19th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Eon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– The last Government made a conditional grant to the Western Australian Government of approximately £2,000,000, which was to be used for the implementation of water conservation and reticulation schemes. If the South Australian Government seeks a similar grant under the terms and conditions applying to the Western Australian grant, would the Treasurer give some consideration to that request? I was assured hy the previous Government that, in the event of the South Australian Government making such an approach, their representations would be most favorably received.
– I should be prepared to look at the facts, to investigate the matter thoroughly and to make a recommendation to the Government on the basis of the investigations.
– Farmers are facing a serious problem in the procurement of bran and pollard supplies, the shortage of which is affecting the production of eggs, butter and pig meats. As one solution of the difficulty would be to increase Australian sales of flour on the Japanese market, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture represent to the Minister for Trade and Customs that every opportunity should be given to flour exporters to sell flour to Japan ? If it is a fact that trade with Japan is conducted under a combined sterling bloc system, will the Minister try to make arrangements for Australia to handle its own trade in primary industries direct with Japan?
– I am familiar with the problem that exists in regard, to the shortage of bran and pollard which affects certain live-stock industries. That is a problem which has been brought about by a reduction of Australian flour export trade. L think I told the House a couple of weeks ago that I was then about to attend a conference of the Australian Wheat Board. I have since attended that conference, which was designed to ascertain what steps might be taken to stimulate Australian export trade in flour. It is only in this way that the shortage of bran and pollard can be overcome. Australia deals directly with Japan. The only problem connected with such trade is the provision of currency for the settlement of transactions. As Japan pays Australia through a sterling bloc, that is a matter which is not completely within the Government’s control, and it is not a matter which particularly concerns the Minister for Trade and Customs. However, the honorable member may rest assured that every step is being taken to try to solve this problem, which is recognized as being very serious.
– In the absence of the Minister for Civil Aviation, I desire to direct a question without notice to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). In view of the fatal accidents which have resulted from the bursting of aeroplane tyres, will the Prime Minister confer with the Minister for Civil Aviation with a view to ascertaining whether what is known as the “ spiral “ tyre should replace the tyres now being used on aeroplanes ?
– Yes, I will.
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture state the present position with respect to the contract for the sale of Australian beef to the United Kingdom? Did the previous Minister for Commerce and Agriculture complete a contract which became, operative from the 1st October, 1949, and it was to be binding for two years? Are the current prices for pig meats excluded from that contract? Does the pig meat contract expire on the 30th September of this year ? Has any provision been made in. either contract for an alteration of currency? Are any negotiations proceeding for the conclusion of further contracts ?
Mi’. McEWEN- The former Government reached an agreement with the Government of the United Kingdom that there should be an arrangement covering the sale of Australian surplus meat of certain categories, including beef in particular, to the United Kingdom over a period of fifteen years. A price for beef for the current season was agreed upon and a price for pig meats, which will be effective till the 30th September next, was also established. Negotiations are proceeding between Mr. McCarthy, the Acting High Commissioner for Australia in the United Kingdom, and representatives of the British Government with respect to the prices that will replace the existing short-term agreed prices for pig meats and beef and also with respect to the conclusion of a general fifteen years7 agreement. There is no specific provision at present for currency alterations.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether the Government proposes to extend the wheat stabilization plan to cover a period of ten years ? If so, when will the necessary legislation be introduced ?
– The Government has not given consideration specifically to the extension of the wheat stabilization plan to cover a total period of ten years, but it has declared, as a point of general policy, that it intends where practicable to stabilize the various important primary industries over periods, it hopes, of not less than ten years. I assure the House that full consideration will be given, in consultation with representatives of the industry, to the desirability of extending the wheat stabilization plan before the term of the present plan expires.
– Has the Minister for Health studied the result of the Gallup poll in relation to the supply of free medicine, which indicates that 43 per cent, of the people want free medicine and that only 15 per cent, of them are opposed to the scheme? Is the Minister’s failure to provide this service due to his lack of interest in the people or to instructions that he has received from the British Medical Association? Do his loyalties lie with the British Medical Association or with the people of Australia ?
– The accusation that is being made against me at present is that my loyalties are with the friendly societies instead of with the British Medical Association. The Gallup poll, of course, is worthless as a basis of judgment on this matter because the free medicine scheme has not yet been fully prepared. How anybody can express an opinion upon an unfinished job is beyond my comprehension.
– In many parts of Sydney, the public are seriously inconvenienced by being unable to obtain medical attention after the regular visiting hours, and to obtain medicines after the ordinary trading hours for chemists’ shops. In view of those circumstances, will the Minister for Health discuss with the health authorities in New South Wales, . the British Medical Association, and the Pharmaceutical Guild, the possibility of making suitable arrangements in order to cater for the needs of the public at hours outside the normal visiting and trading times, particularly for urgent cases ?
– I understand that the honorable gentleman has asked that doctors and chemists shall work at hours outside the normal periods in order to provide the convenience to which he has referred. I shall discuss his question with the New South Wales Minister for Health, because that matter lies in his province to a certain degree, and I shall inform the honorable member of the result.
– In view of the widespread distress among age and invalid pensioners resulting from the continued increase of the cost of living and heavy medical expenses, will the Minister for Health request the British Medical Association to implement the provisions of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act immediately in the interests of that worthy section of the community?
– The Labour Government was in office for approximately eight years, yet it did nothing about the matter to which the honorable member has referred. The present Government is pursuing a line of conduct which will ensure that age and invalid pensioners shall receive the medical assistance they deserve, and I trust the honorable member will assist the Government to pass the legislation dealing with that matter.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether, during hi9 absence from the House, he has been able to make hie peace with that dissentient section of the medical profession, who are still opposing the national health and medical scheme? Will he inform me whether the prospects of securing an agreement for an effective government medical scheme are any brighter now than they were when his previous proposition went all “phut”?
– My ‘ absence from the House was not concerned with conversations with the medical profession. I was conferring with other sections of those who look after the sick of the community. The honorable member for Dalley will be pleased to learn that he can be sure that the time that this Government will take to implement a satisfactory and suitable medical scheme for improving the health ‘ of the people will not be nearly so long as the last Government took.
– Will the Minister for Health state whether any advice has been received by the Government, either orally or in writing, from the British Medical Association indicating the type of national medical scheme which the association will permit the Government to introduce?
– As soon as the Government assumed office it summoned a conference of representatives of the British Medical Association, voluntary health organizations and the Pharmaceutical Guild of Australia. Full and frank discussions followed. The discussions are still being pursued.
– There are a number of cases throughout the Commonwealth of resumptions of property by the Department of the Interior in which settlements have been delayed, I believe through the neglect of the previous Government, for up to two years or more. The amounts involved in some of those cases are small and it is not practicable economically to approach the High Court for a decision when agreement cannot be reached. Would the Minister for the Interior give consideration to the setting up of some simple form of independent appeal tribunal to facilitate the completion of resumptions where agreement cannot be reached by negotiation?
– I have already been in consultation with the authorities on this question to ascertain whether such a tribunal could be set up. I can assure the honorable member that - 1 am pursuing those investigations.
– It is reported from Hong Kong that although millions of Chinese are facing starvation, the
Chinese Communists are exporting flour to Soviet Russia. In view of that, and of the suggestion that Australia should send food to China, will the Minister for External Affairs give an assurance to this House that no food will be sent to China unless the Chinese Communists cease exporting to Russia food that is so urgently required by the Chinese people?
– I am unaware at the moment of any suggestion that Australia should send food to China. If there be such a suggestion I shall have it examined. On the problem presented by the question of the honorable member in relation to the export by China of foodstuffs to Soviet Russia, again I do not know the facts. I can undertake to discuss the problem with my colleague, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, and I shall endeavour to give the honorable member an answer later.
– I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs, although it has some relation to trade and commerce. Has the Minister seen the alarming public statements that Japan is engaged in cut-throat competition for markets on the old pre-war basis of dumping and price cutting; that textiles and merchandise labelled “ Hong Kang port of origin “ are really made in Japan; and that England has received parcels of these goods including cheaply made shirts at 30s. a dozen, and children’s frocks at 3s. 9d. each? How can Japan, with which a peace treaty has not yet been arranged, trade on this apparently unrestricted basis? What measures are being taken to protect the Australian worker and manufacturer ? Has the com- bination of Japanese monopoly plus free enterprise created this state of affairs as reported in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of to-day’s date? Despite the fact that the Minister has assured the House that the Zaibatsu has been broken up, will he examine the new evidence that the old Japanese trading system has not been destroyed, but has merely changed its front? In view of these consistent and alarming reports, will the Minister press for an early peace conference to discuss the vital matter of trade and relations with Japan?
– Some of the questions of the honorable member relate to matters which I think are properly answerable by a department other than my own. So far as his reference to the Zaibatsu is concerned, I think that if he has a good look at my reply he will agree that I did not say that this organization had been broken up. I indicated that the Government was not satisfied with the extent to which that organization had been dealt with. The honorable member will realize that at the present time, except through the Far Eastern Commission, the Government has no direct control over the manner in which Japan is permitted to trade. So far as the determination of the terms of the peace treaty is concerned, I think that I indicated during the course of my statement on foreign affairs that there should be a working authority set up in London for the purpose of seeking to work out the terms of the peace treaty. I am sure the honorable member is himself aware that the framing of th:peace treaty is beset with many difficulties because of arrangements made before the war came to an end. The Government is resolved to protect the interests of this country. I hope that, as soon as the working committee is set up in Great Britain, we shall have an opportunity to arl vance our views. The honorable member can rest assured that treaty proposals will be submitted to this House before a final determination is made.
– In view of a statement by the president of the Victorian Flax-growers Association in evidence before the Tariff Board that uncertainty regarding the continued operation of flax mills controlled by the Commonwealth was causing growers to limit the areas of flax sown, can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture state the present position in regard to those factories? What assurances can ho give to the growers, and to the persons employed in the factories, whose future is at present uncertain?
– The position, broadly, is that the last Government sought to dispose of the factories erected during the war for war purposes, and invited tenders for their purchase, but none was received. That produced the state of uncertainty to which the honorable member has referred. With the approval of the Prime Minister, I announced that the organizations controlling flax mills could enter into contracts with the growers for the growing of another crop. The growers have been aware of that for the last month or six weeks, and I understand that they are now preparing for sowing the crop. In addition, the representatives of the organized growers, and the representatives of the spinners, have been invited to confer to see whether they can jointly make a proposal to the Government for taking over the mills under which they would be owned jointly and equally by the flaxgrowers and the spinners.
– Some time ago, the Treasurer said that he would be prepared to make money available to assist surf clubs in their life-saving activities. Have any applications been made for assistance and, if so, how much has been given ?
– The honorable member’s question is based on false premises. I never at any time said that money would be made available to surf life-saving clubs or associations. What I said was that the matter would be investigated.
– Is the Prime Minister able to make a statement regarding the serious holdup on the Brisbane waterfront?
– The Government has considered the waterfront troubles in Queensland, and I propose at 8 o’clock to-night to make a brief, but, I hope, important statement on that matter.
– Will the Minister for the Navy inform me how long the destroyer Anzac has been under construction at the government dockyard in Williamstown, Victoria ? How long will it be before that vessel is in commission?
Is the work being carried out by day labour or by contract, and what is the estimated cost of the completed warship?
– H.M.A.S. Anzac was laid down on the 23rd September, 1946, and was launched on the 20th August, 1948. The original estimate of the date of completion was August, 1949, and the revised estimate is December, 1950, or fifteen months after the anticipated date. The warship is being constructed by day labour. The original cost, including stores and armament, was £2,000,000, but the estimated cost now is £2,500,000, an increase of approximately £500,000.
– Can the Minister for National Development inform me whether it is a fact that the America Industrial Research Foundation intimated to the previous Government that it was in a position to supply various classes of wire netting to Australia? Did the previous Government take the necessary steps to obtain that wire netting? If so, what quantities were purchased ? Will the Minister investigate the position with the object of securing for Australia, additional supplies of that urgently needed commodity?
– I have no knowledge of the matter which the honorable gentleman has raised, but I shall make inquiries, and inform him of the result.
– As the cost of surgical hoots is just as much a medical expense as other items of medical expenditure in respect of which rebates are allowed for income tax purposes, will the Treasurer, when reviewing the taxation laws prior to the introduction of the budget, consider the inclusion of the cost of surgical boots among items in respect of which taxation rebates are allowed?
– The Treasury will take into consideration the honorable member’s request.
– The Governments of the United Kingdom and New Zealand encourage increased milk production by urging dairy-farmers to improve their pastures by the application of lime, towards the cost of which government subsidies are paid. In view of the need for added milk production in Australia to meet our increasing population and our expanding export needs, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, in collaboration with the States, consider the desirability of adopting a similar policy in Australia?
– The Government is most .anxious to increase the production of dairy products, both from the point of view of obtaining greater quantities and of reducing the unit cost of production. Insofar as the application of lime to pastures may contribute to greater efficiency in the dairying industry, the Government is interested in the honorable member’s proposal. As the matter is one which comes more properly within the purview of the State governments, I shall list it for consideration by the next meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council in order to ascertain whether an Australiawide policy in relation to it might be considered advisable.
– Is the Minister for Health able to furnish to the House any information about the statement in the press that a case of small-pox has been discovered among the crew of a ship now lying at Fremantle?
– As soon as I saw the press paragraph I asked that full inquiries be made. I have not yet received a reply.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services whether it is a fact that a person who is permanently incapacitated is entitled to receive a pension as an invalid pensioner? Is it also a fact that if such a person is subsequently certified to be only partially incapacitated the payment of the invalid pension is withdrawn? If that is so, is it not also a fact that, in all probability, such a person is discouraged from seeking treatment by occupational therapy in order to improve his chance of making a livelihood? Many persons who are in that position are suffering great hardships because they were solely dependent on the pension. Will the Minister consider the need for granting to such persons a transitional pension or a pension which is subject to gradual reduction in accordance with the person’s capacity to earn?
– I shall direct the honorable member’s question to the Minister for Social Services and ask that a full reply be furnished.
– Will the Minister for External Affairs state whether it is correct, as reported in the press, that the British Government is contemplating imposing on the diplomats of Russia and satellite countries the same restrictions as are imposed on the British diplomats in Russia and satellite countries and particularly in Moscow? Is it true that Australian representatives in Moscow are subject to all sorts of restrictions and surveillance whereas Russian diplomats here are free to come and go exactly as they like? Does the Australian Mission in Moscow or the presence of Russian diplomats in this country bring any benefit to Australia? If not, will the Minister consider imposing restrictions on representatives from Russia and satellite countries and withdrawing Australian representatives from Moscow altogether?
– I rise to order. As the question involves a matter of policy I ask whether it is in order ?
– The question concerns a matter of procedure, not a matter of policy. If honorable gentlemen desire me to adopt the strictest attitude in this matter they may have it that way. ‘ Certain information was sought which was not asked for in a similar question yesterday though portion of the question was already covered by a question that was asked by the honorable member for Gellibrand. The Minister might confine himself to the latter part of the question.
– I rise to order. Is not the way in which Australia deals with the representatives of foreign powers in this country a matter of policy? Is it merely a matter of incidental procedure?
That question seems to me to be an important one.
– The subject of foreign policy is at present before the House, and honorable members are quite free to raise the matter under that item on the notice-paper. They have not yet done so.
– I have no official information which supports the observations made by the honorable member in the first part of his question. The answer to the second part of his question is “ Yes “. Limitations are imposed on the movements of our representatives in Moscow. No limitations are imposed on the movements of the representatives of Russia in this country. In reply to the third part of the honorable member’s questions, I have nothing further to add to what I said yesterday.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture anything to report to the House in regard to the Tasmanian potato industry, the serious position of which has been brought under his notice by all Tasmanian members of the Parliament who have supported the request of the Tasmanian Potato Marketing Board?
– I have sent a telegram to-day to the Tasmanian Minister for Agriculture and asked him whether he supported the request of the Tasmanian Potato Marketing Board that an officer of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics should be detailed to make an investigation of certain economic aspects of the Tasmanian potato industry. If I receive a reply in the affirmative from the Tasmanian Minister, an officer of my department will be detailed to make such an investigation. In my telegram I have informed the Tasmanian Minister that the allocation of an officer for this duty would not imply any direct or implied financial obligation on the part of the Commonwealth. The officer would be engaged in a fact-finding investigation the result of which would be brought, in due course, before the Australian Agricultural Council.
– Does the Minister for Immigration intend to re-establish the reception committees for immigrants in the several States? If so, would he consider the appointment of women to these committees, especially women from “Western. Australia who have worked for Unrra and various other international relief organizations? I am referring both to British and foreign migrants. Bearing in mind that most of the camps to which women are now being sent are converted military camps, which were established for young men in the prime of life, would the Minister obtain a report on the extent to which they conform to proper standards of comfort and privacy for women and of hygiene for families ?
– The accommodation which has been provided by the Australian Government for immigrants has been very highly praised by officials who have come to this country as representatives of the International Refugee Organization and other bodies. However, I shall have the points raised by the honorable member examined and inform him of the result of investigations.
– by leave - On Tuesday last the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) asked the following question: -
I wish to direct a question to the Prime Minister, and in explanation I point out that last Thursday the Minister for the Army read to the House a document which purported to he a Cabinet minute. Having regard to the custom adopted by all previous governments, which seems to me to be a decent and fair practice, I ask the Prime Minister whether he approves of a Minister using secret and confidential documents, or documents which purport to be so, in debates in the House?
As I was not present at the time of the occurrence of the incident mentioned I indicated that I would look into the matter and that, later this week, I would give an answer to the question of the Leader of the Opposition.
The right honorable gentleman directed my attention to an incident which occurred during the debate on Japanese war trials, and invited me to indicate whether I approve of the disclosure of Cabinet documents to the House. This question has previously arisen, notably on the 20th May, 1942, when the honorable member for East Sydney, then Minister for Labour and National Service, made reference to a Cabinet submission by his predecessor, the present Minister for Labour and National Service. I felt aggrieved by this procedure when in Opposition. I must adopt a similar attitude as Prime Minister. I* have no doubt that it is a sound general principle that submissions made to Cabinet by individual Ministers are confidential to that Cabinet, as are Cabinet communications between Ministers. Having said this, it is proper that I should turn to the events of last Thursday.
I had made a statement to the House which included a clear suggestion that there had been undue delay in bringing Japanese war criminals to trial. In the debate of Thursday last this was challenged. The honorable member for East Sydney, a former Minister, and himself one who, as I have said, had been known to make use of secret Cabinet papers in the course of debate, challenged the Government to make available for the perusal of members of the Opposition all the papers connected with the matter. My colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, in the course of his speech, had said -
It is all very well for the honorable member for East Sydney, who is now only a private member to demand the facts. There are certain documents that would normally not be produced, hut the Government will produce them if the Leader of the Opposition asks it to table them.
My colleague then went on to say of the previous Government -
It failed to measure up to its responsibilities and it put off the decision from month to month and finally did nothing.
The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), who had originally on behalf of the Opposition taken the adjournment of the debate upon my statement, knowing of this exchange, said -
The previous Government faced up to its responsibility, and was determined not to release any Japanese, civilian or soldier, as long as, there was a charge standing against him of atrocities against the people of this country.
Having regard to the files in the possession of the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Francis), who was present in the chamber, this was indeed a provocative and challenging remark. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke) made a pungent attack upon my statement in relation to undue delay. He then said, referring to my statement -
What did his words convey except a suggestion that the previous Government had been dilatory in the matter? No attempt has been made to substantiate that charge, which has been answered fully and effectively by my colleagues who have taken part in this debate.
In thesecircumstances the Minister for the Navy, not unnaturally, took up the challenge. He indicated, quite properly, that the files before him contained cables from General MacArthur and his staff protesting against the suspected war criminals being kept in prison without any charge having been made against them. He referred, again quite properly, to the fact that the previous Government bad had the matter before it as long ago as the 4th May, 1949. So far, so good !
He then proceeded to read the precise terms of a ministerial recommendation made to Cabinet. It is quite clear to me that he was drawn into doing this because of the controversial course the debate had taken - a course not fully disclosed in reality by Hansard, because there were many interjections. I also learn, as a result of a conference with my colleague, that he had gathered the impression from an earlier conversation with me that, if our statements regarding delay were challenged, he should be at liberty to refer to and make use of the file,including any Cabinet submission. This understanding by my colleague unquestionably arose from some insufficiently considered expressions of mine and is theref ore one for which I willingly accept responsibility. Having in this way dealt with the particular incident in question, I want to re-affirm my belief as the Leader of the Government that it would be a sound practice that no reference should be made to Cabinet files except for the purpose of - (a) discovering what operative decisions have actually been made; and (b) ascertaining the contents of communica tions in fact made between the Government and outside persons or authorities.
– Will the Minister for Health give favorable consideration to the inclusion in the Government’s health scheme of a provision for the supply of free hearing aids to pensioners? Many age pensioners are in need of hearing aids, but of course cannot pay for them out of their pensions. 1 consider that the Government could very well provide hearing aids free of charge to pensioners who produce medical certificates to show that such instruments are essential for their convenience.
– The Department of Health is already engaged in research into hearing aids at its acoustics laboratory. Whether legislative provision along the lines proposed by the honorable member will be made is a matter of policy that will be disclosed in due course.
Debate resumed from the 22nd March (vide page 1094), on motion by Mr. Spender -
That the following paper be printed: -
Foreign Policy - Ministerial Statement, 9th March, 1950
.- The Minister for. External Affairs (Mr. Spender) has made a very valuable contribution to this House on the subject of world affairs. It may be said to his credit that he virtually circumnavigated the globe in his very helpful statement upon the vexed questions of international relationships. His. remarks, and the remarks of other honorable members during the course of this debate, have made it clear that international affairs must be handled on a sane level if we are to secure peace throughout the world. The Minister has indicated that the policy of the present Government is to continue Australia’s active participation in the affairs of the United Nations, to send Ministers abroad from time to time, and to make every effort to maintain the highest level of friendship between this country and the United States of America. The honorable gentleman laid special emphasis upon the fluid situation, in Asia and pointed out that our policy for the immediate future must largely have relation to developments in Asiatic countries. I believe that the members of every party represented in this House are in agreement with the Minister on those points. Omgreat difficulty as a people arises from the fact that Australians generally ane not internationally minded. That is due in part to our geographical isolation, which prevents our people from making contacts overseas and studying at first hand the conditions that are well known to those who live in Europe and Asia.
One of the first obligations of this Parliament is to declare in clear and unequivocal tannas the precise attitude of Australia towards other nations and the attitude that we ‘expect other nations to adopt towards us. Two very important declarations have been made since 1941. Both of them can form the basis of proper understanding between all nations of the world, and therefore I consider that it as desirable to revive and emphasize them. The first was made in a -remarkable speech by one of this century’s most remarkable men, President Roosevelt, when he delivered to the United States Congress in January, 1941, what is generally described as lie “Pour Freedoms Speech”. On that occasion, he declared that the duty of the United States of America was to pursue a policy in relation to other countries that would give to the peoples of the world freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from fear -and freedom from want. Shortly afterwards, in the same year, President Roosevelt of the United. States and Mr. Churchill of England, drew up a document which has been generally referred to as the Atlantic Charter. The eight points of that Charter: laid down in clear and simple language the ideas of those two nations on the objects of the war and the policy to be pursued by the nations fighting for democracy in their relationship with other countries.
In the Atlantic ‘Charter there can be found the three simple principles that might be enunciated by the people of Australia, as a guide to all countries on what this country considers are its rights and obligations. The first of those three principles can serve as a declaration by Australia that it believes in the right of self-government, and non-intervention by other countries in its own affairs. The second can indicate that Australia has the right to develop its economic life and its resources without hindrance from people of other lands. The third cam. .show that Australia has the right, as a nation, to safety and security from aggression. Those three principles can ; be laid down as the basie rights of our people and also the rights of other nations, whether they are our near neighbours or are geographically far from us. The adoption of those three principles by Australia automatically declare that whilst insisting on our own rights and agreeing that other nations should have the same rights, we do not propose to pursue a policy of aggrandizement, territorially or otherwise. If we could develop in Australia an understanding in the minds of the people of those three principles it would form the basis of the best declaration that could be made to inform the world of exactly where Australia stands. I suggest that the three principles would be readily agreed upon by every country in the world.
Our difficulty is that in our relationship with other nations disturbing factors .have occurred. Throughout the history of mankind such factors have been the cause of innumerable wars which have, marred the history of the human race. The element which has caused a groat deal of difficulty in the past, and is still causing it to-day, is the desire of a community for aggrandizement. That occurs from one of three causes. The first is territorial expansion, which is so well known that I do not intend to place before the House examples of how it causes war. The second is aggression and aggrandizement that have arisen through dynastic ambitions. The greatest fear of to-day’s world, which has also been evidenced in the past, is caused by the third factor, which is the desire of communities to impose their ideas upon other communities who do not want them. That has been seen in the history of the gigantic struggles between Christianity and Mohammedanism. The same thing can be seen to-day in the cold war between economic ideologies.
We must therefore make our political position clear upon the three principles that I have suggested. We must declare that at all times we will resist any possibility of aggrandizement against us as a community, and that the forces of 0U nation, in conjunction with those of allied nations, will be used to prevent aggrandizement on the part of others’ against those who desire to live their own lives peacefully. While giving recognition to the rights that we desire for ourselves, we should also try to understand the causes behind the actions of other nations. Very often other peoples see problems from a very different angle from ourselves. For instance, it has been said that the English-speaking nations and those of northern Europe are phlegmatic by nature, that the southern European nations are inclined to be volatile, and that other nations are characterized by patience and endurance. Therefore, what may be a perfectly clear method of reasoning to one people may be incomprehensible to another. Their reasoning being different, their actions will also be different.
The Minister was correct when, in his statement on foreign affairs, he said that a. good deal of the uncertainty in the present-day world arises from the inability on the part of the Western nations to reach any understanding with Russia. I also agree with the statement of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) that the cold war is likely to continue, but that there is little possibility of any physical conflict between Russia and other countries. A proper understanding of the mode of reasoning of the Russian people would give a clue to the difficulties involved in coming to an understanding with Russia. The Government of Russia follows the Marxian theory of economics, and is convinced beyond any shadow of doubt that the nations working under a capitalist economy must inevitably perish because of faults inherent in that system. They are prepared to wage a cold war, and to do everything they can to frustrate attempts at understanding between Russia and other countries, but they will probably stop short of actual war, because they believe that the economic systems of the countries with whose representatives they are invited to negotiate are bound to collapse before very long. They also believe that the capitalist countries, in an effort to save themselves from destruction, will probably wage war on Russia, and for that reason the Russians maintain a large and efficient army. Honorable members may regard that method of reasoning as unreal, but it is the method followed by those who control Russia to-day. They will do nothing to help in the preservation of a state of society which they believe is bound to perish.
What is happening in the sphere of international relations, has happened also when other organizations have come in contact with the Russians. For instance, the World Federation of Trade Unions disintegrated because of the inability of the representatives of the western trade union movements to come to an understanding with the Russians. The representatives of the workers in Great Britain, Canada, the United States of America, Belgium and other countries could not win the confidence of the representatives of the trade union movement in Russia because matters which were regarded as essential to the western nations were looked upon by the representatives of the Soviet as quite immaterial. The fact is that our beliefs and our methods of reasoning are altogether different from those of the Russians, so that we are unable to achieve that mutual trust which is necessary if we are to work together for the preservation of peace. [Extension of time granted.]
The Minister for External Affairs referred to the fact that China was now controlled by a Communist Government. The Minister must, of course, accept facts as they are, hut I suggest that it would be erroneous to assume that China will always remain Communist. Within recent years, an intense spirit of nationalism has developed in Asiatic countries, and the extraordinary thing about this nationalist fervour is that it can unite all sections of the community in the fight for national independence, no matter how hostile those sections may be to one another on other issues. Even the Chinese Nationalist Government that has now been replaced by a Communist Government has the assistance of the Communist forces in achieving national unity. However, ^ the Nationalist Government was a military one, and military governments have always been distasteful to the Chinese, who are essentially a peaceloving people. Therefore, there came about a combination of forces in the country which gradually displaced the old Nationalist Government and replaced it by another government. However, those who study the history of China, and understand its customs and traditions realize that it would be unwise to dismiss the possibility that, before long, the same forces that achieved national unity will eventually dispose of Communist control in China.
I regret that the Minister for External Affairs did not mention the work of the International Labour Office, which has operated for more than 30 years, during which time it has done much to improve economic conditions in many countries. It is the one institution that ha3 survived out of the many created by the League of Nations. To-day, it is regarded as part and parcel of the United Nations organization. The International Labour Organization is an organization which acts under a charter peculiarly its own, and which is bused on the belief that an enduring peace can he achieved only on the basis of social justice. In the International Labour Organization are brought together representatives of the three factors that constitute the modern state. It consists of representatives of governments, representatives of employers and representatives of workers. The governing body consists of sixteen government representatives, eight representatives of employers and eight representatives of the workers. We have not heard so much in Australia about the work of the International Labour Organization because working conditions here are immensely superior to those in most other countries, hut the organization has done work of enormous value in improving working conditions in such countries as India, Burma, Indonesia, &c. Indeed, its work cannot be praised too highly. The census taken in India ‘in 1931 showed that of all the people employed in that country only 11 per cent, were engaged in handcrafts or industries. Seeing that in India most articles are made by hand, it is evident that only a very small proportion of the population is employed in recognized industries. No less than 70 per cent, of the population is engaged in agriculture, but the average income of those so engaged was 48 rupees a year which, at the rate of exchange then prevailing, represented £3 13s. sterling, or £4 lis. Australian, or fifteen dollars in United States of America currency. Those facts enable us to appreciate the tremendous task which confronts the other nations if they are to carry out really and fervently the policy of trying to improve the economic conditions of the people of Asia.
I suggest that we in Australia should adopt a policy in which we agree, first, that it is the right of all other countries to have the same capacity and right to self-government as we have; secondly, that all other countries have the same right to economic development as we have; and thirdly, that all other countries have the same right to security from aggression that we ask for ourselves. Our best contribution to world peace can be made by indicating to other countries that we believe that they have the right to be protected from the aggrandizement of other nations, and by pursuing a policy that seeks goodwill, understanding and friendliness with the nations close to Australia. I deplore the suggestion that we should enter into defensive pacts. The introduction of non-aggression- pacts between Australia and its neighbours, in which we indicate that we have no aggressive tendencies towards them, and they agree that they have no aggressive tendencies towards us, will help very materially. Complete frankness should be the keynote of our diplomatic relations with other countries. Trickery, or anything that resembles it, should be eliminated from our relations with them.
Finally, I suggest that we, as a community, should do as we did at Philadelphia and San Francisco, and agree that we are prepared to meet other nations in order to come to such an understanding about economic conditions as will help them to give their people security in employment, just as we seek that kind of security for out people. Recently, a sub-committee appointed by the United Nations made a lengthy and valuable’ report on full employment, and it was suggested that a conference of nations should be held c-n that subject. I sincerely hope that Australia will be represented at that conference and if an understanding with every other country will assist us to develop and channel our economic progress towards full employment, we should make every endeavour to reach such a basis of agreement. I understand that Australia has surplus stocks of flour. Approximately 22,000 tons of that commodity are held in Western Australia, and if those supplies are not disposed of they will possibly become unfit for human consumption. Excess foodstuffs should be used to assist other countries which, at the present time, are unable to provide sufficient food for their own people. If we proceed on the lines which I have described; if we indicate our willingness to live in peace with our neighbours; and if we convey to them our willingness to help them culturally, economically and in other respects, we shall make a big contribution to the maintenance of world peace.
.- Once again, I find myself in agreement with a good deal of what the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) has said. It must be evident to the Government and to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) that the multiplicity of views which have been expressed in this debate indicate that all the knowledge, ideas, and, indeed, brains are not wholly on the Government or the Opposition side of the chamber. The Minister stated that the Government proposes to appoint a foreign affairs committee, and that announcement will be welcomed throughout the country. I hope that when the members of that committee are selected, representation will be given to all political parties in this Parliament, and to all States.
– Are all States represented in the Cabinet?
– I am quite satisfied with the position. I realize that I may be accused of being parochial when I suggest that all States and all parties should be represented on the committee, but I have excellent reasons for doing so. A foreign affairs committee which was not representative of every State could make decisions which might be detrimental to a State which was not represented on it because the members of the committee might not have a proper realization of the full impact of foreign policy. Too much attention might be devoted to one part of Australia, and that might not be in the national interests.
I have carefully read the report of the Minister’s speech on international affairs, and I believe that the honorable gentleman is following the right lines in laying down Australia’s foreign policy. We must determine exactly the course that we desire to take in our relations with other countries. What precisely are our aims? Are we seeking national security, by which I mean security against foreign aggression, or are we seeking national expansion, by which I mean the imperialistic policy of territorial gain? Are we concerned with economic security and that form of economic nationalism, which was the basis of the foreign policy of nearly every nation prior to World War II. ? In the period of which I speak, each nation had the idea that it could live within its own boundaries, and, without suffering any detrimental effects, allow its neighbour to go to grass. Economic necessity has directed the foreign policy of nations throughout the ages until the stage has now been reached at which one power is determined to impose its ideology upon the rest of the world. That power has adopted a policy of imperialism, and territorial gain, regardless of its economic necessity.
Australia should base its policy upon its needs, but whatever that line may be, I hope that it will be a continuing policy. The practice of changing our foreign policy when a new government takes office, and literally from Minister to Minister, could lead to pitfalls which could be avoided. Wo should follow a definite line. We should ask ourselves to whom we shall go for assistance and what steps we should take to ensure that our foreign policy, whatever it may be, is implemented. Mention has been made in this debate of the United Nations. We should consider what are our prospects of success if we continue to depend solely on that organization. We must analyse the possibilities of other member nations depending solely on the United Nations. We should ask ourselves whether they will be prepared to limit their sovereignty and accept without question the ultimate decisions oi such an international body. Without the threat of force in the background, the United Nations is merely a farce. There must be a greater willingness on the part of the nations to accept its decisions. Oan we say that we will accept them if they are against our interests ? Inside our own country we have an institution which is somewhat analogous, in a domestic way, to the United Nations in the world sphere. I refer to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. Yet the arbitration system is being “ hit to leg “ almost every day in the week. We have agreed to accept without question the decisions of the arbitration court, but when they run counter to our interests. «’e invariably reject them. What prospect, then, is there of success in an international body such as the United Nations ?
We must rely on our own resources, and seek assistance wherever we can obtain it. Last night the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Roberton) told us that we can expect little help from the British Empire in the form of armed assistance should our security be threatened. Our first duty is to make security firm inside our own borders. Our greatest danger to-day comes not from abroad but from within Australia itself. I do not believe that there is any immediate danger that an attack will be made upon us from outside. While pressure groups attempt to wrest power from the Government, how can we possibly be secure against a force from outside? While there is so little possibility of achieving uninterrupted production and development in this country, we shall continue to be vulnerable.
Our first duty is to provide for our security against those in Australia who would destroy it. As the Government is already accepting its responsibility for guarding our security against attacks from outside, I shall not deal with that aspect of the problem at this stage. Our second duty is to ensure that we are not surrounded by nations that are likely to become aggressive towards us. We can do that only through one avenue - the field of trade. So, our foreign policy must be based upon economic security for ourselves, and, as far as practicable, for others. I am not one of those who subscribe to the. belief that intense nationalism exists in the countries of the far east, the near east or the near north. It is true that in recent times the normal patriotic spirit of the peoples of those countries has been intensified as the result of their desire to rid themselves of economic insecurity, unsatisfactory living conditions and many other factors that fomented discontent among them. They saw adjacent to them a land of abundance while they continued to go without so many of the things which they required. Instead of trying to help them to raise their standards to a level more closely approaching our own, we adopted the policy which could be likened to dangling a carrot in front of a donkey. Again it was a case of “ haves “ and “ have nots “. That was a national tragedy. In the peoples of those countries there is no intense national spirit, but there is an intense desire for economic security. It is in the direction of satisfying that desire that we, as a nation which produces in abundance the goods that they require, can play our part. I am very much concerned with that aspect of our foreign policy.
Much as has been said during this debate about the Russian menace, I agree that we must do everything possible to stem the tide of Russian aggression. One way in which we can at least help to hold it in check is by assisting the peoples of the Near East to attain economic security. I do not suggest that we should give them something for nothing. That is the Communist idea. The Russians have led them to believe that they should get something for nothing. That is the so-called socialist policy.
– Would the honorable member put a gun in their hands?
– No doubt that is what my friend, the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin), would do. He would also place guns in the hands of our “ wharfies “.
– I should like to see the honorable member with a gun in his hand.
– I have held a gun in my hand in the past. A promise of something for nothing is one of the rocks on which this Government decided not to stumble when it was elected to office on the 10th December last. It is a pity that so much propaganda is wasted on the countries of the Near East. Propaganda is of little value in those countries because most of their peoples are illiterate. Nevertheless, it astonishes me that in a country like Australia, which, on the contrary, is highly literate, communism and socialism have flourished. We must give to the peoples of the Near East something tangible. I agree with the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) that that would assist them to stem the dangerous tide of communism. I go further and say that we must give them a. tangible promise that their future will be as secure as ours.
We must also reach some arrangement with the United States. I am a little concerned at the deterioration of trade relationship between that country and ours. Let us face the facts. Territorially the United States of America is in a position to control the markets of many countries which provide a normal outlet for our surplus production. We should reach an understanding with the American people about where our respective economic fields begin and end before an argument begins. We count them as friends and allies and we would have to rely on them for assistance in the event of a showdown with an aggressor. Unless we define the spheres of economic operation of our respective countries, I am afraid that many difficulties will arise. Difficulties in that regard have already arisen. A question was asked in the House to-day about flour. I asked a similar question a. fortnight ago. The Americans are competing intensely against us in markets that were hitherto regarded as outlets for our own products. We must say to the Americans, “ We are concerned about our economic security. We are not prepared to allow you to expand tout markets unduly at our expense “.
I should like the Minister for External Affairs to make a pronouncement as early as possible to the effect that we have come to some satisfactory arrangement with America concerning trade relationships. Much of our success in peaceful operations in the Near East has been due to agreements which have been reached. Assistance to these people is dependent upon a satisfactory agreement with the United States of America. Unless we can reach an agreement we are likely to find, not two dogs in the field of East Asia, but three of us, and Australia will be the little pom.meranian which will get pushed to the outside. So long as there is a desire on the part of any nation to expand economically at the cost of another, there can never be a cessation of aggression. This battle of the dollars, which is a battle of exports, is going to become intensified to our cost and, unfortunately, to the cost of people in Asian countries unless we are able to settle the differences that exist between Australia and the United States. Let us put our cards on the table and ascertain where we stand. I believe we can achieve success in that way. Our internal troubles will turn out to be small matters unless we are able to reach a satisfactory agreement regarding our economic relationships in the Par East with the United States of America.
– It seems to me that there has been some lack of realism in this debate. I do not merely mean that honorable members have failed to appreciate the seriousness of the subjects we are discussing, which are matters of life and death. I do not merely mean that they have failed to appreciate the urgency of these problems, which are likely to reach their culmination at least within the next ten years. The lack of realism is apparent in the changed circumstances which have been introduced into international affairs. No doubt, as the blacks at Kurnell watched Captain Cook’s ship recede into the distance, they turned to their old tribal relationships and discussed questions of tribal foreign policy without realizing that something had happened which rendered meaningless the terms they were using. Something like that has now happened, not only to Australia, but also to the world. Something has happened which has rendered meaningless the terms we haTe been using in this debate. New weapons, particularly atomic weapons, have changed the meaning of the old terms connected with foreign affairs. A new conflict would be a world conflict and not a conflict in which there would be any reasonable safety. “We should be as safe as Britain and- America, and no safer.
It seems to me that honorable members of this House think that by attending to the problems of the Pacific the safety of Australia will be safeguarded. That is an unrealistic attitude. If there is to be another war it will be a world war the outcome of which will be final for all people in all parts of the globe. New weapons, particularly atomic weapons, have introduced the possibility of sudden attack against which traditional forces will provide no protection. The next conflict may be decided in 24 hours. The new weapons carry with them possibilities of complete devastation and destruction which have been lacking in previous conflicts. Therefore, there are new terms in which we must discuss all matters of foreign policy.
During the last four years there has been a drift towards war. At the commencement of those four years there was hope. One side had a monopoly of atomic weapons and the United States of America, speaking for that side, had offered to hand over to an international authority the whole of its atomic armaments, provided only that there would be a world-wide force which would ensure that no other nation took advantage of the offer of the United States not to construct atomic armaments secretly in violation of its contract. If that offer had been accepted all the present dangers could have been avoided, hut it was not accepted and we have now drifted to the position where one side has not a monopoly of the new weapons although, for a year or two, it will have a monopoly of quantity. There is still reason to believe that Russia has still only a few atomic bombs although it may pretend to have many. Russia is still in what may be described as the “ soft shell “ period. The United States of America has larger stocks of atomic bombs than has Russia. The coming two years will be vital for the whole of humanity. During that time, we must arrange for the control of atomic armaments on an international basis or the world will be destroyed in an atomic war. [Quorum formed.’]
All honorable members who. have spoken in this debate have recognized the existing hostility between Russia and America. Some honorable members have attributed this hostility to the -idea of communism; some to the idea of a resurgent Russian nationalism. I think that both conceptions are partly right and partly wrong. In Russia a clique is using the idea of communism and the idea of nationalism as a means of obtaining and extending their power. Communism is not merely an idea. Communism is a method. Communism has developed from simple Marxism which was an idea, through Leninism, which is primarily a method of applying that idea. Leninism has developed into Stalinism which teaches that the idea of world revolution taking place spontaneously in various countries must give way to the idea of Russia as the fortress of world revolution, finally extending the revolution by force of arms. Leninism is the method for the practice of Marxism. Stalinism teaches war as the method of implementing Leninism.
Atomic weapons are particularly suited to the use of totalitarian power. They are suitable for sudden and treacherous attacks - a super Pearl Harbour. They are suitable for use by a fifth column. But that is not their most important attribute, which is, that they wreak complete destruction.’ The Marxist will not baulk at complete destruction, because it is a tenet of Marxism that communism is only waiting to be born and will emerge automatically as soon as the capitalist order is destroyed. Therefore, the Communist will not hesitate to destroy the world, believing that from the destruction communism must of necessity emerge supreme. For those reasons, there will be no hope of reaching agreement with Russia once atomic power is completely in Russia’s hands. Let us not delude ourselves. Russia would refrain from atomic attack only while it could achieve its ends by other means. Once checked by other means, it would inevitably use its atomic force.
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) says that we can talk Russia out of war.
– Even the honorable member for East Sydney, with his undoubted eloquence, could not talk Stalin into adopting a policy of peace.
All Russian policy since 1946 has been directed to two ends. The first is to develop the process of manufacturing atomic weapons in Russia, and the second is to avoid war until Russia is ready to strike. Everything that has happened has been directed to those supreme ends. Since 1946, the local Communist parties in Australia, Great Britain and elsewhere have been playing for time. They have been occupying our attention with coal strikes, waterfront strikes and other disturbances, not because they mean to destroy our economy, but because thereby they have been able to keep our minds off the main objective. Russia’s adventures in Europe are insignificant to it in comparison with that objective of manoeuvring itself into a position from which it can strike a decisive blow at the world. We are being sold the dummy all the time. When people talk of measures to contain communism that do not take cognizance of that central physical fact, they merely conform, whether they like it or not, to the plan that Russia has been deliberately putting into their minds. Russia ha3 made particular use of the United Nations and its Atomic Energy Commission as a means of delay, always offering something and then withdrawing the offer, always holding out hope of success and then making certain that there shall be no success. Because of that, four vital years have been lost to us in conformity with Russia’s design. At this stage, I shall say something of the structure of the United Nations that has allowed Russia to make use of it in this manner. The United Nations is bereft of power because every one of its decisions is subject to the veto of any one of the five great powers, which include China and Russia. Therefore, it has provided Russia with an ideal method of causing delay while the vital process of atomic armament has been running against us. That is the key to all Russian policy. Under the provisions of Article 27 of the Charter of the United Nations, decisions of the Security Council shall be made by an affirmative vote of the majority of members, including the concurring votes of the five great powers, and, under Article 12, the other organ of the United Nations, the General Assembly, is precluded even from making recommendations upon matters that the Security Council is considering. Under Articles 108 and 109, any alteration of the Charter itself is subject to the Russian veto, and the Charter provides no mechanism whereby nations can withdraw. Thus the United Nations is powerless to do anything without incurring the Russian veto and, because of that, it is not only a useless organization, but, in addition, is occupying ground that some other organization might stand upon. Not only does it provide for delay, but also, because of the terms of the Charter, it prevents the establishment of any alliance that could prevent delay. It is the ideal stalling mechanism, and it has been used as such by Russia.
Russia will not agree to the making of inspections by the Atomic Energy Commission free of veto restrictions. It will make use of the existence of the commission for the purpose of causing delay, but it will never allow the commission to become effective. The United States proposed that the operations of the commission should be free of the veto and that its inspections should he world-wide and enforceable. But Russia has very successfully thwarted atomic control and, by so doing, has brought nearer and rendered almost inevitable within the space of the next few years an atomic disaster the nature of which it is very difficult for us to realize or contemplate. Our traditional defences can be of no avail against such an assault. It will be useless for us to be strong if the conflict, not possible yet, but possible in the near future, is to he of such a character as to wipe out our whole organization in one swathe of destruction. It will be useless to be strong if some other nation has the power to destroy us entirely. [Extension of time granted.’] It may suit the
Marxist to bring down the whole world in destruction in the belief that communism will emerge triumphant from the ensuing chaos. But that does not and never can suit us. What then arc we to do? Must we calmly continue to acquiesce in this drift towards disaster? We still have a little time, though not much, in which to act. Our remedy must have three features. First, it must provide for the effective control of atomic energy. Secondly, it must be quick, because otherwise it will be useless. Thirdly, it must be international because otherwise it cannot be quick and will not secure acquiescence from our own people or other people in time to prevent disaster. At first sight, it would appear as though we can effect such a remedy only through the United Nations. I have already suggested that the United Nations is powerless, but it is not altogether impotent.
There is still one flaw in the charter from Russia’s point of view. That flaw arises from the operation of Article 27, which provides that, at votes in the Security Council when decisions made under Chapter VI. are in question, a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting. In such circumstances, the Russian veto would not be operative. Chapter VI. is an innocuous section that deals only with recommendations, not with action, But there is one vital recommendation that can be made - a recommendation to expel Russia from the United Nations. Russia could be expelled under Chapter VI. by the General Assembly acting upon the recommendation of ‘the Security Council. If such action were taken quickly, the United Nations would become a workable force free from the operation of the Russian veto and would be able for the first time to contemplate a world-wide scheme of atomic security enforcement, without which we shall assuredly perish in the ^’fifties. I know that such a solution is not pleasant. It has implications that arc repugnant, I believe, to every honorable member. Y’et it is the only solution. It ‘offers the only way of avoiding war. The position of China, as a nation which has the right to ‘exercise a veto, has an important bearing upon this proposal.
It is perfectly clear that Russia is now endeavouring to buttress its own position in the United Nations by getting another permanent vote on its side through the expedient of persuading us to recognize the Communist Government of China. The prime reason for not recognizing that regime seems to me to be that, by so doing, we can prevent it from voting in the United Nations. I know that the solution that I propose would divide the world, but it would be better to divide the world cleanly now than to have our enemies working inside our own organization and rendering abortive every move “ that we make there. I know that the pr&~posal involves the possibility of war,, though I do not think that it would lead, to war. However, the question would not. be whether we chose war or not. Anyother course of procedure would involvethe certainty of war. My proposal aifc least offers the possibility of avoiding war. It offers, if not certain success, at least a chance of success.
From our point of view, the last four years have been four vital years. The previous Government played a large. part in making possible the drift towards inevitable war. Through its representative, who occupied a distinguished position in the United Nations, that Government did more, by its negligence, to make war possible than any other government of this country had ever done. The Evatt policy was not wrong in detail; it was wrong wholly and fundamentally. The United Nations should be built into a formidable force, but the policy of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) was to maintain it as a sham force so as to give a sense of fallacious security to the world and to prevent any real security from being attained. In’ 1946, 1947 and 1948 the avoidance of future war would have been quite easy. At that time the Western democracies held all the important cards. Power was on our side, and a peace plan put forward at that time and backed by that power would -have been successful. To-day fewer of the cards are in our hand although the hand is still a winning one. To-day the chances of avoiding war are definitely less than they were in the locust years of the ‘Chifley ‘Government. But there is still a -.chance if we act quickly and resolutely. There will he no chance if the drift continues.
Although I have criticized the previous Government, these are matters that are too big to be decided on party lines. I hope that honorable members will think that I am not so much criticizing the previous Government or even the previous Minister for External Affairs as trying to suggest a way by which the world can still be saved. This is a little House representing a little people; only 8,000,000 of them. It may be asked what chance have we to do anything in this great world. I believe that we still have a chance. When the storm clouds are gathering, a handful of dust thrown into them will cause a condensation of the droplets, because of the tensions that exist in the clouds, and precipitate a storm. That is analogous to the state of affairs in the world to-day. A tension exists and some small thing might serve to crystallize it and cause a storm. Therefore, this small House representing this small people can, if it is resolute, still do something to save the world.
Mr. W. M. BOURKE (Fawkner) [4.33 j. - The debate on foreign affairs initiated by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) has covered a very wide field. The House k.as heard discussions on atomic energy, the United Nations, Western Germany, Yugoslovia China and Japan. Africa also entered into the debate. The only country that I did not hear mentioned was South America. Problems connected with all those countries were discussed and an ordinary person like myself might have been bewildered and confused by what was said. What part are we, as a small country in the Pacific, to play in this great drama of world affairs? Despite the remarks of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr.. Wentworth) there seems In be fairly general agreement amongst honorable members of this House that there are three broad general principles to which we all conform. We all agree that Australia should play its part in the British Commonwealth of Nations, and that that should be a fundamental principle of our policy. We should all try to make stronger the machinery of the British Commonwealth, as was suggested by the late John Curtin. All honorable members agree that Australia should strengthen its ties with the United States. When the battle of the Coral Sea is recalled, the battle which halted the southward march of the Japanese forces when they swept around the eastern point of New Guinea and were on their way to Port Moresby and Australia, it will be recognized that had it not been for the sea and air power of the United State’s the Japanese would have landed in Australia and taken the country. If that had happened perhaps we should not be sitting in thi? House to-day. There is little doubt that if in the future we are threatened by another invasion, we shall again have to rely upon the strength of a friendly United States to protect us. Therefore, close relations with the United States is a sine qua non of our foreign policy. We all agree that Australia should continue- to play its part in the United Nations organization, despite the weakness of that body, and despite the fact that it may crash because of the intransigence of Soviet Rusisa. However, while the United Nations exists we should continue to support it and hope that it may be able to extend its influence.
I was horrified to hear some of t,11, remarks that have just been made by the honorable member for Mackellar. He was very critical of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), who. he said, maintained the United Nations as a sham force. He suggested that the weaknesses and imperfections of that body were due to that right honorable gentleman. My reaction to those remarks is to say that it is a pity that the honorable member for Mackellar was not present on the international scene at the time so that he could have worked out something better than did President Truman, Mr. Churchill and Dr. Evatt. I think that all members of this House will admit that our previous Minister for External Affairs raised Australia’s prestige, and held its name high in the councils of the world. I suggest that it was presumptuous of the honorable member for Mackellar to condemn him in the way in which he did.
I have indicated the general principles of Australia’s foreign policy - adherence to the British Commonwealth, close ties with the United States and adherence to the United Nations- -but the real problem arises when the attempt is made to work out a detailed foreign policy for this small country. Shall we be concerned with all the problems in all the quarters of the world, or shall we select certain aspects of foreign affairs and concentrate upon them? In determining what part Australia should play in the world we must bear in mind two fundamental principles: First, Australia is not a great power; and, secondly, we have limited resources and a small population. The fact that we have played a conspicuous part, a part out of proportion with our size, in two world wars, has taken us into a leading role in the forum of the world. We are fortunate in having had a figure of the stature and eminence of the former Minister for External Affairs to take advantage of that role. Echoing the sentiments of honorable members in this House. I say that I too hope that the present Minister will be able to live up to the reputation of his predecessor, and that he will be able to maintain the prestige of Australia in the high position in which it was placed by that right honorable gentleman.
When determining what commitments this country can enter into we must bear in mind that our resources are limited, and that consequently our activity in the sphere of world affairs must also be limited. Another determining factor is our geographical position. It is a very sobering experience for Australians to study a map of that part of the world in which our country is situated. In. our near north are China, Japan and the Philippines. Farther south are Indo-China and Thailand and towards the extremity of the continent of Asia, stretching out like a finger pointing at the heart of Australia, is British Malaya. Adjoining the southeastern extremity of Asia and extending in the direction of Australia is the series of islands now known as the United States of Indonesia. These appear as so many giant stepping-stones connecting the Asian mainland with Australia. Those steppingstones, if they fall into the hands of an enemy, can, as we have reason to remember, constitute a terrible threat to Australia. The south-eastern ex tremity of Asia, the islands between that area and the Australian mainland, and Australia itself, provide a dividing line between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. Although this country has been spoken of as a Pacific power because the waters of the Pacific wash its eastern shores it is also a power in the Indian Ocean because the waters of that ocean wash its western and north-western shores. The four great former British colonies of India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma are the main Indian Ocean powers as far as Australia- is concerned. Our relationship with those countries is very important. I suggest that it is axiomatic that we should consider the geographical area of our near neighbours as that upon which our foreign policy should be concentrated. Concerning the proximity of foreign nations to us, it should bo remembered that although New Zealand, which is linked to Australia by the name of Anzac, has always been regarded as our next-door neighbour, the distance between Sydney and Wellington by air is considerably less than that between Darwin and Djakarta, the capital of the United States of Indonesia and that there are portions of Indonesia which are closer to Australia than Djakarta. Asiatic countries are our nearest neighbours. Moreover, it is in the Asian sphere that the trouble spot of the world is developing in the year 1950. It appears to me, although I Ha ve no expert knowledge about this subject, that Soviet Russia, finding itself no longer able to carry out its aggressive designs in Europe, has now turned its attention elsewhere. China having become Communist the aggressive expansion of Russia will spread through South-East Asia. That is of vital significance to us because of the geographical relationship between that part of the world and Australia. In this area French Indo-China will be the focus of world attention and the trouble spot of 1950. In Vietnam, the French have set up a kind of a union of States under French control, modelled on the lines of the British Commonwealth. It is, however, an imperfect model. The French have recognized in that region a leader named Bao Dai, but there exists also a rebel authority on the pattern with which we have become familiar in south-eastern Europe. It is led1 by Ho Obi Minh, who has a considerable army. His territoryis adjacent to- China, and1 he- is being supplied from that country. It appears that Vietnam may- well become- the Greece of Asia. Perhaps, fu that area, the forces supported by the Western Democracies, and1 those- supported by the- Communists-, will clash as they lave clashed in Greece.
In the course of this debate, reference has been made to Dutch New Guinea,, an area that is of particular importance to Australia because it is so close to us. It is a part of a. tropical island,, and has vast natural resources which have been practically untouched. The Dutch made no real effort to colonize the area. They had other things to do, and they looked upon their part of New Guinea as having no immediate value. Now that the Dutch have gone out. of Indonesia, Dutch New Guinea has. hit the head-lines because of the claims, of Indonesia to that territory. There is no need for me to- emphasize the point made by previous speakers on both sides, of tha House that the Indonesians have, mo real claim to Dutch New Guinea. The only basis of their claim is that, the Dutch at one time ruled in Indonesia, and that they also rule in Dutch New Guinea. Now that the Indonesian have won their independence, they want to get the Dutch right out of the area altogether, and they regard themselves as heirs to all tha Dutch possessions. I suggest, that it would he ai good thing for the world if the Dutch were out, of New Guinea. As long as, they remain, Dutch New Guinea “ill be a. focal point for trouble. The Indonesians will regard it with, suspicion, ad’ will suggest, that in New Guinea ona Dutch are. building up, forces, with which to. reconquer Indonesia..
– Wha.t is wrong with tha Dutch?
-Nothing. I am nOt attacking them, hut I pui it to the honorable member, who has an intimate knowledge of those, areas, that Australia should consider acquiring Dutch New Guinea. The- sovereignty of the- Dutch in Mew Guinea is- undisputed and- there seems, to be. mo reason, if- the Dutch are willing fe negotiate,, why they should not he asked to transfer their sovereign rights to Australia. It would be a simple matter of sale and purchase, of a transfer of territory from the sovereignty of one eo.un.try to that of an.Qth.ear.
– That would not satisfy the Indonesians, would it?
– That, is a point which wa might, discuss, later. There is ample; historical precedent for the course I suggest. It is worth putting on record that, in 1803, a. somewhat similar transaction took place when the United States of America purchased Louisana from Napoleon. They bought that magnificent area of over 1,000,00.0 square miles in the Mississippi Valley for a mere 15,000,000- dollars.. That was, a most remarkable acquisition- of territory for so small an outlay. The United States of America, in 1821,, purchased Florida from Spain, another example of the transfer of sovereignty in return foa- a cash consideration.. In 1.848, the United States of America purchased a part, of New Mexico, and a part, of California from Mexico.. In 1S67’, the- United! States of America purchased! Alaska horn Russia. That was; ai particularly significant transfer of sovereignty. The United States of America bought that vast,, icy waste, amounting to 5900000.00 square miles, far ^,2.00^,00.0 dollars. We might find, a parallel between the geographical relation of Alaska to the United States of America, and that of Dutch New Guinea to Australia!.. If we could huy Dutch New Guinea we should then have possession, of the whole of New Guinea,, a vast island which spreads like an umbrella over the north of Australia,, and which is, of immense strategic importance to this country. ^Extension. o.f time
I ask honorable members to consider a statement wade: by that great historical figure, Nehru, Prim; Minister’ «£ India, who visited the. United State® of America last. year. la the course of am address to.. Congress^ *h& said -
What the world! to-d*, perhaps lacks, most is understanding and appreciation of eac] other among nations, and peoples.
That is; a; simple but; pungent remark. I submit, that h© was- not making a simple generalization, but was suggesting that there was a lack of understanding and appreciation of the problems that face the eastern nations in their dealings with the western world. As a preliminary to taking part in world affairs, we should attempt to understand and appreciate the enormous and complex problems that confront our neighbours in the very near north. The problems of the South-East Asian nations fall under three heads. In the first place, the peoples of those countries occupy one of the most thickly populated areas in the world. They number more than a thousand million persons and, despite a very high death rate, despite disease, pestilence, wars and floods, the population is increasing at an enormous rate. One day we shall have to face the problem of where the surplus people are to settle. Secondly, we must recognize that the forces of nationalism are rampant in Asia. We are witnessing what is, perhaps, the most vital and significant fact in the history of the Twentieth Century, the awakening of Asia. Some people fear and hate that fact, and say that we should attempt to frustrate the efforts of the people of Asia to achieve national independence. I believe that we should welcome their awakening as an inevitable occurrence, and try to win the friendship and cooperation of the Asian peoples. That brings me to the third basic fact that Ave should attempt to realize; that is, the grinding poverty and grim misery which are the constant companions of the unfortunate people of so large a part of Asia. Let me give one illustration from India where living standards are so low as to be almost inconceivable to us. It has been calculated that the national income of India is just sufficient to feed two-thirds of the people on the lowest and coarsest and least nutritious diet, with no allowance at all for housing, clothing, or recreation. That is an alarming state of affairs. We may well ask what happens to the other third of the population. The answer seems to be that they do not live; they just die. In India, the expectation of life for the average male is 27 years. In Australia, it is 63 years. A great many Indians die just when they should be in the prime of their youth. Can we do anything to help the people Of Asia to solve their problems? We can do very little to help them in the economic sphere. The task is too great, and it would be beyond our resources to render any effective aid. However, we could give them technical and mechanical assistance, even though it might be only of a token nature. Our own needs are great, but it should bc possible to send experts and technicians to train the people of Asia in improved methods of agriculture. We might also provide some machinery. We could help in the organization of medical services, of hospitals, maternity centres, dispensaries, &c. We could provide scholarships to enable people from Asian countries to come to Australia to train themselves in Our technical colleges and universities, When they returned to their own countries they would be emissaries of goodwill. They would be living symbols of the help that Australia was offering to their countries. There might also be more contact between Australia and South-East Asia on the level of the people. Contact on government level is necessary, but we should go below that, and get to the people themselves. 1 suggest that we should send abroad commercial and sporting delegations. The thought occurs to me that one method that we could employ to let the people of India and Indonesia learn to know and understand the kind of people we are and to come to the conclusion that perhaps we are not so bad after all, would be to send a couple of football teams to those countries. If two teams were selected from the electorate of Fawkner, perhaps the association team of Prahran and the adjoining league team of St. Kilda-
– That would not be football.
– The Australian code is the game in which a football is used.
– They would murder the umpire.
– Those two teams would represent Australia, and, naturally, they would play the Australian code of football.
– What about rugby league?
– Who said rugby was football?
– T have been horrified to discover that the national game of football is not played in Canberra.
– Of course it is !
-Order! I ask the honorable member for Fawkner to devote his time to international affairs.
– My suggestion that football teams should be sent to India and Indonesia in order to allow the people of those countries to see the kind of people that we are, is worthy of consideration. I see that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis), who is in charge of the House, is most interested in the proposal. To make the delegation of footballers complete, it would also be necessary to select a number of barrackers and from the experience that I had last year, I suggest that they could be obtained from North Melbourne.
– Hear, hear !
– Order ! I have asked the honorable gentleman to leave the subject of football, and to discuss international affairs. The House is considering a serious subject.
– Mr. Speaker is the umpire’.
– I realize that.
– The gentlemen of thu press can play a positive part in strengthening goodwill between Australia and our near neighbours. Newspapers should treat international affairs with a full sense of their responsibility, because they have an obligation to this country, and, indeed, to the peoples of the world, to give us as much information as possible about our neighbours and their problems. 1 notice with pleasure that some newspapers in Melbourne have recently been showing an interest in those problems, and have been giving us first-hand accounts from some of the countries in the near north of Australia. I may be at variance with some honorable members in suggesting that we should approach the subject of world affairs in a modest manner, and should not endeavour to settle all the international problems. Because of our limited resources and our position, we should concentrate our efforts among our near neighbours, and strengthen, to the best of our ability, the goodwill and understanding of those people. Perhaps the time will come when we shall need their friendship.
– I have been in politics long enough to know the kind of speech that is expected from a new member, but I am afraid that I have been in politics so long that I do not think that I can attempt to make it. For that reason, I ask forgiveness of the House in advance. If I transgress too far, I shall not expect to receive any protection other than that which is always afforded by the Chair.
I feel that, at this stage of the debate, one cannot introduce any new matter, but can only highlight and perhaps summarize some of the principal arguments that have been adduced. Before doing so, I should like to inform the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mullens) that I am the proud possessor of at least six old school ties, and am very proud to wear them. One of them, I understand, is the same old school tie as that which the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Attlee, is entitled to wear. The honorable member for Gellibrand will probably be very jealous of my qualification to wear another of the ties, because it is that of the Greasy Point “ push “ from the waterfront at Williamstown - the platoon of which I had the honour to be a member in the first Australian Imperial Force. It is not what a man wears but what he is, and what he does that counts.
I have been most interested in the various speeches that have been made in this debate, and particularly the contributions by honorable members opposite. I shall briefly mention four of them. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who, of all honorable members opposite, has been a persistent fighter all his life, appeared on the floor of the House as the dove of peace with the olive branch in its beak. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) still dwelt on a man’s past, and not on his present, when he was discussing the leader of a very young nation that is not far from Australia. I. believe that the person who never changes his mind has probably never had a mind to change. Therefore, we must do as the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) did, and accept that man as the President of the United States of Indonesia, and also accept his protestations that he is a democrat, until there is proof to the contrary. The honorable member forFremantle (Mr. Beazley), in a well-considered discourse on events in Europe, gave the House many matters for thought. But when he dealt with Burma he said that we must restore stability in that country and omitted the formality of telling us how that should be done. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock) promptly whispered in my ear a thought that had also occurred to me, namely, does he expect us to grow rice in the Riverina as food for the Burmese? That proposition, of course, is utterly impossible. The right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) delivered a learned and excellent discourse, but he reminded me of the displaced actor who gazed from the “ gods “ upon the stage on which he had recently played a prominent part. Very humanlike, he felt that he would like to be there again. All of us probably would have a similar feeling if we were in the same position. The right honorable gentleman is now on the outside, looking in, and he may have come to realize that his first love has been unfaithful to him, because the United Nations, when it was faced with the real problems of the world, was not any more effective than its predecessor, the League of Nations, had been. To me, those four speeches were full of interest, because four of the leading members of the Opposition who made them advocated different policies.
Before I express my views about Australia’s foreign policy, I should like to comment on a statement that was made by the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Graham) last week. He said that he could understand an ex-prisoner of war hating and wanting to shoot every Japanese that he found about the place. I want to say definitely that I do not hate the Japanese. I do not hate any man because the pigmentation of his skin is not pink. I have fought shoulder to shoulder with practically every race from Mecca to Mukden. I was even escorted by a Japanese battle cruiser when the first convoy left Australia in the first world war. One cannot hate in that sense. In fact, my mind goes back to a hospital ship in the Yellow Sea in September, 1945. We were leaving Manchuria, and our thoughts were very mixed. Perhaps they may be best summarized in the following lines: -
Fierce hatreds have been bred by war,
No love is won but at some cost,
The peace, the world has sought before,
So rarely found - so often lost. -
Will not be kept by pride and greed,
By laziness or endless talk,
By sneering at a lesser breed,
Or laughing at his ape-like walk.
We cannot build anything on a foundation of hatred, and 1 do not believe that any ex-prisoner of war really hates the Japanese. But we have learned a great deal about them. I expect that we have learned as much as, or more than, most Western people have learned in the same time about an oriental race. Europeans have great difficulty in understanding orientals, and, therefore, any views that we have are based on the knowledge and understanding that our experiences have brought to us, and not on hatred or any feeling of racial superiority. Those who have been through two wars and escaped more or less unscathed are not seen in the role of sabre rattlers. We who had fought in World War I. reckoned that we had a fifty-fifty chance when we went to the second world war, and I do not know what our chance would be in a third world war. Of course, none of us desires such a catastrophe to befall the world. However, I feel that those experiences give us a greater sense of realism and a better right to talk on subjects of this kind than many other people possess. We realize that, in diplomacy, words must be carefully weighed, yet sometimes we must be frank and firm, particularly when dealing with Eastern races, unless we are to be placed in the position of losing “ face “, which is the greatest crime that is known in the Ear East. Loss of “ face “ is something that a westerner understands sometimes, but nothing like to the same degree as the oriental. We should be firm and frank, as the Minister and other people, including myself, have been, towards Indonesia with respect to New Guinea, but we should try to be frank without being unnecessarily offensive. Unfortunately, the honorable member for Melbourne, who did excellent work as Minister for Immigration, spoilt .a good deal of it by “ bull in the china shop “ diplomacy. I might not have disagreed with some of his ideas, but I disagreed with his methods. Sometimes it is advisable to forget the lesser in order to gain the greater, and, unfortunately, individual actions by the Minister aroused in the Far East, and among the races with whom we desire to be on friendly terms, a great deal of enmity.
– That was aroused by the press.
– I realize that the honorable member for Melbourne did not arouse that enmity intentionally, but we all must guard against a repetition of that mistake. In this respect I would appeal for an alteration, not of our immigration policy, but of the name “ “White Australia policy”, for the simple reason that to supersensitive young nations in the Far East, the adjective “ white “ is offensive, although the immigration policy itself is not offensive to them. Those people believe in “ China for the Chinese “, and “ India for the Indians “, but they do not talk about a “black India “ or a “ yellow China “. If we do not understand their viewpoint we sometimes rush in where we should tread very lightly.
I join with other honorable members on both sides of the chamber who have congratulated the Minister for External Affairs on his clear, comprehensive and detailed review of the international situation. His speech was studied and thoughtful. It might have been, as the honorable member for Melbourne said, a replay of an old piece. Perhaps some of it was like the speech that the right honorable member for Barton made in February, 1949, but the honorable member for Melbourne knows how statements on international affairs are compiled. Whether or not his criticism was just, there was a good deal of original material in the Minister’s speech, and the subjects that really mattered were highlighted and put in a perspective where they could not be missed. The points that he brought out differed entirely from the speech that was made by the right honorable member for Barton in 1949. The Minister outlined the short-term policy, and the longterm policy, the aims, ideals and objectives, and many honorable members on both sides of the chamber will agree with the views that were expressed by him. I not only agree with the honorable member for Curtin (Mr. Hasluck) that there was a note of realism in the statement on foreign affairs, but I go further and say that there was need for considerably more than that. There might be even more realism than the Minister has displayed. We want not one note of realism, but the whole keyboard of the piano of realism played in crescendo. Four years after VP Day - four years in which the Labour locusts have eaten so ravenously that not a vestige of the verdure of security remains in Australia - we are still inclined to become fat with luxurious living. We are too inclined to want to go back to the false paradise in which we lived before the last war struck us. Although wc want to support the United Nations, to back it up to the hilt and hope that it will succeed, we must realize that there is no difference between the League of Nations with America a non-member and the United Nations with Russia as a member but exercising the power of veto. The right honorable member for Barton expressed that very view in somewhat similar words last week. On the subject of action the Minister’s speech was vague, discursive and uncertain. That was only natural for it is very difficult to act in international affairs. The recent British Commonwealth Conference at Colombo was a great success yet the foreign ministers for Britain and France said last week that neither had yet been approached by the Australian Government in relation to the decisions that were taken there. A conference of the big three nations is to be held in London next month. That is to be followed by a conference in Canberra next May. Conference, conference, conference; talk, talk, talk! What we need is action. Notwithstanding the lugubrious outlook of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who has said on the one hand that we cannot trust communism and on the other that if we do not tie world must come to an end! because’ it cannot reach agreement on the atomic bomb’, we must act’ iri’ the Pacific sphere. I believe that the Minister should1 have gome om to America immediately after the- conclusion of the Colombo conference to discuss with Am en-can- officials1 on a high level how far America is pore-pared to allow us to co-operate in the defence of the Pacific and ian the making of the Pacific pa ft of non-aggression about which the Minister has spoken.. Our representatives who. go to America should be conscious of our relative’ importance. They should not adopt the attitude of ona of our representatives whom I heard declare at a meeting in New York,, “ I speak with the voice of 8,000.00* people”. When he. made, that statement the thought came to me that the population of Australia represented only one-half of the population of the city in -which, ha waa then standing. Time- may he of the essence of the contract, even though time is. of no consequence to tha- Chinese-. They are not slaves of. the dock.. But the sands’ in the Pacific hour glass ara fast running out against us. At the. minimum wa probably have six years, and. at the. maximum ten years, in which to prepare. We ara not at the moment in danger of. being swamped by any other nation,, hut we. ara in danger of having ta face: up to. a further series of minor “Munichs” in South-East Asia and along the Asiatic coast unless we come to an, understanding with. America about how far the. Communists shall be allowed to go-.
– That is, as- an armed force?
– Yes.. It is a tragedy that Gauntries which throughout their history had never been united: except under British rule - countries- like Burma - the land1 of rice, rubies- and unfortunately revolution - haves gone back to chaos- and1 are’ threatened1 not by the paternal imperialism of the British,, but by the1 savage imperialism of the Russians. Set us compare: tha position of- Australia to-day with its position in 3939! w/hem we- were opposed! Do- be OUt cm th<e end. ofl a limb. In 1939. there was ai continuous chain of colonies1 or friendly powers and dominions between Australia and tha Mediterranean. To-d!#y, Arab faces: Jew in am uneasy peaces Pakistan and India- are> at loggerhead’s to such an extent that India- will not sell coal- te Pakistan, which has. to obtain its requirements from South Africa. Bunna is in chaos, Malaya, is at the- mercy of the terrorists. A new and unstable United States’ of Indonesia has been established.. Evens Rabaul, as has been said recently; has been visited by five plagues in the last twelve years - the volcanic eruption^, the Japanese, invasion, the Allied bombing; a visitation of giant snails,, and last; but by no means least,, the town planning- scheme, of tha Department of Works and Housing. If we-, were out on a limb in 1939,. we are no,w so far out Oil it that- we are hanging on by the last autumn leaf. We are. certainly in. such an unenviable’ position- that every Australian,, once he realizes, it, wishes to change it- Wa are nata Pacific power. We might be, we, could be, and wa shall be if we. do what we should, do. As- the Minister has said,, we cannot escape, our geography. As the only western nation in the Par East clime, a tremendous responsibility has been cast upon. us. Wa also cannot escape- our history.. In. the past we have always, been protected and sheltered by others. Britain is. still willing to. come to our aid. (Extension, of time granted.”] Only when we wake up to these, facts, shall we be able to play our. proper part.. Our Love for our kith and ‘kin has not altered, but what could Britain do to assist us in the event, of aggression;?.’ Not only because one-half of my family is American, hut also for every reason, that other honorable- members, have advanced, we must eventually in this issue, become indirectly that forty-ninth State of the United. States of America about which we used te joke with the Americans in days, gone by.
Reference: has been, made: during this debate to the treaty of peace, with. Japan. On; WE Bay Australian prisoners, o-f war felt that it was not worth while.- going into Japan for 2o> hours, much less 25 weeks or 2» months,, unless we were prepared! to stay there foa- 2a years- a>nd re-educate two generation of the Japanese people. In- t&e discussions relating to* the- terms of the treaty of peace with Japan America must have the major say. We may advance our views, but we cannot expect to be allowed to dictate the terms of the treaty., If the honorable member for Gellibrand will not object to a quotation of the words of another person who wears the old school tie, may I quote the words of a headmaster of one of our famous English schools ? They are these -
Every nation in the world to-day must follow three principles. First, it must be strong enough to command respect. Secondly, it must be wise enough to work for world peace. Thirdly, it must be generous enough to share and not to monopolize this world’s goods.
When I heard the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) make that terrible appeal to the mothers of Australia recently - the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) would regard it as an indication that he has an oedipus complex - it sent a cold shiver through me. Honorable members on this side of the House ask the diggers and the sons of diggers, “Do you intend to allow your mothers, wives, sweethearts and daughters to be at the mercy of any one who wants to come here merely because, in the words of the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) during the general election campaign, we have not the time to prepare to prevent it, or because we want to continue to devote as much time as we can to dog-racing, horse-racing, football and cricket?” I would remind the honorable member for Watson that he has never been behind a bamboo palisade, behind barbed wire on the inside looking out, and felt that he could have done something more to prevent his country and his people being in the position in which they were then placed. Had the honorable member been placed in such a position he would have realized that bis speech in the debate on the AddressinReply was a tragedy. Although we may be a small nation of only 8,000,000 people, we can at least accept our share of responsibility for the preservation of the peace of the world, uphold our ideals and gain sufficient strength to command the respect of other nations. We should be wise enough to work in co-operation with the United States for the preservation of world peace. Although we want to help the United Nations we must- realize that that body cannot be relied on to protect us if there should be a clash of world powers. Honorable members should say to the British Commonwealth at large, “ We are the representatives of the British Commonwealth in this part of the world. We shall endeavour to make Canberra the Downingstreet of the Pacific. Despite what the honorable member for Gellibrand has said we shall endeavour to establish the finest possible team of diplomats who will learn the history and customs of the races of the East so that we can begin to know and understand the peoples who live near us “. We should not scatter diplomats all over the world. We should select them carefully and appoint them to the posts to which they are most suited. Only recently an Australian diplomat with wide experience in China was transferred to France. Previously, Australia had been represented in China by a professor who, during the period of his assignment to that country, was seldom in it. That is not good enough. It is very difficult for us to know and understand foreign races. I love the Chinese coolies because, like many other former members of the Eighth Division, I owe my life to them. I have lived for a month with Russian soldiers. I have mixed with the Manchus and the Formosans, as have several other honorable members. At times it is difficult for us to understand the motives that actuate Asian people and their leaders. I make an appeal to all honorable members who desire to preserve freedom for themselves and their country. My mind goes back to the time when I regained my freedom -
Freedom ! The image in the mind,
Distorted by the poor, purblind
And foolish folk, who do not know
The substance from the shadow show.
Those who have lost their freedom understand what freedom means. There are at least five or six honorable members in this House who, I am sure, will agree with me. Do not let us have a false idea of freedom. Do not let us think that somebody will protect us when we do not do anything to protect ourselves. Let us work on the three principles that I have enunciated. Then will this country, which we all wish to see advance and which we all love so well - there have been five generations of my family living in it, and probably others have more - will stand at the dawn of the Elizabethan era of its development, and will be able to welcome the destiny which is approaching it and to fulfil that destiny in a manner in which we all wish to see it fulfilled.
– 1 think all honorable members will pay tribute to the ability with which the honorable member for Chisholm (Mr. Kent Hughes), who has just resumed his seat presented his case and to the depth of feeling which characterized his remarks. It is important to note that general agreement has been expressed in this debate on certain basic aspects of our foreign policy and that a thread of understanding has run through practically all speeches. I feel that it will augur well for the ultimate foreign policy of Australia if this understanding can be deepened and brought into continuous play by the appointment of a committee on foreign affairs, on which honorable members may be able to devise means for the development and defence of Australia.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) said that he thought it was a pity that the scope of the Minister’s statement, and therefore of this debate, was so wide. He said it was rather difficult in the time at our disposal to bring forward any series of facts which might be of real value. I sympathize with that opinion, but I feel that the Minister would have done less than justice to himself and to this House had he not presented, at the beginning of his ministry, as complete and comprehensive a survey of world affairs as it was possible for him to propare. We .must endeavour to adjust ourselves to that circumstance. Whilst it is desirable to define specific issues of foreign policy for the purpose of discussing those matters in the fullest possible detail, it is also necessary for the- House to avoid concentration upon one point to the exclusion of that complete picture, without which we cannot obtain a full understanding of world affairs. There is a danger that in becoming specialized, as medical men tend to become specialized to-day, we shall know every thing about one disease and forget that health is found in the complete human body.
Whilst I agree generally with the. statements placed before the house by the Minister, I find that I cannot extend unqualified approval to what the honorable gentleman has put forward. Bound up with his statement is what has been called the Spender plan, and I have grave doubts about the extent to which that plan is practicable. The honorable member for Chisholm has put forward most cogent and practical reasons why Australia should not disperse its activities and its man-power and brain-power too widely over the world at this stage of its development, and why we should concentrate on the job at hand, which calls for the exercise of every capacity that we may possess. There is a remarkable difference between the distribution of world power at present and at the commencement of World War II. When World War II. commenced there were at least six great powers - not all equal, but still great powers - exercising a strong influence on the world’s affairs. When the war ended there were, unfortunately, but two great powers in the fullest sense of the term; they were the United States of America and Soviet Russia. That is the position which confronts us at the present time. We might like to believe that Australia can strut on the world’s platform with all the appearance of a great power. We might like to believe, if we wish, that the British Commonwealth is as strong as it was after the first world war, but if we are honest we shall face the facts.
When we consider the Asiatic problem we find that the infiltration of Russian communism into the East is not so much the cause as the occasion of what has happened there. If we look at those nations which have lived during the decay of their own systems under intolerable conditions of overcrowding and disease we find that they have become ripe for the kind of thing that communism offers them. I agree with honorable members of the Opposition that Russian communism is being used by certain Chinese for the removal of conditions which are intolerable rather than for the institution of a system that may be better than their own. But there is always a chance that some person, having settled as it were on the property, may be difficult to shift and even though that may not be uncomfortable for the Chinese it may be exceedingly uncomfortable for ourselves. The population figures of southeastern countries make interesting reading. They are -
Of the above areas, there is actual fighting against Communist forces in Vietnam and Malaya. Areas in. which there have been recent isolated) civil commotions are. Sarawak, Indonesia, India and Pakistan . In Burma there is serious, and general civil commotion. Ceylon is. the only area in which there is civil stability, and it is the second smallest of the countries that I have listed. That ia an aspect of the situation which I think the honorable member for Chisholm had in mind when, be referred to what assistance, we could give to eastern nations at the present time. I think that an honorable member a£ the Opposition also said that any assistance we could give at. the present time would be of such a nature, that it would not affect, the progress, of. communism. I agree with, that statement. For that reason, Australia should realize what are the hard facts of tires situation1 when determining its foreign policy in regard to’ South-East Asia and other parts3 of the world1. We are a nation- of S $09,00® people who occupy an area as- great as- that of the United Stages of America. We- have large- unascertained natural resources in this great continent. The average Australian 6%es net fully appreciate the nature1 of the heritage- that’ is! held1 By 8,000,000 people. We- claim dominion over islands! m the north ama” Opposition members have suggested &at’ we should buy Dutch New Guinea. Australian material1 resources” and1’ Australian intellectual and business capacity should be thrown into the development of this country urgently. Time is running against us and I am glad that this Parliament has seen fit to have these addresses broadcast so that the urgency of the position may be brought home to the Australian people. Every word that was said recently in this House to the effect that Australia is simply playing around with industrial disputes and with problems that are hindering our development at the present time, is true. Time and history ore rushing, against us with irresistible force. We should not waste our resources upon adventures of a kind that will simply raise in the hearts of those unfortunate peoples- hopes that cannot be fulfilled. If we offer to grant them benefits and then let them down, we shall engender in them a bitterhatred towards ourselves that will spread and rankle under the pressure of the misery that they will continue to suffer. Australia should not be paraded as a sort of Father Christmas that can give unlimited assistance to the peoples of Asia. We should concentrate upon the development of *oar own country in the realization that, if we build a strong nation inthe shortest, possible space of time, weshall, howell equipped to oh est- the demands that will he imposed upon ms if we grehurled into another conflict, which. I pray that <3i©d may forbid. We should makefull use of. all our natural resources and’ expand both primary and; secondary industries; so’ that Australia may be a fortress; audi a storehouse from. which ourallies, maty be able to draw the. food and’ secondary equipment that, they will need.
I do1 not agree entirely with the’ views (slat were expressed by th& honorablemember for Chisholm about the. situation of the1 British Commonwealth of Nations. In< my speech during the”. Address-in-Reply debate; I expressed: the opinion! that theBritish Commonwealth could still) Be strengthened’ and restored Se- the; statusof a1 great- worM power.. The> Empire has vast resources «6 its command. Great Britain) is> se gnat industrial nation, Australia is1 only just Beginning” to> tap itSnatural wealthy New Zealand has a> con.siderable capacity for1 developmeintz and Canada, possesses! ®a© <s£ the. world’s great– es* oil-fields, wMc* waa; discovered a# ai lime when experts considered that oil reserves were rapidly petering out. Even if the other members of the Commonwealth cannot bring themselves to join wholeheartedly with us, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand can stand solidly together in support of a common policy on international affairs, a policy that has been lacking during the last four or five years. We must not again neglect such opportunities to strengthen the Empire as were allowed to pass while the previous Government played around with that nebulous body, the United Nations, in whose affairs unity appears to have no part. We can make Australia once more an integral part of a great combination of nations, capable of standing beside the United States of America against the rest of the world, if we devote our energies to the reinforcement of the British Commonwealth and place that necessity first in our foreign policy. By reinstating the Commonwealth in its former position, we can establish a balanced condition in the world that will not exist while the United States of America and Soviet Russia remain as the only great powers. Balance is life. When balance is destroyed life is destroyed, and when balance in international affairs is destroyed the lives of nations are destroyed with it. The populations of the principal members of the British Commonwealth are as follows: -
Those figures show that there are two Britishers in the British Isles for every white Britisher elsewhere in the world. But the balance is shifting ! The increase of our population by the immigration, not only of Britishers, but also of foreigners who adhere to British culture and customs, deserves from this House a degree of attention that it has not received in the past.
I have frequently advocated the establishment of a council of the British Commonwealth consisting of senior Ministers from the respective member countries. The United Kingdom already has a Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. [Extension of time granted.] Every country in the British Commonwealth should have a Minister empowered to concentrate his attention upon matters affecting Commonwealth relations and joint policies. One important duty of a council such as I have in mind could be to deal with Empire tariff problems. I do not suggest the introduction of free trade between the Commonwealth countries ; that would not be practical politics. However, the member nations should enjoy that degree of freedom amongst themselves which exists between the Federal Government of the United States of America and the governments of the States of that great republic, or even between the component States of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Our allies in the United States of America should recognize the fact that the British Commonwealth is just as much a national unit as are the States of the American Union. They are entitled to treat tariff rates and exchange rates within the Commonwealth as matters of their own exclusive concern. There would be some chance of establishing stability in the world if we could secure recognition of that right and establish a common policy for all British nations. Under such a system^ Australia would cease to be merely a* small nation of 8,000,000 people. No longer could it be regarded as an unofficial State of the United States of America. It would be an integral part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I realize that the honorable member for Chisholm was probably speaking in jocular vein when he suggested that Australia should occupy the role of an American State, but this is not the time for joking about such matters. We face the greatest crisis in our history. Much as I admire and respect the United States of America, J cannot contemplate with equanimity even a light-hearted suggestion that the British Commonwealth of Nations should be dissolved. I say that while having full regard for the great work that the United States of America did in assisting us during the war and for the magnificent contribution that it has made to world reconstruction since hostilities ended. I sincerely trust that this Government will see its way clear to urge the establishment of a council of Ministers, not merely a committee of High Commissioners, the object of which should be to repair and strengthen the fabric of the British Commonwealth. It may be suggested that it would be unpractical to appoint a Minister for Commonwealth Relations as well as a Minister for External Affairs, but I point out in reply that the United Kingdom Government has considered it advisable to adopt such a policy. Why, therefore, should we not do likewise?
I have spoken critically of the United Nations, but I should not like it to be thought that I wish to witness the disappearance of an organization that may be able to foster a better understanding between the peoples of the world and that may tackle successfully some of the lesser problems of international relationships. We should consider the situation of the United Nations from a realistic standpoint. Those of us who witnessed the birth of the League of Nations and its unfortunate end, and who recall its lamentable history notwithstanding such useful work as it did accomplish, cannot fail to regard with apprehension the claim that has been made that the United Nations can be used as a sort of perambulator in which the nations of the world can be wheeled along to a nursery in which they can learn to be great and good. With the late Sir Thomas Bavin, I was a foundation member of the League of Nations Union in Sydney. Later I became Minister for Education in New South Wales, and, in that capacity, with the aid of my officers, I pressed for the education of children in the ideals of the League of Nations. At the very time when our children were sending goodwill messages to children in Japan, Germany and Italy, the hard-boiled dictator? in those countries were laughing up their sleeves and preparing the slug with which they hoped to knock the world to pieces. I do not want anything like that to happen again. I consider that I, personally, wa9 culpable in aiding the training of children in New South Wales to hold the view that, if people merely wished for peace, they could be assured of peace without having
Ifr. Drummond. to fight for the ideals upon which peace is based. When World War II. broke out, I was told that innumerable young teachers and others were disloyal to Australia because they would not co-operate in training ‘for the defence of the nation. They were not disloyal. The simple truth is that they had been mentally and morally disarmed. For ten years or more they had been taught to accept the theory that worthwhile objectives could be achieved by wishful thinking and mental laziness. They were not capable at first of grasping the idea that they must fight in order to preserve their ideals. However, when they did grasp that fact,- Australia’s stocks rose throughout the world. I do not want such tragic mistakes to be repeated as the result of a tendency to mental inertia and lack of realism in our young people. I trust that Australia will continue to support the United Nations; but that our people will be told plainly that the organization is merely an aid to the establishment of better international relationships and that they must display energy and enterprise in dealing with their own problems in the international field if they are to be capable of defending Australia and gaining the respect of other nations.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Chifley). adjourned
– by leave - Mr. Speaker, for some time past the Communist leaders on the waterfront have been developing a technique which has come to be known as the “ rolling strike “. Their scheme is to stage a number of strikes, each of them appearing comparatively small in itself, but having in total the cumulative effect of dislocating and delaying shipping generally. This is having most serious consequences, which -are no doubt very gratifying to the Communists who are the enemies of national prosperity, but it is intolerable to the people of Australia who have a vital interest in the continuity of shipping both interstate and to other countries, notably Great Britain, whose economic recovery is so rauch involved in the prompt loading of cargoes in Australia and also their delivery. In order that honorable members may realize how grave this problem is, I need only tell them that information just received indicates that whereas the total number of freight tons shipped from the United Kingdom to this country in 1949 was 2,000,000, the estimate for the calendar year I960 is 3.100,000 freight tons, a total which includes not only general cargo but also newsprint, motor vehicles, prefabricated houses, railway stock and cement. Many false excuses are put forward for these rolling strikes, but I can illustrate their nature perfectly from what is now happening on the Queensland waterfront. The system known as “ rotation of hatches” was introduced as a war-time measure in Sydney in 1943 following pressure from the Waterside Workers Federation and was extended to a few other ports. It has not been applied to any fresh port since 1944. In ports where the system does not obtain, a stevedore looks over the gangs which have been picked up for his ship, and, in the interests of efficiency, selects the best gangs for the biggest, hatches.
The system adopted in Sydney in 1943 is that men are allotted to the hatches of a ship commencing from the bow in the order in which they are picked up from the labour roster. For example, of five gangs assigned to a ship from the roster the gang at the top of the list would go to ‘Ho. 1 hatch, the second gang to No. 2 hatch, and so on. The Brisbane branch of the Waterside Workers Federation applied in March, 1949, to the Waterside Employment Committee of the Stevedoring Industry Commission for the introduction of rotation of hatches. The application was rejected. The federation - which, be it remembered, enjoys a monopoly control of labour engagement on the waterfront - then appealed, to the Stevedoring Industry Commission. Because, of the behaviour of the representative of the federation on the commission the commission was abolished by the Chifley Government before the appeal was heard. But under the Stevedoring Industry Act 1949, the appeal was automatically continued before the Arbitration Court. The appeal was remitted to the board for a decision on facts. The general secretary of the federation did not seek to adduce any additional facts. The board reported back to the court against the appeal, and on the 20th December, 1949, the court dismissed the appeal. The Waterside Workers Federation could (rave had the matter raised in the court at any time since the 20th December, but it has not done so. It is quite clear that rolling strike tactics were then decided upon as a direct challenge to the decision of the court. I need hardly remind honorable members that the policy of this Government is not to undertake to decide matters which are properly matters for court determination, but to uphold with all the authority at its command whatever decision the court may give. Judge Kirby, the Arbitration Court judge dealing with this matter, said on the 24th February - and I am not talking about last year, but about this year - and he has repeated in court on five subsequent occasions, that the court is available if the Brisbane branch of the Waterside Workers Federation desires to have the decision reviewed. On the 14th March, the general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, Mr. Healy, a well-known Communist, said in court that the Brisbane branch’s policy of resorting to direct action to enforce its claim in the teeth of the decision of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court had the support of the whole federation. On the 15th March, Judge Kirby made an order depriving members of the federation in the port of Brisbane of attendance money in the event of certain breaches of the awards or orders. In the course of announcing this decision, he said -
The men in Brisbane, with the support of the federation, have used their collective industrial strength to attempt to enforce by direct action the claim this court had rejected. It has been made clear time and again to the men and to the federation that this court has always been prepared to consider any further arguments or submissions on the matter if the federation desired to make them….. in the last few weeks I have more than once appealed that the matter be properly submitted to the court and that direct action should be abandoned. These appeals have failed.
Since then, the federation has pursued its chosen tactics. Attendance money has been forfeited in many cases and other disabilities have been imposed. It has been necessary periodically to effect dismissals under the authority of the act. In all these matters Communist officebearers have been instigators and leaders. There can be no doubt in the mind of any reasonable man that the whole business represents a carefully considered, deliberate and damaging attack upon the arbitration system and upon the orderly conduct of Australia’s vital shipping industry. At the present time, twelve ships are tied up in the port of Brisbane. It is estimated that by Monday morning 36 ships will be tied up in that port and the position will be chaotic. It is also clear that the present trouble is not isolated. The rolling strike technique operates at one port after another. The Communists have not chosen to make a general tie-up of ships. But they have thought to confound the public and to frustrate government action by dividing a general shipping strike into a series of individual strikes, in total calculated to have the same ultimate effect. The place of attack and also the individual character of cargoes have alike been cunningly selected. Let me illustrate what I mean. Steel is a vitally important commodity for our basic industries, including the building industry. It is in short supply in Australia, largely because of Communist policy on the coal-fields. In Brisbane one ship, Allara has been waiting for a berth for ten days, with 4,000 tons of steel. A further 10,000 tons of steel are arriving on two other ships. The delay in the delivery of this steel does grievous injury to our country.
The Hamilton cold stores have already exceeded their normal storage. They have about 250,000 boxes of butter in store. The normal intake is 35,000 boxes a week. The storage position is therefore desperate. At the Borthwick Meat Works the storage position is such, and the present intake of meat so substantial, that unless loading is continued the meat works must close by the 6th April. The export of wool is being held up. There are still 25,000 bales not yet shipped from the sale which ended on the 23rd February, though the next sales have already commenced. I said that the effect of this calculated attack upon
Australia has more than a merely local operation. That is true. As a result of delays occasioned by these unlawful tactics Maloja left behind 10,000 boxes of butter. Three other ships left behind them nearly 5,000 tons of general cargo.. Moreton Bay is a fortnight behind schedule, and is already overdue to load 33,000 cases of pears for the United Kingdom. Denman is instituting a new meat service to Hobart. This ship should have left on the 11th March, but has not in fact yet finished discharging, and three killings of meat intended for transport by her have had to be disposed of. I could easily go on with a long list of damaging delays, all of them occasioned by a policy of’ action which no responsible government could tolerate, and which the exasperated people of Australia would not in any event allow a government to tolerate.
Cabinet has given this matter its most earnest consideration. It has decided that if the Communists havedecided once again to fight the Australian people, the Australian people will fight back, and make it clear once and for all that they will not tolerate lawlessness and violent attacks upon the normal processes of peaceful trade and. commerce. We are proposing at an early date to introduce into this Parliament legislation specifically designed to deal with the Communist enemies once and for all. But in the meantime, we shall not allow the position to drift. We propose to use the powers which now exist in Commonwealth legislation to carry thefight to the Communists. We believe that, in so doing, we shall have the support not only of - the public generally, but also of the vast majority of trade unionists who hate communism, and recognize it for what it is, the great enemy of continuous employment, of high living standards and of that system of impartial arbitration which has meant so much to organized labour throughout almost the entire history of the Commonwealth.
Section 30j of the Crimes Act provides that- (1.) If at any time the Governor-General is of opinion that there exists in Australia aserious industrial disturbance prejudicing or threatening trade or commerce with other countries or among the States, he mar make »
Proclamation to that effect, which Proclamation shall be and remain in operation for the purposes of this section until it is revoked.
I have to inform honorable members that this afternoon, upon the advice of the Executive, His Excellency, the GovernorGeneral, has made a proclamation, the operative words of which are as follows : -
Now I, William John McKell, the GovernorGeneral aforesaid, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, am of opinion and do hereby proclaim that there exists in Australia a serious industrial disturbance prejudicing and threatening trade and commerce with other countries and among the States.
The effects of this proclamation are set out in sub-section (2.) of section 30j of the Crimes Act, as follows, and I hope that they will be widely noted : - (2.) Any person who, during the operation of such proclamation, takes part in or continues, or incites to, urges, aids or encourages the taking part in, or continuance of, a lockout or strike -
The people who have inspired this lawless policy, and who are promoting its operation, and who have unfortunately been so placed as to be able to persuade large numbers of decent Australians to follow their advice, are therefore now put on plain notice. The act states in plain terms what can happen to them. So far as the Government is concerned, it will exercise its authority under the act with vigor and complete determination. As I have had occasion to say before, not only here but in other places, therecan be no compromise in a conflict in which, on one side, are law-abiding, sensible, industrious people; and, on the other, a small group of unscrupulous and determined men who apparently feel no allegiance to this country, who seek to strike down its institutions, and whose ultimate object is to produce a chaotic soil in which their detestable foreign doctrines can take root and grow.
It would not be proper for me to conclude this statement without saying this most earnestly to the great body of Australian unionists : “ Know what you are doing, and in what company you are travelling, and by what people you are being led. Do you in your hearts believe that an active Communist in your union is merely a somewhat radical union leader? If that is all he is, no government has any right to touch him, and you have a. perfect right, at your own will, to follow him.” But does any seriously-minded trade unionist believe that that is all the Communist is? Does any honorable member opposite attach such an innocent character to the Communist? Ifhe does, he has little understanding of either communism or of the public temper. The Communists are our enemies because they are against all the things that we stand for - the blessings of religion; the system of parliamentary self-government; justice under the law. It would be the supreme tragedy of Australian industrial history if the trade union movement took its enemies to be its leaders, or made common cause with people who are in every sense, not only strangers, but bitter enemies to the great traditions of Australia’s parliamentary and industrial democracy.
Debate resumed (vide page 1168).
– During this debate, I have heard several eulogistic references to the statement on international relations that was delivered by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender). I have perused the statement closely, and I confess that I have been unable to see anything in it of a striking nature. It is true that the statement covers a great deal of ground, and contains lengthy references to international conferences and a Pacific pact, but those references do not, in the final analysis, mean a thing. It has been claimed, if not in the official statement read by the honorable gentleman, that a Pacific pact would be more important to Australia th.au the Atlantic pact. With that I do not agree.- Whatever the distant future may hold for us in the way of dangers in the Pacific, it can never be denied that the real storm centre in the world to-day is in Europe. Perhaps, in ten, fifteen or twenty years, some of the dangers we now envisage as threatening Australia from the north will become realities; but if, in the meantime, Europe has gone over to communism, or to some radical ideology foreign to democracy, it will not matter much to Australia whether or not there is in existence a Pacific pact. The real centre of civilization for democratic people all over the world is in Europe, including the United Kingdom, and in the United States of America. The essential thing for the western democracies is to remedy in Europe those evils which have encouraged the growth of communism, and which, in the countries behind the Iron Curtain have produced, according to all the evidence, the police state in various countries. Unless Europe is made secure for democratic governments, there can be no safety for people like ourselves. The people of the United Kingdom, with hostile forces poised so close to them, as would be the case if the rest of Europe were lost to communism, would be in no position to help us or any other democratic nation.
I have heard a great deal of talk about communism, and what the Communists have done in Russia and in Central Europe. The fact is that communism has developed in Europe because of conservative action - or inaction - in the past. No one can deny that in most European countries the ordinary people did not receive from governments and from the ruling classes the consideration they deserved. In many European countries, such as Italy, Hungary and Poland, more than two-thirds of the land was held by wealthy absentee landlords. That reflected no credit on those who had guided the destinies of such countries in the past. Such a situation constituted a fertile seed bed for the growth of communism. Indeed, it may be said that the seeds of communism were sown by those persons who are now referred to as rightists, and who fought against every attempt to liberalize the laws for the benefit of the people. There is nor before the Italian legislature a proposal to break up the big estates. Already, thebig estates have been broken up by the Communists in what are known as thesatellite countries of Central Europe. In China, too, the big estates have been broken up by the Communist Government and distributed among the peasants. With great regret I point out that the Christian churches, which had the greatest influence in Europe in the past, did little if anything to ensure that justice was done to landless farmers, and to the poor sections of the community. They never gave any assistance towards righting the wrongs that should have been righted long ago. As the result of that inactivity, or failure to exert the influence that they could have exerted, communism has crept into Italy, France and all the countries of central Europe. It is only in Holland and Belgium that any real attempt has been made to provide land for the people who so badly need it-
Europe remains the immediate and urgent problem of the western democracies, and because the United Kingdom is so closely associated with that work of rehabilitation, and because we are so closely associated with the United Kingdom, it is vital to us that Europe shall be rehabilitated and won back to democratic ideals. Many people in Europe have drifted away from those ideals, and have grasped at straws like the pernicious doctrine of communism. The United States recognizes that fact, and has poured into Europe tens of millions of dollars for the purposes of rehabilitation. The only reward that America can hope to receive for its bounty is the knowledge that it has made a substantial effort to assist the democratic peoples of Europe, and a valuable contribution to the maintenance of world peace. The strain upon American resources in providing sustenance for the people of Europe is unparalleled in history, and, indeed, the assistance is more generous than the recipients could have visualized in their wildest dreams. I emphasize that fact, because the statement is sometimes made that America bus been tardy in dealing with the problems of the Pacific, and in joining with the United Kingdom, Australia and others for the purpose of obtaining a peace settlement with Japan. I hope to deal with that matter later, because we must examine those problems carefully when we speak of the danger of the resurgence of Japan.
I shall not attempt to deal with the economic difficulties of Europe. Some honorable members, particularly many of those who are new to the Parliament, consider that the world’s problems and our own difficulties can be overcome by increasing production. What is the position ? Secondary production in France to-day is 15 per cent, greater than it was before the outbreak of war in 1939, and the production of the agricultural industries of that country is almost equal to the pre-war level, yet production has not solved France’s problems. Overproduction is now occurring in the United States of America, but that country has :”>.000,000 unemployed. The American Government is throwing away 15,000,000 bushels of potatoes, and has sufficient eggs and egg products in store to meet that country’s demands for the next ten years. The production of cotton in the great and prosperous State of Califfornia will be reduced next year to two-thirds of last year’s crop. I mention those few facts only for the purpose of showing that an economic problem exists, quite apart from political, military and strategic considerations. The problems of the world cannot be solved by increasing production unless the commodities can be properly distributed at remunerative prices, and that arrangement cannot be made under the economic conditions which exist as between the rouble area, the sterling area, and the dollar area. That problem seems, at any rate for the time being, to be incapable of solution. I do not say that in years to come, probably in the distant future, it will not be possible to solve that currency problem, but until it is solved, Europe cannot be completely rehabilitated, and the people of the United Kingdom cannot have a full standard of living. The situation in the Pacific is most important, and we claim that other nations should devote their attention to it, but we should bear in mind that the solution of the problem of Europe is vital to the preservation of civilization. Until that problem has been reasonably solved, we cannot hope to stem what has been called the tide of communism in Europe.
I have no doubt that, in a military sense, the Russian armies are capable of walking across Europe to Calais in a short time, but that action would precipitate a world war, and the Soviet is in no better position than the western democracies to bear the strain of such a conflict. The only country in the world to-day that can afford a war is the United States of America, but a third world war might completely demoralize its economy. I believe that the prospects of war recede from day to day. The terrible weapons that have been evolved by science are sufficient to terrify any nation, no matter how aggressive it may be. I do not fear an outbreak of war in Europe, but I do fear the insidious onwards march of communism there. We must always bear in mind that if the Russian Army were directed to advance into Western Europe, it would have the assistance of a substantial fifth column in the countries that it intended to overrun.
Europe has other great problems, oneof the most important of which is overpopulation. Holland, for example, has 4,000,000 people too many, and the population of Italy is increasing at the rate of 200,000 or 300,000 a year. Belgium is also over-populated. Those three countries, in particular, are confronted with the grave problem of what to do with their excess population, and the less populous countries of the world can offer assistance in that direction. The population of the world has doubled in the last 100 years. I refer to that matter briefly because Australians who think principally of the possibilities of the Asiatic situation in the next ten or fifteen years should not overlook the fact that I have already stressed, which is that the first problem awaiting solution is that of Europe. We must, give credit to the United States of America for the form and volume of the aid which it has given, because without that assistance, all hope of saving Europe for democracy would have been lost.
Reference -fas bean made .to the position in China. ‘The AustRaliaa.! Government must .decide whether or not it will recognize “-the self -styled People’s Government of China. Many et ras describe it as the Communist Government <of China. The problem of that country is not new. I often considered that I should have told the House -long ago about the -real .position in China. The facts were known to the late President Roosevelt in 1942, and he sent many envoys, including Mr. Donald Nelson, General Marshall, and Mr. La Guardia to that country from time to time. The administration of the ^nationalist government was completely corrupt. “When I make that statement, I want it to be understood that I am not referring to the Generalissimo himself, but am speaking of the administration of national affairs in China. That administration was so corrupt that the arms which were sent from the United States of America to assist the National Government, in the war against Japan were sold or given to the Communist armies in China. In fact, communism triumphed in China because of the arms which had been sent to that country by the United States of America for the purpose of defending democracy. If time permitted, I could describe to the House what .happened to large quantities of supplies and stores, including >those consigned to Unrra. The Chinese administration -was .prepared to sell, give away or surrender large quantities of goods which America was providing to assist the Allies against Japan.
There can be no question whatever that the only government on the mainland of Ohana to-day is the so-called People’s Government, or the Communist Government. That is the position. The Australian Government has announced that it is not prepared to recognize that administration, -and I can understand that there are many reasons for its decision. The United Kingdom has recognized the Communist government for the :real Teason that British capital amounting to £300,000,000 is invested in China, and the investors want some authority to which they can make representations or to which representations can be made on their behalf. [Extension of time granted.] I shall not pursue that line, because time will not permit me to -do so, and I -desire to refer to other matters. The Australian Government wall inevitably be compelled to recognize some government in China, if only because of the fact (that there are 400,000,000 people in that country. I hope that we shall not be too proud, in the absence of direct representation, to use the representatives of the United Kingdom in ‘China. Of .course, I realize that <our interests in that -country .are not on the same scale as those of Britain.
Extensive references have ‘been made to the spread of communism in Asia, and to the need for a Pacific pact. I express the opinion that the chance of ‘getting a Pacific pact on any concrete terms is remote. It is possible to obtain a pact between Austrafia and New Zealand, and to have some -understanding with the United Kingdom, but it is certain that Canada and South Africa will not be parties to a Pacific pact.. ‘The Minister for External Affairs must know that India Avail not join in any pact while Pandit Nehru and Mr. Patel have any influence with the government of that .country. Pandit Nehru is the most powerful figure in Asian politics, and, indeed, in the Asian world. The attitude of India Has been made -perfectly clear. We can rest assured that whatever -is <done by India will also be done by Pakistan and, perhaps, by Ceylon.
I do not need to deal .at great length with the position in Burma because it was very effectively covered by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). It is said that communism is responsible for all that .has happened in the East, the Ear East and the Pacific Nothing could be further from the truth. The Philippines, which is the only Christian country in the East, was the first to demand, and finally to secure, independence. That country was granted nominal independence in 1946, but the maintenance of its independence is dependent on the United States of America and American investments. The seeds of independence were first sown in the Philippines. .It is no secret that Lord Mountbatten went to India, with the approval of the British Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, to settle the differences between that country and Great Britain. Indeed, Lord Mountbatten had no hesitation in saying that what had caused unrest in India was not the activities of the Communists, but the evergrowing nationalism of the Indian people coupled with the imperative need for an improvement of the economic conditions of that country. In these days a great deal is being said about improving the economic conditions of other countries: but it is being said only after all the damage has been done. Lord Mountbatten would agree that the independence granted to India, Pakistan and finally Ceylon and Burma has emerged from their intense nationalism. These changes were brought about as the result not of the activities, of the Communists but of the upsurge of nationalism. I admit at once that the Communists go wherever there is trouble. They seize every opportunity to fan the flames of discontent and unrest. “We should not fool ourselves about the position that, exists in Indo-China. France is bleeding itself white in the expenditure of money for the purpose of upholding western civilization in Indo-China; but everybody doubts the capacity of the new-old regime there to rally the people to its support. The existing administration in Indo-China does not inspire a. great deal of confidence. It has been reported in the press, which I admit is not a very good authority, that. Pandit Nehru has stated that, he regards the existing set-up in Indo-China as hopeless and that unless it can be improved it will be difficult to avoid extending to that country some form of self-government. Consider the position in Malaya. Unless the Chinese and the Chinese born in that country reach some satisfactory working arrangement with the Malays, the Chinese population will soon exceed that of the native people. I pay tribute to Mr. Malcolm MacDonald for the magnificent work that he has done in Malaya in the face of the most extraordinary difficulties. In India, China and Malaya the workers were grossly exploited by those who were anxious to make big profits. Without question that happened in. India, where for many years 600 princes sucked the economic life-blood of the people. Their activities have, to some degree, been curtailed by Pandit Nehru and Mr. Patel. A similar state of affairs existed in Pakistan. Unquestionably vested interests took all they could from the people of Malaya and gave them nothing in return. That injustice must be remedied.
Let us consider the position that exists in Indonesia. I have been very amused to hear the views recently expressed by the Minister for External Affairs and the Prime Minister on the subject of the Indonesian leaders. To-night I read an extract from a speech that was delivered some time ago by the Prime Minister in which he described Dr. Soekarno as a Communist-Japanese collaborationist. That description was also applied to Mr. Sjahrir, and to Mr. Hatta, who have been friends of Pandit Nehru for many years. In his recent speech on international affairs, the Minister for External Affairs described those gentlemen as moderate people of considerable ability; yet, six months ago, both he and the present Prime Minister described them as Communist-Japanese collaborationists ! The Labour Government realized that 80,000,000 Indonesians could not continue to be governed by 10,000,000 Europeans whose sole interest in Indonesia was to extract from that country as much wealth as they could get and to give in return as little as possible. Unless Dutch administrative experience can be allied with some measure of Indonesian nationalism., there can be nothing but bloodshed in Indonesia. The Government which I had the honour to lead did not take sides in the dispute between the Dutch and the Indonesians. We realized that that was a matter for the Dutch people, the Indonesians and for the United Nations. The. honorable member for Chisholm (Mr. Kent Hughes) has said that as the League of Nations, without the United States as a member, inevitably failed, so also must the United Nations fail while Russia continues to exercise the veto.
– Order ! The right honorable gentleman’s- extended time has expired.
– I should like to move -
That the right honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Chifley) be granted a further extension of time.
-Such a motion would not be in order, as Standing Order 91 provides that no extension of time 6hall exceed one-half of the original period allotted.
– I rise to order. I suggest for your consideration, Mr. Speaker, that the Standing Order which you have cited does not apply to further extensions of time, but only to the first extension. It is surely within the competence of the House to grant the Leader of the Opposition a further extension of time.
– Standing Order 91 clearly states that an extension of time shall not exceed one-half of the original period allotted. That Standing Order was thoroughly discussed by the Standing Orders Committee, at whose deliberations the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke) was present. There can be no misunderstanding of its purport.
– With respect, Mr. Speaker, that is not the point which I desired to make.
– Order! I have answered the point of order raised by the honorable member.
– Should I be in order, Mr. Speaker, in moving that the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the Leader of the Opposition to continue his speech without interruption?
– A motion to suspend the Standing Orders may be proposed at any time.
Motion (by Mr. Holt) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) from concluding his speech without limitation of time.
– I thank the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt) and honorable members generally for their graciousness. I merely desire to conclude my observations on Indonesia. The Labour Government sought to bring about peace and a reasonable degree of harmony in th’at country. We realized that a revolutionary tendency, which might finally lead to the development of communism in that country, would constitute a grave danger to Australia. When I sat on the other side of this House, I said that in the long view - looking 40 or 50 years ahead - it was essential that we should develop reasonably friendly relations with the people of Indonesia. The Good Offices Committee of the United Nations did excellent work in bringing about a settlement of the differences between the Dutch and the Indonesians. As I have said, we did not attempt to take sides in the dispute.’ We merely tried to bring the parties together under the auspices of the Good Offices Committee. I think that we can reasonably claim that as a result of our initiative the United Nations was able to bring about the degree of harmony that now exists in Indonesia. It has been said that the Government of the United States of Indonesia desires to possess Dutch New Guinea. That, surely, is a matter for the Indonesians and the Dutch to settle. Such a claim might well be dealt with .by the United Nations. It has also been said by some irresponsible persons that the Indonesians want to move into the area of New Guinea that we hold. I should most strongly oppose any such move. We should defend that territory with all our might because of its strategic importance to this country. Lord Mountbatten, Lord Inverchapel, and Lord Kilearn all went to Indonesia at different times and were all of the unanimous opinion that nothing could bring peace to Indonesia except some sort of arrangement which would protect Dutch assets and their income earning capacity. When I was in office I always said to the representatives of the Dutch Government that we realized how essentia] it was that Dutch interests in Indonesia should be preserved. After so many years have gone by, I do not believe that I am betraying any secret when X say that the three English noblemen to whom I have referred were unanimously of the opinion that the Dutch would eventually have to grant some form of independence to Indonesia. We initiated the move to refer the Indonesian dispute to the United Nations. The Australian representative on the Good Offices Committee which mediated in the dispute was Judge Kirby, whose name has been mentioned to-night in connexion with another, hut different, disturbance. That Judge Kirby was able successfully to mediate in the Indonesian dispute, but has failed to settle a domestic dispute in Australia, demonstrates how extraordinarily difficult thelatter must be.
It is a grave mistake to attribute to the Communists responsibility for all the disturbances that have taken place in the East. On this point Pandit Nehru said -
If anybody thinks he can stop the spread of radicalism in Asia by guns, soldiers and ships, he makes the greatest possible mistake.
He also said that the only thing that can save the East from some form of radicalism is an improvement in the economic conditions of the people. He said that until that was achieved nothing could happen except, perhaps, a worse state of affairs than existed in the first place. I know we cannot give all the help that we should like to give to these people. They need technical men and, perhaps, plant. They are not so much in need of money. But we could give them something that will win their spirit. They cannot be won by anything we may write because80 per cent. of these peoples - 90 per cent. of the population of some of these countries - cannot read or write. It has to be conveyed to these people that the democracies are anxious to help those who have suffered. In the Chinese quarter of Singapore may be observed the terrible, unbelievable conditions under which the Chinese who form 80 per cent. of the population of Singapore exist. In the hills round Singapore may be seen the mansions of the millionaires, some of which have been built quite recently. When I was in Singapore I said to one man, “ This is dreadful “. He said, “ They have never known anything better”. My reply to that is that all these people are God’s creatures. They may not be able to see eye to eye with us nationally or spiritually, but, they are people of the world. We should give them as much help as we can. They do not want to come into this country. I have spoken to the leaders of these countries and they have stated that they did not want their people to come to this country; but they considered that if their people did come here they should be accorded the same rights as other citizens. That was what the Prime Minister of Ceylon said to me. That is all that he or Pandit Nehru or the President of Indonesia expects. The Minister for External Affairs says that time is short, but the situation that I have described has existed for hundreds of years. We cannot give much assistance because we are only a young country, but what wo can give in the way of technical equipment and educational facilities we should give. By giving it we should render a service to ourselves and to humanity.
.- In supporting the statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) I should like to congratulate the Minister on his comprehensive and realistic presentation of the Government’s foreign policy. It is gratifying to know that an all-party committee will be set up to consider foreign affairs. I think that is highly desirable because foreign affairs involve problems which are far above party politics. It is also gratifying to know that the Minister intends to keep the public fully informed on foreign affairs. This is a move which is long overdue. All too often the public has been left in ignorance of Government policy in foreign affairs. In certain cases, for security reasons, some things must be withheld from the public, but, generally speaking, the people are entitled to know what the Government is doing and what Government policy means. .
I was very interested in the philosophy expressed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr.Chifley) just now regarding the spread of communism in eastern Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and other European countries. He said that it was caused by local conditions. The plain, simple fact is that communism started in those countries because of the presence of the Russian army which presented the people with a fait accompli. I was also interested in the right honorable gentleman’s mention of an alleged statement by Admiral Mountbatten who, he said, blamed nationalism for the spread of communism in India and the Middle East. I think that if the admiral did make such a statement, the right honorable gentleman failed to observe the twinkle in his eye.
– I did not say that in regard to communism.
– It sounded like that to me. I was surprised that the Minister did not mention the Antarctic. There are 5/000,000 square miles of territory in the Antarctic area, and its value for scientific and meteorological research is inestimable. There are tremendous potentialities in the Antarctic for the whaling industry, and if they were exploited, Hobart, which has been recognized for many years as a suitable base for the whaling industry, could be greatly developed. [Quorum formed.] Hobart is only 5,000 miles from the centre of the Antarctic areas. Those area’s if not inexhaustible have tremendous mineral possibilities and they also have considerable value for defence and aviation purposes. As regards defence, the Antarctic at least has a well disciplined army in national service, even if it does consist only of penguins.
In 1947 an Australian expedition established a food depot at Heard Island. Australia claims approximately one-half of Antarctica. France, New Zealand and Great Britain claim quite considerable areas and there has been a more recent spurious claim entered by Russia. In the Sydney Morning Herald of the 11th February, 1949, there appeared the following report:-
The Soviet Union yesterday laid claim to rights in the Antarctic, says Reuter’s correspondent in Moscow. It claimed that the Russians discovered the Antarctic. At a meeting in Leningrad the All Union Geographical Society said that any decision on the control of the Antarctic without the Soviet Union’s participation would have no legal force. Russia, it added, had every right to refuse to recognize decisions taken without Iter assent.
On the other hand, the United States of America has adopted the policy of making no claims in the Antarctic and of recognizing none, pending the establishment of ownership by international agreement. An important factor in the development of Antarctica at present is the race between Argentina, Great Britain and Chile. Already, there are eighteen permanent meteorological stations in the
Antarctic and sub- Antarctic areas. The full importance of this great area cannot be overstressed in view of Australia’s geographical relationship with it.
The fundamentals of foreign policy are world peace, security, co-operation and the establishment of reciprocal trade and the protection of that trade. .If trade agreements cannot be protected by a reasonable show of force they are not of much use. In this connexion the Government’s intentions regarding military training are as important in our foreign affairs as in our domestic affairs. Australia, being a small, but growing nation, must of necessity look to the bigger nations for protection, and so it is necessary for Australia to work in the very closest co-operation with the United States of America. It is incumbent upon all antiCommunist countries in the Pacific areas to unite in an alliance against Communist aggression and infiltration in the Pacific areas. In connexion with the claim of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) that communism and its aggression have been much overstated, I direct attention to the following report which appeared in the Melbourne Herald of the 20th March:-
Would RETURN Kuriles.
Undercover proposals by Russia to hand back the Kurile Islands to Japan and sign an agreement for a huge trade deal between Red China and Japan are being eagerly discussed by the Japanese Foreign Office.
These offers, made on a “ sounding out “’ basis, are part of a vigorous Soviet pre-peace treaty campaign to outbid the Americans for popular favour in Japan.
In the same newspaper on the same day there appeared also the following advice : -
Murder and Outrage by Killer Squads.
Don’t be fooled by Malaya’s use of the word “ bandit “. It is the greatest possible misnomer for the Communist terrorists.
I do not wish to read a lot of quotations, but there is also this heading from the same paper issued on the 22nd of this month, “Vast Aid- Asia Plan to Check Reds “. Hundreds of similar opinions are being expressed in the press to-day and it is quite apparent to any one who has studied recent Pacific events that Communist aggression is almost on our front doorstep. Industrially we may say it is in the kitchen. Yet, it seems to be the simple duty of Communist organizations in Australia blindly to follow the dictates of Moscow. The plan is very clearly outlined in the International, which says -
The present historical duty of the Communist party is to snatch the parliamentary mechanism from the ruling classes, to smash them and to destroy them and substitute for them new organs of proletarian power.
Just as it is important for Australia to work in the closest possible alliance with the United States of America, so is it important for the United States of America and other Pacific powers, including Australia, to work in the closest co-operation with Europe. We should promote common interests and engage in mutual assistance. Unfortunately, as the result of the misapplication of bi-lateral trade agreements, countries are often forced to accept commodities that they do not want. For instance, a. country wishing to purchase wheat may be told by the producing country that the wheat will bo supplied if it buy3 some other commodity as well. The purchasing country may object that it does not want the other commodity, but it is informed that, unless it accepts the condition, it will not obtain the wheat that it wants. Naturally, the purchasing country in that transaction applies the same methods if it has the opportunity to enter into some reciprocal trade agreement. Thus, nations are engaging in mutual plunder instead of indulging in mutual help.
Russia’s influence upon world affairs is the major menace that engages our attention. Is war with the Soviet Union inevitable? That is the question that oppresses the mind of every thoughtful, person in the community. If such a war is not inevitable, at any rate it is an ever-present threat that we must always be prepared to meet. Lenin said that the continued existence of the Soviet republics side by side with capitalist countries was unthinkable. The acceptance of that belief in many quarters has engendered intense class hatred, which has spread throughout the world. Undoubtedly Russia is making a bid for world dominance. Consequently, we must shape our foreign policy so as to meet any possible act of aggression by Russia. In fact, Russia is already at war, economically and industrially, with the democracies. I remind honorable members -of the recent disastrous coal strike in Australia. Full-page advertisements published in the newspapers at the expense of the taxpayers stated quite clearly that the strike had been inspired by the Communists. I agree with that declaration and so do most, if not all, other honorable members. That being so, everybody who took part in the strike was a traitor to Australia because he assisted the Russian plan for the destruction of industry and the sabotage of production. The tactics employed under Russia’s scheme of expansion have been the same for many years. Communists have infiltrated our unions, and one of their well-known slogans is, “ Every coal mine a fortress for the revolution “. We have had many examples of the practical application of that slogan in recent months. One has only to study an uptodate map of the world in order to appreciate the seriousness of the menace of Russian aggression.
In Europe, the Soviet Union already controls Hungary, Albania, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Czechoslovakia and other southern European countries. Yugoslavia, although not a member of the Cominform, is under the dictatorship of the Communist Tito. The Soviet Union also exercises tremendous influence in Italy, France, Finland, and Greece - where civil war has just ended but is likely to break out again at any moment. The frightening truth is that there are 16,000,000 members of the Communist party in Europe and that Russia also has gained a strong foothold in Asia and the Pacific region. It exercises considerable influence, if not complete control, in Mongolia, Manchuria, Red China, Malaya, Siam, Burma, India, Pakistan, Afganistan and Indonesia. Bangkok, of .course, is well known as the centre of Russian intrigue in Asia. The attitude of Communists in countries not yet under their dominion has been made abundantly clear. I remind honorable members of comrade Sharkey’s statement that, if Soviet troops came to Australia in pursuit of an aggressor, the Australian working class would welcome them as they hat! been welcomed by the liberated people of Europe, That statement was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 12th March, 1949. Another method employed by the Soviet Union in its bid for world domination is to breed racial hatred and in this it has been extremely successful in India, Pakistan, South Africa, China and Japan. That policy, considered in conjunction with the ‘ rapidly increasing coloured population of the world, represents a special threat against Australia. The problem is already worldwide. The world can support only a limited number of human beings. Therelore we are faced with two alternatives: either scientists must gradually increase the food producing capacity of the world, or they must work in the other direction, which, though not desirable in principle may be necessary, and establish scientific methods of limiting populations. The plain truth is that the increase of population is rapidly outstripping the world’s food producing capacity. That poses a problem that must be dealt with by every country dispassionately and along the m03t modern scientific lines. The world is being wracked by the struggle between socialism and democracy. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is the proper name for Russia, and the system in operation there is a socialist system. Therefore, for the purpose of this line of argument, the difference between the Communist expansion policy and the socialist expansion policy is negligible.
Mr. Curtin. - Rubbish !
– Surely no honorable member opposite will attempt to deny that the Russian system represents complete socialism ! Whether it be called socialism or communism the result is the same. [Extension of time granted.]
The right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) referred to the United Nations. Unfortunately, the history of the United Nations provides further examples of the ruthlessness of Russia. That organization has been sabotaged by Russia’s abuse of the veto. It has been unable to police its own decisions, and therefore, it has failed as the result of sheer impotence. Although the United
Nations is approved of in principle by every honorable member, the fact is that the organization cannot operate effectively while its membership includes Russia, whose sole objective is to sabotage it. That the world struggle has taken definite shape is proved by the gigantic pincers movement that wa? described by the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Townley). When one studies the extent of Russian penetration through southern Europe and into the Pacific region, the tremendous power that Russia wields to-day becomes abundantly clear. The purpose of its attitude towards the development of atomic weapons is also clear. We still have fresh in our minds the details of the ghastly affair of Dr. Fuchs. the greatest and probably the most successful spy in history, who has done more damage to democracy than any other ten mon have done. We remember the Canadian espionage trials, and we are aware of the vast spy system that exists in Europe. Russia has become the greatest intriguer of all nations. Its programme of expansion must be stopped if democracy is to survive. Australia’s security has been definitely menaced by recent acts of aggression by Russia, whose foreign policy is essentially global in character. Our future well-being depends upon a vigorous, far-sighted, clear-cut, honest-to-goodness good neighbour policy, strong without ruthlessness, and generous and understanding without appeasement.
.- As other honorable members have done, I have listened with a great deal of interest to the various contributions that have been made to this debate on international affairs. The speeches have been particularly interesting because of the various shades of opinion to which they have given expression. They have represented the clarification of national outlook upon affairs beyond Australia’s shores. Even though one may disagree almost entirely with some of the theses that have been propounded, one may at least express the pious hope that something of advantage to the country that we all love will emerge from the discussion. The debate will have been worth while if, as the result of it, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) will be able to gauge the collective mind of this House and to shape the policy of Australia accordingly. Two factors should be uppermost in our minds when -Ave consider foreign policy. First, we should try to avoid self-delusion and, secondly, we should shun any form of wishful thinking. Many honorable members have referred to the desirability of Australia working in efficient concert with other members of the British Com.monwealth of Nations that have interests in South-East Asia and the Pacific region. Because I am a realist, I consider that their thoughts on that subject are mainly illusory. Let us consider the situation in its proper perspective. Every realist must be aware that the great republic of India is to-day fully occupied with domestic problems. Its leading statesmen have declared definitely that they do not propose to become embroiled in any major conflict outside India’s borders. The prevailing state of mind in the Union of South Africa to-day is the same as that which developed immediately after the signing of the peace of Vereeniging, and the spirit of Kruger lives on in the works and words of Dr. Mai an. “We can expect little co-operation from that direction. Canada is allied geographically, economically and, to some degree, by personal ties with the great United States of America. Consequently those of us who are realists are forced to the conclusion that Australia must establish an independent foreign policy in the knowledge that, in a world of armed titans, it is a small nation and must seek to protect itself by the best means at its disposal. Australia, to me and to every Australian, is a great nation, but in the scheme of the world’s affairs it is comparatively small. Whilst Australia’s contribution to the advancement of world affairs in certain spheres has been great, it counts for little when the major policies of the more powerful nations are being considered. The world to-day is divided by conflicting ideologies, and the dominant and positive principle of atheistic communism is threatening to overthrow the free democracies of the world. Against it is ranged the uncertain and vacillating democratic system to which we subscribe. Throughout the modern world all men of goodwill have one clear duty, and that is to express with all their eloquence their belief in the practical value of a sane and sound democracy. Bight through the world’s troubles runs a sinister thread. That is the threat of world domination by one power. It has been said that world communism is a terrible menace and it is quite obvious to all of us that that menace to the world’s freedom originates in the Kremlin. But communism, however, is not the only cause of the world’s troubles. Another cause is the practice of the leaders of Western civilization of playing at power politics. I shall put before the House three major illustrations to prove that point. It was not communism that sold out th-? Polish people at Yalta. Nor was it communism that signed away at Yalta, through the violation of the Cairo Treaty, whatever prospects of success Chiang Kai-shek ever had. It was not communism that sealed the fate of Mihailovitch and the Chetniks ; rather was it the uncertain course pursued by the leaders of the Western world who thought that they could successfully play the game of politics with the tyrant of the Kremlin. As a result of their failure to appreciate the ability of the master strategists of the Soviet States, to-day there is no free Poland, there is a Communist tyrant in power in Yugoslavia, and Australians have reason to bemoan the activities of the “ red “ giant in China. In those three instances it was the playing of power politics by men who had no vision of the future which sealed the fate of the nations that I have referred to, and which paved the way for Communist domination of them.
Reference has been made in this debate to the irresponsible exercise of the veto by Russia in the councils of the United Nations. Examples have been cited of the use of the veto, but too little reference has been made to the valuable work that has been done by the United Nations. It seems graceless that so little reference has been made to the great work of the former Minister for Externa! Affairs (Dr. Evatt) in the councils of the United Nations. That an Australian should have been chosen to be President of the United Nations General Assembly is to the great credit of Australia. In the fields where it was possible for the United Nations to work, that organization displayed great ability under the leadership of the previous Minister for External Affairs. The failure of the Minister for External Affairs to refer in his statement to the great work that was done by his predecessor was somewhat churlish. I now place on record my humble appreciation, as an Australian, of the valuable work that he has done.
I shall not traverse the matters that have disfigured to some extent this debate on foreign affairs, but I shall deal with one particular matter that has been referred to at length, but to one phase of which little attention has been directed. That is the defeat of Nationalist China and the rise of Mao Tse-tung. It has been stated in the press by people who are competent to speak with authority that Chiang Kai-shek is not so capable or so trustworthy as he was formerly thought to be. To-day the ex-generalissimo of China is discredited in the minds of those who formerly extolled him as one of the great saviours of liberty. I remind honorable members of the words of Shakespeare in Mark Antony’s Funeral Oration -
But yesterday, the word of Caesar might Have stood against the world: now lies he there,
And none so poor to do him reverence.
Those words might to-day be applied to Chiang Kai-shek. “We are told that he is the embodiment of the Chinese desire for “ squeeze “, that he is a grafter and that supporting him has been a mistake. That same man was hailed a few years ago as a champion of democracy. I sometimes wonder whether it is as much Chiang Kai-shek’s fault that the Communists are in power in China to-day as it is the fault of those who sold him out at Yalta, by ceding Manchuria to Stalin while the ink was hardly dry on the Cairo Agreement which gave to Nationalist China full territorial rights. It is a travesty of justice that we should to-day condemn Chiang Kai-shek and say that it is only now that we have discovered his true nature. There is another kind of self delusion, which is that the Chinese Communists are probably in a different category from those who dominate Russia. I have before me the history of the men who now direct the destinies of China, and if that is any guide to their future activities then those activities will be along Communist lines. Mao Tsetung is President of the Chinese Politburo, and is a Moscow-trained Stalinist of undeviating loyalty. Lili-San is Mao Tse-tung’s deputy and his closest friend, and is in exactly the same category. LiuShaoChi was deputy president of the Politburo, an old bolshevic, a Communist since 1920 and is a frequent visitor to Moscow. Chu-Teh is the commander in chief of the Chinese army, a loyal Stalinist and a friend of Mao Tse-tung. He is in the same category as the other leaders of China.
All the leaders of China could be named and their histories would give an effective answer to the wishful thinkers who contendthat communism in China is merely a national urge, and is entirely different in practice from Russian communism. When speaking about China, a doubt enters my mind, and must enter the minds of all Christians throughout the world, of what will be the attitude of the Chinese Communists towards the Christian missionaries in China. My mind is filled with apprehension about the future of those Christian men and women who have slaved for years in China, endeavouring to spread the word of God among the Chinese people. Will they be subjected to the persecution which has distinguished the Communist regime in other countries? We should give some attention to the possibilities of terrorist activities against those humble and holy men and women who to-day serve in the Chinese missions. I shall not reiterate the details about other parts of the world that have been put forward during this debate. I shall not refer to Burma, Malaya and other countries because I have no practical knowledge of them, nor do I profess to have any. I merely say that in all those countries to which reference has been made there is marked evidence of the Communist technique. Veitnam was mentioned as a case in point. Malaya to-day is a simmering welter of bloodshed and horror. That is the usual state of a Communist-menaced country. Some idea of what is happening in Asia can be gained by a perusal of the techniques and objectives advocated by the Comintern in 1928. I propose to quote one particular objective in full. [Extension of time granted.] It is a statement of Communist policy in colonial lands, which was first adopted in 192S, and confirmed in 194S. I quote from it as follows : -
The Communist Parties in the imperialist countries must render systematic aid to the colonial revolutionary liberation movement and to the movement of oppressed nationalities generally. The duty of rendering active support to these movements rests primarily upon the workers in the countries upon which the oppressed nations are economically, financially or politically dependent. The Communist Parties must openly recognize the right of the colonics to separation, and their right to carry on propaganda for this reparation, i.e., propaganda in favour of the independence of the colonies from the imperialist State; they must recognize their right of armed defence against imperialism (i.e., the right of rebellion and revolutionary war) and advocate and give active support to this defence by all the means in their power.
The Communists are now applying that policy to the maximum of their ability, and its effect upon Australia may be grave.
I wish to refer now to the spurious claim by Indonesia to Dutch New Guinea. Whilst I have no positive knowledge of the character of Dr. Soekarno, I indisputably accept the evidence in regard to his proclivities that was placed before this House by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell). Just as we cannot trust collaborators and fellow-travellers, so we cannot trust the assurances of Dr. Soekarno regarding the territorial claim by Indonesia to Dutch New Guinea. We should look upon New Guinea as the perimeter of Australia’s defences. Ethnologically and historically, Dutch New Guinea is no part of Java, and the Indonesians have not even a moral claim to it, despite the statement by the Indonesian representative at the meeting of the United Nations yesterday, when he said -
Indonesia is firm on its claim for Dutch New Guinea
Of the population of Dutch New Guinea, other than natives, 204 are Europeans - mostly Dutch - 200 are Japanese, 1,218 are Chinese, and only 500 are Javanese. In the light of those figures, the preposterous claim that Dutch New Guinea should become a part of the United States of Indonesia is shown to be a hollow sham. I trust that either the
Dutch will retain that portion of New Guinea which they now hold, or that it will be administered by Australia under mandate.
I believe it to be true, as has been stated, that our hope of safety lies in establishing friendly relations’ with the Asiatic countries to the north, insofar as that can be done without sacrificing any principle that is held dear by the Australian people. However, in the final analysis, our safety depends upon what co-operation and help we can get from the United States of America. In this connexion, I quote from a profound article entitled, White Australia and South-Ea.il Asia, by D. J. Jackson, who summarizes the position as follows: -
We owe our survival, under God, to the aid of the United States in the recent war, and that we shall be even more dependent on them in the event of another world-conflict involving our security.
This does not mean that we are bound to be “yes-men” to America on all occasions - but it docs suggest that it would be wise for us to base our Pacific policy, once for all, on recognition - and unresentful recognition of her dominant role. If we offer our counsels or criticisms, it should be with tact and not with clamour: and the tone of our responsible leaders towards the United States should be marked at all times by understanding, goodwill and courtesy - regardless of their ingrained ideological prejudices.
I conclude on this note: I trust that, from this debate, and from the welter of opinion that has been expressed, there will emerge a foreign policy which Australia can apply without loss of principle or prestige, and which will make for the development of a happy, contented, safe, prosperous and democratic Australia.
– Some members of the Opposition have suggested that the statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) was too long and too comprehensive. They have claimed that the Minister should have limited his observations to certain defined fields of international affairs. I do not agree. I believe that the first statement of a Minister in a new government should be full and comprehensive. I commend the Minister on his very able statement, and upon the points that he made in defending his policy.
All honorable members of this House, with the possible exception of the honor- able member for East Sydney (Mr. “Ward) will realize that there is only one nation in the world to-day that is responsible for the threat of war. The only time since I have been a member of this Parliament that I found myself in agreement with the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) was when he said that the aim of Russian Communists is world revolution. That is the threat that hangs over us all, and it has been the main theme of most of the speeches that have been delivered in the course of this debate. The fall of China has brought the threat of communism much closer to Australia. It has been regarded as a major Russian victory, but it is early yet to understand the full force and effect of what has happened. One thing, however, is certain. The fall of China has been the direct cause of a change of focus in world affairs from the west to the east. Moscow has reached a virtual stalemate in the West, but is now increasing the tempo of its imperialism in the East. The fall of China to the Communists may yet have far-reaching consequences. China is unique among Asiatic countries in that it is the only one that has large groups of nationals in other States. There they retain their national characteristics, and their close associations with their homeland. Those Chinese aliens in other countries, by their industry, invariably have a profound effect on the economy of the countries in which they live. They could become a channel for the furtherance of Russia’s ideals and intrigues, and for the expansion of Russia through China.
However, China is a vast country. Many languages are spoken there, and the people in different parts have different customs and different outlooks. China enjoys an ancient civilization which, throughout history, has always absorbed the conqueror. Because of its great size and enormous population, it has often been partitioned into spheres of influence under the control of war lords, who regarded their neighbours with suspicion, and paid doubtful allegiance to a remote control. That tendency has continued right up to the present time, and will make it hard for the Russians to achieve the same results in the East as they have achieved in the West. In addition, the
Ifr. Charles Anderson. dictator in China is denied that very valuable weapon, the radio.
Another point is that all educated Chinese still regard the European as a barbarian, and all classes of Chinese have an intense hatred of the “ foreign devil “. We know that the Russians will probably evince in China the same sort of ruthless tactlessness that has marked their activities in other countries. I do not think that their policy will achieve the results they expect with the resilient people of China. Its effect will be to foster national aspirations, rather than to promote the objectives which the Russian? have in mind. I do not believe that the characteristics of the Chinese are such as to make it likely that China will become a satellite state. These factors should be kept in mind when we are attempting to assess the importance of the Communist victory in China. It may be that in China Russian diplomacy will bog down.
However, we cannot afford to . take risks. We must try to protect ourselves by raising in neighbouring States barriers against the spread of communism from China. I am certain that in China, as in other ‘countries that have come under the influence of communism, the iron curtain will be rung down. Communism cannot stand the impact of free thought on its regimented subjects. Seeing that it must be a part of our foreign policy to try to influence those Asiatic states that have 0 not come under the influence of communism, it is just as well for us to study the characteristics of the various races that occupy the continent of Asia. All Asiatic races have one common characteristic, namely, a great respect and admiration for power. I use the term “power” in its broadest sense, that is, military and economic power,- and great riches and resources. When we are framing our foreign policy, we cannot afford to forget that trait. In fact, we should play on it. The Minister indicated that he intended to develop a good neighbourly feeling between Australia and the countries of South-East Asia, a.nd to pursue a vigorous policy of maintaining peace by building a barrier against the advance of communism with economic and commercial aid, technical advice and the like. The importance of defence and of military commitments should not be forgotten. One important passage in the Minister’s statement reads -
A nation’s foreign policy must, however, be closely integrated with that of defence, for if the foreign policy which is followed proves incapable of achieving or maintaining peace, the departments of war must take over.
That statement is most profound. Armed strength is a potent ally in support of the* foreign policy of a nation. The experience of the last half century has proved that, without any military force, a nation is capable of pursuing only a policy of appeasement. We all know from very bitter and tragic experience where that kind of policy leads. It was a tragedy in Europe, but it would be a far greater tragedy among Asiatic peoples who respect force.
I shall now examine the way in which Australia can fulfil the policy that has been propounded by the Minister. What is our military strength? As I have stated, armed strength is a potent ally in support of our foreign policy. Unfortunately, modern diplomacy thinks in terms of divisions, battle fleets and air squadrons, and I am afraid that we are completely deficient in those spheres. I do not suggest an armaments race, or commitments that will involve us in local dogfights among Asiatic nations, but I believe that our foreign policy is gravely handicapped because we have practically no military strength. We should have at least strong home defences, but, unfortunately, they are lacking. Members of the Opposition have expressed fears for the future of Australia in its relations with Asiatic countries, and I hope that they will remember those anxieties when the Government’s proposal to reintroduce compulsory military training is being debated. The previous Government was guilty of grave neglect in respect of our defences. It appears to have relied on push-button warfare, the fact that a range for testing guided weapons has been established in central Australia, and a policy of defending Australia to the last American soldier.
How, then, can we support our foreign policy? The Minister has suggested granting economic aid and the like to the countries of South-East Asia. That proposal is sound, but the assistance of our industries will be required to enable us to give effect to it. In an industrial sense, the last four years have been tragic for Australia because the production of our heavy industries has lagged. The output of certain light industries, particularly the luxury trade, has almost satisfied the demands of consumers, but the production of the heavy industries is below their capacity. The masses of people whom we are trying to aid are still living in the age of the sickle. If we can advance them to the age of the scythe, we shall have a notable achievement to our credit. Those people require, not luxury goods, but basic goods that they can use for their developmental projects. They need steel, cement, wire, nails, agricultural and industrial machinery, and tools of the right design and quality. We can supply those requirements.. It is futile to cry over spilt milk. If our heavy industries had been working to capacity in the last four years, we should have satisfied our own requirements, and have had a surplus for export to strengthen our foreign policy. Unfortunately, we are starting from behind “ scratch “ in both a military and an economic sense. Trade on sound business-like lines, that encourage mutual respect between nations is one of the best ways in which to break down insular barriers. To date, that advantage has been denied to us. The point that I originally made was that, in order to win the respect of the Asiatic nations, we must understand their respect for power, but, I regret, we have no substantial military or economic power with which to impress them. However, I have confidence in the quality of Australian resources, management and craftsmen. Goodwill and understanding will change the whole character of our industrial setup, and we shall be able rapidly to overtake the lag in production, and even to produce a surplus for export. Other avenues also can be explored. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) mentioned technical aid, and I believe that we can assist also in the health and medical sphere, because we are producing substantial quantities of valuable drugs.
The honorable member for Chisholm (Mr. Kent Hughes) emphasized the need for choosing the right kind of people for positions in our consulates and embassies in eastern countries. Our representatives should understand and have sympathy with the Asiatic races whose standard of living we desire to raise, and whose confidence we wish to win. Many people are available in Australia who understand the east, and I hope that the services of some of them will be secured for our embassies and consulates.
The policy that has been enunciated in the Minister’s statement does not conflict in any way with the organizations that are now working on behalf of the United Nations. Indeed, I believe that the policy that the honorable gentleman has suggested can be complementary to the work of those organizations. I know from my experience of life that if I want a job done, I should do it myself, because then I should be certain that it had been done. The Minister used a very apt expression which I should like to repeat. It was this -
The foreign policy of a country is doubtless u projection of domestic policy into external relations, but it is1 more than that - it is largely a projection of the domestic policies into world politics.
The domestic policy that has been forecast by this Government provides a solution of all our internal industrial and defence problems. I am certain that it will be effective, provided the Government receives co-operation inside and outside the Parliament. I should be the last man to say that the Opposition cannot render maximum assistance to it. If full co-operation is given, we shall be able to achieve our objectives and make Australia safe for our children. I consider that the reins of government have now been taken over by a strong administration. But we have no time to lose in taking the action that must be taken. We must build a strong Australia. If we do so, Australia will be able to play a vital part as an. important Pacific power. I believe that the present Government will last for many years. But it has to lay the necessary foundations now, because Australia, unfortunately, suffers from the recurring calamity of an interregnum of Labour rule.
Mr. DUTHIE (“Wilmot) H 0.11]. -I was interested in the speech of the honorable member for’ Hume (Mr. Charles
Anderson) because of his remarkable efforts in Malaya during the retreat of the Eighth Division, in which my brother took part. Although I disagree with most of the views that he advanced tonight, I pay a tribute to him for what he did in those critical days in Malaya. Foreign affairs present an everchanging and an ever-moving picture with which we never seem to catch up. It is like running along a railway station platform to catch a train, only to see it draw out and leave one behind. Affairs that we may be discussing to-night as though they were top-line news may be completely dead by the morning, whilst other matters that we do not consider top-line news to-night may hit the headlines in the morning. That is why we never completely catch up with foreign affairs.
I shall discuss three aspects of our foreign policy. In the time allotted to me it is impossible for me to cover all the matters with which the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) dealt in his statement because of their great variety. I shall, however, refer first to the resurgence of nationalism in Asia. The rise of nationalism in Asia is, in effect, an agrarian revolution. It is a revolt against centuries of feudalism, mental darkness, feudal imperialism, misery,-and economic barbarism. The revolution has a counterpart in the European revolution that, occurred a century ago. Asia is now going through what Europe went through between 1S48 and 1S50. A crop pf revolutions broke out in Europe a century ago. They constituted a revolt against monarchies, feudalism, misery, imperialism and economic barbarism. At that time monarchies tottered, and selfgovernment was established in country after country in Europe. A new world of ideas was born, which shaped the course of events in Europe for the succeeding century. The Communist manifesto appeared in 1848. It was a revolutionary document that gave impetus to nationalism in Europe. Empires were cut up into self-governing countries. Now the eastern nations are showing the gradual influence of western ideas. They move much more slowly, in every way, than the western countries do, and they have taken a century to reach much the same position of awakening and revolt as Europe reached in 1848. The awakening of the revolt in the East has come. That revolt has started in Burma, India, Pakistan, Indo-China, Thailand, Malaya, and Indonesia and is already taking definite shape. Imperialism and colonization are dying out in the East. New self-governing nations have emerged in Asia, and it is our task, and the task of the United States of America and the United Kingdom, to guide the agrarian revolution in the East into a nationalistic framework rather than let it merge into a Communistic framework. It is essentially an agrarian revolution. It is a fight for land upon which food grows. The eastern peoples are fighting for food, for security, and for a voice in their own affairs, which has been denied them through all the centuries by imperialism and capitalism, with their spheres of influence and their gross exploitation of backward peoples. “We cannot step around this great resurgence of nationalism in the East, because it is to-day the most important factor in that area. What we must do has already been indicated by other honorable members who have spoken in this debate and 1. shall not go over the ground again. I emphasize, however, that the awakening that occurred in Europe a century ago is being re-enacted in Asia, with some slight differences because Europe was industrialized a century ago and had a higher standard of living than the greater part of Asia now has.
The second matter that I wish to discuss is the conception of two Marshall plans, one for Asia and one for Europe. The Marshal] plan for Europe is already in existence. The war left Europe politically and economically shattered. It was split into two camps, the Russian camp and the camp of the western democracies. The Marshall plan .was born in order to rebuild the countries of Europe. Its purpose was twofold : first, economic and financial, and. secondly, political. Millions of dollars have been poured into Western European countries such as Germany, France and Luxemburg, in a mighty effort to rebuild them. Politically speaking, Marshall aid to Europe has been a great bulwark against the Communist advance westward. I believe that the political influence of the Marshall plan in Europe is increasing in- importance because thinking men are realizing more and more that one of the best means by which the westward march of communism can be halted is the economic reconstruction of Western Europe. That is what the Marshall plan is doing. The western European countries are using Marshall plan dollars to buy American goods, and so the plan is assisting America’s own economy. The Marshall plan is nor. the first example of a plan for the rebuilding of Europe. In 1924, the Dawes plan, which was sponsored by an American named Dawes, just as the Marshall plan was sponsored by a man named Marshall, came into being. The purpose of the Dawes plan was identical with the purpose of the Marshall plan. That purpose was to pour dollars into Germany and France to enable them to rebuild their shattered post-war economies. The achievements of the Dawes plan were remarkable. In the space of four years, misery, degradation and unemployment were almost abolished, particularly in Germany. Industry was moving again, the wheels were turning. Germany enjoyed greater prosperity in 1928 than it had enjoyed for half a century, and perhaps greater than it had ever enjoyed. But late 1928 brought the Wall-street crash. I have not time to enter upon a discussion of the causes of that crash, but the results of it included the withdrawal of American credits from Europe. When American dollars were with held from Europe it was as if Europe’s life-blood had suddenly been cut off. Chaos and panic immediately followed. Within a short time, 6,000,000 men and women were out of work in Germany and the total number of unemployed in Europe soon reached - 13,000,000. The financial and economic depression commenced, not in America, but in Europe, and its results reverberated throughout the world. With the cutting off of the supply of dollars, European countries could no longer buy American goods. The markets for American goods were lost and vast quantities of goods piled up in American factories and eventually 15,000,000 persons were unemployed in the United States. In the United Kingdom no fewer than 2,500,000 persons were out of employment in the depression which followed in that country. Those were the results of the withdrawal of American credits in Europe, and at that time the Russians were not in Berlin. “What of the Marshall Aid plan? If that plan fails within the next three years it is quite conceivable that similar repercussions will again be felt in Europe. Those countries in Western Europe that have not recovered sufficiently to enable them to stand on their own feet will suffer an economic and financial collapse. Unemployment and misery will return to the peoples of Western Europe and communism will find a fertile breeding ground once more for Russia is now in control of one-half of Berlin. At the time of the earlier financial and economic crash Russia was not thought of as a world power. To-day, it stands in the forefront of the powerful nations of the world. That makes imperative the continuance of the Marshall Aid plan as a means of preventing the westward march of Russia and the resultant economic chaos. Misery and unemployment will be inevitable in Western Europe if the flow of dollars to Germany and France be suddenly stopped. Unless it was prevented by armed might Russia could march to the English Channel without firing a shot. The whole continent of Europe would be engulfed in war. For that reason it is essential that the Marshall Aid plan be continued for at least another two or three years. By that time Western Europe should be able to stand on its own feet. The financiers of the United States are now so scared of communism, however, that they are prepared to keep their money circulating in Germany for a longer period than they were under the Dawes plan of twenty years ago.
In the East, Russia is pushing its ideology eastwards by infiltration and intrigue, and is exploiting the rise of nationalism. The backwardness, poverty, landlordism and financial and economic instability of the East provide the Communists breeding ground. Some aid of the kind given under the Marshall Plan is needed in the East just as much as in the West to enable Eastern countries to stem the Red tide. The form in which such aid should be provided would, of necessity, differ from that extended to Western countries which are more highly industrialized than are the countries of the East. The United Nations could accept some responsibility for the provision of aid to Asia. American aid could be provided through the United Nations in the form of capital investments, but not with the old colonial motive of exploitation of resources. Financial and technical aid for developmental purposes would have to be supervised by understanding men, preferably appointed by the United Nations. If unscrupulous moneylenders or greedly capitalists are permitted to invest in eastern countries suspicion and distrust will be aroused among the eastern peoples, who will be driven to pass drastic laws against westerners or, what would be still worse, into sympathy with communism. The tragedy of American aid to China during and since the war furnishes a potent example of what we should avoid in formulating any financial and economic plan for the east, whether it be a Marshall plan or a Spender plan. Unscrupulous officials, black markets and waste destroyed the effectiveness of Marshall aid in China. In that country the Marshall plan has not achieved its purpose because China is in the hands of Russia. Food is the key to the solution of this problem. Hungry people are susceptible to any “ ism “ and will follow any leader who is prepared to offer them land, food and security. Assistance in the form of agricultural machinery, agronomists and other agricultural experts is vital to the development of the foodgrowing potentiality of the East where starvation is so common. Such assistance would enable the economic standards of eastern countries to be lifted.
-The honorable member is developing an economic argument. This debate relates to international relations. Whilst I am willing to listen to odd references to the economic situation in China and other countries as it affects our foreign relations, I remind the honorable member that he must relate, his remarks more closely to the subject before the Chair.
– Economics, as it affects foreign policy, has been dealt with by nearly every honorable member who has taken part in this’ debate. Another method by which we can assist to develop Asian countries as a bulwark against communism is through the missions. That aspect of assistance was referred to by the honorable member for Hoddle (Mr. Cremean). Mission farm schools could do much to teach the Asiatic people how to produce more food from their land. Such a scheme as I envisage could be undertaken in conjunction with the Protestant and Catholic churches which function in Asia. Assistance through a United “Nations development bank, financed by loans from all nations, would also help to reduce the fear of the Asiatic people that the United Kingdom, America, Holland or France intends to absorb those eastern countries which it assists.. The Minister for External Affairs touched rock-bottom in practical politics when he stressed, as also did the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), the necessity for aid to South-West Asia. By whatever name such aid may be called, it is absolutely vital if wo are to stem the surge of Russian communism in South-East Asia.
My third point is this : any realistic assessment of international affairs must have regard to the diplomatic duel which is now in progress between the East and the West, and the clash of the economic and political ideologies represented by the United States on the ona hand, and Russia on the other, with the United Kingdom steering a middle course between the two extremes. Is the world big enough for capitalistic democracy on the one hand, and materialistic communism on the other? Can that issue be decided without resort to war? The United Nations will never be able to remove that fundamental conflict between those two ideologies, although it can ease, or neutralize them. That conflict is principally political. On the one hand, we have totalitarianism and, on the other hand, political freedom. On the one hand in this ideological war we have no free elections, no real freedom of worship, expression or criticism, but arbitrary arrest, the police state and dictatorship; and, on the other hand, we have freedom of elections, British justice, free parliament, free political parties, and freedom of thought, religion, expression and criticism. That ideological war has been going on since the physical war ended on the 15th August, 1945. *[Extension of time granted.] In the economic sphere this warfare is between capitalism and communism. Those fundamental differences condition the attitude of Russia and the Western democracies. Can they be reconciled? The answer to that question is “ No “ ; but they can be recognized as two fundamental schools of economic thought existing in one world. These economic ideologies can be confined and controlled in trade and commerce which is flexible enough to operate between nations provided that political differences can be tolerated.
Can these two worlds live in one world ? If that is not possible, the alternative is a frightful war of annihilation, an Armmageddon of horror, fire and bacteriological warfare. All of us believe that war is not inevitable if the two-world concept is recognized by the United Nations, and if nations individually arc prepared to recognize that the world is big enough for the United States of America-United Kingdom concept and the Russian concept. But even though the United Nations, or any individual nation, hold that these two ideologies can. live together any attempt to bring them together will fall. I do not believe that they can be united in the sense that it will be possible to say that Russia accepts our way of life and our economic and political thought. Realistically, the alternative is to recognize these two worlds within one world. Our problem is to make sure that we stabilize both worlds within one world without resort to war. We can do that, first, by limiting fear; secondly, by evolving peaceable solutions of international disagreements through the United Nations; thirdly, by narrowing the bie issue? and tensions through the United Nations ; and fourthly, by the expansion of trade, Eastern Europe and Asia taking manufactured goods from the Wept and the West drawing its supplier of raw materials from the East. That would have a stabilizing effect. .Fifthly, communism may become nationalistic in various countries and draw away from Russian Communist internationalism. That development has already been evidenced in China, Yugoslavia and Poland, where nationalism is short-circuiting the communism of the Kremlin. Those are current examples of that process. I refer to an article written by John King Fairbank that was published in the Foreign Policy Bulletin of the 19th November, 1948. It reads -
In proportion its the Chinese Communists, who have hitherto gained influence chiefly in agrarian areas, got control over cities and national affairs, we can expect them to face increasing problems. If Chinese communism stays closely within Moscow’s orbit, it must eventually come in conflict with genuine Chinese patriotism.
I suggest that “ nationalism “ can be aptly substituted for patriotism in that context. The article continued-
We have to face up to the fact that the Chinese Communist movement is not only genuinely Communist but also genuinely Chinese.
It is obvious that the growth of nationalism in South-East Asia offers an effective means of neutralizing the effect of Kremlin communism. Indo-China, Malaya, and Indonesia will develop their own nationalism even though for a time they may listen to the Communist offer of a new world. The job of the Western nations, is to encourage the nationalist movement in those countries. It can do so by supplying economic and financial aid to them and thus preventing Russia from gaining complete domination over them. We cannot do anything to altar the outlook of those countries geographically, but we can influence them with the democratic ideology of the West.
Russia’s efforts to exploit nationalist movements has been due to its fear that this resurgence of national spirit, if left unchecked, will short-circuit Communist domination of Asia and South-East Asia. My sixth point is that by building up the economies of South-East Asian countries through the, operation of an Asian Marshall Aid plan, to which Australia and the United Kingdom as well as the United States of America would contribute, we could raise the economic standards of these backward peoples mid thus remove the seed bed in which communism thrives. Next, we should strengthen friendship with the Eastern countries through the exchange of students, by cultural movements sponsored by Unesco and through the influence of the churches. My final point is that we should rely upon the force of the Christian religion as distinct from the Hebrew, Hindu, Buddhist, Mohammedan and Confucian religions. Within the framework of the Western democracies, Christianity has a tremendous part to play in removing social prejudices, economic barbarism and the. evils of capitalism by emphasizing the middle course between communism and capitalism. That was done at the World Council of Churches that met at Amsterdam in 1948. That council agreed that the economic answer to the world’s present problems does not lie in either communism or capitalism but is to be found in a judicious mixture of private ownership and collective ownership through co-operatives and the like. Further. Christianity can help to make our democracy more Christian. It can give to it a moral and spiritual fibre and imbue it with a willingness to build bridges and not barriers between groups and nations.
By making democracy Christian, Christianity will help to counter the communism of the Kremlin. We must revive the soul of democracy. Without a resurgence of full-blooded Christianity as sincere and passionate as the Communists believe communism to be, our democracy will not be a match for the Communist ideology. Only a war of annihilation, made more ghastly by the hydrogen bomb and bacteriological warfare, would result if we tried to save a democracy that was decadent, corrupt and spiritually moribund. Democracy must recover its .soul, or be destroyed. Without moral rearmament among the Western nations, we shall be no match for fanatical communism which the intensity and sincerity of belief of its adherents transforms almost into a religion, although a religion without God. In the ideological conflict, Christianity has a paramount task to perform. It can remove destructive cynicism,, blighting selfishness and festering hatreds within the minds and hearts of Western peoples, among whom moral and spiritual softness and flabbiness may easily prove to be a more terrible enemy than communism or fascism, If we are morally and spiritually flabby, how can we ever hope to combat the rigid discipline of communism? The gap between material advancement and moral advancement in Western civilization has widened alarmingly. Scientific progress is outstripping moral progress. That gap must be closed, because science is creating a monster that it is not able to control. One expert who is working on the development of the hydrogen bomb has become so afraid of its destructive potentialities that he has resorted to prayer. That was recorded in a newspaper recently. I regard him as a wise man. Some scientists are becoming glorified murderers, and it is fantastic that our ethics are so twisted that these men can escape punishment whilst an ordinary murderer goes to an electric chair or a hangman’s noose. The existence of these two worlds in one world at peace is a possibility if we recognize that the alternative is a holocaust.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Davis) adjourned.
Christian Churches in Europe - House of Represent aTIVES : Time Limit to Speeches - Hearing Ams - Surf Lifesaving Clubs - Pensions.
Motion (by Mr. Francis) proposed - That the House do now adjourn.
.- I understand that I am not in order in referring to matters that have been discussed in the House to-day. However, I assume that that restriction does not stop me from referring to ideas that have been canvassed prior to this debate. The statement has been made that the “Christian churches of Europe have failed “. Such a proposition, made by responsible people at a time like this, should be promptly repudiated. Whatever the faults of the Christian church in Europe may have been in the past, to-day the clergy is paying for them with death, torture and imprisonment. We owe it to the memory of men like Cardinal Mindszenty and Archbishop
Stepinac, when such an allegation is made, to point out that to-day, when other defences have failed, the Christian church is the only force that is standing firm in the defence of humanity, spiritual rights and freedom. The Christian church in Europe is the one force that has been proved firm and that has been able to stand against those who would attempt to suppress every spark of freedom and those values which we hold dear. That church is standing firm in the face of death, imprisonment and torture, and at least on my own behalf I must repudiate the proposition that it has failed. In my opinion, the Christian church, instead of having failed the people of Europe, particularly those that have fallen beneath the tyranny thai prevails behind the Iron Curtain, has stood as a firm bulwark against it.
I hope that no one is going to ascribe to Christianity the evils of European capitalism. Whatever has happened in the past, let us not make a mockery of men whose mangled bodies have paid tribute to the extent to which they supported the principles for which we mouth our support. Let us not insult their memory by saying that Christianity in Europe has failed. That statement does not represent my view and- I hope tha* it does not represent the view of any substantial section of this community.
.- I desire, Mr. Speaker, to say something about your ruling concerning extensions of time. That ruling suggested that an extension of time cannot exceed one-half of the period allotted for the original speech. You will recollect that the situation arose out of a move for the adjournment of the House. Under the old Standing Orders, on a motion for adjournment to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, ten minutes was allotted to a member addressing the House, with an extension, after the Minister first speaking following the submission of the motion, of fifteen minutes, or 50 per cent, longer than the original allotment. The amended Standing Orders were brought down to correct an obvious anomaly. Attention was directed to that anomaly by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), who, iti the course of the discussion, said that it ought to be corrected. He was informed that that was the intention of the new standing order. It seems clear to me that a second extension of time is within the rights of honorable members. If that right is not conceded, the only course open to the House is to suspend the Standing Orders. That course was followed to-night. I point out, however, that the provision that relates to the suspension of the Standing Orders does not seem to provide machinery . for use on such an occasion. It reads -
In cases of urgent necessity, any standing or sessional order or orders of the House may be suspended. . . .
Whether an extension of time is a case of urgent necessity might be a matter of opinion. The Standing Orders do not appear to me to provide the machinery for the granting of extra time. I think that the intention of the committee was clear, and that, under a literal interpretation of the Standing Orders, the House could agree to two extensions of time exceeding 50 per cent, of the time originally allotted, but that uo automatic extension should provide for more than 50 per cent, of such time.
T think tha t these new Standing Orders, with which no honorable member is quite familiar, ought to be studied by you, Mr. Speaker, and by all honorable members, in order that a ruling might be given for the guidance of the House and of any honorable member who may occupy the chair from time to time.
.- I have listened with great interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon), which, if I have interpreted them correctly, indicated that he supports the attitude of the Christian eli ii relies against the forces of communism in Europe and elsewhere in the world. It would appear that to some exton t we shall soon have a struggle in this country between the Communists on the one hand and the forces of Christianity, as the honorable member terms them, on the other hand. When the matter comes to the point. I hope that the honorable member will be found supporting those forces which oppose the Communists and all that they stand for.
– The honorable member for Henty is the greatest humbug in the House.
– The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has borrowed from me an expression that I applied to him recently. I hope that what the honorable member for Yarra said was not merely nonsense that was directed at those who may have been listening to him or whom he hopes may read the report of his speech. I trust that he will support his statements with his vote as well as his voice. If he does not do so, then he will be nothing but the kind of humbug that the honorable member for Parkes so aptly embodies.
– I desire to refer to the necessity for providing age pensioners with hearing aids. Old people are apt to have defective hearing, and the great majority of age pensioners have reached the stage in life when their hearing is anything but good. One has only to look round this House to realize how distressing deafness can be to those who are afflicted by it. The difference between an age pensioner and a member of the Parliament is that the pensioner cannot afford to buy a hearing
Mid, whilst a member of the Parliament is in a position to do so. The cost of an up-to-date hearing aid is from £30 to £50, which is beyond the financial capacity of age pensioners. It is difficult for them to obtain sufficient food, let alone costly hearing aids.
In their declining years, aged people derive very little pleasure from life, and if they are unable to hear properly a little pleasure that they could otherwise enjoy is denied to them. I know of a grand old man who, although he is nearly SO years old, has a very active brain and is a good conversationalist. Because he has defective hearing, he is unable to take part in conversations. I have visited his home and seen him sitting forlornly in an easy chair in a corner of the room and finally going to bed because no one bothered to shout at him so that he could understand what the conversation was about. If this old gentleman was able to hear properly, he could make a worthwhile contribution to any discussion, no matter what, it was about. Most aged pensioners belong to a class of society that has done much for Australia, and it is a wicked shame that they are denied an opportunity to hear clearly. I believe that we should follow the example of the 1’nited Kingdom, where hearing aids are provided free of charge to any persons who want them, regardless of their means. I direct the attention of the House to section 14 of the “National Health Service Act 1948, which reads as follows: -
The Minister may, on behalf of the Commonwealth, arrange for or undertake the manufacture, for the purposes of a national health service, of medical and dental supplier, appliances and equipment, including visual aida and hearing aids.
In my opinion, the Government should take advantage of the provisions of that section to manufacture hearing aids and to provide them free of charge to age pensioners who cannot obtain them from any other source because of their lack of means. I hope that the Government will treat this matter in the spirit in which I have raised it. I have raised it not in a party political spirit, but merely in an attempt to obtain something for old people in the evening of their lives who are suffering from the disability of being unable to participate in ordinary conversations.
– I desire to refer to the life-saving clubs of Australia. It is peculiar that Liberal governments adopt an apathetic attitude to voluntary organizations that are established in working-class districts. The members of the life-saving clubs along our coasts arc mainly the sons of working men and women. These youths give up most of their time at week-ends in order to be available to succour people who are in danger of drowning. Most of them are ox-servicemen. The storms that occur on the coast in summer drive great quantities of seaweed to our beaches and the life-savers are subjected to severe risks when they go to the rescue of persons who have been carried out to sea by an undertow.
– Did not they once rescue the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender)?
– They did, and perhaps one day they will rescue Dr. Soekarno nf Palm Bench. I am determined to do all that I can to obtain government assistance to purchase safety gear - the Ross belt - so that these youths may have some degree of safety when they take the risk of swimming out to sea, sometimes for half a mile or three-quarters of a mile, perhaps to save the hide of a member of the Liberal party. My father would never have forgiven me if I had swum out to sea to save the life of a member of the Liberal party. I am speaking not only as a father, but also as a member who represents a constituency in which there are many beaches. I have seen youths drowned while effecting rescues. When that happens, the news of the tragedy is splashed across the papers in big headlines. Then a few days elapse. The inquest is held, honorable gentlemen on the Government side of the House express their sympathy, and there the matter ends until another lifesaver is drowned. I do not think that any member of the Parliament would vote against a proposal that the Government should grant £20,000 for the purchase of equipment that will give our life-savers a measure of safety.
.- I support the submission of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) concerning the supply of hca ring aids for the aged deaf. The trend of social services legislation is towards the provision of such instruments for the needy. The principal difficulty in this instance arises from the limited powers of the Australian Government in relation to health. However, I ask it to give earnest consideration to the points that I shall stress. In the first place, it can make grants to the States for the purchase of hearing aids for pensioners. The social services authorities of the States are already co-operating with the Commonwealth; in New South Wales, spectacles and other aids for the pensioners are provided by the State. I am sure that the governments of all States are ready and willing to help the Commonwealth to provide hearing aids for age pensioners. Recently-issued statistics indicate that the incidence of deafness has increased considerably during the last 25 years. A man who retires at the agc of 65 years normally expects to enjoy the leisure that is granted to him under a benevolent system of government. But, if he suffers from deafness, he is isolated from the surrounding world. A wall of silence separates him from the interests that he ought to be able to enjoy in the last years of his life. The patent rights of proprietary brands of hearing aids are held overseas, and, as a result, the prices of instruments range between £49 and £69 in Australia. I hope that the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) will pay attention to the submissions of the honorable member for Hindmarsh and myself on this subject. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has had considerable industrial experience. He moves amongst workers and pensioners, and he is aware of the urgency of the need of the growing number of people who require hearing aids. The Government should make a humanitarian gesture by agreeing to finance this social service. The cost would not be excessive, even assuming that each instrument cost £40 and that 40,000 people were involved in the scheme. The outlay would be little enough to devote to a social service that would be fully appreciated by everybody and that would provide a wider range of interests and a new outlook upon life for the deaf. We expend about £40,000 a year upon the printing of parliamentary documents that are never read. Our waste-paper baskets are full of reports and other printed matter. I am a member of the Printing Committee, which goes through the rigmarole of ordering documents to be printed. Economies could be effected in such wasteful expenditure so as to compensate for the cost of purchasing hearing aids for pensioners. If this Government ever introduces its much-heralded health plan, I hope that it will provide for the supply of hearing aids. This is not an idly raised matter or one of small importance. The Minister for Health might inform the House of the results of the research that has been conducted in the acoustics laboratory of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. In the matter of hearing aids, as the honorable member for Hindmarsh has pointed out, the law already provides for the manufacture of hearing aids by the Commonwealth. Obviously, this’.subject must have been investigated. I ask the Government to treat our representations as being of a most urgent character and to get on with the job of helping pensioners who need hearing aids.
– I fully support the request that has been made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) for the supply of hearing aids to deaf pensioners. Strangely enough, I had decided earlier to speak on behalf of age pensioners who are on the verge of starvation. I have listened all day to honorable members on the Government side of the House talking about the millions of people in other countries who are suffering from food shortages, yet they do nothing about the shocking state of affairs that exists throughout Australia. When floods, fires, or other disasters strike at our people, State and Commonwealth governments rush to the aid of the afflicted, yet men and women who have served their country well throughout their lives are expected to exist on a pittance of £2 2s. 6d. a week. How can a pensioner provide himself with accommodation and food on that income? Over 2,000 houses in Sydney have had to be demolished because of the negligence of the Civic Reform party, which controlled the Sydney City Council for seventeen years. The Labour party urged that those homes should be repaired, but, when it finally gained control of the council, they had fallen into such a state of dilapidation that nothing could be done to preserve them. In consequence, many pensioners have become displaced persons. The Royal Agricultural Show will be opened in Sydney early in April, and I assure honorable members that the pedigreed horses, cows and other animals that will be exhibited there, will be more comfortably housed and better fed than are most of our pensioners. Those men and women helped to pioneer Australia, and the work that they have done for the nation has made it possible fo r many honorable members to be present in this chamber to-night. I fully support the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Dr. Nott), who tried recently to impress upon his Government the necessity for aiding pensioners in Canberra.
– We tried to impress the Labour Government with the seriousness of the plight of pensioners.
– The supporters of the Government have been talking consistently throughout this week about the need to regulate conditions in other countries. They stand condemned because of their lack of interest in the welfare of Australian citizens who are oppressed by poverty. I hope that the Government will decide to treat the situation of pensioners as a non-party matter and will provide them with the means of sustaining life in reasonable comfort. It will- gain a great measure of support from this side of the House for its social services projects if it accedes to my request. The Labour Government provided reasonable allowances for pensioners, but rising costs during the last six months have made it impossible for those people to live on a decent standard with the present rate of pension. Although you, Mr. Speaker, occupy an exalted position in this House and have made a promise that you will not take part in debates or attend, caucus meetings, I am sure that you acknowledge your responsibility, in common with that of every other honorable member, to provide for the welfare of our pensioners.
– I should not have risen but for some extraordinary remarks that were made by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue). No member of this. Parliament, nor indeed any party, has a monopoly of sympathy and regard for the situation of the age pensioners of this country. I believe that every government, right from the earliest days of federation, has sought to do what it regarded as a, fair and reasonable thing for our age and invalid pensioners. The story has- been one of progressive improvement of the rates of allowances made available to them. I do not claim that we have done all that we could desire to do. I hope that during the life of this Parliament more will be clone, and that all parties will agree, as the honorable member has suggested, to approach this matter on a non-party footing in order to see whether we can improve the lot of pensioners.
The honorable member referred to agepensioners as people who are starving and destitute, and without proper accommodation. I remind honorable members that he represents an electorate in the very populous and prosperous State of New South Wales. I therefore consider that I should remind him of one or two facts which may have escaped his notice. If what he said is correct, it is a terrible indictment, first of the Labour Government that held office in the federal sphere for the last eight years> and. secondly of the Labour Government of New South Wales, which has held office for a like period. Those years have been marked by some of the most prosperous conditions that this country has ever known. Whilst many age pensioners may undoubtedly be feeling the effects - as we all are - of the rising cost of living, and may be living in far less comfort than we would desire that they should enjoy, on the other hand the general standards of our age pensioners have been raised appreciably as a result of legislation which I concede quite frankly and gladly, was enacted by our predecessors in office. The amount of permissible income that they may earn without affecting their pension was raised, and other concessions were granted to them. It is a mistake to refer to age and invalid pensioners as people who are entirely isolated and destitute. Nearly all of them have friends in addition to their own children, their own kith and kin, and these gladly assist them to improve their lot. Whilst there are unfortunate individuals to be found in any community, with perhaps no close relatives or friends who are able to assist them, undoubtedly the general prosperity of full employment, which is reflected in the swollen savings bank and trading bank deposits, has ameliorated the lot of the elderly and invalided members of our community. I do not consider that the honorable member presented a true and accurate picture of the position. If he did, it is an indictment, not only of this Government, but also of its predecessor in office.
– The age and invalid pensioners who are unable to earn anything are badly off.
– I hope that during the life of this Parliament we shall be able to have a special look at those cases. However, I believe that the majority of them are people who have close relatives or very dear friends who, in the traditionally generous Australian spirit, are doing what they can to help them.
– What rot!
– If that interjection reflects the experience of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) he has been less fortunate than have most people. However, I refuse to accept that as the situation, and I immediately throw back to the honorable member for West Sydney the observation that if it is, it is an indictment not only of his own colleagues in this Parliament but also of those in the Parliament of New South Wales.
– I do not wish to catapult myself into this argument unduly, because I have spoken about this subject before. However, I take this opportunity to inform the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) that I am an Independent, not a Government member, as he stated. I agree with the contention of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) that both sides of this House are indictable for the unhappy lot of the age and invalid pensioners to-day. Eight years ago, when a Labour Government, led by the late John Curtin, was in power, I made representations that the rate of age and invalid pensions should be raised to £2 10s. a week. That suggestion was definitely rejected. Almost without exception, every year since - through the Advisory Council, of which I was a member - I have advocated an increase of the amount of pension payable to these people, to enable them to have purchasing power commensurate with their needs. Many of them are invalids who require special care, food and accommodation. I know that to be a fact, because I have treated many of them professionally in the Australian Capital Territory. I have also treated many who live in areas contiguous to the Australian Capital Territory. I say unhesitatingly that the attitude of all political parties towards the invalid and age pensioners leaves very much to be desired. I should support a proposal for an immediate increase of the age and invalid pensions to no less than £3 10s. a week.
– T shall remind the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) of a few facts. I do not want to go through the whole history of age pensions in this country. It is sufficient to say that if there had not been an organized Labour party there would never have been such a thing as age pensions legislation in the Federal Parliament. It was the price which the Deakin Government paid to be kept in power when it was threatened by the Reid free-traders in the early days of this federation. King O’Malley came in as an Independent, and then joined the Labour party. He was one of the first movers for age pensions. The history of age pensions is not a very happy one. I remember that in 1940 the Menzies Government had to .be almost extinguished politically before it would agree to give age pensioners an increase of ls. a week in the budget of that year. From the time the Curtin Government took office in 1941 until the Chifley Government ceased to hold office in 1949, the Australian Labour party increased age pensions by over 100 per cent., from £1 ls. a week to £2 2s. 6d. a week. The last rise to the age and invalid pensioners of this country that Labour enacted, without opposition from honorable members who now occupy the Government benches, amounted to 5s. a week. Labour also did many other things to ameliorate their lot. It established the 85 per cent, invalidity provision. It also liberalized the means test by increasing the permissible income from £1 a week to £1 10s. a week, and raised the property qualification and the surrender value of insurance policies, so that to-day a married couple, both of whom are age. pensioners, can receive a pension of £4 5s. a week with a permissible income of £3 a week in addition, and can live, in a home that they own, without suffering any reduction of their pensions. They may also have up to £200 in the bank. Although we did much for that, section of our people there was a hard core of them, probably SO per cent., who had nothing to live on apart, from their .pension. The problem was to determine what could be done for them. As a Government we found that every time we raised the age pension the harpies who own the slum properties of Sydney and Melbourne - they are not supporters of the Labour party - took a portion of the increase by raising rents. A very large number of pensioners who do not want to live in homes, but want to subscribe-
– 1 rise to order. Is the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) in order in wearing a hat in the oh amber ?
– The honorable member is entitled to wear a hat in the House if he cares to do so.
– The submissions made by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) and the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Dr. Nott) are quite in order. What has happened since the 10th December is a matter for consideration by this Government. It is well known that the cost of living has risen precipitately since that date. Honorable members on the Government side of the House have ascribed that increase to various causes. The Minister for Labour and National Service recently gave two instances of what he believed had caused the increase - the 40-hour week and the devaluation of the AMA. Whatever the cause may be, it is the responsibility of this Government to help those people who cannot help themselves. They should be helped at this present moment, and it is of no use to talk about what some other government should have done. The responsibility lies on the doorstep of this Government, which is expected to do something quickly. In my electorate one person out of every six is an age or an invaled pensioner, and I can assure the House that they are just as good Australians as are any other persons in the community.
During the depression, when the Premiers’ plan was introduced, every member on the non-Labour side of the House voted for the reduction of pensions to 17s. 6d. a week. When the Lyons Government came into power, with no mandate on this matter from the people, it reduced pensions to 15s. a week, thus pauperizing the pensioners and making their families keep them. The Government even took a lien over their property so that when they died the first charge on their assets was a claim by the Taxation Commissioner for a refund of the money that had been paid to them as a pension. Honorable members on the Government side of the House have a lot to live down in regard to pension?, and it is of no use their talking about the matter as a non-party one. It has never been a non-party matter, and the age and invalid pensioners will get an increase to-day, only according to the amount of pressure which the Opposition, ns a minority party, can apply.
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Mackinnon) has raised the question of the entitlement of an honorable member to wear his hat in the House. I shall read the relevant standing order to him -
I called attention to that standing order a month ago. Some honorable members are still not complying with it, including some who occupy the front bench on both sides of the House. Henceforth 1 shall call offender’s to order.
– How low must honorable members bow?
– As low as an honorable member likes, and I should say that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) should be able to get a fair w.ay down. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke) raised a point of order, and asked me to give him a considered opinion. I shall give it to him now. In regard to extensions of time, the old Standing Orders provided - 257b. . . . with the consent of a majority of the House or of the Committee, to be determined without debate, a member may be allowed to continue his speech for periods each not exceeding … 15 minutes.
The new standing order reads - 91 … with the consent of a majority of the House ar of the Committee, to be determined without debate, a Member may be allowed to continue his speech for a period not exceeding … 10 minutes:
Provided that no extension of time shall exceed half of the original period allotted.
That matter was exhaustively discussed in the Standing Orders Committee, and my ruling, subject to its being overridden by the House, is perfectly correct.
The honorable member for Perth then referred to my having put to the House a motion to suspend the Standing Orders so as to allow the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) to have a second extension of time. I have discovered that my ruling on that point was quite wrong and I therefore have to uphold the honorable member’s point. The Standing Orders lay down quite clearly that in cases of urgent necessity any standing or sessional order may be suspended. I was not asked to declare on the question of urgent necessity, and I think that had I been I should not have been able to agree that a matter of urgent necessity was before the House. However, the matter of urgency is generally one for the House to determine. The other mistake that I made at that time was that I did not ask for a seconder to the motion.
-How many mistakes did you make, Mr. Speaker?
– I am keeping count, as no doubt the honorable member also is doing. In the future I shall not accept a motion to grant further extensions ‘of time to any honorable member unless the House declares that to do so is a matter of urgency.
– in reply - Certain honorable members have made various observationstonight. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) has replied.’ to the observations of the the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr: Calwell), the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) and the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Dr. Nott) about invalid and age pensions. ‘ I shall make no further comments on that matter except to say that the honorable member for Melbourne tried to convey to the House the impression that when invalid and age pensions were first introduced in 1908, by Sir Littleton Groom of the Deakin Administration, it was done under duress. I suggest that the honorable member should peruse the record of the debates, as I have. He will then learn that the Leader of the Labour party at that time, Mr. Andrew Fisher in a speech to the House in Melbourne, said that he thanked the Liberal Government for doing what he thought could not possibly bc done. There is no doubt that the parties opposed to Labour were the first to introduce age pensions in this country. The honorable member displays this late enthusiasm for the cause of the age pensioner only because the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory sawfit to raise the matter recently and every other honorable member opposite has discovered that it is his duty to do the same thing. No good purpose will thereby be sewed, because sympathy for the age pensioners is not to be found on only one side of the House. Practical sympathy has been evinced and assistance has been, given also by honorable members who sit on this side of the House.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) stressed the need for providing hearing aids for age pensioners who have found .their hearing becoming weaker and weaker. Much of the assistance that can be grantedin this connexion is an obligation of the States; nevertheless I shall be very happy to bring the remarks ofboch honorable members to the notice of the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page). I am sure that he will give the matter the sympathetic consideration that he always gives to such problems, and I hope that the result will be helpful to those who are aged and are losing their hearing.
Finally, I wish to reply to the observations of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Our tin). I regret that such an important matter as the one that he brought forward was raised in the manner that he adopted. He began by saying that Liberal governments had adopted an apathetic attitude to the provision of assistance to life saving clubs. I believe that the surf life saving movement of Australia has done and is doing a wonderful job of work for the whole community. The honorable member also said that if his father knew that he had tried to save a member of the Liberal party–
– He would never forgive me.
– If that is the approach of the honorable member to such a worthy cause, it does him no credit, and no cause is assisted by such means. I believe that this is one of the best movements in Australia and that I have shown a practical interest in it is proved by the fact that I am a life member of five clubs.
Honorable members interjecting ,
– Order ! I want the
House to understand quite clearly that I am not going to tolerate the kind of conduct that has been indulged in during” the last few minutes. I shall not speak again on the subject.
– The Minister was provocative.
– Order ! The honorable member will apologize to me for interjecting after being warned.
– I apologize.
– I believe that this is a movement to which every honorable member in this House should give the fullest co-operation and I regret that the honorable member for Watson should have done it such a disservice by introducing the matter in the way in which he did.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented : -
House adjourned at 11.33 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Royal Australian Navy.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. The society is contesting the validity of the Life Assurance Act in the High Court and the case will be heard shortly.
s. - On the 28th February the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) asked me questions regarding spontaneous combustion occurring in some coal mines. The Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport has furnished the following information: -
It is a fact that the Greta seam is liable to spontaneous combustion. This position is aggravated by the great thickness of these coal deposits militating against the successful extraction of pillar coal under existing hand methods with resultant crush, spontaneous heating and loss of coal. The Joint Coal Board has arranged with the University of Sydney to undertake research work on the question of the development, detection and control of spontaneous combustion on the MaitlandCessnockGreta coal-field. Whilst it may take a period of years before this research is completed, progressive results will be made available to the industry as soon as they are obtained. In addition, the board contemplates carrying out experiments in underground power stowage and for this purpose has already had a special study made by its technical officers of the practice in Europe. The board is preparing plans for experimental work on the Maitland-Cessnock-Greta field. The difficulty of securing the necessary special equipment, however, is a serious draw-back to any early implementation of these experiments. In August, 1948, the board arranged for three overseas mining experts to report, amongst other things, on the question of mechanical pillar extractions on the MaitlandCessnockGreta coal-fields. These gentlemen, Messrs. J. Hunter, of the National Coal Board, Great Britain, H. R. Houston, of the British Ministry of Fuel and Power, and W. M. Merritts, Bureau of Mines, United States of America, reported. inter alia, that “ the risk of spontaneous heating can be reduced by increasing the rate of extraction. This can best be assured by mechanization “. The board and all competent coal-mining engineers are strongly of the opinion that mechanical extraction of pillar coal will appreciably reduce the fire hazard in the mines in this area.
n askedthe Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
How many houses are now let in each State under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement, whereby the Commonwealth and States make up the difference between the rent payable by each tenant based on weekly earnings and the economic rent payable for each house?
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
At the 30th November, 1949, the last date at which full figures for the Commonwealth are available, the number of tenants of houses erected under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement who were in receipt of rental rebates were -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 March 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1950/19500323_reps_19_206/>.