I think that probably he believes in Santa Clause too. The inevitable result of his activity is that he has been condemned for all time as a person who would make unsubstantiated charges on flimsy and unfactual evidence against an honourable senator who had all the powder in the gun. I think it is shameful for any honourable senator to come into this House and make an attack as did Senator Webster tonight on 2 members of this House. His case was based on facts that do not exist. As he said earlier, I think he should be ashamed of himself.
– in reply- I am sure that everyone has listened with interest, including Senator Kane, to the debate that has taken place tonight on the motion for the adjournment. I do not intend to add to what Senator Poyser said concerning the remarks made by Senator Webster about Senator McLaren and Senator Gietzelt. I think they have replied adequately. Surely if any jury had been listening to the case it would say that there was in fact no case to answer.
Let me come to Senator Little’s complaint. Senator Little has been complaining for trie last week or fortnight about an answer provided by my colleague, the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden), to a question which Senator Little had placed on the notice paper on 2 1 November. I say in fairness that I can understand, having been in Opposition and having experienced some answers given by other Ministers, some concern on the part of Senator Little or other honourable senators for having read to them by way of a reply a reply that a Minister had given to a question of a similar nature in another place.
Senator Lillico complained of the same sort of thing to my colleague, Senator Murphy, on 29 November and Senator Murphy said that he had a good deal of sympathy with what Senator Lillico was putting, that when in Opposition he had felt the same way himself when he sometimes asked a question and the reply referred to a Hansard, especially a Hansard of another place, that some better arrangement than that ought to be made and that even if it meant some repetition he, Senator Murphy, thought it would be more satisfactory if a definitive reply were to be given rather then simply a reference to some other document. I say to Senator Little that I merely adopt the words of Senator Murphy in that regard. But let us have a look at what Senator Little asked by way of a question on notice on 2 1 November. Senator Little asked:
Does the Minister’s statement, which appeared on page 32 1 9 of the House of Representatives Hansard of 13 November 1973, that three out of four families, including those in which there is a working wife, would find the Government’s proposed national health scheme cheaper than at present, take into account the extra taxation to be paid if -
I emphasise the word ‘if- the proposed rate of 1.3S per cent is itself not deductible from personal income?
With great respect to the honourable senator it is a very ambiguous and, to say the least, hypothetical question. The Minister for Social Security gave the answer about which the honourable senator complains. I gave that reply to the honourable senator on 28 November- exactly one week after he had placed it on the notice paper. That night Senator Little raised the matter by way of discussion on the adjournment debate- a week ago. With respect might 1 say that after a good deal of tedious repetition in that debate I pointed out that in addition to the document provided in the answer by my colleague the Minister for Social Security, namely the ‘Income Distribution 1968-69’ publication put out by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, I referred the honourable senator to page 67 and also pages 7, 64, 65, 71 and 72 of the White Paper entitled ‘Australian Health Insurance Program’ as tabled by me on behalf of my colleague the Minister for Social Security in this place on 17 November. If the honourable senator chooses to peruse some of those pages I think he will find, if I read his question correctly, the answers to the questions. First of all, I assume that what Senator Little is asking in his original question is whether Mr Hayden, in claiming that three out of four families, including those in which there is a working wife, would be better off under the Government’s proposed health scheme, had taken into account that the 1.35 per cent levy would not be allowable as a taxation deduction. If the honourable senator refers to some of the pages to which I have alluded he will find the answer is in the affirmative. For a start I refer to pages 68, paragraph 7.6 which states:
The administrative mechanics of assessment, collection and accounting for the health insurance levy have yet to be finalised but in most respects it is expected that the legislation will follow the general recommendations of the Planning Committee. However, in regard to collection procedures, the Government believes that recipients of wages and salaries should constantly be made aware of the amounts of their regular deductions which are earmarked as contributions for health insurance. Accordingly the legislation will provide for income tax and the health insurance levy to be notified to employees as separate items by employers and the Taxation Office.
Surely it is set out quite clearly there that there will be a separate accounting to the wage and salary earning by way of income tax on the one hand and by the way of health insurance deductions on the other hand.
– How does that convey whether it is tax deductible?
-Surely it does. One then goes to page 7 1 where it states:
Receipts from the 1.33 per cent levy on taxable income are estimated at $360m . . .
As I said during the adjournment debate on 28 November there is a gross taxable income assessed by the Commissioner of Taxation and it is found on the group certificate of the worker. After that is accounted for there are then allowable deductions such as deductions for dependents, for rates-
– It is part of the tax, is it not?
– It is 1.35 per cent of taxable income.
– Would that be tax deductible?
-On taxable income.
– One has to make other deductions from gross income before one gets the taxable income.
-That is right.
– Then you apply 1.35 per cent, or whatever it is. That is a subtraction. But is it a deduction from taxable income?
-The honourable senator has answered the question obviously to the satisfaction of Senator Little. How can we allow as a taxable deduction something that has not been assessed until the taxation deductions are taken into account?
– That is right. That is implied.
-That is the whole situation. It is as simple as that.
– The Minister will find that my subsequent questions asked whether it will be allowed in a subsequent year.
-The honourable senator is given an answer to one question and then he bobs up with another question. He wants to know what will be allowable in a subsequent year. The Government has not yet met to consider its budgetary policy for the next financial year.
– Why was I not given that answer?
– I am giving Senator Little that answer now. He bobs up like a cork on the ocean. He is given one answer. He is not satisfied with it. He comes back on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. He then asks another question at question time. Let us compare his first question, which I have already read, with his second question. He asked:
Is the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security now in a position to inform the Australian people whether a compulsory payment of 1.3S per cent of taxable income proposed to finance the Health Insurance Bill 1 973 will itself be tax deductible?
I am prepared to admit that the honourable senator has reason to complain about the manner in which my colleague might have set out or amplified his answer. But having regard to what I said in the adjournment debate last Wednesday and the comments on the pages I have pointed out- only some of which I have quoted from- I think that the answer is beyond doubt. But then the honourable senator goes on to ask:
Are any other insurance commitments entered into to provide cover for private ward treatment in hospitals to be a deduction from income for tax assessment?
He asks one question; he gets an answer. He is not satisfied and he asks that question again, and on top of that he puts another question, and so it goes on and on and on. Now we have this latest situation in which this Senate started sitting at 1 1.30 a.m. and apart from the luncheon adjournment and the dinner adjournment I personally have been in this Chamber every second of every minute of every hour that the Senate has sat, and he has the audacity to ask me whether I know whether a radio journalist rang a person on the staff of the Minister for Social Security and had a conversation and if so, what were the terms of that conversation. Frankly, I can tell the honourable senator that I do not know whether a radio journalist-
– You were informed earlier this day that we had such an answer. Surely you would have been interested in verifying it in view of what you said before.
– Surely the honourable senator does not expect me to provide answers to those questions. I can certainly tell the honourable senator that I do not intend to pry and spy on some radio journalist or on any person on Mr Hayden ‘s staff. I do not know who rang him and whether there was a conversation. If there was I do not know what was said. What is more, I do not intend to find out. If the honourable senator-
– I will ask you a question at question time tomorrow.
-The honourable senator can ask me at question time tomorrow and I tell him now that I will tell him to put the question on notice. I do not personally intend to find out. I am not a pimp; I am not an informer; I am not a phone tapper; I am not a dobber. If Senator Little wants to ask Mr Norman Banks to ring up someone on Mr Hayden ‘s staff that is Senator Little ‘s business.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 12.18 a.m. (Thursday)
The following answers to questions were circulated:
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:
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Alleged Exclusion of Students
– On 11 September 1973, Senator Gietzelt asked me the following question, without notice:
Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that a student has been excluded from the Menzies College at Macquarie University since June this year on the grounds of his homosexuality? Does the Minister know that this residential college is subsidised by public funds to the extent of 87.5 per cent and that the rules of the college insist that there shall be no discrimination against students? Is the Minister aware that the theologian in charge of the college will only permit the student to return to the University provided he subjugates his sex desires and undergoes psychiatric treatment. In view of the Australian Government’s announced intention to take over the full financial responsibility of all tertiary education, will the Minister take steps to see that all institutions receiving Federal funds accept the fundamental principle that no student will be discriminated against as a result of his race, creed, politics or sexuality?
As I stated at the time, the Government has been engaged in preparing legislation to implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which will do much to prevent the practice of discrimination on extraneous grounds. I undertook to have the honourable senator’s question investigated further. I have sought the views of the Minister for Education and I now provide the following additional comments:
Disciplinary action against college residents is primarily the responsibility of college councils. Universities are concerned with the terms of affiliation and the terms of any lease of university land to the colleges. The Government, as a matter of policy, would not wish to interfere in the internal policies and administration of independent bodies such as residential college councils, except where there was some breach of federal law, for example on racial discrimination and other fundamental human rights.
Outbreak of Virus Influenza at Edward River Mission
-On 18 October 1973, Senator Bonner asked the following question, without notice:
I direct a question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I preface it by referring to a question asked by my colleage, Senator Maunsell, yesterday relating to an outbreak of virus influenza at Edward River Mission in Queensland. Will the Minister inform the Senate who informed him of this outbreak of virus influenza at Edward River Mission, Queensland? Will he inform the Senate why the Aboriginal and Island Affairs Department in Queensland and the Royal Flying Doctor Service were not consulted? Is he aware that a Government doctor from Cairns visited the Edward River Mission and confirmed the sister’s finding that there were, in fact, only two or three cases of ‘flu?
The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Upon receipt of the report of the virus influenza outbreak at Edward River Mission, officers of my Department sought advice from the Australian Health Department. An officer of the Australian Health Department immediately contacted the Queensland Department of Health to offer any assistance which might be required but he was informed that the situation was under control, existing services were coping and that the outbreak was on the wane. He was also informed that the Queensland Department of Health would request the Royal Flying Doctor Service to arrange a special visit to Edward River to provide any further medical attention which may be required and furnish a report on the situation. The Royal Flying Doctor Service subsequently confirmed that the situation was under control even though the outbreak was not confined to only two or three cases as the Honourable Senator has suggested.
Roads: Central Australia
– On 23 October 1973, Senator Jessop asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport the following question, without notice:
Is the Minister aware of a decision made by Pioneer Tourist Coaches Pty Ltd to discontinue the service from Adelaide to Alice Springs that has been operating 3 times a week? Does the Minister know that the reason the company gives for taking this action was that it cost 200 per cent more per mile to run coaches over the horror stretch north of Pimba to the Northern Territory border than on a sealed road? Does he also know that the company claims that this road is the worst in Australia? I think that is an understatement. In view of the fact that the cancellation of this public transport facility will force about 7,500 people each year to find alternative means of conveyance, and in the interests of many private vehicle owners and other transport companies that rely on this highway, will the Minister treat this road as an urgent priority in the context of the forthcoming Commonwealth aid roads program? In the meantime will the Minister consult with his colleague, the Minister for Supply, with the object of permitting road users to use the sealed highway running through the Woomera rocket range area?
The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Progress continues to be made on upgrading the Stuart Highway in the Northern Territory. Contracts arranged recently will enable further sections between Alice Springs and Erldunda to be sealed within two years. When these projects are completed only about sixty miles to the border will remain unsealed.
The unsealed sections within South Australia are, of course, the responsibility of the State Government. I understand that upgrading of the section between Port Augusta and Pimba is in progress and is due for completion next year. I am not aware of any plans to upgrade the Highway north of Pimba but under current Commonwealth Aid Roads arrangements this section remains a matter to be determined by the State Government
The possible use of the road through the Woomera Range as a route between Port Augusta and Alice Springs was discussed recently at an Interdepartmental Committee meeting convened specifically for this purpose. Whilst it was agreed that it would not be feasible to incorporate the Woomera Range road as part of the Stuart Highway the meeting also agreed that it should be possible to establish an alignment across the Woomera Prohibited area which would not interfere to an unacceptable extent with the operations of the Range.
Subsequently the joint State/Commonwealth working group currently engaged in a special study of the main interstate road links with a view to producing an integrated plan for accelerated development of a National Highways system considered the practicability of selecting an alternative alignment for the Stuart Highway in the area. Their report will be used in framing recommendations to the Government for legislation to replace the current Commonwealth Aid Roads Act which expires in June 1974.
Revaluation: Overseas Travellers
-On 25 October 1973, Senator Turnbull asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport the following question, without notice:
Has the Minister had a reply from the Minister for Transport as to why Australian nationals are not allowed to receive any benefit from revaluation in regard to overseas trips whilst other nationals do receive this benefit?
The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The basic reasons underlying the decision that international air fares purchased in Australia should not be altered following major changes in the international monetary situation in the past 12-18 months, including revaluation of the Australian dollar, are given in the following text of a reply appearing in Hansard of 23 October to Question No. 316 asked by Senator Withers relating to that subject:
Qantas, in common with other international carriers, incurs the majority of costs involved in operating services in its national currency. These costs have not been reduced by revaluation of the Australian dollar. Whilst revaluation of the Australian dollar has realised some savings in Qantas’ expenditure overseas, there has been a substantial reduction in the company’s revenue remittances on travel sold in other countries, including the United States, where currency changes have taken place in the past 12-18 months. The net effect of these exchange gains and losses on Qantas’ operating account has led the company to the decision that it would not be economically feasible for adjustments to be made in international fares sold in Australia to take account of changes in the value of exchange rates between the revalued Australian dollar and other currencies, including the United States dollar. This decision is fully in accordance with the recommendations of the International Air Transport Association made to and approved by the governments concerned, including the Australian Government, following special meetings held by the Association to consider the world wide effect on international air fares of fluctuations in the currencies of a number of countries in the past 12-18 months. ‘
By way of further elaboration ofthe foregoing explanation it should be said that changes in the relative values of major currencies, including the devaluation of the United States dollar and the floating by the United Kingdom of the pound sterling which are two of Qantas’ largest markets, has resulted in a decline of approximately $A 1 3m in the company’s revenue from air travel sold in foreign countries.
The Government refutes totally the assertion that Qantas is defrauding the Australian travelling public by not reducing the prices of international air fares sold in Australia as a result of the revaluation of the Australian dollar. It is relevant to mention that Australians are among the few travellers and shippers in the world who are paying the same fares and rates as last year whereas fares and rates in some countries, of which the United States and the United Kingdom are prime examples, have increased by more than 10 per cent as a result of currency changes and general fare increases.
Additionally I make the following comments on those aspects of your statements in the Senate on 23 October which indicate there is some misunderstanding on your part about the matter
international air fares are established by the IATA in two basic currencies, sterling and the United States dollar, which have been chosen as a matter of convenience and because of their past stability within the international monetary system. Every airline in agreeing with the level of fares in these basic currencies has in mind the revenue it will receive in its own local currency. Fares negotiated by IATA are subject to approval of all ofthe Governments concerned.
This year fares sold in the United States for travel to Australia have increased by 10 per cent and United Kingdom pound sterling fares have increased 6 per cent with the further 4 per cent to be added in November to normal fares for travel originating in the United Kingdom. As a result of these increases an excursion fare purchased in the United States for travel to Australia which cost US$833 in January this year has increased to US$9 18.80 today. The cost of an excursion fare purchased in the United Kingdom for travel to Australia has risen from pounds sterling 326.65 to pounds sterling 359.35 since May 1973. These increases have not been applied to the same fares purchased in Australia.
It is completely incorrect to maintain that an Australian passport holder has to pay his fare in Australian dollars. The passenger’s nationality has no bearing whatsoever on the currency they may use to purchase air travel. Furthermore Qantas cannot stop (and would have no desire to do so) passengers transferring funds to another country through their bank and purchasing rickets in that country if they so desire.
The question of international air fares and rates has been referred to the Prices Justification Tribunal who has exempted Qantas on the grounds that international air fares are subject to the approval of the Australian Government.
With reference to the comment that the food and wine on Singapore Airlines is better than that on Qantas services it is interesting to note that the food on Singapore Airlines flights out of Sydney and Perth is provided by Qantas and the food on Qantas flights out of Singapore is provided by Singapore Airlines. Qantas serve Australian wines as a matter of policy.
Postmaster-General’s Department: Metric System of Weights and Measures
-On 20 November 1973, Senator Hannan asked the following question, without notice:
I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that his colleague the Postmaster-General in another place has set up a metric schedule for weights for postage, being 7 cents 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 one gram weight? Is the Minister aware that weights of this size are unobtainable at any store 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 Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply:
In June 1972 the Government of the day announced that the metric system of weights and measures would be adopted for postal charging purposes late in 1 973.
It was realised that this would require customers to equip themselves with metric scales and weights and in announcing this the then Postmaster-General said that he was giving notice of the Post Office ‘s intentions to assist the scale industry to cope with the likely demand for new weights.
Subsequently, after this Government took office the timing of the move to metric measures and the weight step proposed were announced in a Press statement. Advertisements were also run in the national dailies drawing attention to the need for new sets of weights for beam balances, and suggesting the sizes of weights likely to be suitable. There are 14,000 beam balance scales in use at post offices to weigh mail, but none is equipped with a 1 gram weight. Although a 5 gram weight is included in many weight sets, the 10 gram is the smallest weight in common use.
Each firm must decide for itself the range of weights required for general use in its business, but many suppliers have ‘postal sets’ of beam balance weights suitable for weighing postal articles in metric weight steps up to 500 gram available for around $6-$7. Commercial houses are not required to purchase one gram weights as stated in the question.
– On 22 November Senator Drake-Brockman addressed a question to me concerning the report of the working party which studied kangaroo conservation methods and harvesting programs. The Minister for the Environment and Conservation, Dr Cass has supplied the following information in answer to Senator Drake-Brockman ‘s question:
The working party was established on 9 March and given until the 31 May to prepare its report. The working party met formally on two occasions 29 March and 22 May.
Field inspections were not carried out. However it should be noted that the working party included officers of the Department of the Environment and Conservation, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and each State and Territory wildlife authority. All these officers are intimately familiar or have been directly involved with kangaroo management and research in the various States and Australian Government Territories.
Any programs submitted by the States are examined by the Department of the Environment and Conservation which reports to the Minister for the Environment and Conservation who then decides whether these management programs meet the requirements set out in the working party’s report.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 December 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19731205_senate_28_s58/>.