19th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Petitions, praying that action be taken to secure by a referendum of the people an extension of the Common-wealth’s constitutional powers to enable the passing of legislation by the -Commonwealth Parliament to control prices, were presented as follows : -
By Mr. Drummond, from certain citizens of Now South Wales.
By Mr. Fairhall from certain citizens of New South Wales.’
Petitions received and read.
BROADCASTING of Proceeding - Days of Meeting.
– In accordance with an undertaking given by me on Friday last to the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee met last night. When the item listed for consideration was called on, the honorable member for Dalley informed the committee that he did not wish to proceed further with his proposal on Friday last. The broadcasting procedure, therefore, remains unaltered.
– It has been suggested that the Parliament will meet on the 11th April and that, if it does, the sittings will probably extend until after Anzac Day, which will fall on Wednesday, the 25th April.’ If the Parliament meets on the day previous to Anzac Day, honorable members will be prevented from attending Anzac Day services in their electorates. Many of them have accepted invitations to attend services and others are now receiving such invitations. Will the Prime Minister clarify the position?
– I have received communications upon this matter from several honorable members. I shall make a statement upon it at the earliest possible moment; but ti cannot do so now.-.
– Last week the Treasurer informed the . Blouse that recently the central bank, that is the Commonwealth Bank, had issued new . instructions in relation to the control of credit. The right honorable gentleman promised to consider whether those instructions, which I presume are in writing, could be madeavailable. I now ask him, first, whether he will make the instructions available, and, secondly, whether they have the approval of the Treasurer as representing the Australian Government?
– The instructions have the approval of the Treasurer, and I shall arrange for them to be circulated.
– In view of an answer given to a question yesterday by the Minister for Health, I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he will publish the names and addresses of doctors who are willing to give service to pensioners in accordance with the regulations promulgated by the Government ? Will he regard the 50 per cent, of doctors who are not prepared to give such services as being on strike ? If so, what action does he intend to take!
– There is no question of a strike by doctors in connexion with this matter. It is just as open to a doctor to accept the terms of the Government’s offer in regard to the provision of medical service for pensioners as it is for the honorable member for West Sydney to accept nomination for election to Parliament. The number of doctors who are looking after pensioners at the present time is greater than the number who are looking after war pensioners. The names of the doctors who treat war pensioners are not published in the newspapers, and the names of those who treat age and invalid pensioners will not be so published.
– My question, which is directed to the. Minister for Health, relates to the Commonwealth grant for the provision.- of : free milk to school children throughout Australia. Will the Minister say to what extent the. scheme -is already in operation in the States ? Is the Queensland Government co-operating with the Commonwealth in this matter?
– The Commonwealth officials who visited the States that had requested a visit from them returned to Canberra this morning. They have informed me that the scheme has been accepted in New South Wales and will be operated by the Department of Education in that State. Approximately three or four weeks ago, the New South Wales Minister for Education wrote to me and said that 22 large metropolitan schools and twelve large country schools had been added to the list of schools in which free milk was to be distributed. That means that an additional 30,000 children in New South Wales are now being supplied with free milk, making a total of 180,000. The Minister said in his letter that he hoped that the whole scheme would be extended to all primary schools in New South Wales. The South Australian Government has agreed to the scheme, and negotiations have been proceeding with the South Australian Department of Education upon means of implementing it. It is expected that the scheme will begin to operate in South Australia in the second school term of this year. In Western Australia, the draft terms and conditions have been approved at the official level. A .final decision from State Cabinet is awaited. The acceptance of the scheme in Western Australia is subject to the qualification that, owing to difficulties in connexion with milk distribution, it shall apply only to a limited number of schools. At the request of the Tasmanian Premier, Commonwealth officers visited Tasmania and interviewed the appropriate Minister there. He will submit the terms and conditions of the scheme to the Tasmanian Cabinet during the course of next week. It is not expected that the scheme will begin to operate in Tasmania until August of this year, the delay being due to a very dry season. No request has been received from the Queensland Government, which has simply acknowledged the letter sent by the Prime Minister indicating that the bill had been passed by. the Commonwealth Parliament. I understand that Mr. Hanlon stated that his Government would not participate in the scheme owing to what I think he called the colossal cost of distribution and adminstration which would be forced upon the .State Government. In New South Wales it is costing the State Government £1,500 to distribute milk to 180,000 children.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that the Joint Coal Board should consist of a chairman and .two other members and whether it is true that the only member of the board who had had a practical knowledge of the coalmining industry died nearly six months ago. If so, will the Prime Minister say whether or not the board can function efficiently without the advice of a member who has a practical knowledge of the industry? In view of the fact that the Prime Minister was credited yesterday with saying that the Government would in future be advised by the National Security Resources Board on the subject of increased coal production, is it a fact that the Government has no intention- of appointing a new member to the Joint Coal Board? Is it the intention of the Government ultimately to abolish the Joint Coal Board? If the Government does not intend to abolish .the board when will a new member be appointed to it ?
– The Government has not considered any proposal to abolish the Joint Coal Board. The functions of the National Security Resources Board are quite different from those of the Joint Coal Board. I shall confer with the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport in regard to the constitution of the Joint Coal Board and endeavour to furnish the honorable member with a reply on thai matter to-morrow.
– Is the Minister for Supply aware that a serious shortage of superphosphate, which is made from sulphuric acid, is threatened in Western Australia where superphosphate is a prime necessity for agriculture owing to the large tracts of comparatively light lands and undeveloped pasture lands in that State? Have representations been made to the Minister by the Western Australian
Government on the question of sulphuric acid production in that State? In what way is this Government prepared to assist Western Australia to obtain adequate supplies of superphosphate?
– Mr. Wood, the Minister for Agriculture in Western Australia, called on me the other day and made representations concerning his State’s difficulties in relation to superphosphate and sulphuric acid production. I assured him that the Australian Government would do its utmost to see that supplies were maintained to that State which has a special need of superphosphate, as the honorable member has said, owing to its large area of light land. Superphosphate is made from sulphuric acid which has been largely manufactured in Australia from elemental sulphur which comes from the United States of America. Exports of this materia] are being curtailed by the United States and a shortage of sulphuric acid for munition and chemical production as well as for the production of superphosphate is likely. I recently called together the representatives of the superphosphate and sulphuric acid manufacturers in order to urge them to produce sulphuric acid from pyrites and zinc concentrates instead of from sulphur as the former materials are freely obtainable in Australia. The adoption of this proposal will, however, require the use of a different manufacturing process and will involve the installation of new machinery. Pyrites is obtainable at Norseman in Western Australia and is transported to Albany, 400 or 500 miles south-west where the manufacturing process takes place. Unfortunately it is not possible to manufacture as much superphosphate from pyrites as from sulphur. We are doing our utmost to have the change-over to different production methods made as quickly as possible.
– I direct, a question to the Treasurer concerning the important subject of finance for home purchasers. The only practicable method of obtaining a home that is open to most young couples to-day is to buy or build one because houses are not obtainable for rental purposes. Because of constantly rising prices, a minimum deposit of £700 or £800 is now required for the purchase of the cheapest available type of new house, and most young couples are unable to provide that amount of capital. Is the Government prepared to help to solve the housing problem by taking steps to make advances for home purchases available up to 100 per cent, of the value of the property concerned through the War Service Homes Division, co-operative building societies and other suitable lending institutions and thus bring homeownership within the reach of the average person ?
– This matter affects the housing agreements that have been entered into between the Commonwealth and the States, under which funds are made available subject to specific conditions that are outlined in the agreements. Any departure from those agreements could be brought about only by arrangement with all the States. However, I shall have the matter investigated along the lines that the honorable member has suggested.
– I ask the Minister for Works and Housing whether the subsidy of £300 on imported prefabricated houses is payable to organizations that are nominated by the State governments? Can he say which organizations have been nominated by the Government of New South Wales for that purpose? Which are the principal organizations in New South Wales that desire to obtain prefabricated houses that have failed to obtain nomination from the State Government as being qualified to receive the subsidy? Has the Ryde Municipal Council, in the electorate of Bennelong, been nominated for that purpose?
– Under the Loan (Housing) Act passed in December last the subsidy of up to £300 that was payable to State governments only in respect of each imported prefabricated house was extended to certain defined instrumentalities that those governments might nominate to participate in that benefit. Speaking from memory, I do not think that the Government of New South Wales has yet nominated any instrumentality for that purpose. Certainly, I have not heard that the municipality of Ryde has been so nominated.
From memory, Victoria has nominated for that purpose the State Electricity Commission, the Railways Department and the Victorian State Rivers and Water Supply Commission. I understand that the Government of South Australia is about to nominate the Electricity Trust in that State to qualify for the subsidy. Apart from those bodies, I do not recollect that any of the State governments have nominated any other instrumentalities to receive the subsidy.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services take up with his colleague the matter of increasing the period allowed for maintenance to occupiers of war service homes? Many people occupying war service homes have not been able to get minor repairs done to those homes within the maintenance period allowed by the War Service Homes Division. That has been due to labour shortages caused by the necessity for the greatest possible number of men to be employed on building homes. By the time inspectors have inspected many war service homes the prescribed maintenance time has expired and the required minor repairs have not been done. Unlike the occupiers of these homes, building contractors are protected by reason of the1 fact that” all minor repairs done by them are authorized by an inspector of the War Service Homes Division.
– I shall certainly relay the honorable member’s question to the Minister for Social Services, who, I am sure, will give him an early reply.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs relates to the quotas of tobacco that are distributed to exservicemen through the agency of the Tobacco Trade Distribution Committee. A rumour to the effect that the distribution of these quotas is to be discontinued is rife in Queensland. Therefore, I ask the Minister whether he has any information to indicate whether or not the Tobacco Trade Distribution Committee intends to continue to honour the obligation which was expressed in the gentlemen’s agreement that it made with the
Government when the Government relinquished control of the distribution of such quotas ?
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has advised me that he made inquiries after the rumour had reached him and that he was informed by the Tobacco Trade Distribution Committee that it had no intention of dishonouring its agreement, but proposed to make supplies available in the future as ir had done in the past.
– In answer to a question which I asked in this House early in 1950 concerning the provision of telephone facilities for the Beverly Hills, Narwee, Peakhurst and Mortdale districts, the Postmaster-General informed me that the department intended to provide a portable or prefabricated exchange building at the corner of Baumann’s-road and Gardeniastreet, Peakhurst, and that this exchange would be in service by Jane, 1951. I now inform the honorable gentleman that up to the present there has not been any sign of the establishment of an exchange at that site. In fact, the block of land there carries the best crop of paspalum grass that I have ever seen. Can the Minister inform me when the department intends to provide the Beverly Hills district with adequate telephone facilities? Business and private applicants have been waiting for. such facilities for years.
– The provision of many services that the Postal Department wishes to establish is dependent on the availability of essential materials. In the period since Christmas, 1950, there have been a wharf strike, which has held up the delivery of. much of the material that the department requires, and other dislocations, such as those that have been caused by power rationing in industry, which have delayed the provision of telephone services. These interruptions have set back the department’s programme very considerably. However, I shall investigate the case that the honorable member has mentioned and let him know what stage has been reached with the project.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether it is a fact that in each. State a record number of applications for the installation of new telephones has been received? Is it further a fact that the great majority of the new telephones available are installed in the State of Victoria, to the disadvantage of other States?
– It is quite true that a very large number of applications have been made for telephones, and the Postal Department is endeavouring fairly to apportion telephones to each State. I do not think that Victoria is getting any higher or any lower priority than any other State.
– Some time ago 1 addressed a letter to the Minister for Health in which I inquired whether there was any possibility of glutamic acid treatment being provided free of charge for backward children, and in the meantime I have received inquiries from several persons who are receiving such assistance. Has the committee to which this matter was referred made any progress with its investigations? I understand that the cost of the treatment is approximately 15s. for each five days.
– This matter was raised previously by several other honorable members, including the honorable member for Moore. I took it up personally with the committee which is examining the position at present. That committee will furnish me with a report at the earliest possible moment. If it should recommend that the treatment to which the honorable member has referred should be made available free of charge to backward children that recommendation will be implemented.
– I ask the Minister acting for the Minister for the Interior to state the nature of the Government’s proposal to acquire land on the foreshores of Botany Bay, adjacent to the KingsfordSmith Aerodrome, for use as a flying boat base. Under such a proposal many persons could be dispossessed of their homes. Will an opportunity he provided for those so affected and others who are opposed to the proposal to place their objections before the Government before its proceeds with its plan?
– For a very long time the Department of Civil Aviation had a project in mind to move the flying boat base from Rose Bay because aircraft using the base interfered with shipping, whilst, in addition, it was impossible at Rose Bay to provide safety lanes which the International Civil Aviation Organization required to be provided. The department searched for an alternative site and selected a site at San Souci, on Botany Bay, for an airbase which will be operated in conjunction with the Kingsford-Smith aerodrome. It has asked the Department of the Interior to make investigations with a view to acquiring about fifteen acres of land in that district. At the present time the proposal has only reached the stage at which my department has written to the various owners of land and property in the area concerned, and asked them whether they are willing to sell the necessary land to the Australian Government. The matter is merely in the preliminary stages. Every opportunity will be given to homeowners, and other property-owners affected, to voice their objections, if any, to the proposal, and to ask the Department of Civil Aviation, if necessary, to seek an alternative site. Before any specific move is made consideration will be given to the objections, not only of residents, but also of any other interests concerned.
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that the Coen airstrip, on Cape York Peninsula, is in a very bad state of repair, because of the prolonged wet season ? Will he inform me whether any money has been allocated to defray the- cost of repairing that airstrip? If funds have been provided for that purpose, when will the work be undertaken?
– An amount of £22,840 has been approved for the renovation of the Coen airfield. A requisition has been placed with the Department of Works and Housing to do the work, and I’ understand that its Townsville branch will commence the job as soon as the roads are open. That will be in approximately two months’ time.
– I direct a question to you, Mr. Speaker. On a number of occasions when members of the Government have been asked questions regarding the subjects of revaluation of the £1, putting value back into the £1, and prices control, they have refused to answer them on the ground that such questions concern matters of Government policy. Are Ministers entitled to refuse to answer questions on that ground, when it is quite obvious that the Government has no policy?
– The matter is dealt with in Standing Order 144, which quite clearly states as follows: -
Questions should not ask Ministers -
for an expression of opinion;
to state the Government’s policy; or
for legal opinion.
Such questions are out of order.
– Is the Postmaster-General aware that grave discontent has been caused among postal employees in Brisbane as a result of the Government’s failure to pay the increased cost of living allowance granted to permanent employees of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, which were due to be paid on the 8th February? Is it a fact that the delay in the payment of the allowance is due to the department not having been advised by the Superannuation Board of the date from which new superannuation deductions will operate ? Is it also a factthat the allowance was previously paid on a half-yearly basis, but is now payable on a quarterly basis, which means that employees of the department would not receive, until the 19th April, the quarterly payment due on the 8th February? Further, in view of the fact that the cost of living figures for the quarter ended March, 1951, will be announced before the February payment is paid to employees, will the Postmaster-General take immediate steps to have this serious anomaly adjusted and have the quarterly payment that was due on the 8th February paid without any further delay?
– I shall have the facts and circumstances outlined by the honorable member investigated, and shall furnish him with a reply.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether it is a fact that large quantities of equipment and materials required by his department are manufactured in the department’s own workshops ? Is it further a fact that this equipment is produced at a lower cost than that at which it could be produced in private shops? If this is so, has the Minister or the Government any plans to extend the departmental workshops so that a larger proportion of this work may be undertaken ?
– It is quite true that the department manufactures a considerable proportion of its requirements. When I say a “ considerable proportion “ I mean only a tithe of what is necessary for departmental needs. It would be completely impossible for our workshops to produce everything that the Postal Department requires unless we nationalized the means of production, distribution and exchange.
– Is the Minister for Supply aware that advertisements appearing on behalf of the Board of Management for Research and Development of the Department of Supply are attracting officers from private enterprise, because of the more attractive conditions of employment offered in that branch ? Will he take steps to. ensure that no unnecessary drain will be made upon private industries, many of which are concerned in the manufacture of important defence items?
– The matter to which the honorable member for Robertson has referred is a problem, because Australia is short of scientific and technical personnel. The Australian Defence Science Service is naturally expanding with our increasing defence activities. I am aware that, to a certain degree, the fact that there are fewer men than the number of positions available throughout the community must mean that some authorities must go without their man-power requirements. I imagine that the general conditions of service for that kind of officer in private industry would be better, relative to pay, than in the Department of Supply, but one of the inducements of employment in it is that many of the applicants are told that, if they are successful, they will be sent to England for training in the research and science establishments of the British Ministry of Supply or in other places in the British Defence Research Science Service. In that way, young men are offered an opportunity to travel abroad at the country’s expense and obtain training in other scientific establishments. I have no doubt thatsuch an inducement does attract some applicants. I am aware of the problem, and I have had some discussions with the representatives of industry about it. I have told them that, subject to the obligations under the Public Service Act, and subject also to the matter of doing justice to the applicant himself, we shall endeavour to hold a fair and reasonable balance between the needs of the- department and those of private enterprise.
– Will the Minister for External Affairs inform me whether it is a fact that the over-all success of thu Colombo plan depends upon the granting of financial assistance by other progressive and democratic countries that have not yet indicated definitely whether they are prepared to be included in the scheme? If that is a fact, can the Minister inform the House of the prospects of payments being made by additional countries in order that the plan may achieve its objectives ?
– I indicated to the honorable member for East Sydney yesterday that I proposed to make a statement to the House upon the Colombo plan. I think that the opportunity to do so will occur this week.
– I desire to address the following series of questions to the Minister for Immigration: - 1. What procedure is observed by the Department of Immigration when applications for passports are made by Australian citizens who desire to visit the Union of Soviet Socialist Re publics or any of the satellite Russian states in Europe ? 2. Are business reasons regarded as sufficient grounds for giving approval for the issue of passports applicable to any of those countries? 3. Is a departmental record kept of Australian citizens who have frequently received such passports during the last two years? 4. Does the Minister personally scrutinize, and give a decision on, constantly repeated applications for passports in the foregoing category?
– I do not personally scrutinize applications for passports unless they are of the type that the department regards as borderline cases on which it requires ministerial direction. Whether business grounds would normally be regarded as a valid reason for granting an application for a passport, would depend upon the circumstances. We have given approval in a number of cases for the issue of passports to persons of whose bona fides we were satisfied, and who seemed to have good reasons for desiring to go to the countries concerned. In certain other cases which have been under public notice, we have refused applications by persons for passports to enable them to go to those countries. I shall ascertain whether I can get a full reply to the other questions asked by the honorable member.
– Some months ago when the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service was drawn to the fact that certain people had left Australia without passport visas to go behind the Iron Curtain, and that they had visited such areas, he told the House that he intended to deal with those people in due course. I desire to know whether he has not utterly failed to deal with them in any way, and whether he thinks that such threats which he is not prepared to carry out have any effect other than to induce the Communists to thumb their noses at him?
-Order! The last part of the question is out of order.
– I can claim that within the limits of the powers available to the Australian Government we have taken all the action that we can take. That has entailed the impounding of the passports of the individuals concerned who had previously been issued with restricted passports. That action has been taken in the case of each person who had a restricted passport issued to him or her and who, without co-operating with the Government by seeking prior approval, went to a country in respect of which the restriction operated. I am not aware of any exceptions to the rule, but if the honorable member for Dalley can indicate any such to me I shall take any action that is available to me.
– Both in correspondence, and in reply to questions asked in the House, the Minister for External Affairs has indicated that the delay in filling the position of High Commissioner to the Republic of Ireland is due to the fact that no suitable applicant is available. If that is the real reason, I ask the Minister why Mr. Dignam’s appointment was terminated, when he was prepared to continue his duties? I further ask whether it is intended to keep this position vacant for an indefinite period, and if not will the Minister explain why, in the Estimates presented to the Parliament, the projected expenditure on this particular office this year was estimated at some thousands of pounds less than the amount expended last year?
– Some time ago, I gave an answer to the first question asked by the honorable member, and I do not propose to add to it. As to the second question, the Estimates are prepared by the Department of External Affairs, and I gave instructions that expenditure was to be reduced not in respect of Eire but in respect of any place where it could be reduced.
– I present the report of the Public Works Committee on the following subject : -
Proposed erection of automatic telephone exchange and carrier building, Bathurst, New South Wales.
Ordered to be printed.
– Can the Minister for National Development give the House any information on whether the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has yet devised any method of dealing with grasshopper plagues?
– I do not believe that it can be said that any means of coping in a completely satisfactory way with the grasshopper has yet been evolved, but I have received from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization a recent and fairly comprehensive report on the grasshopper menace in Australia and the means of coping with it. I shall be glad to make that report available to the honorable member and to any other honorable member who may be concerned with the grasshopper menace.
– Supplementary to answers that have already been given to questions asked by the right honorable member for Barton and the honorable member for Grayndler concerning the Legal Service Bureau, I advise honorable members that I have arranged for copies to be made available of the speech on this subject made in the Senate by the Attorney-General last Thursday. Such copies may be obtained from the Clerk of the House.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport. Is it a fact that the coal in the hands of the authorities in New South. Wales is at a very dangerously low level and that, unlike the period of the coal strike in 1949 when about £500,000 worth of oil was burned, there is a serious shortage of fuel oil? Will the Minister inquire from the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport whether some arrangement could be made to ensure that fuel oil will be made available so that a tragic circumstance could not happen in the event of coal not being available to public a u thor i ti es ?
– I shall certainly bring under the notice of my colleague.the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport the suggestion made by the honorable member and I shall ask him to take the appropriate action as suggested.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Supply been directed to the facts that since the begining of the last war there has been a grave shortage of . 22 ammunition for the destruction of pests, that there is grave concern among the pastoral and agricultural communities over this shortage, and that complaints have been made that apparently quantities of the ammunition are available in places where there is very little need for it, while the pastoral and agricultural communities have been unable to obtain adequate supplies? If so, has the Minister given consideration to using organizations such as pasture protection boards, and wool brokers’ companies as agencies for the distribution of . 22 ammunition to persons who wish to use it for the destruction of pests ?
– I have already replied to some questions upon this matter, including, if my recollection serves me correctly, one directed to me by the honorable gentleman himself. Neither the Department of Supply nor any other government department manufactures . 22 ammunition. In Australia, it is manufactured exclusively by private enterprise. But my department, knowing that there has been a shortage of 22 ammunition, has endeavoured once or twice to encourage Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited, the company which is the principal manufacturer of the ammunition, to distribute larger quantities of it in areas in which it is needed. I remind the honorable member that the Commonwealth has no power to arrange the distribution of ammunition. What has been done as a result of representations by the Commonwealth has been done only as an act of grace. If the honorable gentleman will supply me with the relevant details, I shall make further inquiries to ascertain whether any assistance can be given to the areas about which he is troubled.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That government business shall take precedence over general business to-morrow.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1950, as amended by the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1951.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill, which is described as a bill to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, is one which, in substance, deals with two matters ; first, the election of officers of registered organizations, and secondly, the power of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, under certain circumstances, to direct that a vote of members of an organization be taken.
I do not need to point out to honorable members that, under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, organizations may be organizations of employers or employees-. There is provision in the legislation for the registering of such organizations. It is upon the registered organization that a great deal of the machinery of the conciliation and arbitration law rests. Doubtless honorable members also have in mind that, subject to certain possible exceptions under some possible circumstances, the industrial arbitration power of the Commonwealth of Australia is based upon a power to deal with industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of one State. It is well to mention that, because it is occasionally thought that the industrial power of the Commonwealth is unlimited. Except in time of war or, shall I say, of imminent danger of war, it is not unlimited.
The only other thing that I need say by way of preliminary remarks to honorable members is that, as they know, organizations have a profound significance in the industrial machinery of this country. I refer to them as “ organizations “, but the most important group embraces the trade unions. There are also employers’ organizations. These organizations, very properly, have great privileges and great powers in the industrial world. They can, as registered organizations, create disputes, represent their members at the hearing of disputes, and, on behalf of their members, enforce awards and orders of the courts. There is provision in the act for preference to unionists, under certain circumstances or by a certain discretion. Those and a dozen other matters illustrate the enormous significance of these organizations. Whatever might have been said many years ago, there is nobody in Australia to-day, except a very old person, who does not realize that the existence, proper authority, proper responsibility and effective internal control of registered organizations is of the first importance to our people. I emphasize at once that this bill deals with the problem, not of external control but of finding ways and means to secure the effective internal control of an organization by its own members.
That matter has come very much into public thinking of late, because notoriously, at least in some instances, Communist leaders of trade unions have not really spoken on behalf of their members, and occasionally, as the previous Government took note, there has been some reason to believe that ballots have not been properly conducted and, therefore, that the results of those ballots have not been accurate or representative.
The whole basis on which this bill approaches the problem of the election of office-bearers in registered organizations is that we do not want to force upon the organizations some procedure from outside. We believe that, in the first instance, the election of office-bearers ought to be conducted in accordance with the rules of an organization itself. As most honorable members know, since the beginning of the arbitration system there has been a provision that, before an organization can be registered, its rules must comply with certain requirements. If the rules do not comply with those requirements, the organization is not registered. There have been many con tests in relation to that matter in the past. The provisions relating to it are now part of section 70 of the act. The Government now proposes that, in addition to whatever else may be provided in the act in relation to the requirements of the rules of an organization, there shall be a further requirement that the rules shall provide for what I shall call compendiously the election of officers by secret ballot. The first question which will naturally arise from that proposal will be, “ What is an officer ? “ All honorable members are aware that some people such as shop stewards and vigilance officers who play no part in making the policy of the organization might, in one sense, be called officers. Consequently, clause 2 sets out the definition of the word “ office “ as -
The office of president, vice-president, secretary, assistant secretary or other executive officer, by whatever name called, of the organization or branch.
That definition confines itself to what 1 shall call the executive officers of the organization.
– Can the Prime Minister name any union that does not have a secret ballot ?
– There are many unions that do have a secret ballot, some of which are satisfactory and some of which are not.
– I asked whether the Prime Minister knew of any union that did not have a secret ballot.
– I will not undertake to supply names. If the honorable member is right in thinking that all unions have secret ballots then I take it that he will vote for the bill because, from his point of view, it will produce no result except to continue the present state of affairs. Consequently, the honorable member will be in a very curious position if he votes against the bill.
The next matter to which I wish to refer is the nature of the rules that must be adopted by the organization by virtue of this clause. The bill does not set out a list of rules. That would be an impossibility. It provides that the rules of an association applying for registration shall provide for the election of officers by secret ballot, absent voting, which, of course, includes postal voting, and may provide for compulsory voting. Honorable members will see, from a later sub-clause, that this provision applies also to the rules of organizations that have already been registered. “Absent voting” includes “postal voting”, but is a broader expression which is designed to cover that and any other form of absent voting.
– The Prime Minister is asking the Communists to fix ballots now.
– I ask the honorable member not to be impetuous. I am glad to have his acknowledgment that the Communists do fix ballots because it is that fact which makes this bill necessary. The bill contains a provision that is admirably designed to deal with that matter and I am sure that, in view of the honorable member’s opposition to the Communists, it will have his support.
– Why does the Prime Minister not have secret ballots at Cabinet meetings ?
– I shall tell the honorable member privately at another time why I do not. The reason has a great deal of bearing on the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). The honorable member for East Sydney has little reason to complain of ballots. He has been singularly fortunate where ballots are concerned. Apparently they are all right for him, but not for other people.
– Apparently they are all right for trade unions, but not for Cabinet.
– If the honorable member does not keep off the subject of ballots for Cabinet, I shall tell him exactly what 1 have in mind. I was referring to the provision that the rules may provide for compulsory voting. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) will recall that, when I brought forward a private member’s bill on this subject a couple of years ago, he and I had some exchanges on this matter. The difficulty of instituting compulsory noting in an organization which stands outside the area of government is obviously very great. Therefore the Go vernment does not propose, in the first instance, that there should be compulsory voting. If it appears, in the light of experience, that voluntary voting is inadequate or that there is some unsatisfactory feature of it or that sensible ways and means can be devised of enforcing it that question can be examined. At this stage the Government does not propose to require compulsory voting. The bill provides that the rules of the organization shall make provisions in relation to such matters as the manner in which persons may nominate, the conduct of ballots, and the appointment of scrutineers. Those provisions relate to an organization applying for registration. An organization that has already been registered will be required to alter its rules within three months or such longer time as the registrar may allow. I think that there are about 150 trade unions registered in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. If, in the case of a newly registered organization or of a previously registered organization the union or organization of employers does not alter its rules in accordance with this prescription, the registrar -may direct the rules to be altered in such a manner as he may determine and thereupon the rules are to be deemed to have been altered accordingly. That group of provisions puts into the hands of the organization, under its own rules, the right to vote by secret ballot for the election of persons who hold an office as defined.
Clause 4 of the bill contains an amendment of section 72 of the principal act which has been part of the act for a little time and which provides that the court may order, at any stage of the proceedings in relation to a dispute, that any matter upon which the court thinks fit to ascertain the views of the members of an organization or branch which is a party to the dispute shall be submitted to a vote by secret ballot. That is the provision as it existed when this Government came into office. It includes a provision for secret ballot and provides that the court may order it at any stage of the proceedings in relation to a dispute. I am certain that many honorable members opposite must have considered that that .provision imposed too great a limitation on the activity of the court. After all, there may be an industrial dispute which falls within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, but in respect of which there are not, at the time, proceedings in court. The earlier we can ascertain the views of members of an organization, obviously the better will be the result. Therefore, the bill now before the House provides that the court may order that any matter upon which it thinks fit to ascertain the views of the members of an organization or of u branch of an organization which is a party to an industrial dispute shall be submitted to a vote of the members by secret ballot whether or not proceedings in relation to the dispute are before the court or a conciliation commissioner or whether or not some other tribunal is empowered to exercise functions or powers of conciliation or arbitration in relation to the dispute. In other words, the power of the court will be extended beyond the limited period in which proceedings ure before the court to cover the period that begins with the commencement of the dispute and ends with the termination of the dispute.
– How long is it expected that a ballot will take to complete?
– I do not know. That depends on a mass of circumstances. Obviously, in the case of a branch, or a small organization, a ballot could be taken much more quickly than in the case of the whole of an organization as big as, say, the Australian Workers Union.
– Has the right honorable gentleman no conception at all of the time that would be taken ?
– Of course I have a conception. A ballot might take a week or two or a month or two. The period depends entirely on the circumstances. The honorable member need not pretend to this alarming state of innocence. He knows well that, under this clause, the court may obtain views on matters great or small from the members of organizations great or small. I should have thought that it would be obvious to the honorable gentleman that the fewer the members who had to be consulted, as in the case of a branch of an organization, the more rapidly would the court obtain their view. The act does not provide for any limitation of time in relation to ballots. I did not hear any members of the Labour party complain about the provisions of section 72 when the Labour Government made an exhaustive review of the legislation and declared, “ We have now streamlined the conciliation and arbitration system”. Section 72 was allowed to stand, and it provides for a ballot. But as soon as this Government says, “ Let us make the power to order a ballot a little more effective “, the honorable member suddenly says in plaintive tones, “ But a ballot will take a long time “.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– What did the honorable member .say?
– I asked the right honorable gentleman whether he had any conception of the time that would be required to conduct a ballot.
– Then the honorable gentleman was not even suggesting that :i ballot would take a long time? Really, he must represent a most innocent collection of constituents!
The next provision in the bill, which is contained in clause 5, relates to section 91 of the principal act and, therefore, to the requirements that the Government has in mind for the keeping and filing of records. At various times there have been provisions for the keeping of records of members of organizations. I do not know how an effective ballot could bc conducted without an effective list of members. Therefore, the Government seeks to improve the provisions of section 91 by providing that a register of thu members of an organization containing the name and address of each member, and, in the case of a body corporate, the address of its registered office, and the date upon which each member became a member, must be kept. There is also a provision for the filing of a list of members with the Industrial Registrar and a further provision for the filing with the registrar, from time to time, of any changes in the list by addition or subtraction. I shall not dwell on this matter because it should be obvious to everybody that there must be a roll if there is to be a ballot, and that there must be a list of members officially recorded and kept up to date if a roll is to be kept.
The final important provision of the bill- I am not bothering about minor and incidental provisions - is contained in clause 6, and it deals with section 96 of the principal act. Honorable members who were in the previous parliament will recall that the Government at that time had put through the Parliament a provision which related to ballots in connexion with which improper or unsatisfactory features were alleged. That provision placed a fairly heavy onus on the individuals, because it stated -
Where a member of - an organization . . . claims that there has been an irregularity in or in connexion with an election for an office in the organization, or in a branch of the organization, he may lodge an application for an inquiry by the Court into the matter.
Such applications were to be lodged with the Industrial Registrar, who, in suitable cases, would send them on to the court. The court then, in suitable cases, might order that a new election be held. At the time it seemed to me that the provision placed an enormous onus on one man, or two or three men, who would require a great deal of moral courage to make an application to the registrar. But, in fact, no fewer than thirteen such applications have been made since the provision became law in 1949 ! Eight of those applications were granted by the registrar, so that they went on to a judge. New elections were ordered in two cases. Three applications were found to have been not substantiated. Three cases are still pending. Thus, even the limited provision that was enacted in 1949 has not been without use in dealing with irregularities in ballots. The plain truth, as everybody knows, is that more than one Communist leader has held his office by cooking ballots. The irregularities that have been alleged, almost without exception if not entirely without exception, have been brought to light by the bold action of individuals in the unions concerned who were opposed to the Communists.
The Government proposes to complete the category of provisions in sections 96a to 96n of the act. It intends to replace section 96m with a new section 96m to provide that “ an organization or a branch of an organization may request the Industrial Registrar that an election for an office “ be conducted with a view to ensuring that no irregularity shall occur. Honorable members should understand that this provides for action to be taken, not after an irregularity has occurred, but in anticipation that there may be an irregularity. It is a protective measure. The existing law provides that an organization or any of its branches may apply to the registrar to conduct an election but not that an individual or group of individuals may do so. The Government proposes to extend that provision.
– -The thirteen applications which the Prime Minister mentioned earlier related to allegations that irregularities had already occurred, not to applications under the terms of section 96m.
– That is so. They related to alleged irregularities. I do not know of any application that has been made to the registrar under section 96m by an organization or a branch of an organization. But I am not astonished by that because, if there are irregularities, it is scarcely likely that the organization concerned will make an application to the court as an organization. It is reasonable that where there is some reason to anticipate some irregularity it should also be in the hands of a minority group who are opposed to these things to go before the court. Therefore, we are seeking to amend section 96m to provide that not only can an organization or a branch of an organization apply, because it fears an irregularity, but that, for that purpose, and these are the important words - a request made by the prescribed number or proportion of the members of an organization or branch of an organization shall be deemed to be made by the organization or branch.
This opens the door to a group of persons in the organization, who are neither the branch nor the organization-
– “What is the prescribed number ?
– It will be the number or proportion that -is prescribed by regulation under the act. Prescription is so defined under the Acts Interpretation Act. If honorable members opposite, being otherwise in favour of this proposal, wish to fix a proportion I am very open to consider what they say oil that matter. It is not to be an unreasonably high proportion. Every one will agree that it should be competent for a reasonable nucleus or a reasonable percentage of the members of an organization, to go before the court and say, “ We fear there will be irregularities. We have good reasons ; here they are. We set them out “. Having done that, and having satisfied the tribunal, the consequence under the proposed new section 96m will be that the Industrial Registrar may conduct an election or may make arrangements with the Chief Electoral Officer of the Commonwealth for a Commonwealth electoral officer or some person holding office under the Commonwealth Electoral Act to conduct the election. In those circumstances, the person who conducts the election will give certain directions which he considers necessary in order to ensure that no irregularity shall occur.
– Will he compile the roll?
– He will act on the roll which is provided for under an earlier provision. That is the point. The complete nominal roll of the union will be made available and on that material the registrar, or the Chief Electoral Officer, will go ahead with the business in the circumstances that I have described.
The bill does not cover a wide compass but deals with very important matters. First, it makes provision for inserting in the rules of organizations power to take secret ballots so that the rank and file may control in the true sense the election of their officers. Secondly, it extends the power of the court to order a. vote by an organization, or branch of an organization, in connexion with or during the currency of a dispute. Thirdly, it makes a reasonable and proper provision for keeping the lists of members of organizations up to date, so that we may have an electoral role for the purposes of an election. Fourthly, provision is made that not only, as under the previous Government’s legislation, will it be competent for one person to allege irregularities and, perhaps, secure a new election, but also, that where irregularities are apprehended, it should at any rate be competent for a group of persons in an organization who are prepared to go along and make out their case and establish it to secure the intervention of the registrar and a properly conducted election, and, in the result, an honest choice. I do not say for one moment that this proposal covers the whole field of the industrial problem. It does not; but it does make available to members of organizations a real means to exercise control over their leaders and to have a real choice of their leaders. I have the firmest possible belief that once trade unionists are given, without qualification, a real, unfettered choice of the men they want to lead them, a fair number of the Communists to-day will be gone and forgotten to-morrow.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Evatt) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Holt) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act relating to the tenure of office of the Chief Conciliation Commissioner.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Holt and Mr. McEwen do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the measure is simple and I consider will commend itself to all honorable members. That purpose is to enable the Governor-General, if he considers that it is in the public interest so to do, to extend the term of office of the present Chief Conciliation Commissioner to a period not to extend beyond the seventieth birthday of the commissioner. That provision is not intended to be a genera] one that will apply to any person who may occupy the position of Chief Conciliation Commissioner, nor is it proposed that it shall apply to conciliation commissioners generally. The measure clearly states that it is to apply only to the person who occupies the office of Chief Conciliation Commissioner at the time of the passing of the bill. Therefore, in substance the purpose of this measure is to enable us to extend the term of office of the present Chief Conciliation Commissioner, Mr. George Mooney.
Normally the Government would not have brought down a proposal to extend the period of office of the Chief Conciliation Commissioner beyond the term that was adopted in the existing legislation. We consider that the legal provisions which already exist in connexion with the extension of the terms of the Chief Conciliation Commissioner and the other conciliation commissioners up to the end of the sixty-seventh year of age, are generally suitable. But there are special circumstances which apply at the present time and with which I consider honorable members are familiar.
The conciliation commissioner system was radically altered by the amending legislation that was introduced in 1947 by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) when he was AttorneyGeneral in the Chifley Government. That legislation increased considerably the number of conciliation commissioners. It is true to say that the new system is still in its infancy, although it has been in operation since 1947. Although many of the conciliation commissioners appointed in 1947 had had an industrial background, they were new to the quasijudicial office to which they had been appointed, and it was only natural that during the early years of the system they have found it necessary to gain experience in methods of dealing with industrial disputes. We were fortunate that in the formative period of this system we have had as Chief Conciliation Commissioner, in the person of Mr. George Mooney, a man who, because of his previous experience as a conciliation commissioner, was able to give very useful guidance to the other conciliation commissioners and to exercise efficient supervision over their work. That fact has stood us in very valuable stead throughout these early years. It is the Government’s view that it would he unwise, when the system is still in its formative stage, that we should be without the advice, counsel and guidance that so experienced a commissioner as Mr. Mooney has been able to bring to the system. We propose, therefore, that as a result of this amending legislation, Mr. Mooney, who will this year reach the retiring age that is provided in the existing legislation shall be given an opportunity to carry on his work as Chief Conciliation Commissioner until he reaches the age of 70 years.
I have discussed this proposal with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) and indicated the provisions of the measure, in general terms, to the right honorable member for Barton and I understand that the proposal is acceptable to the Opposition. I wish to add only that Mr. Mooney is well known to many members of this Parliament. Before his appointment as a conciliation commissioner, which was made during my own previous term of office as Minister for Labour and National Service, he was a senior member, although not a professional member, of the legal firm of Brennan and Rundle, of which a former Attorney-General, the late Mr. Frank Brennan, was a principal. Mr. Mooney was appointed a conciliation commissioner in 1940 while he was a member of that firm. It will be seen, therefore, that between 1940 and 1947, when the conciliation commissioner system was extended, Mr. Mooney had seven years of experience in. the industrial jurisdiction. I confidently recommend the bill to the House, and hope that it will be passed without any delay.
.- The Opposition accepts this bill, but not entirely for the reasons that have been given by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt). Indeed, I do not regard the position as being that the conciliation commissioner system is under review and that that is the reason for the proposed extension of the term of office of the present Chief
Conciliation Commissioner. I understood that the object of the proposal was that Mr. Mooney, having been satisfactory in the performance of his important duties, having reached the age of 65 and having had his term of office extended until he reached the age of 67, as the result of the 1947 legislation, should have his term still further extended until he reaches the age of 70 years, because the Government considered such an extension desirable. I believe that the conciliation commissioner system has been vindicated by the reports that have been made on it by two chief judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, Chief Judge Drake-Brockman and Chief Judge Kelly.
The 1947 legislation made a tremendous change in our system of industrial conciliation and arbitration. For all practical purposes it gave jurisdiction in relation to the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes to conciliation commissioners, reserved to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court only matters such as the fixation of the basic wage, standard hours, and one or two other matters. Therefore, the actual working of the conciliation commissioner system depends upon the commissioners themselves. Mr. Mooney, like the other commissioners, has borne this great responsibility. He succeeded a very able Chief Conciliation Commissioner in the person of Mr. Rowlands, who died in the performance of his duties, I have no doubt partly as the result of the great strain imposed upon him by his work. Mr. Mooney has undoubtedly been successful in the performance of his duties, and for that reason I consider that it is not unreasonable that his term of office should be extended and also because he has, to some degree, the duty of co-operating with the Chief Judge in co-ordinating the work of the other commissioners. His duties are of great importance. This measure is to be limited, in its application, to Mr. Mooney, and will not refer to any other occupant of the office of Chief Conciliation Commissioner. I take it that his consent to the proposal has been obtained.
– I think it can be assumed.
– To conform with the act, the proposed extension should really take the form of an appointment for the period proposed, although I do not wish to criticize the measure. I take it that the words in the bill -
If, in the opinion of the Governor-General- refer to the opinion of the Government, as represented by the Minister for Labour and National Service.
– It can be taken that Mr. Mooney will be requested to continue in his duties for the full term proposed.
– Mr. Mooney has been very successful in the discharge of his duties, and I cannot help recalling that at the time we appointed Mr. Mooney and a number of other conciliation commissioners, we were very strongly criticized by honorable members opposite.
– We appointed Mr. Mooney a conciliation commissioner in 1940. The Chifley Administration appointed him Chief Conciliation Commissioner in 1947.
– The Minister himself did not criticize us over the appointment. An anti-Labour Government appointed Mr. Mooney to the position, of conciliation commissioner in 1940, and we appointed him as a statutory commissioner and then as Chief Conciliation Commissioner. I have no doubt that Mr. Mooney will continue to perform his duties with the complete efficiency that has characterized his work in the past. I agree with the Minister’s references to him. The Opposition will support the bill.
– I do not desire to criticize the intentions of the Government in relation to this matter, but I consider that a bill of this kind establishes a singular precedent. A bill designed to extend the term of office of one conciliation commissioner may have repercussions upon the services of other conciliation commissioners. I do not believe that any one in any sphere of activity ever reaches a stage when his or her services are of so much importance to the community that he or she should bc singled out as the subject of a legislative proposal such as that now before the House. After all, the conciliation commissioners who were appointed under the existing legislation were appointed in the full knowledge of the legislative provisions governing their appointments in respect of tenure of office.
Conciliation commissioners or members of any other professional body have a right to expect, at some stage, to be considered for the highest office inside the framework of their particular body. If the Government approaches similar problems in other spheres in this manner, there can be only one result, and that will be to discourage persons from rendering the highest service of which they are capable. Ultimately, another conciliation commissioner will have to convince the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration that he has the ability to fill the position of Chief Conciliation Commissioner satisfactorily.
The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) explained that under this bill the tenure of office of the Chief Conciliation Commissioner will be increased by only three years; that is to say, he will presumably retire on attaining the age of 70 years. I do not know the ages of the conciliation commissioners, but it is possible that some of them, who are rendering most valuable service, because of this legislation will be denied the opportunity of ever becoming the Chief Conciliation Commissioner. Such circumstances do not encourage the highest efficiency. I shall be quite frank about the matter. I object, on principle, to the extension of the tenure of office of an official beyond the time prescribed in the terms of the original appointment. This bill establishes a dangerous precedent, and the result of it may easily be the reverse from that which the Government expects. I am aware that Mr. George Mooney has rendered great service, but the Government appears to have overlooked the fact that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides for continuous conferences of conciliation commissioners. I was astonished when I adduced that it is not known definitely whether Mr. Mooney desires an extension of his tenure of office.
– There is no doubt about that.
– That is another aspect of the matter. My protest is directed against the principle of this bill. The Government should not establish a precedent of this description, because other conciliation commissioners may thereby be denied promotion to the office of Chief Conciliation Commissioner. This bill may discourage them from rendering the highest service of which they are capable. I warn the Government that it may also have a detrimental effecton the industrial machinery which we desire to operate smoothly at the present time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 13th March (vide page 364), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the following paper be printed: -
Prime Ministers’ Conference, London, 1951 - Ministerial statement.
– I propose to discuss two aspects of the statement that was made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) last week on the conference of Prime Ministers held in London last January. The first is the statement by the right honorable gentleman that we have only three years in which to put our defences in order. The second is that the defences of “Western Europe are in a deplorable condition. The Prime Minister has stated that some persons abroad regard the estimate of three years as too liberal, yet President Truman, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Attlee, and General Eisenhower have not indicated any specified period in which the democracies have the opportunity to put their defences in order. According to a report in the Sydney Daily Telegraph yesterday, General Eisenhower informed the Foreign Relations Committee and the Armed Services Committee of the United States Senate that the Russians would be really fools if they were to declare war now. That is the opinion of General Eisenhower about the immediate possibility of an international conflict. “We were informed by the press and by responsible Ministers in this Parliament as late as September, 1950, that the international position had deteriorated. Yet the only outward manifestation of action by the Government to meet that deterioration was a reduction of taxes, the wool grab, and persistence with the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. Well, the High Court of Australia has declared that legislation invalid. Their Honours, in arriving at that decision, were consistent with the view that they took when they ruled that the preceding Labour Government had no authority under the defence power of the Commonwealth to continue to ration petrol. The decision of the High Court in the petrol rationing case should have warned the legal advisers of the Government of the diminishing authority of the Commonwealth under the defence power five or six years after the conclusion of hostilities.
The first practical step that was taken by the Government as a recognition of the deterioration of the international situation was the appointment of a Director-General of Recruiting, who has since been engaged primarily in securing recruits for the permanent forces. Late last year, the Government introduced the National Service Bill. Apart from those two actions, the Government has followed, and rightly so, the plans that were laid down by the preceding Labour Government for the purpose of putting our defences in order. There are plans in the Department of the Navy that may be utilized to speed up naval construction in order to deal with any threat to our shores. The Prime Minister indicated in his speech that such a threat would come from submarines. The only submarines that could attack us would be despatched from a country which lies to the north of Australia. The only potential enemy is Soviet Russia. That country is the threat to world peace. We know that Russia has been able to secure German personnel who are skilled in the construction of submarines. Russia has concentrated upon the building of an undersea fleet. The plans that were drafted by the preceding Labour Government for the defence of Australia pay proper regard to all the possibilities. Any hostile force sent to attack our shores would probably consist of large oceangoing submarines, and, consequently, the naval defence plans which were drafted by the previous Government should be of real assistance to the present Government.
I warn the Prime Minister that if the international position has deteriorated, the people of Australia will expect the Government to strengthen the defences of this country. Great Britain has already announced the construction of 232 new ships, including six aircraft carriers, and special emphasis has been placed upon craft of the type that may be used to combat submarines. Honorable members have none of the secret sources of information that are available to the Government, and are obliged, to rely upon press reports, but it is claimed that six fleet carriers are to be constructed by Great Britain. Australia now has one aircraft carrier, H.M.A.S. Sydney. A second carrier, H.M.A.S. Melbourne, will join the Royal Australian Navy within the next twelve months. I suggest to the Government that if the international position is as serious as the Prime Minister has stated, Australia should immediately begin the construction of additional ships. I urge the Government to examine the plans in the Department of the Navy, which have been arrived at after careful consideration and much hard work. The Prime Minister should confer with the naval advisers of the Government in regard to the advisability of purchasing two additional aircraft carriers, which should be named H.M.A.S. Brisbane and H.M.A.S. Adelaide. I realize that such an acquisition to the Royal Australian Navy would be expensive, but it is the primary responsibility of the Government to make provision to defend the country and its people. If the Royal Australian Navy had four aircraft carriers, two of them could operate in unison whilst the other two were held in reserve, or were refitting. I realize that the purchase of two additional aircraft carriers would be costly, and that a considerable number of men would be required to serve on them. However, that was one of the considerations which guided the previous Government in deciding upon the particular class of carrier of which H.M.A.S. Sydney is representative. Pour carriers would be of great assistance in the defence of Australia, particularly in dealing with submarines should Australia be attacked from the north. The Prime Minister said that the western defences of Britain are in a deplorable condition. If the reports that have come through the Iron Curtain are to be believed, then Russia has a tremendous military machine and is well equipped with submarines. A part of Russia’s enormous supply of tanks, so we are informed, has been in service in Korea. Considering the international situation in the light of those reports it will only be a question of time before the whole of the resources of the democratic powers will be involved in Europe. In the event of a wholesale conflict in Europe what would be Australia’s position ? Some of the most-densely populated countries in the world lie close to our northern coasts and in several of those countries, including China, there is a surging wave of nationalism. It is apparent that the countries to our north have growing pains and that the sinister influence of communism is having an ominous effect upon their peoples. Therefore, in the event of war in Europe and the full occupation of the forces of our allies, it is quite possible that Australia will be attacked by aircraft and ships from the north. In such circumstances water-borne fighter aircraft would be of considerable assistance to the Royal Australian Air Force.
The number of our air squadrons should be increased considerably in the light of what .the Prime Minister has said. The Opposition accepts that the threat of war is real. Therefore it is up to the Government to show by its actions that it believes to be true what the Prime Minister has said. The Royal Australian Air Force should be expanded considerably. I am not in a position to suggest what the number of squadrons should be, but I do know that a thousand men are needed to keep one squadron in active service. It is for the advisers of the Government carefully to assess the position and to advise the Government of the minimum number of squadrons required to meet this aggression which may occur in three years’ time.
Under the National Service Bill no attempt has been made to interfere with section 49 of the Defence Act, 1903-1949. That section provides that members of the Defence Force cannot be compelled to serve outside Australian territory. The fact that the Prime Minister has told the House that the western defences foi Britain are deplorable explains why section 49 of the Defence Act has not been interfered with. The Government realizes that in the event of a world conflict it will be necessary to retain in this country all our available man-power. The Labour party believes that there should be no conscription for overseas service, more especially in the light of this conflict that we are told may come. The reason for the Labour party’s policy on that matter is that if our allies are locked in a lifeanddeath struggle on the other side, of the world we shall be left on our own in this country, and we shall have to depend solely on ourselves to maintain our freedom. It is not likely that this country will be attacked until our allies are engaged in such a war, and therefore it is apparent .that when the attack comes we shall have to depend solely upon ourselves. Our armed forces should be retained in Australia for the preservation of this country.
If Russia is as powerful as we have been told that it is the possibility is that in the event of war .Europe will quickly be overrun. Then in the interests of the United Nations and the democratic powers it is all the more necessary that the integrity of Australia shall be maintained so that it may be used as a base and a fortress in which to build up the power necessary to defeat the aggressor. For all those reasons it is necessary to retain our man-power within Australia. I remind the Government that the Opposition has supported it in the matter of military training for the defence of this country. Reference has been made to the fact that at a conference of the Labour party which I attended as a delegate, a resolution that was carried was not supported by certain delegates. The fact is that I did not support the particular wording of the resolution. But I do believe that universal military training should be only for home defence. I do urge on the Government that if this world conflict is imminent Australia may be isolated and attacked, and that it is therefore necessary to have our whole strength ready to repel the invader. The Government should speed up its immigration plans and bring as many people as possible to Australia. These people should be settled in the northern parts of Australia to help to populate and hold areas that are now almost empty. They should also help to build up our communications systems by constructing the Bourke-Cunnamulla line and the Charleville to Blackall section as was suggested during World War II., and by linking the railway systems of Queensland and the Northern Territory. Aerodromes should be constructed in strategic positions and every modern aerial device should be installed in them. I now see that the Treasurer is present.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Daly) negatived -
That the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) be granted an extension of time. [ Quorum formed.]
– We are discussing, in the light of a statement that was made to the House by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) a few days ago, the conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers that was held recently in London. The Prime Minister’s statement was concerned with grave, important and serious issues. I have used all those adjectives to describe the statement because they all apply and because the matters that were discussed at that conference affect the individual lives of every one of us in this country. We are living in a kind of duality at the present time. We are concerned with the ordinary life of this country, with our domestic affairs, with the ordinary processes of trade and commerce and with the ordinary subjects that engage the attention of all of us, but we are living also in a world in which there are moving great external forces that have a vital effect upon our lives and activities.
Let me remind the House of some of the words that were used by the Prime Minister in making his statement. The right honorable gentleman said -
Every one of the nations represented at Downing-streethas its own influence in the world.
What influence does Australia exert in the world? Although this is a country with only a small population, it has a vigorous national life and a high standard of living. In the fields of economics, science and legislation it has made considerable contributions to life in the twentieth century. Perhaps the influence that Australia exerts in the world is out of proportion to its size. I remind the House in passing of the great exertions that we made in two world wars. The influence that we have we exercise, first, as a member of the British Commonwealth, and secondly, in conjunction with our powerful ally, the UnitedStatesof America. There are limitations upon what we can achieve by ourselves. It is impossible for a nation of the size of Australia to pursue a free and independent foreign policy based entirely upon its own desires. We must realize that, whatever our desires may be in the realm of external affairs, they must be pursued in co-ordination with the British Commonwealth, of which we are a part, and the United States of America, whose power and influence constitute a dominant factor in the world to-day. What are the desires to which I have referred? The objective of a nation’s foreign policy should be, above all, the preservation of national safety. In essence, that is the objective of the foreign policy of any country.
The Prime Minister referred in his statement to two matters that are of great concern to us: first, a peace settlement with Japan, and secondly, our interests in the Middle East. It is about those two matters that I wish to speak. Referring to the Japanese peace treaty, the right honorable gentleman said -
The views of Australia upon Japanese rearmament are, in substance, not shared by some major democratic powers. The view held by these powers - and I offer no comment upon it at present - is that if Japan is not to be brought within the Communist orbit, it must be defended, and that the burden of defending it, in the present state of world affairs and the imminent dangers which surround us, should at least be shared by the Japanese people. In the judgment of these powers, the peace treaty should not impose any limitations upon Japanese rearmament.
He continued -
Our own strong opposition to the resurgence of Japanese militarism has been clearly stated and is well understood.
In considering a peace treaty with Japan, the crux of the matter is whether Japan should be allowed to rearm. I assume that, irrespective of political opinions, we all agree that it is desirable, if not essential, to have an early settlement with Japan. The prime necessity of such a settlement- is to establish a contented Japanese nation. I do not want that remark to be misunderstood. I am not suggesting that we should make extravagant concessions to Japan, and I do not hold any particular brief for the Japanese. -The essence of a successful settlement is to have, a stable Japanese nation, and if Japan is not a contented nation, it will not be a stable nation. I do not want it to be thought that I am urging that we should go to extreme lengths to achieve that contentment.
In considering whether Japan should be permitted to rearm, the strategic position of that country is of immense importance. If Japan is again to be a selfgoverning country, which it is not now, how can it be defended and maintained? Are the Japanese to share adequately in their own defence? If we adopt the attitude that they must not be permitted to> do so, are we prepared to accept the implications of that attitude? I say that we are not, and that honorable gentlemen opposite most certainly are not. Many members of the Opposition have demanded in this chamber that in no circumstances should Japan be permitted to rearm, but, although they have made that demand, they are not prepared to accept the implications of it.
Another important objective of a peace treaty with Japan is to develop Japan as a nation that could be a bulwark of peace in the Pacific. That is bound up with the problem of Japanese rearmament. That Japan could be such a bulwark is not a fantastic idea. I remind the House of the position that the Japanese once held as allies of the United Kingdom. I believe, and many other honorable members have also expressed this opinion, that the maintenance of peace in the Pacific, as elsewhere, depends, in the last resort, upon raising standards of living in’ and increasing the prosperity of the countries in the area concerned. If, under the terms of a peace treaty, Japan were not permitted again to become an industrial nation and to engage in the ordinary processes of trade and commerce, then, irre- spective of what we have thought about many Japanese trading activities in the ‘ past, that decision would have an adverse effect upon Asia. It is obvious that goods and materials - what I might call material prosperity - could be produced in the workshops of Japan. “We must face the fact that, without a re-establishment of Japanese industry, increased prosperity and. higher living standards cannot be achieved’ in the Asiatic countries. I go further and say that, in my opinion,, it would be physically impossible to hold a: nation of- 90,000,000 people indefinitely in a position of inferiority. I realize that the industrial capacity of a nation enables it not only to maintain its trade and prosperity but also to produce the armaments with which it can wage war ; nevertheless, I do not believe that it would be physically possible to prevent some measure - and probably a large measure - of Japanes rearmament or the growth of Japanese industry. I do not believe that any peace treaty designed to produce those results would be successful in the long run.
It is important to have a more realistic diplomacy which will seek to establish once more a Japanese nation that will be self-dependent, capable of defending itself and associated with the Western Powers in a working arrangement or, if you like, an ideology under which Japan, having some or perhaps full control of its own destiny, could again become a power in the world. The alternative would be for us to assume a staggering burden by sharing in the defence of Japan, or to allow Japan to fall into the hands of our enemies. There is no need for me to be reminded of the atrocities that were committed by the Japanese during the last war. I remind the House that the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Winston Churchill, said during that war that if the Japanese attacked the allies-, we should teach Japan a lesson that it and the world would never forget. We have done that, but I suggest that it will be impossible to continue doing it indefinitely.
I shall turn to the subject of the Middle East. Australia lies between, two oceans. The Pacific Ocean is on the east and north of this country, and the Indian Ocean is on the west. All the dangers with which we are faced do not come from the
Far East. It is impossible to exaggerate the strategic importance of the Middle East to the defence of Australia. That it is important is borne out by the fact that in two wars we have exerted our utmost efforts to defend the Middle East. It lies on the sea route to Britain and Europe and is the greatest link between us and the centre of the British Commonwealth. In the Middle East are countries, such as Persia, where the British Commonwealth has vital interests. What would happen to Australia and to the Western Powers if the Middle East fell? The Mediterranean basin would be lost to the democratic powers. It would involve the loss of Turkey, Greece and . probably Italy. It would bring about the disruption of the entire defence system of the British Empire. One of the paramount and vital interests of Australia is the preservation of the defence of the Middle East. I do not subscribe to the views that were expounded by the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) that the defence of Australia should be attended to in Australia. The defence of Australia in Australia would be the equivalent of the ostrich’s defence of itself by putting its head in the sand. This country cannot be defended successfully unless the Government is prepared to face the implications of the situation in the Middle East. Policy in the Middle East is related basically to defence, but at the highest level policy and strategy are one. The object of Australian policy in the Middle East should be to understand and support British policy in that area and to be prepared to defend it as well. Australia should do its utmost to understand the problems involved and to cultivate good relations with the Moslem world, which will be a very great factor in the defence and the future of this country. Australia should cultivate friendly diplomatic relations with and do its utmost to understand the great problems which confront the Moslem States, especially those of the Middle East.
I believe that those two matters are as important as any other matter that the Prime Minister mentioned. Australia cannot adopt a completely free and independent policy, as it might do if it had the population of the United States. Its vital interests being as I have summarized them, its foreign policy should be determined first in relation to the policy of the British Empire and secondly in relation to that of the United States.
.- I should like first to refer to statements that have been made in the course of this debate by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley), the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) and the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan). Nearly every honorable member of the Opposition who has spoken in this debate has emphasized a number of similar points. Apparently honorable gentlemen opposite are not sufficiently interested in this debate to want to take part in it, although they have claimed quite recently that they are very interested in the defence of Australia. This is a debate which concerns the defence of Australia, yet there are only four members of the Opposition in the House. I think that that is disgraceful.
– Does the honorable member want a quorum?
– Yes, please. Those honorable members of the Opposition who have spoken have asked why the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), when he returned from London, did not give to the House full details of everything that took place at the conference that he attended. [Quorum formed.’ I am amazed that, in spite of the fact that a quorum has been formed, only two additional members of the Opposition have entered the House. As I was saying, honorable members opposite have asked why the Prime Minister did not give to the House full details of everything that took place at the London conference so that they would know exactly why he had been able to come to the conclusion that there was every possibility of three years being the maximum period in which the Government could prepare for the defence of Australia. It is ludicrous that an exMinister of the Crown should ask a question such as that because if anybody should know that such details cannot be divulged it should be a man who has been a Minister of the Crown. It is sufficient to say that the weight of evidence brought before that London conference was enough to impress upon the Prime Minister, and to cause him in turn to impress upon the Government when he returned, that there is an urgent necessity to look to the state of preparedness of this country. I can only hope that honorable gentlemen opposite will change their attitude. They know that they will do that, having been told to do so, but I should like to observe a genuine change of heart on their part and to find in them some real interest in the defence of the country.
The Leader of the. Opposition said that the Government should ‘be .very careful because what India did would eventually be done by Pakistan and Ceylon also. Then he said that the western powers would be unwise to commit themselves to an extent to which India would not support them, which implied that the whole future of the British Commonwealth would be dependent upon a decision that would be made by our socialistic friend, Mr. Pandit Nehru. Those are statements with which I cannot agree. I am prepared to admit, for the moment, that Pandit Nehru is in an extremely difficult position because if he were to give any ground at all on the Kashmir dispute it is more than likely that he would be assassinated. I believe that Liaquat Ali Khan is in an equally difficult position because if he gives way he is equally likely to be assassinated. So not only are two racially and religiously antagonistic groups fighting over one piece of land, but also the persons who are leading them are living under a very definite possibility of physical violence to themselves if they deviate in any way from the feelings of the people whom they lead. That fact makes the position in relation to Kashmir even more difficult. It was interesting to hear from different sources that, at the recent conference on the subject, Mr. Nehru was adamant in his opposition to every proposal put forward whilst Liaquat Ali Khan was prepared to listen to .reason. I believe that there is the greatest possibility of co-operation with people who are likely to listen to reason.
The Leader of the Opposition said that he thought that General MacArthur was wrong when he decided to lead the United Nations forces north of the 38th parallel in Korea. General MacArthur is a fighting soldier who has to make very great and urgent decisions. I should like to know what the honorable member’s criticism of General MacArthur would have been in relation to his crossing of the 38th parallel had China not entered the war. General MacArthur took a calculated risk, knowing that if he succeeded he would get peace very quickly in Korea.
– The great “ if “.
– The same “if” that cost the Allies some six months extra war in Europe on a far .greater scale because a similar decision was not made. The results of having crossed the 38th parallel have been unfortunate, temporarily, but I believe that eventually this will enhance the chances of preserving the peace of the world because we are showing the forces that are opposed to democracy that we are prepared to fight, and to continue to fight whenever we start.
On the subject of Japan, I agree entirely with the honorable member for Oxley (Dr. Donald Cameron) that it is not possible to occupy by force for any length of time a country of 80,000,000 or 90,000,000 people. History has proven time and time again that a country of that size can be occupied for a period but that such occupation only arouses resentment. Only a short time ago the Leader of the Opposition stated that never had the feeling for the British been better in India than it had been since they decided to withdraw from that continent. The British occupied India for some hundreds of years, but finally discovered that the wisest and most humane course to take was to let the Indians govern their own country. Although the Leader of the Opposition supported that policy he has now stated that the army of occupation must be kept in Japan and that that nation should remain subjugated.
– It must be very satisfactory for the honorable member to refute arguments that he has put into the mouth of the Leader of the Opposition.
– There is an organized body of ex-service men and women in Australia which possibly has the best reasons for disliking the Japanese people because the members of that body came into contact with the Japanese and suffered most at their hands. I refer to the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. The league is in agreement with the policy of re-arming Japan. No other nonpolitical organization, and few political organizations in Australia, are as well equipped as is the league to make a decision of that nature. Its members are qualified by experience, and they are the men who will have to do the fighting again should the necessity arise.
– Does the honorable member believe in rearmament?
– I am about to discuss that subject. The honorable member for Adelaide, a former Minister of the Crown, declared recently that the only way to achieve lasting peace was to bring about total disarmament. I have never heard a more fantastic statement by an exMinister of the Crown. The very idea of disarming ourselves and trying to persuade Russia to do likewise is absolutely unrealistic.
Experts have said time after time that the only chance that we have of preserving peace in the world is to be always ready for war. I agree with that opinion. I a m not nearly so well equipped to estimate the world situation to-day as are certain other honorable members on both sides of the House. However, I consider that the Prime Minister perhaps gave us an optimistic estimate when he said that we might expect war within three years at the most unless the Western democracies were ready to meet one. Even this afternoon, members of the Opposition have said that Mr. Attlee, Mr. Truman and General Eisenhower had not forecast an outbreak of war within three years. They may not have said that we are likely to have war in three years’ time, but the nations that are led by Mr. Attlee and Mr. Truman have done far more proportionately than Australia has done to prepare for defence against aggression. This Government has been hampered by the opposition of the Labour party. Mr. Attlee and Mr. Truman have set in motion machinery that will expand and strengthen their armed forces to a degree that has never been known previously. Yet members of the Opposition imply that Mr. Attlee and Mr. Truman do not believe that we are likely to have a war ! Possibly their views are even less optimistic than those of our Prime Minister.
– Does the honorable member support the rearmament of Japan?
M.r. McCOLM. - I do so without qualification. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) referred to a statement in a newspaper to the effect that he had voted at a Labour party conference against the Government’s national service proposals. Not one honorable member on the other side of the House is more hopping mad than he is as the result of having been tricked on that issue by certain sections of his own political party. There are honorable members from Queensland on both sides of this House who firmly support the Government’s plans for national defence. I sympathize with the honorable member for Kennedy, and also with the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson), because of the unfortunate position-
– I do not want the honorable gentleman’s sympathy.
– But the honorable member needs it! I sympathize with those honorable gentlemen. They have been placed in an unfortunate position because they have been branded, against their wishes, as opponents of any plan to strengthen our national defences.
.- The statement that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made on the various aspects of bis recent trip abroad dealt with so many subjects that one must necessarily select only a few of them for discussion during the period of twenty minutes that is available to each honorable member in this debate. The two preceding speakers referred to the rearmament of Japan. I shall devote the whole of the time available to me to a discussion of that issue. There is a sort of Pollyanna attitude in this Parliament towards the rearmament of Japan which is not shared by the people generally. The Gallup poll organization, which is usually mentioned with glee by supporters of the Government, recently conducted a poll in order to determine whether or not the people of Australia favoured the rearmament of
Japan. Of the individuals who were interviewed, 65 per cent, were opposed to Japanese rearmament. That represents a considerable body of opinion which should not be ignored. Views on this subject should not be classified merely as Labour or Liberal and treated according to one’s own party political opinions. The people have a right to ask us in this Parliament whether everything is all right with this scheme to rearm Japan which has been suddenly thrust upon us.
All the bright and rosy features that we have been told to envisage in a rearmed Japan are the very antithesis of the dogmas that have been hammered into us during the last ten years concerning the antagonism of Japan, as a nation, to the democratic way of life. Professor Sir Douglas Copland recently administered a sharp lesson to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) in relation to China.
– I thought that I had administered a lesson to him.
– I thought that the professor won the argument. He said that even the most rabid person could change his whole outlook upon Eastern relations as the result of a few hours spent in an Asiatic country. In all humility, I confess that the few weeks that I spent in Japan as a member of a parliamentary delegation made a deep impression upon my mind. Is it safe to rearm Japan? Let us ignore the rosy prognostications that we have heard about the effect of rearmament upon those plucky little fellows and about their merits as stout allies of the democracies. At its miserable best, the decision to rearm Japan is an act of expediency. “We do not want the Japanese as allies, but they are to be forced upon us willy nilly in that capacity. All this mouthing about the good qualities of the Japanese is mere sophistry. The fact is that the awful decision has been imposed upon us. It is a matter of power politics in the Asiatic zone. Our actions in that area have been proved to be utterly wrong time after time. “We are forever doing the wrong thing in Asia and apologizing for our actions afterwards. And all the time the inscrutable East smiles and waits!
Many ex-servicemen are firmly convinced that the rearmament of Japan represents the wisest course to take. I am equally firmly convinced that Japanese rearmament would be wrong and dangerous, and I am prepared to join issue with anybody on that question. The honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm) said that the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia had approved of the proposal, just as it had approved of the plan to bring German immigrants to Australia. But I am convinced that, if a plebiscite were conducted within the league, the result would be approximately the same as that of the Gallup poll to which I have referred. The reasons for the opposition to Japanese rearmament on the part of a majority of the Australian people are deep and significant. The people who provide the man-power for war, who suffer and fight, have a consciousness which is above political sophistry or the diplomacy of the moment. They have been asked to make a complete volte face in relation to Japan. But they change their attitude slowly because they are sincere. They are not nearly so quick as are the diplomats at taking an easy way out of a bad situation.
The most important consideration in relation to the rearmament of Japan is the degree to which democracy has gained a foothold there. That question has defeated all visitors to the country. Honorable members on both sides of the House who visited Japan with the delegation of which I. was a member all came to the reluctant conclusion that there was not a great deal of evidence that democracy would work in Japan, although they hoped piously that it would take root there and they paid their tribute to the American effort in that respect. Democracy has changed its guise in that country. All the policies that were to be applied in order to make it a democratic nation have been abandoned. The Zaibatsu monopolies, which were to have been broken up, are to be encouraged now because there is to be a programme of rearmament. One of the solemn declarations of the new Japanese constitution is that the nation must never wage war. Armed conflict is proscribed for all time.
That constitution was signed by the Emperor and ratified by the Diet. It provides that a referendum must be conducted before rearmament can be authorized. Therefore, I assume that this Government is in. favour of conducting a referendum in Japan notwithstanding its opposition to the holding of a referendum in Australia.
What sort of an impact is this overall change of policy having upon the Japanese people ? The ordinary Japanese might find something attractive about democracy and might be willing to renounce the old feudal system in the belief that there is a better way of life than that of Bushido, the way of the warrior. But his mind has been thrown into utter confusion because recent policy changes have swung his inclinations to and fro with the changing tides of opinion. The number of Communists in Japan three or four years ago was so small as to be negligible, but their ranks have swollen alarmingly of late. This is a result of the frustration of the Japanese workers. In the name of democracy, there has been a purge of school teachers, who have been asked whom they vote for at elections, what books they read and what political background they have. The ordinary Japanese man and woman is coming to the conclusion that, if this represents democracy, there is little difference between the democratic system and the system which prevailed under the rule of the Samurai. Imagine the confusion of mind of the ordinary Japanese citizen in relation to rearmament. The average Japanese is the most avid reader in the world. He is always reading his vernacular newspapers in an attempt to reach some conclusion about the meaning of life and the reason for the virtual destruction of his country towards the end of World War II. But every day the newspapers that he reads announce some new change of front. The Japanese were told that the people’s ownership of land would be restored, and that objective was partially accomplished by means of legislation which was prepared by Professor Macmahon Ball on behalf of the allied council in Japan. That was one of the most useful examples of planning in postwar Japan. This plan is now neglected.
If citizens of the United States of America are confused about Japanese rearmament, they have only themselves to thank for the situation. Japan has been a close preserve for the United States of America ever since the cessation of hostilities. Whether that was the idea of the State Office at Washington or of the Supreme Command, Allied Powers, I am unable to say. However, there was a squeezing out process with the result that the allied council was never a great force in Japan although it could have had a powerful influence upon occupation policy. At any rate, United States policy in Japan has changed and the nation is to be rearmed because of the present situation in Asia. Overnight 130,000 new police reserves were called up. Into what pool was the spoon dipped in order to dredge up those reserves at short notice? Only ex-servicemen could have been available for such duties. A censorship blanket was cast over the fact that ex-servicemen were being called into the reserve and provided with armoured cars and other sorts of equipment that is supplied usually only to serving soldiers. Surely, even in the congested Ginza area in Tokyo, armoured cars are not needed to control traffic ! This twisting of policy must have a very dangerous effect upon the Japanese citizens who are trying to find the truth amidst the welter of politics.
Is there any certainty that the objective towards which the occupation powers are aiming will be achieved by the rearmament of Japan? Let us consider the situation realistically. Australians generally will resist any rearmament of Japan on the ground of -bare necessity because they still fear that the people who thrust their way through New Guinea to Milne Bay and spread across the Coral Sea may do so again. Japan embarked upon a desperate hazard and almost succeeded during World War II. With the history of the two almost successful attempts that Germany made to conquer Europe before their eyes, the Samurai may soon try to prepare themselves for another thrust upon Australia. Japan’s swollen population may well cause its leaders to look towards this country again for an outlet. We talk glibly of arming the Japanese so that their country may be a bulwark against communism. But surely the history of
Japan proves that all its interests lie in Asia.. A great deal of its trade has been carried on with China. After the allied army of occupation leaves the country and the Zaibatsu is reestablished in power, some form of feudalism, modified for the sake of expediency, may be restored. Having concluded what will be virtually a separate peace with the United States of America - because willynilly we must follow the lead of the United States - Japan may establish peaceful relations with Communist China. The most recent commercial statistics show that British trade with China is causing grave embarrassment to both the United States of America and Japan. For instance, whilst the export of locomotives to China is prohibited that trade was the most profitable part of the activities of the Mitsubishi group in pre-war years. China was the first overseas market of that group. Japanese trade must inevitably go again to China. In the future, the Japanese must infiltrate that country both as traders and as immigrants. Therefore, to permit the rearmament of Japan at this stage, which would be only a modification of complete rearmament, would be highly dangerous. The Japanese are an inscrutable race. We have had no indication of their having forgiven us for beating them, but, apparently, with characteristic Anglo-Saxon foolishness, we are to regard a beaten enemy as a friend. We are to adopt the same attitude towards the Japanese as is being adopted towards Germany. Both of those former enemies can again be dangerous to us. I agree with the honorable member for Oxley (Dr. Donald Cameron) that, sooner or later, we shall find that we cannot merely pen up 90,000,000 Japanese and do nothing further about them. At the same time, however, we must protect 8,000,000” Australians.
The present endeavours to finalize a peace treaty with Japan are being made with indecent haste. Recently, Mr. John Foster Dulles visited Australia. He flew in and flew out of this country and he was supported by the junior swallow, the Minister for External Affairs. But we did not hear much about what he actually did. These matters can be settled only as the result of prolonged and proper consideration. We must sit down and work them out. It is valid to emphasize the appalling danger of accepting Japan as a God-given gift with which to match the Communist thrust in Asia. Such an attitude on our part could be most dangerous because the Japanese have proved themselves to be a wily people who are concerned only with the preservation of Japan. They could again become powerful very quickly by trading and making treaties with China with the sole object of ensuring their own survival. Undoubtedly, they consider their own strategic position when they are referred to in American publications as a dagger pointed at the heart of Russia. With China presenting so great an opportunity for the expansion of Japanese trade and aggression, surely the Japanese will think twice before they will be prepared to fight Russia in Asia even as a police force with the Allies. There can be no room for doubt about whether the Japanese wish to fight or to rearm. Already, we have read in the press cablegrams from Japan reporting that the Japanese Prime Minister has received thousands of protests from Japanese who, apparently, have commenced to absorb some of the tenets of democracy, praying that Japan be not rearmed at this juncture. Those Japanese at any rate forsee the dangers and difficulties that would be involved in such action. They are not. prepared to accept the propositions that the United States of America and its Allies are putting forward, and they will not be prepared to accept similar propositions which, no doubt, will be put to them in due course by those in the opposing camp, namely, the Communists.
Rearmament is not an answer to the problem of Japan; it is not a solution that can be cut out and pinned up like a map at general head-quarters. The proposal is fraught with difficulties and dangers. If the Government proposes to go ahead along those lines what will it say to the Australian people who have just emerged from .a conflict during which they were told that the Japanese were savage and brutal foes? We have not yet been able to get reparations from Japan in atonement for the injury and injustice that were done to Australians who were prisoners of the Nipponese. A petition lias been circulated in the United States of America praying that President Truman loosen up on the “noreparations “ angle. At present, we are told that -the plucky Japanese will be a means of helping us to pay for the dead, dying and wounded in the Korean campaign. This matter is closely related to suffering on both sides and to war in all its horror. Therefore, a settlement with Japan should be deferred; it should not be . hurried. The proposals now placed before us smack of a separate peace with Japan. All” the democracies, including Great Britain and this country, which contributed to the defeat of Japan in World War II. should be given the opporunity to present their views before amy settlement is made. But there appears to be a conspiracy of silence. Those who are in favour of rearming Japan hesitate to express their views for fear of offending a former ally to whom we owe so much. In addition, as China has been converted to the Soviet philosophy an extraordinary fear of aggression from China has also been aroused.
The Prime Minister, in the statement that he made to the House, merely touched upon this subject, because it will be debated at length on a subsequent occasion. 0When the Minister for External Affairs makes his statement on the international position I trust that he will deal with it in greater detail. It is fair to say that 65 per cent, of the Australian people entertain grave fears about the Government’s intentions. It is the duty of the Minister to allay those fears. He will not be able to do so merely by talking about what may or may not be done if we are forced into a certain position. That would be cold comfort to the Australian people and to those who may be called upon to defend this country in the future. Wc are aware of the technique of the Soviet in making separate peace treaties. It is often said that it has been obliged to do so by force of circumstances. I pay full tribute to the United States of Amenca, but it is clear that that country, as it intended, has always been the lone wolf in Japan. Whilst the allied countries have had token forces in Japan the Americans have always been there in the fullest sense of the word. First, the war potential of Japan was to be completely destroyed, but after Mr. Johnson carried out his mission to Japan on behalf of the American Department of State, no more was heard about the destruction of Zaibatsu. Next, the Japanese were to be given democracy through the distribution of land to the land hungry. After some farms which were hardly sufficient in area to enable occupants to gain a bare subsistence, had been made available under that scheme, the old land laws of Japan were again put into effect and no. further legislation on that subject was introduced in the Diet. A trade union movement was to be formed in Japan in order to convent it into a solid bulwark against communism, but those in control in that country introduced into that scheme a number of vertical unions in which managers of organizations were regarded as co-workers of the mass of employees.
Because of their admiration for the great work that the United States of America has done in the rehabilitation of Japan, many people fear to voice their opinions on these matters, believing that those opinions might be taken as criticism of our great former ally. However, Australians must keep in mind the facts that I have mentioned. When the parliamentary delegation that visited Japan some years ago returned to this country, the present Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis), who was a member of it, advocated with its other members that occupation forces should be maintained in Japan for from ten to twenty years. At the time, that proposal was supported by the majority of our military authorities who understood the situation that existed in that country. However, there has ‘ since been a dramatic change, with the result, apparently, that Australia now cannot get out of Japan quickly enough. Whilst such action will not solve the problem of Japan it might prove to be effective as the first instalment of a real solution provided that any withdrawal from Japan was a slow process. Such a plan might alter the situation that exists to-day aud, at the same time, obviate the dangers that must result from any change that is brought about holus bolus. Let us examine what has happened. First, the Japanese were to be. made virile democrats through cococola and propaganda. Next, the Allies invited the Japanese to fight the Soviet with all the odds against them. These proposals were taken as the answer to our prayer. Now, we are in a position to realize’ how dangerous they could be. “We must not lull, ourselves into a sense of false security.
I again urge the Government to give to the House an opportunity to discuss this problem fully and to supply honorable members with the greatest possible volume of information. I admit that the Government, for security reasons, is not in a position to divulge all the information that it possesses, but it should make available to us sufficient information to enable us and the people- to see the picture as a whole. It should not stultify the voices of those who believe that the rearmament of Japan would be dangerous to Australia. It must not stifle criticism on the ground, perhaps, that criticism could be said to follow the Communist propaganda pattern. Such an attitude would be most dangerous. Great as our fear of peril may be, we should realize that fact. The problem is profoundly difficult. I repeat that re-armament of Japan at this stage would be dangerous to Australia and to the preservation of good relations between the democracies. It would be dangerous also to the Japanese themselves who are not a race of Communists. It is possible that under pressure of circumstancs and by force majeure they might be driven into making treaties with China, with the result that after five years of rearmament there would be a resurgence in Japan similar to that which has taken place among the Nazis, and, having made friends with powerful allies across the waters, the co-prosperity sphere of Asia could be made ready to make a move southwards. This matter must be thoroughly considered. It would be too fantastic to regard the re-armament of Japan as the key to the solution of the problem. The difficulty goes deeper than that. I hope that the peace treaty with Japan will be hammered out at appropriate conferences at which Australia will be given a voice in the name of those who suffered in bringing about the defeat of the Japanese. That treaty must be thumped out. firmly, because if we should make a mistake inthis matter history might, have to record! that there was once in the southern seas a white race called Australians.
’.- The House is considering the statement that was made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on the conference of the Prime Ministers in London at which peoples of various races and of differing political views were represented. That conference arrived at certain decisions, and the Prime Minister, upon his return to this country, has very properly given to the Parliament a brief summary of its decisions and a forecast of the actions that must necessarily be taken in the near future. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) has made some rather extraordinary comments upon the Prime Minister’s statement. The subjects that have arisen in this debate include disarmament, the Government’s national service scheme, the question of whether we should send forces overseas and the rearmament of Japan. I propose to comment upon each of those matters. I shall deal first with disarmament. Those of my generation will no doubt recall the enthusiasm that was infused into school curriculums regarding the ideals of the League of Nations. We were told that the league would help to establish the brotherhood of man. We recall also the attitude that our allies in World War I., particularly the countries in the British Commonwealth of Nations, adopted towards disarmament. I vividly remember old H.M.A.S. Australia being towed through Sydney Heads to be sunk off the Australian coast. Honorable members will recall the lead towards disarmament that the democracies at that time gave to the world and, unfortunately, the disastrous results that consequently befell us when we found ourselves unprepared at the outbreak of World War II. All of us realize the extent of the disaster that befell the democracies from 1939-41. It has been truly said in earlier debates in this House that the democracies will not have any time in which to prepare to defend themselves should there be another world war. Despite all these lessons of the past the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) earlier to-day asked a question about what was done at the London conference regarding disarmament. He, along with several other honorable members of the Opposition, has referred to Government supporters as “ war-mongers “. It would be true to say that no matter what one’s politics might be, anybody who served in any of the fighting services in either of the two world wars has no wish to participate in a third world war, and therefore cannot be justly branded as a war-monger. However, ex-servicemen as well as most other Australians realize the importance of our rearming ourselves. When the Prime Minister indicated in his statement that his opinion, which he had formed as a result of information that had been conveyed to him during the recent London conference, was that we “had three years and no longer in which to prepare for war, he did not say that he himself believed that we should have another world war in three years’ time, and it is ridiculous for any honorable member opposite to maintain that Australia, any member of the British Commonwealth, or any of our allies can be considered aggressive. I remind honorable members opposite, who claim that the Prime Minister forecast another world war within three years, of the actual words that the Prime Minister used. He said -
Let me be clear. T. am not prophesying a war. I merely point out that there is an imminent danger of one, and against that imminent danger we must be prepared, and in time.
That is the sole reason for our own preparations and our programme of rearmament. J do not agree with the opinions expressed by the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), the text of whose remarks was that we should not send any men overseas to fight in any conflict. With memories of the recent world war still fresh in our minds it is remarkable to me that anybody could advance an argument that we should not send our servicemen away from our shores to fight in another conflict. Australia could not adequately defend its own shores if war came to them, because we have not sufficient men to guard ourselves at all points of our coastline. Rather than adopt a policy of waiting until war comes to our shores, we should be among those who assist in stopping aggression at the point of its occurrence. It is essential for us to do so, not only for our own safety, but ‘also because it is in accord with our obligations .to the United Nations that we should assist, at the first moment, to meet aggression at the point .at which it occurs.
I turn now to the present recruiting campaign for the armed services. I think that I can speak with some authority on that matter because within recent weeks I have been associated with the campaign in various districts. Enthusiasm exists among the younger generation for enlistment in the armed services, but it must be taken in hand and the necessary lead given to it. Those of us who hold responsible positions in the community can make a great contribution towards the success of the campaign by our own actions and the lead that we personally give in the matter. The Prime Minister said in his statement that he hoped to make in the near future another statement to the House in connexion with defence matters, and I should like the Government to take into consideration several points in regard to the fighting units that are being formed now in conjunction with the national service scheme that is expected to come into operation this year. There are still ways in which we can give better training to our young servicemen than is at present envisaged. There are also ways in which we can make that training not only more beneficial but also more interesting to the servicemen. There are means by which we can appeal to the spirit of adventure of the young, and so aid in the raising of these new units and the expansion of our forces generally, both of which tasks we shall have to undertake with greater rapidity during the next few years. I suggest, therefore, that the Government consider the possibility of interchanging some of our fighting units with similar units of neighbouring countries of the British Commonwealth. If that plan was to be followed it should be started on a small scale. For instance, we could start with an interchange of a unit of battalion strength with a similar unit of the New Zealand forces which could come here and do a part of its training while the Australian battalion trained in New Zealand. Such a scheme would not only give experience to the various branches of the services in the embarkation, convoying and protection of the troops from shore to shore, but also give the troops an experience which could not be gained in any other way, that of doing their training and of being present, in another country. It would also lead to an increased interest in the plans for the expansion of our forces, because all young people have an innate desire to see other parts of the world.
I suggest that, if that scheme should prove successful, it be developed further on a larger scale. I can easily visualize that within eighteen months or so of the inception of the scheme larger units could be sent farther afield under an interchange agreement with other members of the British Commonwealth. I submit the scheme for the Government’s consideration because of its value from the stand-point oi actual training. I also suggest that the Government send selected units of our forces to New Guinea for a portion of their training because, as 1 said earlier in my remarks, I believe that it will be necessary for us to send our forces overseas to defend this country effectively in the next war, and the New Guinea terrain is similar to the country in which our men will very likely have to fight against aggression in that war. The adoption of that practice would have the effect of taking servicemen right away from their usual environments and of putting them, in a short space of time, in a new environment in which they would lead a completely different way of life. Training in New Guinea would fit the servicemen for war in similar areas. The defence of our own country affects everybody in the community and we have found, especially in the early months of this year, that our need to prepare has been expressed by all sections of the community. I find it hard to believe that honorable members opposite are sincere in what they say ‘against some of the measures that the Government has introduced and has announced. Fortunately, their criticisms do not agree with the opinions of most of their electors on the subject of defence. I shall quote from a reported statement by Mr. George Neilly, which appeared in the press to-day, in which he said, when speaking to a meeting of members of the miners’ federation that was addressed by Mr.
Idris Williams, the general president of the federation -
If it comes to a question of me or my country, it will be my country first.
I think that that statement sums up the attitude of the majority of Australians towards the defence of this country.
The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) devoted most of his remarks to the subject of the rearmament of J apan. I do not wish to deal at length with that subject, but I notice that the honorable gentleman omitted to give any answer to the question that immediately sprang to my mind while I was listening to him. That question is: What is the answer if we do not permit a certain degree of rearmament in Japan? The answer is that it is possible that Communist China or Soviet Russia will take over Japan in the next few years. If Japan is not allowed to share with us in arming a protective circle to defend the Pacific area, then who will help us to do so? Japan is not itself capable, under present circumstances, of defending itself without our assistance, and if we do not assist in its rearmament, make it share in the burdens of common defence, and admit it as a unit in that complete circle of Pacific defence, then Communist China and Soviet Russia will take it over, in which event a large gap will be left in our defence. Indeed, it would be more than a gap, it would be a dint. I suggest, therefore, that in view of the considered statement that was made to the House by the Prime Minister on the important measures that it is and will be necessary to take as a result of the London conference, all honorable members should regard such measures not from any’ personal or party political point of view, but from the point of view of the good of Australia as a whole. Our aim is the successful defence of our country, and I believe that that can be achieved only by ourselves being well armed, being strong in conjunction with our fellow members of the British Commonwealth, and being able to take our part alongside our allies, the United States of America, the Western democracies and other members of the United Nations, in combating aggression.
Sitting suspended from 5.^5 to 8 p.m.
.- The debate on the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on the Prime Ministers’ conference in London last January, and on certain problems in international affairs, such as the rearmament of Japan, has taken such a turn that the right honorable gentleman would be well advised to adhere to his own views, and not take the advice of most of his supporters on the back benches. He showed a much more critical approach, especially to the matter of Japanese rearmament, than have most of his supporters. The honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm) was rash enough to endorse Japanese rearmament. His attitude was very courageous but, in my opinion, very unwise. Government supporters generally appear to think of this matter simply in the realm of assertion, and I have not detected, at any stage, an effort on their part to assess why they consider that a rearmed Japan will be an ally of the West or whether they believe that there is any possibility that a rearmed Japan will become an ally of the Soviet Union. I merely wish to suggest that there are arguments on both sides that it is well to weigh.
If we ask, “Can a rearmed Japan be so disciplined that it will adhere to the Western cause ? “, we may find supporting arguments in the dependence of Japan on the Western world for certain vital war materials. For instance, Japan must import, and, therefore, must be at the mercy of the dominant naval power in the Pacific, 90 per cent, of its iron, 30 per cent, of its pig iron, 40 per cent, of its scrap iron, 30 per cent, of its coal, most of its coking coal, 90 per cent, of its oil, 100 per cent, of its rubber, 100 per cent, of its bauxite, 100 per cent, of its nickel, and a large part of its lead, tin, zinc, salt and copper. Japan must depend to a considerable degree on United States sources of supply for cotton, wheat, mineral oils, pulp, certain chemicals and coking coal. All those requirements tend to make Japan dependent on the Western world, and we may concede to the honorable member for Bowman that such dependence would tend, to that degree, to make Japan adhere to the Western Powers in the event of a conflict with Russia. But I do not think that such a survey of
Japan’s dependence upon the importation of those war materials can lead one finally to decide that the rearming of Japan would be without risks. I direct attention to the fact that the ‘ process of rearming Japan would necessarily involve the Western World in a policy of exporting to that country vital strategic minerals which the democratic nations themselves will need, if we are to accept a situation in which increasing tension leads to world rearmament.
The suggestion of the honorable member for Bowman that Japan could be quite an important ally is sound if we are to assume that, in the event of another world war, much of that conflict will be round the Asiatic littoral. It is true that Japan, as a base, would be important, but let us consider the matter from the stand-point of a Japanese statesman who is impressed with the power of modern strategic bombing, especially atom bombing. After all, Japan alone among the nations has had experience of such an attack. Its cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by atomic bombs. Japan is a relatively close neighbour of Russia. That Japan could strike easily in the extreme east of Asiatic Russia would not be of great importance to the Soviet. No one would suggest that the destruction of Vladivostock, or of all that eastern sea-board of Russia, would be vital in knocking the Soviet out of an international conflict. But Russia has bases in Eastern Siberia that are within range of the whole of Japan; and Japan, as an ally of the West in a conflict with Russia, would necessarily be a target area for the most intense raiding that could possibly be imagined. Japan might well have cause to fear such an attack, because it would certainly lead to the complete ruin of its cities and industries. For that reason, it is extremely likely that a rearmed and independent Japan would do its utmost to avoid becoming involved in a conflict as the ally of any powers that were at war with Russia.
I do not say that we can dogmatically conclude in one way or the other from the kind of considerations that I have raised where Japan would stand in such a conflict. I merely ask the House to consider that the rearming of Japan would be attended by great risks. I do not believe that the points made by certain Government supporters on the subject of the purely military rearming of Japan are worthy of’ serious consideration. If the occupation forces were withdrawn, and if Japan were rearmed militarily in the sense of having land forces, nobody would be able to tell the Japanese that they could or could not have a navy and an air force. The conception of a Japan possessing an army but not an air force and a navy, is unthinkable.
– Did not the honorable member say that Japan is obliged to import strategic materials?
– The honorable member for Bowman, who adhered very firmly to his line of argument, reminds me that I have listed a great many strategic materials that Japan needs. I think that he implies that the West could exert a disciplinary power over Japan, because it could withdraw those vital supplies if Japan should propose to establish a navy and an air force. I think that the western diplomacy, which has also come to consider the rearming of Japan, because of its fear of Russia, would be hesitant to impose such discipline upon Japan, especially if there were any tendency on the part of that country to try to obtain those requirements from the Asiatic mainland. After all, one of Japan’s motives in conquering Manchuria was to obtain access to that source of many of those much-needed materials. I do not believe that a reconciliation between Japan and China is impossible, when we consider the vulnerability of Japan in its island position in Asia. For those reasons, I do not consider that we can dogmatically conclude that Japan would be on our side in the event of a conflict between the Western Powers and Russia, and that we can honestly argue that the rearmament of Japan would be merely military rearmament in the sense that Japan would not have a navy and an air force.
Much the most important part of the Prime Minister’s speech, and necessarily the most evasive, was his reference to inter-imperial relations. I do not intend my statement that the right honorable gentleman was evasive to be regarded as a sneer. No Australian Prime Minister has ever been able to speak frankly about the attitude of South Africa in inter-imperial affairs, or more recently, about the attitude of India and Pakistan. The right honorable gentleman is necessarily in a delicate position when he discusses such matters. However, the example that he set in that respect has not been followed by his supporters. It is quite clear that there is a difference in the degree of stress laid by every dominion on the liabilities that this imperial association, or this British Commonwealth association, imposes. Pakistan wants it to be an alliance, and a real alliance at that, to which it is prepared to contribute, and from which it wants certain definite things from the United Kingdom and from other member States in the British Commonwealth of Nations in return. The Pakistani diplomats and their servicemen who are here, are very strong on that point. This nebulous association that we are quite prepared to accept in the British Commonwealth of Nations is not so acceptable from their viewpoint. They want more definiteness. India, which is in the anomalous position of a republic within the British Commonwealth of Nations, tends very strongly to under-emphasize any obligations in that connexion. The Government of India is not quite sure how far it can rely on the support of its people for any firm commitments that it might make with the British Commonwealth. If there is any political dogma in India, it is that enunciated by Nehru over Indonesia, and over the continued occupation of Japan, and that is that European forces must withdraw from Asia.
The attitude of South Africa in British Commonwealth relations is also difficult, particularly its present relations with India. The South African Government is also reluctant to enter into any prior commitment. Therefore, if we are to look at the British Commonwealth of Nations realistically, we must divide it into several associations. There is a real and intense association between Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Pakistan appears to be willing to enter into intense commitments but such cannot be said of India or South Africa. Of course, the anti-Communist attitude of the Malan Government in South Africa, which was strong enough to lead that country to oppose being the allies of Russia during World War II., may very well act in the opposite direction, and make South Africa more interventionist than it has been in the past. However, such a situation certainly does not make for good relations within the British Commonwealth of Nations, and particularly for good relations with India.
– Where does the honorable member place Canada in his survey of the British Commonwealth ? r
– I have not consciously omitted Canada. That country is so wholely identified with the foreign policy of the United States of America that I do not think that there is any doubt about its willingness to assume all commitments, if not in the Pacific, then at least to the full in Europe. The attitude of Canada is so uncontroversial that I did not bother to mention it earlier.
One aspect of the Prime Minister’s speech was a sin of omission, not of commission. I refer to his failure to make a clear statement on the subject of Korea. This is becoming an extremely interesting problem. Government supporters have been critical of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) because of his remarks about the error of the United Nations forces in crossing the 38th parallel. Before I could agree to accept their criticisms, I should like to hear them buttressed by a clear perception on the part of the Government of exactly what is being done in North Korea. How long does it consider that the campaign will continue? What is the end of the campaign that is envisaged? Is it the occupation of the whole of Korea? If the United Nations forces again successfully occupy the whole of Korea, and if China again intervenes in strength, what will happen ? I do not ask those questions with the object of being critical. I consider that the Government’s intervention in Korea was perfectly correct. At the same time the Government must have some perception cf the direction in which the campaign is going. It must have some idea of what is being done about reinforcements and some idea of how far it considers the country is now committed, and should in the future be committed, in the Korean campaign. If the Government’s attitude is that of accepting the fact that Australia is a very minor party in this incident and should do whatever the major powers do, then the Government should say so. That is a defensible policy, and such a statement by the Government will give honorable members an idea of what it envisages will be the end of the campaign. The interjection of an honorable member in which he asked what I would do about the matter is pointless. I have not the Government’s information, and I therefore do not know what should be done about it. However, I should like to know the Government’s view of the position; how far it thinks Australia is committed, how it believes the campaign will end, and whether it considers that if the whole of Korea is occupied such occupation will continue for a long time. Does the Government expect that if the occupation force is withdrawn the Chinese will walk in immediately and establish a regime different from that established by the United Nations? If the Government so expects, then what is the point of this campaign?
I very much desire to know whether the Australian Government and the Government of the United States - which is primarily concerned in the United Nations action - believe that the campaign is going satisfactorily, or whether they are under the impression that the whole matter has got out of control. I should also like to know whether the Chinese intervention was unanticipated. Perhaps the Government considers that there cannot be a withdrawal because that would be a betrayal of the people whom we seek to assist, and that beyond that consideration there is no clarity; we are merely waiting for something to turn up. If that is the position the Government should say so, because I can see no condemnation of the Government if that is so. The Opposition supported intervention in Korea. We believed that the United Nations had to be supported and that the correct action was to support it. But we should like to have an indication of where the whole Korean incident is leading us. The remainder of the Prime Minister’s statement was constructive and informative. I am glad that the right honorable gentleman is adopting the new practice of having a series of short statements made upon international affairs, each covering a few points, instead of omnibus statements covering foreign affairs from China to Peru.
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in his speech to this House on the 7th March, gave an account of the international situation in the light of discussions held in London at the recent meeting of Prime Minsters. I assume, therefore, that honorable members would prefer that I should avoid trespassing on the ground that he covered and should deal with one or two important matters of vital interest to Australia. I propose, therefore, to confine my remarks on this occasion to the position in Korea, to matters concerning the Japanese peace treaty and to proposals concerning a Pacific security pact in this area of the world.
When I last addressed this House on the 2Sth November, 1950, on the subject of Korea, the intervention in mass of Communist Chinese forces in North Korea had only recently been reported by Genera] MacArthur. It is necessary for us to keep firmly in mind the simple fact that, if it had not been for such intervention, hostilities in Korea would have ceased long ago and the process of establishing a unified Korea on the basis of free elections would by now have been well in train. Whatever is said to the contrary, the responsibility for the continuance of hostilities and for postponing and making more difficult of achievement the establishment of an independent Korea lies firmly and squarely upon the Chinese Communists. It is, moreover, not irrelevant to observe that every effort to effect a peaceful settlement of the Korean dispute has been consistently opposed by the Soviet Union.
In Australia and abroad, there have been people who have put forward a multitude of reasons designed to explain, if not to excuse, the intervention of Chinese Communists in North Korea. One would almost think that it is United Nations forces in Korea that have committed aggression and not the North
Koreans supported by the Chinese Communists ! It is said, for instance, that if the Central People’s Government of China had been recognized by all members of the United Nations and had been admitted to that body, if United Nations forces had not crossed the 38th parallel, if United Nations forces had stopped short of the power installations in North Korea and if United Nations forces had not appeared to threaten Manchuria, then the Chinese Communists would not have intervened. I confess that I am still astonished at the apparent readiness of some people here and elsewhere to find every conceivable excuse or explanation for the actions of the Chinese Communists and, at the same time, to criticize or suspect every action taken on behalf of the United Nations.
Government Suimporters.- Ilea 1’, hear !
– Whilst to my mind it is clear that Chinese “ volunteers “ gave their support to the North Koreans primarily because the North Korean forces, after their early successes, were about to be defeated, it is perhaps desirable to consider one or two of the so-called arguments that I have recapitulated, in order to demonstrate their falsity.
As is well known, the previous Australian Government had every opportunity before the last general election of recognizing Communist China. This it failed to do. The reason given by the Leader of the Opposition in this House (Mr. Chifley), namely, that the government of the day felt that it would not be proper to decide such an important matter just before an election, will convince no one. There is no doubt that the real reason for refusal to recognize Communist China at that date was a welljustified fear that the Australian electorate would have expressed in no uncertain manner its disagreement with such a decision. Even as late as the 28th November, 1950, when, during a debate, I asked the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) whether he proposed that we should recognize Communist China immediately, he at once responded, “ I did not say that at all “. That is a quotation from Hansard, No. 36, of the 28th November, 1950.
As far back as May of last year the Government indicated that it would keep under continuous review the matter of the recognition of the Chinese People’s Government. I pointed out, however, that we should need to be satisfied that that Government intended to live up to its international obligations, particularly in relation to non-interference in the affairs of neighbouring States. It is my considered view that there is much more involved in the matter of recognition than the mere test of whether a government is de facto in control of a country and is able to enforce obedience from tha people of that country. Such a test may have been sufficient in the days of the early part of the century, but in the modern world, which has already endured communism and fascism, there are deeper issues of a moral character which we disregard at our peril ; for were this test of de facto control to be the only test, then the control exercised by any aggressor nation, whether that of North Korea, had it been successful in overrunning the whole of the Korean peninsula, or of any other aggressor elsewhere, could often easily satisfy it.
The Government has made it plain on more than one occasion that, so far as it is concerned, the determination of this question depends primarily upon the conduct of the Chinese People’s Government itself. That still remains our attitude. To argue, as some do, that had the Communist government of China been recognized, or were it recognized to-day, the whole of the problems, as between them and ourselves, which now present themselves in Korea, in Formosa, and elsewhere in the Far East, could have been or would be speedily resolved, is to display a very superficial knowledge of any of those problems.
– Nobody said that.
– The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) seems to have forgotten what his own leader said on more than one occasion.
– I repeat that nobody said that.
– If the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) did not say precisely that, he used words which every body, including the honorable member for Lalor, recognized as meaning the same thing.
It should perhaps be pointed out that of the total of 60 nations that are members of the United Nations, 43 have not yet recognized the Chinese People’s Government, including, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. In any event, it is completely clear to any one who has followed closely the statements of representatives of Communist China, and the nature of the replies sent by them to official communications from the United Nations, that recognition of the Peking regime is only one of a series of interrelated demands which are put forward. The thesis of the Peking regime is, first, that the forces of South Korea committed aggression against North Korea. I hear in this House from time to time statements from honorable members opposite which would support a belief that the same view is held by them that the United Nations forces joined in such aggression, and that those forces should be driven out of Korea if they do not withdraw voluntarily. To suggest that a simple recognition of the Peking regime would have led to an immediate solution of the Korean problem and to a peaceful settlement in the Far East would be to express what must, at its best, be described as mere wishful thinking. I remind honorable members that the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers), who is an ex-Minister for the Army, said recently that we should bring the Korean episode to a close and that we should get out of Korea. When he was asked how that should be done he treated the House to a first-class piece of evasion. All that he wanted to say was, “ Let us stop this slaughter and get out. Let us fold up and get out “. If that is the attitude of the Opposition on such matters, then we shall never be able to counter aggression.
The second point that I consider deserves some comment is the often reiterated statement that the present difficulties between the Chinese Communists and the United Nations’ arise solely from the fact that United Nations forces crossed the 38th parallel.
With this statement I entirely disagree. Does any one who possesses any knowledge of what has taken place really believe that the crossing of the 38th parallel was the sole determining factor in Chinese intervention in Korea? In the first place, the scale of intervention was so great that it involved months of preliminary military preparation. Secondly, if it is still suggested that Chinese Communists intervened in Korea merely in order to keep the Manchurian border inviolate and to protect sources of power for Manchuria in North Korea, one can point to a number of occasions on which, at the highest level, assurances were given to the Central People’s Government of China that United Nations forces had no intention of crossing the Manchurian border and that satisfactory arrangements could be made to maintain power supplies to Manchuria from North Korea if the Chinese Communists agreed to a cease fire and to a peaceful settlement of the Korean incident.
However, the argument that we should never have crossed the 38th parallel - that it was, in the words of the Leader of the Opposition, great foolishness to do so - completely ignores the fact that the Chinese Communists themselves did not stay at the 38th parallel in their drive south. Through the Peking radio they have continuously expressed their determination to drive the United Nations forces into the sea. Apparently there is to be one rule for the aggressor and another for the victim and those who come to the victim’s aid. It appears that the Leader of the Opposition believes that as soon as the United Nations forces had reached the line which a team of surveyors had pegged as the 38th parallel they should have stopped, irrespective of the state of the battle, and allowed the North Korean forces, after having invaded South Korea, to withdraw behind their own borders, north of which we would have afforded them complete sanctuary, to enable them to extricate themselves and’ to regroup for further battle. Is that the way in which the Opposition proposes that we should deal with aggressors?
Finally, those who tend to blame the United Nations for having gone north of the 38th parallel completely ignore the moral grounds for the decision by the United Nations to resist aggression in Korea. Apparently they accord to the Chinese Communist Government a right to lay down some arbitrary limit, such as the 38th parallel, beyond which, in a territory that is not Chinese, United Nations forces are not to be allowed to advance and in which, as I have said, North Korean forces and their allies may find time to recover and regroup in order to launch attacks southward. Let us suppose that the Central People’s Government had warned us that any crossing of, say, the 36th or the 35th parallel would, bring dire consequences. Would it be said that the United Nations should have heeded that warning and advanced no further in the territory of another nation than to a line laid down by that Government? I do not doubt that the 38th parallel has some special significance for the Chinese Government. However, I do not accept the view that the crossing of the 38th parallel by United Nations forces was the primary or determining reason for the intervention of Chinese Communist forces in North Korea. The reason was much deeper than that.
I suggest that those who find cause to excuse or explain the actions of the Chinese Communists in Korea would do well to search the records for any indication that the Chinese People’s Government has demonstrated by its acts that it is anxious for a peaceful settlement of the Korean issue that will result in the people of Korea, by free elections, choosing their own independent government. It would be easy to refer in detail to the numerous statements made by various members of the United Nations, including Australia, making clear the limits of United Nations action in Korea, reassuring the Chinese Government that there was no intention to attack or threaten Chinese territory, and stating that the objective was to limit the area of conflict, keep the door open to peaceful negotiation and secure a peaceful settlement.
It would be easy to point to the various official offers for a peaceful settlement that have been put forward by the United Nations, such as the proposals made by the “ Cease Fire “ Committee consisting of the President of the United Nations General Assembly and representatives of Canada and India. The approach by that committee was abruptly rebuffed by the Central People’s Government, which declared “that it considered the committee to be “ illegal “. Eventually, the “ Cease Fire “ Committee was obliged to report to the General Assembly that it had failed. Nevertheless, the committee presented to the Political Committee of the General Assembly five principles which it considered would be a suitable basis for negotiations. The General Assembly thereupon asked the Secretary-General to transmit the principles to Peking and invite the People’s Government to inform him whether it accepted them as a basis for a peaceful settlement. The reply was couched in such terms that it could be regarded only as; in effect, a rejection of the United Nations’ offer.
Eventually, 44 members of the United Nations, including Australia, came to the conclusion -that the United Nations could no longer shut its eyes to the fact of Chinese Communist intervention in Korea and refrain from expressing moral condemnation of Chinese actions. That resolution was significant for two reasons. First, it maintained the essential unity of the United Nations in dealing with the Korean problem Secondly, it made clear to the world that the United Nations was determined to condemn aggression, irrespective of the source from which it came; that is to say, irrespective of whether it was committed by a small country or a large country. If the United Nations had not had the courage to pass that resolution, in the face of the open definance of the Chinese Communists and their refusal to accept reasonable offers for a peaceful settlement, the moral strength of the United Nations would have been seriously weakened and the resultant lack of confidence in its integrity might well have proved to be fatal. It would have sadly reduced the ability of the free nations to preserve the peace.
Perhaps I should remind honorable members that, although Australia voted
Ll«] for the resolution condemning Chinese Communist aggression in Korea, establishing a Good Offices Committee to continue peaceful negotiations and an ad hoc committee to consider whether additional measures should be employed to meet the aggression in Korea, the representative of Australia specifically stated that any concrete proposals by the Additional Measures Committee for further action would require the approval of the General Assembly, and that all governments would have the right to interpret and act upon such recommendations as they thought fit. In other words, although Australia agreed that it was necessary to state publicly that Communist China had committed aggres sion, it was the Australian view that any proposals to apply additional measures should be considered in all their possible implications, and that the Additional Measures Committee should proceed with great caution. It is still the aim of the Australian Government to do its utmost to limit the area of conflict, in the Far East and, while continuing military aid to South Korea, to continue also to exhaust all possibilities of peaceful negotiation with the People’s Government of China. These aims are preserved in this resolution.
– Order ! The honor: able gentleman’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) from continuing his speech without limitation of time.
– The present position in Korea is that the United Nations forces not only have recovered from the sudden onslaught of very large numbers of Chinese Communists which made it necessary for them to withdraw far south of the 38th parallel but also have successfully counterattacked and are now spread out across the peninsula not far south of the 38th parallel. Heavy casualties have been inflicted upon Chinese Communist forces in North Korea, which have found it difficult to maintain intact their lengthened supply lines from the Manchurian border. The Good Offices Committee, consisting of the President of the United Nations General Assembly and representatives of
Sweden and Mexico, is still trying to make successful contact with the Central Peoples’ Government with a view to entering into negotiations for a peaceful settlement. Meanwhile, the Additional Measures Committee, of which Australia is a member, has established a subcommittee, to which Australia has been appointed, to consider what further action should be taken against the Chinese Communists.
I can only express the fervent hope that the Central People’s Government will realize the urgent need to demonstrate by its actions that it really wants peace in the Far East. It has been obvious for many months past that the Central People’s Government could at any moment, by its own act, start the process of peaceful negotiation that could lead to an end of hostilities in Korea, a. diminution of tension and a gradual settlement of outstanding problems in the Far East. If the Peking Government remains completely intransigent, insists upon laying down its own terms and prefers to concentrate its efforts upon trying to push United Nations forces into the sea, -it can blame only itself for any consequences that might follow. The United Nations has shown extraordinary patience in dealing with Peking. This patience has been shown because the United Nations firmly desires a peaceful settlement of the Korean and other Far Eastern problems. The United Nations has made genuine and bona fide offers of peaceful settlement which so far have merely been turned aside. It is hardly reasonable to expect that these offers can continue to be made indefinitely with no response from Peking, while United Nations forces, especially United States forces, which have been sent tq Korea to help the South Koreans to resist aggression, continue to suffer casualties. It is in the interests not only of Communist China but also of the members of the United Nations that the Central People’s Government should at long last prove its bona fides by responding to genuine and reasonable offers put forward by the United Nations, which are designed to end hostilities in Korea and to facilitate a peaceful settlement in the Far East.
It seems to have been forgotten by many people that the assistance given by the
United Nations was for the purpose of repelling an act of aggression by one State against another. Our action stiffened the resistance of many other governments in Asia and elsewhere, which saw in it some assurance that they would not be abandoned if they were attacked in turn. There can be no question of withdrawing from Korea, except as a part of a proper settlement of the Korean question. If Korea were allowed to go under, with our consent, leaders in some countries in South and South-East Asia and Europe might be tempted themselves to come to terms with the Communists. It would not be ‘ a case of letting Korea go and not having to fight anywhere else; it would probably mean having to turn our attention to other threatened countries. The task of resisting aggression would become increasingly more difficult.
The Government is aware of the dangers and difficulties that lie ahead. It will do its utmost to bring this issue to a peaceful conclusion. It will continue to do all that it can do to limit the area of conflict, notwithstanding the impediments upon military action that such a course imposes. No major decision, whether of a political or a military character, such as those that may relate to the 38th parallel, is likely to be made without Australia being fully consulted. In the meantime, we shall continue to do all that we can do, in association with the other nations serving in Korea, to resist aggression.
At this stage I pay tribute to the remarkably fine exploits of all arms of the Australian forces serving in Korea.
In my statement to the House on the 28th November, 1950, 1 directed the attention of honorable members to the subject of the Japanese peace treaty and to my discussions with Mr. Dulles in New York on it. Honorable members will recall that a document outlining the views of the United States on the type of treaty envisaged by it as proper to end the state of war with Japan has been circulated to all countries represented on the Far Eastern Commission. The document listed seven principles, the general purpose behind which was to restore Japanese sovereignty without qualification and to bring Japan back as an equal into the society of free peoples. In my discussion with Mr. Dulles, I reiterated the policy of the Australian Government in relation to a resurgence of Japanese militarism and the need to provide safeguards against that contingency in the treaty. This viewpoint was also stressed strongly by New Zealand. Nevertheless, no substantial variation of the seven principles has been made by the United States as a result of its talks with representatives of other governments concerned. It is quite clear that they still represent, in the view of the United Slates, the essential points in any draft peace treaty.
The British Commonwealth Prime Ministers meeting in London from the 4th to the 12th January of this year provided an opportunity to assess the trend of thinking in other British Commonwealth countries on the Japanese peace settlement. All representatives were agreed that the international tensions that had markedly increased in the Ear East made it imperative that an early peace treaty be concluded with Japan. The London talks revealed, however, that the change in the world situation had at the same time had a marked effect on the approach of the United Kingdom Government and other British Commonwealth governments to the Japanese settlement. It was clear that the understandings on the basis of which a general measure of agreement had been achieved in 1947, when the Japanese peace settlement was discussed at the British Commonwealth Conference in Canberra, were no longer completely or even largely accepted.
Whereas previously it had been accepted as fundamental that adequate safeguards against a revival of Japanese militarism should be written into the peace treaty, it was now argued that Japan should be allowed the means to defend itself against aggression, that no provision should be inserted in the treaty imposing limitations upon Japan’s capacity to rearm, and that it would be dangerous to leave Japan incapable of defence against aggression. ‘ It was contended that Communist imperialism aimed at ultimate control of Japan with its industrial potential and extensive man-power, and that the entire burden of defending Japan could not remain indefinitely with the United
States, which had already borne a tremendous weight of responsibility in this connexion.
It was suggested, moreover, that no action should be taken by the democratic governments which would have the effect of throwing Japan into the arms of the Communist powers, or of leaving a power vacuum in Japan, which might be filled immediately from within and without by forces hostile to the free nations of the world. In the light of the views that I have expressed on more than one occasion, I need hardly say that the Government was not prepared to accept a position in which Australia, after having suffered so grievously from Japanese militarism, would be faced with the prospect of a rebirth and regrowth of that same militarism. Nor could Australia accept without substantial reservation the assumption that Japan would, if allowed some capacity to rearm, necessarily align itself with the forces of freedom. The attractions of a close link with aggressive communism, or of an opportunist neutrality could be even greater if Japan again became a great military and naval power.
The Government has not been convinced either, that other factors would, as suggested, necessarily operate to prevent a revival of expansionist Japanese policies. It is true that before and during the last war Japan drew its supplies of the raw materials upon which its aggressive strength was founded from Manchuria, China, and, to some extent, Korea, and that Japan is, in fact, dependent now on the Western world for strategic supplies. It is argued that effective controls could be applied if Japan showed signs of building up stocks of materials for offensive purposes. However, the enforcement of the measuresassociated with controls over strategic materials raises complex administrative problems and there is no sure guarantee that controls would operate early enough or effectively enough to prevent the accumulation of dangerous stocks. Again, it would be difficult to develop a worldwide system of controls over strategic materials. The Communist governments could not be expected to co-operate with the democratic powers in the operation of controls, and would be more likely to take advantage of the situation by seeking to attract Japan by making available raw materials from the Asiatic mainland. Nevertheless, a large proportion of strategic materials is controlled by the Western powers, and this fact could, as a supplement to other measures, be a useful means of ensuring that the capacity of Japan for aggression shall not be restored.
A much more tangible guarantee, not directly associated with the Japanese Treaty, is the fact that the United States has forces in and around Japan and that the Japanese Government, apparently, has indicated its willingness to enter into a separate agreement by which United States troops will continue to be stationed in Japan. The type of guarantee which should be provided in the treaty is also closely affected by the extent to which defence arrangements can be worked out in the Pacific which will deter any country from threatening the area and by so doing establish a basis for lasting peace in this part of the world. I shall discuss ike significance of a Pacific security arrangement in more detail later.
All these considerations were thoroughly canvassed in London at the Prime Ministers meeting, and the Australian and New Zealand viewpoint was clearly stated. Together with Mr. Doidge, of New Zealand, I restated the position that Australia and New Zealand took up in our conversations last month with Mr. John Poster Dulles, the President’s special envoy to negotiate the Japanese peace treaty. Let me summarize briefly the situation as it now stands.
First, there is a number of points on which the Government has reached general agreement with the United States and of which it can be expected that a majority of the signatories will approve. For instance, the Government has agreed that all countries represented on the Far Eastern Commission and, in addition, Ceylon and possibly two other countries, should be invited to become parties to the treaty. The Soviet Union is entitled to participate in discussions on the treaty and the door should be left open for such participation. Neither it nor any other power, however, can be accorded the power of vetoing any such treaty. It seems to be generally agreed, and Aus- tralia certainly supports the view, that J apan should renounce all claims to and” rights in Korea, whose independence it would recognize, Formosa, the Pescadores, the Ryukyus, the Bonins and all pre-war Japanese mandated islands; that Japan should accept the existing United States trusteeship of the former Japanese mandate and also a new United States trusteeship for the Ryukyus and the Bonins and that Japan should renounce all special rights and interests in China.
There is general approval for the view, which we support strongly, that Japan should be required under the treaty to accept the obligations in Article 2 of the United Nations Charter, which deals with the settlement of disputes by peaceful means, obliges members to refrain from threat of the use of force in their international relations and contains an undertaking to refrain from assisting any state against which the United Nations has taken preventive or enforcement action. The Government, of course, accepts the concept of a .supplementary bilateral treaty to be concluded between Japan and the United States outside the scope of the peace treaty, giving to the United States the right to station forces in Japan after the ending of the occupation. It is also agreed that Japan should accept the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and undertake to secure them to all persons under Japanese jurisdiction; that Japan should be obliged to agree and adhere to multilateral treaties dealing with narcotics and fishing; that the Allied Powers should, in general, retain Japanese property within their terri7 tories, whilst Japan, for its part, should restore Allied property or make payment in yen to compensate for lost value. In addition, the Australian Government is pressing strongly for the payment by the Japanese Government of adequate compensation for the sufferings of Australian prisoners of war who endured illtreatment over a long period in Japanese hands. Solemn assurances have been given to these men and to the relatives of those who died as prisoners of war.
On the other hand, the vital matter of security is still under active consideration. It would not be proper for me to recount in detail my talks on these aspects with Mr. Dulles and the New Zealand Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Doidge. I should like to say, however, that the Australian viewpoint in regard to the Japanese treaty was maintained. We agreed that it was essential not to leave a power vacuum in Japan which could easily be filled by unfriendly forces. No proposals for rearming Japan were discussed, but it was recognized that in due course Japan must be allowed the means to maintain internal order and to defend itself against external aggression. At the same time it was agreed that a resurgence of the old Japanese militarism would be a disaster. Ways and means of avoiding such possible developments were considered and various suggestions were made by Australia and. New Zealand which are now being examined in Washington. I understand that the State Department plans as a next step to prepare the first draft of a treaty and I have no reason to assume that the Australian proposals will not be taken fully into account. Certainly they have been clearly stated. In the judgment of the Government the Japanese Treaty should be based, inter alia, on the following two main considerations: -
The Australian Government continues to be of the opinion that, in applying the first of these principles to the actual terms of the peace treaty, the treaty itself should contain adequate safeguards against any resurgence of Japanese militarism and should in particular include explicit restrictions on Japanese rearmament, particularly naval construction and rearmament. I must point out to honorable members, however, that among those countries whose views have been made known to the Government, only Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines are advocating the inclusion in the peace treaty of any direct restrictions on
Japanese rearmament. In these circumstances, other guarantees and in particular the establishment of effective regional defence arrangements have become a matter of the first importance.
The case for a security treaty in the Pacific does not depend solely on the need for safeguards against renewed Japanese aggression. There are other more immediate dangers ; for example, the danger of Communist aggression. The basic consideration for Australia is that, as a metropolitan Pacific power, it must achieve adequate security arrangements in this region. We live here; our people dwell here. This fact is not always fully understood and appreciated by those whose primary interests and responsibilities are in other areas. May I remind honorable members that the countries of Western Europe and North America have already developed an effective security arrangement in the form of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization? Moreover, this organization has great influence in decisions on matters of overall strategy. Some members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have not contributed as much to securing international peace as has Australia through its contribution in two world wars and its share in current resistance to aggression in Korea and Malaya. Yet in the North Atlantic Council they have a direct voice in the formulation of policies which affect the security of countries not only in the North Atlantic, but, indirectly, in the Pacific as well. Unless a complete picture of the requirements for global security is presented when vital decisions are being made, there is a natural tendency for the interests of areas outside the Pacific to be over-weighted. It is therefore essential to establish, over and above the normal channels of diplomatic consultation, an organization in the Pacific which will provide machinery through which mutual aid and. political co-operation can be achieved.
Any Australian Government which takes a responsible view in regard to the future of this country must have as its primary concern the development of effective regional arrangements for the protection and security of Australia. I recall that the previous Government itself laid stress on such arrangements in the
Pacific. The necessity for regional security is even more evident now that Communist forces in Asia have revealed their aggressive objectives. The risks of the present conflict in Korea spreading throughout South-East Asia to areas even closer to Australia are real and should need no emphasis.
It was with these considerations in mind that I engaged in discussions overseas last year, exploring the possibilities of a regional security arrangement which has been frequently referred to in very general terms as a “ Pacific Pact “. In association with Mr. Doidge of New Zealand, I had further detailed talks last month with Mr. Dulles of the United States of America. I discussed the whole matter with the full realization that the nature of any regional security arrangement must be examined against the background of the Japanese Peace Treaty. My objective has been to obtain an arrangement which will benefit the whole of the Western Pacific area, guaranteeing friendly aid and protection in the event of a renewed threat of attack on Australia.
This Government has placed important emphasis upon close and cordial relations between Australia and the great Republic of the United States of America, and its approach to Pacific security has been in accord with this emphasis. The Government hopes that the discussion so recently held in Canberra between the representatives of the United States of America, New Zealand and Australia, will lay the foundations upon which will be built a permanent monument to our close association in the preservation of world peace and security.
I hasten to add that the Government is not seeking benefits for Australia without itself being prepared to bear its share of the burden arising from the demands of international security. Australia attaches great importance to mutual aid and mutual obligations in any defence or security arrangement in . the Pacific area. But this does not mean that Australia’s chief contribution to the defence of the free world will necessarily be in the South Pacific. The plain fact is that the capacity of Australia to discharge its responsibilities in areas outside. Australia whether inside or outside the
Pacific area will be directly affected . by the answer to the question of whether the security of our own shores is assured. The absence of such an assurance could militate against the provision of forces for other areas, and so directly affect any decision of the Government of the day on this issue.
It would be premature and unwise at this stage to discuss the details of any possible arrangement. Suffice it to say that our proposals were sympathetically received by Mr. Dulles, who, with his detailed knowledge of United States policy and opinion and constitutional processes, was himself able to contribute many helpful suggestions. I am satisfied that the United States Government will have received from Mr. Dulles since his return to Washington a clear appreciation of the mature of the problem as it presents itself to Australia and New Zealand, and of the possible ways in which it may be met. I must say in conclusion that I found Mr. Dulles, while cogently expounding United States views, most anxious to hear the case submitted by Australia and New Zealand. His warm understanding of the Australian position and his grasp of the historical and geographical basis for our concern at the lack of real security in this area, were paramount factors in making these talks cordial and satisfactory in every way. I understand that Mr. Dulles also considered that the exchange of views had been most valuable and helpful. To re-echo the words of the agreed final communique, the discussions represented “consultation at its best”.
The difficulties and dangers in .the world situation which lie ahead cannot be underestimated. They must not be underestimated, if we are to survive as a free people. The Prime Minister has sounded the urgency of the hour. None of us can see very clearly more than a little way ahead. For my part, it is my profound conviction that if, within Australia and beyond, we quickly and courageously measure up to our responsibilities and accept the present sacrifices involved; if, whilst building up our military strength as rapidly as we may, we earnestly, constantly and continuously seek peaceful resolution, wherever we can, of the issues which divide nations; and if we are wise and do not provoke a quarrel or au extension of any conflict, we may yet avoid the grim disaster of war which hangs like a cloud over the world.
Dr. Evatt having been given the call, Motion (by Mr. Gullett)- by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) from making his speech without limitation of time.
– I thank the House for the courtesy that it has extended to me. I do not wish my remarks to be unduly long, but I wish to deal in some detail with various important matters that have arisen during the debate. I shall refer particularly to the rearmament of Japan. However, before I proceed to do so, I express my agreement with the concluding remarks of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender), as well as with a great deal of the speech that he made to this House on the 28th November last.
First, I shall deal with one or two matters which are important in themselves but which seem to me, in the pattern of current world events, to be of relatively minor importance. One of these matters is the recognition of the Government of China. I have made my position clear on this issue. I agree entirely with the view of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley). Undoubtedly, Australia would have recognized the Government .of China had there been a conference, as was proposed at Colombo in January of last year, and had Australia been represented at it. The prevailing view within the British Commonwealth then was, and still is, that the Chinese Government should be officially recognized. A majority of British Commonwealth countries took that view. There was no conflict in Korea in January, 1950, of course, and the eventual intervention of Chinese forces in Korea established a new situation. However, in the long run, this Government will be compelled to recognize the Government of China, not necessarily because the people of Australia approve of that government, but because it is the government in control of China.
The attitude of the Opposition towards the situation in Korea has been made perfectly plain. It was not a decision of the Government but a decision of this Parliament that led to Australia’s intervention in Korea. The Opposition asked the Government at that time to take a clear political stand on the issue under the Charter of the United Nations, and also asked it to try to ensure that Australia should be properly represented on the military command in Korea. So far as I know, the .Government has adopted neither of our suggestions. Australia has had no voice in the supreme military command in Korea, although I consider that we are entitled to bc represented on that command. The opportunity to secure it was lost. There should have been some sort of authority on which Australia could have been represented. The Opposition regarded the 38th parallel as the boundary between North Korea and South Korea, which it was. United Nations intervention was based solely upon the fact that North Korea was a separate international unit from South Korea. When North Korea invaded South Korea, the United Nations Charter came into operation and, therefore, fore.” could be used under its terms to reDe! the invasion and restore international peace. When the 38th parallel had been effectively crossed, the campaign should have been regarded as having been won and everything should have been done to prevent any further attempt at invasion of South Korea. I do not mean that United Nations forces should have stopped immediately upon reaching the 38th parallel of latitude. I concede that suitable positions should have been taken and consolidated.
When war is openly waged between two countries, the country that is resisting an invasion is under no obligation to halt its forces at the borders of the enemy nation as it drives the invading forces back. Everybody knows that. But the conflict in Korea was not of that character. That was a case of action being taken under a charter which permitted the collective use of force to repel a particular act of aggression, which consisted in the crossing of the 38th parallel. No member of the Opposition has suggested, that the advancing United Nations forces should have stopped precisely at the imaginary line of the 38th parallel as it passed perhaps through the centre of a village. However, what has happened is that open differences of opinion have developed between some of the great powers, chiefly between Great Britain and the United States of America. The United Kingdom Government apparently objected to the advance of United Nations forces into North Korea. One must regard the Korean situation, not as a war between North Korea and other countries, but as an exercise of power under the United Nations Charter. The Opposition suggested that that view should be maintained by the Government, but unfortunately the Minister for External Affairs, when he went to Lake Success, made all sorts of statements about carrying the campaign as far north as the Manchurian border. The continued northward advance of the United Nations forces led to Chinese intervention. I do not pretend for a moment that the socalled volunteer forces of China acted without the full backing of the Chinese Government. I ain certain that they had the complete support of that government. All the evidence points to that fact. But does the United Nations to-day regard the Government of China as an aggressor? No, not in the same way as it regards North Korea as an aggressor. The situation is confused by such contradictions and anomalies.
The United Nations intervention in North Korea was justified. I do not think that there can be any question about that. However, I am appalled by the difference between the approach to this problem of the Leader of the Opposition and that of Ministers, which has become apparent during this debate. The Leader of the Opposition looks upon this problem as one in which the fortunes and the lives of humanity are . involved, and he is trying to find some solution which will prevent the catastrophe of a third world war from occurring. He did not deal in his speech merely with the probable alignment of nations in the event of another major conflict. I shall refer later to some of the observations that were made on this subject by the Minister for External Affairs. Is it not right that every avenue should be explored with the object of preventing another world war? Do people regard such another war as inevitable? Any such attitude can arise only from a counsel of despair and defeatism. The United Nations must not relax its efforts to bring about agreement on international problems. ‘ An important conference between representatives of the Great Pollinations has been called in Paris, and disputes are occurring over the agenda which the Foreign Ministers of those nations are to discuss there. Thus the diplomatic conflict goes on. There is a constant struggle between an apparently irresistible force and an immovable object.
What is to be our attitude towards countries in South-East Asia and the Pacific zone? As the Minister for External Affairs has said, Australia belongs to this part of the world. We must remain on friendly terms with our neighbours, particularly such countries as India, Indonesia and China. There are acute differences between Australia and some of those countries, but I believe that ultimately they will be resolved. I hesitate to give endorsement to the implied policy of the Minister for External Affairs, who considers these matters solely from the point of view of the probable line-up of powers in the event of a third world war. I say that it is the business of government to prevent war, and I repeat the words of Mr. Churchill in 1945, when he declared that a war with Russia and its satellites on the one hand and the western democracies on the other hand would be a shame and disgrace to the leaders of all the nations if it could possibly be averted. The effort to deal with differences of opinion between nations should not be abandoned. I shall refer later to the opinions of a man who is probably , the greatest historian of modern times. I know that the differences of opinion are acute, and that some persons assert that they are certain to lead to war. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has said that there will be a war in three years. I pray that he is wrong, and I believe that he is wrong.
– That was a distortion of the Prime Minister’s statement.
– I am glad to have that assurance. Perhaps I, like many others, was misled by the headlines in the newspapers. But there is an element of defeatism and despair in the very estimate of time.
If we assumed that international problems should be considered on the basis of the likelihood of a war with Russia, extraordinary contradictions would occur and new dangers would arise. Probably the best illustration of that fact is to be found in a consideration of the .proposal to rearm Japan. That is the outstanding problem which affects Australia to-day. The question is whether Japan should be permitted, or even compelled, as some commentators have suggested, to rearm.. It is an extraordinary fact that the Japanese Labour Federation, which represents millions of trade unionists, has declared recently its firm opposition to the rearmament of Japan from the point of view of the Japanese people themselves. The Japanese constitution forbids rearmament as a result of the acceptance of the precepts of the Allies after the termination of hostilities. It. appears to be clear that the Australian people are overwhelmingly opposed to the proposal that Japan should be permitted to re-, arm. A Gallup poll was conducted on this issue recently, and an enormous majority of the individuals who were consulted voted against Japanese rearmament. Their views, I believe, are based largely on the treacherous nature of Japan’s entry into the war in December, 1941. The people of Australia believe that anything that would tend to restore Japanese militarism would be entirely misplaced, especially having regard to the outrageous cruelties which were systematically practised by Japan during the war. Detailed evidence of those atrocities was obtained by the Australian Government and was placed by it before the War Crimes Commission. Those proceedings have not yet been completed. Reports relating to them may be read in the Australian press daily. In my view, the popular feeling is based on sound instinct, that is, that once Japanese, rearmament was commenced it could not be controlled and that Japanese military, air and naval strength would be used by a future Japanese government, not as is assumed by wishful thinking, as allies or agencies of the western democracies against China or Russia, but solely in the interests of Japan itself and with a view to regaining the powerful position that Japan occupied between 1919 and 1945. “When one peruses the written studies and reports of authoritative observers on the Japanese psychology and the rise of Japanese imperialism, one finds that although democratic movements have arisen in Japan from time to time and have achieved some little strength they have never succeeded in becoming a dominating force in the internal political life of Japan. That failure has been due largely to the enormous economic power of the Zaibatsu which specializes, like the Krupps industrial group in Germany, in the manufacture of armaments. Furthermore, it is true, as I think everybody who has written with authority on Japan has said, that often the real objectives of Japanese militarist expansion and economic expansion, as were evidenced by the co-prosperity sphere through Asia and in the Pacific, have been deliberately concealed. Even the famous Tanaka Memorial which, openly advocated aggression was repudiated until the Japanese became a menace in Asia. Those who a-re really experienced in Japanese methods are convinced that Japanese military domination is the real aim of those who are powerful in Japan, that there is a deep-seated hatred, or fear, of the “Western Powers and that the militarists are likely to prepare for a war of revenge if they are permitted to do so by either folly or over-trustfulness on the part of other countries. At the same time, no one can dispute the industry, ability and energy of the Japanese either as individuals or as a whole. I have no doubt that many Japanese profoundly desire to live a peaceful life and wish that their country will not enter upon military aggression abroad.
However, Mr. Sumner “Welles, writing when he was American Secretary of State towards the end of the recent war, said that there was never a doubt in his mind, that the Japanese military camarillas would keep alive their organization and “ plan for the eventual day of revenge “.. Mr: “Welles was convinced that three majorobjectives should be pursued in relation, to Japan. He stated them as the establishment of an effective world organiza-tion, the “ continued disarmament of.
Japan and the establishment of liberal economic policies that would afford to the Japanese people an outlet for improving their standard of living without endangering the peace of those whom they had attacked and despoiled. Those objectives were accepted by the allied nations and were embodied in the Cairo declaration, which was made in 1943, the agreement made in the Crimea in 1945, the Declaration of Potsdam which was made just prior to the surrender of Japan, and, finally, after the armistice, in the binding decisions of the eleven nations that are represented on the Far Eastern Commission. Honorable members should study those documents. The problem of the peace treaty with Japan is not new. A treaty has, in substance, been made in those documents. “Whereas Germany surrendered unconditionally, certain terms were offered to the Japanese Government and were accepted by that Government. They dealt with the limitation of the Japanese Empire, economic questions and the future of Japanese armament. They were dealt with in a final way by the Japanese and were embodied in a solemn document that was signed by Field Marshal Blarney at Tokyo Bay. The conditions of the Japanese treaty with a few, but not many, exceptions are to be found in those documents. In such circumstances, countries do not tear up a agreement a few years after it has been signed, but accept it as binding unless overwhelming evidence exists for reviewing it.
The recent visit of Mr. John Foster Dulles to Australia has again emphasized the fact, which I have already stressed, that under the internal constitution of Japan the Japanese people have formally “ renounced war for ever “ and have also’ renounced “ the threat or use of force as a means of settling disputes- with other nations “. Furthermore, the Japanese people have declared in their internal constitution “ that land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained” and that “ the right of belligerency of the State will not be recognized”. That was an extraordinary view to take, but it was taken by the Far Eastern Commission with regard to Japan, and actually the internal constitution of- Japan was modelled to conform to those decisions of the allied powers. That is why I said earlier that this is not merely a matter of permitting Japan to rearm ; in a sense, they are not permitted to do so while that constitution remains in force. That is not the final measure of what should be done, but it is conclusive proof of what the allied nations intended, lt is a solemn renunciation of war and must be regarded, not in isolation from, but in association with, the solemn agreements of the allied nations that fought in the recent war against Japan.
The very basis of the surrender of Japan was set out in the proclamation of the 26th July, 1945, and it was accepted in the instrument that was dated thu 2nd September, 1945. It is important to note what the terms of surrender prescribe. The three major allies, in addressing the proposal to Japan, stated that they would not deviate from those terms. They provided for the carrying out of the Cairo declaration. They declared thai Japan should not be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, and that it should be permitted to maintain such industries as would sustain its economy and permit the exaction of just reparation in kind, “ but not those which would enable Japan to rearm for war “. That is the exact offer that was made to Japan. The Far Eastern Commission was set up in Washington to implement and carrsout the terms of the Instrument of Surrender, and the Commission has almost discharged that task. That Commission, which consisted of representatives of all the eleven allied nations which were at war with Japan, unanimously laid down certain provisions that were to bind Japan. They were, first, territorial arrangements limiting Japan’s sovereignty to the four major islands and such minor outlying islands as might b* determined. Is it now proposed that that provision shall be changed? The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender; said that Mr. Dulles, in a statement that, he made in November last, said that thoseprovisions were to be reviewed. whether that statement represents the views of the Government of the United States of America I do not know, but no authoritative statements have been made in that respect on behalf of that country, which was a party to that agreement. Secondly, the agreement of surrender provided for complete disarmament and demilitarization so that Japan was “ not to have any army, navy, air force, secret police organization, or any civil aviation, or gendarmerie, but may have adequate civilian police forces “. Thirdly, the agreement provided that militaristic, ultranationalistic and anti-democratic doctrines were to be eliminated from the educational system. Fourthly, it was agreed that the existing economic basis of Japanese strength must be destroyed and must not be permitted to be revived. Accordingly, provision was made for the prohibition of the production of all goods designed for the use of any military force and for a ban upon facilities for the production, or repair, of implements of war, including naval vessels and all forms of ‘aircraft. Fifthly, the agreement provided for the elimination of those industries or branches of production which would provide Japan with even the capacity to re-arm for war. Sixthly, the agreement provided that large industrial monopolist groups - the Zaibatsu - were to be dissolved; and, seventhly, that reparations were to be exacted not only by way of equitable reparation for damage but also with a view to ensuring the destruction of the Japanese war potential in those industries which could lead to Japan’s re-armament. Under that provision, emphasis was laid upon the human destruction that had been inflicted by Japanese aggression. I agree with the Minister that under this category, it is right to include the claims of prisoners of war for compensation for their ill-treatment contrary to the laws of war and of humanity.
Broadly, those were the provisions of the agreement of surrender, and they covered the treaty. The Ryukyu group of islands, which runs southward to Formosa, and the Volcano and Bonin group, which includes Iwo Jima, were the only Japanese territorial possessions that were not dealt with under the agreement of surrender. It has always been the view of the present Government and of its predecessor that the United States of America should retain control of those bases. All these provisions that I have indicated were accepted in substance by the eleven allied nations represented on the Far Eastern Commission. In my view, it would be quite contrary to thu principles of international justice as well as to the interests of Australia for the Government to become a party to decisions that would repudiate an existing agreement that the eleven allied powers reached for a peace with Japan. It would be an extraordinary volte face if, the physical disarmament and demilitarization of Japan having, been undertaken and the task having been almost completed, the allied nations completely reversed the process and chose to run th* risk of a rearmed and remilitarized Japan contrary to binding international agreements and also to the constitution that the people of Japan have accepted. The forces under General MacArthur have very faithfully carried out the destruction of Japanese equipment and Australian forces have played an important part in that work. Is that task to be stopped completely in the sense that we shall assist in re-opening the dockyards at Kure for the Japanese Navy and in providing facilities for the development of the Japanese Air Force and Army in the future? I understand that from a technical stand-point it would be practically impossible for the Japanese to maintain effective land forces without a supporting air force. All the provisions that I have indicated were specifically laid down, and it would be extraordinarily risky and dangerous for the sake of expediency to go back upon them. But is it a matter merely of expediency? These settlements were made because they were regarded as just settlements. They were offers made to the Japanese Government, and accepted by that Government. They were signed by eleven Pacific nations, and I consider that it is elementary that the agreement cannot be altered without the consent of this country as a signatory to it. Who could be certain that, five or ten years after the rearmament of Japan had gone forward, the Japanese Government would not make demands that would have to be acceded to ? I submit that the only safe course is to adhere to the principles laid down in the settlements, which were not vindictive, because there was no attempt to crush Japan as a nation. On the contrary, the standards of living contemplated for Japan were those applicable to that area, and the Japanese people were not to be prevented from observing such standards of living. I consider that in this matter the Government would be wise to walk very carefully and to take heed of the opinions of the people of Australia. There is a difficulty, of course, and we know what it is. The Government can, and does, say that everything must be subordinated to the possible use of Japanese forces against Russia and China. Would such a proposition work out, even from the point of view of expediency, in the way that is desired? I suggest that the whole history of Japan negatives any claim that it would. In those circumstances, the only safe course is to adhere to what, has been decided, not by one Government, but by the governments of all the signatory nations, each of which gave years of consideration to this difficult problem that affects us so closely.
The final matter that I want to mention involves a deeper problem and poses the question of whether the Government is active in the United Nations in relation to narrowing the areas of difference between the western and eastern groups of nations. That process is going on in Paris but, as far as reports in the press show, without any startling success, although I noted that the United Kingdom delegate, on arriving in London from Paris recently, was by no means pessimistic. I have recently read a book which I consider to be of great importance in connexion with the broad problem that faces us. The book is Civilization on Trial, by Arnold J. Toynbee, the great English historian. He says in it that the whole nature of war has now completely altered, and that warfare has reached such development through the scientific genius of man that it is capable of annihilating the entire human race. Then he also points out that, parallel with that -
Class has now become capable of irrevocably disintegrating Society. . .
He refers to the challenge to civilization to-day which, unless it be successfully met, will destroy civilization, in these words -
We are thus confronted with a challenge that our predecessors never had to face. We have to abolish War and Class - and abolish them now - under pain, if we flinch or fail, of seeing them win a victory over man which, this time, would be conclusive and definitive.
That warning came from a man who is probably one of the greatest men that the world has ever produced. He has stated it in clear terms and has made it good because he has dealt with every historical aspect of the matter.
– How would the abolition of war and class be achieved?
– I appreciate the difficulties that that would present. Toynbee continues -
The new aspect of war is already familiar to Western minds. We are aware that the atom bomb and our many other new lethal weapons are capable, in another war, of wiping out not merely the belligerents but the whole of the human race.
He then refers to the class struggle which, he points out, has assumed a new aspect largely owing to technological developments. He says -
During the last five or six thousand years, the masters of the civilizations have robbed their slaves of their share in the fruits of society’s corporate labours-
He deals not with any one country but with the whole world, because his statement is not true of many countries, including Australia - as cold-bloodedly as we rob our bees of their honey.
The point of view that he there expressed must be considered. It is the same point of view as is implicit in some of the statement’s of the Prime Minister of India, Pandit Nehru. Toynbee says -
Thus the problems that have beset and worsted other civilizations have come tq a head in our world to-day. We have invented the atomic weapon in a world partitioned between two supremely great powers; and the United States and the Soviet Union stand respectively for two opposing ideologies whose antithesis is so extreme that, as it stands, it seems irreconcilable. Along what path are we to look for salvation in this parlous plight, in which we hold in our hands the choice of life or death not only for ourselves but for the whole human race?
I have been asked by several honorable members who sit on the Australian Country party benches a question to which perhaps Toynbee supplies the answer in the following statement : -
Salvation perhaps lies, as so often, in finding a middle way. In politics, this golden mean would be something that was neither the unrestricted sovereignty of parochial states nor the unrelieved despotism of a centralized world government; . . .
We. see, there, Toynbee rejecting views that are held widely to-day in relation to the problem of one world government, because a world government would govern everything, and so the people would not accept it. He favours more, I should say, a body like the United Nations, which, disappointing as some recent events have been, has done well in the few years of its existence. That is the political side of the matter with which Toynbee ha3 dealt. He then turns to the economic side, and says - in economics it would be something that was neither unrestricted private enterprise nor unmitigated socialism.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member may say “Hear, hear”, but what does Toynbee mean? He continues -
As one middle-aged, middle-class West European observer sees the world to-day, salvation cometh neither from the East nor from the West.
I say that that is the problem. Mr. Churchill, the great war leader, referred to it in 1945. He saw that war against Russia would not in itself solve the problem. How long would war against Russia last? Who can tell? It might last for ten years or twenty years. It might end very much where it had begun. It might not. I do not know. I am not saying anything against the necessity to prepare against emergencies, but at the same time, parallel with such preparation, we must exhaust every possibility of solving the problems themselves. I have never considered it to be impossible to do so. I have never understood the difficulty, when agenda for conferences are being decided on, that is caused by refusal to agree to all the agenda and so give an opportunity for a solution of all the problems concerned to be achieved. I know the nature and degree of the difficulties in connexion with achieving peaceful relations with Russia, and I know that probably by far the greater part of the blame for the failure of the Allies to continue their war alliances into the years of peace is attributable to the intransigence of Soviet Russia. I have seen examples of it at conference after conference of the United
Nations. At the same time, I do not believe .that efforts towards peace should be abandoned.
I was deeply impressed by the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) to-night as being the speech of a man struggling for the solution of the problem. The gist of his speech can be expressed in the words: “Prepare as much as you like, but do not assume the inevitable. Do not act, in relation to Japan, on the assumption that there is certain to be war with Russia and that in such a war Japan is certain always to be on the side of the Western democracies.” The Government may intend to take expediency as a guide all the time, but it never works out in international politics. It always proves in the long run to be inexpediency. Past examples illustrate the truth of that statement as far as Japan is concerned.
I do not wish to say anything that ii unnecessary to the argument that I am presenting. I do not even suggest that the study of the subject by Toynbee from which I have quoted is the final word on it. Of course it is not. But men and women of goodwill in this country are anxious for a positive approach to this problem of international affairs. Rearmament, yes! Rearmament, rearmament, rearmament ! Preparation ! Carry them far enough and the very momentum of rearmament will make war practically inevitable. Past experience has shown that to be a fact.
– The right honorable gentleman should tell that to Stalin.
– That is the kind of cheap interjection that shows that the mind will not, or cannot, listen. I have stated the position with regard to Japanese rearmament as merely one illustration of the general subject. I agree with a great deal of the statements that the Minister for External Affairs made in a speech last November. I am aware of the difficulties that exist in relation to the South Pacific. I agree with all that he said about Japanese rearmament, but I consider that the efforts towards peace should not be abandoned just because military preparations have to be made against possible emergencies.
.- The House, and humanity - and I emphasize the word “humanity” - are indebted to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) for the statement that he made to the House and for ‘the services that he rendered during his visit abroad. We are also indebted to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) for the very clear statement of Government policy on all aspects of foreign and international policy generally that he made to-night. But we have been staggered by some parts of the contribution to this debate that we have just heard from the right honorable member, for Barton (Dr. Evatt), because (hey completely disclosed to this House a lack of -realization of ‘the dangers thai face us now. He said that the- Prime; Minister and the Minister for External Affairs should show more confidence in, and desire for, peace than they have shown so far. The very nature of the Prime Minister’s visit abroad, and thu fact that he went to so much trouble to visit Malaya, India, Pakistan, Kashmir and other countries en route to England, and that he attended an important conference in London of the leaders of the British Commonwealth, clearly indicate that he has given himself to the service of humanity in the hope of preserving peace. The work of the Minister for External Affairs along similar lines at the many world conferences that he has attended also clearly indicates the Government’s desire for world peace. Ay the same time it is clear that the ord) way to preserve peace, and indeed the on > hope for peace, is for us and our allies to be strong enough and prepared to defend ourselves. The right honorable member for Barton disclosed his views clearly, and has left himself open to challenge on many of his statements. It is astonishing that a man so widely experienced in international affairs as the right honorable gentleman is, should preach the gospel of disarmament. The fact that he has done so clearly indicates that he is not facing the issue as a practical problem. As one honorable member said by way of interjection, it would have been better had the right honorable member made his speech to Stalin. In the first instance he dealt with the need for the recognition of Communist China. He then dealt with the movement across the 3Sth parallel of the United Nations forces in Korea, and after that he tried to convince the House that Japan should be left wide open so that communism could walk in and take charge of that nation, and so eventually make Asia a Communist continent from one end to the other.
– He did not say that.
– That was the implication of the right honorable gentleman’s speech. Such a statement gives rise to the further thought of whether the fact that the preceding Labour Government, in which the right honorable gentleman was the Minister for External Affairs, failed to allow the United States of America to occupy the naval base at Manus Island after World War II. was a part of the pattern of world action in the interests of a certain country. We are familiar with that technique. The people of Australia deply regret that they were not permitted to have the closer ties with the people of the United States of America that would have resulted from the granting of permission to America to continue to defend Manus Island. A powerful naval base in our near north would have protected us in time of peril.
Every practical person realizes that, whatever may be the outcome of the peace treaty with Japan, the representatives of that country were prepared to sign any kind of surrender- document at the time when it had been brought to its knees. The conditions of surrender may include adequate safeguards against a resurgent Japan, but we must bear in mind that a defeated country may not carry them out some years after the cessation of hostilities. We have, for our guidance, the experience after World War I. Mr. Woodrow Wilson, who was the President of the United States of America at that time, conceived the idea of the League of Nations, and general disarmament. It was a great ideal, which had the support of every freedom loving man. Members of the British Commonwealth and the United States of America agreed to disarm. Australia, as a member of the British Commonwealth, was a party to the disarmament treaty, and the peace loving nations went so far as to scrap a large part of their fleets, and to agree to limited naval construction in the future. Those arrangements would have been excellent had every country observed them.
– Well, what happened?
– We soon discovered what was happening. The disarmament ideal was fostered by the British Socialist Prime Minister of the day, but it was quickly found that certain countries could not be trusted to disarm. Indeed, they began to rearm in preparation for World War II. The rest is now a matter of history. World War II. began in September, 1939, and brought tragedy to mankind. After the cessation of hostilities in 1945, the democratic countries did not again fall into the foolish trap of disarming to such a degree that they could not withstand aggression. The United Nations was established with the object of guaranteeing freedom of speech, freedom from fear, and freedom from want. That organization has given to all free men a greater measure of protection than existed after World War I. It is fortunate for mankind that the United Nations accepted the challenge of the aggressor in Korea and that Australia, as a member of that organization, quickly made available forces to resist the attack. In due course, stability will be restored in Korea, and potential aggressors will be warned, by the prompt action of the freedom loving peoples, against plunging nations into war again.’ The United Nations would be ineffective if its members were not sufficiently strong to defend themselves against aggression. The Prime Minister has warned Australians that they have three years in which to put their defences in order. Critics of the Government claim that rearmament inevitably leads to war; that is to say, if weapons are made for defensive purposes, they will ultimately be used for offensive purposes. Theoretically, such an argument may have some justification, but in practical terms, we have a responsibility not only to ourselves but also to the future generations to ensure the security of this country. Australia owes a debt of gratitude to the Prime Minister for the services that he has rendered to it, and to the cause of freedom. While he was abroad, he had an opportunity to study some of the problems that arose from the granting of responsible government, to India and Pakistan, and from the troublesome area of Kashmir. The right honorable gentleman, when he attended the conference of Prime Ministers in London, doubtless discussed those problems with the representatives of other members of the British Commonwealth in an endeavour to reach a just settlement. His object was to preserve peace in our time, and to help the people, of those countries to attain a ‘higher standard of living.
It is appropriate at this time when we are celebrating the .50th year of federation to refer to the extraordinary development, of Australia in this century, and the responsibilities that it has acquired in the international, sphere. At th, beginning of the twentieth century, the Australian people lived under the protection of the British Navy. Britannia ruled the waves, and in those days, thi; country that controlled the seas definitely controlled the world situation. We in this somewhat remote part of the world were able to live in happiness and security within the sheltering arm of the British Navy. But science has been responsible for many changes in the las50 years. The development of the aeroplane has reduced the distances between various countries to such a degree thai Australia would now be as much in the front line in a world conflict as any othenation. It is obvious that our policy should be to maintain the closest cooperation with other countries, the outlook of which is similar to our own. Our primary objectives should be to strengthen the British Commonwealth, and to produce even closer unity with the United States of America. The achievement of such objectives will ensure the maintenance of peace in the world, and protection for ourselves.
The Prime Minister has warned Australians that they must put their defences in order against possible dangers from external sources.
– -There will bc a danger if Japan is rearmed.
– I have no doubt that, in the future, members of the Labour party will try to mislead the people b saying that in March, 1951, the Menzies Government did not warn them of the external danger. Such an assertion would not be true. The Prime Minister has issued a warning in the plainest terms, and if the people fail to heed it, they alone will be responsible for the consequences. Ti.ey will be called upon to accept many responsibilities as the defence programme is developed. I am sure that the people will not fail to accept those responsibilities because they are alive tq the dangers. They realize .that Australia had a close call during World War II., in which this country suffered serious losses. Honorable members have a responsibility at this time to support the defence policy of the Government, which will give security to the younger people, so that when they attain manhood and womanhood, they will not be the unprepared, victims of the dreadful tragedy of war,- or make such great sacrifices as Australians have made in the past. I am sure that the people, when called upon by the Government to meet the added burden of taxation necessary to finance our defence programme, will not fail to realize the necessity for it. We have the great responsibility of strengthening the Army, Navy and Air Force so that they will be prepared in time of danger to co-operate with the forces of other members of the United Nations to defend our freedom, wherever it is considered by the government of the day to be in the best interests of this country to defend it. We have yet another responsibility that is closely related to defence preparedness, and we should not fail to realize it. This nation has an obligation to play its part in providing supplies and equipment not only for our own forces, but also for those of our friends. [Quorum formed.’] It is interesting to see how few honorable members of the Opposition «ere present when one of their supporters called for a quorum. It is also interesting to see how few of them arc present when such important matters are before the House as those with which we are now dealing. That clearly indicates how honorable members opposite shirk their national responsibilities. When I was interrupted, no doubt in the hope that the interruption would cause me to lose some of my allotted time, I was dealing with the necessity to organize and increase our production of those things which are necessary in time of peace, and vital in time of war. It is necessary to organize for the increased production of food to fulfil the needs of our own people, our defence forces and our allies. At a time of great national crisis during the last war, when the American forces suddenly arrived in this country to save us from invasion, we had great surpluses of wheat, butter, meat and other foods. It was most fortunate that that was so at that particular time, because our own forces which had been recalled from overseas, the American forces in Australia and our own people had to depend upon our food supplies.
-Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I welcome the opportunity to discuss the report of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), because Australia’s destiny is bound, up with the events now taking place in other parts of the world. If this Parliament is called upon to make any decisions as a result of the Prime Minister’s report, I. hope that honorable members will not act unwisely or hastily because their decisions will affect the whole of our future as a nation. Of particular interest to Australia is . the Japanese peace treaty. It has been mentioned on several occasions during the course of this’ debate, and rightly so, because it is a matter that is exercising the minds of very many Australians* The likely effect of the treaty upon Japanese rearmament is causing concern to the Australian people. However, there is a general agreement among our people that the time has arrived when a peace settlement should be made with Japan. I suggest that any such settlement must give military security in the Pacific to Australia and all other countries which were victims of Japanese aggression during the war. It should also provide for economic niel to South-East Asia and should envisage a rising standard of living for Asiatic peoples. It is most important that these provisions should be made because we do not wish to see another war in the Pacific, and if we do not face up to our responsibilities in the Japanese peace settlement another war could easily arise.
From debates in this House and from press reports it appears that our ideas of a proper Japanese peace treaty are not the same as those that we held in 1945. When the war ended, ‘ almost all of the Australian people believed that Japan should be completely demilitarized. It was advocated that the old form of government should be abolished and a democratic government substituted. Australians at that time were of the opinion that the Japanese people should be given civil and political rights similar to those possessed by the people of the Western democracies. We believed that the feudal economy of Japan should be replaced by a modern economy which would benefit the people of that country. After five years not very much has been done to alter the Japanese except that lately America has made a move to convene conferences of the nations concerned to deal with this matter.
The proposed peace treaty has ‘been discussed since 1947, when General MacArthur made a plea for an early peace conference. It was also the subject of a conference in Canberra in August, 1947. One of the obstacles to bringing about a satisfactory settlement, which may prove insuperable, is the great difficulty about procedure. The United States of America is of the opinion that the decision on the matter should be by a twothirds majority of the thirteen nations that comprise the Far Eastern Commission, without right of veto. That has been consistently opposed by Russia and China, who have insisted that the Big Four must have the right of veto. Even Nationalist China and Red China agreed with Russia on that point. Behind these squabbles over procedure there are political differences which are responsible for the differences in the proposed methods of procedure. The most contentious issues are, first, whether the United States should have military bases in Japan; secondly, whether Japan should be rearmed, and, if se,, to what extent; and thirdly, whether there should be territorial changes. In October of 1950 the United States made the first tangible move towards, the signing of a peace treaty by circulating a draft of a proposed treaty to the other twelve members of the Far Eastern Commission. The conditions of that draft have since been amplified by Mr. John Foster Dulles, the foreign policy adviser to the American Department of State. The published statements of Mr. Dulles indicate that the draft treaty makes no provision against the rearmament of Japan, places no restriction on the Japanese economy and requires no reparations.
Mr. Dulles recently conferred with Australian Ministers on the problems of the peace treaty, and many people are anxiously waiting for the official announcement of the proposed terms. There has been a great deal of mystery about the draft proposals, and the bewilderment concerning them has not been dissipated by the communique issued after the talks between Mr. Dulles and the Australian and New Zealand Ministers for External Affairs. What the Australian people want to know is whether the Japanese are to be persuaded, pressed or assisted to rearm. If they are to be given the opportunity to rearm what effect is that likely to have in ten or fifteen years’ time upon security in the Pacific? I am not concerned about what will happen this year or next year, but I am greatly concerned about what may happen in ten or fifteen years’ time as the result of the rearmament of Japan. The great majority of the Australian people realize that the world situation is perilous, and that there is a threat of new aggression by militant communism in Russia or China. It is possible that Japan may be involved in any such aggression. I realize that strategic needs make strange bed-fellows, but Australia is one of the countries that helped to defeat Japan, and we are, of necessity, closely concerned with the suggested Japanese rearmament. We must carefully consider the dangers implicit in such a proposal. A communique issued by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) reads, inter alia -
It is essential not to leave a power vacuum in Japan which could easily be filled by unfriendly forces.
Later, the same communique states -
No proposals of any character to rearm Japan were discussed or considered.
I direct the attention of honorable mem: bers te the contradictions inherent in those two statements. It is possible that certain soothing assurances were given to our Minister by Mr. Dulles about the effect of Japanese rearmament, but I assert that there is still deep indignation and distrust in this country against Japan. Australia will not accept any assurances which make light of basic facts and realities. It is hard to believe that danger would not arise again if Japan were rearmed and unleashed from possible restraints, especially if the Japanese were imbued with ambition and a determination to find living room for their expanding population, to obtain sources of food and raw materials and to ensure overseas markets for their goods. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) pointed out in his excellent outline of the world position, the population of Japan has increased by 11,000,000 since 1945 and is expected to double in 50 years’ time. Therefore, Japan will shortly have to face the great and urgent problem of what to do with its surplus population. I am at a loss to understand how Japan could be a danger to Russia and act as a restraining influence upon Russian territorial ambitions. Australia will not be readily convinced that new strategic needs have banished the danger of a resurgent Japan. We must not find within a decade that we are confronted with a powerful militarist Japan eager to recover its lost, empire. Whether Japan should have fighting forces, and the range of industriesneeded to sustain them, is a matter that must be considered very carefully before a decision is made. I hope that the Government will face up to its obligations and not be weaned away from them by specious promises that may be given by some other country.
From what I have read I am afraid that when draft terms of the treaty eventually emerge it will be found that the proposals will be such as to set Japan on the way to becoming a country with a strong war potential. That in itself will constitute a danger to our sovereignty. Any restraints which may be included iri the treaty will have little effect if militarists once more get into the saddle, and from what I know of Japan it will not be long before they are firmly ensconced therein. Our primary concern in any peace settlement with Japan must be to protect and promote the best interests of the British Commonwealth, particularly those of our own country. Our primary interest in Japan, by reason of our war experiences, must of necessity be a very negative one, and we must not support any positive proposals which will make Japan emerge as a possible warmaker. We must ensure that whatever happens in the future Japan will not be able once again to become as powerful as it was in 1941. That is a perfectly understandable attitude because it is merely one which follows the instinct of self-preservation. From what I have been able to ascertain, I believe that the people who really rule Japan at the moment are of the same class and have the same outlook as those who were responsible for that country’s entry into the war in 1941. When we come to decide, if we are given an opportunity to do so, what industries Japan shall be allowed to have, we should approach the matter from the stand-point of the military security of this country and not from the viewpoint of any vested commercial self-interests. If we subscribe to the view held by a current school of thought that Japan should be strengthened in order to act as a military buffer between the Soviet Union and the United States of America, irretrievable disaster may. be Australia’s lot in the notfardistant future, because there would be no worthwhile guarantee that Japan would not seize the opportunity so presented to it to make another southward drive, with dire consequences to this country.
In the remainder of the time at my disposal I shall make a few observations on the Colombo plan, which I consider has not been discussed sufficiently in the Parliament. It was formulated in 1950, possibly with the best of motives. The underlying idea was that urgent steps should be taken to raise living’ standards and promote social welfare in the countries of South and South-East Asia. Since the conference of Commonwealth Foreign Ministers was held in Colombo in January, 1950, the British Consultative Committee has held three meetings. The scope of the plan is being developed. We have been informed that the total cost of the programme over six years has been estimated to be £1,868,000,000 sterling, of which Australia’s share will be £31,250,000. I understand that thi: Australian Government has agreed to contribute that sum.
Although the aims of the plan are wholly commendable, it must be recognized that more than one scheme of a similar nature has gone awry owing to maladministration and failure to ensure that goods and equipment intended to be used for special purposes did not fall into incompetent or corrupt hands. The experience of the United States of America in China and the Philippines emphasizes the need for safeguards to ensure that money and materials made available under this plan will go to their proper destinations. When I consider what happened in China and the Philippines, I begin to wonder whether this scheme will not suffer the fate that befell the American schemes for assistance to those countries unless adequate safeguards are provided.
The objectives of the Colombo plati cannot be achieved unless there is political stability in the countries that will be the recipients of aid under it, but some of the countries that it is proposed u< assist are beset by serious internal stresses, and there is evidence of a lack of firm governing authority in officeholders in them. For example, the quarrel between India and Pakistan over Kashmir is the cause of grave industrial and trading handicaps. It might be that, owing to the internal stresses at present operating in those countries, any money that we gave to them would be, in effect, poured down the drain. The worst that could happen under the Colombo plan would be a repetition, even on a limited scale, of the waste and misdirection of stores, materials and transport that were given to China by America and by Unrra in recent years. The failure of the large-scale gifts by the. United States of America to the Philippines to yield the desired results led to a recent investigation of the position by an American mission, with resultant charges that affected the integrity as well as the capacity of public men and officials in the Philippines. Enthusiasm about giving assistance to Asia should be balanced by sober appreciation of the facts.
I hope that at the first available opportunity details of the scheme, together with an explanation by the Minister for External Affairs, will be presented to the House. Honorable members would then be able to examine closely all implications of the scheme. I suggest that it can be made to work satisfactorily only by a close oversight of plans and the provision of the best possible safeguards against corruption and improper practices. It is a plan of great vision, but, having regard to the conditions that exist at present in the countries that will be recipients of assistance under it, I am extremely doubtful whether any money expended will not be entirely wasted and the purposes for which it was made available entirely overlooked.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Bba tic) adjourned.
Legislative Council for the Northern Territory - Hides.
Motion (by Mr. Beale) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to direct the attention of the House to an important matter that arises from a question which I directed to the Minister acting for the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) last Friday, in which I directed the attention of the honorable gentleman to the fact that assent to a certain measure passed by the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory had been withheld. Not one member of the council, which consists of elected members and nominated members, voted against the measure. The people of the Northern Territory are very concerned that a measure, which had as its objective the legalization of off-the-course bookmaking . in the Northern Territory, should have been allowed to lapse in this fashion after due consideration had been given by the Legislative ‘Council to whether it would operate . in the best interests of the people of the territory.- I do not think that any one would suggest that the members of the council would approve of legislation of that kind unless they considered it to be in the best interests of the people.
The Minister, in his reply, went to considerable lengths to stress the point that the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory is an advisory body and that he was exercising his discretion in allowing the measure to lapse. Bie also stated that he had to consider the impact that a measure of this nature would have om other Commonwealth territories, such aa the Australian Capital Territory and the Territory of New Guinea. What causes me most concern is the emphasis that the Minister placed on the advisory nature of the council. I contend that it was never intended that the council should be a body whose only function should be that of advising the government of the day. Indeed, its very name would seem to indicate that its functions were intended to be not advisory but legislative. I realize that the legislative powers of the council are strictly defined, but. within those limits, it has been charged by this Parliament with the task of making, not advising upon, laws for the peace, order and good government of the Northern Territory. Section 4 (u) of the Northern Territory (Administration) Act, under which the council was established, states -
Subject to this Act, the Council may make Ordinances for the peace, order and good government of the Territory.
It is true that the Administrator of the Northern Territory and the GovernorGeneral have power, under that act, to veto legislation passed by the council, but it was accepted by the people of the territory that that veto would be used only under exceptional circumstances. They have been fortified in that belief by the fact that, since the establishment of the council in 1948, not one measure passed by it has been vetoed by either the Administrator or the GovernorGeneral, despite the fact that some of the legislation passed by the council was not in accord with the wishes of the Government. On more than one occasion, Governmentnominated members voted with elected members to defeat Government bills but when those bills reached the Governor-General, assent was not withheld. An important principle is involved in this case, because the withholding of assent to the measure to which I have referred may be used as a precedent for vetoing future legislation passed by the council. The council consists of seven nominated members, six elected members and the Administrator, who acts as President and has a deliberative vote and a casting vote. Therefore, the Government has nine votes to six votes. The Administrator has a power of veto and, in certain circumstances, the Governor-General can withhold assent to a measure.
The House has been told that thu impact upon other Commonwealth territories of legislation passed by the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory has to be considered. I cannot see thu force of that argument, ‘because different conditions exist in the various territories. What we are being told, in effect, is that if a measure passed by the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory i.i unsuitable for application to the Aus tralian Capital Territory, that is just too bad for the people of the Northern Territory.* The acceptance of that point of view would render it essential for the council, when discussing proposed legislation, to consider the possible effect “f that legislation upon other Common wealth territories. That would be unreasonable, in view of the varying conditions that obtain in the various territories.
I want the Government to state itsintentions in respect of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory. Doethe Government intend to treat the council as a purely advisory body, or to allow it to assume full responsibility, within its statutory limitations, for its own legislative acts, the Government using the power of veto only in exceptional circumstances? The council at its last sitting passed a measure to amend the Crown Lands Ordinance. That measure has since been challenged by a pastoral association that consists chiefly of representatives of the big pastoral interests of the territory. They have protested against the passage of the measure, with a view to persuading the Minister acting for the Minister for the Interior to request the Governor-General to withhold his assent to it. The representatives of this body have already had a conference with officers of the Department of tha Interior with that end in view. I consider it to be wrong that an outside body should attempt to influence the actions of a Minister after legislation has been passed by responsible members of a legislative council, acting, in their considered opinion, in the best interests of the people as a whole.
If the Government intends to treat this council as a purely advisory body whose only function is that of advising the Government on matters that come before it, the elected members will believe, as did the members of a previous advisory council, that the amount of time that they have to spend on the business of the council, which amounts to approximately two months a year, will not be justified by the results. I ask that the Government endorse the legislative functions of this- council and strive to improve and expand rather than restrict its usefulness. In this direction only lies the path of progress.
Mr. ROSEVEAR (Dalley) [10.31 J.Last week in this House I raised the matter of the supply of hides to the tanning market. Seeing that the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) is present in the House and is probably interested in the matter, I should like him to state whether any action has been taken by the Government in relation to the delay in supplying hides to the tanning industry. During the war I had the privilege of being the Controller of Footwear and Leather Supplies for both military and civilian purposes, and I know the valuable work that the Australian Hide and Leather Industries Board, which was composed of representatives of the tanning industry, those interested in the gathering and sale of hides, and the footwear industry, did to meet the defence and civilian requirements of the Commonwealth. That board had the task of supplying, not only the armed services of the Commonwealth, but also those forces which came from America, Holland and other countries in order to assist in the war effort in the Pacific. I merely mention that fact in order to emphasize the importance of the gigantic task that was undertaken by that board. Without it I am sure, knowing the people associated with it as I do, that there would have been anarchy in the industry.
At present there is a case before the High Court of Australia-, the merits df which I do not intend to canvass, as it would be improper for me to do so. The question before the court is whether the Australian Hides and Leather Industries Board, which did this valuable work, should continue to function or not. At present much is being heard of the influence of Communists in industry and of trade unions delaying production, and it is amazing that not one voice has been raised on the Government side of the House concerning the fact that the tanning industry is being held to ransom to-day by these people who have hides under their control, with the result that hides are not being supplied to tanners, pending a decision of the court. Not only are employees in the tanning industry facing unemployment, but employees in the footwear industry also are faced with that prospect when stocks become exhausted. There will then be a complete dislocation of the tanning and leather industry, which plays such an important part in the equipment of the. defence forces. Honorable members who have been associated with those forces will know exactly what the result of that will be. Apparently, although honorable members hear a good deal about the alleged slowing down of production by trade unions they have heard nothing from the Government with regard to the boycott of the market for hides which threatens the employment of thousands of people in the tanning and footwear industries. What is more important, in view of the fact that the Government intends to have a very early call-up of large numbers of men for the defence forces, is the fact that this boycott will probably threaten supplies for those trainees.
It is time that the Government took some action in this matter. ‘I realize that it cannot prevent these people from contesting the rights of the Governmentappointed board. But in view of the possibility of the footwear industry being starved of its requirements, I consider, that the Government should take some action to rectify the position. Another danger is that, the industry may lose skilled artisans who may, if worse comes ro the worst, be scattered to the four winds, with the result that they may not return to the industry when the Government requires them for the production of military, naval and air force supplies. It is the duty of the Government to do something about this position but, up to the present, all that I have received from the Minister has been a plea of complete ignorance of the existence of these circumstances. Let me warn him - because I know the difficulties involved - that it is not a state of affairs that can be a llowed to continue.
– I have not said a word about this matter.
– That is my complaint.
– You have not asked me.
– I have not asked you, but I asked your leader and if you. had been interested-
– Order ! The honorable member will address me.
– Yes, Mr. Speaker . I was led astray because, apparently, the Minister thinks that he is of such importance that I should address him. I addressed his leader and the Minister heard the question. I asked the Prime Minister yesterday what developments had taken place and what information he had gathered but apparently he had not been sufficiently in touch with the Minister to discover the position. The Minister may laugh at the whole matter. I remind him that, because he laughed at people who advised him, he was shut out of the rubber market. Unless he takes some action in this case he may be shut out of the leather market, which, may be nearly as important as the rubber market in the equipment of the forces for the waiwhich ‘honorable members have been told is only three years distant.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented: -
Audit Act-r-Fin.ince - Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts .and Expenditure for year 1949-50, accompanied by the Report of the Auditor-General.
Ordered to be printed.
Social Services Consolidation Act - Report by the Director-General of Social Servicesfor year 1949-50.
Ordered to be printed.
Australian Broadcasting Act - Eighteenth Annual Report and Balance-sheet of the Australian Brodcasting Commission, for year 1949-50.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Immigration purposes - Mount Barker, South Australia.
House adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
r asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1. (a) The Cockatoo Island Dockyard Agreement Act, No. 73 of 1933, provides for the lease of Cockatoo Island for a term of 21 years commencing on the 1st March, 1933, and thereafter until either party gives notice of intention to determine the lease on the expiration of two years therefrom. (6) With effect from the 1st March, 1940, a further agreement was made with the Cockatoo Docks and Engineering Company to .govern the conditions under which work was to be performed by that company during the war. It is known as the Wartime Agreement. It provides that the Iea.se under the Cockatoo Island Dockyard Agreement is to remain in force, but if any inconsistency exists between the two agreements the Wartime Agreement is to prevail. The Wartime Agreement is to continue in force for six months from the date of cessation of hostilities of which the Minister for the Navy shall be the sole judge and thereafter until determined by six months notice from either party. The Wartime Agreement is complementary to the lease.
r asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister acting for the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Eleven editions have been produced and screened by the News and Information. Bureau since the 1st January, 1950.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 March 1951, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1951/19510314_reps_19_212/>.