18th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have received from His Excellency the Governor-General the following reply by His Majesty the King to the address from members of the House of Representatives which was transmitted in connexion with His Majesty’s ill health, and the consequent postponement of the Royal Visit. The message reads -
The Queen and I send our sincere thanks for your kind message of sympathy and good wishes which we much appreciate.
– Did the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research see the prest statement attributed to Sir Henry Tizard, a British public servant who is a distinguished scientist and chairman .of the British Government’s Advisory Council on Scientific Policy and Defence Research Policy Committee, and who has recently visited Australia to advise the Government on defence research, that no Australian scientist or engineer in Australia or the United Kingdom had ever disclosed, either carelessly or deliberately, any information which could harm Australia or the British Commonwealth? In view of the statement by that distinguished, scientist and patriotic Englishman, will the Minister ensure that full publicity shall be given to Sir Henry Tizard’s statement in defence of Australian scientists who have been maligned, misrepresented and calumniated in the course of debates in this chamber, about stolen or forged documents ?
– Order I The first part of the question is in order, hut the second part is not.
– I have seen the press statement to which the honorable member has referred. Before that report appeared in the press, the Prime Minister and I had certain conversations with Sir Henry Tizard, whose comment that no Australian scientist had been guilty of divulging any information of a security nature followed similar statements by the Prime Minister and myself. The fact that the denial has been given by such a distinguished scientist will add emphasis to what has already been clearly stated on many occasions by the Prime Minister and myself. The denial is all the more important because Sir Henry Tizard, in his conversation with the Prime Minister and myself, made it clear that when certain rumours reached him from Australia, based on press reports of statements made by members of the Opposition, he set himself the task of making detailed inquiries in order to ascertain whether there was any foundation for them. In the light of the close investigations which he has conducted his statement to the effect that Australian scientists have not divulged any information assumes even greater importance.
– Has the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research seen the statement that Sir Herbert Gepp, a former president of the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, made at a meeting of that institute recently when he said that many persons in Australia and abroad had been disturbed by personal attacks on the Chairman of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Sir David Rivett, and his colleagues, and alao his further statement that Sir David Rivett should be told that the people who matter in Australia were solidly behind him? In view of this tribute by a distinguished mining engineer, in the person of Sir Herbert Gepp, will the Minister see that full publicity is given to the tribute in order that men of character like Sir David Rivett and their colleagues may be cleared, if such should be necessary, .before the people of Australia.
– Yes; I did see the statement made by Sir Herbert Gepp in relation to the confidence that the people of Australia have in Sir David Rivett as the Chairman of the Council ‘for Scientific and Industrial Research I am glad that Sir Herbert made that statement, because it adds still further to the authenticity of the statements already made by the Prime Minister and myself in relation to security and any other work which may have been undertaken by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research during the war period. I regret that I have not any channels of publicity at my disposal, but insofar as I can make it more widely known that the people of Australia, or at least those of them who matter, have complete confidence in Sir David Rivett, I shall endeavour to do so.
– I understand that under section 108 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, the Chief Judge and the Chief Conciliation Commissioner shall, once in each year, furnish to the Attorney-General for presentation to the Parliament, a report on the working of that act, and, in particular, the degree to which the objects of the legislation have been achieved. The act came into force on the 10th October, 1947, and, therefore, a report should be available. Will the Prime Minister inform me whether the Government has received such a report? If it has, when will the document be presented to the Parliament?
– I understand that the Government has not yet received the report. As honorable members are aware, the Acting Chief Judge has been seriously ill. I am glad to say that he is recovering, but I do not know whether he has yet left hospital. I shall ascertain how soon the report will be available.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Health seen advertisements in - various magazines and newspapers making a special appeal to pensioners in regard to medicine, despite the. fact that a free medicine scheme is already in operation to a limited degree ? If the Minister nas seen such advertisements, does he consider that they are dangerous to the welfare of the pensioners, inasmuch as the pensioners are asked to send for free samples of medicine, and include their pension number with their applications? Of course the pension number is a pensioner’s own business, and should not be made available to advertisers. One of the advertisements to which I have referred reads as follows : -
Old age, war, invalid, widow and other pensioners can now obtain a free packet of the new “ Ready-to-Take “ R.U.R. for listlessness, irritability, blood disorders, poor appetite, broken sleep, rheumatism, skin, liver, kidney, bladder and bowel troubles, indigestion, sciatica, neuritis, lumbago and gout. R.U.R. removes the cause of ill-health, the toxins, acids or poisons in the blood stream. Just write to R.O.R. (Aust.) Ltd., 84] Georgestreet, Sydney, enclosing your name, address and pension number and a packet will be sent to you by return post. You just spoon it out of the packet like sugar and take it once daily in a glass of water on rising. Any one may purchase this new R.U.R. “ Ready “ from their chemist or store for 2s. per packet. If you cannot get R.U.R. in your district, put a 10s. note in. the post and 5 packets will be sent by return, mail. - Advt.
Will the Minister consider the danger of those advertisements to pensioners? Will he discuss the matter with the Minister for Health and, if necessary, with the Attorney-General ?
– I have heard about the advertisements’ to which the honorable member has referred, but I have not seen them. I believe that the Minister for Health will take a serious view of the matter, because it seems to me to be another attempt to deprive pensioners of free medicine, to which they are legally entitled. I shall certainly discuss the matter with the Minister for Health this evening, and ascertain whether any action can be taken.
– Has the Prime Minister seen the official figures issued by the Government Statistician, Brisbane, indicating that the retail prices of all items in .the “ C “ series index rose by 10.1 per cent, in the twelve, months ended the 30th September., 1948? That increase is- the greatest in any period of twelver month* since the early 1930’s. Has the right honorable gentleman seen figures indicating that, whilst there was a rise of 2.8 per cent, in the June quarter of 1948, the increase was only 2 per cent, in the September quarter, after the State had relieved the Commonwealth of responsibility for prices control? Will the right honorable gentleman examine those figures carefully so that he may be in a position to correct any wrong impression that prices control, as exercised by the Queensland Government, may have proved less effective than such controls previously exercised by the Commonwealth ?
– I have not seen the figures issued by the Queensland Statistician, and, without making a careful analysis. I am not able to say whether such figures would correctly represent the increase of the cost of living.
– The Queensland Statistician’s figures are comparable with the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures for the “ C “ series index.
– We have found on previous occasions a wide divergence between figures published by State statisticians and those published’ by the Commonwealth Statistician. As the right honorable gentleman has raised the matter, I shall take the opportunity to examine the figures to which he ha* referred and’ furnish him with a reply.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-Genera i whether any action can be taken to prevent the screening of objectionable film* at motion picture theatres to which children are admitted? The announcement that such films are not suitable for general exhibition is ignored by the public. Will the: Minister consider the adoption of other methods to protect children from the influence of harmful or offensive films? Has the Minister authority to require that films which are screened on. a Saturday afternoon shall be wholly suitable for children ?
– This is a matter that comes ‘within the purview of the Minister for Trade and Customs. The Postmaster-General has no control over it at all. If I might be permitted to say to, there is a dual control over the matter of the exhibition of films. There is a concurrent power which the States may exercise, if they care to do so. In some instances the States exercise that power properly, in others indifferently, .and in one State it is not exercised at all. All of the complaints that the honorable member has made could be rectified under the legislative powers of the States. If the films are being shown in the State of Victoria, action could be taken by the State Film Board. The Commonwealth Censor considers films as they come into Australia and before they are exhibited. The States can exercise any further control or censorship that they like, after the films have passed the Commonwealth Censor. The time for exhibition of the films appears to be a matter entirely for the States to decide.
– My question arises out A a letter that I have received from the secretary of the Darwin section of the Adelaide branch of the Federated Clerks Union, in which it is stated that he has already written to the Prime Minister concerning the right honorable gentleman’s statement during the budget debate lo the effect that the best incentive ro production is security of employment. Fu. order to explain my question, I point out that temporary clerks of the Commonwealth Public Service in the Northern Territory, who have given signal service throughout the years and done their jobs thoroughly, consider that they are being superseded by public servants from the south, whose main qualification is that they are permanent employees. Will the Prime Minister confer with the Public Service Board -with a view to having those temporary clerks in the Northern Territory gazetted as permanent officers?
– I shall discuss the matter with the Chairman of the Public Service Board. It is happening constantly in other places, that permanent public servants are being allocated to permanent jobs. As I explained several days ago, in many cases temporary employees are not qualified by examination or medically to be permanently appointed to the Public Service. I point out that such appointments carry certain -rights with regard to superannuation and other matters. I shall furnish the honorable member with a reply relating to the temporary clerks in the Northern Territory as early as possible.
– In reply to a question that I directed to the Minister for. Commerce and Agriculture yesterday, he quoted some figures respecting the area under crops in Australia. The figures were quoted to the nearest million acres, and the Minister did not name the source of his authority. As those figures have been challenged through the press by the Leader of the Australian Country party, will the Minister now enlarge on them and indicate whether they are figures that were supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician? Will the Minister also comment on the reported statement of the Leader of the Australian Country party that the Government’s man-power policy, and not drought conditions were responsible
– Order ! Whilst the first portion of the honorable member’s question is in order, the latter portion is out of order. What may be said outside of this House by the Leader of the Australian Country party or anybody else may not be quoted as the basis ‘for a question in the House.
– I anticipated that honorable members would have .seen the attempt that has been made by the Leader of the Australian Country party, through the press, to challence the veracity of the statement that I made in the Parliament yesterday. My authority for the information contained in the statement was the Commonwealth Statistician’s report of the 28th October, 1948. The figures that I furnished to the House are correct. The average area of all crops in Australia for the period of five years to 1939 was approximately 21,290,000 acres. For the year 1947-48 the area under crop waa approximately 22,189,000 acres. That proves that I was adrift only to the extent of 2,000 acres, which does not matter very much in figures involving a net increase in the area under crop of 900,000 acres. The decline in primary production as affecting dairying was not due to the Government’s war-time policy at all. The figures show that in 1941, when the Australian Labour party took office, there were 6,000 less people employed in the dairying industry than in 1940. That drift was very largely due to the fact that the Government which the right honorable member for Darling Downs led for a very brief period, and the preceding Government, allowed men on dairy farms to enlist in the armed forces, and, in addition, called up numbers of such men for service. It was not until the Australian Labour party took office that the drift was arrested and the call-up from dairy farms abolished, that the dairying industry began to recover. Due to the attractive conditions which have resulted from the stabilization policy of this Government, guaranteed prices, and long-term contracts, there has been a substantial movement upwards in dairying production. Farmers have found it a very good investment to spend their money on mechanical apparatus for the more congenial operation of their dairy farms. Whereas in 1943 there were only 90,000 milking machines in use on dairy farms in Australia, there are now 125,000 in use and there is an everincreasing demand for such mechanical apparatus.
– I understand that as a result of legislation recently passed by the Parliament we shall now, in addition to being Australian citizens, remain British subjects. The Minister for Immigration will be aware that the question of most significance to travellers abroad, and the one that they are required to answer on official forms in many countries, relates to nationality. Although the House will have already been informed on the matter during my absence, I ask the Minister whether he will be good enough to inform me what in future will be the official reply to be given by Australian citizens travelling abroad? Are they to be regarded as British or Australian nationals ?
– Before answering the question, I should like to say that I am very glad to see the honorable member back in his accustomed place in thi* House after his travels abroad. With the assistance of the honorable member for Parramatta, and to a lesser extent, the honorable member for Warringah, I think that our position as nationals and citizens under the amending legislation has been made very clear. We are Australian citizens, but we are also British nationals. British nationality ie the common status held by every subject of His Majesty the King in Great Britain itself, all the British Dominions and all the British colonies. When the Passport Bill is being debated later to-day, I shall take the opportunity to explain more fully the position of Australians travelling abroad.
– Are we also Australian nationals ?
– The honorable member is a lawyer, and I should have been glad of his assistance also yesterday. The truth is that our nationality is British and that our citizenship is Australian. In the debate on the Passports Bill I shall explain again, as I did on the second reading of the Nationality and Citizenship Bill, that Australians travelling abroad will be described as British subjects and Australian citizens.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Australian Government’s decision to evacuate Europeans, including Australians, from China following the decision of the Government of China to evacuate Nankin? owing to the movement south of the Communist armies does not indicate the Government’s grave view of the situation in China? Is there not a general scepticism among the United Nations about the ability to save China? Is there not, at the same time, yet a hope that Japan may be developed as a citadel against communism? Does the Prime Minister consider that a Communist victory in China would have serious repercussions in Asia and the Pacific areas?
– There can be no doubt about the seriousness of the position in China. The position has steadily deteriorated over the years. It is not necessary for me to restate the opinions of distinguished men who have been sent to China by the British Government and the President of the United States of America. It was the President of the United States of America rather than the Government that sent envoys to China for such men as Mr. Donald Nelson went to China as the special representative of the late President Roosevelt. As I have said about other matters, it is not my province to criticize the governmental administration of other countries. That is a matter for the peoples of those countries themselves. But I may say that, from the point of view of the allied nations, the organization in China has not been such as to inspire great confidence. As the honorable member has said, the Communists have gained ground. Of course, wars in China are fought under conditions slightly different from those under which they are fought in other parts of the world. Undoubtedly, the Communist influence is spreading with increasing rapidity. I do not feel that I ought to go into the matter of the views of General Marshall, Mr. Donald Nelson, Mr. La Guardia, General J ackson and General Patrick Hurley and other distinguished citizens of the United States of America who have gone to China and communicated their views of the position there to the President of the United States of America. Those views have in turn been communicated to this Government. The Chinese armies are being overrun by the Communist ‘ forces. The Chinese Communists have been differently defined by men who have been there. At one time, they were regarded «s a modified version of the Australian Country party. They were in the Agrarian party. Then they were described as having a Communist ideology. Yet, I understand, they were described by Generalissimo Stalin on one occasion as “margarine” Communists. It is true, as I have said previously, that the Communists go to every fire to pour oil on the flames. They have concentrated on the movement known as the Communist movement in China. Their influence is being exercised over a wide area of an important country. That constitutes a grave danger to peace in Asia.
– Mr. Speaker, I wish to ask you a question regarding the manner in which certain matter appears in Hansard. On the 11th November, I asked a question of the Minister for the Army and the Hansard report of that date quotes the first three lines of the question as follows: -
Has a Mr. Arthur Crouch, of Sydney, been appointed to the staff of the journal BOON1
On the 12th November, the next day, the Minister for the Army replied and his roneo-ed reply to me states that I asked the question as follows : -
Is the Minister aware that a Mr. Arthur Crouch has been appointed to the staff of BCON ?
You will note that my original query merely asked for information. The Minister in restating my question the next day goes much further and attributes to me the definite assertion that Mr. Crouch was so employed. In the circumstances, I ask you if a Minister, in re-stating a question for the purpose of giving hie reply, is entitled to change the text so as to alter completely the sense of an honorable member’s question? Will you, Mr. Speaker, have the Hansard report revised so that the Minister’s restatement of my question will coincide with the terms of my original inquiry?
– The honorable member for Bendigo was good enough to supply me with the text of his question a few minutes before the House met. It has not been possible for me to investigate the facts. It is, however, quite clear that if, as the honorable gentleman says, his question, as restated the next day, was altered to that degree, there is a considerable difference between the question that was originally asked and the question that was replied to. I shall have the matter investigated to ascertain the cause. The honorable member asked me whether a Minister, in re-stating a question for the purpose of giving his reply, was entitled to change the text so as to alter completely the sense of an honorable member’s question. The answer is, of course, “ No “. Neither a Minister nor any one else is entitled to interfere with any honorable gentleman’s questions or speeches. The only privilege extended in that direction is for honorable members to sub-edit their own speeches before they are printed in Hansard. Only one day elapsed between when the question was asked and when it was answered. I wonder whether a proof was sent to the honorable gentleman for correction. The. responsibility would then have been on him to make the correction at that time. I shall look into the, matter and, if possible, ensure its correction in the permanent edition of Hansard, if not in the proof number.
– I desire to make a personal explanation, Mr. Speaker. The proof of my original question was sent to me and I did not alter it. The question was printed as I asked it. The reply was sent to me, but it had appeared in Hansard before I received it.
– “Was the reply as handed out or as it was given by the Minister? I do not suggest that the honorable member is at fault other than that I think he would have seen the proof of the reply in Hansard and made the correction then. However, I shall do whatever I oan to rectify the matter.
– I point out to the Prime Minister that people in business in Tasmania who find it expedient to import goods from the mainland by air, are now being approached by the Deputy Commonwealth Statistician in Hobart to supply him with a complete description of goods received or despatched by them, in sufficient detail to enable such goods to be classified into statistical classes and showing the avoirdupois weight of the consignment or the accepted unit of quantity, and the value to the nearest £1. To-day, I received copies of communications and forms sent out by the Deputy Commonwealth Statistician to business people in Tasmania. On the form which has to be filled in appears a clause providing for a £10 penalty for refusal or for neglect to give the information sought. Has the Commonwealth Statistician the right to demand such information,, and may a penalty be imposed for non-compliance, with his demand ? If so, under what statute has the Commonwealth Statistician been given such power? Does not the Prime Minister consider that the bills of lading and manifests prepared by the airways companies could readily provide all the desired information without imposing upon every small, trader the burden of completing lengthy forms every month?
– The subject-matter of the honorable member’s- question was dealt with on an earlier occasion. Following a conference of Commonwealth and State Statisticians, and further consultation with the State Statisticians, the Commonwealth Statistician indicated that he desired to obtain certain statistical information which is regarded by statisticians in Australia and elsewhere as of great importance. Originally, th<< questions asked of traders in relation to various matters were somewhat lengthy As the Commonwealth Statistician comes within the jurisdiction of the Department of the Treasury,. I pointed out to him that I thought these questions should be condensed to the absolute minimum necessary to elicit the desired information. Finally, I approved of the text of a number of statistical forms sent out by him. I did not sea anything in the- form to which the honorable member has referred to which objection could be taken. Itf preparation, no doubt, involves some physical and mental effort, but that if inevitable. I understand that power hag always resided in the Commonwealth Statistician to compel the furnishing of information required for the compilation of his statistical returns. The honorable member’s question raises some, legal issues. I shall bring that aspect of his question to the notice of the Acting AttorneyGeneral and ask that a full ‘reply infurnished.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to statements made by the Reverend E. J. Davidson, rector of St. .Tames’.? Church of
England, Sydney, and the Reverend W. G. Coughlan, director of the Christian Social Order Movement, Sydney, and to- the leading article in this week’s issue of the Catholic Weekly, the official organ of the Catholic Church in Sydney, deprecating the religious censorship provisions contained in the Australian Broadcasting Bill? If not, will the right honorable gentleman give urgent consideration to the statements made by the representatives of religious bodies in Australia expressing fears about the effects; of this legislation ? fs he aware that, eminent, legal advice has been received that the censorship provisions of the legislation cover clerics, as well- as laymen, whose services are being broadcast? Is it true that the Catholic Hour broadcast, each Sunday by station 3AW, Melbourne>. is to be brought under the- provisions of the> legislation immediately after the amending bill now before the Parliament is proclaimed? Is not Australia required to- guarantee religious freedom under its obligations to the United Nations organization?
– I have not seen the statements or the leading article to which the honorable member has referred. This matter was dealt with very fully during the debate that took place when the Australian Broadcasting Bill was before this House recently. I know the Reverend E. J. Davidson very well. I am aware that he does, a great deal of broadcasting, because T have met him at broadcasting studios on a number of occasions. The honorable- member has described the Catholic Weekly as- the official organ of the Catholic Church in Sydney. Following the publication of certain matters in that journal, I was assured by very high dignatories of the Catholic Church that it is not the official organ of that church and, in fact, that the Catholic Church has no official organ. As to the opinion of legal experts on these matters, my own experience has been, that eminent legal men frequently give different legal opinions. All honorable members are aware of the diversity of legal opinions expressed in this House by legal experts about what is and what is not the law. Not long ago I beard the Leader of the Opposition, a distinguished lawyer, speak in this House in striking terms about the invalidity of the uniform in- come tax. legislation ; but the High Court of Australia disagreed with that opinion. The: honorable member- referred, to the supervision of religious- broadcasts. The Government has made it. perfectly clear that it has no intention to interfere with scripts of addresses given by- clergymen, laymen, or by anybody else during religious broadcasts, so long as those addresses relate to religious subjects and to matters which pertain to the denominations q£ which they are- members. The honorable member referred to the broadcasts made- on Sundays by station 3 AW. Melbourne; I- have not. heard the broadcasts, but I have been informed that portion of the time set aside for religious broadcasts; by that station is devoted to political and. not to religious matters. T assure the honorable- member that the Government will not use the provision? of the Australian Broadcasting Act to interfere in any way with the- broadcasts of religions, services.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture aware that special, types of continental cheese, made by the Macleay River Cooperative Dairy Company Limited, at its Frederickton factory, near Kempsey. New South, Wales, command a better price than ordinary cheese in Hongkong: Singapore and other Eastern countries? Has that company established with the approval of the Australian Government, a factory for the special purpose of making this cheese, at a cost of £80,000? Is it true that, the United: Kingdom Government takes only a percentage of tLc total, output of the factory, with the result, that the company is losing many of its suppliers to adjoining milk factories, which are able to pay higher prices for milk because of the better overseas marketing conditions for their products? In view of the importance of maintaining and expanding markets for high-class Australian cheeses, will the Government take action to secure the purchase by the United Kingdom Government of the whole of the output of the company during the period in which governmenttogovernment contracts are in existence, or permit the export of these cheeses to other available profitable markets?
– It is necessary that I should know whether the right honorable member has been referring to ordinary cheese or to what is ordinarily called gorgonzola. I am aware that the McLeay River Co-operative Dairy Company Limited has manufactured considerable quantities of cheese of that very high type. Indeed, its “highness” constitutes its principle claim to notice. I also know that the United Kingdom Government does not desire the Australian Government to encourage dairy factories in Australia to manufacture for supply to the United Kingdom special and expensive cheeses. The United Kingdom Government wants the ordinary cheese which is manufactured by ordinary cheese factories. It is not true to say that the McLeay River Cooperative Dairy Company Limited was encouraged by the Commonwealth Government to make gorgonzola cheese.
– The factory was designed for that purpose.
– That has nothing to do with this Government. Cheese factories are licensed by the State governments. I am surprised that the right honorable gentleman should be advocating the granting of special privileges to firms which manufacture special kinds of cheeses when the Government of the United Kingdom wants ordinary cheddar cheese, which is cheaper, and has at least the same nutritional value as the more costly cheeses. Some months ago, the McLeay River Co-operative Dairy Company Limited was in correspondence with me on this subject and, if I remember rightly, I replied that if it canvassed the markets in Melbourne and Sydney it would probably be able to sell all the cheese it produced. As for the Hong Kong, Singapore and other Eastern markets. I understood that the right honorable member for Cowper was more interested in feeding the people of Great Britain than the people of other countries.
– by leave - During the last few weeks, several members of the Opposition, including the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), have asked that an opportunity be given before the end of this sessional period to debate international affairs. In reply, I said that I would consider whether a statement of real value could be made to the House. At the present time, many matters of world importance are the subject of delicate negotiation. These include matters affecting the relationship between the various parts of the British Commonwealth. They were discussed at the recent conference of Prime Ministers in London, and involve India and South Africa, and touch on the delicate matter of nationality. In Paris and throughout Europe, there are undercurrents which could cause serious trouble. The odds are now in favour of some solution being found of the problems which confront the nations. The situation in Greece is not satisfactory from the point of view of the British Commonwealth, and particularly of some of the Dominions. Efforts hanbeen made through the Balkan Committee, and later by the United Nations, to remedy the situation in Greece. The position in Palestine, I am pleased to say, seems to be improving. If it is not yet entirely satisfactory, there seems to be a possibility of agreement between the Jews and the Arabs. The position in Indonesia, which has caused great concern to the Opposition and to the Government, seems to have taken a more satisfactory turn. No useful purpose could be served by a general discussion on those matters now. There have been many protracted conferences on the situation in Berlin and Western Europe, at which economic as well as diplomatic aspects have been reviewed. One could speak for hours on the European economic situation, and I have in mind particularly continental Europe as affected by the economy of the United Kingdom, and by the Marshall aid plan of the United States of America. Most honorable members understand that the direct point of contention in the Berlin dispute is the kind of currency which is to be used in the city. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) and the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) have been to Berlin, and will understand something of the difficulties that exist there. I could say a great deal on this and other subjects affecting Europe, because the Australian Government has been kept very fully informed about them, but I do not think that such a statement would help to solve the problems or to preserve world peace. The United Nations Organization has come in for a good deal of criticism, and I have not always been able to see the justification for those attacks. I believe that the United Nations organization has done a very good job in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. The organization was not created to make peace treaties. It was created to preserve peace in the world after peace treaties had been negotiated. It has never had an opportunity to do the work for which it was created. Despite that, it has done good work in relation to Palestine, Indonesia, Greece and Berlin and there seems to be a prospect that its efforts will ultimately be successful. A member of this House (Dr. Evatt) is the distinguished president of the General Assembly of the United Nations and no matter what some honorable members may think, it cannot be denied that his efforts have placed Australia right in the forefront of the councils of the world. However, I do not propose to embark upon a eulogy of the United Nations organization except to say that it has brought to an open forum many contentious subjects, and has compelled the nations, no matter how much in conflict their opinions may be, to state those opinions so that the world may know what they are. That is better than that such matters should become the subject of secret diplomacy only. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) asked a question to-day about China. Much could be said on that subject, and also about the position in Indo-China, Malaya, Indonesia, Greece and Western Europe, but it would only weary the House if I were to make a long statement. I propose to table a statement dealing factually with international affairs, rather than expressing opinions about them. I hope that before the Parliament meets again in the New Year, some of the problems which are now outstanding will have been solved. I admit that the problem of western Germany and of Berlin is likely to remain outstanding for a long time, no matter what temporary solution may be reached now. Whatever may be the feelings of those who lost relatives in the fight against Germany, the fact remains that the economic restoration of Germany is essential to the economic recovery of Europe. I do not believe that Europe can become the economic unit that it formerly was unless the resources of Germany are fully utilized. It is true that in France and Italy production has increased considerably. I am ignoring for the moment the recent industrial troubles in France. Despite that increased production, France, which was for a long time one of the bulwarks of democracy and which has been regarded by other democratic nations as a model for democracy, is, owing to its Jack of political and economic stability, very short of what is known as hard currency and, to a lesser degree, of soft currency. The capacity of countries such as France to buy Australian wool and other commodities vitally affects the economy of this country, as does the great struggle in which the United Kingdom is involved in its attempts to achieve economic stability and a better standard of living for ite people. These and other matters such as the operations of the Marshall aid plan, the possibility of that plan achieving the objective at which it is aimed, and the great work that the people of the United Kingdom are doing to help to rehabilitate Europe, despite their own economic struggle, are matters that could he canvassed at great length. With the consent of the House, I shall incorporate in Hansard the statement to which I have already referred. It reads as follows : -
I have already indicated to the House that it would not he opportune at the present time to discuss in detail certain situations which are at present the subject of negotiation. There are some aspects of these situations, however, about which I might usefully give an account.
Before discussing these world problems J should like to refer to the meeting in London of representatives of the British Commonwealth which took place from the 11th to the 22nd October. There were present delegates of nine sovereign governments, including for the first time, India, Pakistan and Ceylon, representing different races aud regions of the world. As the primary purpose was to achieve a close understanding of the problems of the different countries represented and to determine how each could best help the others, the customary procedure was followed of making no formal resolutions, and. much of the time was occupied by informal discussions between individuals. Both in the general und informal discussions, a careful study was made of the existing methods of consultation within the Commonwealth. Although the present methods of day-by-day consultation are satisfactory, as I have frequently said, certain proposals providing for improvements in the existing machinery, particularly more frequent personal contact, were put forward by the Minister for External Affairs who was representing me, and these ure now being considered by each of the governments concerned. Discussion covered political, economic and defence matters and during the course of the talks it became apparent that, in their approach to the broad world problems of to-day, the various governments hold remarkably similar views. They are resolved to co-operate to secure world peace, and all argue this can best be achieved by supporting the work of the United Nations in all its different organizations and agencies. The Prime Minister of India, Mr. Nehru, made a special contribution in emphasizing that it was not enough merely to seek peace or the settlement of disputes as they occur: peace must be founded on freedom from want, and on continuous economic, social and political development. To this end, Commonwealth countries will endeavour to strengthen their own economics and do all in their power to assist in the development of others and thereby bring about conditions in which democracy cun thrive.
At the first plenary session, the United Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer outlined the economic prospects for the Commonwealth as a whole and suggested some ot the economic difficulties which might be expected in the next year or so. He also gave details of the economic plans of the United Kingdom Government for the next four years. The knowledge of these plans will greatly help the Australian Government and the other governments of the Commonwealth to plan development and production over that period. The Chancellor added to his remarks the thanks of his government for the assistance given to the United Kingdom by the Dominions since the end of the war. The meeting placed on record its recognition of the sovereign status of Ceylon, and affirmed that Ceylon enjoyed the same independence as the other self-governing countries of the Commonwealth who are already members of the United Nations. Tt went on to record its support for Ceylon’s application for membership of the United Nations. The remainder of the discussions were concerned with certain of the existing world political problems which I shall be touching upon.
The London meeting was without doubt a most valuable one and was heartening in its
If- flii -v… demonstration of the continuing strength ot the Commonwealth and the determination ot its leaders that it shall continue to stand for the principles of order, justice and freedom from fear.
The Prime Ministers’ Conference and the United Nations General Assembly have been field in an atmosphere of international tension, heightened by the situation in Berlin. I wish to review some of the events that led up to the approach made by the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Dr. Evatt, and the Secretary-General, Mr. Trygve Lie, to the Governments of the United Kingdom, the United States, France and the Soviet Union.
Background to the END of June, 1948.
Following the failure of the Council ot Foreign Ministers at the end of 1947 to reach agreement on the future of Germany, representatives of the three western powers, together with officials from Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, began discussions on Western Germany in March of this year. From the first, the Soviet Union has maintained that the holding of these discussions meant that the Western Powers were breaking the Yalta and Potsdam Agreements for the four-power government of Germany during the occupation period. On the 20th March, the representative nf the Soviet Union on the Allied Control Council for Germany used this argument, together with the fact that his Government was not being informed of the progress of the London discussions, as an excuse for with drawing from a meeting of the Council. Since that time the Council, together with its sub ordinate bodies, has been in abeyance. Withdrawal from the Allied Control Council was followed by the intensification of restrictions on the communications between Berlin and the Western Occupation Zones. Previously, the restriction^ were not severe and caused inconvenience rather than genuine difficulty to the Western Powers.
On the 6th June, the six-power discussions caine to an end. Recommendations, including one tor the establishment of a government for Western Germany, were submitted to participating governments and were accepted by all. The recommendations met with a strongly hostile reception from the Soviet radio and press which characterized them as an “ illegal departure “ from the principles of Yalta and Potsdam.
The next important issue was that of currency reform. All four powers have been agreed on the necessity for this. In the absence nf agreement on a uniform method of introducing a new currency throughout Germany. the Western Powers introduced a separate currency in their zones of occupation on the 20th June. The Russian authorities, on the grounds of preventing currency smuggling into their zone and also of -‘‘technical difficulties” with the railway, immediately cut rail, road and cm nal communications between the Western
Zones and Berlin. They followed this action with the issue of a new currency for their own tone and for Berlin. The Western Powers indicatedthey would have accepted the new Soviet currency for Berlin had the Russian authorities agreed to make its issue in Berlin subject to four-power control. This the Russians refused to do. The Western Powers then declared the new Soviet currency illegal in the Western sectors of Berlin and issued a new version of the western currency for their sectors. four-power Negotiations - Talks or Berlin Military Governors, late June and early July.
An exchange of letters took place at the end of June between General Robertson, the United Kingdom Commander-in-Chief in Germany, and Marshal Sokolovsky. The former demanded the immediate lifting of the blockade for humanitarian reasons. The latter emphasized in his reply that the only reasons for the blockade were prevention of currency smuggling and “ technical difficulties “ on the railways. On the Srd July, the Soviet Governor agreed to a meeting of all four Governors. In defending Soviet policy. Marshal Sokolovsky directly linked the maintenance of the Berlin blockade with the consequences of the earlier London discussions between the three Western powers. government-to-GOVERNMENT negotiations.
This meeting in Berlin failed to resolve the deadlock and it was clear that nothing further could be achieved by continuing talks there. The Western Powers then sent separate Notes to the Soviet Government, emphasizing in clear terms their juridical rights in Berlin, demanding the lifting of the blockade and, finally, offering, once the blockade was lifted, to discuss further questions affecting Berlin.
The Russian reply to the United Kingdom Government stated “… the Soviet Government are unable to agree with this statement of the British Government and consider that the situation created in Berlin has arisen as a result of the infringement by the Governments of Great Britain, the United States and France of agreed decisions undertaken by the Four Powers with regard to Germany and Berlin expressed in the carrying out of separate monetary reform, the introduction of a separate currency for the Western Sectors of Berlin, and the policy of dismemberment of Germany “. The Note stressed that by breaking the four-power agreements, the Western Powers had “ destroyed that equal basis which guaranteed their right to participate in the control of Berlin “. It also observed that the United Kingdom Government had offered to negotiate on Berlin, once the blockade was lifted, but had not offered to negotiate on Germany asa whole. The Note concluded with a categorical statement that the Soviet Government would not accept any conditions for four-power talks or any restriction of such talks to Berlin to the exclusion of the rest of Germany.
Negotiations in Moscow.
The British and United States Governments were nonetheless determined to exhaust the full possibilities of negotiation. In announcing his intention to send Mr. Roberts as a special envoy to Moscow, for further talks, Mr. Be vin said, in the House of Commons on the 29th July, that the United Kingdom Government were quite prepared to discus; both the Berlin problem and “ even other problems as well “, provided that the discussions were not conducted under duress.
At the talks in Moscow between the three Western representatives and Mr. Stalin and Mr. Molotov, it was made clear that the Western Powers would accept the Soviet proposal of four-power talks on Germany as a whole, provided that a satisfactory agreement could be reached on Berlin. The main Berlin problems were the lifting of the blockade, the Berlin currency and related questions of credit and trade. After a second consultation with Mr. Stalin, agreement was reached for the lifting of the blockade; the application of Soviet zone currency to the whole of Berlin (under four-power control and with due safeguards for the holders of western marks) ; and the holding of four-power meetings on Germany as a whole at a later date. It was decided, however, that before a final agreement was made the detailed questions of lifting the blockade and the currency changer in Berlin should be referred to the four Military Governors in order that they might formulate a directive laying down the details of the procedure to be followed. This was to have been done in a week.
Negotiations in Berlin.
When the four Governors commenced their meetings, it soon became clear that Marshal Sokolovsky did not accept the Moscow directive as more than a working paper and that he had no intention of adhering to what the Western Governors had believed was a clear assurance from the Soviet Government on the question of four-power control of Berlin currency. In consequence, the Military Governors’ talks ended in another complete deadlock.
Further Talks in Moscow.
In an effort to clarify the situation, the three Western representatives in Moscow asked for a further meeting with Mr. Stalin. They wcTe informed that he was absent from Moscow. A meeting was therefore arranged with Mr. Molotov. At this, and a subsequent meeting, Mr. Molotov made it clear that no modification of the attitude of Marshal Sokolovsky in Berlin could be expected. Consequently, the talks in Moscow were discontinued.
Reference to the Security Council.
On the 22nd September, the three Western Powers sent a Note to the Soviet Government re-stating their position on the points at issue and expressing the belief that, as the Soviet Government was fully acquainted with this position, further discussions on the existing basis would serve no useful purpose. The Note asked formally whether the Soviet Government was prepared to lift the blockade to provide a basie on which a renewal of discussions might be possible. The Soviet reply proving unsatisfactory, the Western Powers, by identical Notes, advised the Soviet Government on 27th September that they intended to place the Berlin dispute before the Security Council of the United Nations. Those Notes traced the history of negotiations and specifically charged the Soviet Government with attempting, “ by illegal and coercive measures, in disregard of ite obligations, to secure political objectives to which it is not entitled “ and of attempting to “ reduce the status of the occupying powers in Berlin to one of complete subordination to Soviet rule, and thus to obtain complete authority over the people of Berlin and incorporate the city into the Soviet zone”. In reply the Soviet Government, on the 3rd October, sent Notes to the Governments of France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America placing the blame for the Berlin situation on the Western Powers and again linking the issue to that of four-power control of Germany as a whole. The Soviet Note denied that the dispute constituted a threat to the peace and proposed that the Council of Foreign Ministers be convened to examine the situation in Berlin and also the question of Germany as a whole in accordance with the Potsdam Agreement.
The Western Powers, when referring the dispute over Berlin to the Security Council, declared that the action of the Soviet Government in imposing the blockade not only conflicted with the right of the three Governments with regard to the occupation and administration of Berlin, but was also contrary to its obligations under Article 2 of the Charter of the “United Nations. Moreover, it created fi threat to the peace within the meaning of Chapter VII. of the Charter. In seeking to resist the admission of their complaint to the agenda of the Council, Mr. Vyshinsky mainta’ined that the only legal channel for the settlement of the dispute was the Council of Foreign Ministers. The Soviet answer of the 3rd October to the Note of the Three Powers, conveying notice of their intention to refer the dispute to the Security Council, had already expressed the same opinion. He reiterated that the Berlin question was loosely linked with the question of Germany as a whole. When the dispute over Berlin was formally included in the agenda Mr. Vyshinsky, and with him Mr. Manuilsky, delegate of the Ukraine, declared their intention of taking no further part in the discussion.
As a consequence of the discussion within the Security Council and the initiative of the President of the Council, Dr. Bramuglia, a compromise resolution was placed before the Council by the Delegations of Argentina, Belgium, Canada, China, Colombia and Syria. This resolution sought to bring about simultaneously the immediate removal of all restrictions on communications, transport and commerce between Berlin and the Western Zones; and an immediate meeting of the four Military Governors of Berlin to arrange for the uni-
Ifr. Chifley. fication of the currency on the basis of the German mark of the Soviet Zone, under the control of the Quadripartite Financial Commission. This resolution, however, was opposed by the Soviet Union on the grounds that it did not provide for the actual introduction of the new currency simultaneously with the lifting of restrictions on communications. The vote on this resolution, which was taken on the 29th October, resulted in nine in favour of the resolution and two against, namely, the Soviet Union and the Ukraine. Because a negative vote was cast by a permanent member of the Security Council the resolution was rejected, and the item still remains on the Security Council agenda.
In the meantime the whole question of Big Power co-operation had been brought to the attention of the General Assembly of the United Nations by the Mexican Delegation. This delegation submitted a resolution appealing to the Great Powers to renew their effort? to compose their differences and establish a lasting peace. After discussion in the Political Committee, the General Assembly of the United Nations, in Plenary Session on November 3rd, adopted a resolution based on the original Mexican proposal, the major powers joining in the unanimous vote. In this resolution the General Assembly declared that the disagreement between the Great Powers “ in a matter of vital importance to all the United Nations, is at the present time the cause of deepest anxiety amongst all the peoples of the world “. The resolution went on to declare that the United Nations “ is bound to afford its assistance and co-operation in the settlement of a situation the continuation of which involved great dangers to international peace “. The General Assembly then resolved to express its confidence that the Allied Powers would re-affirm their faith in the principles of the Atlantic Charter. It also affirmed the Yalta Declaration proclaiming the need for close co-operation among the Great Powers. In addition, the Assembly recommended the powers which were signatories to the Moscow Agreement of December, 27th, 1945, and the powers which subsequently acceded thereto “ to redouble their efforts … to achieve in the briefest possible time the final settlement of the war and the conclusion of all the peace treaties “.
It has long been clear, and experience since the opening of the .present session of the General Assembly confirms the fact, that the work of the United Nations is clogged in all its departments by the inability of the Great Powers to settle their differences and, in particular, the Berlin dispute. This dispute seems in fact to have over-shadowed the whole of the proceedings of the Assembly even extending its baneful effect to the economic and social and other constructive work of the United Nations. In this situation, therefore, a serious responsibility was placed on the President of the Assembly and upon the Secretary-General. The rules of the General Assembly confer on the President great responsibility for the functioning of the Assembly. The SecretaryGeneral, on the other hand, has an overall responsibility for the success of the United Nations, the implementation of Assembly resolutions and, under the Charter, a specific responsibility for the maintenance of world peace.
It was clear from the discussions in the Security Council that, at one stage, agreement on Berlin was very nearly reached. After that, however, active attempts to find a solution practically ceased. In addition there was a grave danger that the Assembly’s resolution would become merely a dead letter unless some action were taken. Further drift without action constituted a real danger to international peace. It was in these circumstances that Dr. Evatt and the Secretary-General appealed to the four powers to continue their efforts to find an agreement. They offered their own services to this end and in a letter to each of the powers, drew attention to the resolution and to the fact that the representatives of all the Big Powers had spoken in unqualified support of it and had voted for it. The letter went on to urge that the first step confronting the Big Powers was to resolve the Berlin question, pointing out that the continuation of the dispute was undermining the work of the Assembly. It indicated that the history of the Security Council’s consideration of thedispute demonstrated that it waa capable of solution. The letter urged upon the four governments the desirability of immediate conversations, and of taking all other steps necessary toward the solution of the Berlin question, thus opening the way to a prompt resumption of negotiations for the conclusion of the remaining peace settlements. In addition, Dr. Evatt and Mr. Lie expressed the belief that the Great Powers shouldlend their full and active support to the efforts at mediation of the dispute being made by the President of the Security Council, and said that for their own part they were ready to lend any further assistance which might be necessary.
In their reply to the joint approach by Dr. Evatt and Mr. Lie, all four powers expressed their desire to find a solution. The United Kingdom, France and the United States indicated that it was their belief that, as the Berlin question was still beforethe Security Council, further action towards a solution should be made through that body. In addition, they emphasized that it was their view that before negotiations could begin the Berlin blockade must be lifted. They suggested, in effect, that any immediate conversations amongst the powers which might take place should be in the Security Council. Following this reply Dr. Evatt and Mr. Lie renewed their appeal that full support should be given to the mediation efforts of the President of the Security Council, Dr. Bramuglia. These appeals evoked a warm response among other delegations, particularly the middle and small powers, and the response itself reflected a widespread desire that the search for a solution should not bc abandoned.
Attempts at conciliation have been resumed. Discussions between the Council President and representatives of great powers have now been going on for some time, and have undoubtedly been facilitated by the expressed desire of the General Assembly that a solution be found in the interests of all the Members of the United Nations.
Amongst other complex and difficult pro blems which have come before the United Nations is that of Greece. The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted on the 21st October, 1947, a resolution providing for the creation of a Special Oommittee on the Balkans to assist the Government of Greece on the one hand and the Governments of Albania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia on the other, to carry out four specific recommendations -
The Special Committee was also to observe the compliance of the four Governments with these recommendations. As a member of it, Australia from the outset sought to ensure that the efforts of the Committee were directed towards conciliation, rather than a narrow investigation of frontier disputes. The former Committee on the Balkans had conducted a searching investigation during 1947 as a result of which it had concluded that Albania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia had given assistance and support to the guerrillas fighting against the Greek Government. The Australian Government believed, therefore, that no useful purpose would be gained by a further examination of the facts already established. The real need was to assist the Governments concerned to find a solution to their differences by a process of conciliation as provided in the Special Committee’s terms of reference. Where the Committee nevertheless decided to make investigations of frontier incidents, Australia’s representatives on the Special Committee insisted that they should be marked by the highest degree of impartiality. While supporting the main conclusions submitted by the Special Committee on the Balkans to the General Assembly, the Australian representative entered a special reservation on that section of the report which dealt with the Committee’s observation of the frontiers between Greece and her northern neighbours. The reservation expressed the Australian view that that section of the Special Committee’s report gives a disproportionate emphasis to Committee activities which were not in accordance with the spirit and intention of the General Assembly.
When the Political and Security Committee nl the General Assembly commenced discussion of the Greek situation a joint resolution was submitted by the United States, the United Kingdom, France and China proposing the re-establishment of the- Special Committee with functions largely identical to those performed during the past year, and condemning Albania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia for rendering assistance to the Greek rebels. The Australian Delegation was concerned not so much to fix blame for the disturbed state of affairs in the Balkans as to indicate actual means whereby a permanent and just solution could be reached. Australia joined with the United Kingdom, the United States and the great majority of the Assembly in condemning the interference in Greece of her northern neighbours and in calling upon them to desist. We also supported the continuance next year of the United Nations Special Committee for the Balkans partly to keep the situation under observation and to act as a deterrent to such interference; but chiefly we tried to ensure that it would be a body of good offices and conciliation. However, the Australian Delegation felt that such an approach by itself was too negative. Australia therefore tabled a supplementary resolution which suggested that the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General of the United Nations might jointly convene in Paris a meeting of the representatives of the Governments of Albania, Bulgaria, Greece and Yugoslavia, “to explore the possibilities of reaching agreement among themselves, as to the methods and procedures which might be adopted with a view to resolving the present differences between them “. This course was adopted unanimously by the Political Committee and meetings of representatives of the four countries are now being held in Paris under the chairmanship of Dr. Evatt and some progress has already been made.
The Political and Security Committee has also reached unanimous agreement on a resolution dealing with the removal of Greek children by the guerrillas. The resolution, which was supported by Australia, recommends ‘ the return of Greek children at present away from their homes when the children, their fathers or -mothers or their closest relatives, express a view to that effect”. The resolution provides also for the assistance of lied Cross and Red Crescent Societies in seeing that the decisions are carried out faithfully. U is notable that in addition to securing the support of the entire committee this resolution was also supported by the representatives of Albania and Bulgaria, who are not members >f the United Nations.
There are some other important problems in Greece which have been excluded from the work of the United Nations Assembly as being matters of domestic jurisdiction. Australia has not sought to interfere with Greece’s domestic affairs. However, Dr. Evatt did, as President of the General Assembly, send messages to the King and Prime Minister of Greece requesting them, in the interest of all the United Nations, to review the sentence* of death imposed upon several Greek trade union leaders. The general- feeling of member, of the General Assembly was that the execution of these men would have further aggravated relations between the Balkan States and thus reduced considerably chances of a settlement. The Greek Government hag postponed and is now reviewing the sentences. Its action in so doing is a significant gesture, on its side, towards the settlement of the problem. The messages between the Prime Minister of Greece and the President of the Assembly were couched in the friendliest term*
The Palestine dispute with its attendant bloodshed and uprooting of people is again before the United Nations and a strenuous effort is being made to find a final basie for settlement between Arabs and Jews.
Before his assassination on the 17th September, the United Nations Mediator for Palestine, Count Bernadotte, made a report to the General Assembly. He recommended a number of specific measures suggesting that the frontiers between Arabs and Jewish territories should be delimited by a technical Boundaries Commission, and the boundaries which had been defined in the Assembly*! earlier resolution on partition should be revised. For example he considered that the Negeb area might be defined as Arab territory and Galilee as Jewish territory, and that Transjordan might eventually be merged with Arab territory in Palestine. Count Bernadotte believed that the City of Jerusalem should be treated separately and be placed under effective United Nations control with the maximum feasible local autonomy for its Arab and Jewish communities. He concluded that the United Nations should establish a Palestine Conciliation Commission for a limited period which should undertake to supervise boundaries, the observation of minority rights and. other arrangements decided upon by the United Nations. The proposed Conciliation Commission would alan employ its good offices with a view to ensuring continuous peaceful adjustment in Palestine, and would report to the United Nations on any developments likely to alter the arrangements .recommended by the United Nations, or to threaten the peace of the area.
On the 18th October, the Acting Mediator for Palestine, Dr. Ralph Bunche, reported to the Security Council that serious fighting had been taking place in the Negeb sector during the previous three days. In the circumstances the indispensable condition of a restoration nf the situation was an immediate and effective cease-fire. The Acting Mediator suggested that, after the cease-fire, further negotiation? might be based upon withdrawal of both parties to the positions occupied before the outbreak. On the 10th October, the Security Council adopted a resolution endorsing the conclusions proposed by the Acting Mediator On the 25th October, Dr. Bunche reported that although . the Security Council’s resolution had been accepted- on the 22nd October, clashes were still occurring between the Jewish and Egyptian forces, and the provisional Government of Israel had not agreed to withdraw to the positions held on the 14th October. The representative of the provisional Government, nf Israel declared! that the provision concern ing the withdrawal of troops could not be recognized’ as a definite obligation but merely, in the- terms of’ the Council’s resolution, as “ a basis for further negotiations-“. After further debate on the question, the Security Council adopted’ a resolution on the 4th November’ calling upon the interested Governments, without prejudice to their rights and claims; to withdraw those of their forces which had advanced beyond the positions held on the 14th October, the date of the outbreak in the Negeb. The Acting Mediator was authorized to establish provisional lines beyond which movement of troops should not take place. Permanent truce lines,, and such neutral or demilitarized zones as might appear advantageous in order to ensure the full observance of the truce, were also to bc established. Failing agreement, the permanent truce lines and neutral zones were to be established by the Acting Mediator. The Security Council appointed a Committee con.sisting of the five permanent members with Belgium and Colombia to advise the Acting Mediator and, in. the event of either of the parties failing to comply with the Council’s resolution, to study further measures which the Council might properly take under Chapter 7 of the Charter. Chapter 7 deals with enforcement action of an economic, diplomatic ir military nature which the Security Council may take in order to preserve or restore peace.
The Palestine question has now again reverted to the General Assembly. The Political and Security Committee on the 16th November commenced discussion of the Mediator’s report and heard a statement issued by the Jewish representative re-affirming, that Israel could not. surrender the Negeb on the. grounds that the Assembly’s resolution on the partition of. Palestine allotted this territory to the proposed Jewish State., and that the initial aggression was of Egyptian origin.
One of the first problems to be decided by the Political and Security Committee is the delineation of boundaries for Jewish and Arab areas in Palestine. Australia has always maintained that the decision, of the UnitedNations must be supported and upheld. The 1947 assembly decision providing for the partition of Palestine was adopted after long and careful study, in the course of which the views of all interested parties were heard and examined.
As a result of the November, 1947, decision of the General Assembly the provisional Government of Israel has come into effective existence, leaving the main outstanding questions in Palestine those of the actual boundaries of the State of Israel, tia disposition of the Arab areas of Palestine and the implementation of the plan for an international regime covering Jerusalem and the Holy Place. It was recognition of this position which prompted the Australian delegation to introduce in the General Assembly a resolu-tura: on Palestine which takes as a basis for subsequent United Nations action the Novem-ber decisions including the proposals foi Jerusalem. The Australian resolution accept the existence of Israel as a direct result of the decision of the United’ Nations and as an effectively established state. It also seeks to secure
Bt permanent settlement between Israel and the- Arabs on the basis of direct negotiations between them, assisted, by a special United Nations Commission of Conciliation. That approach to the broad problem accepts the facts, of the. situation, in the Middle East and points, the way to a fair and lasting solution. The Australian approach appears to have substantial support in the General Assembly and may help -the Arabs, and Jews to find a com mon meeting ground. The United Kingdom also submitted to the Political Committee proposals for a settlement based upon the Berna dotte re-allocation of territory, and the United States for its part recommends a plan, is the form of substantial amendments to the United Kingdom draft, which would, leave the question of boundaries largely to negotiations between the parties, aided by a Conciliation Commit sion. Subsequently the United Kingdom entered an amendment to its own plans with drawing endorsement of the Bernadotte proposals and accepting the United States view that there should be no limitation on the pre posed Conciliation Commission.
Out of the armed conflict between the Arab.and Jews has arisen a serious humanitarian problem.. On the 16th August, Count Bernadotte, approached 23 countries with requests fur assistance for- 330,000 Arab refugees and 7,000 Jewish refugees from Palestine whos«pliant was described as- desperate. Australia was asked for 1,000 tons of wheat, 50. tons of butter and 50 tons of cheese. The United Nations Secretariat was informed ten days later that this request would be met, and by thc’ end of October the supplies were well on their- way to the Middle East. Further relief projects are at .present under consideration.
In my review of the situations existing in Germany, Greece and Palestine, I have touched already on the work of the third session of the General Assembly of the United Nations and it will have- been apparent from what I have said that the Australian Delegation in Paris is continuing to pursue the policies which thi, country has followed consistently since the founding of the United Nations. In the discussion of each problem during the current session of the General Assembly, the Australian Delegation has sought to apply the principles and purposes of the Charter. It has rejected any defeatist attitude which would regard war as inevitable or agreement between the powers as impossible of achievement. It has tried to develop and use fully the rightful role and influence of the middle and smaller powers which throughout the present Assembly has been exerted towards conciliation and securing the widest area of agreement on earl problem.
The responsibilities and influence of Australia have been greatly increased in Paris by the election of Dr.Evatt to the Presidency of the General Assembly. This is the highest position in international affairs ever attained byan Australian and is a recognition both of himself and of the policies which Australia has followed and advocated.
Of the many other items, in addition to Berlin, Greece and Palestine, which the Assembly has considered,I will deal now only with those which, I think, are of most concern.
The Australian Delegation has supported unequivocally the proposals for the control of
Atomic energy which were worked out by the Atomic Energy Commission. Australia as a member of the Commission during its first year and a half played a leading part in the formulation of these policies. The proposals had the strong support of the United States and the United Kingdom, but were unacceptable to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Some members suggested that in view of this disagreement it was useless to go ahead with the work of the Commission which should therefore suspend its activities for the time being. The Australian Delegation did not accept this attitude. They took the view that failure to find agreed means for the control of atomic energy would involve such disastrous consequences to the world that the effort should not be abandoned as long as some progress was still possible. This proved to be the view of the great majority of the Assembly including France, Belgium, the Scandinavian countries and India. As a result, the Assembly decided that the Atomic Energy Commission should continue its work, even though this involved leaving aside for the time being the vast difference of principle between the Soviet Union and the West.
At the beginning of the Session, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics put forward a proposal which called upon the great powers to reduce immediately their armaments and armed forces by one-third. The Australian Delegation felt that this proposal, though obviously unworkable in such a bare form, should not be swept aside without some serious consideration being given to the problem of disarmament itself. At our suggestion a sub-committee was set up which prepared a proposal subsequently adopted by the General Assembly. According to the terms of this proposal, agencies of the United Nations will, during the coming year, be studying means for the reduction of armaments along lines indicated by the Assembly and the Assembly will take further action at its next session. Thus, disarmament like atomic energy is another field where Australian initiative helped to avert a purely negative decision by the Assembly.
In accordance with the view expressed by Australian representatives at previous sessions of the General Assembly, Australia on the 22nd November introduced a resolution recommending that each member of the Security Council and of the General Assembly, in exercising its vote on the admission of new members, should act in accordance with the advisory opinion delivered bv the International Court of Justice. The international Court determined that a member of the United Nations was not juridically entitled to make its consent to the admission of an applicant for membership dependent upon conditions other than those provided in the Charter. In particular, a member of the United Nations could not subject its approval to the admission of a new state to the condition that other states be admitted to the United Nations at the same time.
Australia also introduced six separate resolu tions asking the Security Council to reconsider the applications of Portugal, Transjordan, Italy, Finland, Ireland and Ceylon in the light of the Assembly’s determination that those applicants satisfy the conditions of member ship laid down in the Charter.
Under the Charter, the administering powers have pledged themselves to recognize as paramount the interests of the inhabitants of nonself governing territories and to promote theiT welfare and self-government. We have found it necessary, however, in common with the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United States and other administering powers to resist attempts, on the part of some nonadministering countries, to interfere unconstitutionally with the primary responsibility of the powers administering trust territory. The Administrative Union proposed by Australia for New Guinea and Papua came up for consideration, in this context, at the present session. The Australian Government, in proposing the arrangement, has acted completely within it? rights and according to its obligations under the Charter and under the trusteeship agreement for the territory. However, the union met some opposition from representatives who argued that it might retard or prevent the natives of New Guinea from attaining the objectives set out for them in the Charter. The Australian Delegation, both in the Trusteeship Council and in the Assembly, answered their criticisms and where constructive suggestions were made the delegation tried to meet them. This Australian attitude of co-operation has been warmly commended by the other representatives. The General Assembly eventually adopted a resolution on administrative unions satisfactory to Australia and to other administering powers such as the United Kingdom, which is faced with similar problems in Tanganyika,
The Assembly has been working on a declaration of human rights which will be adopted during the present session. The declaration will have great moral force as a standard and will help to clarify and elaborate the general reference to human rights contained in the United Nations Charter. At the same time the Australian delegation has stated that a covenant and measures for carrying out and enforcing rights should be completed as soon as possible. Australia has from the beginning taken a positive stand on hum,an rights. We urged at the Paris Peace Conference that the Peace Treaties with enemy states should contain effective guarantees of human rights. We have also played our part from the beginning as a member of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights which made the first draft of the declaration and convention. Australia was one of the first countries to urge that Economic and Social Rights should be included in the declaration. This has now been done. The Australian Delegation has worked successfully to keep each Article of the declaration clear and concise, expressing the broad fundamentals of human rights, ft has resisted attempts to write in a series of limitations which should properly be done only in the legally binding covenant. (/) Genocide.
For over two years the United Nations has had before it proposals for a convention to pi event and punish genocide, the crime of destroying or injuring whole groups of people solely on such grounds as race or religion. This is an international crime which was given new importance in the last war by the organized programme of Hitler to exterminate the Jews, the Poles and other races. During these two years, drafts of a convention have been passed from one organ of the United Nations to another. At the meeting of the Economic and Social Council last August, Dr. Evatt took the lead in demanding that a convention be Anally concluded at this session of the Assembly. The Australian Delegation has followed this initiative by resisting all attempts to postpone the matter again. The final drafting of the Convention has now been concluded by the Assembly and will probably he adopted shortly.
The Australian Delegation opened the economic debates, drawing attention again to the great influence which the progressive solution of economic problems will have on the solution of political problems. The economic tasks of the organization are to promote increased standards of human welfare throughout the world and to eliminate or minimize major economic fluctuations and the consequent depressions. The Australian Delegation pointed out again, as Dr. Evatt did at the Economic and Social Council in August, that the organization of machinery for promoting and maintaining full employment by international action is far from adequate. The economic items on the agenda of the Assembly have been approached by the delegation from this point of view.
NORTH ATLANTIC PACT.
I turn now to consideration of the North Atlantic Pact. On 17 th March of this year representatives of the five Western European nations - Belgium, France, Holland, Luxemburg and the United Kingdom - signed in Brussels a Treaty of Economic, Social and Cultural Collaborative and Collective Self Defence. This Treaty, setting up what hae become known as the Western Union, received immediate support from Canada and the United States. On the day that it was signed President Truman said: “This development deserves our full support. I am confident that the United States will, by appropriate means, extend to the free nations the support which the situation requires”. The Canadian Prime Minister stated that he regarded it as a partial realization of the idea of collective security, by an arrangement made in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.
Active United States participation was provided for on 1 1th June when the United States Senate approved a resolution, introduced by Senator Vandenberg, to the effect that the United States of America should seek association “by constitutional process, with such regional and collective arrangements as are based on continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, and as affect its national security “. And the Canadian Minister for National Defence, Mr. Brooke Claxton, indicated that Canadian and American backing of the Western Union was the present basis of Canadian defence policy.
Following the Vandenberg resolution, the Ambassadors of the Western Union Powers met in Washington on the 6th July with officials of the United States State Department to exchange views and to discuss methods by which members of the Atlantic Community could strengthen the existing informal association based on a common political outlook. Canada was represented at these discussions by her Ambassador in Washington. They were purely exploratory and no final decisions were reached. Discussions at this level have continued since that meeting.
While no definitive action has yet been taken to finalize an Atlantic Security pact, it would seem from statements made by officials of the United States and Canadian Governments over the past few months that both Governments would be favorably disposed to the consideration of such a treaty. On the 29th October the representatives in Washington and Ottawa of the Western Union Powers were instructed to approach the Governments of the United States and Canada and to request those governments to consider the negotiation of a North Atlantic Pact.
On the 11th November, Mr. St. Laurent, the Acting Prime Minister of Canada, announced that his Government was ready to negotiate with the nations of the Western Union for an effective system of collective security.
The Australian Government has been kept advised of these developments but has taken no part in the discussions on the proposed pact.
What occurs in Indonesia is of the greatest interest to Australians, and the Government has been watching developments closely. We would all like to see the Netherlands and the Indonesian Republic compose their differences and reach agreement on the framework of a united and prosperous Indonesia. The absence of a settlement has delayed the recovery of Indonesia from the effects of the war and has caused unrest which is being felt throughout South-East Asia. Recently the Netherlands Foreign Minister flew to Batavia and spent a few days in Djocjakarta conferring with the Premier and other officials of the Republican Government in a further effort to reach a basis for agreement on the future position of the Republic. He has now returned to the Hague, and the Netherlands Government is understood to be considering his report. In the meantime, the United Nations Committee of Good Offices is continuing to do everything possible to bring about a settlement. As I pointed out to the House a short time ago, the Indonesian discussions are at a delicate stage where comment from outside parties might not be helpful. [ do not therefore wish to go into more detail on the subject at the present time. I have only to say this, that when the time comes to make known all the facts from the beginning of this episode, Australia’s considered policies and actions will receive widespread approbation.
Ab regards China, there is not a great deal I can say at this stage. The situation there is at present most confused, and honorable members should not take for granted all reports they may hear regarding progress of the fighting between the Chinese Government and the Communists. However, from the reports which the Government is receiving from its representatives in China, it is clear that the Chinese Government forces have recently received a number of setbacks and are now under strong pressure in areas not far removed from Nanking. In addition, the economic situation, particularly in the large cities, is still serious. The Government is watching the position carefully, and is taking all possible steps to safeguard the welfare and interests of any Australian citizens located in areas which may become involved in military operations.
The Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East has this week begun its fourth session at Lapstone. The function of this Commission, which operates under the general supervision of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, is to initiate measures for the economic reconstruction of Asia and the Far East through concerted action, for the raising of levels “of trade and other economic activity throughout the area and for the strengthening of economic relations between countries of the area and other countries of the world. Previous sessions of the Commission have been occupied largely with the prepare tion and consideration of preliminary studio of some of the main problems affecting the material progress of the region. All countriesrepresented on the Commission now recognise* that the time has come for the preparation of positive recommendations. This was emphasized at the opening of the present session by Hie Excellency the Governor-General and again by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction
Australia’s interest in this Commission arises both from our support for the United Nations and from our proximity to the territories covered by the work of the Commission. Political and social changes are taking place throughout these neighbour countries, and it is to Australia’s interest that these changes should be accompanied by improved living standards. Australian delegates have accordingly taken an active part in previous sessions of the Commission. This time we have added responsibilities as the host government. Not only is this the first United Nations meeting to be held in Australia, but it it the largest international conference we have ever had here. We have accordingly don* everything practicable to put adequate focilities at the disposal of the Commission.
I lay on the table the following paper : -
International Affairs - Statement by th» Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs, 2nd December, 1948. and move -
That the paper be printed.
– by leave - The observations of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) make it imperative that there should be a full and unrestricted debate on the matters to which the honorable gentleman has referred in the statement that he has just made, and on those which are contained in the document that he has laid on the table of the House. The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) is absent from Australia for long periods of time. The present unsettled conditions overseas, the actions of the United Nations, the actions of representatives of the Australian Government in Paris, and the Government’s lack of policy in relation to countries which are close to Australia are causing great concern to the Opposition and to the country generally. It is some time since the. House received any information from the Government with regard to international affaire. Therefore, honorable members on this side of the House welcome the Prime
Minister’s action, in tabling this statement. The criticism to which the right honorable gentleman has referred has arisen because no opportunity has been afforded for the House to debate the matters that have been raised. Honorable members on this side of the House have criticized certain actions of the United Nations organization, for which. Australia must take some blame, because the Australian Minister for External Affairs- is president of the General Assembly of that organization. I ask the Prime Minister to give an assurance that the debate will be full and unrestricted and of sufficient duration to allow the Opposition to express its views on these matters.
– I shall do my very best.
– The Prime Minister has said that he will do his very nest. What does that mean?
– If the business of the House is conducted with reasonable expedition, I shall endeavour to arrange for a discussion on international affairs to take place next week.
– It is- to be- a sop to us. If the business of the House is conducted with, expedition and if the members of the Opposition allow bills to pass without debate, then, because they have been good boys, they will be allowed to discuss international affairs. Is that what the Prime Minister means? The Parliament has reached a fine stage when the Opposition can be told that it will be permitted to discuss matters that are of vital importance to the British Empire and to the peace of the world only if it allows the legislation that is introduced by the Government to pass almost without debate.
– The Acting Leader of the Opposition referred to full and unrestricted debate. That could last for a month. I shall certainly provide facilities for a debate, hut it will not necessarily be an unrestricted debate.
– If the Prime Minister is prepared to give the Opposition an opportunity to express its views on matters that are of vital concern to the peace of the world, I shall not delay the House further.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Harrison) adjourned.
Alleged Leakages from Official Quarters.
– I direct, the attention of the Minister- for Post-war Reconstruction to a speech that was made some time ago by the Leader of the Australian Country party, in the course of which the right honorable gentleman purported to read from a copy of an alleged secret document containing the minutes of a meeting of the executive of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research that was held in July. Doubtless the Minister knows the document to which I refer. Has the honorable gentleman yet ascertained whether the passages that were read by the: Leader of the Australian Country party were extracts from a governmental document which emanated- from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research ? If the passages were- not verbatim extracts from the document, were they, in substance, true? “Was any of the matter that was read by the Lead’er of the Australian Country party an extract from a confidential document of the> Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, or did it contain information from such a document ? If so, what document? I request that specific answers be given to these questions- in view of the Minister’s statement that there is no truth in the allegations that there are security deficiencies in. the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
– I shall answer the question. This matter has already been dealt with at considerable length. Questions similar to those that have just been asked by the honorable member for Warringah have been asked by other honorable members, including the honorable member for Richmond. The Government has made it perfectly clear that, in its own time and in its own way, it will seek to establish whether anything has been stolen or forged* It has received in writing from the Opposition an intimation that honorable members opposite will not assist in any way to uncover either thefts or forgeries that occur in the community. If the honorable gentleman will place his questions on the notice-paper, they will receive due consideration.
Bill received fromthe Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Holloway) read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Lemmon) proposed -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to ratify and approve an agreement for the further variation of the agreement entered into between the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth and the Premiers of the States of New South Wales. Victoria, and South Australia, respecting the River Murray and Lake Victoria and other waters, and for other purposes.
.- I should like the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) to indicate whether this bill deals with the last report which honorable members have received relative to the diversion of the waters of the Snowy River, or with the lower reaches of the Murray River.
– in reply - The bill deals with the raising of the wall of the Hume Weir, and has no relation to the Snowy River.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Johnson) proposed -
That the House of Representatives approves of the distribution of the State of Tasmania into Electoral Divisions ns proposed bv Messrs. A. B. Smith, C. M. Pitt and C. A.Blakney, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of distributing the said State into Divisions, in their report laid before the House of Representatives on the 13th day of October, 1948, and that the names of the Divisions suggested in the report, and indicated on the map referred to therein, be adopted.
Debate (on motion by Dame Enid lyons) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Johnson) proposed -
That the House of Representatives approves of the distribution of the State of South Australia into Electoral Divisions asproposed by Messrs. A. G. Davis, C. M. Hambidge and K. V. McEntee, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of distributing the said State into
Divisions, in their report laid before the House of Representatives on the 7th day of October, 1948, and that the names of the Divisions suggested in the report, and indicated on the maps referred to therein, be adopted, except that the name “ Sturt “ be substituted for the name “ Bonython “.
Debate (on motion by Mr. McBridge) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Johnson) proposed -
That the House of Representatives approves of the distribution of the State of Victoria into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs. R. C. Nance and 0. G. Pearson, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of distributing the said State into Divisions, in their re port laid before the House of Representatives on the 14th day of October, 1948, and that the names of the Divisions suggested in the report, and indicated on the maps referred to therein, be adopted, except that the name “ Balaclava “ be substituted for “ Gordon “, the name “ Burke “ for “ Bourke “, the name “ Chisholm “ for “ Lonsdale “, the name “ Higinbotham “ for “ Bridges ‘”, the name “ Higgins “ for “ Hotham “, the name “ Isaacs “ for “ Balaclava “, the name “ Lalor “ for “ Phillip “. and the name “Murray “ for “Barkly”.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Harbison) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Johnson) proposed -
That the House of Representatives approves of the distribution of the State of Queensland into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs. J. E. Stewart, J. P. Harvey and J. C. Stewart, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of distributing the said State into Divisions, in their report laid before the House of Representatives on the 26th day of October, 1948. and that the names of the Divisions suggested in the report, and indicated on the maps referred to therein, be adopted, except that the name “ Bowman “ be substituted for “ Mowbray “, the name “Leichhardt” for “Dalrymple “, the name “ Oxley “ for “ Somerset and the name “ Ryan “ for “ Wilson “.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Francis) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Johnson) proposed -
That the House of Representatives approves of the distribution of the State of New South Wales into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs. V. F. Turner, D. S. Mulley and R. W. Evans, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of distributing the said State into Divisions, in their report laid before the House of Representatives on the 26th day of October. 1948, and that the names of the Divisions suggested in the report, and indicated on the maps re/erred to therein, be adopted, except that the name “ Bennelong “ be substituted for “ Lane Cove “, the name “ Cook “ for “ McGowen the name “ Cunningham “ for “ Werriwa “, the name “ Evans “ for “ Parkes ‘”, the name “ Farrer “ for “ Hume “, the name “Grayndler” for “Cook”, the name “ Hume “ for “ Farrer “, the name “ Kingsford-Smith “ for “ Watson “, the name “ Lawson “ for “ Bligh “, the name “ Lowe “ for “ Strathfield “, the name “ Lyne “ for “ Kendall “, the name “ Mackellar “ for “ Warringah “, the name “ Parkes “ for - Evans “, the name “ Phillip “ for “ Nelson “, the nome “ Warringah “ for “ Rawson “, the name “ Watson “ for “ Kingsford “, the name “ Werriwa “ for “ Cunningham “, and the name “West Sydney” for “Sydney”.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Harbison) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The object of this bill is to authorize the Commonwealth to execute agreements with the States relating to the provision of mental institution benefits, and to authorize payments for the purposes of those agreements to be made out of the National Welfare Fund. In accordance with the terms of agreements made with the States under the provisions of the hospital benefits legislation, free hospital treatment has, since 1946, been provided to qualified persons occupying beds in public wands in public hospitals. As mental institutions are not public hospitals, they do not come within the scope of the hospital benefits agreements. From time to time, however, representations have been made on behalf of the relatives of patients in mental institutions for a benefit scheme which would enable those patients or their relatives to be relieved of the liability for fees for maintenance or treatment.
The Government accepts the view that such a benefit should be provided, and has opened negotiations with the States with the object of reaching agreement on terms under which patients in mental institutions may be maintained without charge to their relatives or their estates. The proposal made to the States was that the Commonwealth would recoup to the States the equivalent of the fees received by them from the estates and relatives of patients, in return for the State authorities agreeing to remove all charges in respect of those patients. Most of the States have accepted the proposal in principle, although some points still remain to be settled with them. Negotiations are proceeding with the other States. The Commonwealth desires to expedite the introduction of the scheme, so that the benefit can be made available as soon as possible. This objective has been explained to the States, and the Government is confident that all of them will accept the scheme.
The bill authorizes the Commonwealth to enter into an agreement with the States substantially in accordance with the heads of agreement in the schedule to the bill. Before the scheme can be brought into operation in any State, it will be necessary for the Parliament of that State to authorize the execution of an agreement with the Commonwealth. Each agreement will be for a period of five years, and thereafter may be terminated after a specified period of notice by either party of not less than one year. The States will be required to ensure that no means test shall be imposed on and no fees charged to or in respect of qualified persons, and that except with the concurrence of the Commonwealth, no charge shall be made- to or in respect of qualified persons for services or comforts for which it wa? not customary to make a charge as at the 1st November, 1948. All mental patients in the mental institutions within, the scheme, will be eligible for benefit except those whose fees are borne by the Commonwealth or another State. Thus, the scheme will not apply to repatriation and other cases, which are the responsibility of the Commonwealth, or to cases maintained by one State at the expense of another State. The mental institutions to be included in the scheme will consist of all institutions and reception houses conducted by the State, or in receipt of a grant for maintenance from the State and approved by the Commonwealth for the purposes of the agreement.
The Commonwealth will pay to each State for each financial year or part thereof in respect of qualified persons an amount to be determined by multiplying the Commonwealth mental institution benefit rate by the number of patientdays in that financial year or part thereof. The ‘Commonwealth mental institution benefit rate, which will vary for each State, will be calculated by dividing the actual payments received by each State from the patients’ estates and relatives during .the year ended the 30th June, 1948, by the number of patient-days for that year. Figures relating to such payments have not yet been received from all the States, but it is expected that the daily rate will range from 9d. to ls. 3d. The estimated cost of mental institution benefits is £500,000 for a full year. It will be a charge on the National Welfare Fund.
Private mental hospitals are not provided for in this bill. The type of patient treated in such .hospitals differs from the type treated in the mental institutions conducted by the States, and the patients can be more appropriately regarded as comparable with those in ordinary private hospitals. The Government has decided that private mental hospitals shall be brought under the private hospitals benefits scheme. In order that benefits may be made available in respect of qualified patients in these hospitals, action wall be taken to amend the Hospital Benefits (Private Hospitals) Regulations to enable private .mental hospitals to become eligible for approval as private hospitals for the purposes of the regulations. The benefits payable in respect of qualified patients in private mental hospitals which are so approved will be at the rate of 8s. a day. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Francis) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 23rd November (vide page 3.296), on motion by Mr. Calwell -
That the bill be now read a .second time.
. -The Opposition has no objection to the passage of the present bill, because it is merely a series of amendments to the present act, in order that that legislation and the measure passed by this House this week regarding nationality and citizenship may be brought properly into line. This afternoon a question was asked by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) in relation to nationality. I feel sure that it was with a considerable degree of pleasure that honorable members heard the Minister say in his reply that British nationality is still the right of Australian citizens. That, of course, is an important aspect of the issue of passports, because it has been the experience of travellers from any part of the King’s dominions that, wherever they go in the world, the possession of a British passport, in which the words “British nationality “ are clear, is of the greatest possible help. Their .passage is thereby made easy as no unnecessary difficulties are placed in their way. I suggest to the Minister that when consideration is being given to the drafting of the new form of passport, pursuant to this legislation, it be borne in mind that substitution of the words “British subject” for the words “ British nationality “ would be undesirable. The Opposition considers that that would have very serious repercussions.
I have said that this measure is, in effect, a series of amendments to the principal act. However, in the principal act there is one provision which seems to allow a very great deal of latitude to the Minister, and which could readily be abused. These matters have become of considerable consequence in view of the general development of political trends throughout the world, the extensive unrest that has developed, and the change which is taking place within this country. It hai become necessary for us to look upon acts passed in earlier years with a more critical eye -than might have been the case at the time they were .introduced. 1 refer, particularly, to section 8 of the principal act, which reads -
An Australian passport may be cancelled by the Minister, or by an officer authorized in that behalf by the Minister, and the passport shall thereupon become void, and any person having in his possession or under Ms control any .such passport shall, on demand by an officer, forthwith deliver it to the officer . . Penalty: Fifty pounds or imprisonment for three .months.
There is absolutely no limitation placed upon the power of the Minister to cancel such a passport. There is no manner in which a person whose passport has been cancelled by the Minister can obtain redress. There are no grounds on which the Minister’s action can be challenged. lt is in this connexion that I feel that the present act does not really meet the situation now existing. It may be argued, of course, that no Minister is likely, in any way, to abuse that power, but I point out that in quite recent times we have had an experience which, in my view, ‘has a distinct bearing on this aspect. We have had the case of Australian citizens abroad, holding valid passports, whose actions and freedom overseas were challenged by the Minister, and an attempt made to control them. I refer, of course, to the “ Manila girls “. Although that situation does not need any recapitulation by me, I have received a letter from one of the women concerned, in which the case is stated. That letter supports clearly the objection that I am now raising to . the bill. This woman left Australia on a five-year passport, endorsed for the British Empire, the United States of America and possessions, and the Philippine Islands. The letter reads -
My contract was for six months, hut in no way restricted my services to six months. It stated that if at the end of the six months my services were no longer required by the United States Air Force, or if I desired to terminate my employment, my return to Australia would be accomplished by the United States Army. This clause was for our protection, but there was nothing which restricted us from travelling to other countries if we so. desired. At the end of the first six months, my services, along with everybody’s, were still required, and I desired to stay on in Japan. The girls who wanted to return home were returned via water or air transportation, as they requested. However, Mr. Calwell did, at that time, attempt to have the United States Air Force release all of us, but was unsuccessful; but twelve months later, in January, 1948,” in spite of protestations and requests to Mr. Calwell by the United States Air Force in the Far East, he was adamant, and rather than cause strained relations between Australia and the United States, the Air Force regretfully terminated our services.
Naturally, being so much closer to the rest of the world in Japan, and having the opportunity to accept alternate transportation to the United. States rather than Australia, many of us with the desire to travel, knowing that we were qualified stenographers and, therefore, in this day and age more or less at a premium all over the world, had no worries about supporting ourselves, legally and respectably, in the United States, Canada or wherever we should choose to seek employment. Neediest* to say that the very place where we thought our services would be most welcome, Australian Embassies and Consuls, surprised us by being reluctant to employ us .because of our service with the United States forces, a thing which we find hard to understand as we were always thought of as being particularly efficient.
The girls who were still happily employed with the United States Air Force at the time of Mr. Calwell’s demands for our return were not the only ones who were given the opportunity to come to America. Many girls, as their contracts were completed, requested transportation to the United States in lieu of Australia. The United States Government, believing us to be citizens of a free country, did not hesitate to give us transportation, as their own .people, working overseas, are perfectly free to request transportation to Australia. India, China or anywhere else if they do not wish to return to the United States by the short direct route. The American Government, believing that the Australian Government held the same concepts of freedom of the individual, and I am sure that the majority of the members of the Government do, saw no fit reason why they should refuse us our request, bundle us on a ship headed for Australia, and thus deprive us of the only opportunity we would probably ever have for foreign travel.
The American Government has fully fulfilled their contract with us and as we had no contract with the Australian Government, I for one cannot sea where Mr. Calwell has » case.
It is perfectly obvious that in thi* case the holding of passports did not give to the girls the protection which normally is supposed to flow from such passports in the conduct of their own affairs outside Australia. An amendment of the act to obviate a possible recurrence of this kind in the future is highly desirable. In the committee stage I shall move an amendment to meet what I regard as the needs of the situation.
– in reply - The possession of a British passport does not necessarily mean an undisputed right on the part of the holder to enter Australia. That was made clear when a lady by the name of Mrs. Freer tried to enter this country several years ago. She had a valid British passport and the Government said that she was not to be admitted to Australia. The High Court upheld the Government’s interpretation of the law. The possession of a British passport by a person who comes within the restricted provisions of our immigration laws, does not of itself permit him to enter Australia. There are persons born in Malaya and Hong Kong who come within the restrictive provisions of our legislation, and though they are British subjects, and possess the rights of British subjects in their own territory, we do not allow them to enter this country. It is not right to suggest that the possession of a British passport confers an unrestricted right on the persons holding it to enter this country. The present situation has continued since the Passports Act was assented to on the 2nd December, 1920. This provision does not in any way limit the power of the Minister to cancel a passport. Apparently the passports law has operated very well for 28 years. I hope that it will operate for another 28 years. While I remain Minister I have no intention to amend that section of the act in any way. The honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) referred to citizens abroad holding valid passports and being prevented from doing certain things. It is not true to say that all the persons who are abroad hold valid passports. There is nothing to prevent an Australian citizen leaving Australia without a passport, although I point out that it would be awkward for him to enter another country without one. We do not prevent any one from leaving this country without a passport. The cases of people in various parts of the world who do not have valid documents come before us occasionally, and we take action if the circumstances justify it. I am very glad that the House has given this bill such a rapid passage at the second reading stage. It is complementary to the nationality and citizenship legislation that has already been passed. The amendments involved are very brief, and are a natural and necessary consequence of that legislation. Perhaps in committee I shall be able to throw additional light, if that be necessary, on the various clauses of the bill. I have nothing further to add now.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Section seven of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - “7. - (1.) Subject to the regulations, an officer authorized in that behalf by the Minister may issue Australian passports to Aus tralian citizens and to British subjects who are not Australian citizens. “ (2.) Australian passports shall be issued in the name of the Governor-General and shall be in such forms as are approved by the Minister. “ (3.) An Australian passport in force under the Passports Act 1938 immediately prior to the commencement of this section shall subject to this Act, continue in force as if issued under this Act.”.
– I move -
That, at the end of the proposed new section, the following sub-section be added: - “ (4.) The holder of any such passport who has not obtained the same in contravention of this Act shall be entitled to the protection thereof during its currency, subject only to not being guilty after its issue of any misdemeanour or felony against the law of the Commonwealth or any Australian State or of any other country which, in the opinion of the Minister, is of such a character as would justify the cancellation of such passport.”.
I do not think that there is any need for rae to speak further on the amendment. I made my purpose clear in my secondreading speech, when I indicated that, in my opinion, there is a need to make a passport a document of much more value than it is at present. Developments in the last few months have made it apparent to all that certain restrictions may be placed on Australian citizens abroad, even though they hold valid Australian passports and have perfectly good standing with the law in this country and in other countries.
– The amendment would, if carried, repeal section 6 (1) of the Passports Act 1920.
– I am working on the 1938 act.
– I think it contains the same provision which I believe has not been amended since 1920. Section 6 of the Passports Act 1920, which was repealed by the Passports Act 1938, appears in the Passports Act 1938 as section 8 in terms very little different from those used in section 6 of the 1920 act. ‘Section 8 (1) of the 1938 act provides-
An Australian passport may be cancelled by the Minister, or by an officer authorized in that behalf by the Minister, and the passport shall thereupon become void, and any person having in his possession or under his control any such passport shall, on demand by an officer, forthwith deliver it up to the officer.
Sub-section 2 of section 8 deals with vises, renewal or the endorsement of a passport, and sub-section 3 enables any officer to take possession of any passport bearing a vise, renewal or endorsement which has been cancelled. The honorable member has moved an amendment that, if carried, would nullify the provisions of the section.
– It would not. It simply makes specific provision for passports issued in certain circumstances.
– That means that it would destroy the absolute power of the Minister.
– It would cut down the absolute power of the Minister.
– It would alter the power. An absolute power cannot be cut down; it may only be abolished. The amendment would diminish the authority of the Minister as expressed in the act at present. Therefore, I am opposed to it.
.- In view of the statement of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell), I support the amendment of the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons). It is true, as the Minister said, that the effect of the amendment would be to qualify the otherwise absolute power that resides in the Minister to withdraw a passport once issued and to do bo without cause and in an arbitrary fashion. The point made by the honorable member for Darwin is that, if a passport has been issued to a person and it has not been obtained in contravention of the act and that person has not been guilty of any misconduct that, in the opinion of the Minister, would warrant its withdrawal, he should not have the power to withdraw it. The arbitrary power of the Minister to withdraw a passport should be cut down. The honorable member for Darwin made that point well because she drew our attention to the fact that in recent months we have had on more than one occasion to direct attention to what is taking place inside the department over which the Minister for Immigration presides. I refer, of course, to the case of girls in Manila who held valid passports endorsed by an Australian official for entry into other countries. I do not need to say more than that. The honorable member for Darwin has drawn attention to a power of the Minister that requires qualification. The qualification provided for in the amendment is eminently reasonable. It does not take out of the hands of the Minister the power to withdraw a passport, but it limits his power to do so unless that power measures up to the standards set out in the amendment. In short, once a passport has been issued to a person we are opposed to its withdrawal, unless it has been obtained by means of misrepresentation or otherwise in contravention of the Passports Act or the person has been guilty of misbehaviour during the currency of the passport.
Ma-. HARRISON (Wentworth - Acting Leader of the Opposition) [4.8]. - I support the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons). I cannot follow the argument of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell). He apparently considers that the power that he has the right to exercise _would be limited by his accept.ance of the amendment. I put it to the Minister that a passport is not issued to a person unless the Minister is satisfied that the person is entitled to it. If the holder of the passport does not offend in such a way as to justify the cancellation of the passport, he should be allowed to enjoy the rights that the passport confers upon him. Yet the Minister has the arbitrary power to cancel a passport. A future Minister, by the exercise of that power, could unjustly penalize people he wanted to penalize for personal reasons. That is entirely wrong in principle. The honorable member for Darwin made out a perfectly good case quite clearly. In my opinion, the answer of the Minister does not in any way contradict her statements. I ask the Minister to give serious consideration to accepting the amendment. On more mature consideration he will see that it is the inherent right of persons who have been issued with passports to retain those passports unless they commit felonies or misdemeanours that warrant their withdrawal. Possibly the Minister’s refusal to accept the amendment is bound up with a certain incident. Possibly he thinks that if he gives way on this matter his stature will be lessened. On the contrary, his stature will be enhanced if he acknowledges that the incident is a blot on the otherwise excellent record of administration of the Department of Immigration and the Minister himself. I ask the Minister not to take the stand that for him to yield on this point would weaken a case that he considers strong. The justice of the amendment is obvious, and I ask the Minister to accept it.
– I thank the Leader of the Australian Country party for his encomiums with the one qualification that he stated.
– The Minister means the Acting Leader of the Opposition.
– Yes. I thank the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison). I had the Victorian political crisis on my mind and I was not sure whether the Liberal party or the Australian Country party was governing Victoria. As a matter of fact, I am awaiting the 4 o’clock news in order to get up to date on the matter.
– Order ! That has nothing to do with the question before the Chair.
– What I am doing is standing by the legislation passed, in the first instance, by the Hughes Government in 1920.
– Liberal governments have made mistakes.
– That is the first time I have seen a member of the Liberal party come to the penitents’ stool.
– I do not like many things that have been done by past governments. They do not bind me, and I do not think that they should bind any one in this Parliament.
– I do not think the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) is bound by anything. Hie enthusiasm is boundless. Amending legislation was passed by the Lyons Government in 1938, hut it did not depart in any way in respect of this matter from the legislation of the Hughes Government in 1920. Had the incident to which reference had been made not happened, no one would have worried much about the Passport Act.
– That is true.
– I do not think observations made about that incident have any great relevancy, because the fact is that no passports issued to Australian persons serving with the American forces have been withdrawn, cancelled or in any other way invalidated. They have not been interfered with in any way. All that we have done has been to request the United State* authorities to abide by the agreement that was made with them. The matter is on a governmental level and no good purpose can be served by canvassing it.
– But the passports issued to those persons now have no value.
– Of course they have value. No attempt has been made to interfere with the passports issued to those persons. Therefore, no need exists to amend this bill or the principal act in that connexion. In fact, the amendment moved by the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) does not seek to amend the bill, but seeks to amend the principal act, and, as I have said, it was passed, in the first instance, 28 years ago. It was amended ten year3 ago. When honorable members opposite oan produce some evidence that a passport has been cancelled, withdrawn or invalidated, that will be the time in which to make complaints. At the moment we are suggesting an amendment of the Passports Act to bring it into conformity with other legislation recently passed in this chamber. The observations made by the honorable member for Darwin can be taken into account at a later date. A better time would be when the incident to which she has referred has been settled to the satisfaction of the Government of the United Stater of America and the Government of Australia, which are the only two authorities that have any concern in the matter.
. –When the act that I seek to amend was passed in 1938-
– In 1920.
– Whenever it was passed, it was passed during the term of office of another government. It does not matter whether that government was led by my husband or by some one else. That carries, no weight with me. I can change my own mind and admit it without confusion. I can say, “ This is my changed opinion and I am quite prepared to justify it “. When an act of the Parliament has been sponsored by another government altogether, I am not bound to agree with it. I arn not bound by anything that happened in the past. Everything that has happened in the world during the last ten years is of such a character as to make it advisable for every democracy to place a safeguard on every power exercised by any member of any government. I believe that absolute power is the greatest possible danger from which democracy as such may suffer. In regard to the case which E quoted earlier, the statement that it might better be discussed at a later stage, when the whole matter is settled, is beside the point. It seems to me that control of the power of the Minister is absolutely desirable, and that any act which is performed on behalf of the Australian people in relation to any citizen of Australia or, for that matter, any person, should not be capable of being cancelled at the mere whim or wish of the Minister unless there are good and sufficient reasons to justify him so doing.
– There is no such control in the principal act which was passed while the Opposition parties were in office.
– I am well aware of that. I am quarrelling with the provisions of the principal act. The mere fact that that act was passed by a government formed by honorable members on this side of the chamber has nothing whatever to do with the matter. Once a passport is issued it should not be revoc- able except upon the commission of some misdemeanour by the person to whom it was issued, or unless it be found that it had been issued as the result of false representations. It is on that ground that I submit my amendment. I do not think the Minister need consider certain questions which have agitated the minds of a great many people in Australia for a long time past. Let him put them out of his mind and look upon this amendment in the light of its desirability as an improvement of the principal act. Let him remember that this legislation will not be administered by him forever. I hope that my introductory words when submitting the amendment will not have put a new idea’ in the Minister’s mind with regard to the cancellation of the passports of certain people who are still abroad. I am sure that the Minister has no such intention. Under the powers conferred by this bill, however, the honorable gentleman could cancel the passports of people about whom damaging discussions have taken place here and make still more difficult their position in the United States of America. I trust that the Minister will reconsider his decision and decide to accept the amendment.
.- I support the remarks of the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons). The possession of a passport is one of the fundamental rights to which a free citizen of a democratic country is entitled. Whilst one does not question the bona fides of the Minister (Mr. Calwell), and I do not intend to do so, Ministers come and Ministers go, and as the honorable member for Darwin has said, it is the duty of members of this Parliament to preserve, to the greatest possible degree, the rights of the people. The amendment submitted by the honorable member for Darwin is eminently reasonable and I trust that the Minister will find no difficulty in accepting it.
I rose primarily to give the Minister an opportunity to clarify the position which has arisen following the passage of the Nationality and Citizenship Bill. At question time to-day, I asked the honorable gentleman whether Australians who, for nationality and passport purposes, will be treated henceforth, as British subjects, and as Australian citizens, will be known officially as Australian nationals. As everybody who has travelled in recent times is well aware, that is very important. In almost every country a routine questionnaire is submitted to the traveller, who is required to state his or her nationality. When I questioned the Minister on this subject to-day he said that we possess British nationality. That may be all right as far as it goes. I do not know whether the Minister implies from that statement that we do not also possess Australian nationality.
– We do not.
– I am informed by interjection that we do not possess Australian nationality. That shocks every feeling of common sense that I possess. I could imagine that had the Minister been asked to state his nationality he would have said with the authority of his Government, “I am a British subject”. I could imagine him saying, “ I am either an Australian citizen or a British citizen, a British subject or an Australian subject “. None of those descriptions would shock my sense of logic or common sense. I can remember looking back through history to the time when Civis Romanus sum was the proud boast of the citizen of the Roman Empire. I do not claim my pronunciation of the Latin phrase as authoritative of either the Oxford or Cambridge schools. Civis Romanus sum was pronounced proudly by people of many nationalities who came within the scope of the Roman Empire. I would not find anything offensive in being told that I was a British citizen; but to me it is completely inconsistent with everything I have been given to understand and that has applied to us in the past to be told that I am a British national and not an Australian national.
– Order! The honorable member’s remarks relate more directly to a bill which has already been passed by this chamber.
– I direct your attention, Mr. Chairman, to the second-reading speech of the Minister in which this matter was canvassed in some detail.
– Order ! The honorable member must deal with the bill.
– The clauses of this bill . have a direct bearing on the language which will be incorporated in passports. I refer you, sir, to sub-section 2 of proposed new section 7, which reads -
Australian passports shall he issued in the name of the Governor-General and shall be in such forms as are approved by the Minister.
I am endeavouring to inculcate in the Minister a line of thought which I hope will assist him in framing the passport in a form which will not merely meet with his approval but will also be acceptable in countries through which Australian citizens will pass from time to time in the future. Most foreign countries now compulsorily require travellers to fill in a questionnaire. Among the questions asked is, “ What is your nationality ? “ An Australian citizen may be in some doubt as to how he should reply. If we are told that we are to consider ourselves as British nationals, will not some inconsistency be created? I refer the Minister to a passage in his secondreading speech wherein he uses the word “ nation “ in its narrower sense, regarding Australia as a nation and accordingly regarding Australians as nationals of the Australian nation. The honorable gentleman said -
It is anticipated that in due course all pf the nations of the British Commonwealth will authorize their own representatives in Australia to issue passports to their own citizens.
The honorable gentleman used the word “ nation “ in the sense in which it could be used as applying to Australia. If Australia is a nation, we are surely entitled to describe ourselves as nationals of Australia. If, at the same time, we are to be treated officially as nationals of Great Britain-
– As British subjects.
– I know that we are British subjects. I revert to what I said earlier, that when the question is put directly to us, as it will be by countries which have not followed the ramifications of our constitutional changes, “What is your nationality ? “, it will be of no use to say, “ I am an Australian citizen or a British subject”. The question will be repeated, “What is your nationality?” Without the assistance which the Minister has given me I should have unhesitatingly said, “I am an Australian national “. The Minister says that that is not right, and that ours is a British nationality. Perhaps he may be able to state whether or not we now possess dual nationality, both British and Australian. If that be so, the honorable gentleman might tell us how he proposes to incorporate such dual nationality in the form of the passport.
– The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has placed his finger on a weak spot in our nationality law. The Statute of Westminster proclaimed all the Dominions and Great Britain as being free and independent nations, equal in rights towards each other and owing common allegiance to the King. In future, we shall issue passports describing the holders of the passports, if they are entitled to be so described, as Australian citizens and British subjects. An American does not call himself an “ American national “ ; he calls himself a “United States citizen”. The word “ national “ is not used in some countries at all. If I were travelling abroad and were asked to state my nationality, I should say, “I am an Australian citizen “. It is a question of connotation. Some people interpret the word somewhat differently from others. If, when travelling abroad, I were asked to describe my nationality in a document, I should unhesitatingly write down the words “ Australian citizen “. Under this legislation the conferment of Australian citizenship carries the right to call oneself a British subject. If, when travelling abroad, I were to describe myself as a British subject, obviously I should be regarded as claiming to be something which no longer exists inside the British Commonwealth for nationality purposes. The term “ British subject “ exists fundamentally because of the common allegiance we owe to the King. If I used the words “ British subject “ I should confuse people abroad, because the authorities in Great Britain will issue to people who hold citizenship rights inside the confines of Great Britain passports describing them as United Kingdom citizens. The term “ British subject “ will, I think!, go out of general use. If I were simply asked to define my nationality without using the word “ citizen “ I should say, “ My nationality is Australian “. That would’ be a common-sense attitude to adopt.
– Does the Minister suggest that on a British passport in future the words “ United Kingdom “ will appear and not the word “ British “ ?
– On a passport issued by the Government of the United Kingdom will appear the words “ United Kingdom and Colonies citizen “, and then, at an appropriate place, the word “British subject”. On our passports we shall describe the person to whom the passport is issued as “ Australian citizen - British subject “. Similarly, the Canadian authorities will describe Canadian citizens as “ Canadian citizen - British subject “. We must indicate on our passports that the persons concerned are Australian citizens so that they may be able to claim the protection of Australian diplomatic representatives abroad, or if they are persons actually employed in the diplomatic service, such as plenipotentiaries, consuls, consulsgeneral, consular officials, or officers of Commonwealth departments, that they are Australian citizens. This is a highly involved matter. We did not open it up. We have gone along as far as we can with Great Britain and the other dominions, because some of the dominions wanted to do something of this nature. As other Australian governments did after other Imperial conferences, so the present Australian Government is doing what it can to keep the British Commonwealth together. We could be too rigid in regard to these matters, and if we were, a situation might develop similar to that which led to the loss of the American colonies. We are doing the best we can in a complicated and awkward situation which was not of our making. I am .sorry I cannot say that the words, “ Australian national “, have a precise and definite meaning, and mean something different from the words, “ Australian citizen “. The term “ British national “ would be entirely out of place having regard to the legislation which has been passed. My advice to Australians who travel abroad is that they should describe themselves either as Australians or as Australian citizens.
.- During the last few days, I have seen the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) uncomfortable on a number of occasions, but never before have I seen him so uncomfortable as he is now.
– I should have been more uncomfortable if I had not had the honorable member’s help.
– I appreciate the Minister’s satire. This bill emphasizes the evil and unnecessary step which we have taken in regard to nationality. Every traveller abroad knows that when his ‘plane is about to enter a foreign country he is handed a form, printed in French and English, in which he is asked ‘to state his nationality. The Minister has said that, if he had to answer that question, he would state that h» was of A Australian nationality.
– The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has said the same thing.
– The honorable member for Fawkner returned only to-day after a trip abroad. He has not had the benefit of listening to the Minister’s lucubrations on the Nationality and Citizenship Bill.
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the bill now under consideration. He may not debate a bill which has been already passed.
– Very well, then I turn to the clause now under consideration. It provides for the repeal of section 7 of the principal act, and the substitution therefor of a new section, sub-section 2 of which is as f follows : - (2.) Australian passports shall be issued in the name of the Governor-General and shall be in such forms as are approved by the Minister.
The honorable member for Fawkner asked about the form of the passport, and what would be printed on it regarding nationality and citizenship. On the present passport there appears on the outside the words, “ British Passport “. Underneath is stamped the Australian coat of arms, and over it the words’, “ Issued in Australia “. On a passport issued in London there appears the words, “ British Passport “, together with the British coat of arms, and a legend indicating that the passport was issued in Great Britain. Hitherto, we have main tained the common link that all passports are British passports, though they may be issued in various parts of the Empire. I understand from the Minister that it is intended to change that.
– That is right.
– I hope that we shall not change it. If we remove the words, “ British Passport “, and substitute for them the words, “Australian Passport “- ,
– Which we shall do.
– Of course, the Minister is determined that the change will be made. I maintain that after the change is made Australians will, in this particular as well as in others, be worse off. The honorable member for Fawkner has just been round the world, as have some other honorable members of this committee. All of them can bear witness to the fact that one of the great advantages of being a British subject is that it entitles one, when travelling, to a British passport. While 1 was abroad, I passed through customs and immigration lines 26 times on the outward and homeward journeys, and the possession of a British passport was of the greatest advantage to me. I would not, of course, have been detained or turned back if I had held an Australian passport properly viséed, but the prestige attaching to the possession of a British passport was of real value.
– What happened in France f
– When I went to France, I carried a British passport issued in Australia. Because I had not previously obtained a vise, I had to pay 2,000 francs for the privilege of getting one which would enable me to stay in France. An Australian citizen carrying a British passport issued in Australia is required to obtain a vise before entering France, although a British subject carrying a British passport issued in England is not required so to do.’ The Minister has explained that, for security reasons, it is necessary that British passports issued in Australia should be viseed when the holder goes to France-
– Or to any other foreign country.
– Yet the Government of the United Kingdom, which is only 30 miles away from the Continent of Europe, does not think that security requires any such thing when British nationals visit Prance. The Australian practice seems to be just plain silly, and to be directed against the convenience of Australian citizens. I yield to no one in my pride in Australian citizenship, but I am anxious that, when I and my fellowAustralians travel abroad, we should get the greatest benefit possible out of the fact that we are British subjects. The Minister stated to-day, in answer to a question, that Australians were British nationals. My heart rose, because it seemed that we were to be treated to a little sweet reasonableness, and that the Minister accepted the position that Australians, being British subjects, were also British nationals. However, when he was asked what form Australian passports would take, he recanted, and stated that the term, “British nationality”, would not appear on the passports. In answer to the usual question, Australian travellers are no longer to say that they are British nationals, but that they are Australian nationals or Australian citizens. The Minister appears to be creating confusion, and making things unnecessarily uncomfortable for Australians who travel. If a passport is drawn up in the right form, and the right instructions are given to travellers, they will state in answer to the question that they are British. Then, if they like, they can add that they are Australian citizens. What is wrong with Australians saying that they are British nationals? The passport itself will indicate the quality of their British nationality. I beg the Minister not to proceed with this wrongheaded idea. To do so would merely deprive Australians of the benefit of being able to claim British nationality,” or British subjecthood, when they travel abroad.
.- This is not merely an interesting academic discussion. We are considering a matter of great practical importance. I am sure that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) appreciates that fact, and that the comment of honorable members is intended to be constructive. I was troubled by the statement that henceforth Australian citizens will be issued with the passports labelled “Australian passport “. My difficulty does not arise from, any sense of inferiority as an Australian.. I share the view expressed by the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr,. Beale). I yield to no one in my pride in my own country, but as the honorable member pointed out, there are practical advantages for Australians abroad in being the possessors of British passports. I should not have imagined that there was anything inconsistent with the legislation already passed in the issuing of passports labelled, on the outside, at any rate, with the words “ British passport “. The emphasis placed by the Minister on the fact that we are still British subjects would make what I suggest all the easier of achievement. Passports are issued under the authority of the Crown. In Australia, they are issued by the Governor-General as the representative of His Majesty the King. Australians are British subjects in the sense that they are subjects of the King. They are not subjects of the Government of the United Kingdom. There would be no difficulty or inconsistency in the Australian Government carrying on the practice of issuing British passports upon which it is stated that the passport has been issued to an Australian citizen by the GovernorGeneral of Australia, who represents His Majesty the King. It is true that Australia has become better known in recent years, but it is also true that there is no other passport in the world which carries with it the same magic for travellers when they are abroad as does an official British passport. The Minister will be doing no good service to his fellow Australians if he, while laying proper emphasis on their Australian citizenship, deprives them of the protection and convenience afforded by the possession of a British passport when they travel abroad. The Minister said that Australian citizenship entitled Australians to the protection of Australian diplomatic representatives overseas. However, although our diplomatic service has expanded rapidly in recent years, there are still many parts of the world in which we have no representation, but in which the United Kingdom Government is directly represented.
Anything which would weaken the rights of Australian citizens as British subjects to claim the protection of British diplomatic representatives must be regarded as a retrograde step. Let the Minister have stated as clearly and emphatically as he likes in the body of the passport the fact that the traveller is an Australian citizen, but let him not throw overboard the protection which the traveller enjoys when outside Australia by virtue of his possession of. a British passport.
– It is intended to issue Australian passports which will be clearly labelled as Australian passports, but Australians who travel abroad will not be deprived of the protection of British diplomatic representatives in countries where there is no Australian diplomatic representation. Australians abroad obviously ought to seek, if they need it, the assistance of Australian diplomatic officers rather than of British diplomatic officers. A British diplomatic officer has no right to assist an Australian if there is an Australian diplomatic officer accredited to the G overnment of the country that he is visiting. It is a matter of convenience. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) has told us that he saw a British passport with “ British passport “ as the first legend and, underneath it, the lion and the unicorn. The honorable gentleman inferred from that, and I suppose he meant that people in foreign countries would infer the same, that it was a passport issued by the United Kingdom Government. An Australian passport, having the same legend, with the Australian coat-of-arms underneath it, would indicate to a person abroad that it was an Australian subject of His Majesty the King who was visiting that country, and that he was a British subject. It is all on the side of convenience to have the Australian passport labelled with the Australian coat-of-arms and, in the body of the passport, to have the words “ British subject “ clearly indicated.
The question of nationality is a very vexed one. I cannot find a proper definition of nationality. The term is used in some connexions quite differently from the way in which it is used in others. The Statute of Westminster refers to free nations constituting the British Commonwealth. We talk about being British nationals when we travel abroad. Many things have happened in recent times, arising out of the Statute of Westminster. For instance, His Majesty the King is now entirely dependent upon the advice of his Australian Ministers for anything that he does in relation to Australian affairs.
– That was so, long before the Statute of Westminster was passed.
– Never in actual practice.
– Let me tell the honorable gentleman-
– The Minister must confine his remarks to the clause that is now being discussed.
– In other days the Governor-General was not appointed on the advice of His Majesty’s Australian Ministers, but on the recommendation of the Dominions Office.
– That matter has nothing to do with the bill.
– I am coming to the Statute of Westminster, which gave rise to a situation out of which a separate Australian passport system has inevitably developed. His Majesty the King does not. govern this country by virtue of his kingship of England. He governs it by virtue of his kingship of Australia.
– That was so, long before the Statute of Westminster came into operation.
– If we are not to have Australian passports, why should we have separate diplomatic representation abroad, receive high commissioners of other dominions in this country, and send high commissioners from here to other dominions?
– Is it proposed to label the new Australian passport with the word.0 “British subject”?
– Will that be done on the outside of the passport?
– That question has not yet been decided, but it could be so done.
– We used to have “ British passport “ on the top. Is it now proposed to have “ Australian passport “ and “British subject”?
– I shall give the honorable gentleman’s suggestion favorable consideration.
– For the last fifteen years the Australian passport has been different from the British passport.
– We ought to have “ Australian passport “ on the front of the document rather than “ British passport “. We no longer depend upon the British diplomatic service or upon British representatives abroad to help Australians who are travelling in other countries. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) has said that for many years the Australian passport has been different from the British passport. A number of changes have been made from time to time. As a matter of fact, the style and title of the Australian passport has depended more or less on the whim of the Minister.
– To my personal knowledge, for fifteen years the Australian passport, in its framework and appearance, has been different from the British passport.
– During that period of fifteen years, the Australian passport has varied considerably. Honorable members opposite are seeing dangers and difficulties that will not exist. Ju my opinion, this proposal will help us considerably. If we do not label our passports as Australian passports, then Australia has no right to the possession of a separate flag. The possession of a separate flag does not mean that we are destroying the British Commonwealth any more than the possession of a separate passport does.
– The Minister must confine his remarks to the clause which is under discussion.
– I am doing so.
– The Minister will not be allowed to discuss matters that have no relation to the bill.
– When you interrupted me, sir, I was talking about Australian passports. I said that the possession of a separate Australian flag envisaged the possession of a separate Australian passport. I want to help honorable members to understand the position, and I want to expedite the business of the committee. I should be glad of the assistance of everybody so that I can do it.
.- I hope that the words “ British subject “ will be plainly marked on the Australian passport. The Minister has said that an Australian who is abroad should seek help from Australian diplomatic sources, hut I point out that in out-of-the-way places in different parts of the world there is no Australian diplomatic representation. Australians who travel in distant parts would be incommoded if they did not have the open sesame of a passport which says that they are British subjects. In 1943, in the United States of America, I found that an official who decided whether or not one should be allowed to travel on an aeroplane did not know that Australia was not part of New Zealand, and there are other parts of the world in which an Australian is confused with an Austrian. We are all very proud of our Australian nationality and we want to make the most of it, but the words “ British subject “, which are known throughout the world, should appear very plainly upon the Australian passport.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 28th October (vide page 2362), on motion by Mr. Calwell -
That the bill be now rend a second time.
Mr. HARRISON (Wentworth - Acting his second-reading speech, the Minister said -
The principal objective of this bill is to give the Government power to control the activities of persons in Australia who act as agents in connexion with applications for the admission to this country of intending migrants, or who arrange or secure passages for migrants.
Since the measure is designed to suppress racketeering in immigration, it has the support of the Opposition. Many instances have been revealed of unscrupulous agents obtaining large sums of money under the pretence of helping migrants to land in Australia. Such individuals are, unfortunately, to be found in any community. They are always willing to capitalize the misfortunes of others. In these unhappy days, in many countries overseas they find ready victims in the shape of persons who are prepared to pay large sums of money to come to Australia. Immigration officials have reported that sums ranging from £50 to £150 have been paid by intending migrants to influence the securing of a passage and admission to Australia. Having regard to the large number of aliens wishing to come to Australia, the aggregate of the amounts paid to agents to influence passages represents a considerable sum of money. “We must have migrants,’ if only to alleviate our industrial man-power shortage and to increase our population sufficiently to provide for our security, because Australia is a white island in a coloured sea. My personal view is that in regard to immigration the Minister is doing an exceptionally good job. There are defects in his administration, but he would be more than human if he did not make mistakes. By and large, he is doing a good job. It is clear that, even with the best efforts of the Minister, we cannot obtain all the British migrants that we desire. Therefore, we must accept a number of nonBritish migrants. For security reasons, non-British migrants, whose ideologies and national customs differ from ours, must be properly screened before being allowed to enter Australia. Those of them who desire to avoid such a process of screening may bc the very persons who are prepared to pay large sums of money to agents who can influence passages for undesirable people.
We shall soon have on the statute-book new legislation to enable aliens to become Australian citizens, to enable us to deport undesirable aliens and to prevent racketeering by unscrupulous agents. What is now needed is action to compel Communist-controlled trade unions to admit migrants to Australian industries.
– Order ! The bill deals only with agents.
– I intend only to make a passing reference to this matter. Communist propaganda, in defiance of the Australian Government’s immigration policy, is causing a ban to be placed upon the employment of displaced persons in Australia, especially in the coal mines, the iron and steel works and the building . industry. I suggest to the Minister that that is as big a racket as the one against which he is taking action by means of this measure. The bill provides for the registration of agents to handle applications .by intending immigrants for admission to Australia, and for the cancellation of such registration when that action is justified. The fees which an agent may charge for his services are prescribed, and a person may recover an amount which he pays in excess of the rate that is so prescribed. I hope that the Minister will compel unscrupulous agents to disgorge unjustifiable sums which they have obtained from intending migrants under the pretext of arranging for their admission to Australia. If unscrupulous persons have extracted money in that manner through misrepresentation, the Minister should take action to compel them to refund it.
– That matter if covered.
– I am happy to have that information, because such a provision is essential. The bill would not be perfect without that power.
– Does the Acting Leader of the Opposition refer to retrospectivity 1
– That is covered.
– The Opposition supports the bill, which will stamp out racketeering in migration, and commends the Minister for introducing the legislation, which, in my opinion, is needed to squash a vicious and inhuman practice which appears to be spreading in this country. I do not see any need for agents other than those recognized by the Government to act as intermediaries in arranging passages of migrants to Australia. Our consular representation has been considerably expanded abroad. We now have representatives in nearly all the major countries. If we have not yet appointed consular representatives to some major countries, the Minister should appoint officers of the Department of Immigration to them toact as our agents for the purposes of migration. All the officials to whom I have referred are competent to deal with matters relating to the migration of people to Australia, and to select the most suitable rypes of migrants. There are also organizations such as the International Refugee Organization, on which Australia is represented, and bodies as the Australian Jewish Welfare Society, As the field appears to be adequately covered by Commonwealth representatives and officially recognized bodies, the Government would be wise to clamp down entirely on the activities of private agents in arranging passages for migrants. Australia, if it is to survive, must have a substantially bigger population, but, in obtaining migrants, we must ensure that we shall get the best type of people, and that they shall not be exploited by agents. In the years immediately ahead, people will come to Australia in increasing numbers. A few years ago, certain agents were advertising overseas that, by exerting influence, they could secure the admission of migrants, particularly displaced persons, into Australia. If that claim were to become recognized as a general principle, the racketeering which would develop would destroy the name of Australia, and, incidentally, the policy of which the Minister is so proud to-day. The Opposition supports the bill.
– in reply - I thank the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) for his generosity in praising the work of the Department of Immigration and also my own work. I shall convey his laudatory remarks to my officers, who work with a really patriotic seal, believing that what is done in the field of immigration has a vital impact upon the development of our expanding industries and the future security of the nation. I hope that, as the years pass, our immigration policy will be so successful and so strongly supported by the Australian people that we shall not have to fear that, should Japan rise again and seek to march southward, it will find Australia an almost empty continent. I thank honorable members for supporting the bill. Only the Acting Leader of the Opposition rose to speak, and he commended the legislation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
Section three of the Principal Act i» amended -
.- I move -
That, before paragraph (a), tho following paragraph be inserted: - “ (aa) by adding at the end of paragraph (gd) the words ‘An intending migrant shall be required to sign a declaration in the prescribed form that he is not a person as described in this paragraph; ‘.”
Section 3 (gd) of the principal act provides that “ prohibited immigrants “ shall include - (gd) any person who advocates the over throw by force or violence of the established government of the Commonwealth or of any State or of any other civilized country, or of all forms of law, or who advocates theabolition of organized government, or who advocates the assassination of public officials or who advocates or teaches the unlawful destruction of propertv. or who is a member of or affiliated with any organization which entertains and teaches any of those doctrines and practices specified in this paragraph : . . .
The bill deals with those immigrants who misrepresent themselves, or on whose behalf there is some misrepresentation. Despite all efforts to detect them, some persons are entering the Commonwealth who may subscribe to subversive doctrines of the kind specified in the sub-section which I have read. They may be Communists, nazis or fascists. The subsection was inserted in the act many years ago when a non-Labour government was in office. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell), who has travelled abroad, is aware that a person, when entering the United States of America, must sign a declaration that he does not subscribe to the doctrines referred to in sub-section gd. He has signed such a declaration, and so have I.
– Some persons avoid signing the declaration.
– Many Communist agents, who are traitors to Australia, return to this country after having received their training in Moscow. Others may be inspired to come here in order to carry on that kind of nefarious work. Despite the precautionary provisions in the act, they enter Australia because they are prepared to deceive the officials who question them about their real beliefs. If they are required to sign a declaration, the Minister and his department will have a valuable safeguard. That is the sole purpose of the amendment.
– I accept the amendment. Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon lest the children of the gentiles be scandalized, but the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), before he was permitted to enter the United States of America, had to sign a declaration that he was not a revolutionary, and did not engage in revolutionary tactics. I, too, had to sign such a declaration. If the bill provides that a person shall not be engaged in subversive activity, there is no harm in inserting a provision that intending migrants shall make the declaration which the honorable member has suggested.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That paragraph (b ) be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following paragraph : - “ (b) by omitting sub-paragraph (iv) of that paragraph and inserting in its stead the following paragraph: -
I apologize to honorable members for the fact that the bill must be amended, but it is due to the pressure under which the Government and the parliamentary draftsmen have been working. On second thoughts, and even third thoughts, the parliamentary draftsman has made certain submissions, and the Government, my departmental officers and I have considered them. I shall explain the reason for the amendment. Passports issued by the government’ of any member of the Commonwealth of Nations do not require to be viseed or endorsed for Australia. However, the act provides that only passports issued by or on behalf of the United Kingdom Government shall not require vises or endorsements for the purposes of the Immigration Act. The amendment will rectify the existing anomaly, and bring passports issued by other members of the Commonwealth of Nations into line with those issued by the United Kingdom. The amendment, in effect, substitutes the words, “ Commonwealth of Australia or any government recognized by the Commonwealth of Australia “ for the references to the United Kingdom Government in the principal act.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 -
After section fourteen d of the Principal Act the following sections are inserted: - “14e. - (1.) A person shall not demand or receive any fee, commission or other reward for or in relation to any services rendered or to bee rendered by that person in respect of -
an application by an intending immigrant for admission to Australia; or “ 14f. - (1.) A person, not being a registered agent, shall not, directly or indirectly-
advertise in any manner whatsoever that he will render any services in respect of applications by intendimmigrants for admission to Australia. . . . “ 14j. - (1.) Subject to this Act, registration as an agent shall remain in force lot such period not exceeding one year. from thn date of issue of the certificate of registration as is specified in the certificate, and may, from time to time, be renewed for a further period not exceeding one year. “ (2.) An authorized officer shall have the same discretion and powers in relation to renewal of registration as he has in relation to registration. “14n. - (1.) Where a person has, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, been paid moneys in consideration of providing a passage for an intending migrant to Australia, that person shall, subject to this section and notwithstanding the terms of any agreement -
. . .
within that time refund to the intending immigrant the moneys so paid.
– I move -
That, in proposed new section 14e, subsection (1.1, after the word “by”, the following words be inserted: - “or on behalf of”.
This amendment, and a similar amendment whichI shall move in a fern moments, refer to applications for admission to Australia directly by intending migrants. Most of the applications for the admission of alien migrants are made on their behalf by relatives or friends in Australia. The amendment is designed to cover such cases.
.- Another Minister has informed me that persons are perpetrating frauds on migrants by accepting passage money from them, taking them to Egypt and leaving them stranded in that country for months, while their unfortunate victims make repeated payments in an attempt to arrange to continue their journey. Those racketeers are beyond the reach of the authorities under this legislation. Will the Minister explain whether, if any of those firms or persons have agencies in Australia, it will be possible for us, under this clause, to take action against agents in Australia for what is done by the principals in Egypt?
– We have tried to rectify the wrongs in another way. We have made diplomatic representations to the governments of the countries whose flags these vessels fly, and told their agents here that if the agreements or conditions printed on the back of the passage tickets are not altered so as to make it obligatory upon the owners of the vessels to bring the persons to the port of destination, we will refuse to issue vises for passengers who intend to travel by their transport services. In other words, we have endeavoured to stop what are obviously wilful and wrongful actions on the part of shipping agents and aircraft companies. People have been put down in Singapore and Sumatra, and relatives and friends in Australia told to keep them until they could be brought on. The local peopfe have also been asked to pay the extra passage money. In one instance people were put down in Darwin, and the aeroplanes went away. That was done only once. We have taken steps to prevent this wretched exploitation of human need, to which all decent people are averse.
Amendment agreed to.
Proposed new section 14f consequentially amended.
– I move -
That proposed new section 14j be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following section: - “ 14j. - (1.) Subject to this Act, registration as an agent shall remain in force for such period as is specified in the certificate of registration, but that period may be extended from time to time upon application made as prescribed. “ (2.) An authorized officer shall have the same discretion and powers in relation to the extension of the period of an agent’s registration as he has under the last preceding section in relation to tho original registration of an agent.”.
After further consideration of this clause the conclusion has been reached that the limitation of the period of registration to one year, and the requirement of yearly renewals, would cause unnecessary inconvenience to reputable persons and established firms. As there is power at any time to cancel the registration of an agent who proves unsatisfactory, it has been decided that this provision should be more flexible, and registration will be for the period specified in the certificate of registration issued. The period will vary according to circumstances in individual cases.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That, in proposed new section 14n, subsection (1.), the words “for an intending immigrant to Australia “, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “to Australia for an intending immigrant “.
This proposed amendment is designed to enable passages to be provided within such time as the Minister determines, in cases where the passage money is paid by some person other than the intending migrant.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That, in proposed new section 14n, subsection (1.), paragraph (6), the words “to the intending immigrant the moneys so paid “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “those moneys to the person by whom those moneys were so paid “.
This amendment will enable refunds of passage moneys to be made to the persons who actually lodged the money, and not only to an intending migrant.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
New clause 1a.
– I move -
That, after clause 1, the following new clause be inserted: - “ 1a. This Act shall come into operation on a date to be fixed by Proclamation.”.
A considerable amount of preliminary work will be necessary before the pro visions of the bill in regard to the control of agents can be put into effective operation. It is therefore desirable that the act commence on a date to be proclaimed, so that all facilities will be available for the registration of agents and shipping companies, and that airlines will not be hindered in booking passages to Australia for intending migrants.
New clause agreed to.
New clause 4a.
– I move -
That, after clause 4, the following new clause be inserted: - “4a. After section thirteen b of the Prin cipal Act the following section is inserted: - 13c. - (1.) A stowaway who is a prohibited immigrant and is brought into a port in Australia may -
if an authorized officer so directs; or
if the master of the vessel on which the stowaway was brought into that port so requests and an authorized officer approves, be taken ashore by an officer and kept in such custody, and for such period after the vessel’s arrival in that port and before its departure from its last port of call in Australia, as the authorized officer directs, and may, upon the expiration of that period, be returned to the vessel by an officer. (2.) The master, owners, agents or charterers of the vessel shall be liable to pay to the Commonwealth a fair sum for the cost of keeping and maintaining the stowaway while he is kept in custody in pursuance of this section and the cost of the transportation of the stowaway and of any custodian between the vessel and the place of custody. (3.) A stowaway shall not, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed, by reason only of his having been taken ashore in pursuance of this section, to have entered the Commonwealth or to have been given permission to land’.”
Stowaways who are prohibited immigrants are often brought to Australia by vessels which call at various Australian ports and may remain on the Australian coast for some time. It is not possible in every case for the masters of such vessels to take effective precautions to prevent stowaways from escaping from the vessel, and the department is put to considerable trouble and expense in locating and deporting the escapees. There is a doubt whether there is power under the act, as it stands, for a stowaway to be brought ashore and detained in custody pending the vessel’s departure from Australia. The amendment is intended to remove the doubt. The provisions will not absolve a shipping company from the liability for a penalty in bringing a stowaway to Australia. A company will bear the cost of the stowaway’s maintenance while ashore, and will still be required to provide him with a passage away from Australia, when required to do so. The position will not in any way affect the position of a stowaway who is a prohibited immigrant and has been brought ashore for detention.
New clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments ; report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Calwell) - by leave - proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
.- Will the Minister explain whether this bill will enable the Commonwealth itself to have control of every aspect of action taken against prohibited immigrants who are deserters? I point out that in cases that have come to my notice there has been a division of State and Commonwealth control, which has led to distressing situations.
– in reply - The bill is not intended to deprive the States of any powers that they may have in respect of deserting seamen, or in regard to prohibited immigrants. I cannot say for certain what powers they have in regard to prohibited immigrants, but I do know from the experiences that have been related to me in correspondence from the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), that some States do exercise powers over deserters, stowaways, and such people. As a matter of fact, under existing legislation, the captain of a vessel need not bring a stowaway ashore, and frequently it is very troublesome and expensive to the department to locate a number of these people who could not be properly detained on vessels, and who took opportunities when the ship was at various ports to escape and defy our laws. During the forthcoming recess of the Parliament I shall give consideration to the matter raised by the honorable gentleman, to see whether there is not an overriding power in the Constitution, which would enable Commonwealth law to override State law in the matters that he has brought to my notice.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 16th November (vide page 2987) on motion by Mr. Dedman-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– As the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) stated in his secondreading speech, the purpose of the present bill is to amend the Stevedoring Industry Act 1947, so as to enable the Fremantle Harbour Trust to be represented on the Waterside Employment Committee at the port. The Minister pointed out that representations had been made to the Government by the Premier of Western Australia, asking that in view of the circumstances existing at Fremantle, the Harbour Trust should be given representation on the Waterside Employment Committee. If the action taken by the Minister, has been taken at the request of a Premier of a State, and is desirable relative to these matters, and is not in conflict with the powers held at present by the Australian Government the Opposition is in complete accord with it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 15th October (vide page 1729), on motion by Mr. Dedman-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This is a short amending measure. The purpose underlying it is to transfer to the Common wealth Public Service certain employees of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research who are engaged in, or are to be engaged in, defence research work. According to the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (Mr. Dedman) the immediate intention of the Government is to transfer approximately 250 officers and employees of the Aeronautical Section of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, but the way is left open in this measure for further transfers to be made from time to time. An important provision is for the amendment of the Public Service Act, to enable the Public Service Board to require all temporary employees of the Commonwealth now employed, and those engaged or transferred to the service in the future, to take an oath or affirmation of allegiance. Such action Ls most desirable and is in complete accord with Commonwealth Public Service procedure, but if it is thought by the Government to be sufficient to preserve the secrecy of defence research, the Government has another think coming to it, because a person bent on sabotage or espionage will not let an oath or affirmation of allegiance divert him from his purpose. Something more than the mere requirement that a person shall make an oath or affirmation of allegiance is needed to ensure secrecy. All persons associated with secret defence research must be screened by investigation service officers with the utmost care and diligence. To the extent that the bill eliminates weaknesses in our security measures by bringing those engaged on defence work under the control of the Public Service Board so that they shall be compelled to observe obligations to the nation that they would not otherwise be required to observe, the bill has the support of the Opposition, but that is as far as our support goes. In his second-reading speech the Minister for Defence who is also Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, referred to his statement on the Australian defence policy made on the 25th September in which he said that the Commonwealth Government had assumed a substantial commitment for cooperation in British Commonwealth defence in respect of defence research and development. The Minister then said that the long-range weapons project, which was being undertaken jointly by the United Kingdom and Australia, was the main item in the research and development programme. He added that action was being taken to give civilian scientists training in the United Kingdom in defence research work. During the debate on the Estimates in September, the Minister said that the Council for .Scientific and Industrial Research was not engaged in any work of a secret nature, but that the position was changing and that if defence scientific work were undertaken, the Government would either alter the structure of the council or transfer certain work from it to a special defence scientific research division of the Department of Supply and Development. He said that he was not satisfied with the method of appointment to the staff of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which had been in operation since 1926, whereby the executive made a recommendation for approval or otherwise to the Minister. I remind the Minister that in 1926 the world was at peace and that the agents of a certain power were not sowing the seeds of destruction in every country in an effort to bring about, without outright resort to war, that which, in the years preceding the last conflict, was accomplished by resort to arms. If Australian scientists are to share in defence secrets, and are to engage in British defence research, it is absolutely essential that they should be bound to the strictest secrecy. The history of this bill is interesting. Let us face facts. The bill was not prompted by the Government’s desire to ensure the secrecy of scientific research as applied to defence. It was forced on the Government by the Opposition and by criticism from outside. As far back as July, the press in Australia and other countries reported that the United States of America would not pass on to Australia secret information for fear of leakages and that it’ would not pass the information to Great Britain, because, naturally,
Britain would pass it on to Australia, as it would to any other of the British units. Those reports have been referred to at length in the House. I do not propose to repeat them at any great length, because we have heard the words of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). He read to us a statement made by the Minister at the table to the executive of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research -
– Alleged to have been made.
– The Minister says “ alleged to have been made “ but he has not denied and will not deny having made it. The Leader of the Australian Country party also read a report connected with the visit to Great Britain of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). The accuracy of that report has not been denied by the Prime Minister. He has never denied that he said openly to members of the British Cabinet at No. 10 Downing-street that he was prepared to alter the structure of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research if high defence scientific secrets were made available to Australia. The Minister for Defence, in his capacity as Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, made a somewhat similar statement to the executive of that body. That has not been denied. This bill is the outcome. It is the strongest possible proof cf the truth of the statements of the Leader of the Australian Country party and of the charges made in what is referred to as the “ secret documents case”. The truth of everything contained in those documents has been proved by the introduction of this measure. Everything that the Prime Minister told the British Cabinet that he would do is being dene by him in thi3 measure. So I say that the history of the bill is interesting. The introduction of the measure has been forced on the Government. The Minister for Defence talks about allegations, but he will’ not say that the allegations are false. He makes all sorts of misleading statements, but he will not give the lie to the statements made by the Leader of the Australian Country party. There has been nc effective denial of the subjectmatter of the reports quoted by the
Leader of the Australian Country party. The Minister, it is true, said that the Congress of the United States of America had passed a special act making it impossible to divulge atomic secrets to any country. But the act of Congress applies specifically to industrial matters. We were not talking about industrial matters. We were talking about atomic secrets relative to defence projects. The Minister tried to mislead the House when he quoted that act. The point I wish to make is that the exposure in the press and the outcry by the Opposition about the refusal of the United States of America to make available to Australia information about defence developments forced the Government to bring down this bill. It is significant that the bill has been brought down after the visit of the Prime Minister to England. That visit is still shrouded in mystery, although the Leader of the Australian Country party gave us a glimpse of what lies under the shroud. It is hoped that even at this late hour the bill will help us to allay suspicion overseas that Australia cannot be entrusted with secrets. I hope that the bill will achieve its purpose. Before we divert scientists to secret defence research work we must ensure that they have been carefully screened and have satisfied the requirements of our own investigation service and of men who rank high in science and in the military art in England. It may not be too late to retrieve the position. I hope it is not. Passing to the provisions of the bill itself, I ask the Minister to give his attention to proposed new section 81zi, which is contained in clause 5 and which states - 81zi, The Governor-General may, from time to time, by notice published in the Gazette, declare that any work or class oi work specified in the notice which is being performed under the control of the Council is work which should, on and from a date specified in the notice, be performed under the control of such Department of State of the Commonwealth as is specified in the notice and, on and from that date, that work shall accordingly be performed under the control of the Department so specified.
The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) has foreshadowed an b mendment-
-Order ! I hope that the honorable gentleman does not propose to develop an argument on that matter, because it is a matter for the committee.
– No, sir. Perhaps it would be better if I did not read the amendment. The point I make is that in 1926 the then Prime Minister, Mr. S. M. Bruce, new Lord Bruce, brought down the Science and Industry Research Bill, which amended the Institute of Science and Industry Act 1920 and altered the constitution of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The proposals contained in the amending legislation were to a considerable extent based on the report by Sir Frank Heath, head of the British Research Council, whom the Australian Government had invited to Australia to investigate Australian scientific research. Under the 1926 legislation, the position of Director of the Institute of Science and Industry was abolished and control of the institute was placed in the hands of a central council, which was to advise the Minister. There were also to be six State committees. The central council was to comprise three members appointed by the Government and the chairman of each of the State committees. These nine men were to advise the Government on all matters requiring scientific investigation. In addition, scientists whose services might he required because of their special scientific knowledge, could be co-opted. The three members appointed by the Government were to form the executive which would advise the Minister. The executive, it was said, would not be called together more than once or twice a year. The State committee would have power to bring forward problems which they considered should be dealt with by the council. Three members would be nominated by the governments of the respective States from the staffs of their scientific and technical departments, and three other members would be pure scientists. It seemed perfectly clear that the council was to be completely free from political control. It was to be outside the jurisdiction of the Public Service Board. It was to be subject to direction by the Minister, but it was not to be what we commonly term a government department. It was established somewhat on the basis of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Tt was to be a body that. would be capable of rendering great service to the community generally. The knowledge and benefits gained from its research work were to be made available to primary and secondary industries generally. By this bill all that is to be altered. If the bill be passed, not necessarily the present Minister, but some subsequent Minister will be able to take over the various sections of the council and place them under government control, thus, to a great extent, destroying their usefulness.
A great deal has been said in criticism of Sir David Rivett and other officers of the council. I wish to make it clear that in pointing out that statements made by Sir David Rivett were similar to statements made by known Communists we did not necessarily mean that, in our opinion, Sir David was a Communist. 1 have a great regard for Sir David. I know something of his family and it would ill become me to make a personal attack upon him. Indeed, I have never done so. I have merely pointed to the fact that he had used phraseology which might have identified him with Communists. The work done by the council reflects great credit upon him and his fellow members. It seems to me, however, that the benefits that have accrued from the work of this peculiarly constructed scientific body would be lost if the Minister refuses to accept an amendment designed to enable him to place under the control of a government department only those sections of the activities of the council which are devoted to defence scientific research. If the amendment be accepted there will be no objection to this bill. Honorable members must have been impressed with the force, logic and sincerity of the case submitted by the scientists working in the Council for .Scientific and Industrial Research - their number is not great and they will not influence the voting in any constituency - that those sections which are not engaged on defence work should be permitted to retain their independence and individuality. Honorable members cannot pass over this bill lightly. Representations couched in logical and sincere language have been made by scientists to many honorable members requesting that the scientific work of the council other than for defence purposes should remain under its present control. The officers of the council, who are doing an excellent job, would be hamstrung if they were tied to a government department with all its necessary and unnecessary red tape.
This bill is the outcome of pressure applied by people outside this Parliament and by members of the Opposition. It arises out of a promise made by the Prime Minister to the British Cabinet that he would alter the structure of the council if by so doing defence secrets would be made available to Australia. It was the suspicion engendered in the minds of people overseas that all was not well here that forced the right honorable gentleman to make that promise. Whilst the right honorable gentleman was prepared to use a lot of verbiage to indicate that that view is not correct, he did not openly deny its correctness. We .have challenged him and the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to say whether or not our allegation is true, but they have not been prepared to do so. We had no prior knowledge of what was in the mind of the Cabinet when this bill was drafted. We did not know that the bill was to be introduced and accordingly we could not have fabricated questions in regard to it or in relation to the Prime Minister’s visit to Downing-street or to the Minister’s talk to the executive of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Only the members of the Government knew what was in their minds when this bill was drafted. This measure is a vindication of all that was said by the Leader of the Australian Country party. I commend the Government for its proposal to place those officers of the council who will be engaged in defence work under a form of control to which they are not subject at present. Because of the unenviable record of the council in relation to Communists in its midst and having regard to the appointments of Communists by the Minister himself, the Commonwealth Investigation Service should be empowered to screen closely all those who may he transferred to the defence section.
Sitting suspended from 5.53 to 8 p.m.
Debate (on motion by Mrs. Blackburn) adjourned.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Holloway), read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill, which it is my privilege to introduce, stems from the Government’s belief that, apart from spiritual considerations, the health of the people is the foundation upon which all their happiness and all their powers as a nation are built. The bill, as honorable members will observe, is an enabling measure, in which may be seen only the broad outline of a proposed national health service, the details of the service and its administration being left for progressive development, which will be implemented by regulations. It marks the beginning of a period in which the resources of the Commonwealth can and will be directed to the prevention of disease, the promotion of positive health and the treatment and cure of disease and disability. It is, in effect, the source of a charter of national health for the future.
The Government is now entering a field in which there has been little or no activity by previous Commonwealth governments. It introduces the national health service as a further step to improve the lot of the Australian people and as a direct attack on disease and sickness and their aftermaths - misery and want. During the war years the Government evolved plans for assuring to the people better conditions and a measure of real social security in the post-war period. With this in mind the Curtin Government, in 1943, established the National Welfare Fund to which all taxpayers were obliged to contribute according to their means. The establishment of thi? fund enabled the cost to be spread over the whole community.
The Government began with a wide concept of the meaning of national health. In its view health meant far more than the treatment and cure of illness and disease. It recognized that, from the national viewpoint, health must mean the assurance to the people, as their right, of proper housing and working conditions, of a better ‘balanced diet, and of an improvement in economic and social conditions, as well as the prevention and treatment of disease. With these thoughts in mind the Australian Government, in agreement with the States, has legislated to provide adequate housing for families in the lower ranges of income. It has interested itself actively in the fields of preventive medicine and research, in nutrition, in child health and in industrial hygiene. During its term of office, as part of its approach to community welfare, the Government has doubled the amount of child endowment payments, trebled maternity benefits and doubled the rate of invalid and age pensions. It has introduced widows’ pensions and unemployment and sickness benefits.
In furtherance of its policy to- overcome the economic hazards of ill health, the Government has provided public hospital benefits, private hospital benefits and pharmaceutical benefits, and is about to introduce a measure to authorize an agreement with the States to relieve patients in mental hospitals and their relatives from the obligation of contributing to the maintenance of those patients. The Government has, in cooperation with the States, initiated a nation-wide attack on the scourge of tuberculosis. It has sponsored improved conditions of work and has vigorously applied a policy of full employment. It has established rehabilitation services for certain disabled members of the community. The steps to be taken under the bill will form a vital part of the pattern of national health as seen by the Government and directed to the promotion of happy and healthy living for our people.
Enlightened thought throughout the world in recent years has stressed the need for governments to interest themselves directly in national health services. Support for this view is found in medical circles themselves. Sir Lionel Whitby, president of the British Medical Association in England, addressing the 116th annual meeting of the British Medical Association in Cambridge this year said -
Changes in medicine itself have tended to increase the cost of medical treatment so that most people can no longer afford to be ill.
There were none who could doubt, Sir Lionel added, that, with the advance of science and the high degree of specialization, the cost of an illness was beyond the purse of the average person. This factor - the economic one - had been potent in hastening the inevitability of a State medical service. Referring to expensive modern treatments, Sir Lionel Whitby said -
In the interests of humanity such treatment cannot be withheld on economic grounds. It would be a travesty of justice were such treatment to be available to only the few rich people.
It may also be appropriate here to quote an editorial in the British Medical Journal of the 3rd July, 1948. On the eve of the introduction of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, the British Medical Journal said -
The cost of ill health is a burden on the community, and a burden on the family, and the startling advances made by medicine in the past 25 years have steeply increased this cost. There is, therefore, a logical case for spreading it over the whole of the community so that those who are fortunate to remain in good health may help those who temporarily fall out of the ranks.
Before the amendment, late in 1946, of section 51 of the Commonwealth Constitution, this Parliament was very greatly restricted in its power to deal with problems affecting the health of the people of Australia. Its one specific power was in relation to quarantine, that is, the prevention of the spread of disease to Australia from parts beyond its shores. The Commonwealth was unable itself to launch any direct attack on the many grave problems of public health, of which I may cite tuberculosis and maternal mortality as only two examples, and was largely confined to the making of financial grants to .States and others for health purposes. At the referendum of 1946, initiated by the Government, the Commonwealth Parliament was for the first time authorized to make laws - and I now quote the relevant words of the new provision in the Constitution -
With respect to the provision of . . . medical and dental services (but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription).
The power, given under that amendment of the Constitution, is not unlimited. For instance, there are serious doubts whether the Commonwealth can legislate to require compulsory examination or treatment of persons for particular diseases, and whether it can undertake the registration of medical and dental practitioners and auxiliary personnel, other than those in the direct employ of the Commonwealth, so that practice may take place on in Australian-wide basis regardless of State boundaries. It does, however, enable the Government to proceed with the services authorized by this bill, which I shall later describe. The Government does not contemplate, nor in fact does the constitutional amendment it recently sought and obtained permit, any nationalization of doctors, dentists or members of allied professions and occupations.
Discussions have taken place with representative bodies of the medical and dental professions in Australia. Those bodies have given the Government the benefit of their advice “on aspects of national health, and they, in turn, have been informed of what the Government has in mind. ‘Opportunities for further discussions with the federal councils of the British Medical Association and the Australian Dental Association and with other interested bodies will be afforded regarding the subject-matter of regulations under the proposed act. The Government has examined the development nf national health schemes in other parts of the world. It has watched the introduction of a comprehensive plan in the United Kingdom. A careful study has been made of the New Zealand scheme, and consideration has been given to the recent report of the joint committee of the Government and the British Medical Association representatives in New Zealand.
The work of the Social Security Committee which continued its investigations from 1941 to 1945, was followed with close interest by the Government, and I may point out that in the formulation of health proposals under this bill particular regard has been paid to the reports and recommendations of that committee. In the light of these discussions and investigations and in the face of the grave deficiencies in the numbers of trained personnel and in technical equipment and buildings, the Government realizes that the establishment of a complete health service must be achieved by a process of gradual development. The bill provides authority for this course to be followed.
General administration of the scheme will be the responsibility of the DirectorGeneral of Health who, as provided in clause 3 of the bill, must be a legally qualified medical practitioner of not less than ten years’ standing. In the Department of Health there will be such directorates as may be found necessary in the development of the scheme. To link the professions with the administration, it is proposed to establish advisory committees in association with each directorate. Members of these committees will be practising members of their professions, and the functions of the bodies will be to advise on technical, medical and dental aspects. This will enable the professions to exercise a very real influence on the development of the service, and the Minister and the department will have readily available a source of competent advice and guidance on trends and developments in all branches of medical and dental science and practice.
It is not proposed to alter State or other control of existing institutions. However, under the bill, the Commonwealth may make payments to the States and to other bodies for new and improved hospital construction, equipment and maintenance, provided at the request of the Commonwealth in furtherance of the national health plan. Those funds will be made available on approved conditions. The bill authorizes the making of agreements for the performance by a State of any service in connexion with the national health service, and, authorizes the Commonwealth, but again by agreement only, to take over services, hospitals or other units of State and other instrumentalities. Broadly, and particularly in the physical field of buildings and institutions, equipment and supplies, the Commonwealth’s initial role will be largely to give financial aid. Conditions attaching to grants, which might be made by the Commonwealth to States or other bodies, will be included in appropriate agreements. It is hoped in this way to ensure the highest standard of efficiency in various fields, providing uniformity where that is desirable, and securing coordination of activities.
The bill enables the Commonwealth to provide or arrange for the provision of medical services and dental services. These may include, amongst other things, general medical or dental practitioner’s service, consultant and specialist services, ophthalmic services, maternal and child health services, aerial medical and dental services, diagnostic and therapeutic services, convalescent and after-care services, nursing services, and medical services and dental services in universities, schools and colleges. Authority is conferred to establish and maintain hospitals, laboratories, health centres and clinics.
The Government realizes that the success of any expanded health service, and the extent of its benefit to the people, must depend in very large degree on enough professional men and women being available. This is true of- both the curative and preventive aspects. There is general recognition that the numbers of doctors and dentists at present are inadequate to meet the full needs of the people if all are to receive requisite care and treatment. The Minister is authorized, subject to the approval of the Treasurer, to make payments to universities or other appropriate bodies for the purpose of providing and assisting investigation and research, and providing courses of training in medical or dental science.
The bill empowers the Commonwealth to provide or assist in the provision of post-graduate training, and post-graduate scholarships in medicine and dentistry, lt may establish and develop courses of training in nursing, including dental nursing, dental hygiene, radiography, radiation therapy, physiotherapy, biochemistry, dietetics and other matters related to medicine or dentistry. The Commonwealth may also undertake, develop and encourage measures, including research and epidemiological investigations, for the improvement of health, including maternal and child health, and for the prevention of disease. The Commonwealth is empowered by the bill to arrange for or undertake, for the purposes of the national health service, the manufacture of medical and dental supplies, appliances and equipment, includ-
J/r. Holloway. ing visual aids and hearing aids. It will, however, enter this field only if supplies of these essential articles of adequate quality, are not available from other assured sources in sufficient quantity and at reasonable prices.
I have already said that the bill will enable the Commonwealth to provide both general practitioner and specialist services. It also authorizes the making of regulations to establish a medical benefit scheme. This will entail payment by the Commonwealth, on behalf of persons who have received professional services from medical practitioners participating in the scheme, of a proportion of the fees prescribed in respect of these services. The Government’s proposals are to pay 50 per cent, of the fees charged by a doctor for services given to a patient, and to pay this amount on behalf of the patient direct to the doctor in accordance with a prescribed schedule of fees chargeable by doctors who participate in the scheme. It is proposed that the medical benefit scheme shall be begun as soon as possible,’ and that it shall be extended as rapidly as circumstances permit to include the various classes of specialists, on terms similar to those that I have described in relation to general practitioners. It is thought that full-time salary will be the appropriate payment for medical practitioners in outback areas, for full-time specialists, such as pathologists and radiologists in hospitals, with sessional fees for other specialists,- and salaried service for medical superintendents and full-time staff at hospitals.
At a conference held in Melbourne on the 26th October last, the Federal Council of the British Medical Association was invited to nominate members to act on a joint committee with Commonwealth officers to consider details of the schedule of fees and other problems associated with the implementation of the scheme. It was proposed that the findings of this committee should be the subject of further consideration by the Federal Council of the British Medical Association and the Government. The Government’s medical benefits scheme involves no interference with the present practice of medicine. It does not involve any disturbance of the present doctor-patient relationship. The patient will visit his own doctor in the usual way and, on his advice, will go, if necessary, to the appropriate specialist. As I .have already indicated, .the ‘Common-wealth, under .this proposal, undertakes to .pay half -the cost of the schedule fee for “consultation, specialist .advice or treatment provided pursuant to the bill.
The ramifications of modern medicine are now so vast that no single practitioner can hope to he expert in more than one branch, such as surgery, medicine, psychiatry, ophthalmology and the like. Nor can he hope to provide all the necessary equipment or technical assistance. A complete medical service requires that practitioners of general and special skills, and the techniques that are essential for the examination, diagnosis and treatment of individuals, ‘should be brought together, so that there can be a pooling of equipment and resources in the several fields, lt is through group practice that the potentialities of modern medicine can best be fully realized and the bill expressly authorizes the Government to encourage all efforts by the medical and dental professions to organize on this basis. Recognizing the value of group practice, the Commonwealth proposes to establish a number of health centres in different areas. These will correspond in their functions to the surgeries of the larger medical partnerships of the present day, and will provide general practitioner service, specialist service and diagnostic facilities. It is contemplated that these health centres will be established on varying administrative and staffing bases, so that there will be opportunities for observation and comparison for future guidance. The bill authorizes the making of regulations providing for the payment of compensation to a practitioner who undertakes to. make his professional services available exclusively for the purposes of the national health service, where the establishment of such a health centre results in loss arising from the diminution in value of his private practice.
Clause 15 of the bill authorizes the compilation and publication of a list of medical practitioners or dentists, who will be recognized as being specialists in any field of medical or dental science. It is provided in the bill that regard may be had to any .similar list prepared by a State authority or an appropriate professional body, as well as to the advice of appropriate advisory committees to be set up under the bill, and to which I have already referred. The object -of clause 15 is to establish a list .of persons .who, for purposes of the hill, will be regarded as being entitled to receive or charge the fees prescribed for specialists or consul tam services.
No dental health scheme would he complete unless attention were directed to care and “preservation of the natural teeth and to the need for dental hygiene. It is unfortunately true that the standard of dental health of Australians is deplorable, and it must be regarded as tragic that so large a proportion of our people have recourse comparatively early in their lives to the use of artificial dentures. The Government intends to improve the facilities for dental .service that are available in Australia. In its approach to this problem, it is, unfortunately, severely handicapped by the fact that insufficient dentists are available for the implementation of a complete dental service. There are approximately 3,000 registered dentists in Australia at the present time, but to provide a full and satisfactory service to all classes and ages of society at least two or three times that number would be required. This is a severely limiting factor in any approach to the problem. The Government is authorized by the bill to assist in the provision of courses of dental training. The Government’s activities will be developed through a directorate of dentistry along three lines. First, attention will be paid to public education in the principles of dental hygiene. Much dental disease and loss is due to irrational diet and faulty oral hygiene. Secondly, the Government intends to attack the problem of providing regular treatment for all children. Existing facilities will be used and special dental clinics will be established for this purpose. In rural areas, mobile dental surgeries will be necessary. The shortage of registered dentists will severely limit the age range to which this scheme can be applied at its inception, but eventually a full service will be available to all children. For this reason, the Government is interested in the New Zealand scheme, under which dental nurses are specially trained for a limited sphere of activity in the treatment of school children. Reports regarding this scheme emphasize its success,, and the Government will consider making provision for the training of dental hygienists, if it should be necessary to introduce such a scheme in Australia. Representatives of the Australian Dental Association have been invited by the Government to examine the operation of the dental hygienist system in New Zealand. If dental hygienists are trained for public service, their activities will be confined to practice within that service and they will be prohibited from engaging in private practice at any time. Thirdly, the Government will extend dental services to persons in isolated areas by the extension of travelling clinics. The personnel for these activities will be maintained on a salaried basis, for which provision is made in the bill. In addition to these proposals, the Government intends to sponsor the appointment of dentists at large hospitals, and out-patient clinics. In the beginning, preventive dentistry, extractions, relief of pain and fillings will be undertaken. Later, when more dentists become available, it will be possible to expand the services at these centres to cover an increased range of modern dental practice.
It will be seen that, in stressing the importance of overcoming dental disease and of ensuring the dental health of children, allied with education in dental hygiene, the Government’s plan places strong emphasis on preventive treatments. Some appreciation of the gigantic task confronting the nation in its attempt to ensure dental health for its children may be gained from a study of figures.’ According to the 1947 census, there were in Australia on the 30th June of that year approximately 544,000 children between the ages of two years and five years. In the age group from six years to twelve years, there were 776,000, and in the group from thirteen years to sixteen years there were 426,000. The total, from two years to sixteen years, was about 1,750,000. It has been reliably estimated that only about 15 per cent, of the children in the lower age groups receive adequate dentalattention. Thus, in the lowest age group,, that is, the children from two years to five years, there would be approximately 463,000 requiring initial treatment. It would require the services of hundreds of dentists to begin a scheme for that agegroup alone. The Australian Dental Association has estimated that at least another 1,700 dentists would be needed to implement the scheme for all children of school age. An examination of the number of registered dentists, together with the number of dental students in the universities, indicates that it will be many years before enough dentists will be available.
Turning to the question of the cost of the Governments’ plans for the national health service, I repeat that the development of the complete plan will necessarily be spread over a number of years, and, while costs will increase as each new stage in that development is reached, the full costs will not arise until the complete service is in operation. “We may be fairly confident that, with the full participation of practitioners in the medical benefits scheme, the cost will eventually be approximately £6,000,000. a year. As to the programme of dental service which has been outlined, the speed of introduction, and, therefore the cost, will be governed by the facilities and trained personnel which are available. Within a few years the service may have developed to a stage at which the annual costs will be in the vicinity of £4,000,000 a year. The costs of other parts of the comprehensive plan, or the time when they will be incurred, cannot at this stage be forecast. Expenditure under the bill will be borne by the National Welfare Fund, with the exception that expenditure- of a. capital nature on buildings, plant, equipment and furnishings will be a direct charge on moneys appropriated from time to time by the Parliament.
I have outlined the major proposals of the Government in relation to both the medical and the dental aspects of the national health scheme. The development of the scheme will be shaped in the light of future discussions and needs. The Government invites the co-operation of representative bodies and members of the various professions, to whom it has offered, and will offer, an opportunity to play a very full part in the development of plans designed to contribute something of real and lasting benefit to the people of Australia. It is hoped that the cooperation with the Australian Government which will be forthcoming from State governments, members of the professions and other bodies will be such that the greatest efforts of the nation will be directed to the prevention of disease and the provision of the best possible medical and dental treatment for the people. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Sir Earle Page) adjourned.
Consideration resumed (vide page
.- At its inception, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was mainly concerned with research into agriculture, forestry, insect control, soils, fisheries, irrigation and other primary production activities. Its interest in secondary industry did not develop until shortly before the beginning of World War TI. The bill provides for the transfer of certain employees of the council to the Commonwealth Public Service. It gives the Government a general and not a limited power. If it is passed in its present form, even though there is at present no intention to transfer to the Public Service any employees of the council other than those who are engaged upon defence work, it will leave the way open for the dismemberment of the remainder of the council without further reference to the Parliament. The bill should provide for the transfer to the public service of only certain specified divisions of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Work of a defence nature which is now being carried out by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research may be allocated to a defence research laboratory, and research work which is not now considered to be important for defence purposes but may subsequently become important from that stand-point may also be transferred to the laboratory at a later date. Even if some of the secondary industry divisions of the Council for
Scientific and Industrial Research should be placed under special control and be subject to secrecy, the principal primary industry groups should be left under the original control, without the threat to their efficiency which would almost certainly result from their transfer to the Public Service. I have received the following letter from members of the Division of Industrial Chemistry in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research : -
The bill correctly allows for the separation from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research of research associated with defence and the work of the division of aeronautics has been specifically mentioned. It is agreed that defence research of this type must be conducted in secret. The bill, however, also enables any or all parts of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to be brought under Public Service Regulations for reasons other than defence requirements. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research at present operates under a special act giving it considerable autonomy. Government departments are so often concerned with administration and regulations and with stereotyped procedure that the development of a form of government organization consistent with the conduct of original creative work is no simple matter. It has been shown, however, by the T.V.A. in America, by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Australia by the State Electricity Commission in Victoria and by other semi-autonomous that given a suitable degree of freedom to get ahead of particular tasks government organizations can do creative work at the highest technical level. The present Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Act was framed with this conception in mind and we think it is agreed that the act has been most successful in its purpose. To alter it in the way proposed would be a retrograde step. In true scientific investigation the individual research worker is constantly exploring unchartered seas. No one is in a position to tell him where to go. The evidence he collects in his work is his best guide. The function of administration in research is to delineate the field of work to make every condition as favorable as possible for the progress of investigation to bring to the assistance of the research worker any relevant experience and information from any fields of study. The administrator is to this extent the servant rather than the master of the research worker. This upside down nature of research administration is not generally realized, but it is, I think, of great importance in relation to the bill which would allow to be imposed upon research a form of departmental organization evolved for a different purpose.
Similar letters have reached me from other groups in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Some of them suggest that, if required, members of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will be prepared to take the oath of allegiance. An organization like the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is different from the ordinary government department, because the research workers are shielded by the executive. That arrangement makes for soundness of policy and continuity and consistency therein. “When the permanent departmental head is a collective body of persons of scientific eminence, there is a distinct benefit to scientific workers and also to the Minister in charge of the organization. Another interesting document which has reached me on this subject states, in part-
Any all- research organization is superior, from the viewpoint of the research workers, to one in which research constitutes only one aspect of the total activity. In departments, &c., where this is done it is common experience to find that research is the Cinderella of the organization; in respect of time, personnel, finance, <fcc, research needs are provided for only when the needs of administration, &c, have been met, the research requirements being regarded as always less urgent; again, when there are bacl times and retrenchment, research is always the first to suffer and the hardest sufferer. In any individual case, a. departmental head with a proper understanding of the place of research might cause this effect to be mitigated, but leadership of this kind cannot be guaranteed.
Persons who were given the authority to establish a scientific organization in South Africa recently, considered that the Australian Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was the best model. They arrived at that conclusion after they had examined various organizations in Great Britain, Canada and New Zealand, where corresponding work is performed more directly under the Public Service. Dr. Vannevar Bush, the Director of the . American Office of Scientific Research and Development, and an eminent scientist, has submitted a report to the president on the programme of post-war scientific research. He has recommended the establishment of an organization which will be in many ways similar to the Australian. Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. “When T heard a reference to Dr. Vannevar Bush, I read some of his works, and, in doing so, found support for some of the objections which members of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research have raised to the provisions of the bill. The Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (Mr. Dedman) no doubt knows that during “World “War II. Dr. Vannevar Bush was the chairman of the National Defence Research Committee in the United States of America. He has expressed the following opinion: -
Scientific research may be divided into the following broad categories: (1) pure research, (2) background research and (3) applied research. The boundaries between them are by no means clear-cut . . . typical instances are easily recognized . . . each category requires different institutional arrangements for maximum development.
Pure Research: This is performed without thought of practical ends. It results in general knowledge and an understanding of nature and its laws. This general knowledge provides the means of answering a large number of important practical problems, though it may noi give a complete specific answer to any one of them. The scientist doing basic research may not be at all interested in the practical applications of his work, yet the further progress of industrial development would eventually stagnate if basic scientific research were long neglected.
A nation which depends upon others for its news basic scientific knowledge will be slow in its industrial progress and weak in its competitive position in world trade, regardless of its mechanical skill.
A nation whose scientific research is not free will be dependent upon other nations for its scientific knowledge. Dr. Vannevar Bush has also stated -
Applied Research: The distinction between applied and pure research is not a hard and fast one but it is important to em phasize that . . . under pressure for immediate results, and unless deliberate policies are set up to guard against this, applied research invariably drives out pure. The moral is clear : It is pure research which deserves and requires special protection and specially assured support. . . .
Research . . . must be free from the necessity of producing immediate practical results, free from the dictation of any central board.
The Government considers that this bill is necessary because of the secret defence work which is being undertaken in this country. I do not intend to refer to that aspect of the legislation, but it is significant that, throughout the world to-day, scientists are discussing the matter of preserving secrecy in respect of defence work.
On that aspect, Dr. Vannevar Bush has expressed the following view : -
Inevitably it was not possible to carry on work under conditions of great secrecy with the same despatch which is possible when no such conditions obtain.
The magazine Nature published an article on the 31st January last about a meeting of scientists at Mexico City. It stated, inter alia -
Science is truly international in outlook, and has learnt to work along international lines . . in contrast to culture which is described as essentially national or racial in outlook and is only just beginning to walk easily along the international path.
The provisions of this bill are too wide. In my opinion, the general work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research cannot be properly effective in a normal civil service atmosphere. If the Government considers that safeguards are essential, such precautions should be specific, clear, comprehensible and limited.
.- [ say at the outset that, in my opinion, the Government has introduced this measure eighteen months too late. The Labour Government’s dilatoriness in taking action make’s it entirely responsible for the ill repute that has, unfortunately, been cast on the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. If the advice that Sir David Rivett offered the Government in March, 1947, had been followed immediately, and defence research had been clearly separated and entirely divorced from peace scientific research, all of the obloquy that has been thrown on the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research through injudicious or suspicious actions by some of those who are employed by that body, would have been directed at the Government as it should have been. Had that been done, portions of the speech delivered by Sir David Rivett in March, 1947, would not have been misconstrued, and isolated sentences would not have been given the sinister meaning that has been placed upon them, owing to Communist activities in the ensuing eighteen months. I have always had the highest respect for Sir David Rivett, and have always regarded as one of the most fortunate happenings for Australia that, in 1926, Sir David Rivett, Sir George Julius, and Professor
Richardson accepted the invitation of the Bruce-Page Government to take over the control of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I still have the warmest possible appreciation of the value of the work of those eminent scientists. In the address of Sir David Rivett to which I have already referred, which was delivered in Canberra, which is close enough for the Government to take heed, he warned the Government as plainly as possible what it must do. On that occasion he said -
I feel impelled towards a few remarks of Immediate application, or rejection, according to the point of view. . . . That there is to be secret work carried on in this country to meet contingencies of war seems a reasonable assumption, from certain questions, answers, and comments that have recently been heard in the House of Representatives. Included in such work there will, presumably, be some, or much, that will be given the description “ scientific “. From the standpoint of the Australian universities, and, in particular, that of the brother institution which you expect soon to come to life beside you, and from, the standpoint, too, of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, I venture to express the hope that the opinion of J. B. Conant, president of Harvard University, will seem to our rulers to be full of sound wisdom.
Sir David Rivett pointed out that the following opinion had been expressed by the president of Harvard University: -
In time of peace I think it highly inadvisable for universities which are dedicated to free investigation, to undertake the type of investigation they did during the war for patriotic reasons, namely, secret or confidential work. All secret research in days of peace should be done in government laboratories, arsenals and proving grounds.
Sir David Rivett continued ;
Admittedly, the many Council for Scientific and Industrial Research laboratories scattered around Australia are in one definite sense government laboratories, but not, I think, in the same sense meant by Conant. They and the universities, working us they are doing, ever closely together, must maintain in Australia the spirit of science, which can live only in an atmosphere of freedom. If national sovereignty demands the right to prepare secretly for the destruction of other sovereignties, let those who take the responsibility of making a decision to that effect - and it is surely a ghastly responsibility to put upon any thinking men - keep their projects clear of these national scientific institutions in which the traditional freedom of science must be maintained.
Could any words be clearer, or any statement more definite, as to what should be done? What Sir David Rivett said, in effect, was that he was impelled towards a few remarks of immediate application.
The Government was aware in March, 1947, that those were Sir David’s views. Since then, the Parliament has been sitting for many months. It has passed all sorts of bills, some important, many tinimportant. Many, such as the free medicine legislation, are not operating at all, a nd some have had little application to current affairs. Some have proved to be quite unnecessary. Others again have actually been repealed. In 1947 Sir David Rivett asked the Government to make an immediate decision that was absolutely fundamental. Since then a lot of water has run under the bridge and, at long last, the Government has been forced to do as suggested. It has acted at the point of the bayonet, and because of pressure exerted on it by the Liberal and Australian Country parties, backed by public opinion in Australia, Great Britain and the United States of America. How casual the Government has been in the whole of this matter of security can be seen in its weak excuse for the evident leaks of security information. . The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), in the Parliament, gave as his excuse for not having tightened up the position, that the Bruce-Page Government was really responsible, because some 22 years ago it had drafted the present constitution of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and its form of administration, and had not thought it nece«sary to separate defence research from peace research, or to demand the taking of the oath of allegiance by the employees of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, or to obtain dossiers of those employees. I point out that the BrucePage Government constituted the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in 1926, during peace-time, and gave it peace-time functions. However, the Labour Government has been in office for seven years since then, including the war years, and the immediate post-war period. As Sir David Rivett pointed out, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should properly, during the war period, carry out secret or confiden- tial work, for patriotic reasons, but in times of peace it was inadvisable that bodies dedicated to free investigation should undertake that type of work. During the war period the Labour Government saw scientific advances and developments revolutionize the methods of war. It used the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research for all sorts of war research work. But although three years have elapsed since the termination of the war the Government has not, until now, done anything to correct the position and ensure full security. I am glad that Sir David Rivett’s advice is being followed even at this late stage. Although I am also glad that the defence research activities will be taken away from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, it is important that such steps are not inadvertently or lightly taken. Nothing should be permitted which will hamstring and strangle the true peace-time functions of the activities of the Council of the Scientific and. Industrial Research. I fear that this legislation has benn brought in too casually, and without proper regard to the background and history of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
The provisions of this bill make possible the destruction of peace-time functions of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The whole objects of the bill are set out in clauses 3 and 5 under which a new division will be inserted in the Commonwealth Public Service Act. This new division will be headed “ Transfer to the Commonwealth Public Service of certain employees of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research “. I have no quarrel with that. It is all right as far as it goes, but unfortunately another provision is to be inserted which will provide that the GovernorGeneral may, from time to time, by notice published in the Gazette, declare any work, or class of work, such that it should be performed by some specified Commonwealth Department of State. The Minister in charge of that particular department can remove this activity from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research merely by inserting a notice in the Gazette. There :is apparently to be no consultation, no agreement, and no discussion with the executive of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The bill contains no provision about that. It is apparently something that the Minister will do. He could even remove from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research an investigation that is being carried out. I hope to refer later to an investigation that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has carried out successfully over the years. How stupid it would be for the Government, in the midst of a blow-fly investigation, or a prickly-pear investigation, to say, “ This is a defence scheme; we are going to deal with it by some other department -of state “. “When the measure is being dealt with in committee, I shall move an appropriate amendment, in order to provide against such a decision. In the meantime, I propose to show how this bill, in its existing form, may emasculate the functions of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, destroy its prestige, interrupt the continuity of its work, and lessen its chances of securing or holding eminent scientists, which it has been able to appoint to its services in the past. By reason of its constitution and character, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has been able to secure some of the best scientists in the world. It is the calibre and quality of these scientists which have made possible the wonderful advances for which the -Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is famed, and which has helped to make an institution admired and envied by other countries.
The honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) pointed out that the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is founded on the existing constitution of the Australian Council for Scientific and Industrial Research of Australia, and not the constitution that is to be given it by this measure. Regard should be had to the history of this institution so that it will be allowed to continue to function in a proper manner.
– The right honorable gentleman seems to be having a bit each way.
– I am talking common-sense patriotism. We should approach this matter, not in a party spirit, but in such a way which will ensure that our defence research is undertaken in a proper manner. Although .1 am all for that being done, the way in which it is being done is a scandal. I hope that the Government will accept the amendment that 1 shall move, to insert three words in the measure, which will make certain that the peace-time functions of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will be maintained. I am very glad thai the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) is present, because I believe that he will be interested in the full story which 1 shall tell. It may help him to decide to act in the manner I shall suggest.
It is very important that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should be free to gather its officers, and scientists wherever it can, and to engage them for whatever period it deems necessary. This has been proved by the history and nature of its work. It is not necessary that the Council for Scientificand Industrial Research shall be under the control of the Public Service Board in order that appointments can be made. I point out that many scientists may only be engaged for three or four years to carry out particular work. It may be that they will desire to carry out other work elsewhere at the end of that period. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research must be in a position to be able to say to them, “ Come and do this work for as long as you can, and we will protect you in every possible sense “.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research came into its present form as a result of an invitation by myself, on behalf of the Bruce-Page Government, to Sir Frank Heath, a distinguished member of the British Research Council, to come to Australia and work out a system of research that would fully meet our progressively growing needs. Sir Frank Heath spent several months in Australia looking at the whole position, and he discussed the possibilities of personnel and research problems with various Australian scientists. He finally came to the conclusion that the most satisfactory way to ensure’ the success of our scientific and research project was to secure a constitution for that body that would give it the greatest freedom in its activities and thereby attract firstclass minds to the direction of the- movement. This opinion was shown to be well founded when the Bruce-Page Government was able to secure the services of Sir George Julius, since deceased, Sir David Rivett and Professor Richardson of the Waite Institute as the council’s first directors. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was formed in 1926. Those distinguished scientists, who represented the whole range of primary and secondary research, only made themselves available when it was established that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research would be given certain definite powers and functions. The council was. made a body corporate with power to hold lands, chattels, &c, and to acquire by gift, grant or bequest any property for the purposes of research and to agree to any of the conditions of such gift, grant or bequest. The council was given statutory power to appoint, with the approval of the Minister, such investigators and committees of investigation as it deemed necessary on terms and conditions approved by the Minister. The officers appointed by the council were not to be subject to the Commonwealth Public Service Act, but could be engaged for such periods and subject to such conditions as were prescribed. An endowment of £250,000 was appropriated from. Consolidated Revenue and paid, into a trust account, and the council was permitted to spend that money in’ accordance with Estimates of Expenditure which had been passed by Parliament. The reasons for establishing this position, insofar as officers were concerned, were that many investigations required special knowledge and experience and a certain period of time to accomplish. Many investigators from all parts of the world were prepared to undertake research of this nature for a limited period who would not have been prepared to enter the Commonwealth Public Service. As it was realized that some research might take years and that it was quite useless to budget on an annual basis, two financial steps were taken. The first was to endow the Conn. cil for Scientific and Industrial; Research with substantial amounts out of surplusCommonwealth revenue. The second Wasto establish an endowment fund of £100^000 which could be used for the purpose of training research students for special tasks and ensuring them of permanent employment while their investigations were being carried out. Thequality of the work done by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research soon proved of such a high character as to attract substantial bequests and gifts from private individuals to encourage its activities. Fortunately, the substantial endowment I made during the 1920’s enabled the research activities of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to be carried on uninterruptedly through the years of depression when, in fact, they were most needed to show us cheaper and better methods of production. The work done by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research speaks for itself” and justifies the judgment of the BrucePage Government in establishing the council free from political control, in giving its directors relative freedom of action, and in providing substantial’ financial support. Succeeding governments have supported this policy right up to the present time, and my amendment would ensure the retention of thisfreedom and initiative.
When the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was instituted in 1926 under Commonwealth legislation, the Government followed the example of other countries which realized that the development of a country’s primary and secondary industries necessitates research beyond the capacity of individual persons and enterprises. Since that time the success of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Australia has led many other countries to follow the example and control of our organization which is free from political interference. In Australia the establishment of the council was of greater importance than in those countries which had advanced industrial development because many of these had considerable research organizations established privately. But here, our relatively backward state and the need to build up industries based on the use of Australian raw materials and the special nature of many problems confronting Australia’s agricultural and pastoral industries made it invaluable.
The activities of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research have necessitated a widespread and adaptable organization free from any rigid administrative control of the type adopted within the Public Service. In order that scientific research may flourish special conditions are necessary, and this was clearly recognized when the legislation establishing the council was drafted and it was laid down specifically that the council should be free from Public Service Board control. In the early years the council’s research was mainly concerned with problems confronting primary industry. The dividends have been large from the money invested in thi3 work. Overall returns of more than one-hundredfold are not unusual, and the dividends are cumulative and perpetual. The results of the war waged by cactoblastus on the prickly pear, whereby a province of some 55,000,000 acres of fertile land has been reclaimed for Australia are well known. Similar results are in sight following the council’s successful research on the control of St. John’s wort. A disease in tobacco seedling beds which threatened the whole of the tobacco industry has been overcome. As a result of the council’s investigations banana-growing has been reestablished on wide areas previously devastated by bunchy top disease. Bitter pit in apples, which caused an average loss of £100,000 to the Australian export trade, has been largely eliminated. Great success has been achieved in developing varieties of potatoes free from virus diseases which had caused losses in crops of up to even more than 25 per cent. One of the most important problems facing the sheep industry is the blowfly pest which, in a bad year, has caused a loss of £4,000,000. A great part of this loss is now being avoided by the application of research results such as the Mules operation. A medicine has been successfully developed for the control of black disease in sheep, which formerly caused losses of £1,000,000 per annum to eastern sheep-owners alone. Similar success has been achieved in dealing with “braxy-like” disease of sheep in Western Australia. Foot-rot, which may affect 50 per cent, of sheep in some areas in a wet season, can be completely controlled as a result of the council’s research. Research that the council has carried out on pleuro-pneumonia in cattle has received world-wide recognition and has resulted in an improved vaccine to ensure immunity in animals. A practical method of conferring immunity to one of the parasites causing tick-fever has been developed and put into practice. Effective control of buffalo fly and cattle tick, the cause of major losses to the cattle industry in the north, to which Great Britain is looking for the solution of problems caused by the loss of Argentine beef, is now possible as a result of research by the council. More than 1,000,000 acres of the Ninety-Mile desert in South Australia will bc brought into production as a result of the council’s researches into mineral deficiencies. Deficiency of copper has been shown to be the cause of “ steely “ wools, and the elimination of this defect has added £5,000,000 to the annual value of the wool clip. Coast disease in sheep, occurring over large tracts in south-eastern Australia, has been eliminated following the discovery’ that it is due to a deficiency of cobalt. Proper use of land and the efficient exploitation of existing resources is dependent on the soil surveys carried out by the council. The Australian chilled beef export trade has been made possible by the council’s work.
When the council commenced work on forest products, some twenty years ago, the seasoning of Australian timbers was so bad that it was difficult to get local industry to use them. To-day, as a result of the council’s work, seasoning in Australia is of as high a standard as anywhere else in the world, and when, during the war, timber imports ceased it was possibly to satisfy our needs from our own forests. The establishment of the valuable pulp and paper industry has been made possible by the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. This list of the council’s achievements in the field of primary industry alone could be extended almost indefinitely, and only passing reference can be made to results of similar importance to our expanding secondary industries. I refer, for example, to the improved methods of bearing manufacture, exploitation of our unique deposits of tungsten, titanium, tantalum and zirconium, the development of radio navigational aids for safeguarding our airlines, and the setting up of precision standards of measurement basic to all manufacturing industries.
These magnificent results have been made possible because the council has been able to create the best environment for scientific research. Bight from its inception the control and administration of the council has been in the hands of leading scientists. Scientific research cannot be regimented. All decisions of an administrative nature must be made with a full knowledge of the scientific implications involved, and these decisions can be made only by men who have themselves been trained as research workers. The original decision to keep the Council for Scientific and Indus-trial Research staff outside the control of the Public Service Board was made following a conference held at the instance df the Australian Government in 1925, of representative parliamentarians, scientists, civil servants and industry, both State and Federal. That conference recommended that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should be administered by an independent council of scientific authorities, with the day-to-day administration in the hands of an executive committee appointed by the Government, but again composed of men of the highest scientific attainments. The conference also made a special point of recommending that the council’s officers should not be subject to the Public Service Board. The same principles that influenced the conference either had been recognized, or have since been recognized, in the organization of other research bodies, for example, the Medical Research Council and the Agricultural Research Council in the United Kingdom, the National Research Council in Canada, and the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The administration of scientific research is quite a. different matter to the administration of an executive department of government. In departments, policy must necessarily be determined by the ministerial head, and instructions governing the execution of that policy are transmitted without change through all grades of the staff from top to bottom. Such a system demands centralization of direction and a rigidity of structure which is quite unsuitable for science. In a scientific research body, the central administration should be responsible only for the broad outline of policy and for the general co-ordination of work. The method of carrying out that policy should be the responsibility of senior scientific officers located in the various laboratories outside the central administration, as they alone are competent to decide how the individual investigations may best be conducted. Similarly, these senior officers must again delegate responsibility and depend upon the capacity and initiative of their subordinates, to whom the maximum degree of freedom must be allowed. Successful scientific research is absolutely dependent on freedom, initiative and flexibility, and such conditions are foreign to the Public Service Board which has been designed for quite another purpose.
Then, again, an outstandingly important consideration in the conduct of scientific research is the necessity to pay adequate attention to fundamental work, i.e., the underlying principles. A Public Service Board of laymen is far too apt to take the short-sighted view and to concentrate on the immediate solution of particular problems without realizing that such concentration means a corresponding loss on the fundamental side, although work in that field is often the means of solving a whole group of problems and not of one only. On this point, the following is an apt quotation from the third report of the Select Committee on Estimates presented to the Parliament of the United Kingdom in 1946-47:-
Much money has in the past been wasted, and can still be wasted, by undertaking applied researches without securing that sufficient provision has been made for research into fundamental principles, a knowledge of which is essential if successful and economic techniques for solving practical problems are tn be worked out.
There are all too numerous instances in State departments in Australia and elsewhere of the tendency, when a broad scientific policy is controlled by lay administrative officers rather than by the most competent scientific and technical officers, to skimp funds by curtailing the fundamental, fruitful investigations. The inevitable consequence is a decline in scientific standards and of the spirit of the organization concerned. Scientific workers, particularly those of high quality, can only be expected to work contentedly under conditions which allow them to exercise the widest freedom and to use their initiative in the choice of and method of attack upon research problems. They are not attracted to, nor will they remain with, organizations working within the rigid framework of an executive department. I urge the Government to give further consideration to my amendment. It is a simple proposal which goes to the root of the things that really matter. Although the Government will undoubtedly do what it wants to do in connexion with the separation of defence work from the control of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, I trust that it will do nothing to prevent the council from continuing and expanding its ordinary research investigations.
– Anybody who came into this House a month or so ago and listened to the slanderous statements about certain executive officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the manner in which the employees of the council were defamed by honorable members opposite solely to gain some political advantage, and who returned to the House to-night, would be amazed to hear the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) speak in eulogistic terms of the great work done by those self-same men. T join with the right honorable gentleman in paying tribute to the work done by the executive officers and the staff of the council. During earlier debates, I have f requently said that the council was doing and had done magnificent work for this country. I have also drawn attention to the fact that, because of its widened activities, the personnel of the council had grown tremendously. To-day, its employees number no fewer than “>.000. Not all of them, of course, are scientists. A month or so ago, Sir David Rivett, the chairman of the council, was defamed and villified by honorable members opposite. Eminent scientists throughout the world, who held him in the highest repute, immediately hastened to his defence as also did I and the Minister in charge of the council (Mr. Dedman). I have never heard more scandalous statements made in this House about anybody than those made about Sir David Rivett and his officers by honorable members opposite solely to gain a petty political advantage. I give the right honorable member for Cowper credit for the establishment of the council. Not only did he display a great interest in its establishment, but he has also maintained an active interest in its work throughout the years. I appreciate the manner in which the right honorable gentleman dealt with the activities of this important body in his speech to-night. There are some facts relating to its work since the right honorable gentleman was actively associated with its administration which should be made known to honorable members generally. During the war years, and since, the council has been engaged in certain research work associated with the defence of this country. The right honorable gentleman touched upon that aspect of the council’s work, but his comments in relation to it. were hardly fair. About three years ago, because of the rapid increase then taking place in the staff of the council, I gave some consideration to the need for exercising better control over appointments. At that time 1 was thinking not so much of scientific appointments as of appointments to the non-scientific staff. Time has shown that it would have been wise to have done something about the matter then. Let me say at once that my investigations had nothing whatever to do with the subsequent charges made about secret documents. The suggestion that members of the council or its staff have ever been responsible for the disclosure of secret information was exploded long ago. Leading scientists in -every country scoffed at the charge made by honorable members opposite that leakages of confidential information detrimental to the interests of this country had occurred through the agency of the council or its staff. Haying listened to the attacks that were made upon members of the council’s 3taff in this House, one would think that all of them were traitors to their country.
– What honorable member gave such an impression? That is a complete misrepresentation of fact.
– One honorable member opposite even went so far as to say that Sir David Rivett should be sacked. It is only necessary for the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang), who is constantly asking questions about members of the council’s staff, to see a member of the council’s staff in conversation with a Communist or a “ fellow traveller” to convince him that the officer is a traitor. The suggestion made by honorable members opposite that scientists in the employ of the council who have been associated with defence work have been guilty of passing on information to unauthorized persons, would not be believed even W “ Blind Freddie “. As the result of certain scientific developments during the war, some of the scientists engaged by the council were directed to carry out scientific research work associated with defence projects. There will always be differences of opinon about the scientists employed by an organization such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research devoting some of their activities to defence work. Sir David Rivett made a statement upon the subject, and it was from that statement that some of these rumours relating to leakages of information originated. Sir David said that, in his opinion, secret work in connexion with defence projects should be separated from the ordinary activities of the council. Many scientists hold the view that scientific knowledge should be freely disseminated throughout the world. Others hold the view, and I share it, that, in the interests of the British Commonwealth and of the peace of the world, scientists engaged on general research work, should, from time to time, be directed to undertake work of a secret nature. However. I do not propose to enter into the merits or the demerits of such a proposition. As I have said, scientists throughout the world have different views upon it. I have discussed this subject with some of the most eminent scientists in the world anc? have learned that there is no unanimity of opinion among them about it. The development of scientific warfare brought new problems in its train. These problems were to some degree investigated by scientists attached to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. An aeronautical research section was established, the activities of which, although not directly related to defence, had some bearing on defence. Under this bill it is proposed to transfer that section, as has been done elsewhere, to a department more particularly concerned with defence matters. We propose to transfer it to the Department of Supply and Development which is under the control of Senator Armstrong, who is also in charge of the guided weapons testing range and munitions factories. That seems to me to be a wise move.
As I have said, about three years ago I gave some consideration to the reorganization of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I realized then the need for some degree of flexibility in scientific work. I realize that there is some need for that to-day, but, in saying that, I do not want it to be thought that the Government proposes to accept the amendment proposed by the right honorable member for Cowper. Such a proposal would need the most careful examination. Let us recall what happened in this House some months ago. Somebody spread a rumour that a man who had been wheeling a barrow, or taking photographs of tomato plants, had Communist tendencies, and as the result of that rumour all the members of the staff of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research were condemned. The council comes within the administrative control of the Prime Minister’s Department and is administered by my colleague the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction on my behalf. In all instances recommendations for the appointment of officers to the council’s staff are made to the Minister by the executive of the council. The Minister, acting on the advice of this very estimable body makes these appointments because he has been assured by the chairman, Sir David Rivett or other high officials connected with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research that they base their recommendations for appointments only on the merits of the persons recommended. If the executive considers that a certain individual is the best-qualified person available for the purpose of photographing tomato plants or flowers it does not seek to discover whether he has been seen standing near a Communist meeting in the Sydney Domain on a Sunday afternoon. That was the argument those executive officers advanced. They said that the particular workers complained of were not doing work of a secret character and asked, while those workers were qualified to carry out efficiently the work that they were appointed to do, and were not endangering security, what did their politics matter ? Surely no member of this House would say that the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should be expected to accept the whole responsibility for the employment of every person on its staff. He has no opportunity of making personal checks on the people employed, yet he lies open to the gravest slander by people who, for some political advantage, want to “ take a shot “ at the Government. Yet the Minister was attacked by the honorable member for Reid - I do not place the charge solely upon the honorable member for Reid - who joined with some honorable members of the Opposition in alleging that some individual who was a Communist had been appointed here or there. They blamed the Minister, although the appointment had been made on the recommendation of a reputable and very conservative body. I should not imagine that any of the gentlemen who occupy execute positions in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research are likely to be engaged in appointing Communists just because they are Communists. The executive includes such men as Sir David Rivett, Dr. Wade, Dr. Clunies Ross and other people of similar high standing. I naturally defended the reputation of these gentlemen in this House because I think it is the duty of the Government, and of myself as Prime Minister, to stress that they have given this country great service and deserve all honour for the work they have done. Any suggestion that they go around deliberately serving up to the Minister recommendations for the appointment of Communists is sheer nonsense. Certainly the Opposition has done all it possibly could to cause a change in this flexibility that the right honorable gentleman talks about, and to bring about a change in the method of appointment so that the Minister cannot be blamed for any appointment and that some independent authority would be responsible for discovering whether appointees are fellow travellers or Communist or whatever else they might be charged with being. One night I listened in this House to the right honorable Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) attacking the Government for the alleged appointment of Communists to what he alleged were positions connected with work of a secret nature. He even included among such activities investigations in connexion with rinderpest and bacteriological warfare on other agricultural pests. He implied that some individual or other who was attempting to destroy wogs in a wheat stack could cause great danger to the country if he had enough scientific knowledge. The suggestion he made was that such activities might eventually become of some defence value. In this particular matter the Government has regarded work of a defence nature as being work strictly associated with defence. The bill provides that a particular department, the aeronautical research division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will be transferred to the Department of Supply and Development and it gives power to transfer other sections of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to other departments if such transfers are deemed desirable and necessary. I was surprised to hear the right honorable member for Cowper speak about the Minister having the authority to make these transfers. Nobody knows better than he does that Ministers may not make transfers of one section of a department to another department. Only the Prime Minister himself can do that, though a Minister might _ make recommendations to the Prime Minister that certain work in one department should be transferred to another department. I should imagine that such a transfer has never been effected in the history of Australia except with the approval of the Prime Minister of the day. It certainly cannot be effected overnight by a Minister. There are 5,000 employees’ in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research at the present time. They were appointed by the Minister on the recommendations of the officers of the department. The Minister really has no knowledge of the details of many of the appointments that ar.” made. He accepts the word of highly reputable and respectable citizens that the appointees recommended to him are suitable for particular work. I do not think it is fair to the Minister, or to any Minister, that he should bear the responsibility for appointments. Something ought to be done to remove the onus of responsibility from him and to ensure that no major appointments are made without r thorough examination. The Minister and I have now made arrangements for two very highly qualified officers to study the whole question of how this particular difficulty can be overcome. Now that grave charges have been made which reflect on the whole organization itself there ought to be some body with the responsibility to screen appointees. Among the 5,000 employees of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research are thousands who have no scientific knowledge but are engaged in other work.
If it becomes necessary in the future to transfer some defence work to another department, this bill will make the transfer possible. We are not going to make up our minds about the establishment of an authority to be responsible for appointments until the matter has been thoroughly examined. Any authority appointed might have the power to screen the ordinary workers and to see that they measured up to the qualifications that the Public Service Board requires. Those arrangements, however, would not cover scientists at this stage, because both the Minister and myself realize that scientists are in, a different position from ordinary workers. Even though the whole of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research were brought under the Public Service Board some special provision would have to be made in regard to the scientific staff. That matter is being examined now but neither the Minister nor I propose to commit ourselves about the decision to be made until the final recommendations are in our hands. There are varying degrees of scientific workers. Some of them are very highly skilled and eminent men, others not yet fully trained. This Government has done just as much as any other government to send Council for Scientific and Industrial Research workers abroad to be trained. We have discussed the matter with scientists from other parts of the world who have recommended the institution of a superannuation scheme to meet the special needs and the circumstances of scientists who may be engaged on work with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research for four or five years, then join the staff of a university, and later go somewhere else. The present Commonwealth superannuation scheme does not cover such cases, although for permanent servants in the higher positions superannuation pensions amounting to as much as £845 a year are payable upon retirement. I believe that scientists who work for their country, and later transfer to other work, should have the benefit of a superannuation scheme, but it will probably be necessary to devise a special scheme to meet their case. That does not apply to the many employees of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research who are engaged on work similar to that done in ordinary government departments. As the right honorable member for Cowper, and the Leader of the Australian Country party, both of whom have been Prime Ministers, are well aware, the allocation of work among the departments is a matter for the Prime Minister alone, although he may be guided by the recommendations of his Ministers. It may well be that certain work done by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, other than that defined in the bill, ought to be done by the Department of Defence. I do not propose to ask the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, merely because slanderous attacks have been made upon that institution, and upon eminent scientists of great repute, to accept responsibility for the employment of labourers in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research who may have leanings towards communism.
– Is the Prime Minister saying that scientists employed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research are not likely to be transferred to the Public Service?
– 1 am saying that, even if the whole of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is transferred to the control of the Public Service Board, it would still be necessary to make special provision for the scientific staff, who could not be treated as ordinary public servants. The baseless charge has been made that, because some one employed upon the recommendation of a scientist in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to wheel a barrow on the banks of the Molonglo turns out to be a Communist the whole institution is thereby tainted with disloyalty. There must be a check of all those employed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. but the work should be done by the Public Service Board. It should not be the responsibility of the Minister in charge, and it should not be the responsibility of eminent scientists attached to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to select and appoint laboratory attendants and labourers.
We propose to transfer the special section of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research which is engaged upon defence work to the Department of Defence, and in this we will be following the British practice. It is proposed to take power to transfer other sections should the need arise, as it might at any time, having regard to modern scientific developments. It is also proposed to arrange for the effective screening of employees, so that charges may not be made against reputable officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Eesearch. Finally, it is proposed to devise a scheme by which scientists employed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will enjoy superannuation benefits when they retire. Scientists are not always persons with a strong money sense, nor do they usually engage in commercial activities that could provide them with a competence against their old age. We do not wish them to be in want when they retire.
I pay the warmest possible tribute to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research for the work it has done, and I refer, in particular to the men who have been slandered in an attempt that has been made by certain interests to gain a political advantage. It is the wish of the Government that this ever-growing institution should conform to the highest standards of the Public Service, while allowing freedom of action to the scientists employed by it.
.- I listened with close attention to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), and I have rarely known him to take so long to say so little. Indeed, I found it hard to obtain a clear understanding of the situation from the long speech he made. Like some other honorable members, I have had the responsibility of administering that very important government activity, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Consequently when I learned, following discussions that took place earlier in this session, that the Government contemplated a change of the method of appointing officers to the council, I examined the proposed legislation closely. I have read the report of the very brief introductory speech delivered by the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (Mr. Dedman), and I have listened carefully to what the Prime Minister has just said about the bill. What do these speeches add up to? They have left us completely in the dark regarding the Government’s real intentions. Insofar as they reveal anything, they reveal an acknowledgment that warnings given by the Opposition earlier in the session of the danger of leakages of essential security information from within the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research were justified. Otherwise, the Government would not have been stampeded into making such a radical change as the bill proposes. Whilst criticism was not directed at the class of employee to whom the Prime Minister referred with his customary disarming technique - I mean men employed wheeling barrows and doing similar work - no attempt was 1 made by any responsible member of the Opposition, as far as I am aware, to challenge either the capacity or the loyalty of Sir David Rivett.
– The honorable member was not here.
– The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) said that Sir David Rivett should be sacked.
– I shall deal with the Minister’s interjection later. The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) has said that I was not here. That is true, but I have read probably a great deal more of the debate on the matter than have most honorable members now in this chamber. I have read in full the discussion that took place as recorded in Hansard, and I have noticed that honorable members on the Opposition side of the House repeatedly paid tribute to the public service and loyalty of Sir David Rivett as head of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I also read an interjection that was made by one member of the Opposition during the debate. Apparently the Prime Minister tried to base the principal portion of the speech which he has just delivered upon that interjection. The right honorable gentleman would be the first to repudiate as definite statements of government policy many of the interjections and speeches made by his supporters in this House.
The official Opposition and the responsible elements in it have never questioned the loyalty of Sir David Rivett. I personally take this first opportunity available to me, as a former Minister who worked very closely with Sir David Rivett during the war years when highly important and secret work connected with radar was being carried out under his control and general administration, to say that I have never had any occasion to question his loyalty or that of any officer working under him. Certainly I, as Minister, and the Government of which I was a member, never had occasion to criticize the wonderful work that was done by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. If there be any government or quasi-government body in Austral that deserves well of the Parliament, it is the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Until recently, the work of the council was clear of’ party controversy. All parties were united in their praise of the work that it performed and the splendid assistance that its various divisions gave to all sections of Australian primary and secondary industries. It would be impossible to measure in financial terms the value of that work to Australia as a whole. I am glad to have the opportunity now to pay my earnest tribute to the work that the council has done.
I now direct my attention to the terms of the bill. The Government proposes to make what scientists associated with the Council for Scientific and Industrial research will regard as a very important change in their personal connexion with the work in which they are engaged. They believe, justifiably in my opinion, that scientific research proceeds most satisfactorily and most fruitfully when it is as free as is practicable from governmental control. That view has been adopted by scientists throughout the world, irrespective of the form of government imposed upon them, even in totalitarian States. If we believed that this measure had been designed to bring scientists attached to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research under close government control, we should have very grave fears as to the future value of that organization. Comparisons have been made between the work done by the council and that done by the corresponding New Zealand body, which is directly under Public Service administration, to the obvious disadvantage of the New Zealand organization. Scientists ‘associated with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research argue that the work they have been able -to perform has been more valuable than otherwise would have been possible because they have not felt the restrictive effect of departmental administrative control. They point out also that we have often experienced difficulty in attracting capable scientists to our service, partly because the remuneration offered by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research compared unfavorably with that offered to top ranking scientists by private industrial organizations, and partly because scientists fear that, if they become linked with a body that is even remotely connected with the Government, their personal enterprise and initiative in research work might ‘ be trammelled in some way. There is a genuine fear that, if the policy which the Government now advances is to be implemented, not only shall we have greater difficulty in attracting scientists to our service in the future, but also we may lose some valuable members of the organization.
– Is not the work of scientists directed when they are in private employment?
– I think that the honorable member would find a very different state of affairs in private industry from that which prevails in the Governmentservice. An industry is usually a relatively small organization, and employers who have no scientific knowledge have a tendency to leave their scientists almost free of direct control.
I want to deal now with the story that has been presented to us by the Government through the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Prime Minister. If the Prime Minister’s speech this evening is to be taken at its face value, scientists will not be affected by this bill. According to him, the persons who will be affected are those employed as assistants and manual workers in the workshops and laboratories of the council. If that be the intention of the Government, it should be stated clearly. Such an intention was not revealed by the speech of the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. It certainly “does not appear in the bill. It has been submitted to us only by the Prime Minister. Apparently the right honorable gentleman has been affected by the criticism that has been advanced by honorable members on this side of the House, and doubtless he has been moved to some degree by the protests that have been made to the Government by those who are now employed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I want the Minister to tell the House, when he replies, whether the Government initiated this policy after full consultation with the executive of the council and with the approval of Sir David Rivett and his colleagues. I should like the Minister to clarify the position regarding the 250 employees of the Aeronautics Division. How many of those employees fall within the category that was mentioned by the Prime Minister? How many of them cannot be classified as scientists, and how many of them are senior or key personnel engaged in research work in that division? How far does the Government intend that this policy shall extend ? All the defence research work is not carried out in the aeronautic division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. If I recall the Minister’s words accurately, he told the House previously that defence research work was not carried out within the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research but in the defence research laboratories. If that is so, and if the council is not engaged in defence research work, what is the necessity for this measure? I find it difficult to believe that a body such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the work of which covers so many fields of activity, would not from time to time he engaged in investigating matters associated with defence. I suggest that we have not had a frank and clear statement from the Government of why it is acting in this way, or an explanation of the ambit of the legislation and the objectives that it has in mind.
– Has the honorable gentleman any idea of the intensity of the campaign that has been waged in this House by some members of the Australian Country party?
– I can only assure the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who may not have been in the chamber when I commenced my remarks, that I have studied the Hansard reports of the discussions that have taken place in this House. Long before my recent absence from Parliament, many statements were made in this chamber directing the attention of the Government to personnel associated with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and other government instrumentalities, who were suspect, at any rate by certain honorable members of this House. It was brought to my notice just before I left Victoria recently that one man who had been employed in a defence research laboratory, I think at Maribyrnong, had gone abroad as a representative of the Eureka League, an organization with Communist affiliations and associations. He is to travel through Europe, and I have no doubt that in doing so he will establish contact with representatives of the Communist party in various European countries. That fact was brought to my notice by a person working in the organization who should have been in a position to know what he was talking about. I understand that questions regarding that matter were subsequently asked in the Parliament.
Nobody will deny that there are Communists in Australia. Therefore, it is probable that they will infiltrate into the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and other governmental organizations. We must ask ourselves whether the Government will be successful by this method in preventing the infiltration of Communists to places where they can obtain information which .they might use to the detriment of the security of Australia. Even if all the scientists and other personnel employed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research were transferred to the Commonwealth Public Service, would anybody suggest that the officers of the Commonwealth Investigation Service, no matter how capable and conscientious they may be, are in a position effectively to screen all persons who ‘enter the service? I do not believe that they are, and I do not think that the honorable member for Fremantle believes that they are either. This measure will hot solve that problem. All that it will do will be to irritate and provoke worthwhile scientists who are associated with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I agree with Sir David Rivett and those associated with him that, so far as practicable, scientists should be untrammelled and that the countries of the world should exchange scientific information freely. 1 believe, however, that when secret information relating to defence is involved, special provision should be made to safeguard it and that a special organization should be established to undertake work of that kind. If the Government decided that some matters which are the subject of research, must be ‘kept secret, the proper course to take would be to establish defence research laboratories in which the research work could be undertaken. The screening of the people engaged in those activities should not be the ordinary Public Service screening. It should be conducted by appropriate investigation officers. The Government does not propose to do that, and, to that degree, it will fail to achieve what it seek.? to achieve by this measure. The measure will be mischievous in its implications and consequences and will not resolve the difficulty which is apparently now admitted by members of all parties to exist.
.- This is the fourth occasion on which I have risen to speak on the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. On three occasions I have been prevented from doing so. The gag is very effective. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) spoke of everything under the sun except the bill before the House, which is the crowning act in the humiliation of the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (Mr. Dedman). It is an admission that his administration of the council’s affairs has failed to give this country protection and security. It is a confession . of his failure to discharge his duty to Australia. I say deliberately that when the Minister presented this bill he was not acting as a free agent, but was working under marching orders. The alternative was complete exposure of his damaging failure to rid key government defence work of Communist traitors. Every honorable member knows why the Minister presented this bill. The initiative did not come from him or from Cabinet. It came .from Great Britain. Following disclosures that were made in the Parliament, the British Government sent a trusted member of its security service to this country. That official saw things for himself, and reported to London. Those findings by Sir Percy Sillitoe could hot be communicated through the ordinary channels to the Government of Australia. Fortunately, such incidents as that which gave rise to the communication are rare in the history of Commonwealth relations. The British Government was placed in the awkward position that it had to inform a dominion administration that it was not satisfied that one of the departments of that administration was a sound security risk. That is why the unexpected announcement was made that the Australian Prime Minister was going to London for ten days. The Prime Minister stated that the purpose of his mission was primarily economic in character. I ask, what economic problem arose at that time which could not have waited until the then forthcoming Commonwealth conference on economic matters which was to be held in London? The very purpose of that conference was to deal with such matters. It was most important that the Australian Prime Minister should attend that conference to place before it, his own views on the dollar position and other matters. Yet the Prime Minister was quite satisfied to entrust that task to others, although he would be the first to contend that no other person in this country is as capable as himself of defining the Australian economic policy. If the reason for the Prime Minister’s rush journey to London and the “ hush-hush “ which followed his return was connected with economic matters, why was Australia not informed of that on his return? No announcement was made of any important decision on economic matters having been reached in London. After his visit, the dollar position certainly did not improve, and nothing has since transpired in the economic sphere to justify his sudden dash of 14,000 miles across the world. We must ask ourselves, therefore, why the Prime Minister’ went to London so hurriedly] Obviously, the answer is that he was summoned to confer with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Attlee. Why’ was he summoned by Mr. Attlee? Unless we accept the explanation offered by the Prime Minister himself, we are led inevitably to the document quoted by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), which purports to be a precis of the proceedings of the interview between the British Prime Minister and the Australian Prime Minister. Indeed, that document provides every reason for the introduction of the present measure, and had it not been for that document, and the Prime Minister’s visit to Great Britain, the present measure would not have been presented to the Parliament.
If the investigation made by the British security officer who visited this country to inquire into the conduct of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research revealed the infiltration of Communist traitors into the country’s defence organization, the Prime Minister of Great Britain is to be complimented on the stand that he has taken. On that basis, the introduction of the present measure is quite understandable. It is the result of commitments entered into by the Prime Minister with the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and it can only be the-, result of <a showdown between themThere, we have the complete pictures First, the Australian Prime Minister was summoned post-haste to London; and secondly, the reports of the British security representative, and certain reports which emanated from Washington concerning the doubtful nature of our security arrangements, were read to the Australian Prime Minister. What gave rise to the making of those reports? Undoubtedly they arose from misgivings concerning the personnel of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. What is more natural than that the British Prime Minister should demand assurances that the Australian Government would take immediate steps to retrieve the position? What is more logical than that the present belated attempt to cover up should be made, and that the Prime Minister should make the rambling speech which he delivered a little while ago? If that is the explanation of the sequence of events, the Government should not have submitted the bill to the Parliament at all. If that is an indication of its concern for the security of the country, the only straightforward course for it to adopt is to tender its resignation. Obviously it has forfeited the right to be entrusted with the security of the nation. The House has been side-tracked, by all kinds of side-issues which have been introduced, from discussion of the dangers which have arisen from the weakness of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. We have been treated to a great deal of sanctimonious humbug about what occurred when the Prime Minister met representatives of the British Cabinet on the 8th July last, and some of the statements made by members of the Government have almost sickened me. Ministers have indulged in a lot of mock passion and heroics. They have evaded every question we have asked about whether the document which has been quoted in the House is a true record of the sentiments expressed by the British Prime Minister and other members of his Cabinet. It does not matter what any member of the Government says, or how much Ministers indulge an heroics, we come back to the question: Is the document that was quoted in the House a true record of what occurred? If that is so, then everything else pales into insignificance. If that document is true the situation which it discloses calls for the impeachment of the Ministers responsible for such a sorry state of affairs. We can forget all the talk about stolen and forged documents; the only point that matters is, are the contents of the document true and accurate? If they are, then the defence of the country should no longer be entrusted to the present Government.
The bill will do’ little, if anything, to allay the real fears of those who have any knowledge of the Government’s consistent refusal to confront the problem of the Communist underground, which has even wormed its way into the Government itself. The bill provides for the transfer of a number of employees engaged on key security work from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to the Minister of Supply and Development. . That involves a transfer from the department administered by the Minister for Defence to the department administered by the Minister for Supply and Development (Senator Armstrong). Why does the bill effect that transfer? Is it not because the Government and its supporters believe that the Minister for Supply and Development is more acceptable as a ministerial head for such a purpose than is the Minister for Defence? If they do not think that it is more proper to transfer the work to the administration of the Minister for Supply and Development, why is the change to be made? The bill does not attempt to alter the constitution of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. That body will remain intact.
The next step proposed is that all temporary public servants, who are not members of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, shall take the oath or make an affirmation of allegiance. No Communist engaged on espionage will have any difficulty in subscribing to such an oath. He will have no twinge of conscience in doing so. It is prescribed in the Communist bible that moral considerations must not stand in the way of the drive towards the objective. For the Communist, the end justifies the means. In this instance, the oath will be regarded merely as the means to the end. Does the Government seriously consider that such a weak measure will block any leakages in the security of this country? Even if the Communist gives lip service to the loyalty pledge, is he to be immune from government interference with his work, which will be carried out principally on behalf of a foreign power? By transferring security work from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to the Department of Supply and Development, the Government is openly admitting that everything said in this House about the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as a defence risk has been found, by the investigating authorities, to be correct. Otherwise, what is the need for the bill? What should concern honorable members is whether London and Washington will be any more inclined to trust us after the bill is passed than they are now. While Communists are employed in government departments even remotely concerned with defence organization, Great Britain and the United States of America are fully justified in maintaining the attitude which they have adopted.
This bill will not lead to action to get rid of the Communists. That is perfectly plain. The diagnosis has been cancer and calls for a major operation. However, the Government is resorting to a faith cure. It hopes that the Communists will take the oath of loyalty required under the bill, and meekly sink into oblivion. The Government either does not know its Communists or is trying to fool those who are seeking assurances about our security measures. What will happen if Communists are transferred from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to the Department of Supply and Development? Will they .=till have access to all the documents? Surely the Government has given some consideration to the findings of the Canadian royal commission on Soviet espionage in that country. Evidence given by Gouzenko, a former employee of the Soviet Embassy, has shown that the Communists do not confine their attention to the most important scientists, but also place their agents in subordinate positions. Does the Government know that what has happened in Canada may be happening in Canberra? If the Communists had their network in Canada, is there any reason why they should not have a similar network in Canberra? Communists in Canberra are still wandering foot-loose through official files in government departments. The Canberra Times recently published, not as a news item, but in an editorial, a statement that one official of the Communist party in Canberra had developed a habit of working back late at night on his own. He was alleged to be going through the departmental files. The Parliament should be told whether action has been taken to investigate that allegation. If we are to understand the problems properly, and know where the real dangers lie, we should study the report of the Canadian royal commission on Soviet espionage in that country. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) has laid the document upon the table of the House. Who were the guilty persons ? There was Dr. Nunn-May, a temporary British civil servant who was employed in the Canadian equivalent of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. He is now serving a sentence of ten years’ imprisonment. Dr. Raymond Boyer was in the same category. Nunn-May and Boyer were highly respectable- scientists who were “ on the inside “ of the Canadian equivalent of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Neither was suspected of having venal intent, but each betrayed his country. All the guilty people were not of the calibre of Nunn-May and Boyer. There was Kathleen Willsher. a member of the staff of the British High Commissioner in Ottawa; Emma Woikin. who worked in the code room; Agatha Chapman, a temporary employee in the Bureau of Statistics; Freda Linton, a member of the staff of the Canadian National Film Board; Norman Veale, an obscure employee engaged in the production of glass instruments; and Hermina Rabinowiteh who was employed on the staff on the International Labour Office in Montreal. Those people, and many others, were employed by the Russians because they had something to contribute. All the pieces were fitted together by Colonel Zabotkin of the Soviet Embassy. They were not all employed because they were scientists. They were employed because they had access to government files. Every one of them would have taken an oath of allegiance. At that time, of course, Russia was an ally of the western democracies. Is it not reasonable to expect that things are not better now, but worse since Russia is no longer an ally ? This Government has protected the Communists at every turn. It has had every opportunity to take action. This bill will not accomplish anything. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was only one of the departments that was proved to be vulnerable. Time after time, this Government has defended the Communists in this House. That is enough to cause concern in both London and Washington.
What is the record of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research? The very executive which controls the organization of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and employs its staff is suspect. The Prime Minister mentioned the names of certain members of the executive, but omitted to mention others. The Government made one appointment to the executive. It appointed Mr. Donald Mountjoy, a former member of this House, who had taken the Communist line in debates much more frequently than he had taken the Labour line. Did not a former member of the Canberra branch of the Communist party, Mr. Geddes, state that Mr. Mountjoy consorted with other members of the Canberra Communist party? Did Mr. Geddes not state also - I handed all these papers to the Prime Minister - that Mr. Mountjoy spent a vacation recently with a member of the party? That man is right at the top of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Then we have another close associate of the Minister, Dr. Lloyd Ross, the mover of the infamous “ Hands off Russia “ resolution. When Dr. Ross was secretary of the Australian Railways Union, he was much more than a “ fellow traveller “. He was right on the Communist ‘ footplate. His brother is Edgar Ross, editor of Common Cause, and was the spokesman for the Communist party at a recent debate in the Sydney stadium. Then we have John .Blom Pomeroy, president of the Canberra branch of the Communist party and now official photographer with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Formerly he was a photographer in the Air Force and a capable photographer at that.
The Minister says that he is nilly engaged in taking photographs of tomato plants. Is such a statement likely to allay doubts in London or Washington? Has Pomeroy not had access to all the photographs taken by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research? Will the Minister deny that? Is a photographer not just the person that an enemy would like to place inside any secret department? How many other Pomeroys are there in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research? How many of them are likely to be transferred? Pomeroy is still with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The Minister admits that that is so. This bill will not end his services. In accordance with Sir David Rivett’s policy of non-secrecy in scientific investigations, Pomeroy and any other Communists are no doubt free to wander anywhere they like in the departments of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Those are the matters that cause real concern. Then there was Dr. Atcherley, whom this very Minister represented to this House as a paragon of all the virtues. Did the Minister not read a letter from Dr. Atcherley to the Prime Minister and then say, “ That is what the allegations of the honorable member for Reid are worth “. Was not Atcherley proved to be secretary of the Canberra Communist party? This
Minister who talks about secret and confidential documents treated certain portions of Atcherley’s letter as secret and confidential. He suppressed a personal reference in it. Soon afterwards, Atcherley, the paragon of all the virtues according to the Minister, was sent to gaol. Is it any wonder alarm was felt in London and Washington? What has the Government done about the disclosures made by Geddes? He joined the Communist party to find out how it operated. He revealed that Atcherley had been an under-cover Communist. Atcherley was a temporary public servant like those covered by this bill. If he was prepared to make the statements contained in his letter to the Prime Minister, would he have scrupled for a second about taking an oath or making an affirmation? The Minister defended Atcherley and Pomeroy. He also said that he accepted personal responsibility for the appointment of Rudkin to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research; yet during the war Rudkin was convicted in Western Australia for conveying defence secrets to Communist head-quarters at Marx House in Sydney. A government that persists in employing Communists like Rudkin can only expect to be met with suspicion when it approaches London and Washington.
The Canadian royal commission returned this very important finding -
Many of t!he Canadian public servants in this espionage net-work were persons with an unusually high degree of education, and many were well regarded by those who worked with Umm in agencies and departments of the Public Service, as persons of marked ability and intelligence.
What will this bill do to prevent a repetition in this country of what happened in Canada? That is what the western democracies have to guard against. If any member of this Parliament has any reason to believe that this country’s safety is being jeopardized because of the Government’s failure to deal with these traitors, that member would be recreant to his duty if he failed to bring that information before the Parliament immediately. The Government has had every opportunity to deal with the problem. Although the Communists have been named, nothing has been done in the matter. We have had a lot of political manoeuvring, and much evasion. But there is one thing that the Prime Minister of Australia will not tell this Parliament, and that is whether it is, or is not, a fact that when he was in England he was told that the United States of America was reluctant to trust this country with vital defence secrets. If it is a fact, this country’s security is being endangered every hour that this Government fails to act. Australia was not invited to send observers to the recent atomic war tests in the Pacific. Had this country been trusted it would have had h full team of observers there. There are vital developments in microbe war being conducted in research laboratories in the United States of America. Although honorable members may try and side-step and laugh it off, it is imperative that this country should be kept informed of such development. While Canberra is not regarded as a good security risk, we will be, as we have been, kept in the dark.
This bill is only a political “ smokescreen “. It is not an honest attempt to clean up the position. The Prime Minister would -have been much better advised to speak frankly and openly to this Parliament and to the Australian nation. He should have told this country what was said to him in London. That would have been no breach of security. It would have been the first step by the Government towards purging itself of suspicion. It would have been frank, honest, realistic, and the act of a courageous national leader. Instead, we have this back-door method of providing an excuse or alibi, and when it is all over, will we be, in any way, a better security risk? That is the crux of the problem. It may be a shrewd political manoeuvre to stage a counteroffensive on stolen documents, but until this Government faces facts and does something about the Communists inside of the Public Service, it is only stalling and trying to fool the people. It is only side-stepping, and will not deceive the people overseas. Undoubtedly the Communists are highly delighted with the way things are “ running “ for them at present. They welcome what has happened in Canberra as an opportune diversion. The Government is playing right into their hands. Whilst security police have been chasing politicians, journalists, and typists, the Communists have been mending their communications system. The heat has been transferred from them to other people in Canberra. The suspected people are members of the Parliament. This country will be penalized until such time as this Government is regarded in London and Washington as a good security risk. That will not be until such time as this Government follows the lead of the Attlee Government in Great Britain, which dismissed all known Communists and “ fellow travellers “ from all positions involving its security. The Prime Minister had no need to go to London to find that out. If he was placed in the invidious position suggested in the memorandum read in this House by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), he has only himself to blame. He has had plenty of warnings, and has been given plenty of information. He apparently only lacked the will, and had to be told his duty by British Cabinet Ministers. If those Ministers had to remind the Prime Minister of this country of his obligations, that is a most shocking state of affairs. The Prime Minister has not denied that he was informed in London that Washington did not regard the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Australia as a good risk for the communication of secret information. If he was so informed he should have fired and kicked out those responsible for creating that impression; if he had not the courage to do that, he should have handed in his commission. It is not the mark of a good leader that he does not discipline his followers, because he is responsible ; it is the Prime Minister’s commission. Once he is acquainted with facts, however unpalatable those facts may be, he must act. When this matter is viewed in its true perspective, it will be found to be one of the gravest matters that has ever been raised in this Parliament. It places the onus directly on the Prime Minister to act, not in the interests of a party, but in the interests of Australia. Only a “ parish-pump” politician would attempt to dodge the real issue by squealing about stolen documents. The statements contained in those documents are either true or false, and it is up to the Prime Minister to act accordingly. If they are true - and the right honorable gentleman has not denied it - he should act. If they had been false, he would have rushed the opportunity to make political capital out of the fact that the Leader of the Australian Country party had been handling false documents. Of that I have not the slightest doubt. If they were not stolen documents, he would have assured the House that they were untrue. If the) are true, the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should not be in a position to present this bill to the House. He has forfeited all rights to hold a portfolio. It was this Minister who personally sanctioned appointments made to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. He admitted it. That proved he did not possess a proper sense of responsibility in the making of such appointments. He must carry the consequences of that responsibility. His duties relating to defence are not confined to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. This bill merely transfers a handful of employees to the Department of Supply and Development. The Minister still holds the major defence portfolio. A Minister for Defence who is not prepared to get rid of every Communist in his department in these perilous times has no right to hold the portfolio. He is too big a national risk. He should be sacked on the spot.
Those are the issues that the Primp Minister has tried to evade. But this Parliament cannot afford to evade them. This country must rehabilitate itself in the eyes of its partners. Upon that depends our having the means to defend ourselves in the event of another world conflict. Communism is at our door. Millions’ of Asiatics are being impregnated with the doctrine of Communist imperialism. General MacArthur’s island-hopping tactics are being adopted in reverse by the Communists, who have already established forward bases close to these shores. Yet this Government still tolerates Communists right in the core of government.
The position is a challenge that any government must meet if it wants to keep faith with the nation. It will not discharge that obligation if it allows the matter to rest with this bill.
on the manner in which she handled the circular that every honorable member has received from a member of the staff of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and is signed by 50 members of the Division of Industrial Chemistry. I was surprised to learn from the honorable member, when she read other correspondence, obviously from other members of the staff, that the research section is still the Cinderella of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The correspondence indicates that the technical services of the council are subordinated to the administration in the allocation of funds. I am astonished that that state of affairs still exists. When I first entered this Parliament in 1934, one of the first men with whom I got in touch was Sir David Rivett. I had luncheon with him and Mr. Lightfoot, and we discussed the development of the fishing industry in the waters of the Northern Territory. Sir David Rivett then pointed out that the council was starved for money. The executive was about to appoint the fisheries expert, Dr. Thompson, but could not afford a relief pilot for the aeroplane that was to be used to scout for fish off Cronulla. That was distressing news, but I was under the impression that the position had been relieved.
While on the subject of Sir David Rivett, I must say that I have never doubted his loyalty. I know the remarkable work he has done for Australia. That he would be the last to be disloyal must be realized by honorable members when they reflect that it was his son, who,, having been captured by the Japanese in Malaya and having escaped, was recaptured by the Indonesians and handed over to the
Japanese, at whose hands he narrowly escaped execution on the island of Java, returned happily to Australia to write the book Behind Bamboo, from which, as honorable members may recall, I made extensive quotations shortly after my own return to this House from a Japanese prison. I cannot imagine disloyalty from Sir David Rivett. He has every reason to attend to the security of this country. But he is a research officer, and research officers, like most technical men, think in and use a different language from the language that laymen use. I think his remarks have been completely misinterpreted, not only by some members of the Opposition, but also by a lot of other people in Australia, particularly the young students to whom he lectures at the Canberra University College. That is the unfortunate part of it. “Without question lie is one of the most loyal of Australians.
The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) traversed the mighty work that the Council for Scientific) and Industrial Research has done. I do not propose to traverse it so thoroughly as he did, but I should be remiss if I did not mention some of its achievements before I discuss the letter that we have all received from members of the research staff. The Fisheries Division has done much valuable work. It has not spread its activities to the northern waters, as I hope it soon will, but it is operating way out west in the Great Australian Bight. The right honorable member for Cowper referred to the wonderful success achieved in clearing vast areas of Queensland by the introduction of the cactoblastis insect. Now the Council’s scouts are going through the Northern Territory, not only in the Barkly Tableland but right up to the Katherine River. The council’s research officers never take anything on chance. Not being a research officer, I am perhaps impatient. Through the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (Mr. Dedman), they answer my impatience by saying that they will not make an official report on the potentialities of the Northern Territory until they are absolutely certain of what the country can produce by way of cotton, tobacco and other tropical fruits. I now come to the letter, which opens -
Both as a private citizen and as an employee of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, I view with grave apprehension the dangers implicit in the enactment of 81zi of the Commonwealth Public Service Bill 1048 introduced by the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in the House of Representatives on the 15th October, 1948.
The fourth paragraph states -
In true scientific investigation the individual research worker is constantly exploring uncharted seas.
I direct the attention of other honorable members to the way in which he points out the line of demarcation between administration and scientific work. He says - .
The function of administration of research is to delineate the field of work, to ma.ke every condition as favorable as possible for the progress of investigation, to bring to the assistance of the research worker any relevant experience and information from other fields of study. The administrator is to this extent the servant rather than the master of the research worker.
In any other body, it is axiomatic that the administration is the master of the technical man, but, of course, that is not right in this instance. He goes on -
This upside-down nature of research administration is not generally realized, but it is, 1 think, of great importance in relation toa bill which would allow to be imposed uponresearch a form of departmental organization evolved for quite a different purpose.
These men are on the right track, and the Government should give consideration to their representations. They object particularly to proposed new section 81zi which reads - 81zi. The Governor-General may, from timeto time, by notice published in the Gazette, declare that any work or class of work specified in the notice which is being performed under the control of the Council is work which should, on and from a date specified in the notice, be performed under the control of such Department of State of the Commonwealth as is specified in the notice and, on and from that date, that work shall accordingly be performed under the control of the Department sospecified.
That provision is annoying officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and I urge the Government to delete it. The Prime Minister has admitted that research workers cannot be treated as ordinary administrative officers, or even technical officers, are normally treated. In view of that admission he should delete that provision from the measure. There is nothing so annoying even to a technical man than that he should not be allowed to he completely in charge of his own activities, and that applies with greater force to research workers. If a research officer , cannot be trusted he should not be employed ; if he is employed he should be completely trusted by the Government. I have no doubt that the Government has introduced this measure as the result of the continued advocacy by the Opposition parties of the necessity to screen employee.? of government departments, particularly research officers. The Government has denied that Communists are white-anting the Public Service, and has scorned the idea that Communists are a menace to the security of this country. However, the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) introduced legislation specifically to ensure secrecy in respect of activities being carried out at the guided weapons range in Central Australia. The work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research vitally concerns our defence preparations. It is ridiculous to suggest that Sir David Rivett should be screened. However, I am not so foolish as to deny that Communists are being employed in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
– The Opposition parties have always criticized appointments made to the staff of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and contended that they have been made by the Minister, whereas that has not been the case; this measure is merely designed to enable the Minister to make such appointments.
– The Government has introduced this measure because the Opposition parties have been hot on its scent. Government supporters endeavour to laugh off the charges which the Opposition parties have made. Of course, honorable members opposite have described communism as “ Christ-like “ and a “ political philosophy “. Without mentioning names, I know that some months ago, when the menace of communism was being discussed in this chamber, some honorable members opposite in conversations in the lobbies said that if they were to state in Parliament what they thought, about Communists they would not win their plebiscites.
This morning, I received a review of a book entitled Control of -Atomic Energy, in which some comments are made which are most pertinent to this debate. Unfortunately, the book itself, which has been written by J. R. Newman and B. S. Miller, and published by the McGrowHill Book Company Incorporated of New York, is not yet available in the Parliamentary Library. I quote the following from the review: -
This book applies primarily to the unprecedented measures taken by the United States of America to control the development of atomic energy and to lessen the threat of atomic war; but its interest is world-wide, since it deals with the most urgent of all contemporary problems in the whole world.
The book traverses in detail the provisions of the United States Atomic Energy Act of 1946 and the setting up of the Atomic Energy Commission.
In a series of valuable appendices, it reprints not only the United States act and the corresponding British Act, but also the summaries of scientific fact prepared for thi; information of members of the United State? Congress - probably the clearest and most concise accounts yet written of these abstruse questions of physics.
The book is topical in Australia, because it gives what is undoubtedly the background of the “ Secret Documents “ case at Canberra.
It provides a clear reason why Britain and America refuse to share their defence secrets with Australia while our present lack of security against Communist espionage continues.
The background of their refusal (which is a fact, in spite of denials by Australian Cabinet Ministers) is very simple - both Britain and the United States of America have taken steps to keep their atomic techniques away from Russian agents; but Australia has not.
Britain passed the Atomic Energy Act of 1940, and has followed this, more recently, with investigations into the Communist associations of certain research men and their assistants.
Where the Communist connexion has been shown, dismissal has followed.
The United States also passed an Atomic Energy Act in 1946, in terms more watertight even than the British act, and has taken even more drastic action than Britain to discover Communist infiltration into key positions and to dismiss where advisable.
Both the British and the United States of America Acts appear to have been based upon the experience gained from operations of Soviet spies in Canada, as revealed by the royal commission.
Both Acts are, in a sense, unprecedented, and both are based upon a recognition of the atomic situation as unprecedented in human affairs.
I hope that that book will be procurable in the Parliamentary Library in the very near future. I urge honorable members opposite to read it.
The Prime Minister, when speaking in t his debate, went right off the track. In his characteristically disarming and innocent way, he tried to convince honorable members that all is well in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and that the Parliament need not worry about the insidious activities of people infiltrating the Service and obtaining vital governmental secrets. I disagree with him. Apparently, the right honorable gentleman has fooled himself. He has not fooled me, and he will no longer fool the great majority of Australians in this matter. I again urge the Government to accede to the representations made on behalf of members of the staff of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
.- The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) referred to the general argument advanced by the Opposition parties, that the United Kingdom and the United States of America werenot sharing atomic secrets with Australia because they distrusted Australian security measures, and he claimed, without verifying his statements, that similar concern has been expressed by leading British scientists. I propose to quote the remarks of the leading British scientist engaged on scientific research in the United Kingdom, and the people of Australia may choose between his statements and the slovenly assertions made by the honorable member for Reid. The British scientist was Sir Henry Tizard. He said -
I have been somewhat distressed in Australia to find that a little of the gossip which reached me in England has been confirmed by what I have read and heard here. There seems to be an impression, at least in parts of Australia, that the United Kingdom has doubts of the integrity of Australian scientists and engineers and is not seeking their co-operation in matters of a particularly confidential nature. One never knows what gossip is trying to do, but I am in a very good position to report to you the highest official opinion in the United Kingdom on this matter, and I may say there is not the slightest bit of truth in it. We have complete trust in the integrity and carefulness of our Australian colleagues in the realms of science and engineering. We, in the United Kingdom have the very highest opinion of Australian scientists and engineers. We seek their cooperation as much as we can.
Sir Henry Tizard is chairman of the British Government’s Research Policy Committee. He visited Australia to advise the Australian Government on defence research. He is the defence expert on scientific matters. The honorable member for Reid suggested that British experts who had been sent here, had confirmed his statements. The statement of Sir Henry Tizard gives the direct lie to the type of assertion which the honorable member has made. The honorable gentleman also quoted Sir Percy Sillitoe as another British scientific expert who was sent here because the British Government was concerned about Australian defence security. Sir Percy Sillitoe came to this country in connexion with the guided weapons testing range project, which is a joint United Kingdom and Australian defence project. One expects British defence experts to be sent to the country in which Great Britain is engaged in a joint venture. To say that the fact that half the experts associated with the guided weapons testing range are British is evidence of concern about Australian security measures, is completely to distort the position. The honorable member for Reid is a master of political technique. One of the main features of Langism was summed up by an eminent English poet. He was not referring to Langism, but he might very well have been. He wrote -
Bear no false witness, let the lie
Have time on its own wings to fly.
The finest example of that technique was in the honorable member’s reference to Dr. Atcherley. Having quoted the Minister for Defence in defending Atcherley against a charge of treason, he went on to say that Atcherley was subsequently sentenced to a term of imprisonment. The purpose of his remark was to suggest to the Australian community that his charge against Atcherley had been substantiated by that subsequent imprisonment. In point of fact, Atcherley was imprisoned for a sexual offence, and not for anything connected with defence. That is the kind of innuendo which the honorable member for Reid constantly makes when he attacks persons under the cover of parliamentary privilege. One of the persons whom he accused of treason was a distinguished ex-serviceman of World War I. That man had been injured in the head during the war. He was so distressed by the attack upon him that he committed suicide.
– That is not true.
-Order ! The honorable member for Parramatta is not interested in the matter.
– The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) says that my statement is not true.
– I can prove it.
– I shall be glad to withdraw the statement if it is untrue. I am not anxious to score by distortions. All I can say is that the relatives and friends of that man informed me in letters that he was greatly distressed. They may have misinformed me, but, at the moment, I must accept their statements. As near connexions of the man, they knew of his state of mind. We are impressed by the “ Houdini “ act which members of the Opposition have performed in connexion with this bill. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) made a very fine speech in the pure liberal tradition. I use the word “ liberal “ with a small “ 1 “ and not a capital “ L “. He made a defence of scientific workers and the right of scientists to conduct researches in all directions without bureaucratic control. I am not quite certain what is meant by the expression “ Government control of scientific research “. I have every sympathy with the views expressed by the honorable member for Fawkner, but I cannot dismiss from my mind that it has been at stages in history, when governments have thrown their weight behind research during wars and scientists have become the servants of governments that vast advances in science have been made, f. am not advocating government control, but merely put this suggestion as a query to some of the statements made in connexion with scientific research. In a previous debate, honorable members opposite warmly applauded the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) when he took Sir David Rivett to task. Sir David had made certain statements concerning the free exchange of information between scientists in all parts of the world. The honorable member for Barker said that if Sir David wanted to serve the cause of internationalism, let internationalism employ him ; but as he was, in fact, a servant of the Australian taxpayers who paid his salary and, indeed, the salaries of all officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, he had a duty to his employers. Time after time, honorable members opposite have attacked the Minister for Defence and the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which are two separate portfolios, in spite of the fact that the honorable member for Reid has attempted to suggest that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is a subdivision of defence. They have always attacked the Minister as though he were responsible for all appointments made to the staff of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. In point of fact, when the council was established by the political parties now constituting the Opposition, the Parliament passed legislation which prescribed that the organization should publish its findings and make them available to Australian industry. By law, it prescribed that the council should have no secrets-, and, consequently, it had no secrets to betray. But honorable members opposite will not face the consequences of their own legislation in that respect. They have always held the Minister responsible for appointments such as that of Mr. A. W. Rudkin, who is engaged on research in connexion with wood glue. Although his name has been mentioned on many occasions, the actual kind of work) upon which he is engaged has never been mentioned by those who have cited him as an example of a dangerous Communist within the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. This bill establishes ministerial responsibility for those sections of the council’s activities connected with defence, which are to be transferred to the control of the Public Service Board. In future, it will be quite in order for Opposition members to object to any appointments to the defence section of which they disapprove, because the Minister will, in fact, be responsible; but under the legislation for which they were responsible in the past, the Minister was not responsible, and their attempt to make him so wasa disavowal of their own legislation, just as they, in seeking to take the truly liberal line of asking for scientific freedom, are disavowing what they said in this House some months ago. I exempt the Liberal party, which has not associated itself with the vulgar brawling in which the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) and the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), who are members of the Australian Country party, that political tragedy of the Australian scene, have been involved. We have received letters concerning this bill from scientists in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and I must say that I am distressed at their lack of originality and by the fact thatso many scientists are prepared to copy a circular letter and send it to usas their own production, and that they have so few views on this legislation that they take a sort of Council For Scientific and Industrial Research “party line” in their attitude to the hill instead of sending their independent criticisms. I should have preferred to receive individual letters criticizing the hill from different viewpoints, and, indeed, I did receive some such letters in which the writers expressed their individual points of view. Such letters might have underlined the scientific independence that we have heard so much about from honorable members opposite in connexion with tho Bill. I have, however, received several long letters from scientists who were my co n temporaries at the University of Western Australia and in general they put; forward their own points of view, which are, in many respects, away from the line adopted in the circular letter and in the unavowed copies of it that some of us have received. They said, for instance, that aeronautics research should, in their opinion, be transferred to the Department of Defence. They apparently believe that that is the intention of this bill, and that that work has characteristics that make it different from other activities of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
I consider that this bill is most important in that is gives protection to Australian scientists. I am referring not to protection of their employment, but to protection of their reputations. It took the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research a long time to answer the attacks made on some of its members in this House by honorable members opposite. I think I can truthfully say that from the time that we first began to hear about Rudkin and others in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research until the time that the Council’s top men were moved to make a very fine and dignified statement, a period of about six months elapsed during which a Minister, who was not responsible for the appointments, bore the brunt of the attacks, while members of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, with the exception of Sir David Rivett, whose answers were mainly generalizations, preserved a masterly silence. But at long last they came out with a very fine statement that was forwarded to every mem- bor of this House. They were provoked into making that statement by what the honorable member for Reid chose to call the”revelations “ in the secret documents case. I should have thought that the Opposition would have become heartily sick of the secret documents case, because if therewasever a trick that they did not take, it was that one. I remind honorable members of the alleged confirmation of certain statements made in this House given by a. British general during an interview with newspaper reporters at Darwin, and which he denied when it became a political issue in Australia. The members of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research executive, in the course of their statement, delivered a rebuke to politicians who “ did not seek and apparently did not care greatly for truth and accuracy “. Commenting on that statement the Melbourne A ge. a newspaper which preserves some traditions of decency in journalism, said-
It would be difficult to assess the measure of harm which has been done to the reputation of Australia by the transmission abroad of reports of this incident as it progressed. An assertion was made and frequently reiterated that scientific information from America was denied to Australia because of vague, insidious suspicious involving the C.S.I.R., a body which had been expressly exempt from political interference in order that it might pursue its investigations with scientific detachment. The truth which has been vindicated is that the United States authorities did not divulge their defence secrets concerning atomic research to any country, with the exception of certain details of mutual interest vouchsafed to Canada and Great Britain. The real secrets were not communicated by America to anyeither country. Australia never sought them.
Not all diplomats credited to Australia are intelligent; at least I have formed chut impression after conversation with some of them during three or four years. They, on their part may have formed the impression thatI am not intelligent either; but I am merely stating my opinion of them. The sort of tiling that has gone on in this House week in and week out is not always easy for those gentlemen to assess, and I believe that, because of rumours which circulated in this House, some alarm might have been felt abroad. Sir Henry Tizard, an eminent British scientist, came to Australia and, in refuting the allegations made by the Opposition, he said that he had heard rumours abroad. The people who started these “ furphies “ had the impudence to say that the echoes of their lies were confirmation of them, until Sir Henry Tizard, who belongs to the highest scientific circles in Britain, refuted them completely. The measure before the House, like every other measure thatI have seen introduced in this Parliament, is capable of being administered dangerously, and those scientists, some of whom I know personally, who have written to me have apparently thought that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is to be transferred, holus-bolus, to the control of the Public Service, with bureaucrats in control of scientists, and that it will not be worth while to remain with the Council. One scientist who wrote to me said: “If this bill passes I shall feel pretty sick.”
I was not able to find out exactly how the transference of a section of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research connected with defence, and the taking of an oath of secrecy would impede the efficiency of scientific research. A great deal of research of a very efficient nature was done during the war under an oath of secrecy,and, although I have not had a scientific training, I should like to have been given some’ scientific arguments to back up the views expressed by those scientists in their letters to me. Some scientists now apparently take the view that they should come under a new version of “ benefit of clergy “ applied to scientists instead of parsons. They say, in effect, “We are scientists, therefore we should not be subject to any control “. That is a disappointing line of argument to be pursued by persons who are connected with defence research, and I feel that, the international situation being what it is, the greatest care should be taken regarding secret research in connexion with defence. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has established a very high reputation over the years. This Government has granted increased sums of money for the purpose of scientific research. It is beginning to find that there are not enough people who have been trained in research techniques to fulfil the needs of the Government and the community. We are hearing a great deal about the drift of scientists to private enterprise. I do not know whether the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has had that experience, but, as its employment levels have been rising, it apparently has had no difficulty in attracting scientists. I consider that the Government should be very careful indeed in the administration of this bill and make sure that the definition of research in connexion with defence, shall be very rigidly adhered to. Scientists who have written to me have said that, in certain circumstances, they would leave the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. If they happen to be in a section that is transferred, and are not prepared to take the oath of allegiance, or to maintain secrecy; if they are not prepared to accept government employment on conditions laid down by the Government, then there is only one thing for them to do, that is, to resign. The fantastic suggestion in the circular letter which has been sent to us that resignations will take place will, I am convinced, be refuted by events after the transferis made. Those who are connected with the aeronautics section of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research have not said that they will resign, and I have no doubt that they will take the oath of allegiance. If they work on defence projects, their bona’ fides will’ be checked.
I have not agreed with a great deal that has been said by the Opposition during the last few weeks. I have been particularly hurt by the loose use of the names of persons who, we are told, are Communists and traitors. At the same time, I have no illusions about the Communist party, or about the nation to which it gives allegiance . I have no doubt that a distinguished professor, who was a convinced Communist, would, like Dr. Nunn-May, divulge information to Soviet Russia. “We are always being lectured by Communist journals on the subject of the free exchange of information. I wish the doctrine would work both ways. I wish that the results of archeological work in Russia, not to mention scientific work on defence projects, would be made available to the outside world, and that scientists from other countries would be allowed to visitRussia to see what is being done. I wish that Russian diplomats in Australia, who for the payment of a small amount can make copies of particulars about patents to send out of the country, were able to tell us that a. similar privilege was granted by Soviet Russia. It would be very pleasing if the Communist party, which has come out in favour of freedom of exchange of scientific information; could show that such an exchange takes places between Russia and the outside world. Of course, it does not. Russia, under Soviet government, maintains its ancient policy of morbid isolationism. I am not impressed by Communist articles which apologize for the stifling of scientific information in Russia, and denouncing any Blight efforts that are made in other countries to ensure security.
The purpose of the bill is to bring under direct control of the Minister a very narrow range of scientific activities asso ciated with defence. It will help to protect the good name of Australian scientists and will make the Minister really responsible for matters connected with defence, which is what the Opposition has been asking for, not in a clear and concise way, but, as in the case of the honorable member for Richmond and the honorable member for New England, by innuendo and defamation, which has distressed every decent member on both sides of the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Dedman) adjourned..
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, No. 149.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (17).
National Security (Prices) Regulations -Orders- Xos. 3414-3416.
Hospital Benefits Act - Regulation - Statutory Rules 1948, Nos. 150, 151.
Wine Overseas Marketing Act- Twentieth Annual Report of the Australian Wine Board, for year 1947-48, together with Statementby Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
House adjourned at 11.30 p.m.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
d. - The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What quantity of each of the following Australian products was exported during the year 1947-48, and to what countries were such exports sent-(a) Plain fencing wire; (b) barbed wire and. (c) wire netting?
d. - The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information: -
Plain fencing wire - Nauru, 40 cwt.; Singapore, 094 cwt.; Makatea, 45 cwt.; Papua, 16 cwt.; Fiji, 4 cwt,; Solomon Island, 4 cwt.; Tonga, 8 cwt.: total, 1,106 cwt.
Wire netting - New Guinea, 125cwt.; Solomon Island, 10 cwt.; Kew Caledonia, 9 cwt.; Nauru, 18 cwt.; Papua, 13 cwt.; Christmas Island, 4 cwt.; Gilbert and Ellice Islands, 0 cwt.; Singapore, 8 cwt.: total, 193 cwt.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 December 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1948/19481202_reps_18_200/>.