19th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question that arises from the answer that he supplied yesterday to a question that I had asked earlier concerning the cancellation of the appointment of the former High Commissioner for Ceylon, Mr.C.W. Frost. In the answer that he submitted yesterday as the acting ministerial head of the Department of External Affairs, the right honorable gentleman said, in substance, that Mr. Frost, having insisted upon his claims, is to be paid by the Government the full amount of the salary for the remainder of his term of office, which was to expire in 1952. He also referred to some objection that had been taken during the life of the previous Parliament by the Opposition of that time to the appointment of Mr. Frost. Can the Prime Minister now inform the House whether Mr. Frost’s appointment was terminated because he had not performed his duties as High Commissioner for Ceylon properly? If that was not the reason for the cancellation of the appointment under conditions which have involved the country in such a large expenditure of money for work not performed, but willing to be performed, by Mr. Frost, what was the reason for it?
– I suggest to the right honorable member for Barton that nothing is to be gained by initiating an argument on a matter of this kind. I have nothing to add to what appeared in the answer that I gave yesterday.
– Has the attention of the Postmaster-General been drawn to the large number of telegrams that have been forwarded recently to senators and to members of this House over the signature “ Ruralaust “ and couched in threatening language ? Is “ Ruralaust “ a registered’ telegraphic address, and, if so, for how long and in whose name has it been registered? Are the telegrams a breach of the provisions of the Post and Telegraph Act that apply to offensive communications? Has the Minister seen advertisements that have been inserted in newspapers over the name of the United Farmers Association, and has he any information concerning that organization ?
– I have made certain inquiries concerning those telegrams because they have been transmitted in hundreds. I have found that “Ruralaust “ was registered as a telegraphic address at the General Post Office, Sydney, on the 23rd May, 1949, by V. L. Molloy,’ 874 George-street, Sydney, the manager of a. magazine called Rural Australia. So far as I can learn, the magazine ‘has not yet come into existence. Mr. Molloy, I understand, is also a director of C. & M. Publications Limited, at the same address. “ C. & M.”, I believe, stands for Chapman and Molloy, the Chapman referred to being one of the signatories of the telegrams. Those telegrams are undoubtedly offensive in character, but I do not- think that they come within the prohibitions of the Post and Telegraph Act. As an indication of the language used in the telegrams I shall quote one that was despatched to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, part of which reads, as follows : -
Suggest you watch your step otherwise domestic repercussions Hurray electorate (signed) Chapman United Farmers Assn.
I agree with the honorable’ member that messages of that nature are threatening and intimidatory, and whilst members of the Parliament have a responsibility that they must discharge on the floor of the House when they cast their votes, they are certainly not responsible to pressure groups of the kind mentioned. Concerning that part of the honorable member’s question that relates to the organization which calls itself “United Farmers Association “, so far as I can ascertain that body consists only of Mr. Chapman. I have made inquiries ‘in Sydney from the Farmers and Settlers Association of New South Wales, from the Primary Producers Union and also from officials of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, all of whom have informed me that they had not heard of this organization until a couple of days ago, when the advertisements appeared in the press. The organization does not, therefore, appear to be founded upon a proper constitutional basis’ and its bona fides seem to be open to very serious challenge.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that considerable discontent exists among postmen who form a very popular and hardworking section of the Public Service- and have an outstanding record of loyal and efficient service! They are complaining strongly about two glaring injustices which affect their conditions of employment. Their first complaint is that although they work long hours, commencing at 6.30 a.m. each day, including Saturday, they do not receive penalty rates for week-end work, whereas other employees in public utilities, such as railways and tramways employees, receive such penalty rates. Their second complaint is that whilst the award that the Public Service Arbitrator made recently granted officers in . the Third Division of the Public Service in receipt of a salary of £449 a year an increase of £75 a year, senior postmen who at present receive £450 a year were granted an increase of only £12 a year and even that miserable increase was- not granted to postmen in receipt of less than the maximum rate. Is the PostmasterGeneral sympathetic towards the postmen’s claim that these just grievances should be remedied? If so, will he instruct his departmental officers not to oppose the postmen’s case when these anomalies are placed before the Public Service Arbitrator for rectification ?
– As the honorable member has indicated in the latter portion of his question, the determination of rates of pay of postal employees, and also of all other Commonwealth public servants, rests with the appropriate tribunals, which are the Public Service Arbitrator or the Public Service Board. I realize that a certain amount of discontent exists among employees of the Postal Department on the lower ranges of salary and that they claim that the recent increase of salary awarded by the Public Service Arbitrator was inadequate. I have instructed the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs to go into this matter with the Public Service Board with a view to seeing whether a more satisfactory solution can be evolved. It must be realized, however, that the determination of these matters rests with the Public Service Arbitrator or the Public Service Board.
– Some time ago a request was made to the Minister for the Navy by the people of Albany, Western Australia, for the establishment of a naval training unit at that port, but the Minister was then unable, for very good reasons, to accede to the request. However, in view of the acceleration of the defence programme by the present Government, will the Minister now reexamine the request in order to see whether it can be granted ? Will he ascertain whether a small naval vessel can be stationed at Albany to form the nucleus of a training unit?
– The honorable member, who has been very persistent in pressing this request, has put his case forward with enthusiasm and ardour on all occasions. I should be very happy to help in the matter if it were possible to do so, but at the present time, in view of all the other demands that have to be met in connexion with recruiting and the provision of accommodation necessary for the extension of the naval services, I am afraid any such help will be somewhat delayed. However, because of the urgency of the honorable gentleman’s applications in connexion with this matter I shall keep it constantly under review.
– I direct to the Minis ter representing the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport a number of questions that have reference to the recent visit of the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport to the Northern Territory, when he made statements about the rail and shipping position at Darwin that were reported in the press under the following headlines : -
Darwin shipping and rail position worst in the world.
It had to he seen to be believed.
In view of the fact that the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport has had time, since his return from the Northern Territory, to review the position, will the Minister representing him in this House inform honorable members what steps are being taken to rectify the unsatisfactory shipping position in Darwin; what steps are being taken to re-condition the permanent way and rolling-stock; and also what steps are being taken to improve the working and living conditions of the men employed on the railway to which the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport referred?
– I know that the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport has given a great deal of attention to the matters raised by the honorable member. I shall place the statements that have been made by the honorable member before him, and furnish the honorable gentleman with a reply in due course.
– In view of the great shortage of tradesmen in the building industries, and of the continuing and growing need for the training of sufficient young men for our future development, will the Minister for Labour and National Service say what positive steps are contemplated for the establishment of a scheme to take the place of the former Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme and to give encouragement to training for essential trades as an alternative to the present position, in which our young men are allowed to drift into a false sense of security by accepting employment in channels where so much easy money is available to them at the present time?
– It is true that there is a need for building tradesmen in the Commonwealth to assist us with our home building and general construction programme. The Government has already given a good deal of consideration to the desirability or otherwise of evolving a scheme for training building tradesmen. The position is rather complicated at the present time, however, by the fact that in addition to the shortage of building tradesmen there is also a lack of continuity in the supply of building materials. It is quite probable, as I have been informed by one of the leading figures in the building world, that if we could achieve continuity of supply of building materials we could get 25 per cent more production from the same number of building operatives. In an effort to meet this problem we are arranging in our British migration programme for the selection, under the Commonwealth’s own nomination scheme, of a considerable proportion of building tradesmen. These men are beginning to arrive in Australia. Having regard first to an acceleration in the production of building materials and, secondly, to the additional number of building tradesmen who are coming to this country, we have to consider whether, taking these two factors together, there would still be need for a training scheme along the lines proposed by the honorable member. The matter is very much in the Government’s mind and we shall do what we can to obtain sufficient building trade operatives for the desired purposes.
– In directing a question to the Treasurer I refer him, by way of explanation, to a statement that he wai reported to have made prior to the last general elections, in which he said that he would never agree to revaluation of the Australian £1 to parity with sterling. Will the Treasurer assure the House at this stage that his statement in that regard still stands good? If not, will he indicate what action the Government intends to take in regard to this most contentious problem?
– My answer is un- equivocal. The matter raised by the honorable gentleman is one of policy, which will be dealt with in the right way at the right time.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that the present rate of exchange on the Australian £1 is purely artificial and has a detrimental effect upon the cost of living? As a consequence, are not wealthy graziers becoming fabulously rich by being subsidized by importers and by the Australian consumers ? Is it not also a fact that the Australian £1 will purchase more commodities in any Australian capital city than the English £1 will purchase in London? Is that not evidence that the Australian £1 is not rated at its true value? “Will the right honorable gentle:man review the present rate of exchange with a view to appreciating the Australian £1 to its proper value, and subsidizing weak industries that may be adversely affected as the result of such action ?
– I am greatly indebted to the honorable member for hia contribution to this matter. I point out to him, if he will accept a word of advice from me, that I can see that it is a subject upon which he should most urgently have a discussion with his leader. If he could make the discussion retrospective for about twelve months, it would be extremely interesting.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that the official flag of the Commonwealth is the blue ensign with the Union Jack and the stars. If this is so, has the right honorable gentleman’s attention been drawn to the fact that the official painting of the opening of the Commonwealth parliamentary buildings displays the red ensign, which I understand is the merchant flag of Australia? If these are facts, will the Prime Minister arrange for the correct flag to be painted on the official picture and convey to the people of the Commonwealth that the blue flag with the Union Jack in the corner and the stars is the official flag of the Commonwealth ?
– The questions contained in the earlier portion of the honorable member’s remarks must be answered in the affirmative, but I think that his request that a certain painting should be altered must be answered in the negative.
– In view of the fact that returned soldier organizations in New South Wales have requested that thu war gratuity which falls due in March, 1951. should be increased by 50 per cent., will the Treasurer consider granting such an increase in order to preserve the value of the gratuity as it was at the date on which it commenced to accrue in 1939 ? Is the Treasurer aware that the value of the £1 has decreased greatly since the gratuity commenced to accrue, particularly during the nine months that this
Government lias been in power, and that this Government has done nothing to prevent the rising cost of living during that period ?
– The reply to the honorable gentleman’s questions is “ No “.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture able to say whether his colleague is aware that there is some dissatisfaction among poultry farmers concerning the price being paid for eggs exported under the contract with the United Kingdom Government because this price is much less than the cost of production? The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has recently received deputations from the poultry industry which have asked him for a subsidy to make good the loss. I ask whether the Minister has given consideration to this question and, if so, whether a decision has been made or is likely to be made on it shortly?
– The situation in respect of the poultry industry is very well known to the Minister and to his department. It is appreciated that about 80 per cent, of egg production of Australia is exported and that the f.o.b. price is 2s. 7d. per dozen whereas the cost of production is considered to be very much beyond that figure. These matters have had the attention of the Minister and, on his return from abroad, they will be examined very thoroughly.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been drawn to the exorbitant profits that are being made by the distributors of English motor vehicles in this country? During the past two months statements have been published that dividends of 110 per cent., 85 per cent, and 60 per cent, have been paid by these distributors. Is the Minister prepared o freeze the profits of these companies *s he proposes to do in the case of the wool-growers? What steps does he propose to take in order to stop this exploitation of Australian purchasers?
– I am becoming tired of drawing the attention of honorable members to the fact that such questions as these are matters of Government policy which will be made known at the proper time. The taxation laws of this country which were administered for eight years by the party which the honorable member supports have not been repealed by the present Government.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order ! There is altogether too much noise from the left of the Chair. Unless that noise ceases I shall take action. No further warning will be given.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the imperialistic attitude of the Indonesian Government in relation to Dutch West New Guinea will endanger the future welfare of the natives of that area and also Australia’s interest in eastern New Guinea? I ask him also whether the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia has declared its full support of the Australian Government’s rejection of Dr. Soekarno’s claim? Could the Prime Minister inform the House whether the Minister for External Affairs has raised the matter in Holland and has been able to reinforce that country’s desire to retain West New Guinea for its future welfare and development?
– My colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, has discussed this very important matter in the Netherlands and elsewhere, in the course of his present journey. The Australian Government has a clear view on this matter. It has been stated in this House and it will be maintained.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Is a report available which gives particulars of those who have received Commonwealth flood relief? Has the Treasurer received a list of names and addresses of all who received flood damage relief, includingnames of shires and municipalities and other organizations, or do the States onlykeep a record of the names of recipients? Is the Treasurer satisfied that the most deserving cases obtained relief? Can the-
Treasurer state when I may expect an answer to question No. 1, which has been on the notice-paper for more than three months?
– I shall expedite a reply to the question on the notice-paper, now that the honorable member ha3 brought it to my notice. In answer to the first .part of his question, the Australian Government has made certain grants to the New South “Wales Government, and dispersal of those grants is a matter which is entirely the responsibility and duty of the New South “Wales Government.
– Having regard to Australia’s increasing defence requirements and to the importance of scientific research in modern defence, can the Minister say what steps the Government is taking to ensure that Australia is adequately served in this matter? Are the results of the research activities made available wherever possible to industry in general?
– It is true that in modern war and modern defence, science is the very crux of the matter. In Australia there exist quite elaborate defence science service establishments. “We have the aeronautical research laboratories in the Department of Supply, the defence research laboratories, and the long-range weapons establishments at Salisbury and “Woomera. All these institutions are under the guidance and charge of Mr. Bil tom an, whose name is well known in connexion with radar research before and during the last war. He was attached to the British Ministry of Supply and performed distinguished service. “We also have constant contact with the British Government and other governments of like mind to ourselves. The honorable member may rest assured that up to the very limit of our financial resources the Government will keep this country abreast of defence science knowledge. The honorable member will understand that a great deal of the knowledge obtained cannot be made available to industry because it is of purely defence significance. However, from time to time discoveries are made or developed which are useful to Australian industry, and it is our policy wherever possible to make results known so that industry as well as governments may benefit from our research work.
– Will the Prime Minister give consideration to amending the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act to embrace service personnel who are wounded) or killed, in operations against Communists?’ Up to date, three major operations have taken place against Communists. I refer to the Berlin air lift, the Malayan campaign, and the conflict in Korea. Will the Government amend that act to embrace not only members of the forces who have been wounded or killed in those operations but also those who may be wounded, or killed, in any like operations that may take place in the future?
– I shall most certainly have the matter that the honorable member has mentioned closely examined by my colleagues, the Minister for Repatriation and the service Ministers, and I, myself, shall also examine it.
– Early this year, I directed the attention of the Minister for Supply to the lack of .22 ammunition in country areas, in which it is urgently required for the destruction of vermin. The Minister replied that he would investigate the position, and inform me of the result. I now desire to know whether he has made those investigations, and whether he can give me any information on the subject?
– I remember that the honorable gentleman asked me a question, or wrote to me, some time ago about the matter to which he has referred, and my recollection is that some months ago I wrote to him about the position. Since then, conversations have taken place with Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited, which is the main, if not the only manufacturer of .22 ammunition in Australia. My recollection is that that company has been able to increase the production of that ammunition by something like 50 or 60 per cent. I shall not be bound by that figure but, at any rate, the manufacturer is increasing production at a rate which, it is expected, will overcome the difference between supply and demand in Australia by the end of 1951. In the meantime, we are not only importing 22 ammunition, but also restricting its export in order to ensure that the Australian consumer shall be supplied to the fullest possible extent. I believe that it is accurate to say that 85 per cent, of the 22 ammunition is supplied to country districts, concerning which the honorable member for Mallee has spoken. I assure him that we shall do all we can to ensure that country people shall receive all of this ammunition that is available.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware of the acute shortage of gas coal in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, and even as far west as Perth? Will he state whether that shortage is due to the fact that a dispute exists between the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association of Australasia and the contractors who are operating the new dragline excavator on open-cut coal, because members of that organization are not being employed in accordance with the vital principle of seniority which is enjoyed by the whole of the employees in the coal industry? Is the Minister also aware that the principle of seniority is not being observed by those contractors, and that all employees in the coal industry may be affected? If it is a matter of training men to operate this new and expensive machine, why not train persons who are already employed in that industry?
– It is, unfortunately, a fact that there is a serious shortage of gas coal in various parts of the Commonwealth. That shortage has existed, as the honorable gentleman is aware, for some years, and it is contributed to only partly by the dispute to which he has referred, but to the extent that the dispute is reducing the volume of coal which is coming forward, it is to be regretted by all who are concerned with the welfare of the. country. Some of the details of this matter have already come to my notice. lt is a fact that this very large and important piece of equipment, which cost about £250,000 to land in Australia, can make a valuable increase in the production of open-cut coal by removing the overburden and finally extracting the coal. The machine is to be installed, I understand, at the Kerosene Vale open-cut mine at Lithgow. I am advised that, up to the present time, only American technicians who installed the machinery have been working it for testing purposes, and that the machine has not yet been handed over to the company for production purposes. The dispute has assumed what I can only consider to be unnecessarily large proportions, and I feel that one must criticize very strongly the action of the union in causing an interruption of coal production without taking advantage of the means available to it to have the matter determined by the proper authority. A conference was held before the Coal Industry Tribunal yesterday, but I have been informed that Mr. Gallagher would not proceed with his examination of the dispute until the men returned to work. I hope that they will return to work promptly so that, if they have a just claim in this matter, it can be determined speedily by the tribunal that has been established for the purpose.
– Does the Minister for Labour and National Service know that certain members of the Building Workers Industrial Union, a notorious Communist-controlled organization which has been deregistered by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, who are employed on ship repairs on the Sydney waterfront, are reaping the benefit of recent wage increases for apprentices and charge hands that were obtained by the Ship Builders and Ship Joiners Association? Is it in accordance with arbitration practice in Australia for deregistered organizations to reap the benefit of work done by law-abiding trade unions? If not, will the Minister consider taking steps to prevent such practices ?
– The circumstances mentioned by the honorable member have not previously come to my notice. I do not know precisely what action the honorable member has in mind that this Government could take.’ As the result of its deregistration, the Building “Workers Industrial Union is at large to deal with employers on a basis of collective bargaining. It is rather paradoxical that the weapon of deregistration, which formerly was used as a disciplinary measure, enables unions, in some instances at any rate, at a time of full employment, to take up an even stronger bargaining position than they enjoyed when they were registered with the court. The Government has no direct jurisdiction over such matters. I shall endeavour to obtain information on the subject, but at present I cannot indicate to the honorable member any course of action that might usefully be pursued. I suggest that the employers and the employees concerned should explore means by which the Building Workers Industrial Union might again be registered with the court so that their problems could be dealt with in an orthodox way.
– Will the Minister for Supply advise the House whether he has issued instructions which prohibit or limit the visits of trade union officials to the guided weapons testing range in central Australia? Can he state now, or will he ascertain, why an application for permission to visit the rocket range, which was made nearly two months ago by Mr. Reg. Hurst, an organizer of the Electrical Trades Union, has not yet been granted? Is the Minister aware that Mr. Reg. Hurst is one of the most highly respected union officials in South Australia? He has been an almost lifelong member of the Australian Labour party and at no time has he been connected with any organization that could be regarded as subversive.
– I do not remember the name of Mr. Reg. Hurst and I do not want anything that I shall say to be considered as being derogatory to him or any other trade union official. I tell the House quite frankly that I am not prepared to let anybody visit the guided weapons testing range under any condi tions except those of the most strict security supervision. Honorable members must realize that the range has reached a stage of development that makes it quite undesirable that any but a very few persons should visit it and be in a position to inspect the establishment. I shall inquire about Mr. Hurst’s application and let the honorable member for Hindmarsh have a reply to his questions.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether the Government has considered the raising of the permissible amount that those in receipt of pensions may earn? I ask this for two reasons, first because of my concern that increases may be made to the income of pensioners, and secondly because I consider it would help production by encouraging many who are able and willing to carry out extra work to do so.
– In addition to asking his question this afternoon, the honorable member has raised this matter on several occasions personally with me and my colleagues. The matter has engaged the attention of the Government, but I am sure that the honorable gentleman will appreciate that, as it directly affects the budget, it cannot be made the subject of any statement independently of the budget.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer concerning the overtime that is worked by certain employees in Parliament House. Has the right honorable gentleman received a recommendation from Mr. Speaker concerning the claims of these officers for overtime payments? Has the claim been referred to Cabinet ? Has the Treasurer made a decision upon it, and, if he has refused to grant what appears to be a just request, will he tell the House why he has done so ?
– A request did come to me from Mr. Speaker. The matter has been thoroughly investigated by Treasury officials, but I am not yet in a position to give an adequate reply in connexion with it.
– Is the Minister for Supply aware that anxiety is being felt by employers and employees at fit. Mary’s, in New South Wales, concerning the Government’s intentions regarding what is known as the industrial area in that locality? Does he realize that, as the result of recent announcements about the defence programme, both workers and manufacturers alike are wondering whether their positions are secure? Many of these people have asked me whether the establishment that was formerly used for the manufacture of munitions will again be required for that purpose. Will the Minister consider the matter generally and will he endeavour to have a decision made regarding the future use of the area?
– The matter is under consideration at present. There need not be any anxiety on the part of workers about the security of their jobs, but a real difficulty arises out of the Government’s expanding defence programme. As honorable members know, the establishment at St. Mary’s was used during World War II. as a vast explosives and filling factory. Later, the government of the day discontinued the munitions work and handed over a great deal of the establishment to private industries.
– It did very well.
– A very valuable civic experiment is being conducted at St. Mary’s, not so much by the Department of Supply as by the Department of National Development. At the same time, defence needs are paramount, and, if no other explosives and filling factory is available, I must consider the establishment at St. Mary’s. No decision has yet been made, and I assure the honorable member for Mitchell that no decision will be made until the Government has given the most careful and sympathetic consideration to the claims of the industries that have been established in that area.
– In view of the confusion that exists in the minds of age and invalid pensioners concerning the Government’s free drug scheme and cer tain other proposals by the Minister for Health for the free treatment of pensioners, will the Minister state just what, if anything, is in his mind in relation to this matter? Some pensioners believe that this scheme will include free consultations with doctors, free transport to doctors and hospitals and many other benefits, and it is only fair to them that a clear statement should be made by the Minister, who has been playing hide and seek with the health plan for nine months.
– Although the previous Government was in office for eight years it did nothing to provide medical services for age and invalid pensioners. I have prepared a scheme, for which the enabling regulations appeared in the Commonwealth Gazette about four weeks ago. It will provide free medicine and medical treatment for age and invalid pensioners and widows, quite apart from the benefits to which they are entitled under the free life-saving drugs scheme. At the moment the details of the scheme are being prepared so that when it is implemented it will function as smoothly as the free drugs scheme.
– by leave - I wish to make a short statement concerning an answer that I made to a question I was asked yesterday about a migrant named Callus.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order ! I asked distinctly whether leave was granted to the Minister to make a statement, and no objection was taken.
– Mr. Speaker, that is wrong. I took objection to the Minister being given leave to make a statement; but, at the request of the Leader of the Opposition, I now withdraw my objection. However, I desire to make it quite clear that I did formally take objection.
– If I had heard the honorable member take objection I should not have allowed the Minister to proceed. However, leave has been granted to the Minister to make a statement, and he will now proceed to do so.
– I shall detain the House only a few minutes in order to make a very brief statement in fairness to Mr. Callus. I noticed from this morning’s press that one newspaper, and possibly others, published a report that permission had been given to the migrant mentioned, who was described as a tuberculosis patient, to remain in Australia. I think that honorable members who heard the reply that I made to the question in the House yesterday will recall that I said that, although Mr. Callus had a lung complaint it was not contagious or infectious. He is suffering, not from tuberculosis, but from bronchiectasis, which is a bronchial condition. 1 have made this statement because I feel that publication of a report that the individual concerned was suffering from tuberculosis might prejudice his opportunity of obtaining employment..
– In pursuance of section 25 of the Apple and Pear Organization Act 193S-194S, I lay on the table the following paper : -
Apple and Pear Organization Act - Fourth Annual Report of the Australian Apple ;ind Pear Board, for year 1949-50, together with Statement by Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
The Apple and Pear Board originally came into being in 1939; but, because of war-time circumstances, its functions were allowed to lapse pending a return to normal marketing conditions, and the tenure of office of its members expired in 1942. The board was reconstituted by an amending act of the Parliament in 1947, and it recommended operations as from the 1st July, 1949. It consists of seven, members who represent the growers of apples and pears, three members who represent the exporters of apples and pears; one member who represents the employees engaged in the apple and pear industry; and one member who represents the Australian Government.
The board is concerned with the regulation and supervision of exports of apples and pears from Australia, and for this purpose the act prohibits the export of those fruits except by persons who hold licences issued by the Minister ou the recommendation of the board.
The board’s report indicates that the production of apples in 1950 did not come up to expectations, particularly in Tasmania and Western Australia, and, as a result, the quantity of 1,784,000 cases shipped to the United Kingdom was far short of the 3,500,000 cases sought by the British Ministry of Food under the contract with the Australian Government. Shipments of apples to all destinations from the 1950 season’s crops approximated 2,675,000 cases. A pleasing feature of our export trade was the resumption of exports to Western Germany. The quantity shipped to that country was 348,000 cases, which compares favorably with pre-war disposals to that market. Pear exports during this year totalled 565,000 cases, of which quantity the United Kingdom market absorbed the highly satisfactory quantity of 480,000 cases.
Motion (by Mr. Fadden) proposed -
That leave he given to bring in a bill for an act to repeal the Banking Act 1947-48 and to amend the Commonwealth Bank Act 1945-1948.
– Sections 57 and 128 of the Constitution say the opposite. In other words, a measure can be introduced twice in the same session.
– I think you misunderstand my point, Mr. Speaker.
– The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) said that the Senate had not yet dealt with the bill.
– I am not questioning the fact that a measure may be brought before the House twice in one session. My objection is that the measure which the Treasurer seeks leave to introduce is precisely the same as a measure that is now before the Senate, and that it is not competent for the two Houses to consider concurrently a measure and a duplicate of that measure.
– My ruling is that it can do so. I have no information about the fate of the bill in the Senate. Sections 57 and 128 of the Constitution provide that a bill may be introduced to the House of Representatives twice during one session.
– That is not the point I was endeavouring to make, Mr. Speaker. I am sorry if I appear to be insistent, but my point is not that two bills may not be introduced in the same session, but that a bill cannot be introduced to the House of Representatives while an exactly similar measure is under consideration by the Senate.
– I rule quite distinctly that it can.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is in precisely the same terms as the Commonwealth Bank Bill that was presented to this House in March of this year and subsequently passed by it in May. The provisions of the previous bill were fully debated, and honorable members have been given adequate opportunities to express their views on the Government’s proposals. Whilst I do not propose to occupy the time of the House by again explaining in detail the proposals contained in this measure, I remind honorable members that it has two main purposes.
One purpose is to repeal the Banking Act 1947, which sought to nationalize the private trading banks of Australia. The other purpose is to replace the present system of one-man control of the Commonwealth Bank with a system of control by a board that would be fully and effectively responsible to the Parliament for the monetary and financial policy of the Commonwealth Bank. Both of those objectives are supported by a clear and indisputable mandate from the people of Australia, expressed at the federal election last year. In addition, the bill proposes to strengthen the financial structure of the bank by increasing the capital of its trading sections. This will enable the bank more effectively to meet increasing demands for finance, especially for housing and primary production.
Notwithstanding the clear mandate of the people and acceptance by this House, the bill introduced in this chamber more than six months ago has not become law. The Government is conscious of its responsibility to the people of Australia to implement the banking proposals announced in the policy speech delivered by the Prime Minister, cm behalf of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party. It is, therefore, not prepared to tolerate the unnecessary delay by the Oppositionwhich is designed to prevent it from carrying out its responsibility to the people of Australia. The present is not a time when uncertainty in the system of control of monetary and banking policy can be permitted to continue ; and therefore the Government considers the implementation of its proposals to strengthen the Commonwealth Bank as a central bank, and as part of the commercial banking system, to be a matter of urgency that should be dealt with by the Parliament without delay. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Chifley) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 27th September (vide page 64), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the following paper be printed: - International Affairs - Ministerial Statement by the Prime Minister, 27th September, 1950.
.- The debate, which was opened by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender), before he left Australia, must necessarily be resumed in a somewhat different atmosphere to-day, because of the unfolding of Government policy at various meetings of the United Nations and in other ways. At the outset of my speech I should like to make a statement concerning one matter upon which I consider the Government can be congratulated. I refer to the persistence of the Minister for External Affairs in raising the subject of former enemy prisoners of war still in Russian hands. I consider that in persisting with that matter, and in continuing his attempt to discover what has become of slave labour that has vanished behind the frontiers of the Soviet Union, the Minister is doing humanity a service.
It is unfortunate, however,- that the Government’s programme on what one might term international humanitarian work is so contemptible, inadequate, and mean in its motivation. Since the Government took office it has taken no step to give any financial or other assistance towards British recovery. It has also abandoned the very valuable work of the previous Government on international children’s relief, which is a -very valuable sphere of international relief, because upon it depends the future sanity and wellbeing of many of the world’s citizens, including many of Europe’s citizens, and possibly, in some respects, the question of whether they are to be open, as they grow up, to constructive or destructive influences. The Chifley Government, in addition to donating £28,000,000 to Unrra, gave £4,500,000 to the International Children’s Relief Organization. It gave that amount in regular sums. To-day, in Australia, we have the disgraceful spectacle of the United Nations appeal for children being conducted, with the sanction of the Government, by tottering voluntary workers. That sanction means that the Government admits that the need for assistance in international children’s relief still exists, but it does nothing effective to meet the need, as the previous Government did, by making substantial grants of money for that purpose.
In the recent debates at the General Assembly of the United Nations the policy of the Minister for External Affairs was, in my opinion, gravely mistaken. He quite unnecessarily and foolishly intervened in the dispute between South Africa and India, and in such a manner that his policy was so unrealistic, was so based on a lie, that it did not obtain support in the General Assembly of Great Britain, the United States or any other dominion or nation. It is well known that for many years the relations between India and South Africa have been tense because of the underprivileged position of Indian nationals in South Africa. That is not new. It was one of the causes of the Boer War. Because of the maltreatment of Indians in South Africa by Kruger’s Government, Gandhi in his early days supported the British in that particular conflict. Even when India was not independent, and when its government was carried on substantially by a British viceroy, it constantly protested through the viceroy about the treatment of Indian nationals in South Africa. I remember the Marquis of Linlithgow making a very impassioned statement on the deep and burning indignation felt by India on that particular issue.
The dispute has been raised again in a particularly acute form by the present Government of South Africa which seems to have an apologist in an Australian Country party back-bencher who, being an ex-resident of South Africa, is a very interesting example of how Lord Milner’s hope that the British point of view would triumph over the Boer point of view has been completely reversed in that the Boer point of view has triumphed over the British. The dispute was raised again by India when it became clear that the Prime Minister of South Africa, Dr. Malan, intended to introduce into the South African Parliament a bill to classify citizens of South Africa into first, second and third classes according to their approximation to a white skin. Now that is a dispute in which Australia need not involve itself. We desire the goodwill of both South Africa and India. The Minister had no need to involve himself in the dispute and if he did, he might at least have taken his stand on realistic grounds. But he alone in the General Assembly of the United Nations acted out the lie that this was purely a domestic matter for South Africa. He did that at a time when racial oppression is one of the strongest cards that international communism endeavours to use in seeking to win the sympathy of Asia. I suppose that racial oppression and malnutrition have been among the main reasons why. Communist influence has spread in Asia.
The Minister pretended that it was purely a domestic matter for South Africa alone and voted in support of that view. How he could have expected Asiatic nations or India, a very great fellow dominion, to regard the maltreatment of Indians as being no business of India and hence, not an international question, I do not know. It appears that the Minister, has decided that he must support this sort of proposal and that he believes that he has some sort of obligation to make a clea vage which has always been avoided in the United Nations - a cleavage on racial lines between Europeans, and Asiatic countries. Luckily for us and the Minister, such foolish policies do not prevail among other European governments or our fellow dominions and flip mischievous incompetence of the Minister did not have the effect it might Iki ve had in bringing illwill to this country.
I turn now to the subject of Korea. I urge that the Government should state its view on Korea, and make known advice that it intends to give on the future of that country. I well remember that when there was an all-party committee, which included people outside this Parliament, on the Japanese peace settlement, we were discussing Korea which was then divided between the United States and the Soviet Union. The United States was endeavouring to set up representative government in Southern Korea, in compliance with the promises given at Potsdam. We were then told that within a few months of the commencement of efforts to establish representative government in South Korea there were 479 contending political parties and, of course, the assembly which was produced from that state of political confusion became inept and the trend in the country, especially after the United States left, was towards dictatorship.
It should be recognized that any attempt to establish what we call democracy in a country such as Korea which, in 10,000 years of history, has not had one single democratic political tradition, must he an extremely thankless and difficult task. Russia established ‘a dictatorship in the north. There may have been an Opposition, but if it existed it was in the cemetery and not in the assembly. Therefore the southern government, while it was representative, rested on a virtually impossible foundation. The northern government rested upon dictatorship and the government by force which is a feature of the whole history of Korea.
Therefore, I do not make any complaint about the inferior inefficiency of the southern government by comparison with that of northern Korea. Its inefficiency proceeded from an attempt by the United States to be decent and to give democratic institutions where no democratic tradition existed. But there is one problem in Korea, on which I think Australia should reverse its attitude and advice insofar as the Australian Government called upon to give advice to the United States and other members of the United Nations. Such advice should be quite clearly in favour of the destruction of landlordism in southern Korea. I recognize that the Communists, in their propoganda, always give as evidence of superior good faith on the part of Russia the fact that the Soviet regime in northern Korea handed over, the land of the landlords to the peasants, thereby tending to make them contented while in South Korea that was not done. I know that the United States did not adopt that course because it took a strictly correct viewpoint which was that there was to be, ultimately, an independent Korean Government and that the settlement of the land question was not a matter which should be decided by the United States as a temporary interloper but was one that should be settled by the future government of Korea. Whilst that is all very well in theory, it would in no way be appreciated by the illiterate peasantry of Korea. The legal nicety which restrained the United States from carrying out a redistribution of the land would not commend itself to a people to whom its mere explanation would be unintelligible. Korea, like India and China in the past, has been rack-rented with debt. Generations of debt have accumulated in families and inefficient landlordism has extracted rentals from its tenants of up to 60 and 70 per cent, of their annual crops and that has reduced the great majority of the population to a state of peonage. That is an ancient and festering sore which can only be cut out in the manner in which it was cut out in Northern Korea.
I am well aware that Russia, in adopting that policy, did so in order to buttress its Communist regime in North Korea, but its actions were based upon a recognition of what the Korean peasantry desired and the United Nations will not be able to establish stable institutions in Korea on the basis of an ancient and vicious feudalism. I apologize for using the word “ feudalism “, for there is nothing in Asiatic landlordism to equal the restraints and the regulations which did place some limitations on the bad features of what we called “feudalism” in Europe. But the Australian Government ought to be pressing for the solution of the land question in Korea. It should recommend the complete ending of landlordism and not the half-baked method of trying to end it by paying compensation to old families who have battened on serfs for generations. If representative government is to be supported in Korea, it should be established on healthy, economic foundations and not on ancient rottenness.
.- In the early part of his speech the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) launched an attack against the Government’s foreign policy. I do not suggest that any government has a foreign policy which is entirely free from fault. As Disraeli once said, it is easier to be critical than correct. Foreign policy is an aspect of government which involves all sorts of difficulties. The scene changes quickly and the best that the Government can do is lay down a broad realistic policy and adjust it to events from time to time. Furthermore, this Government has an adequate foreign policy. That is more than can be said of the Chifley Government. The foreign policy of the previous Government consisted fundamentally of a blind support of the United Nations. When the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) was abroad no member of the Cabinet had any idea of what our foreign policy really was. Moreover, this Government has not allowed the waterside workers to dictate the foreign policy of Australia in any respect. Millions of pounds were lost to this country as a result of the ineffective and futile foreign policy of the previous Government. Its policy also engendered ill feeling between Australia and nations overseas. The honorable member for Fremantle spoke of the mischievous incompetence of the present Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender).
– On one particular point.
– Yes, on one particular point. As he chose to use that phrase, may I remind him of the mischievous incompetence of the previous Government in regard to Sergeant Gamboa, Mrs. O’Keefe, Jang and various other people of foreign nationality. As a result of the mischievous handling of those affairs, this country lost a great deal of the goodwill of its neighbours in the near north which it could ill-afford to lose. In a recent speech the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) laid stress on the close association between defence and foreign affairs. That was probably the most significant point that emerged from his general outline of present-day national affairs.
The Government has been criticized in some quarters for its delay in sending ground troops to Korea. The fact is that the Government was unable to send ground forces any earlier than it did because the Australian Regular Army, under its enlistment terms, could not be sent abroad. Nor could Australian troops in Japan be diverted to Korea because they had been specifically enlisted for service in Japan. That lends point to the argument of the Prime Minister that this country should extend the terms of enlistment to enable our soldiers to serve in any part of the world.. That is a most important feature of this Government’s foreign and defence policy. It manifests a broad realistic approach to world affairs and it indicates the realization that defence and foreign affairs must necessarily go hand in hand. It must be a source of satisfaction, not only to Australians, but also to our friends in other democratic countries, to know that at least Australia has a Government which is taking an international view of its responsibilities and is anxious to place Australia on a footing worthy of its place in the democratic family of nations. It is of no use to pay only lip-service to the United Nations and to say, “ We believe in the United Nations “, because there is no doubt that we do believe in it on both sides of this House. We must go further than that. If we were to restrict our defence policy as advocated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley), Australia would he in no position to fulfil its obligations abroad. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Will Australia be the weak link in the chain of democracies and let its partners down by not being strong enough to take the strain? Australia certainly will not be the weak link if it continues to advance in the direction already indicated by the Government. Just as citizenship involves duties and obligations as well as rights and privileges, so doe3 partnership of the family of nations involve duties and obligations at home and abroad. An attack can he warded off only if a nation is strong, but the best and quickest way of inviting attack is to be weak and vacillating.
We all know that international communism is on the march. The world scene is changing rapidly and communism is spreading its red shadow over more and more of the world. Hitler, in comparison with Stalin, was an amateur at the game of acquiring territory and power. During the last few months a war has occurred in Korea. It appears to be reaching the final stages now because of the magnificent leadership of General MacArthur. It is disappointing that the call made by the United Nations to its members did not receive a readier response from them all, but Australia can be proud that its forces were on the scene very early in the piece and have played an effective part in the campaign, in proportion to their strength and our ability to send them quickly. The prestige of the democracies has risen greatly as a result of our success in Korea, but much lost ground must be made up in the East because of what occurred in the last few years of the term of office of the previous Government. It is most important that we should have the goodwill of all our neighbours. It has almost become trite to say that to our north lies approximately one-third of the people of the world and that we cannot afford to antagonize any section of them.
The stand of the democracies against aggression in Korea has, we hope, been a lesson to Russia. We hope that there will be no repetition of the Korean incident but, as the Prime Minister said, we must be ready to meet any attack such as could occur against Formosa, Siam, Tibet or Iran. Russia covets the oilfields in Iran. According to reports from various parts of the world Russia is concentrating troops here and there. The only way to safety lies through strength, and the readiness to meet aggression wherever it appears. In Indo-China there is a great deal of trouble. Bao Dai’s troops are fighting against those of Ho Chi Minh. Many French troops are also engaged in that country, which is the reason, why France was unable to render more effective aid to the United Nations in Korea. The British are fully occupied in Malaya, but were able to despatch forces from Hong Kong to fight with the Americans in the battle for Korea. In the Philippines there is trouble from the Hukbala Haps, and behind the scenes are the agitators from Moscow. India and Pakistan are at loggerheads. Sir Owen Dixon’s mission was not successful, and. if anybody could have succeeded in bringing those countries together it is Sir Owen Dixon, because of his brilliance and ability. The importance of the Middle East to Australian security must not be overlooked. The withdrawal of the British garrisons from India and the Middle East generally, including Egypt, has made a great deal of difference io Australia’s strategic situation. Many Australians do not recognize that our future is bound up with the security of the democracies in the Middle East. Our strategic position in the Indian Ocean was recently mentioned by the honorable member for Curtin (Mr. Hasluck), and I agree with his statement that we must build up our defences in the north and the north-western regions of Australia because it is from those directions that danger may come. The Indonesians are talking and acting aggressively. Soekarno is still making outbursts periodically against the Dutch in advancing Indonesia’s claim to sovereignty over Dutch New Guinea. The future of Dutch New Guinea is of vital concern to Australia and is one of the main reasons why the Minister for External Affairs is now abroad. Unfortunately, Pandit Nehru supports Indonesia’s extravagant claim to sovereignty over Dutch New Guinea. That territory joins Australian New Guinea and, therefore, it is of great significance to this country. For that reason we must urgently consider any claim that is made with respect to the sovereignty of Dutch New Guinea.
The British Socialist Government acted precipitately in acknowledging the Government of “ red “ China. In doing so it was out of step with the United States and other members of the United Nations. The Japanese problem still awaits solution. General MacArthur has done a magnificent job, but the treaty with Japan is still in the air although the Minister for External Affairs assured us before he went abroad that good reasons exist for hoping that the treaty will be finalized in the near future. The future of Japan is of the greatest importance to Australia. 1 am not one of those who believe that Japan should be allowed to rebuild its military power. Whilst Japan must play a significant part in any efforts to maintain the balance of power in the Pacific, nevertheless we must have regard to its conduct in the past. Australians would not countenance the rebuilding of Japanese military power, because, when we remember its past record, we have no reason to believe that given the opportunity it would not again attack Australia as it did in World War II.
As the honorable member for Curtin has said, power politics are the dominant factor in world affairs at present. Germany presents another grave problem. I should very much like to see the treaty with that country finalized. I do not believe that in defending western Europe the democracies can afford to be without the support of the German army which, next to the Russian army, is the greatest potential military force in Europe. Unless the western democracies take Germany into their camp that country will certainly go into the Russian camp. I agree with the statement that was made by Mr. Churchill that if it were not for the atom bomb the world would now be iii the throes of a third giant conflict. Only the atom bomb stands between peace and war. In the meantime, we can rest assured ‘ that Russia will continue to follow the pattern of its activities during the last’ few years by striking here and there with the object of dispersing the forces of the democracies. We must be ready to meet that threat wherever it may be translated into action. Should a third world war occur, I believe that it will be decided not in the Pacific but in Europe. Russia has a. huge army and air force, and whilst it has not a great fleet it. has submarines in sufficient numbers to be capable of harrying and destroying allied shipping in the Pacific, nevertheless, J believe that a third world war would ultimately be decided between land and air forces in Europe. Therefore, it is all the more imperative that we should be able to make our contribution of land forces in whatever sphere the democracies might be threatened. I conclude by repeating that our foreign policy must be closely linked with our defence policy. If we are to play our part effectively in preserving world peace we must not only build up our defences internally but also integrate our defence policy with our foreign, policy. Only by such means will Australia be enabled to play its part, effectively on the world scene.
[4.0 .The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) is reported in to-day’s newspapers to have urged that the United Nations forces should not cease fighting when they reach the 3Sth parallel in Korea and that the United Nations should not make peace in that country until the North Korean forces have been utterly destroyed or until the struggle has been carried victoriously to the. Manchurian border. That, idea will not he endorsed by a great, many ordinary people in this country who have given their allegiance and faith to the United Nations’ cause. Such ideas which are now being discussed in relation to Korea are on ite alien to the concept upon which many ordinary men and women have given loyal support throughout the years to the United Nations. Th, argument that the United Nations should spurn peace proposals in Korea at this stage but, instead, should proceed to clean up the North Koreans thoroughtly, and the idea that the forces of the United Na tions should carry on the conflict until the whole of North Korea is subjugated and placed under the control of a nonCommunist Government are quite foreign to the concept of many honest, loyal and idealistic supporters of the ideals of the United Nations.
– Would they want to see Korea divided permanently?
– No. The unanimous vote of this Parliament was not obtained on the basis of those ideas for the entry of Australia into the struggle in Korea as part of the United Nations forces. The unanimous view which the Parliament expressed only a few weeks ago was that the United Nations forces should enter Korea for the purpose of defending South Korea with the object, not of prolonging, and extending the struggle, but of localizing and ending it. Some people believe that the struggle in Korea should be prolonged and extended into a third world war, as they regard this opportunity as propitious to make war against Russia rather than wait until Russia becomes stronger and able to wage war against the democracies. I repeat that that was not the idea on which the Parliament voted unanimously for the entry of Australian forces into the conflict in Korea in support of the United Nations and neither is it in keeping with the ideals on which the United Nations itself was founded. The idea was that action by the United Nations must be for the restoration and preservation of peace, and not for the extension of the struggle and its conversion into a third world war. It was the military aggression of North Korea, quite irrespective of the political complexion of the government which existed there, that the United Nations forces took up arms to oppose and defeat. It was not the brutal Communist set-up of the North Korean Government that the United Nations took up arms to oppose and defeat, any more than it was the brutal fascist set-up of the South Korean Government that the United Nations took up arms to defend and maintain. Therefore I consider that many people, who see the United Nations as the great force for the future peace of the world, fervently hope that the United Nations forces will not proceed beyond the 3Sth parallel at this stage; that, as soon as possible, the United Nations will endeavour to arrange for free elections throughout the whole of Korea with a view to establishing a united Korean government; and that, as soon as possible after that government has been established, the United Nations forces will withdraw from Korea.
It seems only logical to me that in the making of those arrangements, the representatives of North Korea as well as the representatives of South Korea must be heard by the United Nations. On a matter of such obvious interest to China, the actual government of that country should surely be recognized, irrespective of distaste of its Communist nature, and an end should be made to the ridiculous pretence that Chiang Kai-shek can any longer speak in the name of the 400,000,000 people of China. I suggest that, in accordance with its constitution and its original objects, the United Nations has no right to be deterred from making those arrangements, and from taking that course, through contemplating the possibility that the Korean elections may produce a Communist government dominated by Moscow. I imagine that such a set-up must be quite a possibility, and no one here contemplates it with pleasure, but it does not appear to me that the United Nations, in accordance with its constitution and charter, should be deterred by that possibility, provided it can give to the people of Korea the opportunity to choose freely the kind of government under which they will live.
No one here denies the need to counter the spread of communism in the world. The war against communism is largely a war between opposing ideas. The way in which to counter communism is not to pervert the United Nations from its original concept of a league of all the peoples of the world, joined together to resist aggression and to promote peace, into merely an anti-Communist military organization of the non-Communist nations. That would be a betrayal and destruction of the idea on which the
United Nations was founded. It would mean that the United Nations in name could not become the United. Nations in fact. It would be a betrayal of the faith and support which millions of ordinary men and women in so many countries give to-day to the United Nations ideal.
If the men in the Kremlin are, as so many people believe, power-crazed lunatics, determined on world conquest, we have no alternative. Their aggression will have to be resisted. But unless the men in the Kremlin are in that category, they must desperately wish to avoid war, as every sane man in the world desperately wishes to avoid it. If they desire world domination nothing can stop them from starting a war which may end the world itself, and which will certainly smash our civilization as we know it. But if the Soviet leaders are not entirely powercrazed lunatics, they cannot be deliberately planning a world war. If they are obsessed by a fear of western attacks on their country, just as we are obsessed by a fear of Soviet attacks on us, then out of that two-sided fear that breeds suspicion, hatred and misunderstanding, a third world war could come without any one wanting it. If the Soviet leaders fear that a mass attack will be suddenly launched on them, we should not be astonished. Had Soviet .spokesmen uttered against us the threats, incitements and unofficial declarations of war which have been uttered in recent weeks in the United States of America and in this country by reckless warmongers, we would know that there was nothing on earth for us to do but to plan the most propitious moment to begin a world war before they began it and destroyed us. Such statements as have been made by the leaders of the war party in the United States of America, and by the leaders of the war ‘party in this country, if they had been made by Soviet leaders would cause us to believe that a third world war was inevitable.
The Sydney Sunday Herald, which is certainly not a Communist journal, published, on the 10th September last, an article from its Washington correspondent. It appeared under double-column headings, and occupied a great deal of space. I have time only to summarize the article, and t quote one or two excerpts from it. If i.i. ever, the whole tenor of it was to the effect that the advocates of deliberately launching war against Russia now, have become a considerable minority group not only outside, but also inside the United Sta: Govern nr t. The correspondent wrote -
The argument runs: “Why not put an end to dread and uncertainty by getting there fustest with the mostest, to use a famous military dictum of the American Civil War. Let’s get at Russia now, overwhelm her with atom bom’.)?, and live i’i peace ever after. “This argument lias been developed openly, tacitly, frankly, and in disguise by some of the most i n thieu Lini men in the United States. “In lbc lust fortnight preventive war statements lui vo avalanched.”
I believe that those words do not represent the view of President Truman or of other responsible men who are close to him. They have done their utmost to damp down statements of that kind, which must be so extraordinarily harmful to the development of peaceful relations in the world. Yet it seems to me that if there is such a strong opinion among influential men in the United States of America that, we should deliberately launch a third world war now against the Soviet Union, and if they find that such action would be unacceptable to their own people through their present attitude to the termination of the Korean struggle, they must be contemplating a certain possibility. What is it? It may be that they think that, by continuing the struggle in Korea and by forcing it right to the Manchurian border, they will .perhaps be able to provoke Russia at this stage into a third world war. As I have stated, they believe that such a conflict should be deliberately begun by us, yet they feel Chey cannot obtain the support of their countrymen to begin it. Therefore, they may hope to bring it about by continuing the Korean struggle in the present circumstances. The United Nations’ action in Korea had to be taken, of course, but we should not blind ourselves to the very real possibility that every shot fired in that conflict has increased the Communist grip on the minds of the people of Asia. I shall quote from Time magazine of the 21st August, another journal that is certainly nonCommunist. That issue of the magazine contained a report from the Korean battlefront by Mr. John Osborne, its chief correspondent in the Pacific, who began bis despatch by writing -
This is a story that jio American should ever have to write. It is the ugly story of an ugly war. . : . Waging wa.r against communism by military means alone is forcing upon the American army, operating in a. foreign and largely hostile country, acts and tait udcs of the utmost savagery. . . . not the usual inevitable savagery of combat in the field, but savagery in detail - the blotting out of villages where the enemy may be hiding; the shooting and shelling of refugees who may include North Koreans.
Of course, it is completely unrealistic to suppose that the Americans could have conducted their campaign in Korea with kid gloves any more than any regular army could .fight gently against guerrillas in the country of the guerrillas. Mr. Osborne rightly observed -
Not merely is there savagery on both sides, but our men in Korea are waging this war as they ure forced to wage it, and as they will be forced to wage any war against the Communists anywhere in Asia, until our political and military leaders acquire and apply an understanding of war in Asia that they have not yet displayed in Korea.
The first step towards that understanding is to recognize that war against Communistled insurgent peoples may destroy much of Asia, but only increase the influence of communism in Asia. The aim of the United Nations, whose resolution sanctioned the taking of military action by its members for the pacific and proper purpose of curbing an act of aggression, is to restore peace and not to spread the war.
.- I cannot agree with everything that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser) said, although I concede that there was a great deal of substance in seme of his suggestions. The honorable gentleman said that he did not approve of our troops crossing the 38th parallel and entering North Korea. What would bo the alternative? The suggestion is that our forces should stop as soon as they reach the 3Sth parallel, which nobody can see. What would happen then? Are we to assume that our troops should be sent home? If they were recalled, we should know what the natural outcome would be.
The day they left the shores of Korea, the North Korean hordes would sweep south and we should have to go through the awful business of driving them back again. Another alternative to sending our troops into North Korea might be the establishment of an occupation force in South Korea. But that would be an extremely costly alternative.. I do not think that it would be possible for us in these days to maintain a big standing army in Korea in addition to meeting all the other defence commitments that we have all round the world. In using the word “ we “, I am speaking of the United Nations. The suggestion by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro that our forces should halt at the 38th parallel and that the United Nations should then hold h general election throughout Korea for the purpose of electing a single parliament sounds well, but is not fortified by recent experience. As the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) knows, representatives of the United Nations tried repeatedly over a period of four years to arrange a common system of parliamentary government for North Korea and South Korea, but could never persuade the northern Koreans to agree to any such plan. We must be realistic. Only a week or so ago, the United Nations ground forces were poised near the 38th parallel, which divides villages in some places, while its air forces were bombing objectives hundreds of miles farther north. That was a Gilbertian situation.
Being realistic, we must realize that the decision on this matter does not rest with us in this Parliament. The decision will be made by the United Nations, and every one of us can have the utmost confidence that it will be a wise decision. The emergence of a “war party” in the United States of America, to which the honorable member for Eden-Monaro referred, is most disturbing. The existence of an element that would provoke a war with Russia is of serious consequence, yet I should be the last to say that a war of that kind was not possible.
– President Truman denounced those people.
– Yes, and I also understand that a senior military officer, who suggested that an attack be made upon Russia, lost his job as the result of his indiscretion. The fact remains that there are men in the United States of America, as no doubt there are in Russia and in other countries, who would suggest that an immediate all-out attack would be preferable to the continuance of the present tension. That is a dreadful conception of international relationships and the functions of the United Nations, and we should be most grateful that there are men like President Truman who have sufficient influence to curb those superpatriots, as they might be termed. President Truman and his advisors realize to the full the horrors that would be involved in a future war. They know that if America released atom bombs over Russia, similar weapons would inevitably be used against the United States of America. We and our allies emerged victorious in the military sense from both World War I. and World War II. But what did victory mean to us? We certainly have not won the peace. International problems have multiplied and become magnified after each world conflict, and to-day we are threatened by the world-wide expansion of communism. Notwithstanding the arguments that are advanced by men in. the United States of America who advocate an all-out attempt to crush Russia by launching atom bombs against its key cities, I consider that we may rest assured that President Truman and his advisers would never become parties to any such scheme.
It is not very difficult in these days to prepare some form of brief address on the subject of international affairs. Over recent years, international affairs have assumed an ever-increasing importance to us. Not only have activities between nations increased but also the press, the radio and international travel have led to more frequent contact between individual citizens of different countries. By these means we have become increasingly more conversant with the events that take place in other parts of the world and thus we have gained a greater appreciation of our international responsibilities. Australia is isolated from the rest of the English-speaking world, yet approximately 1,000,000,000 people live not far from its shores. Although we are situated 10,000 miles away from Europe, we have been engaged in two world wars within my lifetime. Australia participated in World War I largely because of its empire associations. It took its stand with other members of the British Commonwealth to fight against aggression, and we were victorious. In joining the conflict, we honoured certain guarantees that we had given to foreign nations. Australia entered World War II. also chiefly because of its membership of the British Empire. Before that war had been in progress for twelve months, units of our navy, our army and our air force were engaged in the struggle 10,000 miles from their homeland. During that war we had to face the real threat of invasion for the first time. That was a danger that most of us had not considered previously. I recall that, when I was a boy, my friends and I were accustomed to laugh about the “Yellow Peril”. We saw Japanese seamen walking the streets of our cities, often carrying bunches of carnations or chrysanthemums, and we thought that any suggestion of a threat from such men was fantastic. But the laughs were wiped off our faces in thi* south-west Pacific later.
I believe that, in the- event of a third world war, the principal scene of conflict would again be the Mediterannean Sea and the continent of Europe. However, Australia’s isolation would not protect it from the consequences of such a war. It would be forced to meet dangers near its own shores as it did during World War II. In a very notable contribution to this debate last week, the honorable member for Curtin (Mr. Hasluck) spoke about the situation in the region of the Indian Ocean. He referred to the strategic value of the Indian Ocean and pointed out that it lay along the whole of Australia’s western seaboard. Formerly, all approaches to Australia through the Indian Ocean were in friendly hands, but the situation has changed and, in the event of another war, those approaches would probably be denied to us with results that should be obvious to everybody. In connexion with the remarks made by the honorable member for Curtin, who is, I submit, an authority on these matters, I point out that in addition the sea lanes through the Indian Ocean being imperilled in the event of war, similar difficulties would present themselves in the Pacific, particularly in the Panama Canal area. If it is reasonable to anticipate enemy interference with the sea route round the Cape of Good Hope, it is just as reasonable to anticipate interference to the Pacific sea lanes.
The only route that is regularly used by ships that come to this country from Great Britain via the Pacific is that which passes through the Panama Canal, and I propose to say something about that important link of communication between Australia and Great Britain. First of all, we must bear in mind that the submarine blockade that we shall encounter in the Pacific will be much more intense than any we have ever known. It is estimated that Russia has no less than 500 submarines, and that by the end of next year it will possess at least 1,000 submarines. Those figures are taken from Jane’s Fighting Ships and Brassey’s Naval Annual. When we recall that although Germany commenced World War II. with a total fleet of only 57 submarines we were nearly brought to our knees, we realize the enormous damage that could be inflicted by a fleet of 1,000 submarines. Indeed, such a fleet of under-water vessels would be sufficient to alter the balance of sea power, which has been in our favour for generations.
I propose to make some remarks now about the Panama Canal and the countries immediately surrounding it. Can we be sure that in any future emergency that canal will be available to our ships? Those honorable members who are conversant with the history of recent developments in Central America, particularly in the last two years, know the degree to which the Communists have infiltrated those countries, which are now probably more subject to Russian domination than is any country outside Europe. In Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, Nicaragua and other South American countries the headway made by the Communists has been most alarming. The Republic of Panama, through which the canal passes, was, until recently, fairly free from Communist influence, but in recent months a big change has taken place in that state. Its population’ contains a high propor tion of Chinese. The Communists have intimidated those Chinese by threatening to take reprisals on their relatives in China unless they co-operate with the Communist party. The consequence has been that large numbers of Chinese have joined the Communist party. For verification of my statements I refer honorable members to publications by Keesing and Harper and to De Courcy’s Intelligence Digest. The history of Communist infiltration of Central America and of the formation of the Caribbean legion is well worth reading, and should be known to every honorable member.
It is clear, therefore, that we must expect our enemies to subject us to a severe submarine blockade, and that use of the Panama Canal, in particular, will be denied to us. Apart from any efforts that we may make through diplomatic channels to enable our ships to use the canal, we shall probably have to rely on military intervention on our behalf by the United States of America. However, it is quite possible that the canal itself may be destroyed by the use of atomic weapons. The development of those weapons makes it possible for an atomic bomb to be dropped at the entrance to the canal by air, or released by a surface vessel or a submarine. Furthermore, if the dread possible of the hydrogen bomb materializes, the area may he infected by radio-active vapours that would render it unusable for a period of as long as five years.
In view of the potential menace to our sea lanes through the Indian Ocean and the Panama Canal, I suggest that we should turn our attention to the development of an alternative sea route round Cape Horn. Whilst I do not like to commend that route to any sailor, I point out to honorable members that the development of radar as a navigational aid has overcome most of the perils associated with it. In the event of war occurring it would be much safer to send ships round Cape Horn than to run the risk of sending them through the Panama Canal; the use of which,, as I have already pointed out, may be denied to us altogether. (Extension of time granted.] It is vital to our interest that we should be on good terms with the nations of South America, particularly Chile, Brazil and Argentina, where ports are available for ships to refuel and to take on water and stores. Whilst paying all due deference to the arguments advanced by the honorable member for Curtin concerning the development of sea routes through the Indian Ocean, I point out that the very fine aerodrome that is now under construction in southern Tasmania will, when completed, enable us to provide air cover for 600 or 700 miles for ships leaving Australia on the Cape Horn route. This matter is of such vital importance to Australia’s security that I ask honorable members to give serious consideration to the matters I have mentioned.
– I propose to advert to one or two observations made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) at the outset of the debate. In the course of his speech, the Prime Minister gave some account of the progress of operations in Korea, and drew one or two morals from the conduct of that campaign. He also made some very pertinent statements concerning the defence policy of Australia. I consider that we cannot have an effective foreign policy unless we are prepared to support it with adequate and, if need be, instantaneous, defence. The Korean campaign appears to be concluding somewhat suddenly. For this early victory we are indebted once more to the genius of that brilliant strategist, General MacArthur. However, I think that in the hour of apparent victory we should still be cautious. It may well be that, from the diplomatic point of view, we are entering into an extremely delicate a nd explosive stage as the United Nations troops prepare to cross the 3Sth parallel in pursuit of the enemy. As the Prime Minister pointed out, Korea may prove to be only the first phase of a calculated campaign of Soviet irritation tactics against the democracies. People who have studied the matter are generally agreed that there are a number of -other areas in which Australia, as a Pacific power, is vitally concerned and may become involved. We are concerned with three main theatres. The first is the Far
East, in which the principal danger spots are Formosa, Indo-China and Malaya. In passing, I point out that many honorable members feel that Malaya is a particular responsibility of this country. The second important theatre is the Middle East, in which, since 1945, there has been a threat by Russia to the integrity of Persia. Thirdly, we have the ever-erupting volcano of Europe, with the threat of Russian aggression across the rather tenuous and ill-defined line that separates Western Germany from Eastern Germany. The Leader of the Opposition, in the course of his speech last Wednesday, made a statement to the effect that, in spite of those considerations, Australia now was more secure than it had been at any time in the last twenty years. In support of that statement, he pointed to the fact that, as we already know, the Japanese navy is no more, and said that so far as he could see there was no threat to Australia’s security. I consider that that is taking a very superficial and very short view. What would have been the effect upon Australian security had it not been for the way in which the United States forces, acting on behalf of the United Nations, rushed into the breach in Korea? What would have been the effect on our security if, as seemed likely at one stage, Korea had fallen to our enemies? What would be the effect on Australian security if the Russians started to fulfil their manifest aim of moving southward, having already gained almost the whole of China - honorable members already know what is happening in Indo-China - and ultimately gained control of the Malay States? The threat to this country is very similar to what it was in the late 1930’s. I consider that that is a most conservative statement and that we shall be deluding ourselves if we agree with the Leader of the Opposition.
The Prime Minister very properly directed the attention of the House to what ought to be a truism and a platitude, but which, I must confess, seems very often to be forgotten by people who should know better. He referred to the fact that all the talk about foreign policy pacts and arrangements is absolutely useless unless a country is prepared to back its views by force. I know that I am stating the point of view of the Australian people when I say that I was very concerned by many of the aspects of the Leader of the Opposition’s speech. It was disappointing at a time when dangerous conditions exist in the world to hear the right honorable gentleman, speaking on behalf of the official parliamentary Opposition in this country, say that he would take no part in assisting the Government’s present recruiting campaign. A statement made by a Labour party official outside this House at about the same time, indicating that it was the intention of that party to block, in another place, the Government’s national service training plans, was also very disturbing. Without wishing to presume too much, I consider that those views, even if they have been well considered by the party which honorable members opposite represent, are not representative of the majority of Labour opinion in Australia. Honorable members opposite will never convince this side of the House that the honest-to-goodness Labour man, especially out in the country districts, believes in the view advanced by the Leader of the Opposition last Wednesday.
I do not wish to detain the House with autobiographical details, but I should like to say that during the recent war I had the honour of serving for five years in the ranks of the Sth Division. During that time, especially during the three and a. half years that I spent as a prisoner of war in a Japanese camp, I had a singular opportunity, always being interested in political subjects, of being able to sound out the political views and general leanings of the men in that division. It is no exaggeration to say that at least 60 per cent, of the men of the Sth Division had Labour sympathies. The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) will confirm, that statement, because he was there with me. The proportion, in fact, may have been very much higher than I have mentioned. The same story could, doubtless, be told about other divisions of the Army and about’ formations of the Navy and the Air Force. In other words, the majority of volunteers for the services does not share the political philosophy of the present Government. Yet we are faced with the extraordinary situation that the Opposition officially states that at this most dangerous period of world history it will take no part in the Government’s recruiting campaign merely because the Government, motivated by facts, says that volunteers must, be prepared to enlist for service not only in Australia but also wherever their services may be required. I ask the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) how he, as Deputy Leader of the Opposition and of a great party, with all his experience as President of the United Nations General Assembly, and as a man who probably knows more about the actual working of the United Nations than does any other person in this chamber, can possibly support such an unrealistic and futile policy. The right honorable gentleman knows perfectly well that in order to make the United Nations effective we have to put some teeth into it. He also knows perfectly well that although Australia is only a small country it produces a brand of troops and fighters who are the equal of a.ny in the world. He knows perfectly well that to make what in part, at any rate, could well be called one of his children, the United Nations organization, effective, we have to be prepared to shoulder our obligations and to prove to the world the sincerity of our protestations.
The effects abroad of the Leader of the Opposition’s declaration last Wednesday must have been deplorable. The attitude of the Labour party, which obviously would constitute the alternative Government to the Administration now in office should any turn of the political wheel occur, must be the dismay of our allies among the western democracies just as it must cause infinite glee among the leaders of the Soviet in the Kremlin. The attitude of the Leader of the Opposition reminds me of the famous statement of the great French philosopher, Voltaire, in his book Candida, “ We must cultivate our garden “. The right honorable member for Barton will know that quotation very well. That is what the Labour party is saying now. In face of all the obligations that any decent country must be expected to perform all it says is, “ We must cultivate our garden. The greatest contribution we can make is to attract more people to Australia, to develop our industries, to put more country under the plough, and generally to develop our resources “. Compare that curiously isolationist, antiquated and unrealistic attitude with that of the socialist party in Great Britain. It would be very easy indeed for Mr. Attlee and his friends to say, “ We want to put more men into production. We want to increase our exports. By doing that we can make ourselves less and less dependant on American aid.” It would be very easy for them to say, “ We shall cut down our defences. We shall unburden ourselves and disavow our imperial responsibilities.” But the British socialists, who are the colleagues of honorable members opposite, are doing the very opposite of that. They are saying now that they will extend the period of military service under conscription - that word that is so hateful to honorable members opposite - from eighteen months to two years. They have announced recently that they are sending extra forces to Western Germany. Honorable members know how readily the British Government participated in the war in Korea, irrespective of their political ideology the English socialists have given many manifestations of their determination that Britain shall discharge its responsibilities to the Empire and to the United Nations. The same might very well be said, and with more force, about the United States of America. The position is so obvious with regard to America that it would be presumptuous of me to weary honorable members by emphasizing it at this stage.
In both the United Kingdom and the United States we have the glorious spectacle of no real political division on the issues of preparedness and intervention. In Great Britain the conservatives and the socialists are as one in these matters of foreign policy and military preparedness. Similarly in the United States the Demo:cratic and Republican parties are of the one opinion. The same applies in Canada and in New Zealand, but we have the deplorable situation that Australia is the only English-speaking country of any importance in the world in which there is a great cleavage between the Government and the Opposition on foreign policy and military preparedness. I appeal to honorable members opposite - and I am sorry that there are not more of them present to hear my appeal - to be realistic about this matter of defence and to be prepared to abandon outworn and antiquated prejudices that should have absolutely no place in the world to-day. I suggest to them that it is about time that we woke up in this country to the necessity to play the part of the Good Samaritan. This year of 3950 is no time for a defence policy that would indicate that we intend to pass by on the other side. In our isolated and strategically dangerous position we cannot afford to do that. As the last war showed, we are dependent for our security upon the goodwill and the protection of powerful friends, primarily America, and to a lesser extent, because of the altered balance of international relationships, Great Britain. But unless we are prepared to show our best friends that we on our part will do more in peace-time in the future than we have done in the past, then it will be idle for us, when the emergency comes, as undoubtedly it will come again, to hold out our hands in supplication and expect them to come to our assistance as soon as we give the call. Since 1945 many people have had a suspicion that the Australian Government has been prone to talk too much and to act too little. I suggest to honorable members opposite that Australia must speak to the world with a united voice on matters of foreign policy and defence. Party catch cries or sectional differences do not count when we are confronted with these matters which go to the very basis of our being. One of the principal reasons why honorable members are present in this House is to achieve the security of the people of Australia. It is not enough to legislate for improved standards of living. Our task is to- maintain the security which has already been won.
The Government has announced a fairly comprehensive plan for the defence of the three services. It may well be that this Parliament and the people of Australia will have to be willing to do more than the Prime Minister has already asked of them. Our security will not be accomplished merely by populating and developing Australia as the Leader of the Opposition has suggested. [Extension of time granted.] It will be achieved only if we engender the idea that the people of Australia, must be trained to meet whatever emergency may arise and that they must be willing to participate instantaneously in resisting aggression wherever it rears its ugly head.
.- It is becoming necessary, not only for members of the National Parliament, but also for members of the public, to take a greater interest in what is happening in the world to-day. It is still more important that honorable members who are charged with the responsibility of attending to international affairs should make themselves fully conversant with what is happening and the significance of past as well as present events.
This afternoon I was rather astonished to hear the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who would have himself accepted as an authority on international affairs, wrongly stating that certain events have happened in history. When criticizing the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) for his attitude to the Indians in South Africa, he said that the treatment of the Indians by the Boers in the early days had been a factor which had contributed to the outbreak of the Boer War. That is incorrect.
– No, it is not.
– Apparently the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Davies) also is unaware of how wrong his beliefs are. Cecil Rhodes never, at any time, had Indians under his control. The Indians settled in only one part of South Africa, namely Natal, which was never at any time a Boer colony. It has always been a British colony. The treatment of the Indians was the responsibility of the British Colonial Government, and later on, of the Union of South Africa Government. I suggest that when the honorable member for Fremantle speaks on international affairs he should be better informed on past as well as present events.
– Does the honorable member say that there are no Indians in Capetown?
– The Indians in Capetown are, and always have been, under British control. The main factor in tha outbreak of the Boer War was that the Kruger Government repeatedly broke agreements with the British Government regarding the treatment of foreigners in the Transvaal, which was the only part of South Africa that was held by the Boers at that time.
What right have we to interfere in the domestic affairs of other nations? What right has any group of nations to interfere’ in the internal affairs of another nation? I am not stating a case against the Indians or the South African Government but I do say that the Indians went to South Africa under the same conditions as the new Australians aru coming to Australia. When the national? of one country enter another country it is incumbent upon them to accept the conditions that prevail there. They arrive there as guests. When a group of nations interferes in the domestic affairs of another nation it is asking for trouble. I suggest that the Minister for External Affairs acted quite rightly when he voted to keep South Africa’s internal affairs outside the United Nations’ discussion. There is a time when the domestic affairs of any nation must incite action on the part of other nations.
– The other side of the case was that there was an international convention between the Indian and South African governments regarding the treatment of these people. Therefore, it was not entirely a local” matter.
Mr.- LESLIE.- The only time when this or any other nation would be justified in interfering with the domestic affairs of South Africa would be when those affairs were a danger to world peace or to the security of other nations, economically or otherwise. When the Indians went to South Africa they had to accept conditions as they existed, just as the new Australians who come to Australia accept the conditions which operate in this country. Very few people outside of South Africa actually know what the argument is between the Indians and the Africans.
Government members have been charged with having changed their attitude to the United Nations organization. I, myself, have been severely critical of the United Nations organization in the past. I was doubtful whether it was going to do any good in view of the history of the League of Nations. The United Nations organization was founded on lines similar to those of the League of Nations and honorable members who support the Government previously saw nothing to give them confidence that it would be able to do any more than pass pious resolutions. Before the last war, Italy, Japan, Germany and other countries figuratively put their thumbs to their noses to indicate their contempt for the League of Nations and told the League to do whatever it liked. What was it able to do?
Honorable members interjecting,
-Order! There are too many interjections.
– It was able to do nothing whatsoever. The governments that defied the League of Nations got away with their defiance because the League of Nations was not backed by force. The United Nations organization has now demonstrated that there is a force backing it. Therefore we can change our attitude of distrust to one of trust. We can say that the United Nations organization will function successfully as long as the nations continue to back it. Had it not been for the preparedness of the American nation at the commencement of the Korean hostilities the United Nations organization would have been as impotent in that matter as the League of Nations was in relation to events that occurred during its existence. United Nations organization must have a force, whether it is a single force or a combination of separate forces, which must be on hand constantly in order to enforce, at a moment’s notice, what the United Nations, in its deliberative conferences, decides. The United Nations organization has gone beyond the stage of merely passing pious resolutions.
In a holding camp for immigrants in Western Australia I had the opportunity of speaking to new Australians from Western Germany and the overwhelming majority of them consider that Western
Europe has been lost to the democracies. How many honorable members have received applications from continental European-born Australians in the last few months urging expedition in bringing their relatives from Europe? I have received scores of them because in Western Europe there is already an absolute absence of confidence in the ability of the Western democracies to resist the Russian steam roller. Why? Because there is no tangible evidence of the strength of the Western democracies. They are not prepared to accept our pious suggestions, resolutions and anxiety on their behalf nor our protestations that we shall support them if trouble comes their way. Only when the United Nations is able to point to tangible forces backing its decisions will the world be sure of peace and harmonious international relationships. It is evident that international affairs and defence go hand in hand everywhere. Behind our international activity there must be an adequate defence policy, and we cannot allow defence to be treated as a matter apart. Defence must no longer be considered one of the minor or incidental matters connected with the government of the country.
I support the criticism, already voiced in this chamber, of the attitude of the Labour party towards the attempt of the Government to strengthen Australia’s defences. If the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) speaks with the voice of the Labour party when he opposes the Government’s policy, then he indicates his party’s scandalous lack of a sense of responsibility towards the welfare of Australia. His views do not reflect the opinion of the rank and file of the Labour party. Those who vote for the Labour party, whether because they are trade unionists, or wage earners rather than employers, or for some other reason, are definitely not all as disloyal to Australia and the peace of the world as was indicated by the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. If the right honorable gentleman has stated the official attitude of the Labour party, and his views are backed by Labour leaders throughout Australia, then the less the Labour party has to say about international and defence matters, as well as about internal affairs, the better will it be for this country. I cannot be too severe in my castigation of that attitude when I think of its being the considered attitude of a band of people who are supposed to be able to assume the responsibility of governing this country. They exhibit a lack of a sense of responsibility to such a degree that they may jeopardize the safety and security of the nation.
– That is a lot of rot.
– It certainly is not. I am dealing with what the. Labour party has said.
– The honorable member is putting a wrong construction on it.
– I am putting the only construction possible on the plain words used by the Leader of the Opposition. Recently, I attended a meeting in “Western Australia in connexion with the recruiting campaign. The meeting was expected to be representative of all sections of the community. Eighty or ninety people attended, and the only section conspicuously unrepresented was the Labour movement. The Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of Western Australia was not there, nor was any representative of the Trades Hall or the Labour party. Every other organization present pledged its support for the Government’s policy; but there was not one word from the people whose co-operation we sincerely want in the task of national defence.
When talking of international affairs, it is necessary to mention war, although the settled desire of this country is to live at peace with everybody and to avoid war. There are two main causes of wars. The first is imperialistic ambition, for territorial conquest. The second is the ageold struggle between the “ haves “ and the “ have-nots “. Certain nations which are poorer than others have a legitimate desire to improve their standards.
– Does not the honorable member think that there are such things as trade wars?
– No. It is possible to avoid, by sympathetic negotiations, wars that are brought about by the second cause, but the threat of wars caused by imperialism can be met only by force. We have evidence that at least one of the great nations of the world is to-day inspired by the old imperialistic ambition. Whether or not this ambition is described in terms of a new ideology makes no difference. One of the countries of Europe is at present Communist, but is not dominated by Russia. The fact that Russia does not accept this country as an independent Communist State, but seeks to bring it completely under its thumb is sufficient to prove that Russia is actuated by imperialistic ambition. Such ambition can be curbed only by force, and we must be prepared to meet force with force. Extension of time granted.] The threat of war between the “ have “ and the “ have-not “ nations can be avoided by means other than force. It can be met ,by economic adjustment between the probable belligerents. The removal of the second cause of war must concern Australia to-day because of present-day conditions in the near north. We are not preparing armed forces to fight our immediate neighbours; our job is so to arrange the economic relationships between ourselves and our neighbours that the bonds of friendship between us will become stronger and stronger. That can be done by providing the nations to the north with economic assistance. The policy of the Minister for External Affairs is a good one. We wish to have the friendship of other nations, and in obtaining that friendship Australia will be benefitted by better trade relationships. Causes of war between us and our immediate neighbours can be removed by economic means, and ultimately they, with us, will form a strong protective alliance. I therefore urge that honorable members on the Opposition benches of the House should review their attitude towards the defence programme of this Government.
I believe that every man should be prepared to take his part in a. war to defend himself and the nation at any time. I believe in a system of national universal training, and I think that we must ultimately have it. But at the present time we are relying upon a voluntary system and are asking for the co-operation of all sections of the people. If the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) is sincere when he talks about his faith in what the United Nations can do, he must support us in our attempts to back the United Nations if called upon to do so. We can do that only if we have armed forces ready. The Government is tackling the matter of helping to provide power for the United Nations and must get the co-operation of the Opposition. The alternatives to many possible wars are wise economic relationships. The urgent immediate job of the Government is to pursue with all its vigour the matter of establishing better conditions and happier trade relationships with our near neighbours. We can help our neighbours because we have the goods they want, and the matter is merely one of arriving at a basis upon which help can be given. Australia can afford to be generous in view of its circumstances, and that generosity will be repaid over and over again so long as Ave do not stand out for our quid pro quo immediately. We shall have to make sacrifices if we are to maintain our position in the future. Let our immediate neighbours realize that they have a real friend in us, one who will offer tangible evidence of friendship, and they will become friendly towards us and will ultimately build such a bulwark around us that with their aid we shall be safe in the years ahead.
.- As far as the Opposition is concerned, this debate has centred largely on the events in Korea, and what has arisen from those events. I propose to devote some time to this matter, because in following the speeches of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser) I seemed to perceive in both their minds, particularly in that of the latter gentleman, a considerable confusion of thought. The honorable member for Fremantle expressed his views as to the general set-up in South Korea before there was armed aggression from the north. He pointed out, quite rightly, that the governments of both North Korea and South Korea were not quite in accordance with Australian ideas of democratic government and he also said, again quite accurately, that we cannot expect uneducated Eastern peoples who for many years have been governed by feudalistic methods to imbibe promptly western views relating to the processes of government. The honorable member made the further remark, which struck me as curious, that he did not like the general system of land tenure in existence in Korea, and he claimed that in some respects it was wrong for the United States of America to intervene in that country after the end of World War II. Anybody who knows the facts will recall that the United States of America intervened in Korea with theobject, not of itself setting up a government, but of setting up a government in accordance with recommendationsthat were made by a commission which the United Nations appointed for that purpose. In due course, the United Statesof America set up such a government. Obviously, it was out of the question for that country to impose upon South Korea a government of the type that it has been instrumental in establishing in Japan. That is the first thought that the honorable member’s remarks aroused in my mind.
Is it thinkable that when aggression in Korea has been crushed the United Nations should restore the status quo ante, that the United Nations forces should cease fighting when they reach the 38 th parallel which, incidentally, is merely a line on a map, and that we should permit an iron curtain to be d’rawn down along that line? Past events indicate that such a curtain would be rather thin. Is it suggested that North Korea should be allowed to restore the situation that existed before it launched its attack against .South Korea on the 25th June last? I should like to remind honorable members of some- of the events that occurred in Korea before that date. I believe that most of us will recall two important facts. The first is that the line of demarcation between North and South Korea was established at the 38th parallel under the first general order that General MacArthur issued following the surrender of the Japanese. Under that order it was decreed that all Japanese troops north of the 38th parallel were to surrender to the Russians and those south of it were to surrender to the American forces. Subsequently, partly in pursuance of the Potsdam Declaration, the United States of America and Russia by agreement in Moscow in 1945 undertook to engage in consultations with the object of setting up an independent, democratic government in Korea which was to be a free and independent State. A commission consisting of Russian and American representatives was appointed to engage in consultations with representatives of the Korean people as a whole with the ultimate object of arranging for the election of a democratic govern ment. However, we know what actually happened. The Russians caused a complete deadlock by refusing to receive representations from certain parties in South Korea which they contended were net democratic. Consequently, the members of the commission failed to reach agreement. Later, the United States of America appealed to the United 1STations to appoint a commission to arrange for the election of a democratic government in Korea as a whole. But, again, the Russians caused a complete deadlock by refusing to allow members of that commission to enter North Korea. In March, 1948, genera! elections were held in South Korea and a government was formed more or 1p»r of representatives of the right and centre parties which elected Dr. Syngman Rhee as president.
In addition, one must have regard to the economic situation that developed in Korea. “When the South Korean Government was established the North Koreans also set up a government which was recognized by Russia. Then a curtain was drawn down between the north and the south. South Korea was denied all supplies from North Korea which, as honorable members know, contains the great bulk of the mineral resources, industries, water and irrigation schemes and sources of electric power and fertilizer. Consequently, South Korea was confronted with extreme economic difficulties which caused serious unemployment and discontent if not actual unrest in that territory. At that stage the United States of America came into the picture again by sending supplies and industrial plant and equipment to South Korea and within a year the position improved to such a degree that further general elections held in May, 1949, resulted in a slight swing to the right
– It was a swing to the independents.
– Although 60 per cent, of the 210 persons elected out of a total of 2,235 candidates were independents, the new parliament supported Dr. Syngman Rhee as president, and it can be said that the general complexion of the new parliament was that of the right. There was no evidence of Communist sympathies among the South Koreans. In fact, the improvement of the economic position in South Korea was favorably commented upon even by North Koreans, among whom, I am informed, that knowledge caused considerable discontent because in North Korea conditions were much worse. In the meantime, events in North Korea followed a somewhat different course. In talks that I had with the American authorities in Japan when I visited that country about two years ago I was informed that on the military side all that the South Koreans did was to set up a police force which was more or less casually armed, but, at the same time, the Russians had summoned representatives of the North Korean Government to Moscow in March, 1949, and given them their brief. The Russians told them what they were to do. Subsequently, the North Koreans set up a general staff. Military units were formed and equipped with the latest Russian weapons, and, in addition, Koreans who had fought with the Chinese Communist army were brought back to North Korea and formed the nucleus of a powerful army which was not only well equipped and well trained but also consisted largely of troops; that had had actual battle experience. That was the position that existed when the North Koreans attacked the south on the 25 th June last.
The honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Fraser), apparently, believes that when the Communists who have now been defeated have been mopped up they should be allowed to return to North Korea and that fighting should come to a full stop at the 38th parallel. It would be quite impracticable to permit the re-establishment of a situation of the kind that led to the recent serious disturbance of the peace of the world. I agree that it will be very difficult to deal with a country, particularly an eastern country, except through the United Nations. Australia has elected to participate in the war in Korea under the banner of the United Nations, and I believe that the conflict has not been extended simply because the United Nations took the initiative so promptly when hostilities broke out. If a real settlement is to be reached the United Nations must take control of Korea as a whole until law and order have been re-established and a new regime has been set up. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro naively asked why the conflict should not be stopped immediately and arrangements made for the holding of elections. It is clear that elections for Korea as a whole cannot be held under present conditions. The object of the United Nations’ intervention is to clean up the situation and ensure the establishment of a united, free and independent Korea. For reasons which I shall now discuss, only the United Nations can achieve that goal. It is true, as has been pointed out in this House on several occasions, that a nationalistic spirit has been aroused among all the Eastern nations. They remember what they describe as their exploitation in the past by the white man. Throughout the East to-day there is a general dislike, to put the matter mildly, and real hatred in some instances, of the white man, regardless of nationality. The Eastern peoples remember their domination by the white races in the past. Therefore, however altruistic any white nation may be in its approach to Eastern Nations and whatever it may do to help Eastern peoples, their feelings will be whipped up on the score that the white man is again seeking to establish supremacy over Asiatic peoples. In. these circumstances the United Nations, which insists on justice for not only the white man but also peoples of all colours, for Asiatics us well as for Europeans, is the only body that can achieve results. I suggest that the United Nations should appoint a commission to report upon the Korean situation. Such a body might be presided over by an Indian or a Pakistan ian or, at any rate, a representative of one of the eastern nations which should have substantial representation on it.
– And also Australian representatives.
– I agree with the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) that Australians may be less suspect in the East than is any other white nation because we have never had any imperialistic aims. However, the United Nations should appoint a commission of the kind that I have suggested, and I should hope that, perhaps, an Indian would be prepared to accept the presidency of that body. If that is done, we may have some hope of obtaining a solution in Korea that will be satisfactory not only to the Koreans, who, I suppose, will have to be satisfied with whatever happens, but also to the masses in eastern Asia. They are the people in whom we should endeavour to instil a feeling of confidence in the value of the United Nations. That organization has been weak on some occasions, and strong on other occasions, but no one can accuse it of having any imperialist ideas. As we all know, its principal purpose is to maintain peace, if necessary by force of arms. A peaceful settlement can be achieved in Asia, and above all, in Korea, only through the United Nations.
That thought brings me to another matter. I speak not idealistically but very realistically, because I have an intimate knowledge of some of the problems of the world. I believe that if the influence of the United Nations can be- brought to bear on them through the medium of commissions, and, if necessary, by force - again, that remark applies particularly to Asiatic and African problems - greater success will be achieved in the long run than will be possible if an attempt is made to solve the difficulties through the medium of the “Western democracies. All of us are, to some degree, suspect in the eyes of many nations.. So long as people are suspect, they can never gain the results that can be accomplished by others in whom the peoples concerned have faith.
The honorable member for EdenMonaro, in his concluding remarks, appeared to me almost to speak through the mouth of a member of one of the wellknown peace councils. I consider that the honorable gentleman put forward Soviet Russia’s case, not because I believe that he has any great sympathy for Russia-
– I do not know about that.
– I really do not think that the honorable member for EdenMonaro has any great sympathy for
Russia, but he appeared to me to put forward that country’s case. I listened closely to his remarks, and it seemed to me that he did not understand the true position in relation to the Soviet. He spoke of Russia’s fear that the “Western democracies might launch a heavy attack upon it. A9 he was developing that theme, I said to myself, “ How can anybody, even the Russians themselves, believe that story ? “ One has only to examine cursorily the military position of the “Western democracies compared with that of Russia to realize that the Soviet has no reason to fear an attack. “We are almost “bone dry” of military strength. That remark is definitely applicable to Australia, largely to Great Britain, to a considerable degree to the United States of America, and, above all, to Europe. At: present, the Western democracies in Europe could raise, at a pinch, about twelve divisions and a few aircraft. That is about the limit of their strength. Yet Russia, as is well known, has a minimum of 175 divisions, and an air farce so great that one is almost too frightened to mention it - five air armies totalling more than 40,000 aircraft - and that force is adding to its numbers every day. As the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Townley) has stated, the Soviet also possesses a large and powerful fleet of submarines. With those overwhelming forces confronting the weak Western democracies, what has Russia to fear from any nation or group of nations ? [Extension of time granted.]
I thank the House for its courtesy. Some people believe that the possession of the atomic bomb by the United States of America is the only factor that deters the Soviet from unleashing its forces against Western Europe. Yet Russia also has the atomic bomb. I believe that the Soviet Union could not be defeated by atomic bombing alone. Of course, that kind of warfare might make Russia a most unpleasant place for the Russians themselves, but no conclusive military result could be obtained by its use. It just would not be possible. For those reasons, I believe that the rulers of Russia do not fear an attack on their country by the Western democracies, and cannot fear that their military strength will be overwhelmed by atomic bombs.
The Russians know just as well as we do that such a result is simply not possible. When the honorable member for EdenMonaro speaks of Russia’s fear of attack, he sees the situation in reverse. The truth of the matter is that Russia is badly informed about the conditions of the democracies, and believes that they are decadent. It considers that our systems of government will crash, and is quite prepared to give them the final push when it thinks that the time is ripe to do so. But fear us ? Not on your life !
Sitting suspended from 5.52 to 8 p.m.
– This is a subject that the House should approach with a sense of imminence and realism. It is much more important, even though it is not nearer to us, than is any other subject that we have debated. Other subjects concern merely our livelihoods, but this concerns our very lives. Let nobody think that our lives are not threatened, and threatened at no distant date! Only by the correct estimation and implementation of foreign policy can we, not as a people and not as a system but as individuals, hope to survive. Yet this is a subject that should be approached, if possible, without heat and without fervour, but with cold and dispassionate logic. One regrets that epithets such as “ war-mongers “ should be bandied about this chamber.. After all, the people who are raising that cry now were shouting “war-mongers” in 1936 and 1937 at those of us who were endeavouring then to stir up some kind of opposition to the growth of nazi-ism in Germany. Who were the real war-mongers? Were they the people who thought that Hitler should have been stopped in 1936 or 1937, when he could have been stopped without war. or, at the worst, with only a little war, or were they not the people who counselled appeasement? The supporters of appeasement described themselves as the makers of peace, but they made war.
Two main concepts in relation to international affairs have been expounded in this House, and the difference between them marks one of the great changes that occurred when the present Government assumed office. I consider that the change in the direction of our foreign policy was one of the most notable features of the change of government. That change of policy direction was made because we on this side of the House had a certain basic concept that was different from that which had animated the foreign policy of the Labour Government. The Labour Government considered that Russia was good at heart and that Stalin, though a little misguided perhaps, was really rather a nice type fundamentally. It believed that all that the democracies had to do in order to ensure world peace and harmony was to kid him along until his rough corners were rubbed off and then all would be for the best in the best of all possible worlds. This Government, on the contrary, believes that although the Russian people are not our enemies, the men who rule and control the Russian people are a gang of criminals of a viciousness unprecedented in history - worse even than Hitler, if that be possible. We regard Stalin as a thoroughgoing, irreconcilable villain. The Labour Government looked upon him as somebody who could be talked into the course of common sense.
The view of the Labour party can be epitomized conveniently in the words of thu man whom it put forward as the loader of Australia’s foreign policy. 1 refer, of course, to the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), who was Minister for External Affairs in the former Government. I shall quote a passage from a statement that he made in this House when reviewing our relations with Russia. He said -
The real question is, not whether the Soviet Union territory and zones of influence have expanded, but what is the underlying intention and purpose of the Soviet Union, ls it to secure the political domination of other countries, or is it merely to protect Russia against any repetition of the so-called cordon sanitaire which united all reactionary influence in Europe against her during the period between the two great wars? … I take the view that the Soviet Union’s policy is directed towards self-protection and security against future attack. In my opinion, her desire is to develop her own economy and to improve the welfare of her peoples.
The speech contained much more to the same effect. Admittedly that quotation dates back to 1946, but it would not be difficult to demonstrate, by reference to later utterances and actions of the right honorable gentleman, that he maintained that line almost consistently to the end of his term of office. That line still is basically the Labour line. I have only to refer to the speech that was made this afternoon by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser) in order to support my statement. Although he may not have repeated the same sentiments verbatim, that honorable gentleman nevertheless drew inferences that could have been drawn only from the basic supposition about Russia that was enunciated by the right honorable member for Barton in 1946. The observations of the honorable member for Eden. Mona.ro usually follow the Soviet line - whether by accident, by design or because of his inherent nature I do not know; I simply record the fact. Once that initial premise so clearly stated by the former Minister for External Affairs is accepted, the whole foreign policy of the Labour party follows logically.
Unfortunately that basic misconception, which strikes not only at Australia but also at the rest of the world, was preached, not from the small stage here in Canberra, but from the world stage because of the unfortunate accident of history that elevated its propounder to the presidency of the General Assembly of the United Nations. It was in the two vital years when he was first gaining power and later acting as president of the General Assembly of the United Nations that the damage was done and the time was lost. We stood then in a period that was analogous to that of 1936 and 1937 in relation to Hitler. War could have been avoided or, at the worst, there would have been only a little war if we had but acted with resolution.
– Who are “we”?
– “ We “ in this case represents the United Nations, of which Australia is a member and of the General Assembly of which the right honorable member for Barton at that time was the President. If only we had acted with resolution then, there would have been no fear of a world conflict. But a great world conflict was what Stalin wanted, and because of that he played for time. We lost time because we allowed Stalin to waste it deliberately. He kept us talking while he was arming atomically and preparing the means for our destruction - means which I do not believe yet to be entirely within his grasp, but which are not far beyond his reach.
To-day we stand, not in the position’ of 1936 and 1937, but in the position of 1938, or perhaps even of early 1939. That is where the clock stands. The certainty of settling our differences peacefully has now been irrevocably lost. There is still a small chance of a peaceful settlement, but the disastrous exchange of certainty foi- chance must be laid at the door of the right honorable member for Barton, who, I believe, is the only Australian in history as yet who has been able to do damage upon a world scale. When the history of these times is written, if it be written anywhere else than in the Kremlin, the man who will appear as the villain of irresolution will be the right honorable member for Barton. I have never said that the right honorable gentleman was a Communist. I do not believe that he is a Communist, but I do believe that he has been a Soviet stooge. I do not believe that he adopted that role deliberately, but he has been made use of by adroit men working behind the scenes. If one reads the statements that were issued in his name during the late years of the war and the early years of the peace, one finds that they were full of phrases and jargon peculiar to communism. That little phrase about “reactionary influence” that I quoted earlier is typical. How aptly it falls into place; it might be st phrase lifted direct from the Tribunal] Nor is it a solitary example. A single phrase, of course, would not give a positive indication, but hundreds of such phrases are to be found in statements that have been made by the right honorable gentleman. I have not the .slightest doubt that, although he may not have known what was being done to him, Communist hands were directing his policy when he was the Minister for External Affairs. Whether by accident, by design or because of his inherent nature, that policy fitted almost exactly into the pattern of world aggrandizement that. Stalin was planning.
– The honorable member is only making a laughing stock of himself.
– Nobody would be more pleased than I if I were making a laughing stock of myself. Unhappily 1 believe that my statements are true. Within a few years Russia will have sufficient atomic stocks to destroy completely every large city in the world within ten minutes of the outbreak of war and that destruction might occur ten minutes before or after the outbreak of war. Fortunately, Russia is not j’et in that position. The prognostication that I have made will not be fulfilled in 1950, of course. The point that I am endeavouring to emphasize, however, is that if the present drift continues, Russia will be in a position1 to deliver a mortal attack on us in 1953, 1954 or the following year. One cannot foretell the exact year, although we all can see quite clearly the pattern of coming events.
On the night of the outbreak of the Korean conflict no one in Sydney need have lost an hour’s sleep because of fear for his own personal safety. Nothing could have happened to Sydney. However, if another international “ incident “ were to occur three years hence - and it might not even take the form of an armed conflict - no one in Sydney could go to bed with the certainty that he would wake up in the morning. Atomic missiles, as the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Townley) pointed out, could be rained on us from submarines without any formal declaration of war, and they would be capable of razing -the City of Sydney and probably of inflicting casualities on 95 per cent, of the population.
– What is the honorable member’s solution of the difficulty?
– I am obliged to the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). I shall give my solution in a moment. The position that confronts us now is the consequence of our failure to seize the golden opportunities that were available to us in 1947 and 1948. Those opportunities were lost because of the dithering in which the right honorable member for Barton played such a conspicuous part. However, the question that confronts us now is, what can we do to avert war? I see no reason why I should not reply now to the question asked by the honorable member for Hindmarsh a moment ago. It is not. sufficient merely to study a problem, and leave it at that. We should at least attempt to form some clear picture of the way in which we should go. I shall put forward a course of action for the consideration of honorable members, although I do not say that my proposal is necessarily the best course. Other honorable members may know of better courses. However, it is only too clear that the world is rushing rapidly to disaster, and that many people do not perceive the danger because they are unwilling to think of the menace that confronts us. Disaster will be inevitable unless we can bring about world disarmament, including disarmament of atomic weapons.
– That is a typically Communist “ line “ !
– I repeat that nothing short of the establishment of a world authority with power to inspect atomic plants, weapons and stock-piles, and armed with the necessary sanctions to enforce its will on the nations, will suffice. The United Nations cannot enforce its will on Russia because of the paralyzing effect of the veto which Russia wields in the Security Council. However, I confess that I do not believe that world disarmament can be achieved by any organization other than the United Nations, and, in any event, in the short time that is left to us to protect ourselves I do not think that we shall have the opportunity to establish any alternative organization. As the United Nations exists at the moment it is incapable of taking resolute action because of the paralysing effect of the veto in the Security Council.
I was interested to hear a member of the Opposition comment a little while ago that I was adopting a typically Communist line of argument. [Extension of time granted.’] I do not believe that we can act effectively through any organization but the United Nations. The Communist “ line “ in this case is a very clever one, that is, it is one which seems to go in the right direction, and then veers off. The Russians advocate, “ Act through the United Nations “ ; but what they really mean is, “Act through the United Nations because the United Nations is hamstrung by the veto power
They advocate atomic disarmament, when what they really mean is nothing more than nominal disarmament without adequate powers of inspection and enforcement. They start off by saying something that is true, and then, using the normal Communist technique, they give the truth a twist in order to prevent the people who are the objects of their propaganda from taking the normal path. We must place the United Nations in such a position of strength , that it can enforce atomic disarmament. I have already pointed out that the power of veto exercisable in the Security Council of the United Nations renders that organization useless for this purpose. I do not .need to go beyond the Korean affair for an illustration of the correctness of that assertion. We were able to intervene effectively in Korea only because of ‘something which the right honorable member for Barton has described as an historical accident. In other words, Russia’s representatives had withdrawn from the Security Council when the vital debates on Korea took place. From the reports of the discussions that are now taking place in the Security Council of the United Nations it would seem that the impotence of that organization has at last been recognized, and it is now proposed to overcome the difficulty by a scheme that is really nothing more than an extension of the “ little assembly “ proposal that was put forward a few years ago. The proposal is that the Security Council shall he by-passed and the General Assembly kept in constant session so that action will emanate from the latter body, in which the power of veto does not operate. That is a good proposal as far as it goes. It has, however, the fundamental defect that it can only be implemented if we are prepared to take the initiative in connexion with this Russian question. In other words, the situation that will probably develop in the General Assembly will be characteristic of the spirit of frustration that marred the Atomic Energy Commission in the palmy days of the right honorable member for Barton. Although that organization was in continuous session, the Soviet representatives were able to prevent the commission from making any effective inspection of atomic plants. Therefore, I say that the proposal based on an extension of the idea of a “ little assembly “ may well fall short of what is needed despite its many appealing features. The only hope of success for such a proposal would lie in the development of the new General Assembly on lines quite different from those of the Atomic Energy Commission, so that it would not be marred by a repetition of the happenings of 1947 and 1948. Certainly the proposal holds out some hope for mankind, but we cannot say yet with any certainty that it is right. My personal feeling is that no action which falls short of expelling the criminal Russia from the United Nations will be adequate to meet the present position.
If world disaster is to be avoided the United Nations must now demand complete atomic disarmament ; not “ phoney “ disarmament, but disarmament subject to sanctions and enforced by an adequate international inspection force operating in Russia and throughout the world. Anything short of that will be useless and will inevitably lead to disaster.
– Are the contentions which the honorable member is putting forward original, or are they merely something that he has read about?
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh knows perfectly well, or at least he ought to know that matters such as those which I have just been discussing have been widely canvassed. It seems to me that what we should do now is to demand world disarmament and free the United Nations of the restraints inherent in the veto power, so that that body can enforce practical disarmament. Whilst I believe that the United Nations is the only body that can achieve disarmament, I do not hold that view so tenaciously as I adhere to my belief that Russia should be expelled from the United Nations. However, if we could free the United Nations of the restriction imposed by the “ veto “ power we might be able to establish a force that would be effective in preserving world peace.
– But on the honorable member’s own argument, would not the Russian representatives in the United Nations veto any such proposal?
– I am indebted to the honorable member for Hindmarsh for his inquiry, because it affords me an opportunity to remind the House that the expulsion of a member nation from the United Nations is one matter that is not subject to the exercise of the veto power.
I certainly believe that it is most important that we should not accord diplomatic recognition to “Red “ China at the present moment and that it would be utter folly for us to agree to the Chinese Communist Government being represented in the United Nations. If the Chinese Communists were admitted to the United Nations they would be entitled, as a major power, to a seat on the Security Council. The consequence would be that the Communists would then have two veto votes, one exercisable by criminal Russia and the other at the disposal of its accomplice, Red China. If the Chinese Communist Government were admitted to the United Nations, the proposal to bypass the Security Council and to utilize the General Assembly to promote the interests of world peace might not be capable of implementation. However, I feel that it is idle to spend any further time discussing Communist China’s admission to the United Nations when we are confronted with such life-and-death issues as atomic disarmament, because our survival will depend upon the banishment of atomic weapons. A.11 such matters are of far more importance to us than the application of Communist China to be permitted to join the United Nations. In conclusion I thank the House for its indulgence in granting me an extension of time.
.- I found it somewhat difficult in the early stages of the speech just concluded by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) to decide exactly where he stood on foreign affairs. He certainly gave the impression, whether he meant to do so or not I cannot say, that Avar was imminent and that it might be desirable on the part of nations other than Soviet Russia to take the necessary action to commence war straight away. Later in his speech, however, he made his position somewhat clearer, and I obtained a better idea of what he was driving at. I sincerely regret that the honorable member for Mackellar attacked, for what motive I do not know, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt). 1 consider that, in fairness to that right honorable member, who has already spoken in this debate and therefore is unable to reply on his own behalf, and also in order that his reputation shall not be clouded even by irresponsible remarks, I should remind the House of several features of the right honorable member’s record. He participated at San Francisco in the founding of the United Nations and was, in fact, the most outstanding opponent of the introduction of the veto system that was adopted by that conference. Right along the line he has consistently fought against the application of the veto. So apparently the honorable member for Mackellar and the right honorable member for Barton are unanimous on the point that the veto should not operate.
It also should be pointed out that one of the outstanding features of the work performed by the right honorable member for Barton at the San Francisco conference was his advocacy of the recognition of the rights of the small nations and of the desirability of giving them the opportunity to express themselves on world affairs in a manner calculated to increase the .possibility of world peace. I suppose that the greatest tribute that could be paid to the right honorable member was the adoption by the honorable member for Mackellar of the very proposals that were placed before the United
Nations by the right honorable member five years ago - that atomic disarmament and other forms of disarmament should be subject to control by the United Nations in all the countries associated with that organization. I also remind the House, and the honorable member for Mackellar in particular, of the outstanding work that was done by the right honorable member for Barton in connexion with both the Palestine dispute and the Indonesian dispute. I also point out that he received the personal thanks of the Governments of the United States of America, Britain and other countries for his services as President of the United Nations General Assembly. If there is one man who has earned the appreciation of those associated with the United Nations, it is the right honorable member for Barton. I consider that it was very indiscreet, to say the least, that in a discussion of this description an honorable member should have taken the opportunity to make an attack upon the right honorable member for Barton.
One bright feature that faces mankind as the result of World War II. is the existence of the United Nations organization. Another bright feature is the fact that that organization has been able to demonstrate such strength of purpose in connexion wi th the suppression of aggression. It is a fine tribute to the work of the United Nations that this House should have approved unanimously the action of the Government in making forces available to that organization for service in Korea. The fact that the United Nations has met, in a determined and persistent manner; its obligation to resist aggression wherever it may appear, constitutes, in my opinion, one of the greatest hopes for peace in the world. If the 60 nations which constitute the United Nations are prepared to make it clear in a resolute manner that they will take action to resist aggression, to protect those whose territory is invaded, and to compel aggressors to cease their efforts, we shall have a much greater chance of achieving and maintaining peace in the world than we should have if we carried out the suggestion of the honorable member for Mackellar that the best way to achieve peace, is to expel from the United Nations those nations with whom we are in disagreement. That is not the way to peace. Had the policy of the League of Nations ‘been based upon the same resolute determination as is being expressed by the United Nations, there would have been a big possibility that World War II. would not have occurred. But when the League of Nations allowed the invasions of Abyssinia, Manchuria and China to go unchecked, it gave a very clear indication that, although it was equipped with the power to impose sanctions as well as to raise forces to resist aggression, it was not a body that was capable of carrying out the very great responsibilities imposed upon it. To-day we can say with justification that the United Nations has endeavoured to bring about peace by mediation in various parts of the world. That organization has taken the necessary action in Korea and, as a consequence, the peace-loving nations of the world have indicated that they are prepared to ensure that aggression shall be stopped, if necessary by the shedding of the blood of their own peoples.
It seems to me that the next step that should be taken by the United Nations is that of determining what are the responsibilities that are to be undertaken by each of the 60 constituent nations in respect of any fresh aggression. Action taken along those lines, involving the adoption of a far-reaching policy laying down the responsibilities of each nation, would of itself be the best indication possible to all the nations of the world that the United Nations is determined, and prepared to make the necessary arrangements, to see that future aggression shall be properly resisted. I suggest that as far as Australia is concerned - and indeed this might also be said of any other nation - mere support of the United Nations is not in itself sufficient to meet our needs. We, in this country, are more vitally concerned with what is transpiring in Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific than we are with events in Europe or America. For that reason it is necessary for this country to adopt a policy in connexion with its own internal affairs that will assist in the maintenance of peace through the defence and development of this country. I suggest to the House that Australia, as an island nation, has problems perhaps greater than those of any other nation in the world. We have a land area that is only about 25,000 square miles less than that of the United States. Our coast line extends for more than 12,000 miles, and a large section of our country is under-populated. We have a tremendous developmental programme to carry out. From the stand-point of the defence of this country we are hopelessly underpopulated. We can find no solution of the external problems that face this country unless at the same time we fully appraise the internal difficulties and problems that we have to overcome. I suggest, therefore, that the policy that should be followed in Australia should provide, first of all, for the proper development of this country. That policy should .be combined with a defence policy that will be suitable and applicable to our present conditions of development, and with a foreign policy that will aim at achieving peace and goodwill with our neighbours.
A further factor that we have to consider is the suggestion by some people that this country has to face the possibility of either imminent invasion or aggression from countries to our north or elsewhere in the Pacific. L find it hard to conceive that that is an immediate possibility, because an aggressor would require ample ships, ample arms, standing armies and a capacity to reach this country, in order to invade it.
– How should we fare if western democracy were to go down in Europe ?
– Assuming that what the ‘honorable member has mentioned by way of interjection took place to-morrow, and assuming that we had every man under the age of 40 under arms, would we be able to defend Australia if a large and powerful nation invaded it? Before honorable members opposite talk about what might happen elsewhere in the world they should consider the position that Australia is in to-day with a population of S,000,0.00 people and a great land area and a long coastline to defend. Unless we had the mean’s of being self contained and of providing all the things necessary for our defence, even if we had the means of defence and bad half our population under arms, it would be extremely difficult for us to defend this country.
– We should receive assistance from the United Nations.
– Honorable members who make interjections should realize that when they say “ western democracy “ they are also saying “ the United Nations “. In supporting the United Nations we must realize that we have responsibilities to our own nation, which have to be governed by the position that Australia finds itself in at a particular time, as well as .by its capacity to develop itself, to provide the equipment necessary in the event of war and to produce the means of defence. Simply brushing those considerations aside is to fail to deal with realities and to allow fantastic notions to prevent a real consideration of the possibilities and the probabilities that face this country. The mere making of interjections does not assist in a consideration of this matter. Our problems must be understood and examined. We have a population of 8,000,000 and a vast area of country to defend. It is necessary to develop this country so as to enable it to produce the proper means of defence. Unless we do so we shall have no possibility of defending ourselves.
– That also applies to 1914 and 1939.
– When the last war started, in 1939, we sent our forces out of this country and in 1941 and 1942, because of the imminent danger of invasion, it wa3 necessary to bring these well-armed, well-trained and well-seasoned troops back to defend this country.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! Continual interjections must cease.
– We must bear in mind that at the beginning of the last war we sent our very best men out of our country, quite rightly and properly we believe, in order to resist aggression overseas but that it was necessary to recall them to defend Australia itself from aggression. With an island continent which has a small population, and a large coastline, and which presents great difficulty in providing all the things necessary for the maintenance of safety during a war, one has to concentrate on the development of those factors inside the country that will afford safety and security against aggression. It would be foolish to overlook those problems and we cannot escape them merely by walking out of the chamber.
What do the people of Australia want? They want security, the right to live their own way of life, and freedom from aggression. The question, then, arises as to what foreign policy the Government should adopt in order to secure those three things. It is vital for the Aus tralian people to have peace with their neighbours, otherwise they cannot have security. I therefore suggest that the Government must follow a positive and direct policy which will develop goodwill and understanding. I suggest that this country does not need defence pacts because defence pacts between two or three countries seem to infer that they expect aggression from countries with which they have not entered into defence pacts. This country requires nonaggression pacts with its neighbours which will make it known that we are prepared to respect their rights of self-government and assist them in the development of their country and which will result in the avoidance of aggression on their part and ours so that there shall be mutual understanding and mutual efforts for the establishment of goodwill.
It is essential for Australia to state its friendship in genuine terms to the countries of the Pacific, South-East Asia and Asia. Those nations do not wish to be patronized or to be the objects of condescending action, but they do appreciate goodwill, understanding and a genuine desire to assist them in the problems which beset their communities. There is no better way of arriving at a peaceful understanding with one’s neighbours than by indicating in a practical form one’s wish to assist them in their problems. The peace of the world will be greatly aided if this country can assist in the improvement of the living standards of the people of Asia and the Pacific. [Extension of time granted.]
I suggest that one way in which Australia can assist both Asiatic and Pacific countries is by making greater facilities of education available in Australia to the people of those countries. That is being done to a large extent by the subsidiary organization of the United Nations known as Unesco but a considerable extension of all forms of educational facilities to these Asiatic and Pacific countries would greatly stimulate goodwill. There should be a clear recognition by Australia of the self-governing rights of people in the Pacific and in Asia. One of the greatest illustrations of the value of the recognition of self-governing rights was the action of the United Kingdom in granting to India, Pakistan and Burma the right of self-government. That action has enabled certain portions of Asia to proceed with the establishment of their own governments and, as a result, has prevented conflicts which might have taken place in those areas.
There is an awakening in the East and the Pacific. There is in those countries a desire for self-government which is being freely expressed. I think it is essential for the Government to state that Australia recognizes the rights of other countries to choose the class of government that will give them the best results. To resist self-government in other countries is to engender hostility. If, by action on the lines that I have suggested, this country is able to indicate to the Asiatic and Pacific nations that it is anxious to help them in their development and to see that they assume the government of their own countries and take their place in the councils of the world, we shall be doing much to ensure peace in the future.
– The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) has made some illogical statements. He made a very plausible speech, which caused some members on the Government side to interject because of his unreal platitudes. I say, more in sorrow than in anger, that I have yet to hear one member of the Opposition suggest that Russia is a menace. Yet, in every country, the people realize the menace of Russia. If communism was just an ideology it would not matter so much, but the communism that is spreading throughout the world is a totalitarianism which is based on the Russian system.
The Russian leaders are realists. There are no fools controlling Russia, and its foreign policy is based entirely on a strong defence policy. Can any one hear the reports of the military power that Russia has built and doubt the effect that it might have on that nation’s foreign policy? Has any nation ever produced immense forces such as Russia is producing without using them for war ? Whenever a nation develops its forces to that extent war is inevitable unless there is some force to counter them. Russia alone is causing anxiety throughout the world. Russia has had considerable success with its foreign policy since 1945 when it continued arming while the rest of the world disarmed. Honorable members know what happened in Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria. Can they blind themselves to what they see, not only in Europe, but also in Asia ? Russia is gaining land masses which are important in these days of atomic weapons. It is increasing its labour forces. Yet we hear an extraordinary foreign policy being advocated by honorable members of the Opposition.
Russia has had some failures such as those in Greece and Korea and that which was brought about by the Berlin airlift. It is .interesting to note that every time Russia has met force she has stopped. It is an historical fact that Russia has never made big attacks. Russia’s foreign policy is supported not only by its armed forces, but also by a fifth column. Honorable members know something of that fifth column in Australia. The subject was debated during the last couple of days in this chamber, and I regard as mad any one who does not recognize that danger. There is no country outside the Iron Curtain which has not fifth columnists. Chinese communities are being developed overseas. Places like Nicaragua have big Chinese colonies which are spreading Communist propaganda. Honorable members may say that Nicaragua is not important, but it is close to the Panama Canal. All these efforts represent attempts to disperse the forces of democracy and support the policy of Moscow.
The greatest difficulty is being experienced in the United Nations organization. Russia has been indulging in fifth column activity in the United Nations organization ever since it was formed. Western Germany, Austria and every country adjoining the Iron Curtain are in danger. Is there a place adjoining the Iron Curtain which is not?
What is going on behind the Iron Curtain? Recently the United States Ambassador to Russia said that he thought that there was no chance of the Russian system breaking down. He may have been pessimistic because in 1947 there was a full-scale revolution in the Ukraine. But changes are taking place every day which make it harder for the people to resist the tyranny which has been forced upon them. We know that villages have been dispersed over Siberia. Family ties have been shattered. The Russian peasant communities have been split up. Each year the meance becomes greater. The Russian leaders are changing the character of their people. What else is going on behind the Iron Curtain? Does anybody doubt that there are millions of slaves there? Can anybody stand the thought of some decent European citizen languishing in some Siberian slave camp? I understand what that may mean, because I had some experience, but at that time I knew that relief was merely a matter of time. These people have no such hope, and we have a responsibility to them as world citizens. Are honorable members on the Opposition side content to come into this chamber and debate matters, then go to the bar for a drink and then come back here for more debating, or have they a responsibility to their fellow men behind the Iron Curtain? Do honorable members opposite intend to leave millions of people behind the Iron Curtain without attempting to alleviate their sufferings? If they are selfish enough not to consider others then perhaps they should consider how they themselves may be affected. Both the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) said that defence is an integral part of our foreign policy. That policy is taken from a leaf of the Russian book, because the Russians use their powerful army as a part of their foreign policy. Yesterday throughout the metropolitan press of Australia full-page advertisements appeared signed by the Prime Minister. Those advertisements did not exaggerate the danger to Australia. The Prime Minister has returned from a trip overseas where he was able to see and hear things which enabled him to form a. correct opinion on world affairs. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) said that we should, resist aggression. I ask him, with what shall we resist it? The honorable member for
Bendigo said that it was right and proper that we should resist aggression. I also ask him, with what shall we resist it? There can be no resistance without a defence force.
The line taken by honorable members opposite is in the nature of a tragedy. I ask them to consider the astronomical amounts being expended on defence by America. The United Kingdom is expending £3,000,000,000 on its defence. Every nation of the Western democracies is expending vast sums on defence. The purpose of that expenditure is the resistance of aggression. Although the North Atlantic Pact is our. present hope, it does not take the place of the United Nations, being merely complementary to that body. Yesterday the Minister for External Affairs submitted to the United Nations a motion inviting member nations to supply evidence of the failure of Roumania, Bulgaria and Hungary to fulfil their treaty obligations. That is an attempt to form world opinion, but what value will such world opinion have if the Iron Curtain effectively prevents any information from, being published there. As long as there is an iron curtain which prevents the movement of thought and opinion there will he no possibility of peace in the world. The only reason why there has not been a war before this is that America has had a stock pile of atomic bombs. The democracies lie wide open except for that stock pile. But behind the Iron Curtain there is great activity. Are the Russians to be given years more of time to develop their atomic weapons and their methods of bacteriological warfare? It is an axiom that a new weapon is soon countered by another. In time a counter to the atomic bomb will be found, and perhaps it will be found by the Russians. All that the Government is asking at present is that the defences of Australia shall be improved. That cannot be done without sacrifice and through harder work, with everybody playing his part as the Prime Minister has requested.
It makes me angry when people say that our first task is to develop this country, and then loaf on the 40-hour week while all our production is destroyed by Communists. Should we say, “-Develop our country while conscripts from England and America fight our battles “ ? We have responsibilities to the United Nations and we must carry them. I foresee the time when we shall become tired of the continual threat of war. Supposing that we re-arm in the hope that the Russian system will change before the need arises to use those arms, and go on anning while there are a thousand things left undone that could be done to better the lot of mankind. I cannot see why, as soon as we are strong enough, we cannot take stronger action and demand in places like Czechoslovakia that a plebiscite be held under the auspices of the United Nations to decide whether or not the people are satisfied with their government. Why not take the initiative from Russia, because if we are strong there will not be a war? The United Nations must fulfil its obligations and there is no reason why a plebiscite should not be taken in, for a start, say, Poland and Czechoslovakia. We cannot live for ever with a threat of war hanging over our heads.
People are seldom benefited by historical events in their own generation, hut events have moved very fast in the last few years and we all remember the history of Hitler and Stalin, which proved that appeasement is absolutely useless, and that any one who advocates it is a menace to his race. If we remain strong, and back our foreign policy with our armed force, war is not inevitable.
– I wish to refer to some of the remarks made by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). He made a most remarkable speech, one of the most remarkable of all his remarkable speeches in this House, and one that caused a great deal of consternation among his own followers, if I am correct in my judgment of the reason for facial expressions of honorable members on the Government side. It was a speech that consisted mainly of a violent personal attack on the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt). It reminded me of a similar speech that the honorable member delivered not long ago when he made a similar attack-
– Order ! The honorable member cannot refer to a debate which took place during this session of the Parliament.
– Very well, Mr. Speaker. That attack upon the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) probably occupied the mind of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) when he was abroad. Possibly the Prime Minister, in a prophetic state of mind, was able to foresee the shape of things to come, because we find this report in the Adelaide News of the 5th August, 1950 -
The United Nations secretary-general (Mr. Trygve Lie), fresh from a security council meeting at Lake Success, engaged Mr. Menzies is earnest private conversation for ten minutes after he arrived late at a reception here this evening.
He and Mr. Menzies talked oblivious of the other 80 guests, whom the Australian ConsulGeneral (Lieut.-General E. K. Smart) had invited to meet Mr. Menzies at his New York flat.
I have been wondering whether the Prime Minister might have been discussing with Mr. Trygve Lie some of the statements made about him by the honorable member for Mackellar some time ago in King’s Hall. It is well known that the attitude of the honorable member for Mackellar towards Mr. Trygve Lie is one of complete contempt and hostility; this he has made known on more than one occasion. One of the most remarkable suggestions made by the honorable member was that the Soviet members were criminals and because of that they Should be excluded from the United Nations. Having so excluded them, he said, the United Nations should control atomic stock piles and engage in and enforce a system of world disarmament. How could the United Nations possibly succeed in disarming the world if a large section of the world were excluded from the United Nations before it started to supervise the world ?
The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Charles Anderson) stated that it was wrong for this country to continue to develop its resources with men loafing on a 40-hour week. Just imagine a statement like that coming from an honorable member of this House, a statement that the people of Australia are loafing and are no more nor less than a pack of loafers.
– There are a good many who are loafing.
– The honorable member says that a good many are loafing. The real loafers in this country are not the people to whom the honorable member refers, that is, the working people whom I have the great honour to represent, but those who profit from the system that is operating here and is causing the international difficulty that is facing all the western democracies. The problems of the world to-day will not be solved by rabble-rousing attacks by members of the Government side. Those problems cannot be solved by making accusations against the working class. Nor can they be solved by the sabre rattling of the honorable member for Mackellar nor by the mock attacks that the honorable member made one night when he arrested Field-Marshal Blarney in his bed. The only way in which the problem can be solved is by attacking the causes of communism. Those causes throughout the world, including Australia, arise from the evils of monopoly capitalism.
– I think that the honorable member had better keep to the subject, which is foreign affairs.
– Pandit. Nehru, who often expresses his opinion on foreign affairs, was reported in the Adelaide Advertiser of the 21st August, 1950, as follows: - “ In the west there is a lot of .talk about Communism and the Communist danger, and there is a great deal in it. However, the average Asian cannot be swept away by the cry of Communist danger, because he has not so much to lose “. Mr. Nehru said that the west should abandon its condemnation of Communism as such and take up political and economic, freedom as a more effective rallying cry,
I think that Pandit Nehru exposed the whole core of the situation when he said that it was of no use for us to scream our heads off about communism and about the evils that confront us to-day from international communism, but that we should pay some attention to the causes of communism.
The honorable member for Hume said that red China was a satellite of Soviet Russia. I am one who does not believe that to be the case. I may be wrong, but
I believe it to be impossible for anybody to assert justifiably that 460,000,000 Chinese are to become an appendage of the Soviet Union, which has a population of something less than 200,000,000.
– They have already become that.
– No. What has happened is that the Chinese people have acquiesced in a movement led by a small section of the Chinese against the corrupt and putrid Chiang Kai-shek regime. The 460,000,000 people in China are not Communists. Indeed, they do not know anything about communism. Mao Tse-tung would not have succeeded in ejecting the Chiang Kai-shek Government had that Government shown any regard for the welfare of the ordinary Chinese people. A similar situation existed in India, French IndoChina, Burma and the Philippines, where, at some period during the last 20 or 30 years, governments which showed no consideration at all for the common people had been in power. Instead of wasting thousands of lives, and expending hundreds of millions of pounds, in attempting to prevent the spread of communism in Asia, Australia and other democratic countries should avert such further loss of lives by expending money for the purpose of curing the causes of communism, which can be effectively combatted by giving to the Asiatic peoples some semblance of selfgovernment and ensuring that their governments shall be fair and efficient. I venture to say that had it not been for the timely action of the Attlee Socialist Government in England in giving selfgovernment to Burma, Pakistan and India, those former British dominions would now be completely under Communist control.
– What countries, in Asia have not” self-government ?
– First, Korea did not have self-government. No country can claim to have selfgovernment unless the people in it have the right to elect democratically those who govern them. Nobody can say that either North Korea or South Korea had self-government before the outbreak pf the present hostilities. Although North
Korea was supposed to have selfgovernment, and the people of that territory were supposed to have the right to elect their own government, the fact remains that only one party, a la the real Russian style, was permitted to nominate candidates. In South Korea, something like 1.40 parties were permitted to nominate candidates, but that did not mean that the South Koreans, from a democratic viewpoint, were so many times better off than North Koreans. What happened in South Korea? Just prior to the last general election held in that country at least half the candidates were arrested by the fascist police force that then controlled ‘South Korea and many of them were executed because they had dared to nominate for election to Parliament.
– On what authority does the honorable member make that statement?
– On the authority of the report of the royal commission that was appointed by the United Nations to investigate conditions in South Korea. That report is available in the Library and may be perused by any honorable member. A similar position arose in Kashmir. That province looked like going Communist but was prevented from doing so by action taken by Sheik Abdullah, who, realizing the demand of the Asiatic peoples to control their lands, decided to confiscate all holdings in Kashmir of an area in excess of 125 acres. Observers say that that announcement was probably prompted by reports that a Communist-organized army was gaining the support of .the peasants who had been complaining that the Kashmir Government’s land redistribution programme was being delayed. Plainly, the real cause of international communism must be laid at the door of monopoly capitalism, the imperialism that has been allowed full play in Asiatic countries for the last 200 years. The peoples of those countries aTe fed up with being exploited by European imperialists. For too long have they merely been told that they are to be given self-government. Now, they are demanding self-government. It is sheer waste of time on our part to talk about defeating communism by arms and by the use of the atom bomb. Unless we deal with the root causes of communism and give to the peoples of Asia the right to live decently we shall not defeat .communism. Let us give to the people of India, for instance, living conditions which will increase their expectation of life from 26 years to the standard that pertains in Australia. Unless that is done we can never expect the people of India to be satisfied with their lot. Present international problems cannot be solved so easily as supporters of the Government appear to imagine they can be. They can be solved only by introducing in those countries to which I have referred a form of socialism that will prevent some small section of the community from exploiting and impoverishing the many. The reason why communism in Australia is at such, a low ebb, although it has commenced to rise since the present Government assumed office, is that during the last eight years Australian Governments have had the courage to take effective steps against that section of the community which had exploited the ordinary people during the preceding 150 years. An advertisement that was published in the Australian press in the name of the Liberal party stated - .
What is the Australian situation? Recent years have shown that the Australian Labour party’s adherence to socialism has contributed to the growth of communism as a force in Australia.
That is a plain lie. The result of the general election held in 1949 showed that the methods that the Labour party recommends should be employed to fight communism in Asiatic countries reduced the Communist party in this country almost to a shadow. If those methods have proved effective in this country they will prove equally effective in combating communism in other countries. I am not prepared to send Australian soldiers to fight in any theatre of war that some irresponsible war-mongers decide would be a nice place in which to shed the blood of Australian men. I believe that Australian troops should be trained to defend this country. At the same time, the Australian people should not be asked to bear the expense of training men for the purpose of sending them to the four corners of the earth to defend some other country which may have absolutely no connexion with Australia, while storm-troopers from Germany are being brought here in thousands to take the jobs of the men who are sent abroad to shed their blood.
– Order ! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– As you, Mr. Speaker, allowed the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Charles Anderson) to refer to recruiting, I thought that I would be allowed equal latitude in referring to that subject.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- At the outset I direct the attention of the House to the great advantage that the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) enjoys by reason of the fact that, holding the beliefs that he does hold, he is able to make almost exactly the same speech in every debate in which he participates.
– The honorable member should not attack a member of his own clan.
– There is one black sheep in every family, as the honorable member knows. During this debate honorable members have referred to specific aspects of foreign policy. I propose to speak on general lines. Before doing so, however, I wish to refer to one matter that has been mentioned and that has aroused considerable interest in this country recently. I allude to the proposition that the United Nations forces in Korea should stop at the 3Sth parallel. I submit, first, that such a matter is a military problem and that it would be quite irrational to expect an army that has just completed a, series of victorious battles to bait at some imaginary line without paying due regard to the military considerations that condition its own safety and future action. .Secondly, if the purpose of the United Nations in taking up arms in Korea is to be achieved, that job must be com pleted. Three forces are operating in the world to-day. The first is the force of nationalism. It has been operating, particularly in Europe, for some centuries, but it is now beginning to be accentuated throughout the continent of Asia. All of us are familiar with it, and it has been blamed, rightly or wrongly, for a great deal of the struggle and warfare that the world has experienced.
The second great force that is operating in the world to-day is the ideological force of communism and it, being a revolutionary force, is necessarily an expansionist force. No revolutionary force can he anything but an expansionist force, exerting either armed pressure or some other kind of pressure on other countries. The third force, to which I shall refer later, is another potent force that has an immensely powerful effect on foreign policy. Communism, in pursuing its way, bears not a constant relation but a varying relation to the force of nationalism. In some countries, communism uses the force of nationalism to further its own aims whilst in other countries it opposes the force of nationalism. In Indo-China, and perhaps in Korea, and in China, it seeks to use the immensely strong force of nationalism to further is own aims. In Malaya, it endeavours to represent its aims as being in support of the forces of nationalism. In other countries in which there is a nationalism that cannot ‘V used to further its aims, it opposes that force.
I remind the House of the situation that arose in Yugoslavia during World War II. After the Germans had overrun that country, two resistance movements developed. The first was that of the armed bands known as the Chetniks, and the second was headed by Tito. As honorable members know, the second movement, which ultimately prevailed, was a Communist movement. Its leader was a Moscow-trained Communist, who was thoroughly indoctrinated with communism, and with the spirit of revolutionary communism. Yet, at the same time, he and the people whom he led were deeply imbued with the nationalism that, for centuries, has played such an important and tragic part in the history of the
Balkan States. The situation in Yugoslavia is unique. There, a Communist ruler is not entirely ready to be dominated by the forces of international communism. Whilst he believes in establishing in his country a Communist state, he is unlike every other Communist in the world, so far as I am aware, because he is unwilling to adopt the party line from Moscow. The result is that an anomalous situation has arisen between Yugoslavia and the Kremlin forces, and we witness the extraordinary spectacle of a Communist country being subjected l!o pressure and intimidation by the mother of communism, that great power, Russia. What the result of that clash of interests will be, we do not know. Let no one in this House think that I defend the Government of Yugoslavia merely because it opposes Russia, although I certainly admit that that is a very good reason for taking a better view of communism in Yugoslavia, than we take of communism anywhere else. 1 pass to the consideration of other factors in the world situation that I call the factors of instability. First, I shall consider the position of Russia itself. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics embraces a huge country that possesses tremendous resources of manpower. A large part of the population may be described as only semi-civilized. In the whole course of history Russia has never been open to the influences of the western world. Behind the Iron Curtain it is now closed off more securely than ever from those influences. It is a country with a controlled press that prints only what its rulers wish to be printed ; a country with a controlled radio through which its people hear only what its rulers wish them to hear; a country in which the whole course of education is directed and controlled in the interests of the State; a country in which everything must con.form to the needs of the State and in which propaganda is poured out in accordance with the wishes of the small ruling clique; a country in which the very principles of right and wrong are degraded and debased to the Communist purpose ; a country that is ruled by a police form of government; and a country that possesses the greatest military force that the world has ever known, the strength of which is constantly and steadily increasing. Those are not factors that make for stability in the world. Russia must exert, by its mere existence, a tremendous pressure on every other country.
Let us now consider other factors of instability, namely, the subject States bordering Russia. First, I mention Poland, an ancient kingdom with a long history, certainly a history of frequent conquest and oppression, but, at any rate, a national history. In that country the force of nationalism is subject to the force of communism. Other countries in this category are Lithuania, Estonia, Czechoslovakia and Roumania, which are sealed off from western influences by the Iron Curtain. What is the effect of their subjection on the Continent of Europe, on the minds of the people who live in Europe, and on the minds of people in other countries? East Germany is also one of the subject States. Before it was overrun by the Russians, it was the centre of German military thought. Millions of people who are now held down in East Germany dominated the Continent a few years ago. They regarded themselves as the leading race, and set out to conquer the world, yet they are now held down by a conqueror.
There are other nations which I may describe as the fringe of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and its subject States. The first of them that occurs to my mind is West Germany. On its eastern borders are the Russians, the mortal enemies of the Germans, with whom they were recently engaged in a life-and-death struggle. West Germany exists only because it is supported by other enemies and conquerors, the British and the Americans. What are the conditions in recently liberated countries such as Holland, France and Greece, which may be described as being on the fringe of the Iron Curtain ? Instability of government prevails in all of them; instability of life; instability of almost everything that makes for ordinary democratic and decent living. All those are factors of immense instability in the world. Another factor is the Communist fifth column that is operating in Australia, in the countries on the fringe of the Iron Curtain, in the United States of America and in Canada. Everywhere that fifth column is seeking to upset, destroy and overthrow all the forms of democratic government. With all those forces of instability, the foreign policies of this country and of other democratic countries have to contend. Indeed, the foreign policy of every country has to be orientated in the midst of all those factors of instability.
I now come to the third force to which I referred earlier, namely, the growth of population. Perhaps, it will exert a more powerful effect in the world than either nationalism or communism. It is not an immaterial force. The population of the world is increasing rapidly, and, in some countries, out of all proportion to the increase in the democratic countries. I have collected a few figures on this subject, and I shall read them to the House. They are not quite up to date, and they are only approximate, but they illustrate my meaning. The population of India in the twenty years to 1941 increased by 40,000,000; the population of Japan in seventeen years increased by 22,000,000; and the population of Indonesia in 20 years increased by 20,000,00. Whatever else we do in our foreign and domestic policies and whatever else any other nation does, we all must find means of living in a world in which that growth of population is taking place. With further progress in science and in medicine, and with improved living conditions, the pace will increase. The foreign policy of the various democracies must take that matter into account. Something may be done by argument and discussion to alter an ideology, but nothing can alter the situation that arises from the growth of population throughout the world.
It is easy to ask what are the factors that make an unstable world. It is also easy to point to the rocks amongst which we must steer the course of our foreign policy, but perhaps it is not so easy to say what we should do. I am not competent to state in detail what we should do, but I should like to indicate to the House what I believe, in principle, we should do. In my opinion three things form the basic principles of our foreign policy., When I speak of basic principles, I mean the basic general principles of right conduct in foreign policy, and not the kind of principles that are expressed by muddledheaded people who write slogans on walls, who scribble on footpaths, or who attend peace congresses at which fatuous resolutions are carried. I refer not to those kinds of principles, but to the basic principles of right and honest conduct which the people who express them are willing to defend. The first principle is, that we should do our utmost to cultivate good relations, and effect a unified policy with those who think as we do. No one has given a greater example of the way in which that should be done than the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), whose recent triumphal tour abroad has done more for this country than perhaps any one realizes. The second principle is that we should support the United Nations. In fact, we should do more .than that. We should give it real support, and not mere lip-service and the kind of support that the Australian Labour party advocates, because that amounts to nothing at all. Earlier in this debate, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) referred to the defence of this country. He said, in effect, that we had to bring hack to Australia during World War II., our well-armed, well-trained and seasoned troops. The policy that is now advocated by the Labour party is to have no well-armed, well-trained and seasoned troops.
– That is wrong.
– All that the Labour party wishes to do is to invite a few people to train for home defence. Nobody has given the world a clearer indication of what real support for the United Nations means within the capacity of any country than has the Prime Minister whose policy is a shining light illuminating the darkness of the present political situation. The third point is perhaps not an object of foreign policy, but no foreign policy would be worth while without it. It requires the discharge of our plain national duty to defend the country. I remind honorable members in conclusion that one of the objectives of any good foreign policy must be the maintenance of freedom of every kind. I recall the words that were spoken in another democracy a great many years ago, that “freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it “. Whilst it is perhaps not true to say that freedom can only be preserved by force of arms, without arms it will certainly be lost.
.- For a few minutes during the speech of the honorable member for Oxley (Dr. Donald Cameron), I thought that the text of my own speech would be completely covered. Fortunately the honorable gentleman had a great deal to speak about and left me free to state my own views without engaging in repetition. Much has been said during this debate about the 38th parallel in Korea. The subject has been freely discussed in many parts of the world and many people, including Pandit Nehru of India and the political leaders of Russia and “ red “ China, have said that the United Nations forces should cease operations upon reaching the 38th parallel and then remain where they were. Pandit Nehru declared some time ago that India considered the United Nations forces should not cross the 38th parallel until other methods of settling the Korean war had been explored. It would be wrong,’ he said, to carry on military operations when peaceful methods would bring about the same results. On another occasion he offered to intervene and try to settle the Korean dispute on the condition that “ red “ China should be admitted i o membership of the United Nations. He did not say that Russia would guarantee peace on those terms, but merely promised that he would endeavour to effect a settlement. The arguments used by those who declare that United Nations forces should not cross the 38th parallel are extraordinary. Surely the most important military objective to be gained in this conflict is the total destruction of the aggressive forces wherever they may be ! Their ability to fight and their will to resist must be crushed. Until that objective has been achieved, it can never be said that the task of the military commander of the United Nations forces in Korea has been completed. I hope and believe that those forces will pursue the aggressors, if necessary, to the northern frontier of Korea, the border of Manchuria and Korea. If our forces were restrained at the imaginary line that was established by General MacArthur, the initiative and the element of surprise would remain in the hands of the Communist aggressors. They could erupt whenever they wished to do so, carry on guerrilla activities, and destroy the United Nations forces piecemeal. The proposition cannot bc entertained and I believe that the United Nations will ultimately pursue and completely annihilate the aggressive forces of North Korea.
Most honorable members know that the great powers of the world decided, at the joint negotiations that were conducted at Cairo, Moscow and Potsdam, that Korea should become free and independent when peace came. The Japanese instrument of surrender, which was signed personally by Stalin, embodied an undertaking that Korea should have a unified government and should be free and sovereign. Unfortunately, Korea was divided into two zones by General MacArthur’s first operational order. The Soviet Union immediately sovietized the northern zone, established a praesidium and put into operation a genuine totalitarian form of government. The United States of America, after endeavouring in vain to introduce democratic methods in South Korea, gave up the task and threw it into the lap of the United Nations. The United Nations conducted free elections, and a democratic government of a kind was established in South Korea. That brief review outlines the general background of events up to the time when North Korean forces committed an act that was described by the United Nations Commission on Korea as an unwarranted attack upon a democratic country. Thi United Nations intervened, and now its forces have defeated and almost annihilated the Communist forces of North Korea.
Peace proposals have been put forward in the United Nations on behalf of the Western allies. Those proposals have been framed in a very liberal and democratic fashion. They provide that all appropriate steps shall be taken to ensure conditions of stability throughout Korea and that all constituent acts, including the holding of elections under the auspices of the United Nations for the establishment of a unified, independent and democratic government in the sovereign State of Korea, shall be taken. Those proposals are identical with the objective that was agreed upon at Cairo, Moscow and Potsdam. Further proposals are that United Nations forces shall not remain in any part of Korea, except in so far as is necessary for the achievement of the objectives specified in the first two provisions, and that all necessary measures shall be taken to accomplish the economic rehabilitation of Korea. Those are sensible and practical proposals for the establishment of peace and stable democratic government under the control of the Koreans themselves. Unfortunately, they have not been accepted by the Soviet Government, on whose behalf its representative at the United Nations, Mr. Vishinsky, has submitted other proposals. He has declared, in effect, “ We want the United Nations forces to get out of Korea, immediately as a “ precondition to the establishment of law and order and the setting up of a sovereign democratic government “. Such a proposition is utterly unacceptable to sensible people. It is the height of absurdity for the Soviet to say, “After all the trouble we have put you to and after the loss of thousands of lives by the United Nations forces, (rive us another go and we will get our satellites to commit further acts of aggression in Korea “. The idea is intolerable. I sincerely hope that the day when a sovereign go- ‘eminent will be established in Korea under the aegis of the United Nations i.-= not far distant.
What does the future hold for us? Lately I have been reading a great deal about Soviet Russia. Honorable members should realize that Russia is a great continental power. It has a vast army of perhaps 250 quickly mobilizable divisions, but it is important to note that it is neither a great maritime power nor a great air power. It has a very small mercantile marine. At the most it possesses one active battleship, the old October Revolution. Three more battleships are being built. It has a very small auxiliary fleet. Its fleet of destroyers consists of about 75 vessels, of which 25 are stationed on the Pacific coast. It has over 330 submarines, of which, I understand, perhaps 25 are in Pacific waters. Recently I read a translation of an article that was published in the Hamburg Times, which is considered to be a. fairly authoritative journal. It declared that, although Russia had a very great tactical air force, it had a very small strategic air force. That means that it has a very small force of heavy bombers capable of long-range activities. Another interesting article, which was written by Mr. Ellsworth Raymond, who was for several years the statistician at the United States Embassy in Moscow, appeared recently in an American journal. Mr. Raymond stated that Stalin himself had admitted, as a result of the Korean conflict, that Russia would need to increase its productive capacity to three times the present level before it could attempt to defeat the Western democracies en bloc. Therefore, there is much to be said for the argument of the right, honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), who declared that, by intervention in Korea, a great, stroke had been performed for the cause of the United Nations, which was the cause of the world itself. Russia has suffered its second great rebuff. This must affect its immediate intentions and impose caution on it. T also agree with the statement by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) that Australia is not in imminent danger of attack. The simple fact, therefore, is that we have no need to look to our own defences at present.
Our great task is to play our part as a democratic nation and as a member of the United Nations so as to ensure not only that we shall be free but also that every other democratic nation shall be free. What Ban we do to carry out that task? I agree with the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) that something must be done rn the United Nations about Russia. I agree with the honorable gentleman’s conclusions without agreeing either with his arguments or with the method of action that be proposes. The time has come for us to consider whether or not we are prepared to permit the United Nations to exist in its present form. I doubt very much, as a matter of law, whether we could expel a permanent member of the
Security Council of the United Nations against its veto. In fact, I do not believe that we could do so. Nevertheless I believe that we must think in terms of establishing a united group of nations that are actuated by goodwill and have peaceful intentions. If that were done we might consider abolishing the United Nations and forming another organization on truly democratic and liberal principles. Ever since the United Nations was formed the activities of the democratic nations have been stultified by Russia’s use of the veto. If we wish to take action to ensure that in the future the forces of democracy will be able to act as effectively as they have done in Korea then we must remove the shackles inherent in the use of the veto by the Russians. If Communist China were admitted to the United Nations it would have to be given a seat on the Security Council, which would mean that Russia would have a valuable satellite that could also exercise the veto power against the democracies.
The proposal that I put forward to overcome the difficulty that confronts the world is similar to that advanced by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). The fact is that we have returned to the condition of affairs that obtained before 1914, when World War I. occurred. It has again become necessary for us to think in terms of the balance of power, and we must so adjust that balance that we shall have more strength than Russia and its satellites. Considering the matter from that viewpoint, it is clear that we should so reconstitute the. United Nations that it will he composed only of friendly democratic nations that are prepared to defend peace and liberty. The time has come for us to take decisive action to ensure that the democracies shall have sufficient real power to defend themselves against the Soviet. After all, if Russia is bent on making war, as we believe it to be, the only fact that will deter it from that course will be the overwhelming strength of the democracies.
Concerning the proposal that the Chinese Communist Government should be admitted to the United Nations, I point out that de facto recognition of that country under international law by some countries is not a valid argument for admitting it to the United Nations. Obviously, no nation should be admitted to the United Nations unless it complies with the provisions of Article IV. of the United Nations’ Charter, which requires that an applicant State shall be a peace-loving State and one that will accept the obligations contained in the Charter. In view of what has happened in China, can any one reasonably contend that the new government has given any evidence that it is now, or is likely to become, a peaceloving State? Is not all the evidence to the contrary? Only recently the Chinese Communist party was leading a revolutionary movement which ultimately overthrew by force the legitimate government of that country. In my opinion, that alone is sufficient evidence that the present Government of China is not a lover of peace. Furthermore, I think that it would be a mistake on moral and psychological grounds to admit China to the United Nations. The moral objection to the admission of the Chinese Communist Government is that Russia has attempted to make a deal with us in the matter. Russia has said in effect: “ Admit Red China, and we shall do our best to promote peace in Korea “. In that attitude Russia has been supported by Pandit Nehru. Therefore, I say that on moral grounds it would be quite wrong for us to consider negotiating a peace in Korea by acceding to Russia’s request that we admit Red China to the United Nations. It would also be psychologically bacl for us to do so because the admission of an aggressor nation to the comity of nations would have an adverse effect upon the Asiatic countries. However, assuming for a moment that there were good and sufficient reasons for admitting the Chinese Communist Government to the United Nations’, and to the Security Council of that organization, let us consider the position that would arise in the event of aggression by, say, Eastern Germany and Poland, which are satellites of Russia, against Western Germany. The voting power of Red China in the Security Council would, undoubtedly, be used to veto any proposal to check the aggression.
-Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Roberton) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Francis) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I raise a matter that has already been discussed in the Parliament, and which concerns the attendants employed in Parliament House. Since the matter was mentioned previously additional information has been furnished.
– Is not this a matter for the Joint House Committee?
– Order ! The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has the floor.
– In reply to a question addressed to the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) recently, the right honorable gentleman stated that consideration of the parliamentary attendants’, claims had not been concluded, but was still before Cabinet. I have since discovered that that is not true. However, I do not accuse the right honorable gentleman of having wilfully misled the House because he was, no doubt, preoccupied with the preparation of the budget and other matters, and was probably misinformed about the position concerning the attendants’ claims. I .understand that those claims have been considered and rejected. The rejection of the claims seems to me to be particularly unjust, because all honorable members are aware that whether they are actively engaged in the transaction of parliamentary business or seek refreshment or a little recreation they are well and faithfully served by the parliamentary attendants. Often we are so engaged in our own pursuits that we quite nonchalantly disregard their services and display obvious unconcern at the demands that we make on their time. I. do not know, and therefore cannot understand, why their just claim for payment for overtime worked should be disregarded. However, it appears that two factors that militated against the success of their claim are, first, that there is confusion about the identity of the appropriate officer to submit recommendations concerning them, and, secondly, that difficulties have arisen in the presentation, as well as in the consideration, of the claims because the men are engaged in various departments of Parliament House, which gives rise to anomalies and special considerations. However, the fact remains that the amount of overtime worked by the attendants for which they receive no pay is scandalous.
When the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Dr. Nott) raised this matter he pointed out that the Commonwealth Public Service (Parliamentary Officers) Regulations provide in respect of hours of employment -
The hours of duty of officers of any Department of the Parliamentary Service shall be such hours as are specified from time to time by the Permanent Head of that Department and approved by the Parliamentary Head.
In this instance the parliamentary head is Mr. Speaker. I understand that Mr. Speaker, who has taken a lively interest in the welfare of the employees of Parliament House and who is able to view this matter from the standpoint of personal knowledge as well as from his position as parliamentary head, submitted a. recommendation supporting the claims put forward by the attendants, but that the appropriate Minister and the Cabinet rejected his recommendation. My inquiries reveal that the reason why the claim was rejected was that the Public Service Board, to whom the claims had been referred for comment, recommended that they be not granted. It is obvious that the Public Service Board, which is not really concerned in this matter at all, merely wants to cast its net of authority over every one. I stress my protest against the interference of that body in this matter, and I insist on being informed by the Government of the real reasons why it rejected this just claim. That section of the Commonwealth Public Service (Parliamentary Officers) Regulations which deals with recreation leave provides -
The Permanent Head shall, wherever practicable, cause such arrangements to be made as will ensure that each officer will be granted leave of absence annually for recreation, and, if leave is not taken in the year in which it accrues, it shall lapse.
Honorable members will realize that the regulation is hedged round with all sorts o£ qualifications designed to minimize the just claims of the employees. If these men were members of a trade union which had any militancy at ally their union would not tolerate such injustice for a moment. But they should not be denied justice because they do not belong to a militant organization.
I shall now place before honorable members some factual information from a document which supplies damning evidence of the injustice suffered by these employees. That document is in the form of a statistical return that has been prepared to show the average hours worked by parliamentary attendants during the last period of the parliamentary session, which commenced on the 22nd February and concluded on the 22nd June. That period is a fair sample of the hours of employment of the staff during a parliamentary session. The statistical return is available for perusal by honorable members and representatives of the Government. I shall not do more now than cite from it some actual instances of excessive overtime. For the week ended the 4th March the average hours of duty performed by the staff was 50 hours 30 minutes. For the week ended the 11th March the comparable period was 51 hours 40 minutes, and for the week ended the 18th March the comparable period was 54 hours 45 minutes. For the week ended the 1st April the hours of duty were 54 hours 45 minutes, and for the week ended the 6th May they were 52 hours 15 minutes. For each of the remaining weeks of the session not less than 51 hours were worked, and in one week 54 hours 45 minutes duty was performed. Altogether, the hours of duty in excess of Public Service conditions amounted to 233 hours, and the’ hours which the attendants contend should be paid for at penalty rates totalled nearly 350. If the staff had been paid for the overtime performed at the appropriate rate of 5s. an hour, each attendant would have received approximately £87. I suggest to honorable members that, having regard to the spread of hours worked and the nature of the work, no court or arbitrator would award the men less than £100. In other words, these men have been mulct of that amount. The facts are simple enough for any one to comprehend. First, the staff has a legitimate grievance. Then a claim is made, which is properly supported by factual evidence. The claim 13 unjustly rejected. We have the documentary evidence to support the claim. This matter was brought before the Speaker of the House, who is the man responsible as the parliamentary head of those officers, and his subsequent recommendation was cavalierly rejected. I consider that we, as members of the Parliament and as custodians of the law, which prescribes certain hours of labour wherever men are employed in this country and whatever may be the industry in which they are engaged, with certain special exceptions, should have this matter investigated. I therefore ask the Minister for a reasonable explanation of why overtime persists, why there is no payment for it, and why no true leave is granted ex’cept at the whimsy of certain bosses who decide that because things are slack at some particular time employees may then take leave. The whole affair is scandalous and is a reflection upon this Parliament. Whilst we on this side of the House may have overlooked it ourselves when we were in office - and we accept that impeachment - we consider that something should be done now. The Minister should let us have the facts and should let us know why the man who knows all about it and who, armed with all the valid reasons and with the facts before him, approached the Government with a recommendation in favour of the employees, had that recommendation rejected in the manner that has been stated. Does it mean that the Public Service Board is to be allowed to determine what shall be done in this matter? I consider that we ought to take some action.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- I support the remarks of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that some time ago, in company with the honorable member for Hindmarsh. (Mr. Clyde Cameron) I approached you in connexion with this matter. To your everlasting credit you received us very favorably. You more or les3 accepted the validity of the points that we placed before you, and later the matter was discussed at a meeting attended by you, the President of the Senate, the Clerk of the Senate and some other officers. You will recall that on that occasion the Clerk of the Senate suggested that the matter should be placed before the Public Service Board, and that, again to your credit, you refused to have it go before that body. You argued that it was your prerogative, as Mr. Speaker, to deal with the matter as it affected the attendants on this side of the Parliament, and that the President of the Senate had a similar prerogative in respect of the Senate attendants. On that occasion yon promised the honorable member for Hindmarsh and me that you would have the whole matter investigated. I left Canberra at the beginning of the recess quite convinced, knowing what your attitude was on the matter, that when I returned it would have been settled and that those employees would at long last be receiving the justice to which they are entitled. Unfortunately we now find that the whole thing has been crushed. Recently, when reclassification of offices was being considered, it was put to the committee in control of the matter that those attendants should not be considered for reclassification on the ground that something was going to be done for them in connexion with the payment of overtime. From what I can gather, although I am not in a position to know exactly whether or not you made a recommendation or what was the nature of the recommendation if you had made one - although I accept the statement that you did make one and that it was favorable to these men - the Cabinet, the Treasurer, the Secretary to the Treasury or some one else has rejected that recommendation. At the time that this matter was brought before your notice, and later at the meeting of those concerned, it was argued that those attendants should not be entitled to overtime payments during sessional periods because during periods of recess there were many days on which they did not work the full daily hours. The answer to that argument is now, as it was then and always will be, that for the last quarter of a century arbitration courts in this country have refused to take a slack period into account when the matter of excess working hours during a busy period is under consideration. Surely this Parliament does not wish to go back to the dark, dismal days when people could be compelled to work sixteen hours a day on some occasions on the ground that a few months previously they had not been called upon to work their full daily hours. The case of these men is tragic. They are not covered by an effective industrial organization. I make that statement with thi utmost respect for the organization to which many of them subscribe. Some of them do not even subscribe to that organization. The tragedy of the case is that they have no access to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and that they are placed in the position of having to take or leave the conditions that are determined by you, Mr. Speaker, or whomever you may consider yourself subject to in connexion with such matters. I assert that there is no other section of industry in this country in which men are called upon to work under the conditions under which men in this National Parliament are asked to work. If they had access to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court through whatever union they might consider they should belong to, they would have absolutely no difficulty in gaining justice for themselves. I have had some experience of arbitration courts and I know what the members of any arbitration court in Australia would think if I told them that the manager of the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms worked 650 hours without payment of overtime in a period of less than three months. Another employee whose name I shall not mention, because I do not trust many of the people who might have something to do with the continuation of his employment - I do not refer to persons in this House - and who works in the refreshment-room area, worked 110 hours overtime during the first five weeks of the present Parliament and did not receive one penny for the extra hours worked. Unless something is done in this matter it will not be longbefore it will be extremely difficult to find people who will be prepared to work here. Who on earth in times like this, however satisfactory the environment might be, would work sixteen hours a day, as one man in particular now
Works in the pantry here! He works seventeen hours daily from Mondays to Fridays and comes in on Saturday afternoons and Sundays, but does not receive one penny for his extra work.
– Does he work on Sundays ?
– Yes. I have Been the honorable member himself here on Sunday morning having morning tea. Somebody has to get it for him.
– I have never had it.
– I. say the honorable member has. He cannot get the key to get tea for himself, and if he could, he would buck about having to do so. The employees to whom I am referring cannot buck. They have no union and no access to an arbitration court. If the statement of Mr: Speaker is to be accepted - and I do not doubt it, although the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) has in some measure repudiated it - his recommendation in regard to overtime has been rejected, and this democratically elected Parliament, instead of setting an example to outside employers, is working its own employees under nothing better than slave conditions.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– in reply - This matter is not one that has suddenly arisen to-night. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Dr. Nott) raised it last night. As the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) himself admitted, the conditions now obtaining existed during the term of office of the previous Government. I agree, however, that two wrongs do not make a right. The matteris at present engaging the consideration of the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden), and I hope that some time to-morrow, he will be able to made a statement covering the points raised by the honorable member for
Parkes and the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) to-night and by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory last night. Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Apple and Pear Organization Act - Fourth Annual Report of the Australian Apple and Pear Board; foryear 1949-50, together with Statement by Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - No. 2 War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal - Report for year 1949-50.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of National Development - E. H. Morgan.
Egg Export Control Act - Third Annuul Report of the Australian Egg Board, for year 1949-50, together with Statementby Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Department of Civil Aviation purposes - Cowell, South Australia (substitute copy).
Postal purposes - Carnarvon, Western Auatralia.
Meat Export Control Act - Fifteenth Annual Report of the Australian Meat Board, for year 1949-50, together with Statement by Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
The following answer to a question was circulated: -
House adjourned at 10.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 October 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1950/19501004_reps_19_209/>.