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Wednesday, 21 October 1964

Senator GORTON (Victoria) (Minister for Works and Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research) . - I shall deal with some of the points which have been made so far. The last matter raised by Senator Cant dealt with the ownership of the resources of New Guinea by the indigenous population. I think it is perfectly true to say - and I am sure that the honorable senator will agree with me as he has been there and has seen what is happening - that the utmost care is taken by the Administration to see that the land tenure of the indigenous population is properly protected. Most of the primary products which are grown in that part of the world, such as coffee, tea, nuts and copra, are in fact grown by the natives who, in many cases, run their own processing plants and their own cooperatives. The Administration provides a great deal of protection of the economic ownership of the industries of New Guinea by the local population.

Senator Cantreferred to the question of secondary and primary education, which' I agree is of great importance to New Guinea if it is eventually to become a selfgoverning country. A great deal has been done in this direction. 1 think it is silly to compare the school population in New Guinea with the school population in Victoria and suggest that, because more people are being educated in Victoria, more people should be educated in New Guinea. The education system in Victoria, for one thing, has been operating for years and years. There has been a stream of education commenced which has flowed through all the schools. This has not been so in Papua and New Guinea. It is essential to get people through primary schools before they can be taken to secondary schools and subsequently to tertiary schools. Therefore, the provision of primary schools, which did not exist previously, must be the first desiderata. It is also true, of course, that in Victoria everybody speaks the same language. The people do not speak the same language in Papua and New Guinea, which is a matter to which Senator Cant referred. Also, of course, there are many areas in New Guinea in which the populations in the villages are completely cut off from, and unable to be a part of, parts of the community to which education can easily be provided.

If we look at the record of what has been done in the field of secondary education in New Guinea, I think it is pretty impressive. Before the war there was practically no Government education in New Guinea at all. The only education was provided by missions. Government education virtually started from scratch after the war, which is, after all, less than 20 years ago. In the beginning it was difficult to take the indigenous children through the schools and to provide teachers for them, but that was done. Buildings, which were destroyed in the war, were rebuilt. By 1955 there were 7,000-odd pupils attending government primary and secondary schools. In 1961 this figure had increased to 31,000, and in 1964 it has increased to 55,000. So that in a period of less than a decade the number of pupils attending Government primary and secondary schools has risen from 7,000-odd to 55,000. That has occurred despite the great difficulties which prevail in that part of the world. These figures apply to government schools only.

The growth in the mission side of educa- tion, which is assisted and subsidised by the Government, has been even greater. In 1955 there were 53,000 children in mission schools. The Government began to subsidise the mission schools in order to provide a better standard of education. Ne one objected to the subsidy being paid, and none of the mission schools turned down the "projected aid. The result was that the number of pupils in mission schools rose to 85,000 in 1961 and to 125,000 in 1964. The initial emphasis necessarily was on primary education. Children are now taken through secondary schools, which is essential before they can proceed to the sort of tertiary education to which Senator Cant referred. There was not any lack of support for secondary education. I would add that not only were the needs of the children being catered for but so was the requirement to provide native teachers who had been trained to a standard at which they could take charge of the children of their .own race. In 1955 there were 177 indigenous teachers in training. That number rose to 762 in 1964.

Those are the physical indications of an expansion which can be measured in monetary terms. In 1954-55 the allocation was £635,000. This rose to £5,400,000 in 1963-64. That is a record of assistance to an under-developed country at the expense of the people of Australia and no-one need be ashamed of that record. Those remarks relate to statements made by Senator Cormack. All that has been done has been done out of the pocket of the Australian taxpayer who has requirements of his own to meet from his pocket.

Senator Cant asked me a question relating to the amount made available in loans to natives, and he pointed out that there is nothing in the estimates to indicate the amount required for that purpose. The answer is that no money is being appropriated for that purpose this year. The fund was set up out of the residue of the wartime fund for assistance to aborigines and native peoples. From time to time money was appropriated for the fund. But it has become a revolving fund from which advances are made on the basis of good business .security and ability to repay. Repayments to the fund are then used as advances for other loans. There is no requirement for an appropriation for the fund this year.

I think the honorable senator asked me the number of loans that have been made from the fund. In 1956-57 there were 3 loans, in 1957-58 there were 11, in 1958-59 there were 17, in 1959-60 there were 69, in 1960-61 there were 111, in 1961-62 there were 89, in 1962-63 there were 102 and for the nine months to March 1964 there were 119. The value of approved loans rose from £7,600 in 1956-57 to £69,800 to March 1964. If the honorable senator wants a more detailed analysis of the loans I will make it available to him if he comes to see me later.

Senator Cormackposed a question which I find is impossible to answer. I have not a crystal ball. He asked rae how much money will be required for Papua and New Guinea in 1975, and how much the Australian people will be prepared to make available for the Territory in that year. That time is so far distant that I can onA teH him that his guess is as good as mine.

I gathered from Senator Cohen's remarks that he approved the Currie Commission report on tertiary education and that he wanted a statement from the Government on whether it intended to adopt the report. He is perfectly entitled to voice his approval of the report in this chamber but the Government will not make any statement of the kind that he wants until it has decided whether to accept or reject, or to partially accept, the report. He appeared to me to be slightly mixed up in some of his views on this matter. He mentioned Sir Hugh Foot who had been to New Guinea and had had something to say about tertiary education; but this has nothing whatever to do with the Currie report or the suggestions contained in it.

Sir HughFoot indicated that he thought more people should have tertiary education, but not necessarily in universities established in New Guinea. I remind honorable senators that all natives who are capable of benefiting from tertiary education are now provided with scholarships by this Government to enable them to undertake their tertiary education in Australia. This was the field in which Sir Hugh Foot was interested. Tertiary education is now being provided through the method I have mentioned. Noone who has arrived at the stage of being able to benefit from tertiary education is disadvantaged because the Government has not taken any action on the Currie report. That is all I have to say in the matter.

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