18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Bosevear) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to inform the House that the right honorable the’ Viscount Bledisloe, G.C.M.G., K.B.E., a member of the House of Lords, is within the precincts. With the concurrence of honorable members, I shall invite him to take a seat on the floor of the House beside the Speaker’s chair.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
Viscount Bledisloe thereupon entered the chamber and was seated accordingly.
– I have received the following urgent telegram from Mr. Brabiner, Deputy Controller of Potatoes in Brisbane: -
Potatoes in very short supplies -throughout Queensland. Almost entirely dependent on sea transport from Tasmania where stocks are fast accumulating and if not cleared will be Commonwealth loss. All efforts to obtain further shipping space unavailable. Minimum requirements 1,200 tons weekly? Would be extremely thankful for any assistance in securing up to 4,000 tons space through ship control immediately.
In view of the serious position in which Queensland consumers are placed, will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping immediately take the necessary action to provide sufficient shipping accommodation between Tasmanian ports and Brisbane to relieve the potato shortage in Queensland, which is acute and has been so for some considerable time?
-Iwilltakeupthis matterwiththeMinisterforSupplyand Shippingwho,Iamsure,willdoeverythingpossibletoensurethatshipping spaceismadeavailableforthepurpose requestedbythe’honorablemember. Whilethehonorablegentlemanwasaskingthequestion,theMinisterforCom merce and Agriculture, who of course is concerned with the transport of potatoes from Tasmania to mainland ports, informed me that he had already raised this matter with the Minister for Supply and Shipping, who is attending to it.
– Some time ago, I approached the Prime Minister for a contribution from the War Damage Insurance Fund to meet the whole or a portion of the losses suffered by owners and tenants of properties in the municipality of Waverley as the result of a severe hail storm on the 1st January last. I have since received a letter from the town clerk of the municipality in which he points out that approximately 5,000 premises were damaged by the storm, and that many roofs and window panes had been broken. He estimated the damage within the municipality at over £50,000, and over the whole area affected by the storm at approximately £250,000. I now ask the right honorable gentleman whether, in view of the established custom of the Government to make grants to primary producers who have suffered losses through droughts and bush fires, and particularly in view of the fact that the Australian taxpayers are to be asked to pay £1,800,000 to provide cheap wheat for New. Zealand-
– The honorable gentleman must confine his question to the subject of storm damage.
– I am drawing attention to the established custom of the Government, and I now ask the Prime Minister whether he does not consider that similar assistance should be given to people whose homes in the metropolitan area of Sydney were badly damaged by a storm on New Year’s Day, in order to help them to meet the cost of repairing their premises.
– I point out to the Prime Minister that the only part of the question which is in order is that portion in which the honorable member for Wentworth has asked that money shall be expended out of the War Damage Insurance Fund to meet the cost of repairing premises damaged in a storm.
– Some time ago the honorable member for Wentworth made representations to me on this subject. He asked that the Commonwealth Government should make ‘money available to recoup the losses suffered by owners of property which had been damaged in the storm. I cannot see any special reason why the Commonwealth Government should recoup losses occasioned by disturbances of the elements, over which man has no control. I should have thought that most of the damaged buildings would be insured against damage.
– Not against storm damage.
– I have not given further consideration to the honorable member’s representations, and at the moment my view is that losses of this kind should not be recouped by a subsidy from the Commonwealth Government.
– Can the Minister for
Works and Housing say whether it is a fact that Australia’s present allocation of linseed oil, which is 50 per cent, of the normal supply, is to be further reduced? The shortage is causing concern to operative painters and others in the painting industry.
– Yes. It is unfortunate that a further cut will have to take place in the supplies of linseed oil to Australia. The reason is that linseed oil is classified as an edible oil, and comes under the control of the Emergency Food Council, which makes allocations on a world basis. That body has decided that Australia’s imports must be reduced by 50 per cent. Because of disturbed transport conditions in India we cannot get even 50 per cent, of our normal supplies, and therefore a further reduction of supplies will occur.
– In the Canberra Times last week, there appeared a statement, attributed to a high authority in Canberra, that the Government was negotiating with the United States of America for a defence agreement similar to that negotiated between that country and Canada, that it would entail the setting up of a joint military authority, and was intended to extend into peacetime the war-time co-operation between Australia and the United States of America. In view of the importance of this question to Australia’s defence, can the Minister for External Affairs give any information on the subject?
– As the honorable member knows, negotiations have been proceeding with the Government of the United States of America regarding certain Pacific Islands, and those negotiations have not yet been concluded. Therefore, I cannot make a statement in relation to the report referred to by the honorable member. The matter is sure to arise in some connexion during the debate on international affairs which I propose, with the leave of the House, to initiate later to-day.
Application’s for Licences
– I understand that an. inter-departmental committee is at present investigating proposals for the setting-up of new air services throughout Australia. Can the Minister for Air and Civil Aviation say when he expects to receive the report of this committee? If the report is likely to be unduly delayed, will the Minister consider the granting of interim licences to operate services ?
– The interdepartmental committee was appointed originally to consider 80 applications for licenses to operate 250 services. The time of the committeehas been taken up investigating applications, and in determining whether it is desirable that services should be inaugurated in the areas for which the applications have been made. It will he some time yet before the committee has finished its work, but I have asked that an interim report be prepared. If there are any special reasons why an interim licence should be given in a particular instance, and if the proposed service would not interfere with any existing service, the application might receive favorable consideration. However, unless strong reasons were advanced why the applicant should receive priority he will have to await the completion of the committee’s investigation.
– Some weeks ago, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture warned primary producers of a probable fall of prices for primary products. Is that warning to be taken as an indication that the Government proposes to cease paying subsidies on primary products, particularly on dairy products?
– No such deduction ought necessarily to be drawn from the statement I made.
– In directing a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, I desire to mention that information is being sought on behalf of the honorable member for Wilmot as well as of myself. In view of the acute shortage of wire and wire netting a shortage which is causing grave hardship to farmers, will the Minister examine the possibility of paying a subsidy on importations of wire and wire netting from overseas in order to afford farmers some relief?
– Recently, I learned that the price of English wire netting, 1¼ in. mesh, 3ft. 6 in. wide, 17 gauge, landed in Australia, would be £8 8s. for a coil of 100 yards. The price of Australian wire netting as fixed by the Prices Commissioner for the same quantity is £4 4s. In view of that marked difference of price, I suggest that it would be utterly impracticable for the Commonwealth Government to consider the payment of a subsidy of £4 4s. a coil in order to permit wire netting to be imported from the United Kingdom. This is more especially the case because it is expected that, at an early date, Australian manufacturers will be able to supply primary producers with all the wire netting they heed.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping aware that, following the fumigation of the vessel Ormiston by the Commonwealth health authorities, 800 tons of sugar for Tasmania were loaded on top of numerous vermininfested dead rats because neither the
Health Department officials nor waterside workers held themselves responsible for their removal? Has the Minister taken any steps to decide whose responsibility it shall be to prevent a recurrence of this kind in the future? If not, will he confer with the Minister for Health in order to ensure that such an occurrence will not be repeated ?
– I have no knowledge of the matter to which the honorable gentleman has referred. I shall bring his question to the attention of the Minister for Supply and Shipping and ask him to do what he can to prevent a recurrence of such an incident.
-Can the Minister for Works and Housing inform me of the number of war service homes that has been built within the last twelve months throughout the Commonwealth, indicating the number of homes built in each State?
– The number of war service homes under construction at present throughout the Commonwealth is 789. At the moment I am unable to say how these are distributed throughout the States, but I shall supply that information later to the honorable member.
– I draw the attention of the Minister for Works and Housing to a question that I asked last week in regard to war service homes. The purpose of my question was to ascertain not what proportion of homes was being allocated to ex-servicemen, because I assume that all ex-servicemen who desire dwellings willbe entitled to them, but whether the Government has any plan by virtue of which it would undertake to build homes for all ex-servicemen who desired them.
– I endeavoured to explain to the honorable member in reply to the question he asked last week that the control of building materials, the shortage of which is the greatest obstacle to home construction at present, is in the hands of the State authorities, and that we have to obtain materials from those authorities for the construction of homes under the War Service Homes scheme. The
Government has a plan and, at present, the War Service Homes Commission is building a limited number of homes, although not nearly sufficient to meet the requirements of ex-servicemen. I remind the honorable member that last night, the Prime Minister announced that in respect of Victoria, the Commonwealth had agreed to make £200,000 available for “ tooling up “ for the production of the prefabricated Beaufort house which is of an excellent type. We hope that from the Beaufort plant alone 5,500 homes will be made available exclusively to exservicemen within the next four years. That is a great forward step in our efforts to house ex-servicemen in this country. In addition to that, which is the first major step, we are developing similar means of assistance in other States, but there the quotas may not be so large.
– But will houses be built for ex-servicemen?
– Yes, if it is within our physical capacity to do so.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether it is a fact that the price fixed for tallow in Australia is £27 10s. a ton whereas export parity is approximately £80 a ton f.o.b. whilst it is estimated that producers of hides in Queensland are losing at least £1,000,000 a year through the price being fixed at more than 30s. a hide below the export value? If so, will the Minister take prompt action to ensure that the producers receive just treatment?
– The price fixed by the Prices Commissioner for tallow sold for use in Australia is in the vicinity of £27 10s. a ton; the price of tallow for export is considerably in excess of that price. In viewof the fixation of an Australian internal price for tallow at a stable level, it has been thought wise by the Commonwealth Government that a stabilized system should be set up whereby exporters of tallow, together with buyers of tallow for Australian internal consumption, should be placed on exactly the same basis. Under that system - which is a good one - a levy is payable in respect of export tallow, the proceeds of the levy being paid into an equalization fund from which those who sell tallow in Australia benefit substantially. In view of the fact that an internal price is fixed for commodities purchased in Australia, which is well illustrated by my reply to the honorable member for Hume concerning wire neting, it is thought that the Australian primary producer should not have it both ways, and he must give some recognition to the internal price level as benefiting him when external price levels sometimes benefit him and are sometimes detrimentalto his interests.
– Has the attention of the
Minister for Immigration been directed to the failure of Mr. Joseph Goldberg to appear in police court proceedings in Sydney in what is known as the Keane case, because he had not returned from abroad, having left Australia after proceedings had been initiated? Would the Minister explain why a passport to travel abroad was issued to this man while criminal proceedings were pending against him? Is it the policy of the department to issue passports in such circumstances, or was an exception made in this instance?
– I understand that by arrangement between counsel engaged in the case, that is, the barristers appearing for both Mr. Goldberg and the Crown, a passport was issued to Mr. Goldberg to travel to England on business matters in which he was interested. If the Crown had offered any objection to Mr. Goldberg going abroad, he would not have got a passport. As to why he has not yet returned to Australia I know nothing. I assume that his statement in regard to ill health is supported by certificates from reputable medical practitioners. I have no reason to believe otherwise.
– Has the Prime
Minister received any representations from the Premier of Queensland regarding the suitability of Dr. Coombs to represent Australia at the international trade talks at Geneva? Has he seen a report in the Courier-Mail, a Queensland newspaper, in which Dr. Coombs is reported as having said that Imperial preference was dead ? Does the Prime Minister subscribe to this view; if not will he remove Dr. Coombs from the leadership of this delegation and substitute other delegates more in sympathy with Australian primary and secondary industries and with inter-empire co-operation?
– In reply to the first part of the honorable member’s question, I have received a letter from Mr. Hanlon in regard to the sugar position and, having reference also to the question of imperial preference. I have no knowledge of Dr. Coombs ever having said that Empire preference was doomed, in those words. I understand that that was a newspaper heading. Before Dr. Coombs went abroad, I gave to members of all parties an opportunity to hear a statement by him on the position that has arisen in regard to the International Trade and Employment Conference. I have not seen the statement in the Courier-Mail to which, the honorable member has referred. The Government has no intention of recalling Dr. Coombs or of removing him from leadership of the Australian delegation, in which capacity he has rendered splendid service on behalf of this country. Dr. Coombs has done no more than to explain just what the position is, having regard to the attitude of the United Kingdom, Canada, and South Africa as indicated in the discussions that have taken place. The Government has complete confidence in Dr. Coombs. Mr. Hanlon has also asked that he be permitted to nominate a representative to attend the London conference. Whilst there was no certainty that sugar would be discussed at the London conference to ensure that Australia’s position would be made clear, the Government at an earlier stage had hoped that Mr. Pike, the Queensland Agent-General in Great Britain, would have been available for this task because he has a full knowledge of the subject. However, it was found that Mr. Pike would have to leave London prior to the conference, and the Government arranged for another expert, Mr. Hayes, to go to Great Britain in case the question of sugar was raised. Since then, the Minister for Trade and Customs has received a communication from Mr. Hanlon suggesting the nomination of another person - I think that his name is Mr. Lawson - as Australia’s representative at the conference. That matter is being considered.
– In view of the continuous process of abandonment of the dairying industry in New South Wales and Queensland, as exemplified by the abnormal number of clearing-out sales advertised in every issue of newspapers circulating in dairying districts, and in view of the long period that must elapse before the Advisory Committee on Production Costs can report on the appropriate price for butter, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, first, reconsider the amount of drought relief provided! for the months of August to December of last year, which all dairy organizations consider inadequate; and, secondly, raise the interim butter price to the producer to 2s. per lb., which roughly corresponds with the price England is paying Australia, pending receipt of the report from the committee
– The right honorable gentleman refers to the continuous selling process within the dairying industry. As one who for a long period of years has been directly associated with the dairying industry, I direct his attention to the fact that from time to time throughout the history of the dairying industry people who have been engaged in it for many years have decided to sell out. The process of selling out is always accentuated by payable prices within the industry which give an advantageous opportunity to the person selling out. The right honorable gentleman asks whether I shall take steps to ensure that the amount which is provided by the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales as drought relief shall be increased. I shall be glad to confer with the Treasurer on that matter, but I am not hopeful that any further advance will be made on the already reasonable measure of relief granted. Further, he asks whether I shall be prepared to take steps to ensure that pending the report of the Advisory Committee on Production Costs, the first in the history of the industry, which was set up by this Government, an interim award shall be made for the industry. I am not prepared to do so.
Arbitration Co out Inq uiry.
– I have received protests against the recent extensive advertisements in several daily newspapers purporting to have governmental approval in connexion with the sitting of the Arbitration Court on Monday of this week to take appearances relating to the recent basic wage increase. The same advertisement appeared in Gazette, No. 215, on pages 202-5. The cost of all this advertising must have been very great. I ask the Attorney-General - 1. What would be the estimated cost of the newspaper advertisements? 2. Why was the insertion necessary in the daily papers, in view of its appearance in the Gazette2. 3. Who authorized the advertisements? 4. Will the Attorney-General take precautions against any unnecessary expenditure along similar lines in the future?
– The advertisements in question were inserted in the daily newspapers as the result of an order of the Arbitration Court’ itself, which ordered that, instead of serving all the individual respondents and employers who were parties to the very numerous awards being reviewed at the basic wage inquiry, there would be inserted in the newspapers notices of the application which would be regarded under the court rules as sufficient to bring the matter to the notice of those employers. No doubt, considerable expense was involved in carrying out the court’s order, but, of course, we were bound to do it. Unless that course had been taken, thousands of employers would have had to be served with the notice of the application. In one or two awards of the court, the respondents number between 3,000 and 4,000. What was done was a direct result of the court’s order. The expense was necessary, and the result of it was to obviate delay and avoid additional cost. In those circumstances, the procedure of substituted service does represent a considerable saving, not only of time, but also of money.
– I have received inquiries from many branches of the Farmers and Settlers’ Association, including those at ‘Koorawatha and Bogan Gate, asking whether drought relief would be paid in New South Wales. Will the Minister supply this information to me, and will he give sympathetic consideration to paying compensation for crop failure at £1 an acre?
– Normally, the question of the payment of drought relief,, when the drought is Commonwealth wide, is examined at a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, because the ravages of the drought at that stage are considered to be beyond the resources of the States affected. In all other circumstances, the States themselves are expected to provide relief to farmers in droughtstricken areas. As the disastrous drought in New South Wales this year has been State wide and its impact tremendous, some Commonwealth relief may be justified. However, the Government of New South Wales will have to apply to the Treasurer claiming that the magnitude of the drought requires Commonwealth as distinct from State relief. In the circumstances, I am not in a position to give any further information except to suggest that the farmers concerned might direct their inquiries and applications to the Governments of the States within which they reside.
Supplies of Radio-active Phosphorus.
– Some time ago I urged the Minister for Repatriation to obtain some rare radio-active phosphorus for the purpose of treating an unusual blood disease known as leukaemia, from which an ex-serviceman is suffering in 113th Australian General Hospital at Concord. I understand that quantities of this material have now arrived in Australia, and, following my representations, I ask the Minister to inform me what action was taken by the Repatriation Department, in view of the urgency of the case, to have this drug imported? As reports state that the supplies in Sydney are sufficient only for the requirements of the “next five days, will the honorable gentleman issue instructions for urgent arrangements to be made to obtain adequate quantities from overseas in order that this ex-serviceman may receive continued treatment until he is cured?
– The honorable member did approach me, in connexion with this case, to obtain supplies of radio-active phosphorus. Immediately I received his request, I communicated with the department in order to ensure that supplies would be obtained, so that the ex-serviceman could be treated. Supplies of the material arrived, and it has since been used. Apparently, the treatment will be successful. As to the necessity to ensure a continuance of supplies for this particular case, I shall ascertain whether adequate quantities are obtainable in Australia, or are in transit to this country. I understand that additional supplies are on the way, but I shall endeavour to see that sufficient quantities shall be retained in Australia for the treatment of similar cases in future.
– Would it be possible for the Department of Repatriation to make available supplies of radioactive phosphorus, mentioned by the honorable member for Martin, for civilian purposes? I have been approached by a young ex-airman whose wife has the same complaint as that from which an ex-serviceman in the 113th Australian General Hospital is suffering.
– I shall ascertain from the Repatriation Department whether supplies can be made available for the benefit of civilians.
Appointment or Secretary
– In view of the announcement in to-day’s press of the appointment of a new secretary to the Department of External Affairs, will the Minister controlling that department say whether consideration was given to the appointment of a returned soldier and whether the position was advertised ?
– It is not customary to advertise such positions, and in this instance applications were not invited. Dr. Burton’s qualifications and all relevant factors were carefully considered by the Government, and I am confident that the appointment will be of benefit to Australia.
– Mr. Speaker-
– I rise to order. I have risen many times in an endeavour to ask a question but have not received the call. I understand that the call is given first to the right and then to the left of the Chair, but as I am the only independent member of the House I feel that the courtesy that is extended to members of parties should also be given to me.
– It is the practice to give the call first to the right and then to the left of the Chair. Honorable members on my right are in the main members of one party, but those on my left represent two parties of approximately equal strength. I have endeavoured to give the call first to the right and then to alternate the call on the left between members of the Liberal party and members of the Australian Country party. As the honorable member for the Northern Territory sits with the members of the Australian Country party he will receive the call if he will be patient.
– In the absence of the Minister for Transport, I ask the Prime Minister what considerations prompted the Government to make special transport facilities available recently for two prominent Communist agitators, namely, “ Comrades “ Elliott and Brown. In particular, is it a fact that a high travel priority was accorded to “ Comrade “ Elliott, thus enabling him to organize a strike in New Zealand on the vessel Wanganella? Is it to be inferred from the fact that “ Comrade “ Brown was met by a Commonwealth car on his arrival in Canberra this morning that, he was brought here by air at Commonwealth expense ; if so, why was this done ?
– I have no knowledge of the case of Mr. Brown ; it is news to me. The case of Mr. Elliott was brought to my attention, and I believe that it was claimed, in newspaper statements, that he was granted a No. 1 priority to go to New Zealand. Also, Mr. Elliott was reported to have stated that his visit to New Zealand was sponsored by the Commonwealth Government. He was not sponsored by the Commonwealth Government on any trip to New Zealand, and he did not receive a No. 1 priority. I understand that representations were made with a view to facilitating his passage, as has often happened in other instances when representations have been made by members of the Opposition on behalf of persons in whom they are interested. I understand that, as the result of representations made to some department, Mr. Elliott did have his passage to New Zealand facilitated by being granted a No. 3 priority. He did not represent the Australian Government in New Zealand, and was not sponsored by it in any way. I repeat that I have no knowledge relating to Mr. Brown., but I shall investigate the position and inform the honorable member of the result of my inquiries.
– In view of the serious condition of the people of Great Britain, particularly in relation to food supplies, will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General request his colleague to re-consider the proposal to reduce postal charges on food parcels sent to Great Britain, particularly small parcels sent by Australian workers to their relatives in the home country?
– I shall discuss the honorable member’s proposal with the Postmaster-General and make a statement to the House on the subject before the end of this week.
– Recently, I asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the serious condition of Britain in the matter of foodstuffs, he would agree to the setting up of a Select Committee to consider ways and means for acquiring additional supplies, such as the prohibition of certain exports, so that a greater quantity of food could be sent to Great Britain. Has the right honorable gentleman con sidered this matter, and, if so, can he make a statement to the House?
– When the honorable member for Balaclava asked a question on this subject previously, I indicated that I thought that Australia was doing all that it could to supply foodstuffs to Britain. I also pointed out that rationing in Australia was on a more severe scale than in other dominions in order that larger supplies of foodstuffs could be forwarded to the Old Country. In my opinion, no good purpose will be served by the appointment of a select committee.
– Have discussions taken place recently between representatives of the British Government and the Commonwealth Government, Treasury officials of both Governments, or representatives of the Bank of England and of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia with regard to the exchange rate between the United Kingdom and Australia? Is it a fact that an agreement has been made to lower the exchange rate between Australia and the United Kingdom and to effect a steady appreciation of the Australian £1 in terms of sterling?
– The answer to the first question is “ No “ ; the answer to the second question is also “ No “.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping aware that, for the past two weeks, a number of towns including Yass, Gundagi, Tumut, and the city of Canberra, have been experiencing an acute shortage of petrol as the result of which people in the localities affected are being seriously inconvenienced? Does the Minister know the reason for this shortage and, if so, will he take steps to have the situation rectified immediately ?
– I am aware that in recent weeks there has been a distinct shortage of petrol in some of the places mentioned by the honorable member. The matter came to my notice this week, when I had difficulty in having a motor car refuelled at one of the towns mentioned. After this experience I communicated with the Minister for Supply and Shipping, who has assured me that there are ample supplies of petrol at the seaboard and that the Commonwealth Government is not responsible in any way for the transport of that fuel to inland towns. The petrol companies are responsible for providing transport. However, the Minister is doing what he can, through the medium of the petrol companies, to ensure that supplies are made available as quickly as possible.
– Will the Minister for Works and Housing inform me whether any action can be taken to remedy the desperate situation arising from house evictions? Does the Minister know that in Victoria at present 9,000 ex-servicemen want homes in the metropolitan area alone, and that, of 104 evictions each month in that State, SO per cent, are brought about by the efforts of ex-servicemen to obtain homes?
– The honorable member’s statement that 9,000 ex-servicemen are waiting for homes is not in accord with the records which are made available to me weekly by the War Service Homes Commission. The latest figures supplied to me show that the total number of applications is slightly over 5,000. The matter of evictions is finally one for determination by the courts, and the courts have laid down a procedure in which the degree of hardship of persons involved in eviction applications is the governing factor. The problem of evictions of tenants from houses which have been bought by ex-servicemen is receiving my attention, and I hope that the department will he able to rectify the unfortunate position which has arisen.
– In view of the allegations made in this House last week, as reported in the Communist journal the Tribune, that Opposition members had had alterations made to their homes during war-time without authority, I now ask the Prime Minister the following questions: - 1. Is the Minister aware that for some time there have been strongly canvassed rumours in Sydney that in 1942, or thereabouts, at a time when the Attorney-General was prosecuting returned soldiers for building backyard homes for their wives and children: - (a) The Attorney-General, without a permit, expended more than £450 in altering and improving the interior of his house; (b) that the matter was reported to the Kuringai Shire Council, which detailed an officer to establish the facts; (c) that the facts were established wholly or in part; (d) that a retrospective permit to build was then issued to the Attorney-General after he had broken the law flagrantly? 2. With a view to clearing the Attorney-General’s name of these imputations, or establishing the facts if he cannot be cleared, will he appoint a select committee to inquire into the whole matter and to obtain evidence from the Kuringai Shire Council?
– I do not know of the allegations, nor have I read the statement on the subject which appeared in the Tribune. I have no knowledge of any of the circumstances alleged by the honorable member. I ask him to put his question on the notice-paper, in which event I shall ascertain what information can be obtained on the subject.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I know nothing of the publication to which the honorable member for the Northern Territory referred. The substance of what has been suggested is quite false.
– I do not necessarily believe it.
– It is a “ Commo.” plot.
– It is true that in 1942, when my wife and I went overseas on a mission for the Government, some renovations were effected in my wife’s house, and that subsequently a complaint was made to the local council that proper authority had not been granted. Subsequently when an explanation was made to the Kuringai Shire Council it was accepted by that body. The sum of money mentioned is a gross overstatement. There was no breach of the law and no suggestion of a breach of law on our part. I ask the honorable member for the Northern Territory and the House to accept my explanation.
– by leave - On the last occasion on which I made a statement to the House on international affairs it was followed by a comprehensive debate.
– I rise to order. Does the granting of leave to make a statement mean that question time has ended? I have risen a number of times, but have not yet received the call.
– The position is quite clear. The House has given leave to the Minister for External Affairs to make a statement on international affairs. When that statement has been concluded I have no doubt that the Leader of the Opposition will move the adjournment of the debate, and that questions will then be resumed.
– I was about to say that I hope that a, full debate will take place on this occasion also.
– There will be a debate if the opportunity for it is afforded to honorable members.
– On the previous occasion referred to the debate on international affairs continued until no other member desired to speak, and I have no doubt that a similar procedure will be followed on this occasion.
The subjects that I propose to introduce will cover the activities of the United Nations, including the recent meeting of the Assembly, the decision of the Assembly in relation to such subjects as the veto; the proposed commission on disarmament and atomic energy; trusteeship agreements, particularly that relating to New Guinea; and also the proposal now before the Security Council in relation to certain islands which were formerly held by Japan under mandate and in respect of which the United States of America has placed a proposal before the Security Council. I then propose to refer to the recent South Pacific Regional Conference and to the changing situation in South-East
Asia, particularly in relation to India and Indonesia, our trade relations with those and other countries, and the possibility of regional co-operation within that area. I shall give to the House detailed information in relation to European war settlements, first, in respect of Italy and the satellites of Germany, and, secondly, with Germany itself. I propose to refer also to the settlement with Austria, and then to ask consideration of the broad lines of the settlement with Japan. I intend to examine’ shortly the occupation policy now being followed; the rights of Australia as a party principal to any settlement; and the desirability of having the terms of the peace with Japan negotiated as soon as possible. I shall then endeavour to make a summary of present trends, and to indicate the possibility of repercussions of recent events on our foreign policy and our relations with countries in South-East Asia, and also with the United Kingdom, and particularly whether Australia’s methods of consulting with the United Kingdom need to be reviewed. Before I conclude my statement I shall table documents on various subjects, . namely, the United Nations; the trusteeship agreement for New Guinea as approved by the United Nations Assembly; a statement on India and ‘the text of the Netherlands Agreement. I shall also table documents in relation to the settlement with the satellites of Italy and Germany, and documents relating to the proposed settlement with Germany, setting out Australia’s provisional views on this question and on the proposed settlement with Austria. I shall also table a paper containing the report of the Atomic Energy Commission at the end of my speech.
I shall deal first with the United Nations, and the meeting of the Assembly of the United Nations. The recent Assembly meeting at New York was the first at which matters of substance were discussed as distinct from matters of procedure. The previous session was devoted almost entirely to the discussion of matters pertaining to organization. The discussions of the Assembly continued throughout October, November ‘and December of last year on all matters within the scope of the Charter. The original Dumbarton Oaks draft, considered at San Francisco, limited discussion by the Assembly to matters relating to the maintenance of peace and security. Largely as the result of Australian initiative at San Francisco, that draft was amended so that the powers of the Assembly now extend to all matters comprehended by the Charter itself, covering all its principles, all its activities, and all its organizations. As the result of this amendment it became possible to discuss such matters as the eligibility of new members, the use of the veto, and other matters on the agenda of the last Assembly meeting.
Among the most important matters discussed was an item on the agenda calling for a full debate on the operation of the veto in the Security Council. The veto was discussed at considerable length in this House in December last, and 1 then reported that Australia proposed to bring the matter before the Assembly. On a number of occasions at meetings of the Security Council in 1946, the clear intention of the Council, as expressed by a. majority of its members, was frustrated by the actual or threatened exercise of the veto. Several motions were submitted at the Assembly, including a Cuban one, which was designed to abolish the veto altogether. Finally, these were rejected in favour of one based on an Australian proposal calling upon the permanent members of the Security Council to ensure that the use of their special voting privilege did not impede the Council in reaching decisions promptly. The amendment does not in law bind the Security Council, but we have always held that a recommendation of the World Assembly must have a significant influence on members of the Security Council. This has proved to be the case. To take two examples - in the setting up of the Balkan Commission of Investigation, and in a more recent Security Council decision on disarmament, the Council was permitted to take action favoured by a clear majority of its members, despite the lack of consent of a permanent member who might have claimed the right to exercise the veto.
– I do not understand how the Council was permitted to do something except by the concurring votes of the permanent members.
– Such concurrence was necessary. My point is that although the proposal was originally opposed by one or two members, in the end they withdrew their objection.
– And voted for the proposition ?
– Yes. At the Assembly, the Soviet Union initiated a discussion on disarmament. Australia welcomed this lead, and took an active part in the subsequent discussions. The final resolutions accepted by the Assembly reflected our efforts in several important respects. By this resolution, the Assembly, including all the great powers, unanimously recommended the institution of an international system of inspection to ensure the carrying out of any undertakings that might be entered into under a disarmament plan, when instituted. Furthermore, it was made clear that the controlling body or bodies, when established, would be free to work with almost complete autonomy. This resolution, if broadly interpretated and adhered to in the Security Council, will mean that the great powers will not attempt to maintain their veto privileges in relation to inspection and control measures designed to implement disarmament conventions.
The disarmament resolution of the General Assembly is now under consideration by the Security Council, and the Council has decided to deal with the matter in three ways : First, the control of the warlike use of atomic energy, aud other weapons of mass destruction, will be considered by the Council in its discussion of the report of the Atomic Energy Commission, which was completed on the 31st December of last year.
– Will that report be made available to honorable members ?
– It has only just come to hand, and it will be made available as soon as possible. Secondly, the Council has set up a commission on “ conventional armaments “ to consider the control of all other weapons, and this commission will recommend its plan of action to the Council. The phrase “ conventional armaments “ is a curious one, and implies, I take it, that atomic weapons, and others capable of mass destruction, should be considered as being in a special category.
– What about guided projectiles ?
– I should say that they would be included among -weapons of mass destruction. I am not sure that 12-ton “ block busters “, which are capable of such enormous destruction, should not also come under that heading. However, those are matters for discussion and definition. Finally, and this is very important in view of previous debates in this House, the Military Staff Committee of the Council is to press on with its work of preparing for the special military agreements referred to in Article 43 of the Charter, which declares the obligation of member States to place military forces at the disposal of the Security Council in accordance with an agreement to be recommended by the Military Staff Committee and approved substantially by the Security Council, and then submitted to each member which will have to confirm it in so far as its obligations are involved.
A number of important differences will have to be resolved before this machinery for the reduction of armaments and the building of a powerful United Nations military force can work with certainty. There is still a broad cleavage between the United States of America and the Soviet Union over the control of atomic energy. The United States. of America insists on the institution of a control system before its stocks of atomic bombs are destroyed, or their manufacture ceases. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, insists that the destruction of stocks and cessation of production by the United States of America are a necessary preliminary to a control system. The report of the Atomic Energy Commission supports the United States of America’s view. Reference to this report which I table for the information of honorable members, and to a. statement made to the House on the 1st August, 1946, will show Australia’s general endorsement of the proposals of the United States of America, although efforts are being made at New York to see whether the two proposals cannot be combined and harmonized.
I shall refer now to the trusteeship agreements. The General Assembly had before it eight trusteeship agreements for placing under the international system of trusteeship set out in the United Nations Charter certain territories which had previously been under mandate of the League of Nations. When placed under trusteeship they come under the supervision of the Trusteeship Council which, later, the Assembly established. The territories concerned were New Guinea, under the trusteeship of Australia; the Cameroons, Togoland and Tanganyika, under United Kingdom administration; the Cameroons and Togoland under French administration; Western Samoa under New Zealand administration; and Ruanda Urundi in West Africa, under Belgian administration.
– Is there any territory under mandate to the United States of America?
– No territories were placed under mandate to the United States of America after World War I. because the United States of America did not finally adhere to the Covenant of the League of Nations and no obligation with respect to mandates was accepted by the United States of America at that time. All of these territories come within the jurisdiction of the Assembly because the Charter provides that a mandated territory may be placed under trusteeship by agreement with the mandatory power, the Assembly of the United Nations and what are called the powers concerned.
– What about territories such as the Marshalls and the Carolines ?
– I shall deal with those separately; they were under Japanese mandate, and the United States of America desires a special form of trusteeship with regard to them.
– Who now controls former German South- West Africa?
– That territory was a C class mandate and was placed under the Union of South Africa. The German territories in South Africa are still under the de facto and de jure control of South Africa, but no application has been made by South Africa to place them under the trusteeship system. The ‘South African Government has declared that it does not desire that this he done.
– But South Africa applied to annex those territories, and the Australian Government opposed the proposal.
– The Australian Government took the same view as every other member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. We “did not oppose it, but we could not support it. The mandates in connexion with territories previously held by the Jananese constitute a separate question.
The terms of the proposal by Australia with reference to New Guinea were placed before the House on the 7 th August, 1946 ; and to our proposals a great number of amendments were put forward by India, China, Russia, United States of America, and other countries. All “of those amendments were tabled in the House on the 4th December, 1946. They were very comprehensive. All I desire to say at this stage is that after a long debate the terms proposed ‘by Australia were approved with the addition of a single new article. This article contains a reference to certain objectives already implicit in our draft agreement, and undertaken by Australia as a signatory of the United Nations Charter, and, in fact, already part of Australian policy. With the consent of honorable members the full terms of that .agreement will be incorporated in Hansard at the end of my speech. On approval by the Parliament of the agreement, New Guinea will come under the international trusteeship system, and under the supervision of the Trusteeship Council on terms which are an improvement on the mandate from the viewpoint of both the inhabitants of the territory and Australia as the administering authority, particularly in relation to the defence of that area. The rights of the mandatory power with respect to defence were restricted, but now they will be broadened.
I turn now to the islands mandated to Japan. During the session of the General Assembly, the United States of America Government published its proposed trusteeship agreement for the Japanese mandated islands which were captured by
American forces during the Pacific war. This agreement, however, was not submitted to the General Assembly and was not discussed there. The Charter provides for two types of trusteeship agreements - those submitted to the Assembly and those submitted to the Security Council. The latter are agreements covering strategic areas. This does not mean that territories in respect of which agreements are submitted to the Assembly are not of strategic importance. As I have stated, the agreement for New Guinea gives Australia full powers to deal with- defence requirements in New Guinea. A strategic area trusteeship agreement, however, is one which provides for supervision by the Security Council and limits the scope of the Trusteeship Council in the territory concerned. It is the latter type which the United States Government has chosen.
Australia’s policy has been to support the United States policy in obtaining control of these islands. We therefore favour the proposal that the United States should continue to exercise its present control of them. It is, however, important from a longer-term point of view to observe correct procedures, and we think that whatever may be done in the Security Council in connexion with the United States proposed trusteeship agreement should be related to and made subject to final confirmation by the Pacific Peace Conference. I shall refer later to Australian views in respect of the negotiation of the peace settlement with Japan.
– Did the United States of America object to trusteeship over those islands?
– It has submitted what might be called a strategic trusteeship over those islands.
– That differs from our trusteeship over New Guinea?
– Yes; because it brings the matter not to the Assembly but to the Security Council; and I have no doubt that in connexion with the supervision of it, or any matter that goes to the Security Council in relation -to it, the right of veto will be exercisable. But without dealing with its legal or technical aspects, I wish to state here, as I have stated repeatedly during the last few years, that it is Australia’s wish that these islands which were captured by the forces of the United States of America during the war should remain under the control of the United States of America. The only question is the just means to give effect to it, the view we take being broadly that it should be dealt with as part of the general settlement with Japan. The view is also taken that it, is very doubtful whether a mandated territory of this kind can be placed effectively under trusteeship without the consent of the mandatory power even though that .mandatory power be an exenemy. That is a matter which I do not wish to elaborate. It is mainly procedural, but it is important to carry out proper procedure.
– The United States of America could fortify those islands?
– No doubt, as the United States of America intends to regard them iis strategic areas, it will fortify them. 1 repeat that the proposal, if properly set out and connected, as I suggest, with the Japanese peace settlement, or at any rate made subject to confirmation, is one we should welcome. We are not opposed to it in any way; frankly, we favour it. and the view we take is, I believe, also accepted by the United Kingdom.
– Could not we improve our control of New Guinea?
– Our control there is safeguarded. Matters arising from it go to the Assembly and not to the Security Council. From the point of view of Australia that is best because at the Assembly all nations are represented; there is no right of veto, recommendations being carried by the great body of nations that constitute it. We have chosen to set out a trusteeship agreement broadly on the lines of the C class mandates with the requisite amendments and improvements. 1 refer now to the South Pacific Commission, the appointment of which was decided upon as the result of the recent South Pacific Conference. The recent signing of an agreement in Canberra by representatives of the Governments of the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the Netherlands, France, New
Zealand and Australia for the establishment of a South Pacific Commission represents the achievement of an objective which was proclaimed in the AustralianNew Zealand Agreement in January, 1944. During the conference of Dominion Prime Ministers in London in April last year, the Australian Government advocated the immediate undertaking of the project and presented in some detail its views on the organization of such a regional body. The New Zealand and United Kingdom representatives were in accord with the general lines of our proposal and it was left to the Australian and New Zealand Governments to set in motion the necessary machinery for thi calling of the conference. Invitations having been issued to the four other nations I have mentioned, the conference met in Canberra last month. The Australian and New Zealand Governments undertook responsibility for the drafting of the agenda and the preparation of the necessary documentation. The conference lasted ten days and complete agreement was reached on all matters, a constitution for a South Pacific Commission being initialled by representatives of all governments at the conference, subject to approval by their respective governments.
Honorable members will have an opportunity to consider it in detail, and, no doubt, at a. subsequent stage the constitution of the commission will be submitted for the approval of the House. Broadly, the object of the commission is to set up a body representative of the six governments with interests in the South Pacific. It will not have executive power ; it will be mainly a consultative and advisory body consisting of representatives of the governments concerned. Two commissioners will be appointed by each government. It is intended that the commission will meet at least twice a year. The centre of its operations will be in the South Pacific area, and its objective will be to stimulate co-operation in order to improve the welfare of the native peoples of that vast area.
– Will the commissioners be resident in a territory in the South Pacific area?
– Not in all cases; one, however, will certainly be, because while there is no residential requirement in the constitution, it was resolved by the conference that one of the commissioners should be made available by the government of which he is the nominee as a full-time officer of the commission. One of the instrumentalities of the commission, which will perhaps be the most important, will be the council of research. The projects which the commission is to take up dealing with research into medical health and welfare, education and other matters, are set out in the agreement which will be placed before honorable members. In addition, it is proposed that a South Seas conference be held from time to time, representative not merely of the governments in the South Pacific area, but also of the peoples resident there and of approved voluntary organizations, such as missionary bodies and the like. It is hoped that through that means there will be close contact between the peoples themselves and the commission, which will thereby be helped in its work.
I wish now to refer to a matter in which, I believe, all honorable members will be closely interested, namely, the changing situations in South-East Asia, India and the Far East. They all merit close consideration by the House. The recent war gave to the peoples of the whole of this area an opportunity for political development at a rate previously unprecedented. India has achieved an independent national status in international affairs, as evidenced by its active part at recent international conferences. Similarly, the people of Indonesia have achieved a far greater degree of political autonomy than they had formerly possessed, and like development is taking place throughout other areas of South east Asia, for instance, in French IndoOhina. There has also been development of an important character in the Philippines, which last year was proclaimed a republic. This general trend should not surprise any student of foreign affairs. It is, in fact, in accord with the principles of the Atlantic Charter and the United Nations Charter and, in particular, with the obligations of colony-possessing powers to promote the political development of non-self-governing or politically under-developed countries. Australia is directly concerned with these political developments and their consequences. Just as far as the peoples of South-East Asia cease to be dependent upon the decisions of European governments, so far do Australia’s interests in the councils of South-East Asia increase. We must work for a harmonious association of democratic states in the South-East Asia area, and see in the development of their political maturity opportunity for greatly increased political, cultural and commercial co-operation.
Prior to the recent announcement by Mr. Attlee, India had travelled a very long distance along the road towards complete self-government. Included in the documents to be incorporated in Hansard are the texts of the statements made by the Indian High Commissioner, and by myself, on that matter. The final attainment of Indian self-government, however, may be beset with difficulties. Although since September last year there has been in existence an interim government, the Moslem League, which has the support of a large proportion of India’s 90,000,000 Moslems, at first refused to join with that government. Even when it did consent to join the interim government on the loth October, it continued and still continues to withhold its support from the Indian Constituent Assembly. It is hoped that India, with its heritage of ancient culture and with its will towards democratic freedom, may be able to progress rapidly towards political and economic democracy. It was with this thought in mind that the Australian Government, on the 9 th December, sent to -the Constituent Assembly its good wishes for the successful outcome of the deliberations of that body. In acknowledging this message, Dr. Sinha, the Provisional Chairman of the Constituent Assembly, said -
It is a source of great encouragement to us to feel that the Government and the people of Australia are watching our deliberations with keen and sympathetic interest, and we feel sure that their sympathy will stand us in good stead in evolving a democratic constitution for India.
The Australian Government, as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, enjoying a status of complete freedom and autonomy in both domestic and foreign policies, has looked forward to the achievement by India of a similar status and a similar freedom. The people of India should be fully aware of this free and autonomous position of Australia and other members of the British group of nations. On this view India could pursue all its national aspirations while still maintaining the link by which all members of the British Commonwealth are bound together. The contribution Britain has made to India has been of inestimable value, especially in the field of engineering, communications, industrial and other technical developments, and a complete severing of the links that join the two peoples would, in my opinion, be greatly prejudicial to both and to all mankind. It is necessary, by means of constant and closer relationships with India for Australian industries to make a substantial contribution to the solution of India’s problems, which are fundamentally problems of the organization of industry and agriculture. India’s resources are great, and with assistance, that country can increase its productive capacity to meet the -urgent requirements of its people. Eventually, India must play a leading part in contributing to the welfare and security of the nations whose interests are similar.
– Was the Australian Government consulted in regard to India’s future status at a stage which would enable it to put its views before the British Government and the Government of India?
– The Australian Government was kept informed, but the responsibility for the decision, was exclusively that of the British Government. We would welcome an opportunity to discuss frankly with the Government of India matters of common concern. The discussions which took place in Canberra between Australia and New Zealand in 1944 led to the Australian-New Zealand Agreement, which was of benfit not merely to Australia and New Zealand, but to the United Nations as a whole. A perusal of that agreement and of the Wellington resolutions of November, 1944, will make this clearly evident. I refer in particular to the changes Australia and New Zealand were able to contribute in the draft of the United Nations Charter at San
Francisco, to the principle of trusteeship for dependent people and to the recent establishment of a South Pacific Commission, all of which were envisaged in the agreement between our two democracies. We ‘hoped that there would be great benefit from closer co-operation with India, not only for Australia and India, but .also for other countries in this region.
– Was the White Australia policy raised in the discussions with India ?
– That matter has never been raised by India or by Australia at any stage. The subject was not mentioned on the appointment of an Indian Bligh Commissioner to this country, on the appointment of the Australian High ‘Commissioner to India, Sir Iven Mackey, or on any of the very numerous occasions when our representative has been in touch with the Indian Government, not merely before the recent constitutional developments, but also during those developments. A telegram that I have received only to-day confirms that view. Dealing with the migration policy in India, the Indian spokesman recently referred to in the press made no special reference to Australia. He was referring to the policy of migration in relation to all countries. A firm and lasting understanding with the people of India - this is not merely desirable but also essential - can be based only on a frank understanding of the immigration policy of this country. No nation makes more definite demands to the right to determine the constitution of their own population than do China and India. We demand that right for this country. No doubt honorable members will have some suggestions to make about this matter. I believe that a clear and frank understanding of our basic policy on migration is an absolute condition to rapid progress in co-operation between the two countries. I do not think that there will be any difficulty in reaching that understanding. No doubt there are some rules and regulations that might be altered in connexion with visits to Australia by students, and also by representatives of commercial undertakings to permit a freer flow of . trade between, this country and eastern countries, but the migration policy to which all members of this House are pledged is basic to our economy, and I do not think that the Government of India would ever challenge it. Certainly, it has not done -o in the negotiations or discussions that have already taken place.
The Australian Government notes with satisfaction the progress made in negotiations between the Indonesian representatives and the Netherlands Government. These were in general accord with the purposes and principles of the Atlantic
Charter and the United Nations Charter, and eventuated in the initialling by the Netherlands and Indonesian delegates of the draft agreement of Cheribon - (Linggaardjati) - on the 15th November last and the subsequent acceptance of the agreement by the Netherlands Lower House on the 20th December. The Indonesian Cabinet in Java is still hesitant in ratifying the agreement in view of the uncertainty attending the interpretation of many of its clauses, the uncertainty as to the position of the Indonesian Republic in international law, and certain restrictions placed by the Netherlands authorities on trade with Java and Sumatra. Ratification by the Netherlands government has also been deferred. The negotiations having gone so far, it would be a matte” of grave responsibility on both parties if these difficulties were not resolved without delay, and an early settlement between the Netherlands authorities and Indonesians reached.
Australian trading interests in SouthEast Asia were developing before the war. They increased in respect of India during the war. Present indications are that there should be a spectacular growth in the exchange of Australian processed products for the raw materials of the intensely rich areas of South-East Asia. The figures are most striking. Exports to India increased from under £2,000,000 in 1939 to £15,000,000 in 1945 and £18,000,000 in 1946. Imports from India have increased similarly. The war terminated trade in most of the South-East Asia areas, but it is now recommencing and the only limitation on its development is our inability to meet all demands.
During 1946, however, exports to Malaya,. Netherlands East Indies, Timor, Ceylon,, passed the pre-war level represented by theyear 1938-39. In the case of Ceylon ourexports were nearly £7,000,000 in 1946 as compared with just over £1,000,000 in 1939. Those figures are very striking and’ they show that we have already morethan re-established the pre-war position. The demand is expanding and Australia should find a good market for a growing proportion of its exports as livingstandards in that area improve. So, it is in our interests as an exporting country to ensure improved living standardsthroughout the area.
The time has now arrived when thereshould be formed in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific an appropriateregional instrumentality, concerningitself with the interests of all the peoples of this area. It should include the representatives of the peoples and governments directly interested in the problems of the South-East Asia area. Geographically contiguous, the peoples of South-East Asia and our own people have many important interests in common. The proposed regional instrumentality will at least facilitate the free and rapid interchange of basic information concerning the problems of administration, education, health, agriculture, commerce and cultural relations. As in the case of the South Pacific, an appropriate plan for regional co-operation designed to promote the well-being of the peoples of the Western Pacific and South-East Asia should be put. into operation.
One question remains that is very similar to the Indian problem and that is whether Burma should enjoy autonomy, or independence in association with other sovereign members of the British Commonwealth. No country in SouthEast Asia suffered greater physical destruction or greater political and economic dislocation as a result of the recent war than Burma. In the post-war period, Burma, with Britain’s help, has made considerable, and, in the circumstances, remarkable progress in the work of reconstruction. As a result of discussions recently concluded in London, the United Kingdom Government and a delegation representing the Burmese
Executive Council reached agreement on the methods by which Burma should attain full self-governing status. After a transitional period, representatives of the Burmese people will assume full responsibility for the conduct of all matters relating to their territory. A general election of a constituent assembly for Burma will take place in April next. A major question confronting the Burmese will be whether or not Burma should enjoy its independent existence in association with the other sovereign and democratic members of the British Commonwealth. In this connexion, as in that of India, I should like to express the hope that the Burmese leaders will decide that their country’s democratic progresscan best be achieved within the framework of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Australia looks forward to cordial and close relations with the new Burma.
I now propose to inform the House of the position in relation to various settlements in Europe, first of all, the peace treaties with the satellite enemy countries. I dealt with some aspects of this matter in the debate on international affairs in December.
Following the Peace Conference in Paris, the Council of Foreign Ministers met in New York during the recent General Assembly meeting and prepared new drafts. The signing of the treaties, based on these drafts, took place on the 10th February last and the Australian High Commissioner in London signed the treaties on behalf of Australia. The Parliament will be asked to approve the texts of these treaties in due course.
From the point of view of Australia’s long-term interest in Europe, the treaties cannot be regarded as adequate to ensure a durable overall peace. Some of the problems have been solved on the basis of expediency and without regard to basic principles or to the effect of the solutions on Europe as a. whole. A number of proposals designed to eliminate weaknesses in the draft treaties were submitted by the Australian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference but could notbe considered on their merits because of the limitations placed on the powers of that conference.
The procedure adopted in preparing the treaties was also unsatisfactory. It denied to those nations which took an active part in the war a full and just share in framing the peace. The drafts before the Paris Peace Conference had been prepared exclusively by the Council of Foreign Ministers. The conditions under which the conference was conducted precluded full and free amendment, and, after the conference, its recommendations were subject to final review and even alteration by the Council of Foreign Ministers.
While it was dissatisfied with this disregard of the right of smaller belligerents to fuller participation in treaty-making, the Australian Government decided that it should proceed with the signing of the treaties as they stood. This was mainly due to its belief that in general the treaties at least adequately safeguard Australia’s short-term interests, and that there were no practical means by which more satisfactory treaties could be secured at the present time.
With the consent of the House I shall include in the matter to be incorporated in Hansard at the end of my speech -
Since the conclusion of the Paris Peace Conference work has been undertaken on the drafts for a peace settlement for Germany. The Deputies of the Foreign Ministers have been meeting in London for some time, and the Council of Foreign Ministers invited the Governments of the Allied States which are neighbours of Germany and other Allied States which participated with armed forces in the struggle against Germany to communicate to deputies in writing and orally their views on the German problem. We, therefore, took the opportunity presented by the invitation to put forward not only our views on the substance of the settlement which should be arrived at with
Germany, but also our views on the procedure which should be followed in arriving at a settlement.
With the consent of the House, I shall also incorporate in Hansard a short statement of the views we put to the deputies on procedure which we thought should be adopted, and a statement of the principles tentatively put forward as those which should govern the approach to any particular settlement with respect to Germany. The general principles regarding the substance of the settlement outlined in this statement are: -
First, we should adhere to our undertakings in the Atlantic Charter and the United Nations Charter and try to ensure that the principles set out in these charters are given the fullest possible application in the peace treaties ;
Second, we should ensure that our recommendations and decisions are based on an impartial and thorough examination of all the relevant facts affecting each of the questions raised ;
Third, we should be careful not to impose such unjustifiable .burdens and humiliations upon the peoples of ex-enemy States as will prevent the growth of genuine democratic forces and foster the resurgence of fascism ;
Fourth, our main object should be the attainment of a just and durable overall peace structure and not merely the settlement one by one of a series of particular and isolated claims by individual nations against their neighbours.
I shall not attempt to summarize further the points of substance and the particular applications of these principles which are suggesed in the statement referred to. We do, however, emphasize the maintenance of Allied control for a period sufficiently long to safeguard the security of Europe against the resurgence of Nazi-ism in Germany. Our other specific proposals are designed equally to ensure security to the Allies and the development of a democratic Germany. In our view, this can only be done by the protection of human rights and funda- mental freedoms, by the adjustment of frontiers taking into full consideration not only security but also the economic interests of the peoples of Europe, by the treatment of Germany as an economic unit, and by the careful assessment of reparations from Germany so as not to prevent the development of a truly democratic regime in Central Europe.
Concurrently with their meetings on the subject of Germany, the Deputies of the Council ‘ of Foreign Ministers have been discussing the terms of a peace settlement with Austria. In general, the procedure which they have followed has been similar to that for Germany and like that has been subjected to criticism by all the British dominions. The general principle has already been, given by me in the House. When the four nations constituting the Council of Foreign Ministers are agreed upon a draft and then the conference takes place, it is difficult to alter a line or a word of it because that cannot be done without the consent of the four countries. That is where the right of veto is involved.
– Then the conference is not of much use?
– It is of some use. It provides a forum for discussion. It is not enough when nations who are interested merely go into the room where the representatives of the major powers are assembled and say, “We think this or that should be done”. The view which the Australian delegates have put forward, through their representative who attended one or two of these meetings, is that there should be a full general discussion at the earliest possible point in the actual drafting of the agreement before the four Powers decide to agree upon the draft. In the case of Germany, Australia has requested effective participation by reason of its contributions and sacrifices in Europe, based on the same fundamental principles of democracy. Whilst we believe that Austria cannot ;be given immunity for taking part in the war on the side of Germany, there are circumstances which lessen its responsibility, in particular, the invasion of Austria by Germany in 1938.
Australia’s view is that the independence of Austria should be recognized, with in its boundaries as they were in 1937, but that, if any claims for rectification are submitted, they should be properly examined by an appropriate fact-finding commission to ensure that there is a just and impartial solution. The treaty should have provisions similar to those in the treaties for the satellites, guaranteeing to all persons under Austrian jurisdiction the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. We have also made a number of other suggestions, including a basis for the military clauses of the treaty, and recommendations on economic matters and provision for treaty revision. With the consent of honorable members, I shall include in Hansard the text of a memorandum submitted by Australia to the Deputies.
I turn now to the settlement in Japan. Australia has consistently demanded full participation -at the highest level in the final settlement with Japan. The claim is unassailable. Because of our all-out effort in the Pacific war we were signatories of the instrument of surrender. Since then Australia has played a leading part in the control of Japan, both as a member of the Far Eastern Commission, which lays down policy, and within the Japanese islands themselves. It was largely owing to Australian initiative that within two months of the Japanese capitulation the Far Eastern Commission got to grips with its task of defining occupation policy. As the result of discussions in this1 commission in Washington in October-December, 1945, under Australian chairmanship, there was general agreement on a basic policy document. Representatives of governments on the commission agreed that the policies set forth in this document were generally satisfactory, subject to minor modifications. This document states clearly the general policy arrived at by the Australian Government and our representative on the Allied Council for Japan.
Policy decisions of the Far Eastern Commission set up at Moscow in December, 1945, are subject to veto by each of four powers. By that, I mean each of the five members of the Council of Foreign
Ministers except France. I point out, in relation to the policy governing the occupation of Japan, that sometimes there has been a clear majority of members on aspects of occupation policy, but a long delay has occurred in securing formal approval of the proposals by the commission as a whole. One of the consequences is that the necessary directives on many policy matters cannot be issued to the Supreme Commander. I pointed out that fact to the House last December. It is one of the weaknesses of the system. The body at Washington, consisting of all the belligerents in the Pacific war, has the right to determine policy, but any one of four nations can, by merely delaying the matter and without actually voting against a proposal, prevent a decision on policy from being given. Unless that decision is given, no directive can be issued to the Supreme Commander in Japan.
– When the policy is issued, the Supreme Commander can interpret it almost as he likes?
– Subject only to one qualification ; the Advisory Commission in Tokyo may advise the Supreme Commander. On that body the representative of Australia, Mr. Macmahon Ball, also represents the United Kingdom, India and New Zealand. However, that body is purely advisory in character, and its views do not bind the Supreme Commander. It serves the purpose of enabling some of these matters to be discussed. In my opinion, the time has come to review the situation. I need not engage in a detailed criticism of it; the position speaks for itself.
Australia’s part in the occupation of Japan is twofold. On the one hand we are representing on the Allied Council the four British countries concerned in the Pacific war. This council advises the Supreme Commander on the execution of allied policy. On the other hand we have a large share in the British Commonwealth forces and -have appointed its commander.
– Will the right honorable gentleman inform me who is meeting the cost of providing the occupation forces in Japan?
– We are paying it in the first instance, but it is the intention that finally the cost of the occupation should he charged against the responsible country, namely, Japan.
– We are meeting the cost at present?
– Yes, we are paying it in the first instance.
These greater responsibilities to which 1 have referred are in accord with Australia’s heavy contribution to the war effort against Japan and with our greatly increased status in the international field, as evidenced, for instance, by our election to the Security Council of the United Nations and to other bodies. For these reasons it is generally acknowledged that Australia should be a party principal in the Pacific peace settlement. In dealings with other countries in relation to the occupation of Japan and the final settlement we have consistently acted on this basis. In my opinion, there is every reason to expect support for Australia’s claim to be a party principal. There is no ground to justify any attempt on the part of the Council of Foreign Ministers to deny to us in relation to Japan that full participation to which we are absolutely entitled. The repeated assurances of our allies are in accordance with this conclusion.
The peace treaty with Japan will be an international act of the highest importance, as it will establish a new basis of international relationships in the Pacific area for the future. It will also be a major feature of the general international structure of the post-war world. It is vital, therefore, that the treaty should accord with the over-riding interest of all countries, that is to say, international peace and security. Japan must never again be permitted to develop the means of waging war. First and foremost, therefore, in Australian policy in regard to the future of Japan, we have placed security. This was the principal theme of the Potsdam Declaration, to which Australia, in becoming a party to the Instrument of Surrender for Japan, subscribed. As I have shown before, this lias been the principal objective of Australia as a member of the Far Eastern Commission and of the Allied Council for Japan.
Secondly, we believe that a country which has a genuinely democratic form of government is unlikely to desire to embark, on a policy of aggression and is morelikely to pursue peaceful means of adjusting its interests to those of other countries. Democracy is indeed the life-blood of international co-operation, and the United. Nations will succeed in preserving international peace and security if its membersare guided by a spirit of democracy and influenced by their internal political system to democratic methods. We havemade this our second main line of policy in the Far Eastern Commission, and itshould be one of our principal objectivesin the Japanese peace settlement.
In the eighteen months since the surrender of Japan, the accomplishments of the occupation period have not been inconsiderable. Allied aims in Japan fall into three main classes, namely, military,, political, and economic. In the military field, Japan has been disarmed and demilitarized ; it no longer has an army, navy or air force; there is to-day norecognized or apparent Japanese general staff. The political objective of the Allies, involving the education towards democracy of a vast population brought up in a tradition of imperialism and authoritarianism cannot be achieved in any brief period, especially in view of the horrors and atrocities which were committed, no doubt with the imprimatur of most Japanese leaders.
– Is the radio used extensively for the education of the Japanese people?
– -Radio is used for that purpose, but I cannot say to what extent. That is a very important matter, and I shall endeavour to find out precisely to what extent radio is used for education.
– Is it considered that any real progress has been made in the political field?
– I shall deal with that question in a moment. A start has beenmade despite tremendous difficulties. The Japanese educational system is in process of reform. Militarists are being eliminated from public positions. Alleged Japanese war criminals have been tried, and the trials of the leaders are proceeding. Trade unions are developing and may well play an important part in bringing about a new democratic structure. An improved constitution bas been adopted by the Diet and the Emperor bas been shorn of his main prerogatives. This new constitution which, in our view, must be reviewed and modified in the light of its practical working, can be regarded as a step in the right direction. This constitution is quite consistent with the retention of an adequate degree of allied supervision, even after the conclusion of a peace treaty.
In answer to the honorable member, for Parramatta (Mr. Beale), I say that opinions regarding progress in the political field differ considerably. Australia’s representative in Japan, without being entirely sceptical, is not so enthusiastic about the progress that is being made as are other representatives on the council, and he has expressed that view publicly. The time in which we have been able to work has been very brief. The period of Japanese authoritarianism, with its characteristic of Emperor worship, had resulted in so fascist a psychology that to substitute for it a belief in the democratic processes cannot be an- easy task. I consider that we should be deceiving ourselves if we believed that the task could be accomplished quickly.
– Is the Minister able, at present, to estimate how long our occupation forces will remain in Japan by virtue of the progress that has already been made in converting the Japanese to our democratic way of life ?
– The answer to that question depends on the peace settlement. The term of occupation will have to be provided for in that settlement. It should not go on indefinitely. Some term must be fixed, but Pacific security must be safeguarded.
The third main objective, the reform of the Japanese economy, is a most difficult task for the Allies, but there is no good reason why this task should prevent the early negotiation of a Japanese peace settlement. Provision could be made in the treaty for appropriate supervision of Japan’s external trade, internal industry and economic organization until the United Nations, or a specified agency, were satisfied that Japan could conduct its own affairs as a peaceful member of the community of nations.
Most of the problems now remaining in relation to Japan could best be settled by an early conference of those Pacific nations which waged active war against this enemy. At present there is a distinct tendency to settle matters piece meal or on a temporary basis. One policy decision of importance approved by the Supreme Allied Commander is that the economic life of Japan should be determined with a view to preventing it from profiting by its aggressions since 1931. This principle could give a general basis for the determination of other economic questions, such as the amount of productive capacity which should be left to Japan in the various key industries. The proposal of the United States of America regarding Japanese Pacific mandates is a further illustration of the desirability of dealing with Japan speedily and on an overall rather than a piecemeal basis. For these reasons the time is rapidly approaching when the Far Eastern Commission work should be vested in a Pacific Peace Conference which could deal with the problem of the settlement with Japan as a whole. There is no reason why such a conference should be delayed because of the German peace settlement. I should add that the signing of a peace settlement with Japan will not necessarily involve immediate withdrawal from Japan of the Allied occupation forces. At the same time, the conference could review and determine the time and extent of the necessary occupation.
Looking at the international scene as a whole, we find that, in spite of the numerous disputes and difficulties which have arisen, progress has been made in moving away from world dislocation and chaos in the direction of world peace and prosperity. A careful stocktaking will show the following facts : - All the organs of the United Nations have now been established. The General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council have not only been set up but also have had some real practical experience. Important agreements have been entered into defining relationships between the United Nations and specialized agencies, including the International Labour Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization. Important commissions of the Economic and
Social Council have been created, including the Economic and Employment Commission, the Commission on Human Eights and the Commission on the Status of Women, and these commissions have now begun to carry out their prescribed functions. In addition, the Trusteeship Council will meet for the first time next month, the necessary trusteeship agreements which were an essential preliminary to its establishment having been approved by the General Assembly. Accordingly, the machinery of the United Nations is working. It is not always working as well as we would .wish, but it is there and the wheels are turning. It is now the duty of members of the United Nations to make the machinery work smoothly and to ensure that the results achieved will be in accordance with the principles and purposes of the Charter.
Further progress has also been made in reaching peace settlements with enemy countries. Treaties with the satellites of Germany have been drafted and signed. Work is now proceeding in connexion with the German settlement. It should now be possible to avoid further delay and to press on with the Japanese settlement. Admittedly, these achievements,’ though substantial in themselves, are small when compared with the work still to be done. There can, therefore, be no slackening of effort in trying to solve problems in the international field. In striving for such solutions, it is essential to keep a close check on general changes in the international setting.
I have already drawn attention in this House to the fact that Australia, to an increasing degree, has begun to assume in relation to the Pacific a larger share of general British Commonwealth responsibilities. Illustrations of this trend are the appointment of an Australian to represent four members of the British Commonwealth on the Allied Council for Japan and the selection of an Australian Commander-in-Chief of British Commonwealth forces in that country.
– Having regard to the lack of progress, how long does the Minister expect Australian troops to be in occupation in Japan?
– I should not care to give an estimate! The present position is that there is a tendency, in all countries suffering from the immediate heavy expense and drain upon their man-power occasioned by the occupation, to withdraw their forces from Japan. One of the great cries in a recent election campaign in the United States of America was , “ Vote for ‘ So-and-so ‘ and bring the boys home “. I do not say that in criticism of any party, but, in all cases, the tendency to demand the return of troops to their own countries is tremendous. The British occupation forces have, to some extent, been released by agreement with the United States of America and other countries.
– Are not all those troops in Japan - Australian, American and British - volunteer forces?
– The Australian troops are volunteers, but, whether they be volunteers or not, the point is that there is a growing tendency in all countries concerned to bring the soldiers home. That tendency is inevitable. However, we cannot say that the troops will return this month or this year. Unless there be some effective control of Japan, which, in my opinion, should be continued for a substantial period-
– How long ?
– I am stating reasons why it is utterly foolish to dogmatize about the period. It would be practically sowing the seeds of future aggression by Japan not to continue that control for a sufficiently long period. How long that period should be is a matter for consideration in the light of experience. Instead of allowing the matter to drift, or dealing with it in a piece-meal way, I favour tie calling of the proposed peace conference in respect of Japan at a comparatively early date, so that all the nations interested can consider what is the true solution of the problem in the interests not of one section or one nation, but of all peoples, and particularly in the interests of peace in the Pacific. Therefore it would be fallacious to say that a date should be fixed.
– Does the right honorable gentleman think that it will be a short or a* long period?
– In my opinion, it would be a mistake to think that the period will be short. Australia has made its contribution because of the part that it played in the Pacific war. Australia’s part was the greatest contribution made by any British country ; the United States of America played the greatest part of all.
– Is it not a fact that the Japanese are merely waiting for our occupation troops to become tired?
– That may be so. The reports that we have received from Japan are to the effect that it would be wrong to press for too short a period of occupation. I want the Japanese settlement to be considered ; it should not be allowed to drift, without consideration by the countries interested. Moreover, I do not think that it is right that a decision should be made by countries without proper consultation with one another. I have referred to Australia’s share in international co-operation in the Pacific. The recent South Pacific Conference is an illustration of Australian and New Zealand initiative in connexion with the Pacific. It sprang out of a growing realization that we must make positive efforts to direct and control development in this part of the world. That development is inevitable, and it will continue. The United Kingdom Government has decided to leave India by the end of June, 1948, and is facilitating the early attainment of selfgovernment in Burma. As Britain relinquishes its special responsibilities in those areas, the degree of Australia’s initiative and responsibility must be substantially increased. The record of Australia in international affairs is creditable and is worthy to be placed alongside this country’s war effort. Every impartial international authority recognizes Australia’s contribution. “We have consistently advocated principles. Basically, those principles are simple. They are set out in the policy section of the agreement between Australia and New Zealand and also in the Atlantic Charter and the Charter of the United Nations. We shall continue to stand for those principles. A lasting peace settlement can be obtained only if it is based on democratic ideals and methods. We are trying to ensure that the machinery will work in the interests of all peoples, and not of certain sections. Australia has expressed its views frankly and fearlessly in inter national councils, and will continue to doso, and to give support to policies directed towards the same ultimate goals as our own, by whomsoever they may beinitiated.
I cannot conclude without making special mention of our relationships with the United Kingdom. During the war, the undaunted courage and the unflinching fortitude of the people of Great Britain were the foundations of ultimate victory. Then, in the worst days of the war, in company with the other members of the British Commonwealth, Britain stood alone against the Nazi and Fascist powers. Since the signing of the armistice in Europe, the sacrifices of the people of Britain have had to be continued. In some respects the post armistices sacrifices have been even greater than those of war-time. The British Government, insists that a tremendous effort is still necessary in order to regain the economic position of the pre-war period. Notable success has already been achieved in building up Great Britain’s export trade, but the task is colossal. It is made more difficult by the fact that Britain has substantial overseas military commitments in both Germany and the Middle East. It is inevitable that the United Kingdom Government has to scrutinize with the utmost care all expenditures which may make more difficult the task of re-establishing the balance of Britain’s international trade. Unless great care is taken, a situation which will be ideal for the resurgence of Fascism in Germany will be created, and another Hitler will arise. All that we gained at the meeting of the deputies in London was the right of Mr. Beasley or Colonel Hodgson to put in a document and argue in support of it. That is not sufficient. Nor is it proper treatment for the representatives of our countries which, at one stage of the war, were the only nations apart from Britain fighting the enemy. Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand are trying to improve the situation. One must sympathize with those .European countries which still fear the menace of Germany. One proposal put forward is that Germany shall be forced into the framework of a confederation. Those who advocate that course regard that as a complete solution. But any one with a knowledge of history knows that it is impossible to impose a constitutional system on a people by force because it will not last after the force has been removed. Indeed, the very exercise of force causes stresses and strains which tend to overthrow that system. I believe that, in some instances, a wrong approach is being made to the problem. Constitutional changes should be made in accordance with the spirit of democracy, and should be designed to encourage the growth of democracy. If action is taken along the lines suggested in some quarters, such as splitting up Germany into fragments, there will be created a perfect situation for the rise of another Hitler. He will not need any social or economic policy. He will only need to have as his slogan, “ Germany must be united “, for the whole of the German people to rally to his banner. Even if that view is not accepted, it should be put and considered. Although Australia is not territorially contiguous to Germany and Italy, our war effort entitles us to put our views forward. Twice in a generation Australian troops have had to go to Europe to help redress the balance against democracy.
– Is that also the view of the United Kingdom Government?
– I believe the United Kingdom Government’s view is in general accordance with what I have said. It is evident from the British Government’s policy in India and Egypt that it would be contrary to its convictions to attempt to force a constitutional system upon a country ^except in accordance with the will of the people of that country. I do not think that the promise of the Atlantic Charter was intended to be limited to our allies. I believe that it was meant to extend to ;all countries, including enemy countries, subject only to the overriding requirement of security. Because of that requirement, the period of military occupation of some enemy countries may have to be extended. However, subject to that qualification, I believe that the promise of the Charter should apply to Germany.
Because of the war’s aftermath Britain’s military commitments in Germany and the Middle East are heavy. The Government of the United
Kingdom must scrutinize expenditure closely, because of the pressing necessity to re-establish the country’s trade balances. In these circumstances of hope deferred, some feeling of frustration and disillusionment has arisen. However, this should also be said : The British people are no more alone now than they were in 1939 and 1940. The members of the British Commonwealth of Nations are fully grown, and are ready to take over, in an increasing degree, responsibilities formerly borne by the Mother Country alone. Indeed, this has become imperative. Not only is it a duty of kinship, ‘but it is also dictated by considerations of self-preservation. I have already referred to the assumption by Australia of certain responsibilities of the British Commonwealth in the area of the Pacific. This is only one example of a trend by which one or other of the dominions will act for the United Kingdom and other dominions in respect of specified functions, or in relation to an agreed geographical region. Already in regard to defence this principle has had several applications.
The functions of the British Commonwealth and its members are not finally or irrevocably prescribed, either by law or by practice. The genius of the British race lies in its capacity to adapt itself to the changing circumstances of each generation. That is a condition of progress; indeed, a condition of survival and of grea tness. Events which might, from one point of view, appear to represent a setback to British influence are seen, when looked at more carefully, to be but steps on the road to a higher goal. In particular, this may well apply to what is taking place in India and Egypt. This brings me to a matter which concerns the dominions and the United Kingdom, namely, the exchange of information between them, and the need for consultation. At the present time, there is a constant exchange of information, both by means of consultation between representatives, and by means of written communications. Nevertheless, I have come to the conclusion after considerable experience, that there may well be ways in which the machinery of consultation, and the methods for achieving common action, can be improved. The objective is day by day co-operation in abrotherly partnership which can co-exist with the United Nations, and actually be a help to that organization. It is not a matter of making a choice between adherence to the United Nations or the British Commonwealth. Adherence to the British Commonwealth is a condition of success in the field of the United Nations. There is no conflict between the two ideals. Our partnership with the British Commonwealth can and will be of active assistance to the United Nations in the achievement of its supreme objectives of peace, and the economic advancement of all the peoples ofthe world. For our own part, we shall make every effort to devise and develop ways and means for the improvement of the present machinery for consultation and co-operation between the components of the British Commonwealth.
In accordance with the consent already given I incorporate in Hansard the following matter : -
Voting Procedure in the Security Council. “ The General Assembly,
Mindful of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and having taken notice of the divergencies which have arisen in regard to the application and interpretation of Article 27 of the Charter;
Earnestly requests the permanent members of the Security Council to make every effort, in consultation with one another and with fellow members of the Security Council, to ensure that the use of the special voting privilege of its permanent members does not impede the Security Council in reaching decisions promptly;
Recommends to the Security Council the early adoption of practices and procedures, consistent with theCharter, to assist in reducing the difficulties in the application of Article 27 and to ensure the prompt and effective exercise by the Security Council of its functions ; and
Further recommends that, in developing such practices and procedures, the Security Council takes into consideration the views expressed by Members of the United Nations during the second part of the first session of the General Assembly.”
Principles Governing the General Regulation and Reduction op Armaments.
In pursuance of Article 11 of the Charter and with a view to strengthening international peace and security and in conformity with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations.
Recognizes the necessity of an early general regulation and reduction of armaments and armed forces.
Recommends that the Security Council give prompt consideration to formulating the practical measures, according to their priority, which are essential to provide for the general regulation and reduction of armaments and armed forces and to assure that such regulation and reduction of armaments and armed forces will be generally observed by all participants and not unilaterally by only some of the participants. The plans formulated by the Security Council shall be. submitted by the SecretaryGeneral to the Members of the United Nations for consideration at a special session of the General Assembly. The treaties or conventions approved by the General Assembly shall be submitted to the signatory States for ratification in accordance with Article 26 of the Charter.
As an essential step towards the urgent objective of prohibiting and eliminating from national armaments atomic and all other major weapons adaptable now and in the future to mass destruction, and the early establishment of international control of atomic energy and other modern scientific discoveries and technical developments to ensure their use only for peaceful purposes,
Urges the expeditious fulfilment by the Atomic Eenergy Commission of its terms of reference as set forth in Section 5 of the General Assembly Resolution of 24th January, 1 946.
In order to ensure that the general prohibition, regulation and reduction of armaments are directed towards the major weapons of modern warfare and not merely towards the minor weapons,
Recommends that the Security Council expedite consideration of the reports which the Atomic Energy Commission will make to the Security Council and that it facilitate the work of that Commission, and also that the Security Council expedite consideration of a draft convention or conventions for the creation of an international system of control and inspection, these conventions to include the prohibition of atomic and all other weapons adaptable now and in the future to mass destruction and the control of atomic energy to the extent necessary to ensure its use only for peaceful purposes.
The General Assembly,
Further recognizes that essential to the general regulation and reduction of armaments and armed forces is the provision of practical and effective safeguards by way of inspection and other means to protect complying States against the hazards of violations and evasions.
Recommends to the Security Council that it give prompt consideration to the working out of proposals to provide such practical and effective safeguards in connexion with the control of atomic energy and the general regulation and reduction of armaments.
There shall be established, within the framework of the Security Council, which bears the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, special organs, which organs shall derive their power and status from the convention or conventions under which they are established.
Recommends the Security Council to accelerate as much as possible the placing at its disposal of the armed forces mentioned in Article 43 of the Charter;
It recommends the Members to undertake the progressive and balanced withdrawal, taking account of the needs of occupation, of their armed forces stationed in ex-enemy territories, and the withdrawal without delay of the armed forces stationed in the territories of Members without their consent freely and publicly expressed in treaties or agreements consistent with the Charter and not contradicting international agreements;
It further recommends a corresponding reduction of national armed forces, and a genera] progressive and balanced reduction of national armed forces.
Calls upon all Members of the United Nations to render every possible assistance to the Security Council and the Atomic Energy Commission in order to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and collective security with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources.
Proposed Trusteeship Agreement for the Mandated Territory of Hew Guinea Submitted by the Government o» Australia.
The territory of New Guinea has been administered in accordance with Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations and in pursuance of a mandate conferred upon His Britannic Majesty and exercised on His behalf by the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia.
The Charter of the United Nations, signed at San Francisco on 26th June, 1945, provides by Article 75 of the establishment of an international trusteeship system for the administration and supervision of such territories as may be placed thereunder by subsequent individual agreements.
The Government of Australia now undertakes to place the Territory of New Guinea under the trusteeship system, on the terms set forth in the present Trusteeship Agreement.
Therefore the General Assembly of the United Nations, acting in pursuance of Article 83 of the Charter, approves the following terms of trusteeship for the Territory of New Guinea, in substitution for the terms of the Mandate under which the Territory has been administered.
The Territory to which this Trusteeship Agreement applies (hereinafter called the Territory) consists of that portion of the island of New Guinea and the groups of islands administered therewith under the Mandate dated 17th December, 1U20, conferred upon His Britannic Majesty and exercised by the Government of Australia.
The Government of Australia (hereinafter called the Administering Authority) is hereby designed as the sole authority which will exercise the administration of the Territory.
The Administering Authority undertakes to administer the Territory in accordance with the provisions of the Charter and in such a manner as to achieve in the Territory ‘ basic objectives of the international trusteeship system, which are set forth in Article 70 of the Charter.
The Administering Authority will be re-‘ sponsible for the peace, order, good government and defence of the Territory and for this’ purpose will have the same powers of legislation, administration and jurisdiction in and over the Territory as if it were an integral part of Australia, and will he entitled to apply to the Territory, subject to such modifications as it deems desirable, such laws of the Commonwealth of Australia as it deems appropriate to the needs and conditions of the Territory.
It is agreed that the Administering Authority, in the exercise of its powers under Article 4, will be at liberty to bring the Territory into a customs, fiscal or administrative union or federation with other dependent territories under its jurisdiction or control, and to establish common services between the Territory and any or all of these territories, if in its opinion it would be in the interests of the Territory and not inconsistent with the basic objectives of the trusteeship system to do so.
The Administering Authority further undertakes to apply in the Territory the provisions of. such international agreements and such recommendations of the specialized agencies referred to in Article 57 of the Charter as are, in the opinion of the Administering Authority, suited to the needs and conditions of the Territory and conducive to the achievement of the basic objectives of the trusteeship system.
The Administering Authority may take all measures in the Territory which it considers desirable to provide for the defence of the Territory and for maintenance of international peace and security.
The Administering Authority undertakes that in the discharge of its obligations under Article 3 of this agreement -
It will, in accordance with its established policy -
Statement by Sir Kaghunath Paranjpye, High Commissioner fob India in Aus tralia, 21st February, 1947.
The whole world is electrified by Mr. Attlee’s announcement in Parliament of British determination to quit India by June, 1948. This is perhaps the most important event in living memory.
As Indians, we are extremely gratified at the prospect of the new position which our country is going to attain in about a year’s time. There will naturally be some regret in many quarters that the 200 years’ association of Britain and India is going to be permanently severed. I cannot but feel that if affairs had been somewhat differently managed during the last 30 years Indians might have been content to remain within the British Commonwealth of Nations on the same footing as Dominions like Australia and Canada. But even if in future India and Britain are to be independent political units, Indians of all shades of political opinion share Mr. Attlee’s hope that India and Britain will always continue to be friends. One need not disguise the fact that the feelings of many Indians had become bitter on account of a sense of frustration over a long period. But with all Our grievances against the British, Indians cannot forget that their sense of nationality, their appreciation of democratic freedom and their knowledge of modern science and industry have been mainly the result of India’s contact with Britain.
I have no doubt that the future will see India a strong advocate of world peace and that her weight will always be cast in favour of friendly understanding between nations. India’s new status will automatically raise the stature of her people in every respect and Indians alone will henceforward be responsible for raising their countrymen to higher levels of progress and prosperity. Indian leaders have now the privilege as well as the burden of steering the ship of state to safety, and I am sure they will prove equal to the task.
Statement by Rt. Hon. H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs. 21st February, 1947.
Whatever the future may hold Australia wishes India well. I sincerely hope that there will be no permanent severance of association between the British Commonwealth of Nations and India.
The contribution that Britain has made to the development of India has been of tremendous significance and one need only refer, by way of illustration, to the fields of engineering, communications and relief on gigantic scale against famine and disease.
More than five years ago I publicly said that Australia looked forward eagerly to the extension of India’s status to that of Dominions like Australia and Canada. For possessing such a status there was no action of an international character that could not be taken by India and to seek more was, in a sense, to derogate from the status of the British Dominions themselves.
It is still not sufficiently appreciated that if, after careful deliberation, India chose to remain within the British group of Nations she would preserve her complete selfgovernment and independence both in foreign and internal affairs.
What will be the effect of this great political change upon South East Asia and the Pacific?
Whatever betides it is essential that Australia should maintain and strengthen its present close ties of friendship with the Indian people. During the war they were both threatened by Japan and there was close co-operation between them. Australia was the first dominion to exchange High Commissioners with India. The two peoples can and should co-operate more intimately in the future.
As Sir Raghunath Paranjpye indicates in his moving statement - A great event has taken place. Australia’s position in South-East Asia and the Pacific is geographically very different from that of Britain. It is in this part of the world that our immediate destiny must be determined.
We are still the trustees for British democracy in this vast region. We can and shall curry out that trust by maintaining the indissoluble links which bind us to Britain.
In the struggle for a just democratic and lasting peace, especially with Japan, we shall stand side by side not only with Britain but with India.
Text of the Agreement between the Netherlands Government and the Government of Indonesia, signed by their representatives at Cheribon, Java, 15th November, 1940.
The Netherlands Government represented by the Commission-General and the Government of the Republic of Indonesia represented by the Indonesian delegation, moved by the sincere desire to ensure good relations between the peoples of the Netherlands and Indonesia in new forms of voluntary co-operation, which offer the best guarantee for a sound and strong development oi both countries in the future, and which make it possible to give a new foundation to the relationship between the two peoples: agree as follows and will submit this agreement at the shortest possible notice to the approval of the respective parliaments.
The Netherlands Government recognizes the Government of the Republic of Indonesia as exercising the de facto authority over Java, Madura and Sumatra. The areas occupied by Allied or Netherlands forces shall be included gradually, through mutual co-operation, in Republican territory. To this end the necessary measures shall at once he taken in order that this inclusion shall be completed at the latest on the date mentioned in Article 12.
The ‘Netherlands Government and the Government of the Republic shall co-operate in the rapid formation of a sovereign, democratic state on a federal base, to be called the United States of Indonesia.
The United States of Indonesia shall comprise the entire territory of the Netherlands Indies with the proviso, however, that in case the population of any territory, after due consultation with the other territories, should decide by a democratic process that they are not or not yet willing to join the United States of Indonesia, there can bc established a special relationship for such a territory to the States and to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The component parts of the United States of Indonesia shall be the Republic, Borneo and the Great East, without prejudice to the right of the population of any territory to decide by democratic process that its position in the United States of Indonesia shall be arranged otherwise.
Without derogating from the provisions in Article 3 and in the first paragraph of this Article, the United States of Indonesia may make a special arrangement concerning the territory of their capital.
The constitution of the United States of Indonesia shall be determined by a constituent assembly, composed of democratically nominated representatives of the Republic and of the other future partners of the United States, to which the following paragraph of this Article shall apply: -
Both parties shall consult with each other on the method of participation in this constituent assembly by the Republic, and by the groups of the population not or insufficiently represented, with due observance of the responsibility of the Netherlands Government and of the Government of the Republic respectively.
To promote the joint interests of the Netherlands and Indonesia, the Netherlands Government and the Government of the Republic shall co-operate in the establishment of a NetherlandsIndonesian Union, by which the Kingdom of the Netherlands, comprising the Netherlands, the Netherlands-Indies, Surinam mid Curacao shall be converted into the said Union, consisting on the one hand of the Kingdom of the Netherlands comprising the Netherlands, Surinam and Curacao, and on the other hand the United States of Indonesia.
The foregoing paragraph does not exclude the possibility of a further arrangement of relations between the Netherlands, Surinam and Curacao.
Article 7. («.) The Netherlands-Indonesian Union shall have its own organs to promote the joint interests of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the United States of Indonesia.
These organs shall be formed by the Governments of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the United States of Indonesia, and, if necessary, by the parliaments of those countries.
The King (Queen) of the Netherlands shall he at the head of the Netherlands-Indonesian Union. The decrees and resolutions concerning the joint interests shall be issued by the organs of the Union in the King’s (Queen’s) name.
In order to promote the interests of the United States of Indonesia in the Netherlands and of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Indonesia, High Commissioners shall be appointed by the respective Governments.
The statute of the Netherlands-Indonesian Union shall furthermore contain provisions regarding -
The Netherlands Government and the Government of the Republic shall endeavour to establish the United States of Indonesia and the Netherlands-Indonesian Union before 1st January, 1949.
The Netherlands Government shall forthwith take the necessary steps in orderto obtain admission of the United States of Indonesia as a member of the United Nations organization immediately after the formation of the Netherlands-Indonesian Union.
The Government of the Republic recognizes the claims of all non-Indonesiansto the restoration of their rights and the restitution of their goods, as far as they can (be exercised or are to be found in the territory over which it exercises de facto authority. A joint commission will be set up to effect this restoration and restitution.
In order to reform the Government of the Indies in such a way that its composition and procedure shall conform as closely as possible to the recognition of the Republic and to the projected constitutional structure, the Netherlands Government, pending the realization of the United States of Indonesia and of the Netherlands-Indonesian Union, shall forthwith initiate the necessary legal measures to adjust the constitutional and the international position of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the new situation.
Directly after the conclusion of this agreement both parties shall proceed to reduce their armed forces. They will consult together concerning the extent and rate of this reduction and their co-operation in military matters.
I cached, by the president of the International Court of Justice.
Final Clause. - The agreement shall be drawn up in the Netherlands and Indonesian languages. Both texts shall have equal authority.
Summary of Main Australian Proposals at the Paris Peace Conference.
Australia pointed out that the Security
Council was not empoweredby the United Nations Charter to undertake responsibility for assuring the independence and integrity of the Free Territory, particularly when those responsibilities did not involve questions of maintenance of international peace but of the ordinary good government of the Territory. The Australian view was not supported at Paris nor at the recent meeting of the Security Council when the matter was again discussed. It appears that a dangerous precedent has been established for interference by the Security Council in matters outside its powers under the Charter of the United Nations.
The Four-Power Declaration which records a decision to refer the question of the disposal of these territories to the United Nations General Assembly in the event of disagreement between the members of the Council of Foreign Ministers is placing unauthorized responsibility upon the General Assembly. Objection was expressed by the Australian Delegation on similar lines to that on Trieste. Although the objection was not upheld, a fairly satisfactory ruling was obtained from the Council of foreign Ministers that “ interested nations “ who were to be consulted on the question of the disposal of the colonies would include all those who had taken an active part in the war in Africa.
The Australian Delegation proposed that this question should be decided by the Security Council as part of its general responsibility under the Charter’ for the regulation of armaments, or, alternatively, that all surplus equipment should be destroyed.
These articles are among the most unsatisfactory of all the treaties. They appear to have been drafted upon no set principles and the resulting rulings have been arbitrary. Australia proposed at Paris that a Reparations Commission should be established which would assess reparations on the basis of actual damage suffered by claimant powers and having regard to the effects of reparations on the economic recovery of the ex-enemy state concerned. Australia also strongly opposed the taking of reparations from current production and advocated instead annual payments in an agreed currency of a proportion of the value of the ex-enemy state’s annual exports. These proposals were not accepted in full, although a revised proposal for a modified form of Reparations Commission for the Italian treaty with limited powers and application was submitted towards the end of the conference and accepted by a simple majority. However, even this recommendation was rejected by the Council of Foreign Ministers when drawing up the final texts of the. treaty. (/) Court of Human Rights (all treaties).
The treaty contains an article guaranteeing essential human rights and fundamental freedoms to all citizens. The defect of this article is that a mere declaration is not sufficient to guarantee human rights for individuals. Australia therefore proposed the establishment of a tribunal of Human Rights to implement the provisions of the treaties. This proposal was received with considerable interest by the conference. However, it was not adopted as a recommendation, the matter being treated as on for the United Nations.
The draft treaty made no provision for future review in the light of experience. Australia considered this unwise in that errors might thus be perpetuated and lead to unnecessary dissension. The view which prevailed was that the question of subsequent revision could be worked out within the machinery of the United Nations organization.
Summary of Provisions of Peace Treaties Affecting Australia.
Treaty with Italy.
Australian strategic interests in this question havebeen defined by the Defence Committee as follows: -
Payments arc to be made from -
Unconditional most-fa voured-nation treatment in regard to duties and charges on import and export;
These are on similar lines to the Italian treaty.
Summary of Main Provisions of Peace Treaties with Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Finland.
The following decisions have been made on frontiers : -
Finland. - Frontiers to be those existing on 1st January, 1941, except that the province of Petsamo is ceded to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Finland leases to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics “ the use and administration of territory and waters for the establishment of a naval base in the area of Porkalla-Udd “ (near Helsinki).
Articles in all treaties cover: -
Allied and Associated Power to notify the ex-enemy state coucerned which pre-war treaties it wishes to keep in force or revive. All treaties not so notified to be regarded as abrogated. )
Armed forces to be limited to needs of local defence and the maintenance of law and order.
Production of or experiment with atomic weapons, guided missiles, torpedoes capable of being manned and submarines prohibited.
Allied forces to be withdrawn within 90 days of the coming into force of the respective treaties, ‘with the exception that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is permitted to retain sufficient forces in Roumania and Hungary to maintain lines of communication with the Soviet Zone of occupation in Austria.
Payments to be made as follows: -
Articles in all treaties cover: -
Nations property to the extent of 66 per cent, of its value; and
Most-favoured-nation treatment for a period of eighteen months to any United Nations which in fact reciprocally grants similar treatment in like matters.
The treaties with Rumania, Bulgaria and Hungary provide that navigation on the Danube shall be free and open on terms of entire equality to the nationals, vessels of commerce and goods of all states.
A four-power declaration is to be issued in conjunction with the treaties stating the intention of the four powers to call a conference of Danubian powers within six months of the coining into force of the peace treaties, to “ work out a new convention regarding the regulation of navigation on the Danube”.
Australian Views on Questions of Procedure for Drawing up the German Peace Settlement.
The solution of the German problem is a vital need of post-war Europe and so that it should contain no seeds for future war it must be just and far-sighted. The method of reacting that solution is also important and must be such as to leave no residue of bitterness between the nations which have been partners in the victory. For this reason, the German settlement must be prepared in a spirit of cooperation, by just and democratic methods.
Peace Treaties for the European Satellites.
This condition was not fulfilled in the preparation of the Peace Treaties for Italy and Germany’s satellites. Australia therefore has no confidence in the permanence of these treaties. This must not be the case with Germany and Australia has definite proposals aimed to avoid similar errors.
The principal reason for the unsatisfactory condition of the other treaties was the refusal of the Council of Foreign Ministers to afford other belligerents proper opportunities for participating fully in the Paris Conference. There, no provision was made for the consideration at an early stage of the views of other belligerents besides those represented on the Council, while even at the conference itself, no amendment of the draft treaties was regarded as open to consideration by the members of the Council unless they all agreed to its adoption. The result of this prearrangement was that proposals were not in fact considered on their merits, so that the efforts of Australia and other countries to make positive contributions to a solution of the problems under discussion were gravely hampered from the start.
Australian policy on the procedure for pre paring peace settlements has frequently been stated by the Minister for External Affairs. No procedure is just and democratic unless all substantial belligerents participate fully in negotiations from the outset. By full participation is meant:
When a conference is taking final decisions, these decisions should as far as possible be unanimous. With adequate preparation and prior discussion many unanimous decisions will surely be reached. If there are differences of opinion, Australia’s view is that a simple majority should be sufficient on questions of procedure, although a two-thirds majority may be necessary for decisions on questions of substance. Nevertheless, the ultimate objective must be unanimity.
Part of the otherBelligerentsinMeetingsof Deputies.
The invitation from the Secretary-General of the Council of Foreign Ministers, which was dated 31st December, 1946, reached the Australian Embassy; Washington, on 4th January, 1947, only ten days before the meetings of Deputies were due to begin. Such short notice of so important a meeting is inadequate. Even the terms of the invitation itself were vague and uncertain. The Australian Government wishes to assume that this does not indicate that the Council of Foreign Ministers contemplated that nations which contributed with substantial military forces to the defeat of Germany should have no real part in the determination of the German settlement. If that were the case, it would be resented by all such nations.
Despite the vagueness of the invitation and possible misgivings about it, Australia felt obliged to accept it and to urge that the tasks of the meeting should be clarified to make possible real co-operation from the start between all countries entitled to join in peacemaking for Germany and Austria.
The Australian Government believed that if a democratic procedure had been agreed upon from the start, the meetings of the Deputies could have provided a useful basis for developing a satisfactory settlement, by providing a most useful exchange of views and thus preparing the way for a general conference. To achieve this, the Government considered it necessary -
On this basis, all countries which have made asubstantial contribution to the defeat of
Germany could have taken part in negotiations from the outset and there could have been real co-operation between them. It would then have been possible -
Specific Procedural Proposals -Interim Agreement.
As regards specific proposals on procedure, the Australian view is that their basis must he the facts of the situation. The significant difference between the German problem and that of Italy, for example, is that there is no German Government in existence to accept a peace treaty. In Australia’s view, it must be some years before such a Government can be brought into existence. Over a long period, the Germans have shown themselves unfit for selfgovernment. The process of educating them to this responsibility will be long and in the intervening period the Allies must act as guides and trustees. Nothing would be worse for the peace of the world than to hasten the formation of a central German Government merely in order to have a treaty signed and the state of war ended to suit the convenience ofcertain Allies.
Nevertheless, it is advisable that an indication of the general nature of the eventual peace terms should be given to the Germans. These terms should he incorporated, not in a Treaty of Peace, but in an Interim Agreement, to be prepared and signed by all substantial belligerents. This Agreement would be in effect a revised and enlarged Potsdam Agreement and, moreover, would have what the Potsdam Agreement lacked, the sanction of all substantial belligerents.
Australia therefore proposes that the immediate step to be taken towards a solution of the German problem is the preparation of an Interim Agreement on the lines indicated.
To sum up, Australia proposed that the meetings of the Deputies should be used for the exchange of views and discussion and in particular as a fact-finding machine. Where necessary, sub-committees should be set up to consider facts relating to specific claims. As a result of these meetings, the Council of Foreign Ministers in March should draft an Interim Agreement to be submitted immediately afterwards to a Conference of all substantial belligerents which could make amendments and take final decisions.
Such an Interim Agreement is required urgently because of the importance of Germany to the economy of Europe. Where many nations are involved, a satisfactory agreement can be reached only if the objectives and the steps to be taken to achieve them are clear and definite.
When it eventually becomes possible to allow an independent German Government to be set up, the necessary steps can be taken to negotiate a permanent Treaty of Peace to replace the Interim Agreement.
Australian Views on Questions of Substance in the German Settlement.
The suggestions set out hereunder are the views stated by the Australian representatives in the light of the information at present at their disposal. In that sense, they should be regarded as provisional and subject to revision when the views of other interested parties have been ascertained or fuller information is available. principles OF peace- making.
At the Paris Conference the Australian Delegation outlined the fundamental principles which should govern the approach to any peace settlement -
First, the parties to the Conference should adhere to their undertakings in the Atlantic Charter and the United Nations Charter and try to ensure that the principles set out in these Charters are given the fullest possible application in the Peace Treaties.
Secondly, it should be ensured that recommendations and decisions are based on impartial and thorough examinations of all the relevant facts affecting each of the questions raised.
Thirdly, care should be taken not to impose such unjustifiable burdens and humiliations upon the peoples of exenemy States aswill prevent the growth of genuine democratic forces and foster the resurgence of Fascism.
Fourthly, the main object should be the attainment of a just and durable overall peace structure and not merely the settlement one by one of a series of particular and isolated claims by individual nations against their neighbours.
These principles must be home in mind throughout.
Particular attention should be given to the fourth principle stated in paragraph 1. It is vital that the German problem should be considered in relation to the wholeof Europe. It must he clearly understood that it is not Australia’s desire to extend sympathy to the Germans. The Australian Government believes that they are largely responsible for their present situation, and that it would be betraying the great numberof Australians who fought against Hitler’s forces if this fact were overlooked. The Government is, however, gravely concerned by the poverty and distress of Europe as a whole. It is of the opinion that the settlement of the German problem should be approached in such a way that it should help to solve these overall European problems. political principles.
Potsdam Agreement. - In the absence of any other document, the Potsdam Agreement serves as a basis of discussion. The Potsdam Agreement had two main purposes. The negative purpose was to ensure that Germany would never again threaten her neighbours or the peace of the world. The positive purpose is to give the German people the opportunity of preparing for the eventual reconstruction of their life on a democratic and peaceful basis. With both these purposes Australia agrees, but urges that they should be enlarged to include the part which Germany is expected to play in the reconstruction of Europe as as whole. This can best be done by adopting the Australian proposal for an Interim Agreement, to. replace the Potsdam Agreement, based on the sanction of all substantial belligerents, for the control of Germany for the long period which should precede the conclusion of a final Treaty between Germany and the Allies.
Allied Control Machinery. - Paragraph 1 of the Potsdam Agreement concerns Allied control machinery for Germany. There are two features about the present machinery to which there is grave objection -
Demobilization, and Disarmament. - Paragraph 3 - With the principleof military disarmament Australia agrees. The question of demilitarization by elimination or control of all German industry that could be used for military production should be considered under economic principles.
Abolition of Nazis Laws. - Paragraph 4 - A Human rights clause should be included in the Agreement as in the Peace Treaty with Italy (Article 14) which reads - “ Italy shall take all measures necessary to secure to all persons under Italian jurisdiction, without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion, the enjoyment of human rights and of the fundamental freedoms, includuing freedom of expression, of press and publication, of religious worship, of political opinion and of public meeting.”
A further attempt should be made to secure the effective enforcement of human rights clauses by the establishment of a suitable tribunal.
Denazification. - Paragraph 6 - With regard to the denazification clause, two issues arise: first, the necessity for uniform measures throughout Germany and, secondly, the problem of rehabilitating ex-Nazis. Australia thinks that where charges are pending against ex-Nazis they should be brought to trial and justice as soon as possible. All Germans (including ex-Nazis) should be re-educated for a democratic way of life.
Education and Justice. - Paragraphs 2, 7 and 8 - The need for uniform measures throughout Germany based on thorough examination is emphasized. Australia regards education of the Germany for democracy as one of the most difficult Allied tasks. Yet, unless it is carried out on a uniform basis throughout Germany, the whole purpose of the Allied occupation may be undermined. It is noted that education is not proposed to be included among the matters to be controlled by a central Germany administrative department. Australia considers this to be an error and suggests the creation of a central education department which should, under Allied directives, control education policy. Detailed administration should, however, be left to local authorities.
Decentralization. - Paragraph 9 of the Potsdam Agreement lays down certain principles for the restoration of local self-government, the encouragement of democratic political parties and the introduction of representative and elective principles into the provincial and State administrations. Australia agrees with these principles but again draws attention to the need for their uniform execution. The Potsdam Agreement also states that there will be no central German Government for the time being although certain central administrative departments were to be established immediately. The failure to establish central departments had undoubtedly aggravated many problems. Objections to this course have been based mainly on the fact that Germany’s future frontiers were not delineated in the Potsdam Agreement. This objection should be overcome by the proposed interim agreement and there should then be no obstacle to the immediate establishment of such central departments.
The former Secretary of State of the United States has urged that the time has now come for the establishment of a provisional central German Government on certain conditions. In this regard two questions must be considered: first, the nature of such a central government, and, secondly, the stage at which it is to be set up.
As to the type of government to be set up, it is considered that it could not be stable unless it were in the long run accepted by the German people. On the other hand, it is not considered practicable at the present time for the type of government to be actually decided by the German people themselves. Australia considers that the German Constitution should, in the first place, be outlined by Allied Control Authorities with the advice of responsible democratic Germans to the greatest degree possible. It should be the duty of the representatives of belligerents at these meetings to lay down the principles to be adopted by the control authorities in this task. For the purpose of formulating these principles, the immediate establishment is proposed of a special committee of the present meeting.
As to timing, it is considered that speed in setting up a central government (as distinct from Germany Government Departments, which are immediately necessary) is not desirable in itself. The Germans have not as yet proved themselves fit for democracy. The question of timing should also be considered by the special committee which we have proposed.
It is fallacious for the conquerors to lay down rigid rules about union or federation or confederation for Germany. Decisions on constitutional provisions or a framework for the Constitutionmust themselves be related to democratic developments. If the German peoples desire to return to confederation or a loose union, the solution would be clear. To force such a solution could easily cause a resurgence of Fascism, the obvious and attractive slogan for the new Hitler being “ United Germany “.
FRONTIERS AND TERRITORIAL CLAIMS.
The major political point at issue omitted from the Potsdam Agreement which shouldbe settled in the immediate future is that of German frontiers. In this connexion three questions have to be considered -
As regards (i), Australia adheres to the views expressed at Paris that decisions should as far as possible be based on the principles of the Atlantic Charter and of the Charter of the United Nations. In the case of Germany, there may be cases in the settlement with Germany ‘where the claims of security should be regarded as of primary and paramount significance. However, the effect of any changes on the economy of Europe as a whole must also be taken into account.
As to ( ii ) , it is considered that all claims should be stated as soon as possible and that they should be considered by fact-finding bodies selected from the representatives of belligerents. It will be essential if these bodies are to function successfully that material should be made available, if required, from the Allied Control Authorities in Berlin. Australia would propose that representatives of the Council should be put at the disposal of committees for this purpose. If full reports are made, many of the delays associated with the preparation of peace treaties with Italy, &c.,wouldbeavoided.
As to (iii), the final decision on all claims must rest with a full conference of belligerents.
It appears that the major German frontier questions will be the Polish-German frontier, the future of the Saar and the future of the Ruhr and Rhineland. Australia has undertaken no prior commitments on any of these questions and urges that without exception they should be decided by the methods just outlined.
The settlement should include renunciation by Germany of all claims to colonies and Antarctic territory.
General. - The economic objectives of the Potsdam Agreement are in certain respects contradictory. Germany is to -be economically disarmed, her war industries eliminated and other industries with a war potential severely limited. At the same time production and maintenance of goods and services in Germany are to be sufficient to meet the needs of the occupying forces and displaced persons and to maintain in Germany an average standard of living not greater than the average of European countries.
If economic disarmament were carried out to the letter the complete impoverishment of Germany would follow. As it is, the Level of Industry Plan approved by the Allied Control Council in March, 1948, represents an inadequate compromise between the opposing purposes of the agreement. It is inadequate because the effects of the present Level of Industry Plan would undoubtedly he unemployment, poverty and loss of morale.
The economic purpose of the agreement also overlooked the part which Germany might be expected to play in the rehabilitation of Europe as a whole. Such paragraphs as No. 13 indicate that a change is contemplated in Germany’s traditional role in the economy of Europe. It appears that as a result of this change Germany will be expected to compete with other countries in types of production in which she did not engage before the war and in markets where the demand might not he sufficient to meet the added flow of goods. If this is to be the case, neither will Germany be able to pay her way nor will other European countries benefit.
Australia’s economic policy for Europe was stated by the Minister for External Affairs at the Paris Conference. He there urged the consideration of economic problems, not piecemeal, but in relation to the problems of Europe as a whole, stating that “ nothing can be more disastrous or more likely to lead to a resurgence of war and Fascist aggression throughout Europe than unemployment, poverty and low standards of living “.
Australia therefore proposes that the economic purposes of Potsdam be re-stated in the new agreement in such a way as to make clear -
Level of Industry Plan. - It is agreed on all sides that this needs revision. Australia is not prepared to consider the entire abolition of the plan because it is believed to be a useful method of controlling the German economy so long as this should prove necessary. ‘ Australia supports proposals for gradual upward revision of the plan. At the same time, it is considered that any revision should be qualitative as well as quantitative. Allowance should be made for Germany’s place in the economy of Europe.
Reparations. - Australia considers that the exaction of properly assessed reparations is reasonable and just, but assurance is needed that reparations now exacted will not create a situation of serious economic concern to
Europe. Australia . has already stated her agreement to the reparation principles of Potsdam, namely, that they should be taken from industrial plant in Germany surplus to her democratic peace-time requirements.
Certain internal disadvantages in the present arrangement have been observed. Difficulties of dismantling and transport involve considerable delays and thereby lessen the value of such industrial plants as may be received.
Treatment of Germany as an Economic Unit. Australia advocates the adoption of this fundamental principle. - Germany’s Trade Relations with Allied Countries. - At present these are governed by control authorities in their respective zones. These arrangements will be simplified if Germany is treated as an economic unit. Immediate detailed information should be given of all such arrangements, so that definite proposals may be made. revision.
The agreement should include provision for review, subject to safeguards against abuse.
Aide Memoire to the Deputies of the Council of Foreign Ministers by the Australian Government.
Yesterday, at the meeting of the Deputies for Germany, we requested full and effective participation by Australia, and by other countries, who have made sacrifices of men and material during two world wars arising out of aggression in Europe, during every stage of the treaty-making process. To this end, we submitted a paper covering both Germany and Austria. It was discussed exhaustively by the Deputies for the German Treaty but we do not know whether it was discussed here. Briefly, we requested -
We assume we are to be associated with the formulation of this Treaty at subsequent stages. Yet we are handicapped at the outset by the methods being adopted.
We admit the proceedings and methods are different from the German Treaty because your instructions are to -
Now we ask which comes first, (1) or (2), or are you proceeding concurrently? As we see it, you already have draft Austrian Treaties from the United States of America, United Kingdom and France, and are integrating these proposals. We have never seen them, we have never been consulted - we read of them in the London press.
Further, you have heard at least one State on substance proposals for territorial adjustments. We have no knowledge of them except through the Press. Thus at the outset, if it is the intention to enlist our full participation and association, and we believe it is the intention of the Council of Foreign Ministers, we are at a grave disadvantage.
We can only make generalizations, for we can only give particular views, in the light of the knowledge of competing claims and con flicting interests, after full discussion.
That, so far, is not being afforded us. Even at this stage, we ask for a liberal interpretation of your instructions, to enable full association at every stop. As the United States Deputy said yesterday: “The United States does not want our work of peace-making to be built on the theory that some countries only have a right to formulate them. We want effective belligerents to share the responsibility, and co-operate and discuss with us now in London, and at all stages”. We agree entirely.
These are fundamental issues with us, for we do not wish to see repeated in this Treaty the methods employed in the Italian and Satellite Treaties, when at the final Conference no substantive amendments or proposals, however constructive or useful, were acceptable.
Consequently wo desire full consultation and association, right up to the Peace Conference itself, when final decisions will be made and all effective belligerents sign, thus giving the Treaty wide sanction and due responsibility for its implementation. To this end an Austrian Government is already in existence, and we are not faced with the difficulty which occurs in the case of Germany. Consequently, there should be a Peace Conference as soon us possible to consider and sign a final Treaty.
I do not traverse this aspect any further, as your Chairman is fully conversant with the views of the Australian representative, and he will also inform you that they have the endorsement and support of the United Kingdom, France and the United States, whose Deputies all desired closest co-operation and association now. So we ask you gentlemen to give full consideration to these views, which are widely held by all other invited States - or at least, all who have expressed any views at all on this aspect.
Principles of Peace-making. - The Australian Government at the Conference of Paris and on other occasions has outlined the fundamental principles which it believes should govern the approach to any peace settlement.
We consider, firstly, that we should adhere to our solemn undertakings in the Atlantic Charter and the United Nations Charter and. try to ensure that the principles set out in these Charters are given the fullest possible application in the peace treaties.
Secondly, we should ensure that our recommendations and decisions are based on an impartial and thorough examination of all relevant facts affecting each of the questions raised.
Thirdly, we should be careful not to impose such unjustifiable burdens and humiliations upon the people of ex-enemy states as will prevent the growth of genuine democratic forces or foster the resurgence of Fascism.
Finally, our main object should be the attainment of a just and durable overall peace structure and not merely the settlement one by one of a series of particular and isolated claims by individual nations against their neighbours. These principles should be borne in mind during the whole of our deliberations.
With regard to the second principle, the immediate formation of committees of representatives to consider particular proposals is advocated so that the benefit of full discussion and examination of the facts may be secured.
Type of Treaty. - We do not believe that Austria can be freed from responsibility for taking part in the war on the side of Germany. To do so would be to betray the many Australian and Allied soldiers who gave their lives in the war. There are, however, certain circumstances which mitigate that responsibility, in particular the invasion of Austria by Germany in 1938. We believe that, in view of this, it may be said that Austria does not bear a primary responsibility for the war and should, therefore, be entitled to more lenient treatment than Germany. We also support the proposal, which we understand has been made by the Deputies, that the Austrian Government should send representatives to the present and subsequent meetings to state the Austrian point of view.
Australia is still technically at war in respect of Austria. One purpose of the forthcoming settlement will therefore, from the Australian point of view, be not merely the establishment of the independence of Austria but the termination of this state of war.
Independence. - Provisions should be made in the Treaty for the recognition of Austria as an independent nation. We do not consider that any specific guarantee of her independence need be incorporated in the treaty as any particular threat to this independence would come within the jurisdiction of the Security Council.
Boundaries. - The Australian view is that the boundaries as they were in 1937 should he the boundaries of Austria.
If claims for rectification are submitted then they should be properly examined by a Committee to ensure there is a just and impartial solution. Three questions pertaining to this problem call for special attention -
With regard to (a) Australia adheres to the views which her representatives expressed at Paris, that decisions should as far as possible be based on the principles of the Atlantic Charter and on the Charter of the United Nations.
With regard to (6), it is considered desirable that all territorial claims should he considered by fact-finding committees selected from representatives of the belligerents. It will bc essential, if such committees are to function successfully, that material should be uva.iiai.ilc, if required, from the Allied Control authorities in Austria. Australia suggests that representatives of the Council should bc at the disposal of the committees for this purpose. If full and progressive reports were made by the committees many of the delays associated with the preparation of the Peace Treaties with Italy and Germany’s satellites would be avoided.
With regard to (o), final decisions on all claims should rest with the full conference of the belligerents. Australia has undertaken no prior commitments on any of these questions and urges that they should, without exception, be decided by the methods we have outlined.
At Paris, Australia supported the inclusion in the Italian Treaty of an article recognizing the Italo-Austrian Agreement concluded in September, 1940, relating to the South Tyrol, and submits that a similar clause should be incorporated in this Treaty.
Other Political Issues - Human Rights. - We assume that the treaty will contain provisions similar to those in the treaties with the satellites so that Austria shall take all measures necessary to secure to all persons under Austrian jurisdiction without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion, .the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, of press and publication, of religious worship, of political opinion and of public meeting.
In the opinion of the Australian Government such an article, though admirable in intention, is by itself inadequate. There should be express provisions made in the treaty for machinery by which the implementation of this article can be effectively applied.
International Agreements and Pre-War Treaties. - Australia would support the inclusion of provisions for the acceptance by Austria of arrangements made for the liquidation of the League of Nations, the Permanent Court of International Justice, and the International Institute of Agriculture at Rome. There should also be provision for the keeping in force or abrogation of previous bilateral treaties between Austria and Allied or Associated Powers.
Military Glauses. - The Australian view with regard to limitation of the military and air forces of ‘ Austria is that the principles followed in the case of the Italian treaty should be followed here, that is, that the organization and armament of such forces should be designed to meet only tasks of internal character and the local defence of Austrian frontiers. Any scheme of limitation should bc part of a world disarmament plan under the United Nations. This conception leads to the further requirement that any surplus Austrian war material should be destroyed as part of the general disarmament plan, rather than held at the disposal of certain Allies.
Withdrawal of Occcupation Troops. - The presence of occupation forces, which presumably will not be withdrawn from Austria until after the Peace Treaty is signed, represents a serious burden for the Austrian economy, as well as a limitation of its sovereignty. The Australian Government therefore believes that the treaty should be completed speedily and that the complete withdrawal of allied forces should take place as soon after that as possible.
Economic and Financial Issues. - In general, the Australian Government considers that the economic provisions of the treaty should have regard to Austria as part of the economy of Europe as a whole. It is not thought, where questions of compensation for damage to allied property or the renunciation of claims against allied or associated powers arising out of the war arc concerned, that Austria should receive more favorable treatment than Italy. Similarly, there should be adequate provision, as in the case of Italy, for restitution of identifiable property wrongfully removed from allied territory. On the other hand, arrangements should be agreed upon for the restoration to Austria of property belonging to her in Germany or territory of the United Nations. Provisions for general commercial and economic arrangements, and for freedom of navigation of the. Danube, such as were contained in thi Treaties with the Balkan States, should a’.so lie included in the Austrian Treaty. At the same time, we should aim at a simplified treaty and not overburden it with all the problems of Central Europe. Many questions, claims and counter-claims can best be solved bilaterally and provisions could be made in the treaty for this.
Treaty Revision. - The precedent of the United Nations Charter in establishing simplified machinery for revising the Charter should be followed in all future multilateral treaties, particularly treaties of peace. The history of previous peace settlements shows how necessary it is to have such a safety valve, which should be so designed as to ease dangerous tensions and obviate unjust developments rather than to encourage revisionist movements.
Other Matters. - Two important questions still outstanding have to be considered with the object of finding a solution which can be considered for incorporation in the Treaty. These are -
As to ( 1 ) , the figures which have been mentioned vary from 150,000 to 450.000. In any case these refugees and displaced persons are throwing economic and political burdens on Austria, and the principle that assistance should bo afforded Austria in the solution of the problem should be accepted, irrespective of any Treaty provision.
As to (2), it would appear that little or no progress has been made. The question at issue would seem to be whether the burden of proof should be on Austria that the property was taken or sold to Germany under duress” since 1938, and as such null and void, or whether there should be acceptance of a general assumption that all transfers other than legal ones should be regarded as illegal.
In this respect the Australian Government has in mind the Declaration of London, 5th January, 1943, whereby any transfer of looted property by Germany is declared invalid and this declaration does not conflict with the case of genuine German property obtained legally which is subject to reparations on behalf of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
In order to facilitate consideration of both these questions Australia proposes the immediate establishment of committees to consider and report all relevant facts. The Control Council for Austria should make available all necessary information to these committees.
I lay on the table the following papers : -
United Nations - Trusteeship Agreement for the Mandated Territory of New Guinea approved by Assembly.
Agreement Establishing the South Pacific Commission.
Netherlands-Indonesian Agreement, l5th November, 1946.
Australian Overseas Trade with Certain Countries in South-East Asia 1938-1946.
Settlements with Italy and Germany’s satellites -
Settlement with Germany -
Settlement with Austria: Aide Memoire to the Deputies of the Council of Foreign Ministers by the Australian Government.
Settlement with Japan: Text of Far Eastern Commission Basic Policy Document.
First Report of the Atomic Energy Commission. and move -
That the papers be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
– Some time ago, in answer to my representations the Prime Minister agreed to consider the making of direct Commonwealth grants to local governing authorities for the construction of roads, airfields, and boat harbours, when the new federal aid roads grants proposals were under review. In the absence of the Prime Minister can the Attorney-General give any information regarding the provisions of the new agreement with the States, and can he say what proportion of the revenue derived from the petrol tax will be granted to local governing authorities quite apart from the grants to State governments from petrol taxation ?
– The legal aspect of the matter is now receiving consideration. The suggestions implicit in the honorable member’s question will be placed before the Prime Minister.
– I have received from the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) an intimation thathe desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely -
Australia’s representation at the world conference on trade and employment.
.- I move-
That the House do now adjourn.
– Is the motion supported ?
Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
– Seventeen years ago, this country was plunged into an economic depression because a group of international financiers smashed world trade by applying a policy of deflation. In Australia, that policy has become known as “ Niemeyerism “. To-day, we are on the brink of another depression - another collapse, and it is being caused in the same way as was the previous depression. It is being caused by the very same money cartel, and on this occasion it is using two instruments in order to seize world financial control : The first is the Bretton Woods Agreement, and the other the proposed International Trade Agreement. For Australia, there are only two alternatives - either to keep free of these international- entanglements or to become economically enslaved. Already these internationalists have greedy eyes on Australia. They are just as determined now as they were in 1930 that Australia must not expand its secondary industries. They demand that we confine our industries to the supply of raw materials. We are thus to be hewers of wood and drawers of water. Already the secondary industries of our country that served Australia so well during the war are threatened with extinction. The first step is to be the withdrawal of the protective element in Australia’s tariff. These demands have already been served, because more than 100 Australian industries have been notified by the Government that they are marked down for slaughter. They have been asked to show cause why their tariff protection should not be withdrawn. We are told that other countries have asked for these tariff reductions, but we are not told what countries are making these demands. We have been left in the dark also as to the precise nature of these demands. Thus the onus of survival has been placed on Australian industry. Before the war the world was divided into two groups - the “ haves “ and the “ have nets “ - the creditor nations and the debtor nations. Australia was classed as a debtor nation. But during the war the balance of trade favoured this country in common with many other countries that were formerly debtor nations, and they built up large surpluses. The buildingup of those large surpluses meant that the money cartel had lost its grip on Australia and those countries. We were obtaining a greater share of the world’s markets whilst, at the same time, we were depending less upon imports because our secondary industries were growing. It was in order to arrest this trend that the international cartel laid its plans. The first step was taken at Bretton Woods and the proposal to return to the gold standard. The second step , is the International Trade Organization. Australia is to be the objective of .a two-pronged thrust. Our primary industries are threatened with loss of markets through the abandonment of Empire preference ; our secondary industries are to be destroyed by opening the door to an influx of imports and by the progressive destruction of our protective tariff. The duty of the Government is to protect the Australian economy. If it fails to do so there will be a repetition of the 1929-33 depression, only on a larger scale. In these circumstances one thought that Australia would have kept away from these international gatherings altogether. That would have meant that we had learned the lesson of the last intervention of the internationalists in our affairs in Australia. But if the Government decided that it was not strong enough to keep away from these conferences, then it should at least have sent to them its strongest Minister to state Australia’s case and fight for it. But what do Ave find ? A book-worm economist, Dr. Coombs, was sent to represent Australia at the first preliminary conference last October, and’ at the Imperial Conference held in the meantime. Dr. Coombs is a product of the GuggenheimerNiemeyer school of economics at the University of London. He is a disciple of the doctrine promulgated by Niemeyer and Guggenheimer in 1930. He came back from those conferences with two bills in his satchel. The first was a list of more than 100 items on the Australian tariff that were marked down for elimination. The second was the decision that Empire preference was doomed. At Ottawa we had the view expressed by Lord Vestey that £400,000,000 worth of British investments in Argentina must not be sacrificed for a bit of Empire sentiment. Wow we are told that Lord Vestey and those associated with him have prevailed, and that as the result of the American loan Empire preference must go. That means that when pressure is applied trade will be swung away from Australia to South
America. The money cartel will make the decision, but the British firms will have to carry out its instructions. For example, what will happen to the Australian dried fruits industry? Two per cent, of the American crop would be sufficient to supply the requirements of Great Britain and the rest of the Empire. Dr. Coombs has accepted as binding the decision of the money cartel. His public and private statements reveal him as a defeatist; he is prepared to appease at any price. So, when the time came for the appointment of an Australian delegation to attend the conference - a conference which will not only draft the charter but also decide the preferences which are to go by the board - surely it was up to this Government to realize the danger of sending Dr. Coombs abroad again. But no ; he is to head the Government’s delegation at this most vital gathering; he is to be spokesman for Australia. It will be the voice, I have no doubt, of Dr. Coombs; but it will be the hand of the Niemeyer money gang that will settle the fate of Australian industries. What does Dr. Coombs know about Australian industries? Has he ever been outside the lecture, room of a university hall or a government office? If the Government had been prepared to defend our industries it would have sent its strongest Minister to take part in the conference. It will be no use to send him after the conference has concluded; all the damage will have already then been done. It has apparently been decided that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Courtice) knows nothing at all about the Australian tariff. The fact is that the people who do know something about it would not be prepared to abandon the protection given to our Australian industries. Is it that the Comptroller-General of Customs, Mr. Kennedy, has refused to be a party to this tariff massacre ? At all events, he is not going to Geneva, and the Government knows why he is not going. The one expert body with a detailed knowledge of the tariff, and of the amount of protection that is essential to our Australian industries, is the Tariff Board. It conducts inquiries; it makes recommendations; and our present tariff is the result of its findings. If the Go- vernment seeks to destroy the tariff, then obviously it proposes to undo the work of the Tariff Board. If the members of the Tariff Board accompanied this delegation they might fight - I expect they would - for the protection which has enabled our industries to be established and maintained. So, they are to be left behind in Australia. Nothing must be done to embarrass Dr. Coombs. Of the 38 advisers whose names have been announced as included in the delegation to Geneva with Dr. Coombs - I do not know whether there will be more - there is no room for even one member of the Tariff Board.
– The Chairman is going.
– That is not so. The only one conclusion which can be draw from, this is that the Government has already sold out. As the result of secret talks in London agreements have been made for the abandonment of Australian preferences, just as there have been agreements that Empire preferences, too, must go. Prior to the resumption of these sittings of the Parliament Dr. Coombs addressed both the Labour caucus and the Opposition parties at a secret conference. Such a conference is not the place where all- important subjects should be ventilated. It is the people of Australia whose future is at stake, and the floor of the Parliament is the place for these questions to be discussed. If we are to accept Dr Coombs’s procedure without protest then we reduce Parliament to a cabal under the dictatorship of a new bureaucracy. Dr. Coombs should be brought to the bar of this House and be examined on the policy he is pursuing and proposes to pursue so that we may ascertain something of the nature of the secret commitments that have been made. There has been too much hole and corner business about this International Trade Organization. We are being treated to a lot of “ mumbo-jumbo “ about it. Reduced to simple terms, however, both the International Trade Organization and the International Bank are part of a clever plan to seize control of the world’s trade in the interests of the Wall-street bankers and their kindred spirits in London. Under the Bretton Woods Agreement Australia could be restricted to an adverse trade balance of £15,600,000 a year. By forcing us to reduce our tariffs and at the same time depriving us of markets by the withdrawal of preferences, the money cartel would place us at the mercy of the International Monetary Fund, and we would soon be on our bended knees. By using both instruments the money cartel could bankrupt Australia in one year, and in the process we would again find ourselves in the grip of unemployment and again we would hear a cry in the land for the reduction of wages and pensions.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Holt) put -
That the honorable member for Reid be granted an extension of time.
The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - Hon. j. S.Rosevear.)
Majority . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 6.1 to 8 p.m.
– The subject-matter of the adjournment motion submitted by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) is Australia’s representation at the World Conference on Trade and Employment. When I first heard the terms of the honorable member’s motion, I did not know whether to be annoyed or pleased. I might have been annoyed, because it is my intention to table to-morrow the report of the proceedings at the Preparatory Conference on Trade and Employment held in London in November last year. That, of course, gives the lie direct to the first of the charges of the honorable member that the proceedings at the London meeting were entirely secret. Indeed, this report would have been tabled now but for the fact that the Opposition indulged in time-wasting tactics last week, and I noticed that the honorable member for Reid voted against the Government’s effort to curtail that timewasting debate. It was obvious from the tone of the remarks of the honorable member thathe is completely antagonistic to any efforts to secure international economic collaboration and co-operation.
I believe that the matter of cooperation in economic affairs is of the utmost importance not only to the people of this country, but also to mankind generally. I am one of those who believe that all modern wars have had their origin in economic circumstances, and I consider that, unless we can do something - by “ we “ I mean the governments and the peoples of the world - to cure the economic ills that beset the world in the inter-war period, there can be no hope of any prolonged period of peace. Recognition of this fact is to be found in at least two modern documents - the lendlease agreements between a number of countries, including Australia, and the United States of America, and that wellknown document, the Atlantic Charter. The history of the trade negotiations begins with the former of those two documents. Honorable members will recollect that when in 1941 the British Commonwealth of Nations stood alone against the forces of fascism, the United States of America, not prepared to declare war at that time, nevertheless gave valuable assistance to the cause of democracy in the form of lend-lease arrangements with other countries, and, if honorable members will recollect, lendlease assistance was given to the United Kingdom under an agreement entered into in February, 1942. In the month of September the late Prime Minister Mr. Curtin, announced that a lendlease arrangement had been entered into between this country and the United States of America. Under the agreement then entered into, this country undertook certain obligations in return for the assistance rendered to us by the United States of America, and but for that assistance this country might have been conquered by the Japanese. I quote the relevant portion of the statement made by the late Prime Minister on that occasion in February 1942-
The note addressed by the Australian Ministor to the Secretary of State declares, on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, that Australia accepts the principles contained in the Mutual Aid Agreement concluded between the United States of America and the United Kingdom Governments on the 23rd February, 1942, as governing also the provision of mutual aid between the United States of America and the Commonwealth.
The relevant portion of the agreement referred to in that statement is Article VII. of the mutual aid agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States of America, which reads -
In the final determination of the benefits to be provided to the United States of America by the Government of the United Kingdom in return for aid furnished under the Act of Congress of the 11th March, 1941, the terms and conditions thereof shall be such as not to burden commerce between the two countries, but to promote mutually advantageous eco- nomic relations between them and the betterment of world-wide economic relations. To that end they shall include provision for agreed action by the United States of America and the Uni.ted Kingdom, open to participation by all other countries of like mind, directed to the expansion, by appropriate international and domestic measures, of production, employment, and the exchange and consumption of goods, which are the material foundations of the liberty and welfare of all peoples; to the elimination of all forms of discriminatory treatment in international commerce, and to the reduction of tariffs and other trade barriers; and, in general, .to the attainment of all the economic objectives set forth in the joint declaration made on the 12th August, 1941, bv the President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
That joint declaration referred to, of course, is the Atlantic Charter. Out of that agreement, there arose an obligation on the part of this country, and, indeed, on the part of every country that received assistance from the United States of America in the form of lend-lease, to take part in negotiations as soon as victory had been won to achieve the objectives set out in that statement and the Atlantic Charter. Of course the honorable member for Reid probably wants to repudiate the obligations that we then accepted. I have already said that this country might have been conquered by the Japanese had we not received that assistance. I believe that we should do our very utmost to live up to the obligations that we undertook when we received that assistance and not attempt to repudiate them ; but, of course, the honorable member for Reid. as every honorable member of this House knows, is an expert in planning repudiation. I began by saying that the tone of the honorable member’s remarks was antagonistic to any effort to secure world collaboration and co-operation in international economic affairs. Under cover of that antagonism- the honorable member has seen fit to attack a much respected public servant in the person of Dr. Coombs.
– An educated clown, and you know it !
– Order !
- Dr. Coombs is one of the most efficient and courteous officers in the Commonwealth Public Service. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) made his services available so that he could address members of the Labour party and later members of the Opposition parties in order to give them the .background of the situation in which these further conferences are being held in London and Geneva. Dr. Coombs has a very fine record in the Public Service. He has, first of all, an excellent record in the Department of the Treasury and, secondly, an equally good record as Director of Rationing. He planned the introduction of rationing in Australia and carried out its administration in a most efficient manner. Thirdly, he bas a very fine record as a member of the Commonwealth Bank Board, and latterly, of course, as Director-General of Post-war Reconstruction. I do not desire to occupy the time of the House in describing his record as Director-General of Past-war Reconstruction, but I point to two matters which have been carried i ll rough under his direction and administration and which have met with the complete approval of the people of Australia. I refer to the plan of demobilization, which was completed without a single hitch, and, at times, in the face of very violent opposition from honorable members opposite. The second achievement to which I refer, is his record in planning and carrying out the reestablishment and reconstruction training scheme in Australia - by far the biggest and most ambitious scheme of an educational character that has ever been undertaken in the Commonwealth. For the honorable member for Reid to castigate this public servant, who has given invaluable service to the Commonwealth in the most critical period of its history, is, to my mind, sufficient to brand him ac a most irrational and unreasonable individual.
I propose to compare the record of the honorable member for Reid with the record of the public servant whom he disparaged. Throughout the war when we were fighting with our backs to the wall and when the Labour Government was organizing the resources of this country in an effort recognized as magnificent by such an authority as General Douglas MacArthur, the honorable member for Reid was engaged to his very utmost in sabotaging that effort, criticizing every move made by the Government, obstructing the Government at every turn and doing his utmost to undermine the morale of the workers and the people generally. One might ask: “Why did the honorable member for Reid adopt this attitude in the most critical period of our history? One must immediately come to the conclusion that ho did so because he was in sympathy with the people who were attacking us. In fact, the honorable member for Reid has a fascist mind. He was the greatest bureaucrat ever to set himself up in this country. His activities ruined for the time being the Labour party in New South Wales, and he ruined, by his intrigues, the Labour Government led by that champion of democracy, the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). Yet the honorable member for Reid, who has such a record of noncooperation in the war effort of this country, has the temerity to disparage a. public servant of such high standing as Dr. Coombs!
Since I have not much time at my disposal, may I be permitted to state categorically and in denial of the misstatements of the honorable member for Reid, first, that Australian industry has not been asked to show cause why protection should be withdrawn from it; secondly, that the Tariff Board was not ignored, because the chairman of that body will accompany the delegation; and thirdly, that the delegation will make no decisions in these matters. The charter that will be discussed at Geneva will be brought back to this Parliament, which will ultimately make the decision.
– Do not make us laugh. We have seen other agreements into which the Government has entered.
– The honorable member for Indi ,(Mr. McEwen) has been found guilty at times of misleading this House, and that cannot be said of me. Fourthly, no decision has been made to abandon Imperial preferences. The state- ment published in the press to the effect that Dr. Coombs had said that Imperial preferences were doomed, had no foundation in fact. Any reductions of tariffs or any modifications of preference will be . made by this Parliament. Incidentally, the honorable member for
Reid said that we should not abandon Imperial preferences. If my memory serves me right, and it generally does so on occasions such as this, the honorable member for Reid violently opposed Imperial preferences when they, were introduced into this country. But, of course, for the honorable member, any stick, however crooked, is good enough to beat a Labour Government with.
The honorable member said that thidelegation should have been led by an officer of the Department of Trade and Customs. The reason why the delegation is being led by Dr. Coombs is this : Following upon the investigation by the United Kingdom and the United States of America into preliminary proposals, Cabinet, in February, 1946, discussed these proposals and decided that they placed far too much emphasis on such matters as reductions of tariffs and modifications of preferences and far too little emphasis upon positive things which would assist to restore world commerce. Those positive things included the implementation of full employment in other countries; the necessity for other countries to invest their surplus overseas income either in new capital ventures in other countries or in the importation of consumer goods ; and the necessity also for doing their utmost to ensure that underdeveloped countries should be given assistance to develop their latent resources. That was the reason why Cabinet, as far back as February, 1946, decided that Dr. Coombs was the best officer to lead this delegation. However, I point out that the delegation includes the Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs and a number of senior officers of the Department of Trade and Customs, and the Secretary of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, Mr. McCarthy, and a number of his senior officers. Consequently, it is quite untrue to say that the Tariff Board or the Department of Trade and Customs has been ignored. In addition to those members of the delegation, there are eight advisors and consultants representing industry. Three will represent primary industries, three will represent secondary industries, one will represent the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, and one will represent the Australian Workers Union, because the workers’ interest in the pastoral industry must be preserved. The delegation is a very representative and a capable one. I am sure that it will do credit to Australia and to the Labour Government which has sent it. When the Parliament reviews the work of this delegation, as it most assuredly will, I am confident that honorable members will have little cause for complaint.
.- The speech of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) has served at least one useful purpose, because it has secured from the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) an undertaking to lay upon the table of the House the papers relating to this most important conference.
– The papers were laid upon the table last week.
– It is remarkable how often in this House, when an honorable member raises a certain issue, a Minister says : “ I intend to lay the papers upon the table of the House to-day, and honorable members will have an opportunity to discuss them to-morrow or next week “. But it is remarkable how infrequently we are given opportunities to discuss important issues unless pressure is applied to the Government. I do not agree with a great deal of what was said by the honorable .member for Reid in relation to the sinister international financial implications behind these proposals. Nevertheless he served the Parliament a good turn by raising for discussion one of the most important issues that we shall be called upon to deal with this year. If this be a proper subject for debate now, as the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has admitted, surely it would have been- infinitely preferable for the Parliament to have discussed it fully before the Government had decided upon the personnel of the Australian delegation to the conference. Of what use is it now for us to know that the Government has selected a team which is hopelessly overloaded with bureaucrats, which does not give proper representation to the great primary and secondary industries which form the backbone of Australia, and on which public servants, however estimable and capable they may be in their respective spheres, will outnumber by two or three to one the practical men with experience of Australian industries who will be associated with the delegation? In these circumstances, this debate can be only academic in nature.
It was inevitable that the Parliament would be called upon to discuss the leadership of the delegation. I have no doubt that Dr. Coombs is a man of considerable academic qualifications, and he may be a capable administrator within his department. However, he and the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, who will later lead the delegation officially, have both given ample proof that they are intoxicated by theoretical dogma. They are doctrinaire theorists who have dragged Australia into a state of chaos that we would not have believed to be possible in the post-war area. The control system to which they are both espoused and which is supposed to govern Australia during the transition period was designed to avert chaos. But what has it done? It has created chaos throughout the nation. “Will anybody claim that eighteen months after the end of the war the same state of chaos would have existed bad the natural resilience of the Australian people been given full play and had our enterprise and initiative been kept clear of the trammels which these gentlemen have imposed? These men are to speak for Australia at the convention in relation to our great primary and secondary industries. The concern which I, in common with many other people who have given serious thought to our international trade problems, felt when the delegation was announced was not allayed one whit by the statement made by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction to-night. He used as his illustration of the efficacy of this arrangement, the lend-lease arrangement which operated during the war. Is the honorable gentleman so blind to the practical manner of the working of the lend-lease scheme as to be unable to see how different it was from what the Government now proposes in connexion with this delegation? We are told that the delegation is to seek at the conference to conclude multilateral trade arrangements. Theoretically, that is most desirable. However, we are concerned not with what is theoretically desirable but with what is practically attainable. Enlightened self-interest will guide the policy of every country represented at the conference. I remind the Minister that the whole success of the lend-lease arrangement was founded on two factors. The first of these was that it was a bilateral arrangement between the United States of America on the one hand and the country that was to engage in reciprocal lend-lease aid with it on the other hand. Australia had an arrangement with Canada. Great Britain had an arrangement with the United States of America, and there were many other similar arrangements, but the United States of America did not, at the same time, try to conduct a multilateral scheme. Each scheme had relation only to the needs and peculiarities of the country with which the United States of America was dealing.
Before the war, we, in Australia found that we could attain a great deal of practical success by working out bilateral trade arrangements with other countries. Now, however, this country is to be represented by a delegation which will seek to establish some theoretical formula for multilateral agreements. Consider the second factor of ‘the lend-lease scheme. A part of its success was undoubtedly due to the fact that, during the period in which it operated, the governments of the countries concerned exercised very close control over the international trade of those countries. Economic restrictions were imposed to a very marked degree. The Minister has not suggested that such conditions will operate in a world at peace. Of course not ! The stated objective of leaders of governments throughout the world to-day is to remove the trammels from international trade, to give private enterprise an opportunity to find its markets, and to lower tariff barriers in order that this may be done. The Minister has selected an unreal and unsound basis for comparison in referring to the lend-lease arrangement. Consider the situation in Australia from a practical point of view. There has been a remarkable development of our secondary industries in this country since the years of the depression. In the depth of the depression, Australia had a factory employment total of 337,000 persons. That total had been painfully built up, by the time of the outbreak of war, to 565,000 persons. Every member of this Parliament knows how, under the pressure of war-time necessity to expand our munitions programme at a time when we were cut off from many of our normal sources of supply, we had to build up industries which had never existed in Australia before. We have been told to-night that a representative of the Tariff Board will attend the convention. But the Tariff Board has been able to examine only a small fraction of the new industries that, were established during the war.
Does any member of the Government suggest that it is politically practicable to eliminate those industries from our economy because of some multilateral trade formula that may be laid down overseas? Ministers know that overwhelming pressure from secondary and primary interests, to retain those industries which could show that they had a good claim for continuance, would be applied to any government. This state of affairs is not peculiar to Australia. Already the United States of America, where the doctrine of the lowering of trade barriers was preached constantly during the New Deal regime, is experiencing practical difficulties in the way of realizing that policy. Therefore, the Government of that country has introduced what is termed an “ escape clause “ into the charter which it will submit to the convention. That Government, in order to placate American interests that might be adversely affected by any radical alteration of tariffs, has made a provision which will enable it to retreat from any harmful arrangement that might be concluded. I do not condemn out of hand the holding of such a convention. It is good that countries should come together and examine the degree to which they cun facilitate world trade, but we should not lose sight of reality in any vision that this project will resolve itself into practical bargaining between one country and another as to what will benefit each country most. I shudder to think that this Government is sending away a delegation with the theoretical doctrinaire background of Dr. Coombs and the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. We have men of capacity and practical experience both in the ranks of the Government and outside of it who are better fitted for such a task. If the honorable member for Reid has done nothing more than to expose the nature of the delegation and show the need for strengthening it with men of practical experience, he has done the Parliament a good service.
– I rise- in order that the line of demarcation between Labour and isolationism may be geographically defined. I am sitting next to the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) who has made an isolationist speech. Some of us have been accustomed to reading the Century in the annex provided for such literature, ‘but I object strongly to having it read to me in this House. That is a waste of time that we could well do without. The whole of the time taken up by the speech of the honorable member - a speech made in collaboration with “the Opposition - was so much chasing of the glamour that used to surround the honorable member for Reid. As he sits here in this chamber, with the ghosts of his own ambition around him, I feel that his confreres are fit to be his archangels. The man who pronounces the word “ aborigine “ as if it were spelt “ aborajine “ and pronounced phonetically is worthy of dedication in some other place. I notice that although the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) did not support the motion, he tried to improve the shining hour; but his speech showed that he did not know much about international agreements. The whole thing has been “phoney”. Isolationism, which is now the dominant policy of the honorable member for Reid, is one of the most dangerous doctrines preached in this country. The time has passed when we became agitated if an old-age pensioner heard the story of recurring depressions. If only by its measures relating to the Commonwealth Bank, the Labour party has given adequate protection in case we are assailed by an economic blizzard. All these . fairy-tales and myths of the past are trotted out as if they were something new - something as bright arid as accurate as this morning’s news. There is an analogy there. I feel some resentment that public servants of high rank should be assailed in this House by the Opposition on every possible occasion. With great avidity some honorable members give themselves to destroying these people. There could have been nothing fairer than that public servant’s statement in the Labour party room. I imagine that he told the same story with some modifications, to members of the Opposition - with modifications because of the necessity to talk down to their intelligence. Is there anything to be afraid of in the fact that this young country should collaborate with its allies in healing the wounds of war and building a plan for the future - a future which, must include trade arrangements and agreements? There is tremendous danger in isolationism, no matter what form it takes. The honorable member for Reid is so old fashioned as to be the high priest of outmoded and archaic isolationism. He would lead one to believe that Australians are frightened, timid people, and that if half a dozen refugees come to these shores there is justification for getting in a panic. He reminds me of a primitive native who runs back into the hinterland if he sees a vessel approaching from the sea. Why should 7,000,000 Australians who have a continent as their heritage be afraid at the arrival of five boatloads of stricken people from other countries? Why should we .think that their arrival will lower standards, and change white into black? These fears reside only in the frightened minds of isolationists.
In international trade discussions, competent public servants can perform a useful part. The motion is totally unworthy. It belongs to the. days when people were frightened by bogeys and did not think about things for themselves. Does the honorable member imagine that we in Australia can live in isolation from the rest of the world? There must be discussion between the peoples of different countries. We must not again slip back into isolationist days and say, “ Things will be all right, because we in Australia are a long way from the rest of the world. What was good enough 50 years ago is good enough today “. This is the atomic age, with which come mental explosions, and we must consider what we must do if we would preserve posterity. It may be that the greatest danger is in isolation of mind. I am thinking at the moment of some honorable members opposite, including the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain), but notably the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton), who came into this House as a provocative maiden. He will suffer the fate of a provocative maiden if he continues to make speeches such as he is in the habit of making. This is not a motion that calls for any great expansion of logic or any further exposition than merely to say that it has no substance. It is merely a bit of “limelighting” so that the resident editor in this House of the Century may read articles prepared by a competent journalist. He and his plan are well known. It is rather tragic that he does sit in actual physical isolation as well as being isolationist in his mind. The amusing thing is the peculiar position in which his actions place the Opposition, a number of whose members rose to their feet to support his motion. They imagined that the honorable member for Reid was their stooge, and he imagines that they are his stooges. When this unhappy partnership comes to an end, I hope to be in the House at the time of the contretemps.
– The honorable member will not be here.
– The honorable member for Wentwortb (Mr. Harrison) has proved himself a false prophet on more than one occasion. He made a similar remark three years ago, and since then he has on numerous occasions made prophecies which have not been fulfilled. My final word is that there are two things which should not be tolerated in this Parliament. One is going back to the slime of the past, when we hid ourselves from the world and, like the wild man of Borneo, decided, to have no contact with the world, and then complained that the world neglected us. When I think of how long we can go back in thought I am reminded of the time when the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) used to dash about on a horse, carrying a sword in his hand. That is almost as far back as the Battle of Omdurman. The two serious points to consider are whether for the safety of this country we can afford to have any truck with isolationists. I know that the honorable member for Bendigo is a gallant soldier loaded with enough ironmongery to sink a U-boat, and that another gallant soldier in this chamber has figured in many escapades. I was a simple private in the Army, but I was not so simple as to serve in their units. The other point upon which I rose to speak was the unmanliness and cowardliness of attacking a public servant who has served this country well.
– Does the honorable member believe in immigration?
– I should like to look up the honorable member’s family tree before I reply to that interjection. I repeat that it is a cowardly and unscrupulous thing to attack a public servant who has an excellent record and has done a good job for his country. There is no substance in what the honorable member for Reid has said. Every precaution has been taken, and when our delegation returns the whole subject of world trade can be discussed. Let us not be frightened by bogies from the past. Let us move forward with confidence, and reject this motion out of hand.
Motion (by Mr. Scully) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear)
Majority . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the House do now adjourn.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from the 21st February (vide page 129) on motion by Mr. Pollard -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This rather short bill endeavours to alter in some respects the Apple and Pear Organization Act of 1938, a measure which at the time of its passage was not intended to operate until 1939, but, owing to the outbreak of war in that year, was never implemented. It is obvious that in the intervening eight years, changes have occurred in the apple and pear situation in Australia, although I believe that those changes have not been vital. Changes have occurred also with regard to the marketing of apples and pears overseas and there may have been increases of the potential production of some exporting countries. In this respect I have in mind Argentina. The bill is rather innocent looking, and I do not propose at the second-reading stage to have much to say about it. At this juncture I shall simply bring to the attention of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) some points on which he and I will probably be ‘ in conflict at the committee stage. My personal view is that the bill is essentially a committee one, and that we should give most attention to it at the committee stage rather than on the second reading.
The points to which I draw the attention of the Minister to are these: There is a franchise under which a person will be entitled to vote under this measure. The franchise provided under the principal act was that in order to qualify for a vote a person should have exported 250 cases of apples in any two of the three years immediately preceding the date on which a poll was to be taken. That provision is amended under this measure which defines the term “ grower “ as follows : - “ grower “, .in relation to a poll of growers taken for .the purpose of this act, means the occupier of an orchard of which not less than 5 acres is used ‘for the growing of apples or pears,. or the growing of apples and pears;
In relation to the term “ occupier “, I should like the Minister to say whether the owner of the orchard, who may not be the occupier, will be debarred from voting, or whether ‘the vote will be entirely in the hands of the occupier. I disagree with the 5-acre qualification. I successfully resisted attempts by some of my friends in 1938 to base the franchise on a 3-acre qualification. The fiacre qualification is extremely bad because as both the Minister and I know, the yield to- the acre varies greatly throughout the Commonwealth. Whilst it is very small in New South Wales and Queensland, it is very high in Tasmania. Consequently, the disparity in the franchise will be correspondingly pronounced as between the States. The Minister, who was then assisting the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture of the day, will recall the heated debate which occurred in this House on the principal act as to whether the right of a vote should be based upon the man or the bushelage he produced. And on that occasion the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) made a vigorous speech in which he was good enough to address questions to the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), the then honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) and me, in which he demanded to know whether the man or the acreage counted most in such a matter. On that occasion I and my colleagues expressed the view that the man should count most; and we are still of the same opinion. No doubt, later in this debate we shall hear from the honorable member for Dalley about the wickedness of a Labour government in doing something which is tory and reactionary. To fix the vote on acreage and not on the basis of a producer’s interest in export is one of the most reactionary and out-of-date proposals I have seen.
As the bill is drafted it contains another great departure from the principal act. This provided that the persons who were to elect the export board were those actually exporting apples ; but on this occasion it is proposed that any person who occupies an area of 5” acres on which apples are grown shall have a vote whether or not he exports a single case. In the constitution of an export board of this kind it is not fair and proper that people not interested in the export trade should determine the composition of the hoard. Then there is the principle of representation. The point I emphasize is this : The Govern- ment should stick to the principal act because it was drafted after very careful consideration and after close consultation with those engaged in the industry. I happened to be the junior Minister at that time, and in that capacity I was sent around the Commonwealth to get some form of agreement. The Minister knows perfectly well from his experience in his own State that it is difficult to get a voluntary agreement on such matters as franchise and the ratio of representation between the States. I believe that in 193S there was general satisfaction throughout the States with respect to the balance of representation provided under the principal act. But on this occasion the Minister blandly says Tasmania, to which the Lyons-Page Government gave four representatives on the board, is now to be given only two representatives. In respect of Victoria and Western Australia, where there were two representatives of each State they are now to have only one. Eight years ago I argued, and I still claim, that the interest of Queensland and New South Wales in the export apple and pear market is extremely small. The volume of exports from those States represents but i< small fraction of the total Australian exports. Therefore, it is extremely doubtful whether those States should be separately represented. If the amending bill now before us is agreed to, it will mean that the preponderance of representation will be in the hands of those States which are least interested in the export market, and Tasmania, which is most interested - it is responsible for over 60 per cent, of the exports - will have only two representatives out of a total representation of twelve. Such distribution of representation is out of all proportion to reality and should be reviewed. The only fair and proper thing to do is to leave unaltered the representation established in the 1938 act. The growers themselves would be very much more satisfied with the 193S distribution of representation than they will be with what is now proposed. The Minister may reply that heis cutting down the number of exporters’ representatives; but that does not get away from the fact that the men primarily concerned, the growers themselves, will get a worse deal under theproposal now before us.
There is another interesting point. It is proposed by this bill to repeal the Apple and Pear Publicity and Research Act 1938, the Apple and Pear Tax Act 1938 and the Apple and Pear Tax Assessment Act 1938. In 193S a tax of $d. a bushel was levied on export fruit, the proceeds of the tax being paid into a special fund. Another act, which is to be repealed, provided for the collection of a tax to be paid on all homegrown and home-sold fruit, the proceeds to be -used for the development of the industry and the local advertising of apples and pears, the object being to increase sales, publicity and generally to benefit the “industry through research. The amazing thing about the bill now before us is that only export apple and pear growers will contribute to the fund. As far as I can see the home-grower will contribute nothing at all. Whether we like it or not, no matter how profitable the export market may .be, the home market is always by far the better. So, the man who has the best deal in the home-market will contribute nothing; but the man who takes the risks on the overseas -markets will contribute everything.
The next matter .upon which I desire to touch briefly is the board’s right to elect its own chairman. The bill provides that the government representative shall be the chairman of the board. The present act provides for the chairman’s election by the board itself. There is no valid reason - certainly none was given in the Minister’s second-reading speech - why a departure from the hitherto existing practice should be made.
The next point which I think will be contested at the committee stage is covered by clauses 11 and 12, under which the Minister takes to himself certain authority which was not accorded to him under the original legislation. For instance, under the principal act provision was made to cover the possibility of disagreement among the members of the board in regard to the total quantity of apples and pears that may be exported in any one year, and also as to the allocation of that total quantity between the States. It was provided that in the event of disagreement the question should be submitted to an independent arbitrator for a decision. That provision has been deleted by the bill now before us and in its place it is proposed that in the event of disagreement the matter is to be submitted to the Minister for decision. The feeling among apple and pear growers is that final decision on such disagreements should be left in the hands of some person unconnected with ministerial office altogether. In saying that, I do not cast any reflection upon the Minister - with whom I have had frequent differences of opinion - whose competence on questions like this may, perhaps, be above the average of Ministers in the present Government. I do believe that a decision of this kind should not be left in the hands of the Minister because in due course we may have a Minister who himself is an apple-grower. There were prominent apple-growers in the last Government. In cases like this it is only right that every precaution should be taken by the Government to see that the person who has the final say has no personal or political interest in the matter referred to him.
The last matter to which I shall pay some attention at the committee stage is covered by the final clause of the bill which has the effect of taking away from the growers the right to determine whether the apple and pear organization scheme is to operate after the expiration of three years. From my point of view that is an important provision. The apple and pear legislation was certainly experimental in 193S, and it is no less experimental to-day. It has never been tried out. All sorts of arguments could be advanced for and against the control of the export of apples and pears to-day, just as they could in 193S. I received to-day a lengthy telegram from the apple-growers of Western Australia. The Minister will gain some idea of its length when he sees the size of the document I hold in front of me. It contains no fewer than 631 words. It is the considered opinion of the Western Australian Fruit Growers Association of this bill after the publication of press reports of the Minister’s second-reading speech. One of the association’s chief complaints is that the Minister had not consulted the growers before bringing the bill before the House, as was done when the original measure was introduced in 193S. The growers also raise other points which I have dealt with briefly in the course of this speech. If the Minister would care to look at the telegram later I shall make it available for his perusal. In due course it will be circulated among such honorable members as may be interested in it. I fee] sure that the growers of a State like Western Australia, which to-day is the second biggest exporter of apples, and is likely to improve that position, are entitled to be heard on vital matters of this description. I suggest that in the interests of all concerned it would be a good thing if there were a break after the second-reading debate has been concluded of, say, a fortnight, so that the growers’ organizations in the different States could put their views to the Minister and to their parliamentary representatives. That is my confirmed conviction. I have no intention of opposing the second reading of the bill. I trust that it will be dealt with at the committee stage without party bias. It would be a most interesting departure from precedent if the Prime Minister would announce that, during the consideration of this bill, there would be no party decisions so far as his party is concerned. We might then get some interesting decisions on this important subject.
– I am honoured to speak for the small State of Tasmania on this important bill. I congratulate the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) on the speech he has just made. lt was free from acrimony and bitterness. The honorable member’s approach to the bill should help considerably in the final analysis. I should like to give an outline as to what this bill implies. It is an amendment of the Apple and Pair Organization Act 193S to provide for the re-establishment of the Australian Apple and Pear Board, to regulate and control the export of apples and pears from the Commonwealth. The Apple and Pear Board was set up in May, 1939, but because war intervened nothing further could be done. As the war progressed, matters became critical in this country with the result that National Security Regulations were introduced. One of those regulations set up the Australian Apple and Pear Marketing Board. The board operated during the war, and will continue to operate in respect of this year’s crop. This bill will not become law until later in the year, and therefore its provisions will not apply to the crop to be harvested within the next few weeks. 1 1 will apply primarily to next year’s crop. Therefore, this measure has no relation whatever to the Australian Apple and Pear Marketing Board.
As the export trade in apples and pears is recovering gradually, the Government wishes to reinstate the board that was set up in 1939, with the alterations provided for in this bill. I shall deal first with the proposal to reduce the membership of the board from sixteen to twelve, and the manner in which the alteration will affect Tasmania in particular. The board will have a chairman who will be a Government representative. Protests have been made against this, but I. cannot see any real objection to it. In respect of growers’ representatives, Tasmania’s quota has been reduced from four to two. There will also be one representative from each of the other States, making a total of seven. Of the exporters’ representatives, one will be nominated by the Minister, one appointed from Tasmania, one from Western Australia, and one from the rest of the States combined, making three in all. There will also be one employees’ representative, making a total of twelve members. The growers’ representatives will be elected by the growers themselves. There is general agreement that this is the correct procedure, and that the growers should have a voice in the operation of the board which is to be constituted in their interest. As 1 have said, Tasmania’s grower representation is being reduced by two members. Previously, there were four Tasmanians out of eleven growers’ representatives. Now there are to be two out of seven, which represents a substantial percentage reduction, and the point I wish to make is this : The board is to include a representative of employees who will be nominated by the Minister, and I strongly urge that a Tasmanian employee be appointed to fill this position. Tasmania would then have three out of seven representatives, which, all things considered, would be reasonable. The honorable member for Barker was correct in stating that over the years Tasmania has provided on average 61 per cent, of the apples exported from the Commonwealth. Tasmania’s isolated position has caused considerable misunderstanding of many of the problems peculiar to that State, and on this occasion we should like our position to be safeguarded: I have before me figures showing the value of the apple and pear industry to Australia, and demonstrating Tasmania’s substantial contribution to that industry. In 1938-39 5,026,521 cases of apples, valued at £1,433,440, were exported from the Commonwealth. Tasmania’s contribution was 3,181,966 cases, valued at £719,4.10 or 64 per cent, of the total for the Commonwealth. In the same year, 665,400 cases of pears, valued at £264,805, were exported from the Commonwealth, and Tasmania’s contribution was 244,386 cases, valued at £67,406, or 34 per cent, of the total for the Commonwealth. A comparison of those figures with the corresponding totals for 1945-46 indicates the drastic manner in which exports of these two commodities were reduced during the war. In 1945-46, the Commonwealth exported 1,662,342 cases of apples of the value of £1,010,245, Tasmania’s contribution being 972,250 cases valued at £540,643, or 58 per cent. Therefore, the average for the last prewar year and the last year of the war was 61 per cent. Last year, the Commonwealth exported only 46,526 cases of pears, the value being £54,412, and, according to the Statistician’s figures, not one case was exported from Tasmania. It can be seen, therefore, that the loss of overseas markets for pears inflicted great hardship upon Tasmania. The figures that I have given illustrate that Tasmania figures very prominently, as the honorable member for Barker has graciously admitted, in the export trade in apples and pears. Therefore, if the Minister cannot see his way clear to increase Tasmania’s grower representation on the board by one member, again I strongly urge that he appoint a Tasmanian as the employees’ representative.
I come now to the levy or tax that is to be charged to finance the board’s administration and publicity. This is to be id. a case higher than it was previously, bringing the maximum figure to Id. a case. The increase is very significant and I hope that the Minister will be able to show some justification for it. If, for instance, the Commonwealth were to export 4,000,000 cases of apples - that is quite feasible as exports in 1939 exceeded 5,000,000 cases - a charge of Id. a case would produce a revenue of £16,666. That is a substantial figure. Therefore, I would strongly oppose any increases above Id. a case. That levy should be sufficient for all practical purposes.
As regards the general principles of this bill, the growers will be in favour of it. It is the opinion of nearly all of the growers of these fruits that orderly marketing is absolutely essential to the stability of the industry. Tasmania would suffer considerably from any “ open go “ policy in fruit export. We have lost a tremendous lot of markets during .the war and we have to recapture them. War caused a decrease of the quantity of apples and pears exported from the Commonwealth of 3,364,139 cases. In other words, more than one-third of our total prewar export was lost during the war years. Tasmania exported 2,209,716 cases less last year than in 1938-39. So our task, as a government, is immense in recapturing these lost markets, for the future economic security of the fruit-, growers of Australia now depends on recovering .two-thirds of our overseas markets, and much of the £16,666 annually received from the levy must be used to advantage in re-establishing markets overseas. Goodness only knows whether other countries have captured those markets for themselves. For a long time we shall suffer a lack of shipping. Already we see in the press that no shipping space is available for the export of apples to England. That may cripple our efforts to recapture the English market for the apple and pear industry.
If that should be the case, I think that the Government would be fully justified in requisitioning ships to ensure the export of the fruit, for we cannot afford to allow the industry to suffer this year and next year from lack of shipping. That is something to attend to in conjunction with our main plan for recapturing our markets. I am sure that we shall pass this bill with, I hope, an amendment or two that will be all to the good. I propose in committee to move an amendment along the lines suggested in regard to Tasmania’s representation. 1 agree with the previous speaker that it might be a good thing to allow this bill to stand over for a week or perhaps longer in order to give the growers a chance to state their reactions to it.
– They have not. had a chance to see the bill yet.
– No. It would be wise not to hurry with this masure. We should let them have some voice as to what should be done.
.- This is a bill to virtually abolish and replace the board that controls, insofar as it has controlled, the industry of growing and exporting apples and pears. In that it is in no sense unique, for this is but the most recent of .a long sequence of amending bills that have had as their purpose the abolition of primary industry control boards established by governments that were composed of honorable members on this side of the House prior to the advent of Labour. During the period of years from the depression, and as a part of the policies of the parties that now comprise the Opposition to rehabilitate the primary industries and to develop their capacity to exploit overseas markets, a succession of export control boards was established to control primary industries such as the wheat, dairying, meat, canned fruits, dried fruits and apple and pear industries. That was a part of the policy of the Opposition parties when they were in office. It was more than a policy propounded on the platform. It was a policy that was brought into this House and put into operation. It was a part of the policy of those parties to ensure that on all those boards there should be adequate “representation of the growers engaged in the industries that the boards- were established to control. My memory is not adequate for me to say that on all of those boards the government of the day assured the growers a preponderance of representation, but it did in respect of most of them. This board that is now to be abolished and replaced was one upon which there was a preponderance of grower representation. The representatives were chosen by the growers’ organizations. This bill has as its intention the application to the apple and pear industry that principle of Labour policy that has already laid its clammy band upon other great primary industries - the wheat, meat and dairying industries - in which the application of the Labour policy replaced effective and operating boards with sham boards. For the first time in this country the boards alleged to be representative of the primary industries they are concerned with were transformed into what in effect is nothing more than a facade behind which the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture exercises absolute authority. That has been done by the Australian Wheat Board. The reconstitution of that board was accompanied by a bait held out to the growers that they would be given for the first time a majority of growers on the board ; but a provision was inserted in the measure that the chairman should be nominated by the Government, and that all authority in respect of that great industry should be centralized in the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. An identical state of affairs is found upon examination of the bill that was not long ago brought into this House to abolish the previously existing Australian Meat Board and replace it with a board similar to that foisted on the wheat industry. It is truly representative of the application of the modern Labour policy to primary industries that there is now a meat board, the chairman of which may veto any decision of the board.
– The Minister?
– No, the chairman of the board may veto any decision of the board. The Minister, acting through the chairman, who is his nominee, may not -only abrogate any decision of the board and disregard any advice offered by the board, but may also, in effect, impose his will in absolute contravention of the advice of the board.
– He is a Hitler without the “ Heil “.
– Well, he is all of that. But I think it is an unfair comparison to say that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture - and I do not speak in terms of personalities - whoever holds office, would act like the Hitler autocrat, because his authority is far more cunningly conceived than that of Hitler. The Hitler authority was naked for the world to see. Here, there is the pretence of a board and the growers are led to believe that they select from among themselves the majority of the members. This body is presented as the board conceived by the Labour party, but behind it stands the figure of the Minister, who has absolute authority. To our sad experience, we have seen the Minister exercise his authority. On occasions, we have known the Minister deny that he had exercised his authority until subsequent events revealed that his denial was illfounded. Of course, I now speak of one very recent revelation, which disclosed that the Minister, in an atmosphere of pretence, had declared that the wheatgrowers had been placed in control of their own industry, but the Australian Wheat Board was not permitted to know that millions of bushels of Australian wheat was to be sold for less than one-half of its real value and that the loss on the transaction would amount to millions of pounds. We suspected that the Minister’s original intention was that the Australian wheat-grower should bear the loss.
– Order! I ask the honorable member to return to the bill.
– I was merely point- ( ing out the analogy between this measure as it is now drafted, and the regrettable experience that primary producers have suffered under other bills which have the same characteristics as this legislation. The Minister was put in charge, and there was a pretence that administration would be more efficient with a smaller board. With that object in view, legislation was introduced to abolish the board of sixteen members and replace it with a board of twelve members. I am bound to say that the explanation of the change does not impress me, and I am convinced that this is merely a shadowy excuse to conceal the two real purposes of the bill. The first is to discard the members of the previous board, and to replace them, with new appointees. Similar action was taken in connexion with the Australian Wheat Board.
– Candidly, I hardly know who were members of the old board, with one or two exceptions.
– 1” accept the Minister’s statement. His interjection really confirms my suspicion that the Labour party, when in office, is determined that boards and officials appointed by its predecessors in office shall be replaced by authorities and persons acceptable to it.
– Not at all.
– That is clearly the purpose. The other purpose of this bill is to establish the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture as the absolute authority over the apple and pear industries.
– Only if there is a dispute.
– The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) must be very innocent, because that covers everything which the board may decide and of which the Minister does not approve. My purpose in speaking to-night is to point out that fact.
The apple and pear industries are too important to be placed at the mercy of one individual. They face the most difficult period in their history, because they depend, to an overwhelming degree, upon the success of their export sales. With wool, butter and meat, it is theoretically possible to have satisfactory and profitable sales on the home market and at the same time losing sales on overseas markets. That is not possible with apples and pears, because as soon as the overseas market becomes unprofitable a flood of apples and pears, which normally would be exported, is diverted to the home market, causing a complete collapse of the industry. Home sales are ruined by the glut, and the export markets are, in this hypothesis, unprofitable. Therefore, it is imperative that these industries should remain under the control of a balanced board. On a balanced board, I would include a representative of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, a representative of the exporters, who have their own special place in the industry, and, as the 1938 bill provided, a majority of growers’ representatives, because the livelihood of the growers is at stake. The reason why I consider that the apple and pear industries face perhaps the most difficult experiences of their existence is that discussions are pending upon Empire preferences, and I ann sure that it is apropos a measure which deals with the export of apples and pears for me to refer to the importance cf the preference which Australian apples and pears enjoy on the United Kingdom market. I emphasize the importance of that market, because in the. past it has been the only market upon which we have been able to make sales. With the consent of honorable members, I shall incorporate in Hansard some tables which show the production of apples and pears during the last ten years, and the destination, quantities and values of exports -
In short, those tables reveal that the proportion of apples and pears exported has been nearly 50 per cent, of the total production. To these industries, the export market is all-important. The principal market is the United Kingdom. Of 2,S00,000 centals of apples exported in 1935-36, which is a typical year, 1,700,000 centals went to the United Kingdom. That was one of the lowest percentages exported to Great Britain. The proportion of pears sent to the United Kingdom is even greater than that of apples. For example, in the same year, exports of pears from Australia totalled 275,000 centals, of which 261,000 centals went to . the United Kingdom. Those figures show the importance of the British market to these industries. This market was built up with the aid of the Empire preferential tariff which, in the case of apples and pears, is varied on a seasonal basis, the tariff being lower during the months when British apples and pears are not coming on to the market in competition with Australian apples and pears. From the 16th August to the 15th April each year, the British preferential tariff in favour of Australian apples is 3s. a cwt., and from the 1st August to the 31st January each year a similar tariff applies in favour of Australian pears. This rate is increased to 4s. 6d. a cwt. in respect of apples and pears respectively during the remaining months of the year. I regret that the Government, having decided to abolish the existing Apple and Pear Board, did not make its decision early enough to enable the new board to send representatives to the forthcoming trade talks, which were discussed in this House during another debate to-day. The two industries should be directly represented at the conferences at which tariff decisions will be made by men competent to argue the case in favour of the retention of the preferential tariffs which I have mentioned. Industries which have great scope for expansion in the vast areas of Australia that lend themselves to the production of apples and pears, should not have their fate decided at an international trade conference at which, as far as I can ascertain, there will be no hope whatever of having their interests represented by wellinformed men. We have been told that, at the conference at which the fate of these industries will be sealed, Australia will be represented by a delegation of no fewer than 40 persons, of whom only three will represent primary industries. Using as a measuring stick, volume and value of production, and the number of people engaged in production, there are much greater industries in Australia, such as tb:e dairy, wheat and meat industries. Therefore, if Australia is to be represented at the trade conferences by only three representatives of primary industries, it would be inequitable for one of those men to act for the apple and pear industries, leaving the meat industry, for instance, without a special representative. I do not believe that that would be done. Thus, the only logical conclusion is that the apple and pear industries will not be represented on the vital matter of Empire preferences at the stage of the trade talks at which we know that the final decisions will be formulated, that is, at the preliminary discussions amongst officials at which draft agreements will be made. If these industries are to be bargained away, or if they are to be lost for the need of adequate representation at the talks, great discredit will redound to this Government.
I suggest to the Government that even yet it is not too late to correct this error of administration and to send to the conference for which Dr. Coombs has just departed a representative each of the apple and pear industries. Each industry deserves separate representation, because the requirements of the two are by no means identical. I am afraid that the Government does not comprehend the future value of these industries to Australia. I know, from personal experience in my own electorate, that great opportunities exist in Victoria for expansion of the pear industry. Victoria produces more than half of the total quantity of pears grown in Australia each year and exports a preponderating proportion of the crop. The following table sets out the total quantities of pears exported from Australia for each year from 1930 to 1939, compared with the quantities exported from Victoria during the same years : -
This bill contains no assurance that the status of Victoria as the greatest pear-exporting State shall be adequately recognized. This deficiency should be remedied, and the bill should be amended so as to ensure that the interests of Victorian growers of pears for export shall he adequately represented on the board. There are thousands of acres of land in the Murray Valley which could be devoted to the production of pears under irrigation for export purposes. Few industries can be practised under irrigation more satisfactorily than the production of pears. Peaches and apricots can be produced satisfactorily on irrigated settlements, but the life of such trees is comparatively short under those forced conditions. The life of pear trees in similar circumstances is not yet known, because pear trees more than 60 years old in my electorate are still producing at full volume and are showing no evidence of any diminution of their crop. Pears produced in the Goulburn Valley in Victoria compare favorably, on arrival at the London market, with pears from any other part of the world. In fact, experience has shown that very few pears, including those produced in countries much nearer than Australia to the United Kingdom, can be placed on the selective London market in a condition that would enable them to compete against Victorian pears. The development of this industry would afford tremendous scope for the successful settlement on the land of ex-servicemen.
What the industry needs is to be given a fair opportunity to manage its own affairs, and the retention of preference in the United Kingdom market which was gained after a strenuous fight at Ottawa. This bill should not have incorporated in it a provision which has proved to be harmful; the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture should not stand supreme over each board. It is most important also that the industry should be represented directly at the trade talks which are about to recommence. I urge the Government to make good its neglect in that connexion, and while there is still time to send abroad some person who will engage in the discussions without the prior conviction that the cause of Empire preference is already lost. I do not attack Dr. Coombs, who is to lead the mission, on the grounds on which others have attacked him. I believe that he is an experienced public servant, but having availed myself of the opportunity provided by the Prime Minister for Opposition members to hear Dr. Coombs, I am convinced he believes that the cause of Empire preference is already lost. It is against common sense to send a man holding such views as leader of the mission, however highly we may regard, him personally and regardless of the excellence of his record of service.
– The honorable member is not in order in repeating the discussion on a subject previously dealt with.
– I shall not do so, and I have not so far done so. I am discussing a bill relating to the export of apples and pears - a business which is feasible only if Australia enjoys
Empire preferential tariffs. In emphasizing that point I am compelled to refer to those who will discuss this matter at the conference. Having heard Dr. Coombs express his views-
– The Chair will not permit the honorable gentleman to proceed along those lines.
– I believe that it is imperative that there should be adequate representations of various industries at the conference, including the apple and pear growing industry, and also that the talks can have successful results only if the delegation is led by one who does not believe that the cause of Empire preference is lost.
– I support the bill. The view expressed by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) that a board of twelve members could more effectively handle the marketing of apples and pears than one of sixteen members should commend itself to honorable members, and also to the industry. A board consisting of too many members is apt to be cumbersome and to cause delays. The important thing in the constitution of the board is that producers will have seven representatives on it. I am pleased to note that exporters and employees engaged in the industry will also have direct representation. I remember that when the present Minister for Commerce and Agriculture spoke as a private member in support of a bill to stabilize the wheat industry he quoted from a statement made by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) relative to the inadequate provision for representation of producers on war-time boards appointed by the Menzies Government. The honorable member for Gippsland, speaking as president of the Australian Country party in Victoria, said at Ballarat that there was evidence of political patronage in appointments made by the Government as well as inadequate representation of producers on such boards. His remarks applied to war-time marketing boards in general, but apparently they did not apply to apples and pears, because the board appointed to deal with those fruits was appointed in May, 1939, before the war began. In this bill, as in all other measures relating to marketing boards to handle the products of primary producers, the Government has given to producers a majority representation, and therefore the Labour party is not open to the charge of bias which the honorable member for Gippsland laid at the door of the Menzies Government. The intention to give to growers occupying orchards of not less than 5 acres a vote in the election of representatives of growers on the board is more equitable than the former provision which allowed a grower to vote only if he was an exporter of 250 cases of apples or pears. The previous provision was unworkable and would lead to endless confusion. Moreover, it could not be adequately policed; growers who should have a vote might find themselves disfranchised, whilst others who had ceased to export apples and pears might have their names on the roll and be entitled to vote. Because of the confusion associated with such an unfair provision I am glad that that idea had been abandoned. All growers of apples and pears are interested in the satisfactory sale of the exportable surplus, because upon it depends the maintenance of a payable price in the local market. Any attempt to discriminate would be both unfair and unwise.
The previous proposal to impose a levy on- local sales of fruit to provide a fund for publicity and research was impracticable because the levy could not be satisfactorily collected. 1 am pleased, therefore, that the Apple and Pear Publicity and Research Act will be repealed. I approve the proposal to raise money for administrative costs by means of a levy on apples and pears exported. I note that the present levy is i<i. a case, and that it is intended to amend the Apple and Pear Export Charges Act to provide for a maximum levy of Id. a case, instead of f d. I further note that the Minister has said that the increase will be made only should it be considered necessary or desirable. I presume that the board, on which the growers have a majority of members, will advise the Government on this matter. The fact that the present legislation provides for a levy of only £d. indicates, I think, what the Minister has in mind, and that no increase will be made unless it is necessary. The apple and pear in- dustry is a most important one. The exportable surplus provides Australia with credits overseas which are vital to us at this stage. Everything possible should be done to bring about a full restoration of our export trade, and I believe that this measure, when applied, will help substantially towards that end. I know that the Minister is sympathetic to the industry, and will do everything possible to assist it. Therefore, I have great pleasure in supporting the bill.
– The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) and I have discussed this bill at. some length. He has already covered much of the ground, but I propose to go more deeply into a few points. The bill is, in general principles, a good one, and I support it, but I should like to see it amended in some respects. A majority of growers realize that some form of export control is necessary, particularly if the industry is to be stabilized. The existing measure was introduced in 1938 by the honorable member for Barker when he was Assistant Minister for Agriculture. The Franklin electorate, which I have the honour to represent, will be vitally affected by this legislation. More apples and pears are produced in that electorate than in any State in Australia other than Tasmania.
A -provision in the bill which will be the cause of some contention is that relating to the franchise. Clause 5 of the bill provides that a grower “ means the occupier of an orchard of which not less than 5 acres is used for the growing of apples or pears or apples and pears “. I have gone into the matter rather carefully, and have found that in Queensland the average return is from 60 bushels to 70 bushels an acre, whereas in Tasmania it is 250 bushels. In Victoria, the average return is 120 bushels, so it is seen that acreage is not a proper basis for the franchise. In the original act, the qualification required of a grower before he enjoyed the’ franchise was 250 bushels for export, which was much more satisfactory. It was directly related to the export trade, and the quantity was fixed, whereas the return from 5 acres of orchard can and does vary greatly from State to State.
The second matter which will give rise to dissatisfaction is the proposed representation on the board. Under the provisions of the existing act, there were eleven representatives of the growers on the board, including four from Tasmania, which gave that State approximately 37 per cent, of the representation. This bill provides that Tasmania shall have only two representatives, and each of the other States one, so that Tasmania’s representation on the board is reduced to 2S per cent. Surely it is only fair that representation should be based on the quantity of fruit exported from each State, bearing in mind that there should be at least one representative from each State. Tasmania produces between 7,500,000 and 8,000,000 bushels of apples and pears each year, Western Australia 1,500,000 bushels, Victoria 3,000,000 bushels, South Australia 1,500,000 bushels, Queensland between 250,000 and 500,000 bushels, and New South Wales between 1,000,000 and 1,500,000 bushels. Those figures are not absolutely accurate, but they are correct enough to point my argument. It will be seen that Tasmania produces more than half of Australia’s total crop of apples and pears, yet Tasmania is to have only two representatives on a board of seven. As this is to be an export board, it would be more proper if representation were based upon a comparison of export percentages, and on that basis Tasmania’s case for increased representation is even stronger. Leaving aside the war years, during which exports were greatly reduced, we find that, for the two years before the war, export percentages were as follows: -
Those are the figures, and yet Tasmania is to have only 27 per cent, representation on the board. On the Apple and Pear Council, which functioned up till 1938, Tasmania enjoyed something like its true proportional representation. Bearing in mind the difficulties likely to be encountered in regard to shipping, Tasmanian growers are afraid that unless they have proper representation on the board that body may decide to fill overseas ships from the mainland, using Tasmania only as a stop gap, as sometimes happened before the war.
The third feature of the bill to which objection is taken is that which provides that the Commonwealth representative on the board shall be chairman. I maintain that the board should be allowed to elect its .own chairman, as was provided in the existing act. The Commonwealth representative would be in a position to exert undue influence on a board composed mainly of primary producers. I also object to the provision placing power in the hands of the Minister as set forth in the words, “ subject to the declaration of the Minister”. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) has already pointed out that this places too much authority in the hands of the Minister, and in’ some measure destroys the ability of the board to perform its proper functions. I also strongly object to the proposal to repeal section 26 of the principal act, which made provision for the discontinuance of the board. The growers are entitled to say at any time whether they wish the board to be continued. I agree with the honorable member for Barker that this is mainly a committee bill. I support his contention that the Minister should allow the House at least another fortnight to consider the bill before it goes to the committee stage. 1 believe that the bill, in principle, is a good one, and I hope that it will be dealt with on non-party lines. Our only purpose should be to determine what is the best that can be done in the interests of the growers. I support the bill, but sincerely hope that the Minister will accept reasonable amendments.
.- The purpose of the bill is to amend the Apple and Pear Organization Act of 193S which as honorable members know was
Dot implemented owing to the outbreak of war. Nevertheless, that measure was most important; and the amendments now proposed are also very important because in some respects they seek to effect fundamental changes in the general structure on which the principal act was based. Therefore, I am surprised that the Government failed to take the growers into its confidence before introducing the measure. I remind honorable members that before the Government introduced legislation dealing with the coal-mining industry, its proposals were thoroughly canvassed with both the coalminers’ federation and, to some degree, the coal mine-owners. Of course, the apple and pear industry is not so valuable as the coal-mining industry, but it is of considerable importance to Australia. Consequently, I am at a loss to know why the Government did not consult representatives of the industry before drafting the measure. “We have in Australia today a body known as the Australian Apple and Pear Growers Association, whose membership is representative of 90 per cent, of growers throughout the Commonwealth. -In Victoria, on an acreage basis, the association is representative of 76 per cent, of the apple industry, and 66 per cent, of the pear industry. The association was established two years ago. Therefore, it is surprising that the Government failed to make any contact at all with representatives of that association with respect to the measure. It is true that on the 13th December last, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) received a deputation of representatives of the association, but he appears to have answered somewhat cursorily the proposals they submitted to him.
– The bill conforms with requests made by them.
– My point is that, although the deputation expressed certain wishes and the Minister gave certain replies to it, he did not discuss with it the most important provisions of this measure.
– I gave no assurance that I have not honoured.
– The trouble is that the Minister gave no assurances at all. That is why the fruit-growers of this country are up in arms about this measure. Tonight I received a telegram from representatives of growers in my electorate informing me that an urgent meeting was being called to discuss the measure. But that meeting will be useless unless the Minister is prepared to postpone further consideration of the measure. I have also received a communication from the Fruit Growers and Primary. Producers Defence League of Australia informing me that that association had no knowledge of the introduction of the measure. The Australian Apple and Pear Growers Association urges that the measure should not be proceeded with until its representatives are given an opportunity to discuss the matter with the Minister. In view of these facts, I ask the Minister to postpone further consideration of the measure for at least a fortnight in order to give to the growers an opportunity to inform themselves of its provisions, and also to formulate such objections as they may wish to raise.
The House is well aware of the importance of the industry, which has been stressed by previous speakers. For this reason I emphasize the urgency of full consultation with representatives of the growers in respect of important amendments now proposed by the Government. I point out that since 1914 production of apples and pears in this country has doubled. In pre-war years our average production was 10,000,000 bushels of apples and 2,500,000 bushels of pears, of a total value of £3,500,000. Our total exports before the war were valued at £1,500,000 annually. A little more than half of the exports were produced in Tasmania. During and since the war the production of apples and pears has decreased considerably. That is due partly to a reduction of acreage. In Victoria, the area under production of apples has dropped from 27,000 acres to 22,000 acres, and is still decreasing. In addition, the yield of trees has decreased by about 25 per cent. This is due partly to the fact that the trees have not been properly tended during the war, and also to the scarcity of fertilizer. Thus, despite the importance of this industry in our economy, the acreage and production are still decreasing, and our exports are correspondingly decreasing. I do not mention these figures merely in order to impress upon the House the importance of the industry. This year there will probably be no surplus for export and no vessels will be available until April. We have had an extremely bad season for apples throughout the Commonwealth. Therefore, I am at a loss to understand why the Minister should introduce this measure in such a hurry.
– Obviously it is wiser to enact this legislation now to enable us to deal with next year’s crop than to delay its passage. The existing acquisition board will surrender its powers on the 31st December next. It is better to get this scheme going now rather than to wait until August or September. Is that not common sense?
– I appreciate the point made by the Minister, but we shall have no appreciable exportable surplus this year, and by the time next year’s crop comes in we shall have had ample time to discuss the measure with the growers. Therefore, I ask the Minister to postpone further consideration of the measure for at least fourteen days in order to enable full consultation to be undertaken with the growers. The bill itself could better be discussed in committee, but there are some comments that I wish to make at this stage. The first relates to the chairmanship of the board. I have received communications from a number of growers’ organizations and individual growers pointing out that, in their view, the chairman should be elected by the board itself, and should not be appointed by the Government. That, I believe, is only reasonable. After all, such a provision was incorporated ‘ in the original act, which we are now asked to amend. If the provision was right in 1938, surely it must be right now, even though a Labour government is in office. The second point is that the chairman should be a grower. In other words, he must have a first-class knowledge of the industry. We all know the influence which a chairman exerts on a committee over which he presides. . For that reason I believe that the chairman should be appointed by the board.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) referred to the powers of the Minister. It seems to me to be a sham and a farce that we should set up a board which nominally will be run by the growers, but which, in practice, will be subject to the dictation of the Minister.
Under the proposal now under consideration, all the decisions of the board may be taken out of its hands, and altered or destroyed at the discretion of the Minister. That is not grower-control of an industry. This destructive provision appears in the bill in two places; the board is subject to any direction given by the Minister. If the Minister t..> desires, he may tell the board to do this or that, or not to do this or that. He will be able to deprive the board of all the powers which it may exercise on its own initiative. When- the board is not unanimous, the Minister may say that the issue shall be referred to him for decision. The Minister will be able to take away from the board all the responsibility that it is supposed to have. The bill deprives the growers of control over their own industry. The Government gives with one hand and takes away with the other.
– The alternative is to appoint another bureaucrat to do the job.
– We could not get a better or, perhaps I should say, a worse bureaucrat than the Minister. Finally, I come to the proposal to repeal section 26 of the principal act. Under that section, 500 growers, if they so desired, could petition for the bill to be withdrawn. Now, they are to forgo that right. I invite the Minister to recall what he said when this legislation was discussed in the House in 1938. I took the trouble to look up his words so . as to ascertain whether he has changed for the worse, and I find that he has. In Hansard, volume 157, at page 1011, the Minister is reported to have said -
It is provided in the bill that the work of the board shall be reviewed at the end of three years. For my part I believe that this review can bc made quite satisfactorily under the provisions of clause 18 of the bill-
I do not believe it could. I looked at that -
But a great majority of the growers desire that a ballot of producers should be held at the end of the period to determine whether or not the board should continue to operate.
Listen to what the Minister said -
I suggest that the Government should yield this point to the growers. The board is not to fix prices or exercise a general control over the industry, but merely to ensure that a share of the export market is assured to every grower. It would give satisfaction to the growers if the bill were amendedso as to proVide for the holding of a ballot after three years had elapsed.
– That was a different bill.
– Now the honorable gentleman says something entirely different. There is always time for the greatest sinner to repent; and, for the Minister that time is now. I shall reserve my final comments until the committee stage is reached.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Anthony) adjourned.
Over-printed Postage Stamps.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- In the temporary absence of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General (Mr. Calwell), I ask the Minister in charge of the House to note my remarks and to convey them to the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Cameron). A philatelist has informed me that in the Australian Stamp Monthly for December and January a statement appeared that Australian stamps used by troops in Japan were being over-printed. A picture of the stamp was published in that journal. My correspondent indicated that he had asked members of the forces in Japan to get him some of the stamps and that he was amazed to discover that, although the troops said that over-printed stamps had been on issue, all of them had been cornered by somebody in authority. When my correspondent got in touch with the Postmaster-General’s Department, he was informed that the department was unaware that an overprinted stamp had been issued. I may mention that the over-printing of a stamp enhances its value to the philatelist. My correspondent communicated with the secretary to the PostmasterGeneral, who said that he had no idea who authorized the printing. Here is an extraordinary state of affairs, in which the department in charge of stamp issues does not know who approves of the issue of stamps of a certain type. The military authorities, the official thought, had pro bably done so. Yet somebody has cornered the whole issue! To-morrow, one of these stamps will be auctioned in Melbourne, and will probably bring a very high price. If the matters that I have stated are found to be correct, it appears that somebody has been guilty of something smacking of forgery, or, at least, an attempt to corner the whole of the issue of a government stamp. I ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) to take the matter up with the PostmasterGeneral with a view to ascertaining the facts. This is an important matter, and should not be lightly regarded.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1947 -
No. 8 - Hotel, Club, Restaurant, Caterers, Tea Rooms and Boarding House Employees’ Union of New South Wales.
Nos. 9 and 10 - Australian Journalists’ Association.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Commerce and Agriculture - C. R. Buttsworth, D.O. Ford, H. C. Perrott, O. F. A. Williams.
Interior - S. C. B. Gascoigne, D. W. N. Stibbs.
Treasury - R. G. Davey.
Works and Housing - G. M. Kerr, I. S. Richards.
Twenty-second Report on the Commonwealth Public Service by the Board of Commissioners, dated 31st December, 1946.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act -
National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (123).
National Security (Prices) Regulations -Orders- Nos. 2849-2808.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes -
Mortdale, New South Wales.
Scone, New South Wales.
National Security Act -
National Security (Economic Organization) Regulations - Order by Industrial Commission of New South Wales - Salary of Town Clerk of City of Greater Newcastle.
National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (88).
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) .Act - Regulations - 194.7 - No. 1 (Education Ordinance).
War Service Homes Act - Report of War Service Homes Commission for year 1945- 40, together with statements and balancesheet.
House adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated : -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable gentleman’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) and (fi) Section 81 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1946 provides a special concession to members of the Defence Force, certain civilian personnel attached to that force, and sea-going merchant seamen. This concession takes the form of a deduction from the assessable income of the taxpayer and cannot exceed, in the case of a merchant seaman, the income derived by him during the year of income from his employment on a seagoing ship. Subject to the foregoing, where the assessable income ‘of a seaman in respect of earnings on a sea-going ship does not exceed £250, there is no liability to social services contribution or income tax. Where the income exceeds £250, the special deduction diminishes on a graduated scale and finally ceases at an income of £587.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following information: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable gentleman’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. The latter part of clause 6 (3) of the agreement certainly states that, if a longterm Commonwealth loan is being raised at the date of an advance, then that advance shall bear interest at the rate payable on the longterm loan. However, advances to the States have been and are being made available for housing purposes at the rate of 3 per cent, per annum, nothwithstandingthattheinterest rate on long-term loans has been 3¼ per cent and is now 3 per cent. The formal amendment of this clause to conform with the procedure adopted will require legislation by the Commonwealth and in all States. Action will be taken at a suitable opportunity to amend the clause in question.
Re-establishment : Preference in Employment.
n. - OnWednesday, the 19th February, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) asked me how many persons who were not members of the services have been granted preference in employment to date and would I lay relevant papers in connexion with their applications on the table. The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Up to the 31st December, 1946, the Central Preference Board had received 1,392 applications for preference registration from persons other than ex-service personnel. Of these applications 343 were granted registration in accordance with the eligibility clauses of the Re-establishment and Employment Act. I do not propose to lay the relevant papers on the table of the House.
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information: - 1. (a) Textiles: 1944-45, £1,057,606; 1945- 46, £888,902; 1946-47 to 30/9/46, £224,463. (b) Yarns and manufactured fibres: 1944-45, £370,046; 1945-46, £451,130; 1946-47 to 30/9/40, £74,463.
No specific knowledge is available of export prices of these materials.
No control is exercised over export prices.
n asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 to 6. I announced last year that consideration was being given to the preparation of a booklet which would be designed to facilitate the assimilation of foreign migrants by enlightening them as to the value of Australian citizenship and. the responsibilities which citizenship carried with it. Owing to the continued absence from Australia of some members of the committee to which the matter was referred the preparation of the booklet was delayed. Subsequently, however, it was evident to me that the matter was one which could be dealt with more appropriately by the recently appointed Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council and it will be placed before the Council at its first meeting which is to be held at an early date.
The honorable member may, however, be referring to handbooks which it was recently decided should be prepared for the guidance of British migrants upon arrival in Australia. Booklets for each State are being prepared in my Departments of Immigration and Information in’ collaboration with the State Immigration Departments.
Other booklets entitled Australia and Your Future, Australia and You, and Know Australia, are extensively distributed among prospective migrants overseas. Copies of these booklets have already been distributed to honorable members and I shall also be pleased to supply them with copies of the booklets prepared for the use of migrants upon arrival in Australia when these are available.
Telephone Services: Automatic Exchange for Toowong .
l. - On the 19th February, 1947, the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) asked the following question : -
Can the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral state when the automatic telephone exchange at Toowong will be completed? Will the Minister see that instructions are issued to responsible officers ‘ that sufficient equipment is installed in the exchange to enable all residents of the Toowong district to have the benefit of the automatic connexion at the same time as this convenience is long overdue.
The Postmaster-General has supplied the following information : -
A new building to accommodate an automatic exchange is expected to be completed within the next two months. Immediately the premises are available the installation of automatic equipment to provide for 600 subscribers’ lines will be commenced. This is the first stage in the plan to convert all subscribers’ services in the Toowong area to the automatic system. The provision of additional automatic equipment, which has been on order for a considerable time, will be undertaken as soon as it is delivered. The honorable member may be assured that the project will be completed as soon as possible.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 February 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1947/19470226_reps_18_190/>.