13 November 1966
Last week I spoke about national development and wool. Today I want to mention those aspects of the Government policy which will be put into effect if it has your continued support. These new items of policy build on achievements that have already been made. They come under several headings.
Of course all the things which we would expect will be continued. The high level of defence expenditure is a must. There will be continued energy and initiative in matters of national development and there will be continued concern for the national welfare of the needy people in the community, but I want to pick out the particular new items which the Prime Minister has mentioned.
A Federal Ministry of Education and Science will be established. This will give full recognition on a Federal level to the importance that we place on education. It will assist further development for Universities and Advanced Colleges of Education and new efforts will be made to provide assistance in selected areas for secondary schools. For example, $8 million is going to be provided annually during the next three years for the construction and equipment of teaching colleges. 10% of the places in these colleges will be reserved for independent school trainees.
The annual grant which now goes for science facilities in independent schools will be doubled. We hope that this will mean that all such schools will have modern and adequate science teaching facilities within about four years.
It is worth noting that since 1963/64 the Federal Government has more than doubled its contribution to education from $74 to $156 million this year. The new measures will raise this even further.
Certain particular matters of national development were mentioned, by the Prime Minister. Up to 50 million dollars will be made available in the next five years for special water construction projects which will be put forward at the suggestion of the States and which would be additional to the normal works undertaken by the States. The schemes that would be supported from these Commonwealth funds would be selected on their merits. I mentioned, I think, last week the programs of water conservation are proceeding at a quite spectacular rate. The 7 million acre feet capacity available in 1950 has already been expanded to 2.6 million. Present projects under construction will increase this to 56 million and the new programs will add to this figure.
A new program of beef roads will be discussed with the Queensland and West Australian Governments which will cost $50 million over seven years. This is additional to programs that are already under construction and which will total about $42 million when they are completed. This will enable a further expansion of the beef industry to take place. It will help growers in remote areas to get their beef to market younger and it will add to Australian exports.
The Government will discuss plans with the wool industry to provide up to $14 million a year, $3 million more than last year, for wool research and promotion. Expenditure on agricultural extension will increase from $1.4 million to $5.4 million a year.
You may think that these proposals are modest ones for a Government that is to establish a policy for the next Parliament, but it must be remembered that the Government has always performed in excess of its promises, I think you would prefer a Government that put forward what it is quite certain it can achieve rather than a Party that might put forward very much more without any expectation of achievement.
I wonder how may people supported Mr Wilson, the United Kingdom Prime Minister, at the last election believing that he would do certain things as a result of his promises for social and economic change in the United Kingdom. How many of them thought that he would institute policies that could lead to one million unemployed in the United Kingdom. From all the knowledge available to me it has been his avowed purpose to take out inefficient labour and inefficient industries and, in the process of course a great many people are going to be hurt.
I don't want to see Australians in this position. In the United Kingdom it is the result of too much having been promised too often and of governments having attempted to provide services of one kind or another which are clearly beyond the capacity of the nation to afford. The present measures that were instituted by the British Prime Minister might well represent the day of reckoning of living for too long beyond their capacity. Our attitude has always been to assess Australian resources carefully and to perform within those resources to making improvements in national development and social services as conditions make it possible and, if circumstances arose whereby we could provide additional services that have not been promised in any election program, then we have gone ahead. This would be our attitude for the future as it has been for the past. It is an attitude, I believe, that is worth supporting.