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Wednesday, 17 May 1972
Page: 2675

Mr ARMITAGE (Chifley) - I support the amendment, the main detail of which will be dealt with later by the honourable member for Forrest (Mr Kirwan). However, I cannot leave the subject completely alone because my experience in my electorate and in the areas surrounding it in the far western suburbs of Sydney has shown that there is a tremendous growth in unemployment in all industries. A number of organisations in the North St Mary's industrial complex, which is one of the largest industrial complexes in the metro, politan area of Sydney, are putting men off weekly, and I have people coming to me day by day with problems associated with unemployment. For this reason and in view of the growth of this problem over the last couple of months, I cannot help but doubt the validity of the unemployment figures which are published and wonder whether some adjustments are being made to them. 1 have put questions on the notice paper in regard to this matter, but 1 have not yet received what I consider to be reasonable replies.

I will reduce my speech as much as possible in order to allow other members to speak. I should like to give an example of how the processing of Australia's natural resources is passing into the control of overseas multi-national organisations or corporations. However, before I deal with the actual example I quote some figures related to the outflow of dividends on foreign investment in Australia. In 1949-50 the total outflow of dividends on foreign investment was $38m. By 1961-62 - the year in which, as the member for Mitchel], I first spoke on this issue in this Parliament - this figure had grown to $I29m, and by 1970-71 it had grown to $351m. In 1949-50 the investment income payable overseas as undistributed profits by companies - not individuals - in Australia was $31m. By 1961-62 - as 1 said before, when 1 first spoke of this growth which was occurring - it had grown to $66m and by 1970-71 it had grown to $322m. I think that this is an example of how, by allowing uncontrolled foreign investment in this country, we are setting up a tremendous potential drain upon our foreign reserves. At present, these reserves are in a very healthy situation, but it was not very long ago that they were in a most unhealthy position and that same unhealthy situation could obtain again in the comparatively immediate future. If a sudden run were made on our overseas reserves we would need every single dollar that we could possibly get. Yet we are in the position where there has been a steady growth of dividends actually remitted from $31m in 1949-50 to $322m in 1970-71, of potential dividends - funds kept here for reinvestmentfrom $38m to $35 1 m.

The case I wish to cite is that of Queensland Alumina Ltd. which is refining bauxite mined at Weipa into alumina and which most Australians would regard as an Australian owned organisation. I have done a little research into the background of this company. I have done so because I saw an advertisement in the 'Sydney Morning Herald* by Queensland Alumina Finance NV of bonds which were offered and sold outside of the United States of America totalling $25m. In very small type the following words appeared in that advertisement: 'This advertisement appears as a matter of record only'. There is not one Australian firm or individual in all the bond-holders listed in the advertisement. For that reason I thought it was time to do a little bit of research as to just what this company is.

Queensland Alumina Ltd operates a refinery at Gladstone which refines bauxite mined at Weipa into alumina. It is a consortium company in which each partner is committed to supply raw materials, guarantee finance and share output in direct proportion to its equity interest in the company. Therefore over time, as the company expands its operations, the proportionate interests of the various partners may change. The point is that late in 1971 the respective interests in QAL were as follows: Kaiser Aluminium and Chemical Corporation of the United States of America, 37.3 per cent; Alcan of Canada, 22 per cent; Pechiney of France, 20 per cent; Comalco, 11.3 per cent and Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Ltd, 9.4 per cent. It should be kept in mind that the Rio TintoZinc Corporation Ltd of the United Kingdom holds an 80.65 per cent interest in CRA Ltd and that the ownership of Comalco is as follows: Kaiser, 45 per cent; CRA, 45 per cent; and the Australian and New Zealand public, 10 per cent. Given the proportion of local ownership in the participating companies, a maximum of 19.35 per cent and 10 per cent in CRA and Comalco respectively, the effective local ownership - that is, the Australian ownership - of Queensland Alumina Ltd is unlikely to exceed 4 per cent.

Obviously this bond issue repesents one of the capital funds necessary to complete the current exapnsion programme at the Gladstone refinery, which is scheduled to be completed by early 1973. That is why this bond issue was made. But I impress upon the House that the present ownership of the company is no more than 4 per cent Australian and that, as far as this bond issue of 525m is concerned, not one Australian organisation or individual is included. Of course, we have also the extraordinarily cryptic remark that 'this advertisement appears as a matter of record only'. I have not been able to get down to the root of this inscription. The fact is that organisations right throughout Australian - the latest being the Australian Bank Officials Association - are complaining bitterly about how Australia's natural resources and the secondary industry engaged in the processing of these resources are steadily moving more and more into the hands of overseas organisations. I repeat that in 1962 I warned that the remittance of dividends overseas would grow steadily. 1 think the figures 1 quoted a little earlier show that very effectively.

Before I sit down I would like to quote an example of how students in the far western suburbs of Sydney are being discriminated against in educational opportunities as compared to students in the more affluent areas of Sydney. There are many reasons for this. They include the lack of buildings and equipment and the shortage of teachers in the western suburbs. A lot of the teachers do not want to work out there; they want to work nearer their homes, which are not in the western surburbs. For the same reason there is a lack of experienced teachers. Another reason is that so many mothers are forced to work. I do not have any objection to a mother working if she wishes to do so but I think that the necessity for 2 incomes is a tragedy. The Government is forcing some mothers to work because of the state of the economy. Another reason is the lack of local employment opportunities. Because both parents come home from work at night tired they are often unable to concentrate on the affairs of their children and give them the assistance they need in order to ensure equality of educational opportunity. 1 wish to quote some figures of the number of Commonwealth and State scholarships granted in 1972 to students in secondary schools. No means test is applied to Commonwealth scholarships, but a means test is applied to State senior secondary scholarships. For example, 3 Commonwealth scholarships and 8 State scholarships were granted to the Blacktown Girls High School. I repeat that no means test is applied to the Commonwealth scholarships but a means test is applied to the State scholarships. Pupils at the Seven Hills High School received 4 Commonwealth scholarships and 5 State scholarships; at the Grantham High School, which is still in the western suburbs, 3 Commonwealth scholarships and 5 State scholarships were granted; at the Mitchell High School 2 Commonwealth scholarships and 11 State scholarships were granted. The figures for the Rooty Hill High School were 4 and 9 respectively; for Greystanes High School, 5 and 9 respectively; Normanhurst Boys High School, 1 1 and 5 respectively; Pennant Hills High School. 25 and 7 respectively; Epping Boys High School, 16 and 5 respectively, Cheltenham Girls High School, 33 and 7 respectively; North Sydney Boys High School, 28 and 1 1 respectively; and North Sydney Girls High School, 54 and 10 respectively.

What I want to show is that where a means test is applied the schools i.i the western suburbs of Sydney receive a fairly high number of State secondary school scholarships and the schools in the more affluent areas of Sydney receive a far lesser number. But where no means test is applied - I emphasise that there is no means test on Commonwealth secondary school scholarships - those from the western suburbs receive a very small number of scholarships whereas those from the more affluent areas of Sydney receive a very large number. For example, the breakdown for Commonwealth scholarships is 3, 4, 3, 2 and 4 for the western suburbs compared with 25, 16, 33, 28 and 54 for the more affluent areas. That is the position where no means test is applied. Where a means test is applied - that is, in relation to State scholarships - it is 8 5, 5, 11 and 9 for the western suburbs as compared with 7, 5, 7, 1 1 and 10 for the more affluent areas.

The case I wish to put is that until the Australian Labor Party's policy of granting a scholarship to any pupil who has the capacity to go on to 5th and 6th year of his or her schooling is introduced it is essential that a means test be placed upon Commonwealth secondary school scholarships to ensure that there is equality of education for all children. After all. a scholarship is granted for only one purpose - to give financial incentive and assistance to a person in order to enable that person to continue his or her education. Scholarships should not be given to people who can afford to pay for their education. They should be given to people who have the capacity and ability but who cannot afford to go beyond the fourth year of secondary schooling unless they receive the financial assistance which is given under a scholarship.

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