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Thursday, 20 October 1983
Page: 2071

Mr BRAITHWAITE(9.47) —As I listened to the litany of 10-minute grievance debates from honourable members on the other side of the chamber I was reminded of the little boy whistling in the dark; frightened of the dark and whistling to keep up his hopes. My prediction is that Labor has been in the wilderness for 26 years in Queensland and it will be there for another 26 years. This grievance debate is too important for me to throw away the opportunity to speak on quite a few matters that I want to raise. The first matter that I want to raise is the public complaint that we have had in connection with the proposed decimation of our school cadet units by transferring these units to the community. Cadets have been part and parcel of our secondary school system particularly in Queensland. I regard this as another attack on the education system similar to the one we have had in connection with independent schools. People in Queensland do feel that they have freedom to express through an education system this aspect of cadet units.

Last Sunday afternoon I witnessed a rather sad occasion, what was described by the Principal of the Christian Brothers College at Mackay as the last passing out parade of the Christian Brothers cadets. It could quite well be their last passing out parade. I believe that in no other city in Australia has there been such a strong contingent of school cadets.

Coming from the Whitlam years when the school cadet systems were under threat in 1975, we see that they have now rehabilitated themselves. The Sarina and Mackay secondary high school cadets function very effectively and efficiently just as the cadets at the CBC do. I think this is a matter of great regret and I know it is of great regret as far as the college is concerned. In fact I would like to quote from the report of the Principal of the CBC wherein he mentions--

Mr Goodluck —Whose report?

Mr BRAITHWAITE —It is the report of the Principal of the Christian Brothers College in Mackay. This is what he said:

Briefly the aim of the Australian Services Cadets Scheme of which the Australian Cadet Corps is a component is: 'by predominantly voluntary effort, better to equip young people for community life by fostering initiative, leadership, discipline and loyalty through training programmes which are also designed to stimulate an interest in the Services.'

In essence the primary aim of the present scheme is youth development using the basic tenets of military training. The Cadet programme at C.B.C. for this year has aimed at developing the individual cadet as well as instilling principles of team work and leadership.

He went to say what the curriculum included. He said:

The Cadet Curriculum not only included drill and navigation, but leaned heavily towards Search and rescue techniques, First Aid, Radio Communications and Abseiling.

That is one comment. Another comment appears in a letter to a newspaper. It is from a member of the Returned Services League. He also wondered what the Government was doing. In his letter he stated:

It is difficult to envisage how an army cadet unit could function away from the school environment . . . or what other people . . . all of whom are in the high school age group . . . there are to participate.

He went on to state:

. . . in no other avenue of government spending does the taxpayer get so much value for his money . . .

If the corps is transferred to a community group the present numbers will be halved because it will lack the discipline and incentive for students in units presently established in schools. More than any other service, the Army Cadets corps should be retained by the schools. I hope the Minister for Defence (Mr Scholes) will review this decision because in Commonwealth terms the amount of $ 11m is probably, as the subscriber to the paper said, a small but cost-effective payment by the taxpayer. In fact, as that subscriber said, it is the best dollar that the Army spends on the instruction of Australian youth.

Linked with this matter is a strong rumour going through north Queensland that the north Queensland Army band is due for the chop under this proposal. This band has established for itself a great reputation in north Queensland because it relates so well to the people and communities of the north. It also makes tours to mining towns. That is very important because it takes its culture with it. The band goes up and down the coast and into the hinterland. I ask the Minister to look at this matter and perhaps categorically deny that it is his intention to remove this highly successful public relations group and cultural section from Army activities.

Earlier this afternoon I suggested that the Joint Committee of Public Accounts might review Commonwealth expenditure directed to tertiary education in Australia, particularly in North Queensland and at James Cook University. This is Commonwealth expenditure.

Mr Simmons —When will Joh have a public accounts committee?

Mr BRAITHWAITE —Maybe the honourable member would not know the difference. I have been long disturbed by some politically biased attitudes taken by some lecturers and tutors who occupy a position of trust in the education of our young people. I think it is an important trust. It is one that nobody should take too lightly. I was very disturbed to receive a letter from a constituent which, in part, states:

Both my lecturer . . . and my tutor . . . are ardent Labor Party supporters and waste no time or opportunity of expressing their views. In all fairness--

the lecturer--

does make an effort to try to keep unbiased about what he presents yet various parts of the Labor Party ideology arises in his lectures especially when dealing with social issues.

Mr Keogh —But you--

Mr BRAITHWAITE —So the honourable member agrees with that. I think it is absolutely disgraceful. The constituent goes on to state that the 'tutor does not even try to be unbiased about issues and is constantly purporting Labor ideology at every chance'. She goes on to state that the university library 'is surprisingly, but I suppose not surprisingly, stocked only with books supporting or related to Labor Party policy'. I believe this is evidence of the fact that we are closely approaching 1984. People in responsible and high places peddle personal prejudices quite regularly in their own calling. I assume there are those who-

Mr Mildren —It is a good education and she knows it.

Mr BRAITHWAITE —The interjections from members of the Opposition indicate that they strongly support this system of bias in the universities because they obviously know that they are to benefit. I think it has to be said that there are probably those of the right wing who have these tendencies and who might also reflect their philosophies through their lectures and work. Whilst every person has the right to have strong personal, political or religious beliefs, or any belief, these people have no right, under the cloak of education, to force their beliefs down a person's throat. Sometimes it is difficult to find a remedy to a constituent's grievance such as this, but I have brought it to the House and suggested that a reference to the Public Accounts Committee may redress the fear in many people's minds. We want our education dollars spent properly. We do not want prejudices forced down the throats of our young people.

I previously mentioned to the Minister for Communications (Mr Duffy) a problem related to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Townsville. There appears to be short staffing in the Corporation and it appears that no service is being given by the media to the north of Queensland. I ask the Minister to look at the matter because I think it is important. Northern Australia is probably the fastest growing area in Australia. We should maintain the good communications for which the ABC has a fine reputation. I suggest that the Minister look into this matter because I believe it is creating problems in that area.

As I said before, many speeches tonight have concerned Queensland. I shall now make my own contribution in that regard. I refer the people of north Queensland- Queenslanders all-to the many promises made by the Hawke Labor Government leading up to the elections which were effective only as far as the election date was concerned; that is, 5 March.

Mr Keogh —Give us time.

Mr BRAITHWAITE —Yes. I will mention some of these promises to the honourable member. Perhaps he might want to be schooled. How far down the track did the Government sell off the pensioners of this country? It said that it would not change the pensions system. It said it would raise ceiling levels to give pensioners more benefit. The pensioners of Queensland have to remember what happened. Car users were promised a 3c per litre reduction in the price of petrol and got a 2c increase instead. How far down the road were the superannuitants right around Australia, and particularly in Queensland, sold? What independence do the private schools have now? Air travellers pay more for their avgas. The rural people have had their income equalisation deposit schemes gutted, their taxation concessions have been taken away, and they are faced with increased fuel costs and increased costs for drainage and clearing. I hope the people remember those broken promises on the day of the election.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

Question resolved in the affirmative.