21st Parliament · 1st Session
Mb. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the- chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Treasurer tell the House, without giving the precise figure, the position in regard to treasurybills outstanding at present and over the past three months, and what changes have occurred during that period?
– I shall treat the question as being on the noticepaper, and shall give the right honorable gentleman an answer to-morrow.
– I direct roy question to the Prime Minister. There is an organization in South Australia known as the South Australian Blind Welfare Association, and its main object is the building- of homes for aged, unemployable blind persons. I understand that it is the Government’s intention to spend approximately £1,500,000 in subsidizing the building of homes for the aged. Can the Prime Minister tell me when it will be possible to begin the expenditure of these funds, and over what period they will be spent, and also whether an organization such as the South Australian Blind Welfare Association will be entitled to be subsidized from this money ?
– I regret that I cannot at the moment answer the question. We are working out the details of the proposal, and as soon as possible we shall announce them. I am aware that many organizations such as the South Australian Blind Welfare Association are interested.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Is he aware that the Commonwealth Trading Bank is informing some Victorian approved cooperative building societies that finance cannot be made available to them for four or five years? Will he make inquiries, and if that is so will he ensure, as Treasurer of this Commonwealth, that these societies are furnished with the necessary finance to carry on their essential work?
– I shall have the matter inquired into, but. I shall not give the guarantee the honorable member asked for.
– Because availability of money is governed by responsibility.
– I ask the Minister for Supply whether it is a fact, as has been reported recently, that there have been unprecedented dismissals of workers from the Bell Bay aluminium project, and that there is wide unrest among the employees there. Will the Minister indicate the progress that has been made at Bell Bay and when the plant will go into production ?
– There have not been unprecedented dismissals of employees from this project, and there is no widespread dissatisfaction among them. I am informed by the Australian Aluminium Production Commission, which is composed of competent businessmen, that the turnover of labour at Bell Bay is by no means greater than that on comparable construction projects in Australia.
– What does that mean?
– It means that we are in the process of building at Bell Bay a great aluminium plant that will go into production next year. It is obvious that as the work proceeds through various phases the services of carpenters, bricklayers, and other workers, will be no longer required and will be dispensed with. In fact, by way of illustration, at the begining of 1953 the labour requirement at Bell Bay was 695 and in June last that number had fallen to 364 as the construction work neared completion. There have been a number of staff changes including one or two dismissals owing to incompetence and also other changes which were due to personal reasons and had nothing to do with the management. Following persistent allegations that discontent exists at Bell Bay, I visited the project and found that most of the complaints that had been made were with respect to living conditions, sewerage, housing and the water supply, all of which matters fall within the jurisdiction, not of the Australian Government, but of the Tasmanian Government. In respect of the only matters that directly concerned the Australian Government, rectification was made. As an indication of the spirit that now prevails I point out that recently, at the instance of the men themselves, when 600 of them were asked whether they were prepared to continue to work on the project when the production of aluminium was commenced, 400 indicated that they wished to stay and take such work as might be available. I have been asked when the project will be ready to commence the production of aluminium. It will be ready to make such a start early in 1955. The works could have been ready for that purpose now but for the occurrence of power difficulties which confronted the Tasmanian Government. However, the Tasmanian Premier has promised that adequate power will be made available; and, this being so, production of aluminium will be commenced early in 1955.
– I desire to announce to the House that during the absence abroad of the Minister for Labour and National Service and Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt)-
– What again !
– The Minister is visiting the honorable member’s friends, the Mau Mau. During the Minister’s Absence, the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) will act for the Minister for Labour and National Service, and the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) will act for the Minister for Immigration.
– Is the Prime Minister able to inform me whether it is correct that some time ago he wrote to the Lord Mayor of Newcastle and suggested that the Newcastle City Council should endeavour to make arrangements for the construction nf an aerodrome at that city and that the Australian Govern ment would ultimately take it over when it had the requisite finance available for that purpose? If this be true, does the right honorable gentleman suggest that the city of Newcastle should also find the funds for the acquisition of the land required for the aerodrome; or will he endeavour to see whether funds can be made available for the acquisition of such land in order that a start can be made on filling-in operations as a first step towards the provision of an aerodrome for this important city?
– I recall writing a letter in some detail on the matter that the honorable member has mentioned. .1 shall be glad to furnish a copy of that letter to the honorable member, and should any question arise in his mind, perhaps, he will ask me about it in due course.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Civil Aviation been drawn to the fact that, during the last general election campaign, his predecessor said that he realized the urgent necessity for reconditioning and repairing the Mareeba aerodrome? Will the Minister give consideration to implementing the views of his predecessor in this regard?
– I am not aware of the statement that the honorable member says my predecessor made regarding Mareeba aerodrome, but I shall be pleased to have the matter examined and to do what is necessary.
– I ask the Treasurer whether the re-opening of the London gold market has had the anticipated effect of enabling countries outside the dollar and sterling areas to use sterling currency in financial, trade and other transactions with other members of the group. Has the re-opening of this market had the effect of simplifying exchange formalities for sterling area traders? Has it also had the effect of attracting countries, which previously bought and sold gold in terms of dollars, to transact their operations in sterling?
– Th( answer to the first two questions that the honorable member has asked is in the affirmative. With respect to his third question, I have no authoritative information at this juncture that would enable me to give an accurate reply; but I should be very surprised if the answer to that question also is not in the affirmative.
– In view of the hope that Canberra may soon have a bottled milk supply, will the Minister for Health have prepared for publication locally a statement assessing the relative merits, both hygienically and economically, of glass bottles and of specially prepared paper containers for home delivery and the retail sale of milk?
– I shall be pleased to look into the matter that the honorable member has raised.
– Is the Minister for the Interior in a position to inform the House when he expects to receive the general report concerning the Commonwealth census that was taken on the 30th June last? Docs he intend to make a statement to the House relating to that census ?
– I am afraid that I can answer the honorable member’s question only, in a general way, because the census really comes under the administration of the Prime Minister’s Department. As far as I know, the general report on the census will probably be available in two months’ time, but I think that the full report will take about six months.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Supply. Is there any Commonwealth co-ordination, supervision or check on the frenzied rush by private companies to get into uranium mining in Australia? Is there a central clearing house of uranium information, discoveries and sale? Is the Commonwealth buying uranium from companies and individuals which are mining uranium to-day and will mine it in the future? If the Commonwealth is buying uranium from them, can the Minister inform me whether the price paid is world parity, or whether the Government is making a profit by buying the uranium at less than world parity?
– The answer to the first part of the honorable member’s question is “ No “. The Government is not exercising any supervision, to use his own word, over what he calls the “frenzied rush” of uranium share buying. If people think that they can make money on the share market, that is their business. If they burn their fingers in the process, that is also their business. The Government is not making any contribution to that form of excitement. There are too many details in the remainder of the honorable member’s question for me to give an answer offhand, but I shall treat it as being on the notice-paper, and furnish a reply.
– Will the Minister for Supply say whether the Commonwealth owns a DC3 aircraft, fitted with a scintillometer or electrical apparatus which can detect, while the aircraft is in flight, radio active areas in the ground below? If the Commonwealth has such an aircraft, has the Government agreed to make it available to aid in the search for uranium in Queensland? If so, when will the aircraft be made available for that purpose?
– The Commonwealth possesses more than one aircraft, and certainly one DC3 aircraft fitted with the scintillometer apparatus. That machine is operated by the Bureau of Mineral Resources of the Department of National Development, and has been freely used in prospecting for uranium on behalf of Commonwealth authorities. It has also been loaned to various State governments to assist them in their search for this mineral. My recollection is that Queensland has already been helped, but if that State has not already received assistance in this respect, it is only because the demand for the aircraft has been so heavy that we have been unable to make it available. I have no doubt that as soon as it is available it will be used to give assistance to the Queensland Government.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to a statement made by the Australian Country party candidate for the Division of the Northern Territory during the recent general election campaign to the effect that the Menzies Government had denied full voting rights in the Parliament to the honorable member for the Northern Territory because he was a member of the Labour party, and that if the Australian Country party candidate were elected, the representative of the electors of the Northern Territory would be granted the same voting powers in the Parliament as the representatives of the people who reside in the six States ? Will the Prime Minister inform me whether he or the Leader of the Australian Country party made such a promise to the Australian Country party candidate for the Northern Territory? Has he any comment to make on this important matter?
– I had the great pleasure recently of visiting Alice Springs, and the second part of the alleged statement to which the honorable member for Brisbane referred was brought to my notice on that occasion. I had not at the moment heard the first part of the statement. I was told that one candidate had said that if he won, the Government would give full voting powers-
– Who was the candidate?
– I merely heard about this matter. I do not know. But whoever the candidate was, he had no authority to make such a statement, and I made that position clear publicly in Alice Springs. No promise or authority had been given by this Government about future voting rights, and I can speak as one with some personal interest in the matter, because the first and existing voting right given to the honorable member for the Northern Territory was granted on my own proposal when I was the Attorney-General.
– The Minister for Territories will be aware that a consider able number of relatives of deceased servicemen will travel to Port Moresby on the. 8th September next to visit graves at the Bomana war cemetery. Can the Minister inform me whether any transport arrangements have been made for visitors to proceed from Port Moresby to Bomana, which is a distance of about 12 miles? If arrangements have been made, will any charge be imposed?
– Recently, the Minister for the Interior, who watches Australian interests on the Imperial War Graves Commission, referred to me the fact that a party of relatives was being organized to visit war cemeteries in Papua-New Guinea. On receipt of that information, the Administrator of PapuaNew Guinea was very happy to be able to make arrangements for the transport of members of the party once they reached the shore at Port Moresby. I am sure that the Administrator intends those arrangements as a gesture of sympathy and goodwill to the party, and that no charge will be made for the transport.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether the Government has been made aware of the appeal by the Mayor of Hanoi, in Northern Indo-China, for assistance to feed and maintain the vast numbers of refugees who have fled from the Communist terror to that city to seek transport to the southern areas. If so, in view of the universally expressed sympathy with these innocent victims of the Geneva agreement, will the Government offer immediate aid to relieve their distress and to help provide transport for them to non-Communist areas?
– I have not seen any report of such an appeal, but I shall certainly have the matter investigated and will give sympathetic consideration to it.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether, as a gesture of goodwill, and also as a means of contributing to our future security, he will emulate the example of the United States of America and arrange to send some of Australia’s surplus wheat to Indo-China for use of starving refugees in that country.
– No doubt this matter, in common with others, is under consideration in the appropriate quarter. 1. can say nothing more about it at this stage.
– Will the Minister for Health reconsider his decision concerning the issue of fruit juices to school children in place of milk? There are many parts of Australia, such as the low rainfall areas, where fresh milk is unobtainable in any quantity, and fruit juices would provide an excellent substitute. Apart from the nutritive value of the fruit juices, the Minister would greatly assist the fruit industry in its present difficulties if he agreed to this practical, economical and reasonable request.
– The position is that the Parliament, when it passed the legislation providing for the issue of free milk to school children, did not include in the measure any mention of citrus or cither fruits. The Minister cannot go beyond the scope of the act. I point out that several State governments are carrying out experiments designed to enable milk to be prepared in a liquid form so that it may be made available to school children in the districts that the honorable member has mentioned.
– In the light of developments in South-East Asia and the necessity for preparing for possible emergencies, I ask the Minister for Defence whether the Government will give consideration to the provision of a naval base with essential docking facilities on the Western Australian coast, and also whether it will consider the stationing of a bomber or reconnaissance squadron at Pearce to replace the withdrawn Neptune squadron?
– The matters that the honorable member has mentioned will receive the consideration of the Government.
– I address a question to the Minister for External Affairs. Has the Minister seen recent reports that the Netherlands Government intends to send naval and air force detachments to Dutch New Guinea ? If these reports are correct, has the Minister any information on whether it is intended that the Dutch forces shall co-operate with the Australian services in the overall defence of New Guinea?
– I am broadly aware of Dutch proposals to station additional naval, and, I think, air force detachments also, in Dutch New Guinea. The matter is not within my immediate departmental purview and I have no knowledge of any proposals for joint defence arrangements in the area between the Dutch and Australian forces. Doubtless, my colleague who deals with this matter will have information on the matter that is not in my possession.
– Can the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration say whether effect will be given to the promise of the Minister for Immigration that he would call a meeting with State Ministers of Immigration prior to the submission of the budget to this Parliament? Will the Government give financial help to the States to enable them to meet the heavily increased burdens placed upon them as a result of the immigration policy of this Government?
– I am not aware whether the Minister for Immigration made such a promise. However, I shall have the whole matter examined and will reply to the honorable member as soon as possible.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Supply, who is acting for the Minister for Immigration. Does the Minister recall a previous question regarding the allegedly inadequate landing and reception facilities for immigrants at the port of Melbourne, and the reply that the facilities were considered to be suitable and that any temporary inconvenience caused to immigrants and their relatives domiciled in Australia had been adjusted? Does the Minister know that the arrival at Port Melbourne of the last two vessels carrying large numbers of immigrants was accompanied by confusion, turmoil, disturbance and fatigue?
Will he give an assurance that in the near future genuine efforts will be made to overcome the obviously unsuitable landing facilities at Port Melbourne?
– I have no knowledge of the alleged confusion, turmoil, disturbance and fatigue, to which the honorable member has referred. I remember a question asked of my colleague in the House some time ago, but at present I have no personal knowledge of the matter. I shall have inquiries made and shall give the honorable member a reply as soon as possible.
– I ask the Minister whether he will be good enough to consider immediately the propriety of demands for back board, amounting in each instance to hundreds of pounds, that are being served under the threat of legal proceedings on former residents of the Goulburn immigrant hostel. I was in touch with the Minister for Immigration on this matter, and he informed me on the oth July that he was arranging for the chairman of directors of Commonwealth Hostels Limited to communicate with me. Though I have since given the Minister for Immigration a reminder, the communication has not arrived. As I realize that the Minister who is acting for him will not be fully aware of the circumstances, may I point out that full board has been claimed for a period of months during which the residents of the hostel refused meals and regarded themselves solely as tenants. The making of these demands has been delayed for twelve months or more, and the residents have long left the hostel, which has now been closed.
– I shall have the matter investigated and will give the honorable member a reply as soon as I can.
– I ask the Minister for Supply, in view of an agreement being entered into between the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America for the purpose of conducting certain experiments at the long range weapons range at Woomera, whether the Australian Government has relinquished any control over the range and, if not, whether he will ensure that, the Government is fully advised of all experiments that may be undertaken by either of the two governments that I have mentioned.
– As far as I know thereis no such agreement as that to which the honorable member has referred. Sometime ago the Australian Government invited a group of American guided missiles experts to visit Australia. They did so, to the great benefit, in my opinion, of both America and Australia. The American Government, in return, recently invited some Australian experts to visit, a range in America. Nothing has happened involving .any agreement between the two governments along the lines indicated by the honorable member.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that he furnished replies to questions, directed to him by newspaper representatives, concerning si payment of £5,000 made by the Commonwealth to a former official of the Soviet Embassy in Australia. If so, can he state why he is prepared to answer such queries put to him by press representatives whilst he refuses to answer questions on the same subject directed to him bv members of this Parliament?
– I recall that at one press conference something was mentioned about this matter. If I made any statement on it at that press conference - of which there will be a verbatim record - I shall willingly make it available to honorable members.
– I desire to supplement the answer that I gave to the question asked by the honorable member for East Sydney with regard to the payment of money to Petrov I now have before me a transcript of the questions put to me at my press conference and my answers to them. The relevant part of the transcript reads as follows: -
Question. - In the course of the Petrov inquiry evidence was given that Petrov was paid £5,000.
– I see that some evidence was given about £3,000. There was some examination about it.
Question. - Was that paid by Security and approved of by the Government
– I thought the Royal Commission had set out to inquire into this. I am not a witness before the Court. I understood there was evidence given about payment and then there was some cross-examination or evidence about its propriety or impropriety and so on. The Royal Commission will deal with that.
Question. - Has the Government any responsibility to maintain Petrov on this scale for the rest of his life?
– I don’t know any responsibility that the Government has accepted. [ daresay Petrov’s future is quite undefined.
It will therefore be seen that what I said in my press interview was in substance identical with what I said in this House yesterday.
– On Thursday last the honorable member for Mackellar addressed to me a question in reference to the presence in the press gallery of this chamber of a certain journalist representing a Communist newspaper. I have examined the position thoroughly. The people of Australia have decided by vote that the Communist party is a legal organization. The newspaper that the gentleman in question represents is registered for transmission by post as a newspaper. In the circumstances my attitude is that any journal that desires to be represented in the press gallery must conform to the usual rules.
Opposition members interjecting.
– Order ! There is a well-known standing order that requires honorable members to be silent while the Speaker is addressing the House. The first of the usual rules is that the journalist in question must make application to the Serjeant-at-Arms for what is known as a press pass, which entitles him to the use of the gallery. The second rule is that his personal conduct in the gallery shall conform to the standards accepted by this House.
– Having regard to the reply that you, Mr. Speaker, have just given, I ask the Postmaster-General whether he will discharge the duties and exercise the powers that are laid upon him by sub-section (2.) of section 30b of the Crimes Act and, exercising his powers under the Post and Telegraph Act, deregister the newspaper in question. May I say, in explanation, that sub-section (2.) of the section of the Crimes Act to which I have referred reads -
Any newspaper registered under the Post and Telegraph Act, which is issued by or on behalf of or in the interests of any unlawful association, shall be removed from the register.
Section 30a of the Crimes Act, in particular sub-section (1.) (a.) of that section, makes it clear that the unlawful associations to which the act refers are not merely those so declared by the court, but also associations which by their constitution and propaganda, or otherwise, advocate or encourage certain things which, in my view, the Communist party manifestly advocates and encourages. Whilst I appreciate the Minister’s reluctance to reply to my question until proceedings before a certain royal commission take a more definite form, I request him to turn his mind to these questions and to inform the House at an early date what he proposes to do.
– I am afraid that 1 am unable to answer the question that, the honorable member has asked having regard to the terms in which he has couched it. I, as Postmaster-General, do not possess power to determine what constitutes an unlawful association. I shall examine the other aspects in respect of which the honorable member has asked me to exercise my powers. However, I point out that the .registration of newspapers by the Postmaster-General’s Department is governed largely by their advertising content and circulation and by other technical considerations.
– I ask the Minister for Health will he remove the approval given to the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia unless it immediately increases the rate of benefit payable to contributors and reduces the amount of contribution required 1 A statement made recently on behalf of this fund indicates that neither of these improvements can be expected for some years. As citizens are required to belong to such privately controlled funds in order to obtain Commonwealth health benefits, will the Minister examine the position that last year this fund collected £401,000 in contributions and paid out only £166,000 in benefits? Will he also examine particularly the amount spent in directors’ fees and administrative costs from money paid by contributors to this British Medical Associationcontrolled fund?
– The Medical Benefits Fund of Australia, like other similar contributory funds in this country, is under a legal obligation to keep its expenses at not more than 15 per cent, of total income. I have no doubt that that obligation is being well met. Insofar as reserves are concerned, I am satisfied that, because of the rapid growth of this particular fund, it will need much more than £400,000 as a reserve. 1 should like to see the fund with £4,000,000 at its disposal, if that amount were necessary to make it certain that everybody who needs its services would be able to obtain them.
– Will the Minister for the Army confer with the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration and the Treasurer, with a view to preventing the breaking up and sale of the army camp establishment at Bathurst, which for some years was used to house immigrants? In view of events in the Pacific area during the past few months, will he make this matter one of urgent importance so that the camp, together with its excellent appointments, may be preserved for use by the army should the occasion unfortunately arise?
– On several occasions the honorable member has made this request of me, and on each occasion I have given consideration to it. That particular camp is in excess of the requirements of the army, and has been made available to the Department of the Interior for disposal.
– But it may be needed in the future.
– Will the Minister for the Army inform me whether he has carefully perused the two Army reports of the findings of the military court of inquiry appointed by the Army to investigate the tragic Stockton Bight amphibious disaster? If so, did he find any mention of possible irregularities of procedure committed by an officer or trainee prior to or during the manoeuvre If there is any such mention, will the Minister reveal the nature of the irregularities ?
Mr- FRANCIS.- It would not be proper for me to discuss the contents of the report at this -juncture as the honorable member has been told in reply to previous questions on this subject. It would be contrary to established practice always followed in Australia to do so. To ease the honorable member’s mind, I can give him the emphatic answer, “No”, to his last question.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services to inform the House whether the promised payment of money on a £1 for £1 basis to those building houses for the aged, will be available to the Alburv Old Aged and Invalid Pensioners Association, which has raised about &j,000 towards building rest rooms for the aged in Albury?
– The first question addressed to the Prime Minister to-day was on a similar subject, and the only answer that I can give to this question is exactly the same as that given by the right honorable gentleman. The matter is now receiving consideration, and in due course a decision will be made by the Government. As soon as that has been done, we shall be able to decide whether the special case mentioned by the honorable member will be covered by the decision made.
– Is the Minister for External Affairs aware of any criticism that has been raised against Australian Government delegates to the recent International Labour Organization conference at Geneva? Did those delegates have authority to vote at the conference and, if so, did they use their vote in favour of allowing Communist employers to- sit at the conference?
– The fact that Soviet Russia had just joined the International Labour Organization did raise a problem at the International Labour Organization conference at Geneva. Some of the Australian employer delegates criticized the fact that Russian so-called employer delegates were allowed to attend the conference on terms that were equivalent to those of other employer delegates. The Australian delegates probably thought that the delegates of the Russian Government, the Russian so-called employer delegates and the Russian employee delegates would vote in precisely the same manner lest something should befall them. It was necessary, therefore, that some criterion should be adopted. A number of the democratic countries agreed that the employer delegates from those countries and from Soviet Russia should be people who had some form of managerial responsibility. Only an arrangement of that kind enabled the delegates from Soviet Russia to take part in the deliberations of the various committees.
– In view of the fact that at the Geneva surrender the French Government agreed to hand over the major part of Indo-China to the Soviet imperialists, will the Minister for External Affairs inform the House whether the Australian Government has made inquiries in relation to the intention of the French Government on the French possessions of New Caledonia and the New Hebrides, both of which territories are adjacent to Australia and may be of great strategic importance to our defence? If the Australian Government has not made inquiries, will it open negotiations immediately with the French Government in relation to the future of these areas? In any case, will the Minister emphasize to the French Government our vital interest in these islands and our determination that they shall not pass into the hands of potential enemies?
– The Australian Government has made no such inquiry. I, personally, would not propose that such an inquiry should be made. There is no parallel between the position in Indo-China, where the French have been actuated by force majeure, and the position in the French island possessions of New Caledonia and the New Hebrides. I do not think that the Government would make any such insulting inquiry of the French Government.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. Does the Minister arrange for Australian representatives who are being trained for overseas posts to see our more important economic activities so that they shall be fully acquainted with both primary and secondary industries before they go abroad?
– Yes. Within the lastyear or two I initiated a new projectin relation to incoming cadets of the Department of External Affairs. They are given an opportunity of seeing some of the major industries and the principal economic areas of Australia before they join the department and, more particularly, before they go to overseas posts. At the age at which cadets enter the department’s service their knowledge of Australia, other than of the area from which they hail, is limited. Consequently, without special training they would be unable to answer many questions that might be asked of them overseas. The department has selected eight or nine economic regions of Australia, representative of both primary and secondary industry, to which parties of about a dozen cadets at a time undertake conducted tours in the charge of persons who are engaged in the activities and industries to be studied. The result is that departmental officers acquire a wider knowledge pf Australian conditions and affairs than was possessed by many officers of the department a few years ago, and this knowledge serves Australia and themselves in good stead when they go overseas.
– Has the Prime Minister seen the draft resolution of the seventeenth conference of the Australian Communist party, which is to take place in October, in which great emphasis is placed on the forming of a united front between Communists and the Australian Labour party? Will the right honorable gentleman invite the attention of the Leader of the Opposition to the use being made by the Communists, in the draft resolution, of the fact that the Australian Labour party opposed the introduction by this Government of machinery for court-controlled union ballots, and will he invite the Leader of the Opposition to clarify the Australian Labour party’s attitude in view of the misuse being made by the Communists of a former attitude which, one might reasonably hope, is no longer held by the majority of the members of the Australian Labour party?
– I have not seen a copy of the document in question, and I should be glad to have a look at it. What invitations I might issue on the strength of it I hesitate to say.
– I desire to ask the Minister for the Army when the Government decided to place upon new Australians in the specified age group an obligation to render service under the national service training scheme, approximately how many of those affected have registered, and how many have completed or begun their training?
– This matter is dealt with by the Department of Labour and National Service, which is responsible for calling up national service trainees for all three services. I shall be able to ascertain how many new Australians have been called up after the present intake has been completed, and not before.
– Has the attention of the Postmaster-General been invited to a recent announcement of the Country Women’s Association expressing alarm because it was believed that the introduction of television would increase amenities “ in our grossly over-swollen cities and would accentuate the disparity between the conditions of city-dwellers and those who live in the country? If the Minister is aware of the association’s expression of opinion, -will he tell the House the Government’s view on the matter?
– I cannot at this stage tell the honorable member the Government’s views. The report of the Royal Commission on Television will be considered soon. But I can say that the matter was carefully considered by the royal commission, which has given a very full expression of opinion on it.
– by leave - On the 5th March, 1952, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) informed the House of the Government’s decision to send No. 7S Fighter Wing of the Royal Australian Air Force to the Middle East to join the Royal Air Force forces in that area. I now desire to inform the House that the wing which is at present based at Malta will shortly be brought back to Australia. A decision to send the wing to Malta on a two-year tour was made following a conference of British Commonwealth Ministers which I attended in June, 1951, when the United Kingdom Government invited other Commonwealth Governments to replace temporarily some of the Royal Air Force Squadrons in the Middle East.
The wing has been in the Mediterranean theatre of operations since July, 1952, and from an operational viewpoint the two squadrons and the ancillary units comprising the wing have gained valuable experience. They took part in a big North Atlantic Treaty Organization manoeuvre which was one of the biggest and most realistic exercises ever staged in Europe. In addition, they have been constantly exercising in the Mediterranean zone in army support and fleet co-operation. The wing has consistently maintained the high prestige of the Royal Australian Air Force and has contributed and gained much goodwill among the United Kingdom, New Zealand, United States, French and Italian air forces operating in that theatre.
– Pursuant to Standing Order 17, I lay on the table my warrant, nominating Mr. Bird, Mr. Bowden, Mr. Edmonds, Mr. Luchetti, Mr. McLeay and Mr. Timson to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees.
– You did not ask us, Mr. Speaker, about that matter.
– I was not obliged to do so, and I do not intend to do so.
– by leave - Honorable members will wish to have an account of how the present situation in South-East Asia came about - the events, the circumstances, and the negotiations, that have led up to the present position - and what is likely to flow from it. This will be a factual account, reflecting, amongst other things, the part that Australia, has played in the great drama that is being played out in South-East Asia.
Do not let us fall into the error of believing that the present situation in Indo-China has come about only in recent months, or even in recent years. The fact is that when I was first in Indo-China, in 1951, the situation was not greatly different from the situation that existed just before the armistice a few weeks ago. In 3951, and, indeed, for some appreciable time before 1951, the Communist Viet Minh were in varying degrees of control of a large proportion of Viet Nam. The recent and rapid deterioration was only the final crumbling of an edifice that had already been very seriously undermined. It can be said now that in the recent negotiations, whereas the non-Communist side negotiated from a position of weakness, the Communists negotiated from a position of strength in that they had not only become dominant in the field but also had, over a period of years and by one means or another, undermined the political allegiance of a formidable proportion of the population of Viet Nam. The French had never really re-established their control of the country after the end of
World War II., and, although the three associated States - Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia - had been given independence within the French Union, it was very difficult for any one to say exactly what this independence meant. Consequently, large numbers of Vietnamese, and to a lesser extent Cambodians and Laotians, did not think that they could exercise effective independence through cooperation with the French authorities. There is no doubt that the Viet Minh, though completely under Communist control, originally had a strong nationalist basis and continued to have nationalist elements in their ranks. On the other hand, the non-Communist regime did not have sufficient nationalist appeal of its own, with the result that large numbers of non-Communists remained neutral in the struggle rather than offering active resistance to the Communists.
It must be remembered that the French Government consistently held over the years that the problem of Indo-China was a domestic matter, and that they would not agree to the fighting being internationalized or to the matter being brought before the United Nations. When M. Letourneau, the distinguished French Minister for the Associated States, visited Australia in 1953, at the invitation of the Australian Government, he made the views of the French Government known to us. However, France was willing to accept an appreciable gift of military and other equipment that the Australian Government was glad to make available as a contribution to the military effort in Indo-China.
At the beginning of this year, the Communist Viet Minh were in positions of considerable strength in a great many areas throughout Viet Nam. They were especially strong in the North, which, of course, was adjacent to Communist China which was able to give them encouragement and supplies. Their military strength grew steadily. The French, despite all their efforts and despite great sacrifices of French life, never really succeeded in rallying the Vietnamese themselves to resist the Communist Viet Minh. It -became obvious that, if a solution wa3 to be achieved by military defeat of the Viet Minh, the French could not do it alone. It is hard to see what even outside military participation would have achieved in view of the attitude of- a large portion of the Vietnamese population.
This was the background of the Geneva conference that was called together in an effort to restore peace in Indo-China. The Conference on Indo-China was attended by the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Soviet Russia, Communist China, Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia and the Viet Minh. It will be seen that the conference was confined to its original convenors - Britain, America, Russia and France - and to those States that were directly involved in Indo-China - Laos, Cambodia, Viet Nam and the Communist Viet Minh. Australia and New Zealand agreed not to press their claims to be parties to the conference so long as the membership was not extended beyond that which I have mentioned. Thailand and Burma, which have a common border with Indo-China, were not members, nor was the Philippines, which was much closer to the area of trouble than we were. If the IndoChina conference had been larger than it was, it would have become unwieldy and the chances of success would have been reduced.
I was present at Geneva from the 24th April to the 3rd May, and again in June, after the Australian general election, when the Geneva negotiations were reaching their climax. While I was overseas, I ensured that our Australian views were kept prominently before the representatives of the principal countries concerned, particularly the British, the Americans, and the French. During my absence from Geneva, the Australian delegation was led. by Sir Alan Watt, the Australian Commissioner in Singapore. I also had intimate and prolonged discussion with the leaders of a number of Asian countries, including Mr.. Nehru in New Delhi and some of the Pakistan Ministers in Karachi.
On my way to the Geneva conference in April, I spent several days in Saigon in order to acquaint myself with the situation there. As I reported to the Government at the time, the political nature of the problem in Indo-China was clear, and also the limitations to what could be achieved by military means. r.- [vi]
The. very considerable military effort of the French, and Vietnamese had not achieved, a solution, and did not look like achieving one. In addition, the Indo-China question had to be viewed as part of the: wider objective of keeping South-East Asia independent and out of Communist, control. I felt we should look for a political, settlement of the problem in Indo-China - a negotiated settlement - recognizing the realities of the situation. I may say, at this point, that our Australian diplomatic posts in South-East Asia have proved of very great value in making it possible for us to have an up-to-date appreciation of this complex situation at all stages.
In London, prior to Geneva, I had discussions with Sir Winston Churchill, Mr. Eden, and other relevant members of the British Government. The Geneva Conference achieved no appreciable result in the first six week or so of its meetings. I will not complicate the story of IndoChina by attempting to deal now with the discussions on Korea which were going on at the same time at Geneva. It is enough to say that no Korean settlement was arrived at. In April, the French and Viet Nam forces were waging an unequal conflict at Dien Bien Phu against the Viet Minh. Talk of intervention, particularly in the air, in order to save the situation, was being widely canvassed at that time.- Our Australian view was that such intervention would be wrong for the following reasons: - It would not have the backing of the United Nations. It would put us in wrong with world opinion, particularly in Asia. It would probably embroil us with Communist China. It would wreck the Geneva conference, and it was most unlikely to stop the fall of Dien Bien Phu. These were the views that I expressed on behalf of the Australian Government to Mr. Dulles, Mr. Eden, and other leaders at Geneva.
In the course of the early stages of the conference, a meeting of the Anzus Council was held at Geneva. I took the opportunity, on behalf of the Australian Government, to push the proposal that a meeting of military representatives of relevant countries at the highest level should be held as soon as possible so that we might have established by the most competent military authorities whether a lasting solution in Indo-China could be reached by continuation of the fighting. We also wanted to have a military evaluation of the situation that would confront us in South-East Asia if no negotiated settlement was reached at Geneva. I also pursued independently with Mr. Eden this question of a meeting of high military representatives.
These military talks eventually took place in “Washington on the 3rd June, and resulted in a report which has been of considerable value to the governments concerned. As a result, the shape and size of the military problem in SouthEast Asia is much better understood. On the 4th June, before I left Australia for Geneva on the second occasion, the Australian Cabinet had a full discussion of the Indo-China question. By this time, of course, Dien Bien Phu had fallen and theFrench Union forces were making further withdrawals in the Bed River Delta. It was already clear that there was no prospect of the French reinforcing their already substantial forces in IndoChina nor of increasing the scale of their military operations in Indo-China if a settlement on reasonable terms was at all possible by negotiation. In fact, the French Government was under considerable pressure in Paris to come to terms with the Viet Minh. Against this background the Australian Cabinet believed that the most practical and realistic course open was to secure a negotiated settlement on the best terms possible. Cabinet was of the opinion that Australia’s efforts should be directed towards bringing about the following results : -
I may say that I believe Australia did much to get acceptance for the proposition that Laos and Cambodia should be regarded as in a category different from that of Viet Nam; and that this should be made a point of substance in negotiation with the Communists. The reason for this was that the peoples of Laos and Cambodia are racially distinct from the people of Viet Nam. The Communist Viet Minh were largely, if not practically wholly, of Viet Nam origin. Consequently the presence of Communist Viet Minh troops in Laos and Cambodia could be properly regarded as an invasion, whereas their presence and acitvities in Viet Nam could be regarded as in the nature of a civil war.
When I left Australia for my second visit to Geneva the talks had reached a point of deadlock and it appeared that the negotiations might even break down. However, on the 16th June there was some movement in the Communist position in Indo-China, the Communists having previously been completely uncooperative. In particular, they agreed to treat Laos and Cambodia differently from Viet Nam. From that date, events moved fairly quickly towards the ultimate settlement on the 20th July. M. Mendes-France, the new Prime Minister of France, who assumed office on the 20th June, undertook to bring the IndoChina war to an end within a month or resign, which was a very courageous thing to undertake. The later stages of the negotiations with the Communists in respect of Indo-China were conducted entirely by the French at the direction of M. Mendes-France. He succeeded in his self-imposed task. Agreements for an armistice were reached on the 20th and the 21st July, and the fighting came to an end a few days later.
To sum up : At the Geneva conference, the views of the Australian Government on Indo-China that I made known in private to our friends can be summarized as follows: -
That the French should give genuine independence to the States of IndoChina.
That the situation of Laos and Cambodia should be considered as a separate proposition from that of Viet Nana.
That the integrity, autonomy and the right to govern themselves of Laos and Cambodia should be guaranteed by the relevant powers.
That whatever solution of the IndoChina problem might emerge from the Geneva conference should be in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
That the other South and South-East Asian countries should be moved to associate themselves with whatever settlement emerged from Geneva.
That the only chance of a political settlement in Viet Nam lay in a division of authority in that country between the North and the South.
That there should be a declaration of pacific intent - in other words, of non-aggression - by all the countries concerned with South-East Asia.
That there should be in addition a South-East Asia treaty organization, or defence organization, in which those countries which felt themselves able to do so should engage themselves to resist any further aggression by force of amis if necessary.
On the 24th July, the Australian Cabinet reviewed the settlement reached at Geneva, and the Prime Minister issued the following statement on behalf of the Government : -
The Australian Government takes note of the agreements now concluded by the participants at the conference at Geneva on Indo-China. The Government welcomes the ending of hostilities in Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam, and expresses its willingness to play its part in the consolidation of peace in the area.
The United Kingdom, France, Soviet Union, Laos, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Chinese People’s Republic and Viet Minh have undertaken, in their relations with Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam, to respect the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of those States and to refrain from any interference in their internal affairs. The Australian Government welcomes this undertaking.
For its part, the Australian Government will, in regard to the settlement, apply the principles of thu Charter of the United Nations, including Article 2 (4) in which all members have pledged themselves to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State. The Government of Australia would view aggression in violation of the Indo-China settlement as a threat to international peace and security.
It would be quite wrong to say that the Indo-China settlement is all that we would have wished for. It must be remembered that the settlement was reached by direct negotiation between M. Mendes-France and the Communists, and that other States were not parties to these negotiations. It is, however, in my opinion, the best settlement we could have hoped for in all the circumstances.
It is easy to pick holes in the settlement. What is there to be said in its favour? In the first place, the settlement means that Laos and Cambodia will have complete independence. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Communist China, and the Viet Minh, as well as the non-Communist representatives at Geneva, agreed to respect the integrity of these States. I attach importance to this. It is the earnest hope of Australia that a large number of Asian countries will follow suit and recognize Laos and Cambodia, too. It has become quite clear that true independence is a prerequisite to any real resistance to communism. People must have a stake in their country; then they will realize that if they are overrun their independence will be lost irrevocably. This loss of freedom has happened in countries with a greater tradition of liberty and independence than the new States in Asia. We must remember that independence will not flourish unless it is nurtured and unless people are ready to fight for it.
In the second place, the settlement has brought the fighting to an end. This in itself reduces the possibilities of a world war developing. Whenever the armed forces of two or more countries are face to face, there is always the danger of incidents which might broaden out into more severe hostilities. Wars do not stand still. They either expand or contract. The ending of hostilities is in itself an achievement.
In the third place, the settlement in Indo-China gives us a basis on which to try to build a wider settlement in the Far East. No one is very happy about the motives of the Communist powers in making this settlement, and none of us believes that communism has abandoned its objective of world domination or its tactics of taking over countries one by one by infiltration and subversion. But it may be that the Communists will see that it suits them no less than us for the States of Indo-China to be genuinely neutral and to be an area geographically separating the Communist and nonCommunist worlds. If so, the settlement in Lido-China may turn out to be a substantial contribution to achieving the security of the South-East Asian region - but only if a collective defence is built up in South-East Asia to balance the Communist military potential, which is very considerable as we know, to the north of Indo-China.
We must not forget the ordeal of the people of Indo-China, especially of Viet Nam. They have suffered heavily, in life and in property, during the fighting over the years. Many of them are now passing under Communist rule. I am thinking in particular of the Catholic communities, which are so numerous and so important in the Red River delta in the north. Christianity in Indo-China is of long standing, as it goes back to the early seventeenth, century - nearly 350 years ago. Those who wish to be withdrawn from the north and resettled in the south must have every opportunity to do so, as promised in the Geneva settlement.
The big question mark hanging over the settlement is the partition of Viet Nam. Under the Geneva settlement this partition would be temporary only, and elections are envisaged for 1956 in an effort to unify the country. The settlement has not made the military demarcation line the permanent political boundary, as such a solution could not be agreed upon between the two sides. Among the Vietnamese the urge for unity of their country is very strong. Preparations are to be made by the representatives from the north and from the south of Viet Nam for the elections to be held in 1956. The discussions will begin about a year from now. The elections will be under the supervision of a commission consisting of India, Canada and Poland. Many difficult questions will have to be resolved. It is up to the rest of us to give the people of Southern Viet Nam whatever assistance and encouragement we can in developing democratic institutions and genuinely nationalist aspirations. I hope to be in a position to table copies of all the agreements reached at Geneva shortly - possibly to-morrow. Some of these documents have not yet been made public.
From what I have said, it will be seen that there have been two strands in the thread of our policy in South-East Asia. The first was the Indo-China question, where we sought a negotiated settlement in accordance with the realities of the situation, which did not, unfortunately, make practicable a solution at all closely in accord with our wishes. As an essential part of the Indo-China settlement, we wanted to get an understanding among the countries of the free world - and a treaty organization to implement it - that they would not allow the freedom won for Laos and Cambodia in these .negotiations, and the agreed arrangements for the disposition of Viet Nam, to be destroyed at some time in the future by the threat or use of superior force in violation of the Geneva agreement. This seemed to us to be an integral part of a settlement in which concessions had to be made to the superior bargaining strength of the Viet Minh and the Chinese Communists.
This leads naturally to the second of Australia’s aims, which is the achievement of a collective defence in South-East Asia. Australia has long sought an increased degree of understanding on defence matters in this region. We have in the past participated in various discussions with a number of powers. From April onwards, the movement towards such an arrangement gathered momentum. The meeting in Washington of the five-power military representatives, of which I have already spoken, helped to give a common basis for the military judgments of a number of the ‘countries which were ready to (participate in the arrangement.
It has .been the consistent policy of this Government to work quietly through diplomatic channels and through private discussions - not loudly through the press, radio, and conference chamber - to direct and attract the interests and attention of our most powerful allies to the importance of South-East Asia. These efforts of ours have not been without success and we greatly welcome the growing interest and concern of the United States of America over ‘the past five years in East and South-East Asia. Let us never forget that, had it not been for the sacrifices of the people of America, Korea would now be a Communist State and the threat to Japan would be greatly increased.
We in Australia considered, in common with the United Kingdom, that the calling of a formal political conference on collective defence should be postponed until after there had been an adequate opportunity for a settlement on Indo-China to be reached at Geneva. We did not want any action taken which might be seized upon by the Communists as a pretext for breaking off the Geneva negotiations. We wanted moreover to have every opportunity to explain to the Asian countries the objectives of a South-East Asian pact, so that they would understand our purposes and believe in the sincerity of our objectives, whether they themselves decided to subscribe to such a pact or not. The chances of getting a sympathetic attitude in Asia towards the pact are greatly increased by the fact that a settlement has now been reached at Geneva. The prospective South-East Asia Treaty Organization is no longer related, even indirectly, to the .fighting that was until recently taking place in Indo-China, and can therefore be seen more clearly as a collective defence of a long-term nature and not as an alliance reached hastily for possible use in the Indo-China fighting. We urged these views to our friends.
I cannot stress too much the importance in all this of having Asian opinion in accord with us. Prior to the Geneva conference I said publicly that it was the policy of the Australian Government to give great consideration to the views of the free countries of .South and SouthEast Asia, and to work closely with them, in particular in all matters ‘affecting the future of South-East Asia. When I say these tilings I do not say them .only as a matter of my country’s policy. I have added personal reasons for saying them. I say them because I have lived and worked in a position of responsibility among these people of Asia, and I have respect and liking for them. It is easy to criticize aspects of their policy with which we may not be in agreement, but I invite honorable members to bear in mind the history of those countries and the experiences of the individuals who now govern them, and to import more human tolerance and understanding into our opinions of their policies. Looked at from the Asian mainland, .this Australia of ours does not seem to have all the qualities of logic and reasonableness that we, for our part, often expect the rulers of the Asian countries to possess.
My discussions at New Delhi and Karachi were consistent with the Australian Government’s policy of close and friendly association with the South and South-East Asian countries. In public statements in India and in Pakistan I said that Australia attached special importance to the views of the countries of Asia.. In my discussions with Mr. Nehru and with the Pakistani Ministers I said that we believed that the situation demanded, first, the mobilization of Eastern and Western public opinion against any further aggression in SouthEast Asia - aggression that could come from only one source, Communist imperialism - and, secondly, a collective security arrangement comprising all the Eastern and Western countries concerned, with teeth in it, to deter potential aggressors. I also expressed our conviction that the independence and sovereignty of the Asian States provided the only basis for peace in this region, and hence for our common security. I said that it would be anomalous if the integrity, autonomy and continued .right to govern themselves of these small Asian States that stood in the path of communism had to be guaranteed largely by Western powers.
We in Australia are well aware that the Asian countries, having just emerged from a period ‘of outside domination, are always o.n their guard lest proposals for new international organizations should turn out to be a subtle way of imposing outside domination once more upon them. The fact remains, however - and I said this publicly in various places in Asia - that the only threat of outside domination to-day clearly comes from aggressive Communist expansion, which seeks to swallow up other countries one bv one and subordinate them to control from a world centre of communism. In asking the countries of South-East Asia to come together with other countries of the free world in mutual defence, what we are trying to do is to preserve the national independence of each of Us, Asian and non-Asian alike. Any differences of outlook between East and West become trivialities when faced with the major danger of international communism. The Asian area of which I speak is of great importance to our Australian security. One hundred and seventy million Asian people live within a radius of 2,000 miles from Darwin. It is in these Asian countries to the north-west of Australia that the largest share of the world’s supplies of tin, rubber, rice and other important commodities is produced. This area also provides the most obvious route for potential aggression against Australia.
Bearing in mind the man-power, the resources and the territorial ambitions of nearby Communist China, it is doubtful whether the individual SouthEast Asian countries could resist Communist infiltration and aggression by relying solely on their own resources. Indeed, no country anywhere in the modern world can depend for its security on its own unaided efforts. This means that the independence and liberty of the countries of South-East Asia will need to .be supported and helped by the aid of the other free countries which are in a position to help. The two countries outside the area, to which we have to look principally, are, of course, the United Kingdom and the United States. Fortunately we are in intimate and confident relationship with each of them. The United Kingdom is already making a tremendous contribution to world defence. Its regular, national service, and reserve forces represent a total of more than 1,000,000 personnel. Eighty per cent, of its eleven army divisions are serving overseas. There are substantial British forces already in this Asian area. Obviously there are limits to what Britain can do in addition to what it is now doing. The United States, which is bearing so formidable a burden throughout the world, and is already the main safeguard of our own security here in the Pacific, cannot be expected to shoulder the burden for the whole free world. The other countries of the region, not least Australia itself, must play their part.
The countries of Asia have varying approaches to this matter. Thailand, which is next-door to Indo-China, and might well be the first victim of future Communist aggression, has declared from the outset its desire to be a party to a collective defence in the region. Of all the countries of South-East Asia, Thailand is the only one which, during the past century, has not had a period under foreign rule, and its independence and nationalism cannot be doubted. It wants to join a collective defence because it wants to remain independent. It wants to survive. The Philippines, which was a victim of violent Japanese aggression in 1941 and which would be threatened again in another war, has also indicated its intention of participating in a. conference on a South-East Asian defence organization. As for the so-called Colombo conference powers, Burma, Ceylon, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan, I regret to say that it does not appear as if all of them, or even a majority of them., will be willing to attend a conference.
I have recently seen it suggested by some of the Asian States that Chou En-lai’s stated intention of living at peace with his neighbours should be taken at its face value, and tested. Meanwhile, they maintain that there should be no defensive grouping of powers. They say that if, however, Communist China does not stand by its word and commit? aggression, then will be the time to consider a defensive alliance. It is easy to see why this view is not adopted by Thailand and the Philippines, who are in the direct path of an aggressive China. For them it would be too late to join in collective defence once aggression bad occurred, for they would be already under attack from short range. I suggest that some other Asian states might be following different policies if they were in the same position vis-a-vis Communist China.
I remember very well a conversation with Mahatma Gandhi that has relevance to the attitude of some Asian countries as regards their participation in a mutual security pact in .South-East Asia. He had taken very courageous and successful action at my request, by his personal intervention in a major security problem in Bengal. Needless to say I thanked him in the most sincere terms that I could. He said that I need not thank him in such terms, and went on to speak of the personal and moral . responsiblity of the individual for events. He made the point that a nian has to accept responsibility both for what he does and for what he does not do. He went on to say, with truth, that if a man refuses to take, or fails to take, a certain action, and if things go wrong by reason of his refusal, then he has to accept responsibility for the consequences of his inactivity.
An important step towards a SouthEast Asian pact was made when Sir Winston Churchill and Mr. Eden visited Washington in late June. During the course of those talks it was decided that a joint American-British study group should make a preliminary examination nf the political and other implications of a collective defence arrangement for South-East Asia. This study group met for about ten days in July, and made considerable progress in pointing up the main issues involved in the negotiation of such a pact. Australia and Nev Zealand were associated through direct consultations with the United Kingdom on the one hand, and through the Anzus relationship on the other. A meeting of Anzus was, in fact, held in Washington immediately after the ChurchillEisenhower talks. I attended this meeting, which devoted most of its consideration to the problems of South-East Asia. Meetings of the Anzus deputies were also held.
The Australian Government is already expressing views to other governments about the South-East Asian Treaty Organization, and I shall outline them to the House on another occasion. In what I have endeavoured to say on this occasion, I have taken pains to confine myself to the history of events or negotiations that have led up to the present. As I have said, the Australian Government’s agreement with the Indo-China settlement was taken in the light of the knowledge that a collective defence would be established in the South-East Asian region to support that settlement and to deter any breach of it by the Communists. It is essential that any collective defence organization should be understood by the free countries of Asia and if possible have their active support. It is also essential that we should not devote all our attention to the military aspects of the problem, because economic factors are at least as important. The countries of Asia, which have so recently won their independence, want to keep it. Australia’s own independence is bound up with the. independence and welfare of these other countries, and in that common interest there is a basis for a free partnership between us and, not only the United Kingdom and the United States of America, but also the countries of Asia.
I lay on the table the following paper : -
South-East Asia. - Ministerial Statement, 10th August. 1954. and move -
That thu paper be printed.
– I do not propose to elaborate on the statement just made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), but I believe that I should make a few observations about it. Had the Minister’s speech been delivered twelve months ago, and had the facts that he seems to recognize now been recognized then, it is possible that the situation in Indo-China to-day might have been very different. If Mahatma Gandi was right when he said to the Minister that people are responsible for what they fail to do as well as for what they do, then his remark applies with great force to the Minister for External Affairs, and to tha Government of which he is a member. I recently said in this House;, and I repeat again to-day, that I believe the Minister is, in international affairs, essentially a man of goodwill. He is not posturing. He is trying to work out solutions of international problems on just terms. However, his statement reads, inter alia -
There is not doubt that the Vict Minh although, completely under Communist control had originally u strong nationalist basis and continued to” have a- nationalist element in their ranks. On the other hand, the nonCommunist regime did not have sufficient nationalist appeal of its own, with the result that large numbers of non-Communists remained neutral in the struggle rather than offering active resistance to the Communists.
That viewpoint has been put over and over again by the Opposition. That is that communism thrives in Asian countries largely because nationalist movements, while growing in importance, are ignored, and their just aims are not satisfied. The chief example of the satisfaction of nationalist desires is the decision of the Attlee Government of Great Britain to give complete independence to India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma. That decision stands as a shining example of timely action taken in difficult circumstances. The Attlee Government’s actions in that regard were not welcome to political opponents of that Government, not only in Great Britain but also in many other parts of the’ world including Australia. Not a few of Mr. Attlee’s opponents at that time are now prominent members of this Government. Another matter mentioned by the Minister in his statement indicates that now he, on behalf of this Government, recognizes certain truths, although he should have recognized them long ago-. He said -
The French, despite all their efforts and despite the sacrifices of French life, never really succeeded in rallying the Vietnamese themselves to resist the Communist Viet Minh.
The Viet Nam was the nationalist body which resisted the forces of Vichy France, and later those of the Japanese, and remained as the nucleus of the Indo-China nationalist movement The Minister continued -
It became obvious that, if a solution was to bc achieved by military defeat of the Vict Minh, the French could not do it alone. Tt is hard to- see what even outside military participation would, have achieved in view of thu attitude of a largo portion of the. Vietnamese population-.
Therefore, the lesson that the Government has learned from this particular incident must in future be applied to all Asian matters. It affords a perfect example of action taken years too- late. However, J do not blame France alone for the situation in Indo-China. France sent a mission to this country some time ago, and this Government decided to make equipment available- for the French in IndoChina. What was that equipment? Let the Minister give us particulars of it. .1 suggest that it was perfectly useless.
– It was selected by France.
– Whether or not it was selected- by France, this Government was intervening in Indo-China in a way which, did- no good to France. The political principles that the Minister now voices could have been- put into effect at that time with some benefit to this nation, and with some real value to the unfortunate people of Indo-China. The Minister finally summed the matter up, and then made a statement that should be remembered and acted upon in the future. He said -
It has become quite clear that true independence is a pre-requisite to any real resistance to communism.
People must have a stake in their country : then they will realize that if they are overrun their independence will be lost irrevocably. This loss of freedom has happened in countries with a greater tradition of liberty and independence than the new States in Asia. We must remember that independence will not flourish, unless it is nurtured and people- are prepared to fight for it.
We must learn the lessons that are emerging from, the Government’s complete lack of policy in relation to IndoChina. I asked the Minister for External Affairs to indicate the nature of his policy in relation to that country, but he would not answer. The course that was taken by the United Nations in Korea prevented Communist control of the whole of the Korean peninsula; at least, the forces of South Korea were not overrun by forces from North Korea. If intervention by the United Nations had been sought in Indo-China, the settlement would have been much more satisfactory and it would have been reachedupon the principles that the Minister now enunciates. The Minister’s outlook is very sombre and gloomy. He states that of the powers that attended the Colombo conference - Burma, Ceylon, Indonesia and Pakistan - only Pakistan is ready to attend a conference in relation to a matter which affects their welfare.
– I said that a minority of them were likely to attend.
– I am quoting the right honorable gentleman’s own words.
– Order !
– Instead of the settlement in Indo-China constituting the great drama of South-East Asia, as the Minister describes it, it has been a tragedy. It shows clearly what may have been achieved if the French people, who are our allies, had been informed that the action that was taken in relation to India., Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma, could have been taken in Indo-China. That seems to be the lesson that we should learn even in relation to Malaya and the proposed Malayan federation. The matters to which I have referred were raised in the House by the late Mr. Chifley on behalf of the Opposition. Principles similar to those which are now recognized by the present Minister for External Affairs were then enunciated. It is not sufficient that Australia should have a Minister who, despite his goodwill, merely runs around the conference chambers when Australian interests are effected. Australia should be directly represented at the conference. The great mistake that was made by the Australian Government in relation to Korea was its failure to insist that Australia should be represented at the military and political levels. Australia was on the outside. The Minister said. “We were kept informed “. That statement is used to describe the multitude of little pieces of information that dribbled out to him. Australia must take an active part in such conferences. I do not wish to repeat the statements that I made last Thursday night, but I emphasize that the Parliament has a duty to the people of Aus tralia to watch this Government very closely before it enters into any commitments. Australia’s obligations should be defined specifically, because it must keep its commitments. The Parliament, and in particular the Opposition, which represents more than half of the people of Australia, must be consulted before those commitments are entered into.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 5th August (vide page 85), on motion by Mr. Lindsay -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneralbe agreed to: -
May it Please Your Excellency :
We, the House of Representativesof the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
.- I rise to support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Speech of the Governor-General, which was so ably moved by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Lindsay) and seconded by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Brand). Those two honorable members gave evidence which supports our belief that in future they will make a very valuable contribution to the debates of this House. I also offer my congratulations to other new honorable members who have spoken. I was particularly pleased to hear the honor.able member for Swan (Mr. Webb) ask a question in relation to the defence of Western Australia. Incidentally, that was the first question in relation to that matter that I have heard from the Opposition since I was elected to the Parliament eight years ago. I hope it will not be the last. I also congratulate Mr. Speaker on his re-election to that office in spite of the remarks that were made by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Eraser)- Whether they thought that their comments would cause a defection by honorable members who would otherwise support the election of Mr. Speaker I do not know, but I was pleased to see him re-elected to supervise the affairs of this House.
– When is the honorable member going to refer to the re-election of the Chairman of Committees?
– The Opposition adopted similar tactics in relation to the election of the Chairman of Committees, but its efforts were equally unsuccessful. His Excellency, in his ‘Speech, stated that his advisers had reported a general and continuing state of prosperity throughout the Australian economy. That statement was attacked by honorable members opposite, but obviously they did so with their tongues in their cheeks, because, when we survey the country from one end to the other, we realize that its prosperity is as His Excellency stated it to bc. The people of Australia have never been as prosperous as they are to-day. They are now able to obtain more amenities, more labour-saving devices in the home and more motor cars than previously and they have been able to increase their savings in the savings banks. To-day, those savings total approximately £1,000,000.000. On the assumption of office by the Government in 1949 that figure was approximately £630,000,000.
– What about the margins for skill?
– I am glad that the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) has made that interjection about the margins for skill. I am waiting for the honorable member to state in this House that he wants margins for skill and not margins for everybody. The Government believes in the payment of margins for skill, but will not be fooled into supporting the granting of increased margins to everybody whether they are skilled or not. If the Government supported margins to everybody, instead of assisting the people it wished to assist, it would discourage young people from engaging in skilled trades.
– Honorable members opposite do not want the margins question to be resolved.
– No, they want to keep it alive. From time to time we hear complaints that a commodity costs three times as much to-day as it did before World War II., but those who complain do not stop to consider the relationship of prices and incomes to-day. Admittedly prices have risen, but the basic wage and wages generally also have increased. The people have more money in their pockets to-day than they had when Labour was in office, despite the increased prices; and that is what counts in the long run. Let honorable members opposite, if they can, prove that this is incorrect. If it is, how is it possible for citizens to buy more refrigerators, radios, and washing machines, than ever before, and at the same time in a few years accumulate an additional £300,000,000 in savings bank deposits? At page three of the printed copy of the Governor-General’s Speech we road that the Australian Government proposes to provide special financial assistance for the States to supplement the amounts payable under the States Grants (Tax Reimbursement) Act 1946-1948, and to increase the total tax reimbursement payments to the States in 1954-55 to £150,000,000. Though I appreciate this generosity, I shall be glad when the Government acknowledges the facts of the situation and returns to the States their taxing powers. Until that is done the people will not get good government from State administrations, which at present have always the splendid answer to any complaint about their misdeeds that they cannot get finance from this Government. At every conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers at which the Prime Minister has proposed that the States should assume their taxing powers again the State Premiers have run away from the proposal. It is heartening to learn that the States will receive £150,000,000 in tax reimbursement payments in the current financial year. This generous reimbursement should do much to help a number of State administrations to overcome the difficulties that are the result of their maladministration. Another heartening feature of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech is the proposed review of the federal aid to the States for roads in view of the increasing local refining of petrol that is expected from the new refineries being constructed in Australia. There will probably be a flat rate of tax of 7d. a gallon on all petrol, instead of the present levy of 3d. a gallon on locally refined spirit, and 6d. a gallon on imported petrol paid out of excise duty and import duty on imported petrol. This should make available to the States for road works an additional £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 a year. I sincerely hope that the State governments will be able to spend all of this money on roads. It is not long since a survey of the latest returns made by the States revealed that a considerable amount of the funds available remained unexpended because the States did not have the necessary facilities for road works.
– Especially in Western Australia.
– I might say also in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. It is certainly the position in Western Australia, although I can assure the honorable member that the balance unexpended in that State amounts to less than £1,000,000. I earnestly hope that the State governments will spend every penny available on the construction of roads, not so much within city boundaries as in the back country, where better roads are urgently needed to enable primary producers to reduce production costs
The announcement that the Government intends to assist the gold-mining industry is of great interest to Australia generally, and to Western Australia in particular. The Governor-General said in his Speech -
Australian gold production adds considerably to this country’s earnings of oversea funds. This industry has- been adversely affected by a relatively static price for gold and high ‘ local costs. ‘ My Government will, therefore, introduce, during this Session, legislation for the provision of financial assistance to the gold-mining industry.
I trust that the Government will give full consideration to the representations that have been made by the Chamber of Mines. Repeatedly in this House the
Government has been approached for assistance to the gold-mining industry, but owing to some arrangement of circumstances little has resulted from those representations. The members of the Chamber of Mines have gone to much trouble to prepare a case for submission to the Government. The chamber is composed of men with a complete firsthand knowledge of the industry. The claims made by the chamber are in no way unreasonable. They are just, and merit the earnest consideration of the Government, which I hope will be immediately forthcoming. Let us not witness again the delay that preceded the giving of financial assistance to the air beef scheme for the Kimberleys. For a long time many people said that such a scheme was not wanted, but eventually it was acknowledged to be necessary, and action was taken. The gold-mining industry deserves immediate and generous assistance. For many years it has carried on though the price of gold has been pegged and production costs have been rapidly increasing. Therefore I urge the Government to give it without delay the assistance that the Chamber of Mines has sought.
The Governor-General’s Speech announced that the Government will seek greater powers for the Royal Commission on Espionage. The royal commission should have power to deal immediately with witnesses who decline to answer questions and who behave arrogantly and insultingly and treat it with contempt. It should not be necessary to wait for action by Crown Law officers and an approach to the Supreme Court. The royal commission should be empowered to impose immediately fines of £100, if that amount is deemed proper. Witnesses who have refused to answer questions before the commission have merely been trying to upset its inquiries and prevent it from functioning.
The honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) was the first honorable member to introduce into this debate the suggestion that the Government was returned to office on a smaller vote than was received by the Australian Labour party. However, the honorable member did not stop to consider the number of uncontested seats, of which I think there1 were six, only one Being held by theOpposition. On Thursday last I was amazed to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Dr: Evatt), after’ the! Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had’ made a1 very important announcement on SouthEast Asian affairs, intrude into the discussion of that statement the suggestion’ that this Government represents a minority of the electors. My answer tothis charge, if it is one, is that it would not be the fault of the Liberal and Australian Country parties if the Government were returned to office on a minority vote. It would be the fault solely of the Australian Labour party, which in 1947-48 made a snide attempt to rig electorates throughout the country in- an effort to ensure its continuance in office for many years. Fortunately, it failed lamentably. For many years’ the abolition of upper houses, particularly of the Senate, has’ been a plank of Labour’s platform, but when it was in office and could have initiated action for the abolition of the Senate, it did nothing’ to give effect to this part of its policy. Labour was in office when it was decided that adequate representation of the people required the enlargement of this House, but because the party was scared of what might’ be the result of going to the people it introduced legislation to increase thenumber of members of the .Senate, andi in the process- introduced the bogy of politics, namely, proportional representation, and by its weight of numbers decided to preclude a certain number of the membets who- then sat in the- upper house from facing the electors.
– The Senate increase was automatic upon the increase of the number of members in this House:
– It was not. The honorable member was a Minister of the Crown at the time and one would expect him to know the position. The Constitu- tion requires that the House of Representatives shall have, as nearly as is practicable-, twice as many members as the other House shall have. The Labour Government increased the numbers in the Senate so that it could increase the numbers in this House. It is no use for members of the Opposition to cry over split milk and’ say that this Govern ment’ was elected on a minority of votes: What has happened’ is the result- of its’ own intrigue, because- it has failed to’ hoodwink the- people.
I hope that as a result of a recent meeting of members of the Australian. Labour party the Government members from Western Australia will at long last receive support from Labour for proposals for the defence of the coast of Western Australia, which extends for approximately 4,300 miles from Wyndham in the north to Eucla in the south. Except for the permanent Air Force station at Pearce there is no permanent defence establishment on the entire coast line of Western Australia. The blame lies not alone with this Government, but with all administrations since 1911. The products of Western Australia that are vital to Australia are many. In the far north, in the Kimberley region, vast quantities of beef are produced. Farther south are rich iron-ore deposits, upon which the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is drawing heavily so that it may preserve deposits in eastern Australia for use at a time of emergency. Western Australia mineslarge quantities of manganese, which in some areas is. very plentiful. So far as I am aware the total extent of the deposits has not yet been estimated. Western Australia produces also tant’alite, which is used in various processes for hardening steel. Columbite is an important mineral which is essential for. the production of heat resistant metals used in the manufacture of .-jet’ engines. Honorable members are all aware that oil was recently discovered at Rough Range, near Exmouth Gulf on the Western Australian1 coast. I am not’ so foolish as to suggest’ that unlimited deposits have been tapped, but’ the finding of even traces of oil is> important. Signs of oil were obtained at the 3,800-ft level, but it is not yet known whether the deposits are rich enough for the- establishment of an oilfield. Those people are prepared to invest money in the exploration nf that” area for oil. Further south, Western Australia is being graced with the establishment of the largest’ oil refinery in Australia. This project, which is estimated to cost £40^000,000, is being erected at Kwinana on Cockburn Sound. not far from Fremantle. Still further south, there ar& rich belts of timber and thriving primary industries.
I trust that this Government will move to provide permanent defence establishments along the Western Australian coast. Not long ago, a squadron of Neptune reconnaissance bombers were stationed in Western Australia. Those aircraft are capable of sweeping the Indian Ocean and in an emergency could offer a substantial measure of protection to the State. However, that squadron was recently moved from Western Australia. At present, defence activities known as Operation Swan Lake are being carried out with a view to testing the mobility of the air force and, so far, that operation has proved successful. I do not growl about limited activities of that kind. What J, and all Western Australians, take exception to is the fact that our defence services and the supply of equipment for defence purposes are concentrated in centres on the eastern seaboard. Nothing at all in this direction is being done beyond Alice Springs. Sooner or later, the National Government must face up to this problem, and I trust that the present Government will do so during its current term of office.
In order to convey the view of the people of Western Australia on the treatment that is being meted out to that State in this respect, I refer to the letting of defence contracts. Tenders by Western Australian organizations for such contracts are, for some unknown reason, invariably unsuccessful. The latest instance in this respect arose in relation to a contract for the supply of military boots. A tender from Western Australia was rejected because the price quoted was about ls. 9d. a pair higher than that quoted by suppliers in the eastern States. Whoever made the recommendation to the Minister to reject the Western Australian tender obviously did not give much, consideration to the matter, because in that instance tenderers were required to quote a price f.o.r. capital city. As the nearest capital city outside Western Australia is Adelaide, those who determined the letting of the contract apparently forgot to take into consideration tho freight rate from Adelaide to Perth, which for military boots in bulk would be about ls. S½d. a pair. On that basis, the price tendered by the Western Australian organization exceeded that of the successful tenderer by only £d. a pair, at the most. However, I pass over instances of that kind. The point I make is that in the event of no contracts being let to Western Australia the tanners in that State will face disaster. At the same time,, as all the grindery required in the manufacture of this footwear is obtained from the eastern States this loss to Western Australian manufacturer* will react against grindery suppliers in the eastern States.
Beef is being grown in the northwest of Western Australia as economically a3 it can be grown in any other part of Australia. However, whereas the Governor-General’s Speech indicates the Government’s, preparedness to consider the provision of rail links between Queensland and the Northern Territory in order to assist the cattle-growing industry, no hint is given in His Excellency’s Speech that similar assistance will be provided in respect of Western Australia. I sincerely trust that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), who is sitting at the table, will use his influence on behalf of Western Australia when this matter is being discussed in Cabinet.
The next point I make has a political flavour. On the 29th May last, the polling booths closed in the eastern States at 8 p.m., two hours earlier than the closing hour in Western Australia, which is two hours behind eastern Australian standard time. At 8.30 p.m. an announcement was made over the air in the eastern States that the early returns indicated that the Government had ‘ probably been defeated. The point I make is that when that announcement was made many people in Western Australia had not voted. It is quite conceivable that the former honorable member for Swan, Mr. Grayden, would not have been defeated but for the fact that that announcement was made before the poll had closed in Western Australia. It is time that people in the eastern States realized that Western Australia is an integral and important part of this nation and that the interests of that State must be given due consideration. I urge the
Government to give greater consideration to the matters that I have raised, particularly to the need for defence preparations in Western Australia, which has a seaboard of 4,300 miles. That fact alone entitles Western Australia to the provision of permanent defence establishments. I sincerely trust that at long last it will fall to the credit of this Government to take the first step in that direction.
.- The task that confronts the Government and the people of Australia to-day is to design the development of the country to add to its strength and its self-reliance progressively and economically. The warning notes of danger to our survival are now nearer, clearer and deadlier than before. Despotic and militant communism is expanding at an increasingly greater rate and is giving to an unprecedented degree direction and increased power to Asian countries. In these circumstances, with the assistance of whatever friends we have and with that of the United Nations, we must add to our defence safeguards. But however desirable protective alliances may be, and however imperative it is that we strengthen immediately our defences, such actions will not be sufficient in themselves. So long as there are in close proximity to the north of Australia densely populated nations which are developing rapidly, whilst the northern parts of this country remain sparsely populated, the menace to our survival must continue. It has been pointed out in this House on more than one occasion that more than 1,200,000,000 people are living in Asian countries in close proximity to Australia. With modern methods of transport, a vast number of islands, like steppingstones, join Australia to Asia. The density of population in China is 123 persons to the square mile, in Pakistan and India over 200 persons to the square mile, in Japan 577 persons to the square mile, in Burma 100 persons to the square mile, and in the Philippines 168 persons to the square mile, whilst Indonesia, which is right at Australia’s door has a population of 72,000,000 and a population density of 07 persons to the square mile. Contrast those figures with Australia’s population of 9,000,000 which averages three persons to the square mile, whilst in the areas north of Brisbane the average is one person to several square miles. We need to increase our population as rapidly as possible, particularly in our northern areas. However, it is not sufficient simply to bring immigrants to this country. They must also be absorbed smoothly and effectively into the Australian economy. They must be found employment in primary and secondary industries and on developmental projects. Vast numbers can find opportunities in primary and secondary industries upon the expansion of which depends the capacity of the nation to carry out developmental works and to provide adequate houses, hospitals, irrigation schemes, transport services, and all the services that are indispensable to a population which, at present, is increasing at an unprecedented rate in the history of this country.
But what contribution does the GovernorGeneral’s Speech make to the solution of this problem of providing a design for the. immediate and rapid development of Australia? What contribution does His Excellency’s Speech make towards the problem of absorption of an increasing population’ in primary and secondary industries? The Speech states that, unfortunately, the prospects of even maintaining our markets overseas are very gloomy; and it adds that the prices of our products on such markets must be lowered by reducing the cost of production. That is the only reference in the Speech to the problems of primary production. The Governor-General also stated that immigration will be continued on the basis of the ability of immigrants to contribute to production in primary and secondary industries. His Excellency might well have said that the Government was appalled at the failure of land settlement throughout Australia and that it was a matter of the gravest concern that while the population of this country is increasing so rapidly as it has increased during the last few years, fewer persons are now engaged in rural occupations and the number so engaged is continuing to decrease. When will the 20,000 ex-servicemen of World War II., who are eligible and suitable for land settlement, be provided with farms?
When will the servicemen who are now returning from Korea and who, to-day, are being invited by at least some of the State governments to apply for holdings under soldier land settlement schemes, be provided with land? When will the thousands of Australians who are eager to go upon the land and who haunt the precincts of lands departments in the various States be enabled to obtain land? What has the Government to offer to them in this respect? It offers nothing whatsoever. Our vast empty spaces are objects of envy to predatory nations, but so far as this Government is concerned those areas will remain unoccupied. Closer settlement may be undertaken by various methods. Despite the fall in the prices of primary products overseas we must press on with land settlement because it is essential to our national survival. For instance, we could follow the example of the United States ‘of America by enacting legislation to prevent speculation in land and by making various taxation concessions to prospective settlers. In addition, our land acquisition laws could be liberalized with a view to encouraging settlement. We could have a scheme, subsidized by the general community, to bring undeveloped Crown land into production. Unfortunately, the Government offers no suggestions and takes no action to give effect to those matters. Honorable members opposite may claim, later that land settlement is the responsibility of the States, and assert that if the States neglect the development of the land which is so vital to the national welfare, this Parliament can take no action. I remind them that this Government controls the purse strings of the nation, and, for that reason, can call the tune. This Government, in conjunction with the States, could implement a policy for the establishment of increasing numbers of ex-servicemen on the land.
I shall now refer briefly to our secondary industries. What reference a made in the Governor-General’s Speech to the expansion of the secondary industries ? His Excellency expressed the pious hope that the manufacturing industries would continue to develop. However, he added that efficiency and production must be increased, and prices reduced.
In a few curt words, the position of the second essential to our national survival was dismissed. I point out to the House that the manufacturing nations are manoeuvring for markets abroad, and I remind it that when the philosophy of freer trade was being preached, this Government deliberately restricted secondary industries in 1951. A spokesman for the Government has made the pronouncement that honorable members on the other side of the chamber are free traders. Efforts are being made to enable Japan to become a party to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. All those efforts and trends constitute threats to the expansion of our secondary industries, and the Governor-General’s Speech does not dispel them. The Government should make an emphatic and unequivocal statement about its attitude to the development of our secondary industries.
The Governor-General, in his Speech, revealed that our overseas funds amounted to £570,000,000 at the 30th June last. However, the Speech omitted to point out that our overseas funds totalled £650,000,000 on the 30th June, 1950. That figure is to be found in the budget speech delivered by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) in that year. The Governor-General’s Speech also did not inform the House that the overseas balances amounting to £650,000,000. which the present Government inherited from the Chifley Labour Government, were almost dissipated at one period, and that the Prime Minister had to announce, in March, 1952, the imposition of savage import restrictions in order to protect and. increase our overseas funds. The Governor-General also did not mention that Australia had the high adverse trade balance of £20,000,000 for June last, and that the prospects indicate that our overseas funds will again be reduced. Australia needs a government that is willing to secure, by every possible means, the expansion of secondary industries of all kinds. Such a policy is necessary for several reasons. The first reason is that secondary industries provide employment for vast numbers of our people, and the next reason, which is probably of equal importance, is that secondary Industrie? produce the goods that are vital to our survival in war .time. The third reason is that secondary industries produce a v.ast amount of wealth for Australia.
Some years ago, the value of primary products was much higher than that of the products of the secondary industries, but that relationship between them has since changed. In 1952, the -value of secondary production was £1,024,000,000, whilst the value of primary production was £931,000,000. -Of that sum, approximately £783,000,000 was represented by the products of rural activities. The remainder was -represented by the products of mining, quarries, forestry and fisheries. The lead in value that was established .by secondary production over primary production three years ago is increasing with the passing of time. No one desires to diminish the importance of the primary industries but the fact remains that secondary industries produce more wealth and employ more people. In those circumstances, a government aware of its responsibilities should not be satisfied merely to express the pious hope, through His Excellency the Governor-General, that secondary industries would maintain their present state of development.
The Government surely is alive to the menace to Australia at the present time. Irrespective of treaties for our protection and our own capacity to defend ourselves, our future Can be made secure only if the national economy is so planned as to enable us to absorb increasing numbers of people, particularly in the northern areas, in primary and secondary industries. I believe that our secondary industries should not he concentrated in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart and Perth, but should be dispersed throughout the Commonwealth. In particular, suitable secondary industries should be established in our northern areas. However, a policy of that kind cannot be given effect unless the Government gives guidance and direction. The Government should formulate and implement a plan for the decentralization of secondary industries in the hinterland. The Government should offer inducement1! to suitable secondary industries to establish themselves in northern Queensland, and should encourage people to make homes there. By that means, this country could be given security to a degree that is absent :at the present time. We cannot afford to leave to chance the development of Australia and the settlement of immigrants. We must give guidance and direction to industries and people in this matter. I do not .suggest for one moment that people who come from overseas to settle here should be forced to live .in a certain part of Australia, but I believe that the Government, by inducement, guidance and direction, could influence newcomers to Australia .to settle in those places where they will be able to make the maximum contribution to the national wealth and security.
I have made my attitude clear on primary production and secondary industries. I regret that some signatories to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade are evading their obligations. France, for example, admits goods from other countries which are parties to the agreement under a scale of customs duties favorable to them, but imposes an additional tax on those imports in order to protect the local industries. Japan, which wishes to develop its industries, forms alliances with Great Britain and other nations, and sends wholly or partly manufactured -goods to them. Some of those goods are ultimately re-exported to other countries, and the local manufacturers are unable to compete with the imports.
Because of those matters, it is of the utmost importance for us to be vigilant regarding imports. We must ignore the siren voices of those who speak of a world of peace, harmony and contentment brought about by freer trade. Those persons are the free traders of to-day, who parade under the name of freer traders. The ideas that they -express, and the contentions with which they buttress them, were better voiced in the past by Max Harsh, leader writer of the Argus and a free trader in days gone by. Such ideas were proved in. those times to be contrary to the best interest of Australia. Despite the advocacy of the free traders, protective tariffs were introduced, and industries were established that now enable1 us to produce one-half of our requirements of motor vehicles - 1S0,0.00 a year - twothird’s of the locomotives .and rolling stock that, -we need, 100,000 washing machines,. 200,000 refrigerators, aircraft, and vast quantities of materials of all kinds. We have sufficient capacity to produce all the footwear, knitted wear and hosiery required by our people.
– Order]! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I have listened with great interest to the honorable member for .Burke (Mr. Peters), as I always do, because he usually tries to be completely fair in his critical discussions of the topics that he selects. However, .1 think he departed from his usual standard to-day because he was less than fair to the Government in his treatment of its plans, particularly those for the development of our secondary and primary industries. If the honorable gentleman would -only study the references to development in the Governor-General’s Speech, he would find that the ‘Government’s programme provides for the satisfaction of many of the needs to which he referred. Threaded through the whole of His Excellency’s Speech “was a clear indication that the Government was fully -aware of the existence of such needs.
I found myself wholly in agreement with the statements on security, which demonstrated that the Government was conscious of the necessity to face the threats that hover on the horizon. It seems to me that some malign deity has been dogging the steps of the Menzies Government, because, when I first became a member of this House in 1951, 1 .had. to listen to a Governor-General’s Speech which directed attention to the difficulties that beset the country then as a result of the dagger of war in Euro.pe. The ominous threat of communism at that time forced the Government to depart entirely from its earlier .plans and to devote its energies to preparations for war. Consequently, its budget for 1951-52 was dictated entirely by the need to defend Australia -adequately. Three years later, after we thought we had established equilibrium between the demands of defence and those of development, we are now confronted by a threat which is probably greater even than that of 1951 because the centre of gravity has moved from Europe to South-East Asia.
Therefore, it has again “become necessary for the Government to set aside many of the plans upon which it had set its heart and to .concentrate upon preparations for the defence of Australia in a new theatre. I am .distressed by the knowledge that the whole economy of the country must be strained again in order that we -may provide adequately for our defence needs on the one hand and our development needs on .the ‘Other hand.
One outstanding weakness of the speech by the honorable member for Burke, when he .discussed marketing problems both .over-seas and at home, was his failure to recognize the fact ‘that the policy that has been pursued by the Labour party has caused us to price ourselves -out of almost every market for our goods. That policy has brought about a situation in which Australians cannot even compete successfully in their home markets. Foreign manufacturers, whose goods have to bear the costs of freight, insurance, exchange and so forth, can undersell their Australian competitors.
– Whose fault is that? Does the honorable member blame the worker or the bos3 ?
– If the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) wants me to point the finger, I point it at the Labour party, both in this Parliament and in the State parliaments, but especially that of New South Wales. The Labour party can never escape responsibility for the introduction of the 40-hour week, which, however desirable it might have been, was quite untimely. The honorable member for Burke also betrayed his failure to realize the need to undertake .-research in order to determine the directions in -.which our economy can best extend. I shall discuss this subject at length later, but for the present I shall refer to several other matters that were dealt with in the Governor-General’s Speech.
The Speech announced the Government’s intentions in regard to the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States. I must confess to a great disappointment with this announcement. I had expected the subject to be dealt with far more convincingly. There was no indication that the Government realized that, while the present system remained in force, the States would be able to hold it to ransom. They can persuade the public that the Commonwealth has all the funds and that it is preventing them from undertaking their legitimate development. It seems to me that the Government’s proposals are inadequate to relieve us of a situation which is like a millstone round the necks of the Commonwealth as well as the States, and which is seriously undermining parliamentary responsibility for public finance. This Government cannot be responsible for the finances of the country, because it is not in complete control of its own house, and the States cannot be responsible because they are dependent for their existence upon the funds that the Commonwealth provides. The section of the Governor-General’s Speech to which I refer reads as follows : -
In the field of Commonwealth-State financial relations, my Government will introduce three measures. The first will provide for special financial assistance to the States to supplement the amounts payable under the States Grants (Tax Reimbursement) Ant 1940-4S. This measure will increase the total tax reimbursement payments to the States in 1.954-55 to £150.000,000.
It is not clear whether the present tax reimbursement grant is to be raised from £120,000.000 this year to £150,000,000 next year. If the new grant includes the special grant of £21,000,000, then the increase will be less than £10,000,000; the States will claim that this will be toying with them, for it will not even meet the increased demands being made for Commonwealth assistance to education. That amount would not be sufficient even to enable the universities and secondary schools to provide the services that are required of them by the community.
The Governor-General’s Speech went on to refer to Commonwealth payments to the States for roads, which at present amount to £22,000,000. Again, the Government’s proposals appear to be inadequate. The Government has not acknowledged the needs of local authorities. Although it intends to give a greater share of the revenue from petrol tax to the States for main roads, we do not know how much relief will be afforded to municipalities.
The municipalities are placing valuations on properties which make it impossible for many people to continue to live in houses that they have built for themselves. Rates are so onerous that some homeowners find it impossible to pay them. In the seaside resorts of New South Wales the situation is becoming more and more difficult, and more and more people are finding it necessary to leave houses that they built in the hope that they would be able to live in decent surroundings.
It seems to me to be essential that there should be some concrete recognition of the crisis to which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) referred when he addressed a municipal conference in Victoria a couple of years ago. On that occasion, the right honorable gentleman stated specifically that the time had come for a review of the whole of the financial relations between the Commonwealth, the States and local authorities, with a view to putting them all on a new and proper basis. I had hoped that the Prime Minister would include in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech a passage that would show that he appreciated the importance of this problem. The third proposal in relation to the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States concerns payments recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission. I suppose that this is purely a machinery procedure. If that is so, the Government’s proposal may mean that the Parliament will not be given an opportunity to review the grants recommended by the commission. That body will examine the submissions of the claimant States in a quasi-judicial fashion, and special grants may be paid to them immediately upon its recommendations.
These matters obviously lead to another subject mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, that of constitutional reform. The Speech contained the statement that the Government proposes to submit to the Parliament a plan for the appointment of a committee representative of both Houses and all parties to review certain aspects of the working of the. Constitution and to make recommendations for its amendment. Particular reference was made to the Senate. Although I have been urging for years that the Parliament should take cognizance of the need for constitutional reform, I do not wish to associate myself with this kind of proposal, which will confine the investigation entirely to parliamentarians. Unlike Sir Robert Garran, I do not favour an elected convention, but I believe that it is necessary to have a convention. Such a convention would have to be constituted by the Government, and it ought to be composed of people who are interested in constitutional matters, whether they be clerics, economists, lawyers, parliamentarians or citizens in any other walk of life. If we hope to amend the Constitution, we must have public opinion behind us. Therefore, we must not make the mistake that the present Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) made as Attorney-General in 1944, when he set out a referendum proposal containing fourteen points for which he sought the approval of the people. He asked for so much that he failed to ‘ get anything. So many constitutional reforms are necessary that we cannot expect to encompass them satisfactorily in one bill without fear of having all of bur proposals rejected by the people.. Yet, if each should be dealt with separately, we shall have the difficulty of convincing the people that all of them ought to be adopted. There is always the risk that one proposition will contaminate all the other3 and that the final decision of the people will be exactly the opposite of what we desire. Therefore, I am of the opinion that it is much more important to have a public convention than to conduct an inquiry by a parliamentary committee, so that we can arouse the maximum possible degree of public interest. Such a convention should be held at the same time as the parliamentary inquiry if the Government intends to persist with the proposal mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. There must be public interest in this “matter if the reforms that we desire are to be approved.
The Governor-General referred to another matter which affects the Constitution when he said -
It is proposed to continue the policy of development of Canberra as the centre of Commonwealth administration.
Like uniform taxation this proposal affects the substance of federation.
I suppose there is general agreement upon the desirability of having all Commonwealth administrative offices in Canberra. However, the cost of such a concentration ought to be borne in mind. Canberra is one of the most delightful spots in Australia. In Elysian surroundings we meditate here, though not always as calmly as we might, upon the things that ought to be done for the good of Australia. Unfortunately, we miss here the criticisms, the railings, and the warnings that would reach our ears if we worked in the larger cities, where, for example, we should have to lunch with other people, who would rag us about our various activities in the Parliament. Here we forget all about that. “We are a race apart, as it were. We come to the House each sitting day and do not leave it until we go home to bed. We return to it in the morning and again meet only our fellow members of Parliament and lobbyists who come to see us. That position will have a detrimental effect. It will test the very efficiency and capacity of government. It is obvious that as government becomes more expansive and more expensive, more effort will be required to expertize the job of administration. That expertism is not possessed by the ordinary Australian, or by even Cabinet Ministers. I suggest that, once we get to a stage where the duties that have to be performed for the Government go beyond the compass of the intelligence of the ordinary member of Parliament, we shall have rule by bureaucracy. Whether the word “ bureaucracy” is used in a sinister sense or not does not matter. We shall have rule by public servants. I wish, therefore, to suggest that when we are considering the concentration of the whole of our administrative activities in Canberra, we should be careful lest we destroy the substance of parliamentary government by committing ourselves entirely to the hands of officials who, however anxious they may be to serve, are in a position to impose their opinions in a way that is impossible to avoid. I say, therefore, that one of the problems that we have in Canberra is the problem of isolationism. Are we to multiply the number of people in Canberra engaged on administrative work without at the same time proceeding with the general populating of Canberra? I say that it will be detrimental to the best interests of the Commonwealth if we apply ourselves merely to concentrating the bulk of Commonwealth public servants in this delectable city.
There are other aspects associated with this problem. The Prime Minister has shown, by statements that he has made both inside and outside this House, that lie realizes that the system of Cabinet government has become one of the difficult problems that this community has to solve. Nobody has talked more eloquently and more adequately on the subject of parliamentary reform than has the Prime Minister. I suggest, however, that the measures that he has adopted for the streamlining of Cabinet government may prove to be a real snare rather than a real assistance in improving the system. He has, as it has been facetiously put,, created two “ elevens “, and there will probably be a third “ eleven “ in the Cabinet to consider matters of defence and foreign affairs. He is attempting to relegate to different sections of the Cabinet matters that come within the competence of the Ministers comprising these different sections.. If that means a multiplication of committees, then nobody knows better than the members of the Cabinet themselves how little real attention will be given to the matters that come before Cabinet. The reason is that it is physically impossible for Ministers to be in attendance in. this chamber, attend Cabinet meetings, attend committee meetings, address public meetings, attend to the affairs of their electorates, and do the other work they have to do, and yet perform all of those activities well. Nobody knows better than Cabinet Ministers themselves that the system of cabinet government is creaking, and is working very badly. The method the Prime Minister has adopted may only increase the difficulties I have mentioned. Everybody who has studied this question knows very well that during World War I. the British Prime Minister, Mr. Lloyd George, tried to run the war with a. war cabinet of five
Ministers, but could never get bis Imperial War Cabinet down to fewer than eight- Ministers. When Mr. Churchill became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1940, during World’ War II., he also tried to keep his war cabinet down to about five Ministers, but could not get it down to below eight. The British Cabinet consists of between 25 and 30 Ministers, in addition to whom there are many undersecretaries, as well as Lords Commissioners and a number of others, so that, in reality, the British Ministry consists of between 70 and 80 persons. What happens in practice in such a case is that the inner Cabinet, which is supreme, makes the decisions and conveys them to Ministers concerned, who are in reality merely officials. The great quarrel that peoplehad with Lloyd George’s plan was that ordinary Ministers were relegated to the background, and merely received Cabinet minutes from the Secretary to the Cabinet, Lord Hankey, or Sir Maurice Hankey as he was then, informing then of the inner Cabinet’s decisions. I consider that such a scheme constitutes a challenge to the whole system of cabinet government..
As a result of the proposals in the Governor-General’s Speech, we should turn our minds to the whole problem of cabinet government and parliamentary reform. The Public Accounts Committee has drafted proposals in connexion with financial measures, and I hope that these will come before the Parliament in the present session. When they do, honorable members, will have an opportunity to state their views on the subject I havebeen discussing. Statements that have been made both inside and outside this chamber can only lead to the conclusion that there is considerable dissatisfaction with the working of the cabinet system. The present Cabinet consists of twenty members, but there is no real deliberation when the size of the Cabinet approaches that of a public meeting. Matters are decided by the accidental factor of whether the Minister who introduces them to cabinet is strong or weak. Those are things that go to the root of cabinet government, and destroy something of the substance of parliamentary control.
The honorable member for Burke touched briefly on the subject of development’. Who is to be responsible for the expenditure of the money required for our development? The Government is committed to expending money, for example, for the development of natural resources. But is it also to conduct the whole of the research, for example, into the production of various minerals throughout Australia, which are vital to our prosperity and our development? The university at which I taught will expend, this year, about £2,000,000. That puts it into the category of big business. In connexion with its work it has to undertake a great deal of research which calls for the expenditure of large sums of money. Honorable members who are interested in nuclear research will realize how much money is involved in that kind of work. Is it desirable that such research should be concentrated in universities, or should it be distributed throughout the community? Should the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, for example, undertake basic research? The Director of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization says it should, because he cannot get first-rate scientists to work for- the organization unless they are in a position to undertake basic research while working for it. But if bodies like the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization undertake basic research, and recruit universitytrained staff, the universities which trained the staff may be unable to keep a sufficient number of trained men to act as teachers. We have three universities in New South Wales. The larger the number of universities becomes the greater the amount of money that will be demanded for expenditure on research and the more money will be required from the Government for the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and similar activities. What is to be the measuring rod? Who will decide how much money is to be made available for this and how much, for that? To-day, we are interested in uranium and oil because of their importance to defence. Who is to say how much money is to1 be expended on searching for those two important products? I do not know what the measuring rod. is, nor do I know of anybody who does. This is a problem that faces any government which, like the present Government, is interested in research. It is a problem which must be solved, or our development plan will fail.
.- I was interested in a statement about secondary industries that is contained in the Governor-General’s Speech, which reads -
The manufacturing industries of Australia, it is hoped, will continue their development, so vital to the national strength. My Government will continue to accord adequate protection to efficient and economic Australian industries. In doing so, it will rely for advice on the Tariff Board.
Honorable members opposite seem to be drugged by their own propaganda avowals that Australia has never been so prosperous as it is to-day. It is a pity that that claim is not true. I am a primary producer and I have always argued that primary industry should go hand in hand with secondary industry. One great secondary industry to which that principle should most certainly apply is the woollen textile industry, which is allied closely to> our greatest primary industry. Anybody would think that the woollen textile industry would be one of our major secondary industries because of its relationship to the greatest of our primary industries., and would be encouraged to expand, and that every Australian would be using Australian-manufactured textiles and clothing. Instead of that, we find that imported textiles and clothing are flowing into this country in great volume as a result of the Government’s policy, and Australians are being put out of work. Australian textiles are manufactured by workers who have a high standard of living, whereas many of the imported textiles are manufactured by cheap labour. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland) said truly that in many industries we have priced ourselves out of the export market. Of course we have. I lay the blame for that right at the door of the present Government. The honorable member also said that we are pricing ourselves out of our home market: The blame- for that also. belongs to this Government. Costs in this country are still rising. Who is to blame? The Commonwealth Arbitration Court has discontinued quarterly basic wage adjustments, so that the blame for rising costs cannot be ascribed to increased wages. There is something radically wrong, and the consequences to our great woollen textile industry will be very serious unless the Government takes drastic action immediately to remedy the position. In the last ten months the volume of textiles and clothing imported into this country has increased by 150 per cent above the volume in the corresponding period last year. During 1953 the average number of employees engaged in the textile industry in Australia fell by 10,000 compared with the previous year. That is not a healthy position. There is no prosperity in such a position either for the individual or the mill-owner, and it is bad for the economy of the country as a whole. Yet the Government claims that we are in a state of great prosperity, and that production is flourishing. The textile industry, which is a decentralized industry, is feeling the cold winds of adversity. Victorian textile mill-owners are concerned about the position and have supplied me with facts concerning it. They are facts that the House should carefully consider. I was given this information for the purpose of putting it before honorable members at the first opportunity. A letter which I received on the subject reads -
I am instructed by my Board of Directors to bring before you their concern about the future of the woollen industry in general, and of the Warrnambool Woollen Mill Company Limited, in particular, so that in the appropriate place at the earliest opportunity you will he able to speak with authority on matters which will arise, as they affect the industry and its employees in your electorate.
The following figures supplied by nine textile mills show how vitally employment depends upon effective production: -
The number of employees in 1951-52 decreased, of course, because import restrictions were lifted by this Government, and that action had drastic consequences for the woollen manufacturing industry. Import restrictions were later re-imposed, and in 1953 the number of employees increased; but in June of this year, since the partial relaxation of restrictions, the number has again decreased. We are now beginning to feel the effects of the Government’s action, and those effects will become more and more marked as each month goes by because more and more goods are coming into this country from overseas. When the full effect of the relaxation of import restrictions is felt, we shall no doubt reach the position that existed in 1951-52, when there were only 1,690 employees in the textile mills previously mentioned by me. The letter continued -
The last figure shows how the relaxation of import restrictions is rapidly reducing employment towards the 1951-52 figure, in spite of the mills’ desire to hold trained personnel. Once lost, trained staff is seldom recovered, and the cost of training new employees is an added burden which could be avoided by a steady and efficient protection of the Australian manufacturer.
That statement is true. If mill hands are put off because of imports to this country and are wanted again twelve months later, they will not be available because they will have gone into other jobs. The new hands that will be employed will have to be trained and that will greatly increase the cost of production of the manufactured items. The letter continued -
Associated with unemployment is the amount of expensive machinery reduced to idleness. Taking looms alone, fifteen textile mills report 642 idle looms, valued at approximately £1,000 each - over half a million pounds altogether.
Therefore, when honorable members on the Government side talk about the great prosperity that they have established in this country, in order to show them how wrong they are, we have only to refer them to the woollen manufacturing industry and to the effects of imports on it. The letter read further -
For your information, the Warrnambool Woollen Mill Company Limited employs a staff of three hundred (300) at a weekly wage and salary account of £4,000. Total shareholders’ funds employed in this useful decentralized industry are £445,000.
The Trading results for this Company in recent years, before providing for taxation, are as follows: - 1952- Loss of £25,907. 1 953- Profit £22,483.
Six months to 31.3.1054 - Profit £1,080.
Therefore, honorable members will perceive that this mill is fast reaching the stage when it will be working at a loss. Consequently, it is quite apparent that things are not going well for everybody in this country. I am not only concerned with, employees, or with the owners of these industries ; X am also concerned with the effect of imports on the whole of Australia. The Government has indicated that this year it intends to bring more immigrants to this country than it did last year. Probably on the same ships that bring the immigrants, there will be vast quantities of manufactured goods which, when they enter our markets, will cause unemployment among Australians and make it difficult for the new arrivals to get jobs. We should not wait until this matter is dealt with by the Tariff Board; we should do something about it immediately. The letter continued -
To quote from a survey of the Wool Textile Industry issued by the Division of Industrial Development in April, 1954: - “ Overall, demand for woollen and worsted piece goods is showing a tendency to ease - the average level of new orders received by Mills has recently declined.” “ There is evident in the industry some concern at the large influx of imported textiles, with which local firms could not compete.” “ Textile and clothing industries are more sensitive to import competition than most other industries.”
Tn the types of goods we make at Warrnambool, the increase in imports is quite alarming, as this table shows: -
In common with other Mills, all the foregoing have resulted in decreased production in our Mill, so that we have averaged approximately 65 per cent, of capacity in this last financial year with its inevitable effect - increased costs.
Those figures show quite clearly that at least in one industry the Government has increased costs of production. Moreover, the industry in which it has done so is one of our major industries, and therefore one that we should protect in every possible way. As the honorable member for Burke has already pointed out, our participation in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is not working out to our advantage. The Warrnambool Woollen Mill Company Limited, together with others, needs assistance in order to maintain the effectiveness of its industry and the jobs of its employees. Its precarious position is caused to a large degree by the reductions of duty allowed under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. However, action in that regard could take some months, and an application to the Tariff Board even longer. The Governor-General, in his Speech on the occasion of the opening of this Parliament, said -
My Government will continue to afford adequate protection to efficient and economic Australian industries. In doing so, it will rely for advice on the Tariff Board.
I suggest that this industry would be in a perilous position before the Tariff Board could take any action to protect it. The letter that I have already mentioned also stated - . . As the problem is so urgent we request that you lend your support to a move to bring under Administrative Control, instead of Category B, the licensing of Im ports If Woollen and Worsted Piece Goods and Blankets with a quota basis of 20 per cent, of base year, instead of 60 per cent, as allowed at present.
I strongly support that proposition. In fact, I should agree to a total ban on th, importation of textiles to this country. J believe that the Australian market, at, least, should be reserved for our own textile industries. Moreover, Australian goods are of high quality compared with many of the goods sent here by overseas countries. For example, there is no means of preventing the importation of shoddy goods into this country. Japan buys millions of pounds worth of rag and old clothing each year, reprocesses it and sells it as piece goods. Great Britain itself has quite a big trade in shoddy goods. I repeat that we have no regulations to-day that will prevent the importation of reprocessed wool, although action has been taken with regard to artificial fibres and cotton. Therefore, in many cases a person who buys an imported textile article is getting 50 per cent, shoddy and 50 per cent, good wool. Yet these .goods are -competing with OU,I own excellently manufactured articles. I say “without hesitation that our -textiles are second ‘to none, .-and yet the industry is in a perilous .position :and needs to be helped by prompt government ‘action. We should not allow *an industry such as this to go out of production. For the sate of those engaged in it, for the sake of the ‘consumers and for the sake of Australia as a nation we must protect it.
Our textile industry should be expanding instead ‘Of contracting, because we produce all the necessary raw materials in this country. I urge this Government to ‘do as the last Labour .Government did, that is to institute a system of licensing the importation of goods from overseas. I t will take too long to remedy the position of this industry through the Tariff Board. Speaking as a wool-grower myself, I say that this is an industry that should be helped and fostered. The industry ‘competes with overseas buyers £or our own wool at the wool .auctions, and therefore helps our primary industry as well as swelling the volume of our secondary products. I very earnestly and sincerely ask the Government to take immediate action to protect our textile and clothing industry.
.- 1 listened carefully to the Speech of the Governor-General, in the hope that I should hear something that would be of benefit to the people of Australia. I was astonished when I discovered that it was just a, series of pious platitudes. If it is an indication of the proposed actions of this Government during the next three years, Australia will have much to regret. I congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your elevation to your exalted office for the third time, and I hope that the good Lord will preserve your strength so that you can execute your favourite Standing Order 308, as you have done so in the past. I am concerned about the dark cloud on the industrial horizon. I refer to the lackadaisical attitude of the Government in relation to the claims of industrial’ workers for increased margins for skill. We must all agree that without skill we cannot progress. I listened to the statement of the “Prime Minister (Mr.
Menzies) in relation ‘to international affairs -on Thursday, the !5th August. He reiterated ‘his famous ‘speech ‘of 1951.
– Order ! The honorable member may not refer to “that debate-
– I .must refer to the speech in order to develop my argument. Australia is confronted by the danger of war. The Government should consider granting an increase in the margins for skill, because Australia cannot fight a war .unless it has skilled labour with which to build ships and the other essential weapons of warfare. That is the reason why I referred to the speech of the Prime Minister. In April, the Australian Council of ‘Trades Unions, which is the only authoritative voice of trade unionism in Australia, passed the following resolution : -
The marginal judgment of the Court ‘is viewed with disgust by this conference. By failing to arrive at a decision which would have increased margins, and issuing instead a specious document to cover its -own ineptitude, the Court has lost the confidence of the Trade Union Movement.
We express the opinion that the Court as functioning represents a menace to the industrial peace of this nation, due to its failure to discharge its primary function, in that there is, as yet, no settlement of a grevious industrial dispute.
At lunch-time last Friday approximately 1,000,000 workers throughout the length and breadth of Australia held stopwork meetings in order to protest at the ineptitude of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in relation to the question of margins. As an extrade union leader, I am extremely concerned about possible results if the claim for increased margins for skill is not considered in the manner in which it should be considered. It is interesting to note that since 1947 margins for skilled workers have not been altered, but that the salaries of judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court have been increased. In 1947. the salary of the chief judge was £3,000 per annum; in 1950. it was £4,500 per annum, a miserly increase of approximately £30 a week ! In 1947, the salary of the other in dares was £2.500 per annum; in i’95’0, it was £4,000 per annum, again a miserly increase ‘of ‘approximately £30 ‘a week!’. The salary; of conciliation.’ commissioners,, who would be the. unskilled judges, was increased from £1,500 per annum to’ £1,800 per annum, a mere increase of £6 a week! What has the skilled man,, without whom the country cannot progress, received?’ What has been done- for the shipwright, the engineer, the patternmaker, the moulder and the other highly skilled men in our community by those same people who procrastinate from day to day, who reserve their decisions, and who will not review the claim for increased margins until next November ? Before the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) departed for overseas, he said that the Australian Government had a lively appreciation of the predicament of the skilled worker, but that, as long as the worker’s claims were submerged in a claim for general increases which were applicable to almost every worker, he ran the risk that again it would be found that the economy could not stand such a general increase. That is poor consolation indeed. The Minister said he hoped that, when the federal unions met to renew margin discussions, they would approach the problem in a spirit of realism and with a sense of their1 responsibility to the community as a whole. I wish the Government would follow the advice of the Minister and approach the question of margins in a spirit of realism and extend justice to those people who produce commodities that are essential to everyday life.
The. honorable member for Canning (Mr.. Hamilton),, who is a member of the Australian Country party, stated that we should look at the position of the really skilled worker. Whom does* the honorable member describe as a skilled worker ? The parents of an ordinary apprentice sacrifice much to enable him to learn a trade when he is between the- ages of 16 years and 21 years. He receives a mere pittance. When he attains the age of 21 years he receives his indenture, but his training is still incomplete. To the five years which he has- already spent in training must be added another twelve months before he receives his higher trade certificate, and to that must be added another twelve months before he receives his. diploma. By that time frei has; spent sev.en, years- in training and) even then he does, not. know as much, as; he should, about the trade. He must attend, college from year to year at his own. expense? until hr has learnt, all. the; modern scientific developments of his trade-. The claims of the skilled workers are unchallengeable. Those: men must receive- an. increase in their margins and they must receive it soon. From day to day we hear members of the Australian Country party, with their unique method . of propaganda-, arguing- their own cause. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Brand), in his maiden speech in this House, made an appeal on behalf of the wool-growers. Wool-growers are experiencing unprecedented prosperity, but they claim that they must receive more assistance from the Government. It is part of their approach to the question to state that if there are no floods there must be droughts, that dingoes are among the flocks or that foxes are among the lambs, that freights are excessive, and. that they are on the verge of ruin. The Australian Country party, because of its good organization and the pressure that it can exert on another minority group with which it constitutes the Government, forces the hand of the Government into formulating stabilization schemes that guarantee their margins. The skilled workers of Australia are starting to adopt that method. They are following the lead of those minority groups which form the Government and which represent 47 per cent, of the electors, of Australia. The Australian Labour party is the party that should be entrusted with the government of the country.
Other pressure groups are. having their influence upon our economy. The financial groups experience no trouble at all in getting their margins. The interest burden on the Australian community has been increased considerably since the two pressure groups that support the Government have: combined to- exploit the worker still, further. The interest rate generally is now £4 17s.. 6d. per cent-., which- is a fine pay-off to the financial groups. The primary producers- are receiving a high price for- butter, but- the burden of the higher price falls upon the working man and his family. The wheatgrowers continually seek increases and still further increases in the price of t heir product. They have stated, “We must get a stabilized price “. The result is that an agreement will be achieved, but the skilled worker and his family will pay another1d. a loaf for the bread that they have on the breakfast table each day. Moreover, the manufacturers and the importers are bringing pressure to bear on the Government. Their tariffs and import restrictions are adjusted from time to time. Members of the real estate institute, who arc black-marketeers and racketeers in key money, continue to press the Government for a reduction in the allotment of money to the various State instrumentalities in order that they may he prevented from building houses. Jerry-builders and speculative builders are exploiting people every day. They cry about higher costs, but higher costs are covered more or less by a book entry. Racketeering in every-day commodities is, to say the least, scandalous. Food racketeers who prey upon the lower-paid workers should be gaoled without the option of a. fine. Yesterday, a man accepted £450 as key money for a house in Sydney, but he was fined only a paltry £100. That man should have been gaoled and kept in gaol indeterminately. As the result of legislation which was introduced last year, the medical profession is guaranteed a debt-free existence. The members of the British Medical Association were guaranteed their margins for skill. Members of the Pharmaceutical Service Guild of Australia receive their margins for skill. The dental profession is very jealous of its margins for skill. Even the dental mechanic is not allowed to enter the close preserve of that profession. The dentist takes an impression, the dental mechanic makes a denture, but the dentist adds his margin and puts it into his own pocket.
One of the more highly skilled professions is that of the air pilots, air officers and aeroplane engineers. The Government tried to destroy the fellowship and goodwill of Trans-Australia Airlines by forcing that instrumentality to protest against the granting of extra margins for skill. I suppose all of the major airlines, or at least one or two of them, brought pressure to bear on the Government through the Minister for Civil Aviation to force Trans-Australia Airlines to oppose the claim. The case is now before the court. Although one of the judges is supposed to be in a position to adjudicate on the hazards of that calling, he refused to fly in an aeroplane. After his refusal and when the parties returned to the court, he refused to hear the evidence in open court.
Mr.FREETH. - I rise to order. On the admission of the honorable member, the case is still being heard.
– I do not know whether the case has been heard or whether it is still before the court. If the case is still before the court, the honorable member is out of order. If the case has been finished and judgment has been pronounced, he is in order.
– I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from the 5th August (vide page 75), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the following paper be printed: -
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on Thursday night last in this House made a statement on international affairs, which was of outstanding importance to Australia. He first gave a masterly analysis of Australia’s situation vis a vis Asia in general and South-East Asia in particular, in the course of which he announced a policy change that I am sure will greatly influence Australia’s future for good, in that he accepted on behalf of the Government the principle of commitment under a multilateral treaty. The Prime Minister was followed in the debate by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), who dealt largely with the past. He invited the House to consider various events, some of which happened in the distant past, and he barely touched upon the future.. Members of this Parliament, as the elected representatives of the people, are concerned primarily with the future, and the past is of interest only for debating purposes in an effort to score off one’s opponents. The citizens of Australia look to their elected representatives and the Australian Government to assure their future, which is by no means automatically assured. The Government is devoted to the concept that we are not interested in national suicide and that it is the Administration’s task to ensure that Australia shall survive. The future can be assured only by vigorous action on the part of the Government. The Prime Minister made this clear in his announcement last Thursday of a radical alteration of policy.
The Leader of the Opposition said early in his remarks that much of the Prime Minister’s statement commands immediate agreement, but unfortunately he did not tell us the points with which he immediately agreed. He left that to our imagination. One of the processes of representative government, as we all know very well, consists in the leader of the government, in large matters of policy, stating in Parliament the policy of the government that he leads. He is followed in debate by the Leader of the Opposition, who states the attitude of the Opposition. The debate proceeds from that point, and eventually a vote is taken. The Parliament, and basically the people, decide the issue. But that simple process with which we are all so familiar depends upon positive statements first from one side of the House, and then from the other. The Leader of the Opposition, on Thursday evening, presumably speaking on behalf of his party, did not invite us to consider any positive suggestions. Anything that honorable members might have been able to gather from his remarks had necessarily to be inferred. I do not know whether the right honorable gentleman intends to leave it to some lesser member of his party to announce the party’s policy in duc course, or whether we are to take his remarks of last Thursday as being everything that the Australian Labour party has to say on this matter that is vital to Australia’s future.
As I have said, there are several things that had to be inferred from the observations of the Leader of the Opposition. T cannot speak for the Opposition, but I would deduce from the right honorable gentleman’s words that he is in favour of regional military arrangements and of the proposed South-East Asia Treaty Organization in particular, because that was the matter under discussion. Consequently, one can assume that the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues are in favour of this great treaty organization for which the Prime Minister has announced Australia’s support on behalf of all of us. On the matter of the commitment of forces under that treaty or any other future arrangement dealing with South-East Asia, the only substantial point that one can glean from the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition is that in his view Australia must acknowledge that military agreements cannot be made without incurring military commitments. I suppose that in the absence of anything more specific we are to take that rather glancing reference as being an endorsement of the policy of commitment for the future. The Leader of the Opposition then proceeded to discuss consultation. He said with a great show of impressment and with a blow of his fist on the table that we must have consultation with the countries concerned before we are committed. Of course we must have consultation. We shall not be foolish enough to buy a pig in a poke in committing ourselves to any international treaty, and I am sure that when the South-East Asia Treaty eventually takes shape, full consideration will be given to the need for consultation.
It was in a reference to the United Nations, in respect of which the Leader of the Opposition presumably reserves a sort of proprietary interest, that the right honorable gentleman went to market, and took us many years into the distant past with a lecture on the veto power in proceedings of the Security Council. Every Australian who has even the most fragmentary interest in international affairs knows the story of the veto. Much as we deplore the power of the veto, we realize that without it there would have been no United Nations organization. It was a question either of having the United Nations organization with a power of veto, much as that depreciates its value, or of having no United Nations organization. We all know the .story so intimately that we need not have been invited at this stage to listen to .a rather elementary lecture on the veto, especially as the veto has nothing to do with the matter at issue in this debate. It is a matter of the past, and the fighting over it has long ended. We are concerned with the future.
The Leader of the Opposition said that in the last four years - he specified that period because it is within the lifetime of this Government - nothing was done to take the Indo-China dispute to the United Nations, and he asserted that had it been taken to that body a great deal of loss of life and much bloodshed would have been avoided. Let us examine that observation, which apparently the right honorable gentleman intended as a serious contribution to an important debate. With all due respect to him, I believe that his reputation will not be enhanced by a critical consideration of his remarks. The Leader of the Opposition knows probably better than most of us why the Indo-China problem was not referred to the United Nations. He is well aware of the attitude of France towards this dispute during the last seven years, and he knows very well that France, from the end of World War II. until a few weeks ago, insisted that the Indo-China trouble was a domestic matter and that it should not bc subject to review by the United Nations or any other .outside body. In this attitude France relied on Article .2, paragraph 7, of the United Nations Charter, which the Leader of the Opposition played a major part in framing. That Article reads -
Nothing contained in .the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State, or shall require the members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; . . .
The right .honorable gentleman himself invoked that Article in respect of the dispute between the Union of South Africa and the Government of India. It has -been invoked many times in an effort to keep .the United Nations out of the domestic affairs of one country or another. The Austraiian Government agrees that the United Nations should not interfere in domestic matters. We in Australia do not want that body to poke its nose into Australian institutions and establishments any more than any other country wishes it to interfere with its internal .affairs.
In the face of the hard and fast attitude taken by France, the Indo-China dispute could have been referred to the United Nations, one might say, -only over the dead body of France. It is significant that no nation chose to challenge the French view and take the dispute to the United Nations within the last seven years. The United States of America, whose citizens are no great lovers of colonialism - if there is any element of colonialism in the Indo-China- affair - did not choose to refer the Indo-China problem to the United Nations, nor did the Government of India, which country has itself only recently been freed from what the Indians were pleased to regard as colonial status. Siam, a country contiguous to Indo-China, where the Communist revolt was taking place, did not approach the United Nations, nor did any other country. The Leader of the Opposition knows perfectly well that his remarks, ‘except as a minor - I might almost say schoolboy - debating point, are not worthy of a moment’s consideration. The Indo-China dispute could have been referred to the United Nations had any country been willing to override the considerations to which I have referred. Had the problem been submitted to the United Nations it would have been dealt with by the Security Council. The Leader of the Opposition is we’ll aware that France is a permanent member of the Council and has the power of veto in its deliberations. France would either not have allowed discussion of the dispute by the Security Council, or, had it allowed discussion, would have exercised the veto on any action proposed by the Council with which it did not agree.
– The dispute could have been taken .to the General Assembly of the United Nations.
– It could not have gone to the General Assembly without first having been considered by the Security Council. There is no point in taking a problem to the United Nations unless there is a possibility of practical remedial action as a result. Nothing useful could have been achieved by submitting the Indo-China dispute to the United Nations. That body has had enough failures already, and Indo-China would merely have added another to the list. The Leader of the Opposition said that the dispute should have been referred to the United Nations within the last four years, as I have said. He chose this period for party political purposes. This Government has been in office for five years, and the right honorable gentleman is sufficiently skilled at arithmetic to know that four is less than five. One cannot fool him about that. In the early stages between 1945 and 1947, when the Viet Minh movement in IndoChina was in its infancy, and when it was very much more nationalist than Communist inspired, there might have been a possibility of good resulting from an approach to the United Nations. At that time China, on the northern flank of Indo-China, was not under Communist domination. But before .1949 any approach to the United Nations would have had to run the gauntlet of the French veto. After 1949, when China had come under Communist rule, there was a risk that Soviet Russia would veto any action if the dispute were submitted to the United Nations, so as to prevent things turning out badly for Russia’s Communist friends in the Indo-China Viet Minh movement. Whenever the Leader of the Opposition believes that the dispute should have been taken to the United Nations, any country interested could have used the veto power. The right honorable gentleman has made no serious proposal. He has merely made a suggestion purely for debating purposes and has endeavoured by invoking the abracadabra of the United Nations to fool the people and their elected representatives, who happen to be well enough acquainted with these matters to see through his remarks. But in this chamber, presumably, there are many who know a lot about the United Nations; and it is an insult to the intelligence of the Parliament that such a matter should have been advanced as an element in this debate.
Owing to the fact that my time is limited, I regret that I shall not ‘be able to deal with a number of subjects as fully as I should like to do. Unfortunately, I am obliged to speak against the clock. I turn now to the proposed South-East Asian Treaty Organization. The Prime Minister dealt with this matter last Thursday evening in a speech which, in respect of its content and delivery and the first-class importance of the subject-matter dealt with - a matter of the highest possible policy upon which die survival of this country depends, not a tiddly-wink matter of the kind about which members of the Opposition frequently assault the ears of Australians - was one of the greatest speeches that has yet been made in this House. Consequently, I do not intend to retrace the ground which the right honorable gentleman covered. It can be safely assumed that the SouthEast Asian defence organization treaty, without anticipating its terms or content, will, when it materializes, be purely a defensive arrangement without a scintilla of a possibility of offensive use. That can be taken for granted. Its principal purpose in the broadest sense must be to guarantee the integrity, autonomy and the continued right of this little group of South-East Asian countries to govern themselves. That, I think, can be accepted as being the broad purpose of the proposed treaty. That will be the heart of the treaty.
It will, of course, deal with the need for military protection of these countries. That is one of its essential purposes. However, we should not get into the habit of thinking of the potential military purpose of this treaty as if that were its only purpose. That is only one aspect of the treaty, and we should make a serious mistake if we believed that the vital problems of Asia can be solved by military means alone. I believe that both the psychological and economic aspects of affairs in Asia, are an essential element in the thinking of all who are concerned about the retention of those countries on the democratic side. Most Asian people with whom I have had contact, and others’ are extremely sensitive about their colonial past. All the countries of SouthEast Asia other than Thailand have had their affairs directed by one or other of the European countries for up to 200 years or more, and they are very sensitive of that colonial past. From conversations that I have had with Asians, many of whom have been my personal friends for many years, I know that they are most sensitive of anything that they could interpret as being Western interference with their affairs, now that they have gained freedom and independence. The economies of these countries are very much more vulnerable than the economy of any other country or those of any other group of countries in the world. They export a limited quantity of materials and foodstuffs and with the proceeds from the sales of those exports they import such quantities of industrial equipment as they deem to be needed in order to establish some sort of secondary economy in their countries. However, they sell their exports in markets that are dominated by Western countries. The price of their main exports, such as rubber and jute, depends on the demand for such goods by Western countries, principally European countries. That state of affairs generates a sense of injustice or resentment on the part of a great many Asian peoples - that is, the fact that the stability of their economies depends upon the commercial demand of the West. [Extension of time granted.] This dependence, or assumed dependence, on the part of a great many of the Asian countries upon Western markets, gives rise to a feeling of resentment. For instance, a catastrophic fall in the price of rubber, as has happened in the past, would bring suffering to millions and, perhaps, tens of millions of Asian people ; and they visit their resentment upon the Western countries for having brought about such a state of affairs. They are not very familiar with the play of the forces of supply and demand, but believe that they receive such treatment out of malice on the part of Western countries. So, I suggest that international action to sustain and stabilize their principal commodities might quite well do mere in the interests of those countries than the provision of direct economic aid. Whilst we must guard these countries against aggression, at the same time it is not only in their interests but also in our interests to watch and guard them against the possibility qf economic collapse from within. Of course, there is nothing that would play more into the hands of the Communists than would economic collapse in any of those countries.
Many Asian people, including good Indians, good Pakistani and good Ceylonese, are convinced that the only possibility of any reasonably rapid degree of progress in their countries lies in intimate association with the West. They believe that only by intimate association with the West can they be enabled to progress. But, at the same time, they are on their toes to guard against any domination, as they might consider it to be, or controls being re-exercised over their countries. Apart from military matters, I took every opportunity to discuss these economic subjects, which are just as important, with Mr. John Foster Dulles and any other persons likely to be concerned with this problem in the future, and to express to them the view of the Australian Government upon them. I believe that my discussions have helped to some degree to obtain more serious consideration of these matters. We must try to keep the economic side apart from the defence machinery, as we must keep the Colombo Plan distinct from the military side in the South-East Asian Treaty Organization and the Anzus Treaty distinct from the South-East Asian Treaty Organization.
In the few minutes that remain available to me at this juncture, I should like to deal with a subject of another type. The Leader of the Opposition complained rather petulantly, as he has done on two occasions in recent days, that the Government did not announce its policy before the Geneva conference and did not arrange for that policy to be debated in this House. The Communists would have liked us to do just the reverse. I believe, myself, that the Leader of the Opposition, in making that statement, did not really do justice to himself. Honorable members on this side of the House do not believe in what I might call negotiation by loud speaker. Really, I wonder what the motive of the right honorable gentleman is in putting forward a proposition of that kind, except that he made his statement as a debating point in order to impress people who are not familiar with this subject. Honorable members on this side of the chamber are not out to gain headlines. Let me make it plain - I hope not brutally plain - that our methods - perhaps I might be excused if I say my methods - of conduct in respect of international matters are wholly different from those of the Leader of the Opposition. Honorable members on this side of the House believe in making not critics or enemies but friends in other countries. We do not believe in snatching headlines, largely for selfadulation, if, as a result of such conduct, our country is to suffer. We on this side of the chamber are not interested in committing national suicide; we are interested in surviving. We, with 9,000,000 people trying to occupy a continent the size of Australia, and situated as we are geographically, cannot survive by the strength of our right arm alone. We can survive only by the closest collaboration with other countries and by making stronger friendships with them such as we have, fortunately, with the Mother Country and the United States of America, although not exclusively with those two countries. I mention them hecause they are of prime significance in the world to-day. We have dealt with them and informed them of our views. We do not inveigh against them in public because such action would be evidence of a rift in the democratic lute. We do not seek to embarrass our friends but to get along with them: and in our communications and private discussions to indicate where we believe them to be wrong and what we think should be done. We have followed that course during the last few months. All of our negotiations and discussions have been conducted in private. I hope that we shall never criticize our great friends in public because that would give meat and drink to international communism. That is not our method, and for that reason, when we go to international conferences, we do not announce events beforehand to the Parliament or even to supporters of the Government. We do not announce them beforehand to the country and so to the world. There is nothing that the communists would like us to do more than to adopt that course. I repent that we on this side of the House are not interested in national suicide. Our methods of conducting ourselves in international affairs differ from those of the Leader of the Opposition.
.- The House has just listened to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), who was pushed aside by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) last Thursday night, because the Prime Minister did not trust him in the handling of questions pertaining to the administration of his own department. The Prime Minister had to make a statement because he could not trust his peripatetic Minister for External Affairs. To-night, the Minister comes back fighting at shadows and windmills. He said nothing at all about the importance of the question that was dealt with by the Prime Minister, the burden of which was that there was an urgent need to set up in the South-East Asian area an organization on identical lines with that of Nato. What the Prime Minister said was not exceptional, and members of the Opposition were amazed that it had taken him so long to bring himself up to date. He advocated the very thing that the Labour party has been advocating for years. Labour has urged this course since the end of World War II., and during the lifetime of this Government ever since the Anzus Pact was signed. That fact will be amply proved by reference to the pages of Hansard. Let us face the reality that in South-East Asia and in the South-West Pacific area the only countries that can do anything to defeat Communist aggression are Australia, the United States of America, New Zealand and the Philippines. As evidence of the desire of the Labour party to establish a Pacific security pact, let me mention that on the loth March, 1949, the present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt) asked the then Minister for Defence, Mr. John J. Dedman, the following question : -
Will thu Minister for Defence say whether he has been correctly reported as having stated that since Australia agreed to assume a heavier burden in relation to British Commonwealth defence, a regional defence pact for the Pacific area, within the charter of the United Nations, has been mooted?
Mr. Dedman replied, in part ;
I Iia ve always made it clear that the idea in the Pacific area is an international security force under the control of the United Nations. If that is not practicable the next best course for us to take will be to develop a regional pact in that area. Such a regional pact would be of the strongest character if there were associated with it not only the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations but also all other Nations interested in the Pacific Area.
Four days later, the position of the Chifley Government was further indicated by the then Prime Minister, the great Mr. Chifley, when he made the following statement : -
Australia welcomes the Atlantic Pact and trusts that the Parliaments of the countries concerned will ratify it.
The pact is essentially defensive and thus accords with the purposes and principles of the United Nations and with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter in particular.
So it is perfectly obvious that the policy which we advocated from 1946 until we left office at the end of 1949 is now being advocated by this Government.
– What did the Chifley Government do. about it ?
– We did our best, but the United States of America did not want it at that time. Great Britain itself did not want it.
– I remember that in October, 1952, a Sydney newspaper published a report of a comment that appeared in the London Daily Express, which is run by Lord Beaverbrook and has a daily circulation of 4,000.000 copies. The Minister himself was attacked by Lord Beaverbrook for keeping Great Britain out of the Anzus pact, and the comment was made, if I remember rightly, that he took the King’s shilling, by which it was meant that he had served in Churchill’s war-time government and had then kicked Great Britain in the teeth. Let him now take up with his friend, Lord Beaverbrook, the reason why he made that comment about the attitude of the Minister over the Anzus pact. When the United States of America offered Australia the Anzus pact as a sop for Australia’s acceptance of a soft Japanese peace treaty, the Labour party denounced it as toothless and largely useless, and urged the creation of a pact for the South Pacific om the lines of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Every speech we made was in support of something worthwhile to- guarantee the safety of democracy in these areas. We believe it- is vital that France, Holland and Great Britain should be included in the proposed South-East Asia Treaty Organization, but it is useless to fool ourselves about the matter. Those countries are separated from us by two continents, and the peoples of those two continents refuse to enthuse about the future security of the Western democracies or about our way of life - a way of life that has been too often a way of death for milIons of their fellow beings- over the centuries that they have known it, and have had to endure it. If a South-East Asia Treaty Organization could be created to include England, France and Holland, which are colonial powers in the Pacific, as well as the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Thailand together with the new Asian democracies such as India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Burma and Ceylon, the future of the Pacific and of all Asia would be secured.
But let us face the. reality. However much we may wish it, the new Asian democracies, will not fight in our wars against communism. The Minister for External Affairs, in another debate earlier to-day, admitted that fact. The Western democracies have been outsmarted to date by the Communists. We must not think that by sending occupation armies into Asian countries to stand about waiting for war to start, or just to defend the investments of Western capitalism in tin, rubber or oil while millions starve about them, we shall be able to avert war. India, Ceylon, Burma, Indonesia and. Pakistan will have nothing to do with this proposal for the South-East Asia Treaty Organization pact. They have a policy of nonalinement with the Communist powers and the Western world alike and from that position they do not propose to depart. Our problem to-day is how best we can associate with them in a fight against the on-rush of communism, and how we can associate with them to stop the red lava flow of communism creeping ever onward and ever southward. But the Asian countries to which I have referred see things differently from our view of them. We have occidental minds. They have oriental minds. They have memories. They have very little for which to be thankful to the West in respect of happenings in the past.
There are four issues which the Prime Minister failed to deal with in his speech, yet they are vital to the peace of the Pacific. The first is the establishment of the independence of Malaya, a proposition which the British Government has approved, but which has not yet been brought to fruition. If Australian troops are to go into Malaya, they must go in to fight in defence of the legitimate aims of Malayan nationalism. They must not go in to fight in defence of investments from the Western world, [f they do so, then the war in Malaya will end as the war in Indo-China has ended, and that is in inevitable defeat for the democracies.
The second, third and fourth issues which the Prime Minister evaded are issues that divide America from Britain and on each of them this Government sides with Sir Winston Churchill and Mr. Anthony Eden. It is all right for the Prime Minister to say that we have to be an interpretative authority - I use his words broadly in that connexion - in order that we may explain Britain’s views to America, and America’s views to Britain. The issues about which America is worried, and on which England is so strongly determined, are, first, the recognition of red China; secondly, the admission of red China to the United Nations; and thirdly, the establishment of what is loosely regarded as a Locarno pact in the South-East Asia area to include both Communist and non-Communist nations. The Government has not indicated where it stands on those issues, and unless it does so, the United States of America will still look upon us with a certain amount of suspicion. When the Labour party was in power here, there was never any doubt about what America thought of Australia.
Government Supporters. - Hear, hear.
– None whatsoever. Let me read a passage from the policy speech of a former Labour Prime Min- ister. Mr. John Curtin, on the 26th July, 1943. It is as follows: -
The inheritance the Labour Government accepted from its predecessors was a heavy burden. Blind to the dangers in the Pacific, the Menzies and Fadden Governments had left Australia very much unprepared. Australia’s resources were spread over many far-flung battle fronts. The mcn of the three services fought with fine efficiency and made conspicuous contributions, but at home the then Government had left the country almost undefended. Australia was a sector as menaced, and as helpless, as the Philippines.
The essentials for defence to the hands of the commanders, as the result of the previous Government’s policy, were so sadly inadequate that only a limited disposition of forces could be made. But the Labour Government rejected that concept. In association with the commanders, it developed a plan to prevent this great country from being doomed. It rejected the concept that the little islands to the north of Australia would be taken, that upper Queensland and the Darwin area would be over-run by the enemy. It determined and made the. necessary provision that the battle for Australia would be fought in the islands on the north, north-east and north-west of Australia and not in the environs of the peopled areas of the Commonwealth.
They did not approve of the appeal that Mr. Curtin made in his New Year message, published on the 29th December, 1941, when he said -
Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom.
He made the appeal across the broad wastes of the Pacific to America to come to our aid. When Mr. Curtin made that speech, the present Prime Minister said that it was a blunder, and the present Australian Ambassador to Washington, Sir Percy Spender, described it as an egregious blunder. The present Prime Minister, in his speech last week, has tried to say the same thing, but he cannot say it, because he just has not got the same clear conscience that Mr. Curtin had in regard to relations with the United States of America. Some people have suggested that the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs should be sent to Washington. What would they do there? They would only do as the Minister for External Affairs has done in Geneva, Paris, London and Washington, and that is to wait outside the closed doors of the conferences for somebody to come along and bid him good -day.
The Prime Minister admits that IndoChina is not the last conquest of communism in the Pacific. He admits that another conquest is about to take place, and that we cannot do anything about it. He admits that the “ bamboo curtain “ is to descend from the seventeenth parallel to the seventh parallel. I shall read his words to the House on that position. They are as follows: -
We would do well, therefore, to consider the significance of Indo-China . .. . by contemplating that before long we may be forced to regard the Communist frontier as lying on the southern shores of Indo-China, within a few hundred air miles at the Kra Isthmus.
He admits that another conquest by the Communists is about to take place, and that there is nothing we can do about it. All I have to say on that point is that the people who made the conquests by communism possible are those who have denied independence to the native peoples of the Pacific, and those who have exploited them over the centuries. The native people should he given their right to live as human beings. There is something more important than arms, if the ever-onward march of communism is to be stopped, and that something is food for Asia’s starving millions. Hungry stomachs are easily attracted by the promises of communism, particularly in lands that have known nothing but hunger and famine for centuries. Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, in heir latest book, India and the Awakening East, utters the significant truth and, I add, the ominous warning, when she writes as follows: -
Freedom to eat is one of tile most important freedoms, and it is what the Communists are promising the people of India.
Communism is promising not only the people of India but also the people of all Asian countries, food and plenty. False and treacherous promises, no doubt, but promises that at least look attractive !
What are we in this land doing about the matter? Instead of talking about the restriction of wheat acreages, and the construction of more storage facilities, we should give our wheat, and Canada, the United States of America and other countries should give their wheat, to those who would be or could be our friends and who, because of our past and present neglect, may easily become our future enemies. We could finance such a scheme from the budget surplus of more than £50,000,000 in the last financial year. It is more important that we should try to feed people who need food than that we should talk about sending battalions into Malaya. Before we start to talk about sending battalions anywhere else, let us do something about our own defence, because we have none. We spend £200,000,000 a year on defence, yet there is no defence in the north of Australia ! I have visited northern Australia a few times, and I shall tell honorable members what is happening there.
Our navy at Darwin consists of one motor boat and a visiting frigate. Our air force, which conducts combined air and naval manoeuvres with our two naval vessels, consists of one Lincoln bomber, one Dakota and one Wirraway, with one pilot who can fly two of the machines. The defences of Australia are as weak comparatively as they were in 1939. We have to-day the equivalent of the Wirraways and the Ansons of that period with which to meet an onslaught from the north. Darwin is not merely the gateway to trade. The air over Darwin is not just the way by which passenger and freight traffic comes into Australia. Darwin is also, the gateway to invasion. And Darwin is undefended ! We have a total of 500 members of our three armed forces to guard 4,000 miles of our coastline. That is the way this Government has left Australia defenceless. Yet it talks about sending Australians overseas to defend other parts of the British Commonwealth ! When the Prime Minister says that the decisive, battle for Australia, is likely to be fought far away in Malaya, over the great oceans and over the cities and fields of England, he is talking so much rhetoric. That view may accord with traditional military thinking, but it ignores the fact that we live in an age of thermo-nuclear warfare, which will probably invalidate all the notions, all the concepts and all the conventional, views on strategy, no matter
How much the traditionalists may dislike the fact. The battle for Australia in my view, for what it is worth, will be fought, as World War II. was fought, in the islands near and around Australia, and nowhere else. If that is not so, what is the use of a South-East Asia treaty? I commend to the Government the views that a distinguished airman, Mr. Gerald Packer, stated before the Victorian Branch of the Australian Institute of International Affairs a few days ago. He said that, in the matter of defence, we must think in post-atomic, not pre-atomic terms. [Extension of time granted.]
When Ministers and their supporters talk’ of their friendship for the United States of America and Great Britain, they conveniently forget that they insulted the United States of America while World War II. was being fought and that they insulted Great Britain over the Anzus pact. They would have us believe that they are the only Australians who, by their diplomatic ability and other outstanding qualities, can bring about an arrangement in this area that will be satisfactory to all the people concerned. But they and their friends also were the people who did not want the Statute of Westminster and who did not want the Australian divisions to be brought back from the Middle East during World War II. They have a satellite mentality. If they cannot be satellites of Downingstreet, they want to be satellites of Wallstreet. Sometimes they try to belong to each of those two solar systems at the same time. The point is that they cannot be Australians. The spirit of colonialism dominates their every thought. The world is distressed. The world is perturbed. Those who live in Europe naturally and properly think of their own safety in Europe. I do not blame them for that, and I did not blame Churchill when he said -
I think of Europe, not Asia, because I live in Europe, not in Asia.
All I ask of my fellow Australians is that they should think of Australia first and all the time, because it is our children and our children’s children who have to survive in this part of the world in the years that are ahead. The Minister for External Affairs said earlier in this debate, “ My time is running out “. Time is running out for all of us. It is much later than any of us think.
I should like the Prime Minister to be more direct and less discursive. When he refers to people who are “ trigger happy “, does he refer to his “ shoot’emdown “ trigger-happy Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony) ? When he says that the policy of the Government is to do all it can by negotiation and persuasion to remove causes of difference and secure community of thought and action, does he refer to the United States of America and Great Britain? Well, it is rather presumptuous on his part if he does ! The United States of America needs no interpreters, and we cannot survive in this part of the world unless we can shelter under the protecting wing of the American Eagle. We have to be friendly with the United States of America, and we ought to promote the greatest possible friendship with that country. If this Government, instead of talking about kindergarten committees on foreign affairs and defence on a study circle level, wants to consult with the Opposition on the highest level in regard to these matters, it will never find us lacking in Australianism. If it wants to have prior consultation with us on any matter, it has only to ask and it will never find us wanting in our duty to Australia.
What the world needs to-day is that new order which was promised to it after World War II., but which has not yet been established. We should be fools indeed if we did not face the fact that Asia will not fight for the new order or anything else savouring of Western influence. It certainly will not fight for the old order, which means to the Asian the order of repression and starvation, the order of blood and tears. The new order that we are always promised only when we are threatened with annihilation must be based on the recognition that all authority comes from Almighty God and is exercised through the will of the people as expressed in the principle written into the American Constitution by Thomas Jefferson, of government by consent of the governed, and as laid down by Abraham Lincoln, in the definition of democracy in his famous Gettysburg speech, of government of the people by the people, for the people. Such an order is the only one that can ultimately conquer the evil philosophy of communism. It is the only order of society that deserves to exist. It is the only order of society that can possibly survive.
– This is no time for buffoonery, party politics or amateur strategy by people who have never learned to stand to attention. This is a national crisis, and surely we can discuss it on something above the level of the speech that we have just heard from the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell). On the 4th August, 1914, there was a tide in the affairs of nations which had to be taken at the flood and which forced millions of men and women all over the world to make decisions. Forty years later, on the 4th August last, we met in this House in the Twenty-first Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia to face up to the implications of another tide in the affairs of nations which brooks no indecision or delay. It is not like the first fierce onrush of the 1914 tide, but it is a creeping, dangerous, insidious flood, which demands that we keep steady minds and have patience and perseverance, as well as a strong right arm and very clear thought. One is tempted, as Indo-China is prominent in our thoughts, to digress and trace the fascinating history of that country. Indo-China for ages past has been the no-man’s land of Asia, where Pallavan Indians, Mon Kher and Tai tribesmen from the Shan States, and. the Chinese have infiltrated into the valleys of the Menam, the Mekong and the Red rivers. But, as was said earlier, time is short. The past is dead, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has said. The water that has flowed under the bridge has long since run out to sea. We can learn many lessons from history, but the present is with us and the future depends partly upon our actions.
To-day we in this House are in a special position of responsibility in which we have to play a larger part on the stage of Australia’s history, to think more clearly, to strive more earnestly for the heights of peace for which all men yearn, and to work harder, both individually and collec tively, for Tennyson’s dream of “ The Parliament of man - The Federation of the World”. The past three years, and particularly the past three months, have taught us that Australians must try to rid themselves of their habit of introspection and turn their eyes to farther horizons. We must try to influence the world around us on long-term policies, as well as to deal with day to day happenings. Recent events in the international sphere, and particularly in Indo-China, will doubtless, as the Prime Minister has said, cause a complete revision of our defences and possibly also of our foreign policy. The old basis of the Anzam area will very probably be given a new lookwhile avoiding aggression, we must do everything we can to co-operate with other nations in order to stop aggression whenever and wherever it may occur. The idealism which I hope we all cherish must be very heavily spiced with realism in the world of to-day. Let us therefore try to make an appreciation of the situation.
Australia is at present in a dangerous position of isolation. Geographically we are an Asian nation. Historically, we look to Europe and the West even though our traditions, our customs, our language and our religion differ from those of our Asian neighbours no more than they differ on such matters amongst themselves. The danger of our isolation is that Australia is less populated, richer and more highly mechanized, and enjoys a far higher standard of living than do Asian countries. Australia, therefore, is looked upon with a rather jealous eye by Communist commandos - and they do not all come from other races. Our geographical isolation from the West and our historical isolation from the East leave us in a very difficult, strange and precarious position in the diplomatic world. Australia can influence world decisions, but it cannot dictate as some people seem to think it can. We have earned the right in two world wars to make our voice heard in the councils of the world. At the same time, as the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) pointed out so cogently, we must avoid the two extremes of making too much noise and of sitting silent on the sidelines. The latter, of course, is not usually an Australian habit. However, t;here is a very great danger, as we found just after World War II., in the other extreme of making too much noise. The nation must know its definite objectives without which we will wander aimlessly in the jungle, at the mercy of elements over which we have no control. These objectives cannot be defined in a hurry but it is these objectives that underline the importance of the speeches of the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs.
Recently Australia has discovered that the conflict of our geographical and historical positions has had the effect of excluding this country from the conference of Prime Ministers of South and South-East Asia whilst at the same time we have, to a certain degree, been left on the doormat both at Geneva and Washington. But that does not mean that we have to start making a noise and thinking that we are much bigger than we really are. At the same time we must remember that the future of South and South-East Asia, vis-a-vis communism, is also possibly, if not probably, the fate of Australia.
No great wisdom was needed to forecast that the guns on the Yangste in 1 949 were blowing out the lights of China and would soon throw Indo-China into darkness. No crystal-gazer is necessary in order to let us see the difficulties and dangers with which we are confronted to-day. Yet some people seem to treat them very lightly. The Geneva conference has ended. The negotiations at Geneva were strung out, as were the Korean armistice negotiations, in order that the free world, including France, would be presented with a fait accompli. There were two schools of thought at Geneva. One believed that it was necessary to compromise to a certain degree in order to clean up what might be called the World War II. left-overs; the other believed that the time had come when stronger action should be taken. Whichever was right then, it is certain now that the second viewpoint is the one that will have to be employed in future, meaning, as the Prime Minister has said, that we shall have to “lead from strength”. At Geneva the Communists tried to do several things. They tried to cause disunion between Great Britain and the United States of America. They tried to torpedo the European Defence Community. They also tried to make Japan and West Germany fall into despair. I leave honorable members to judge for themselves how far the Communists have achieved those objectives. The result, as far as I see it, has been a victory for communism in the East and West, but it must be the last of such victories. Unless quick action is taken economically, strategically and diplomatically, as suggested by the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Dulles, not a citizen of the free countries, from Seoul to Singapore, or, we might even say, from Darien to Dakar, will have any faith or trust in us. Nobody suggests that it is possible to defend a country that does not wish to be defended. On the other hand, if we say we are going to defend a country we have to show that we mean what we say and will carry out our obligations, if we want support. This is important in relation to Asia, where it is essential for people who cannot control their own destinies to be on the winning side.
A question in the minds of many people is whether a third world war is inevitable. Nobody can prophesy what disasters dictators may spawn, but it is certain that the cold war must be stopped. If it continues we shall either be defeated in detail or a hot war will become inevitable. The cold war can only be stopped by strength. This involves the lesser of two risks, the other being to allow it to proceed until the free world is so weak that the reds will be prepared to take the risk of war. I consider, however, that a third world war is not by any means inevitable. I cannot believe that the Communists do not know, as well as we know, that the victor in a third world war would be sitting on a Churchillian “ heap of ruins “. I cannot believe that China does not know that its own coastal cities would be among the early contributions to that heap, that Manchuria would be in the direct line of fire, and that China itself could not stand the stresses and strains of a war. At the same time, the Chinese are the world’s greatest gamblers, and they will bluff as long as bluffing pays. “We must ensure that bluffing pays no more dividends.
While attention is focussed on the threat to other neighboring countries as a result of Communist control of Viet Nam, all too few people have realized the tragedy of the compromise, not to France, not to South-East Asia, not to the free world, but to the Christian and non-Communist Vietnamese. In this world challenge by communism to Christianity or, as it might be put, in this struggle between God and Mammon, between Confucianism and Buddhism, or ‘between any other religion and Marxian materialism, the plight of the refugees is tragic indeed. Only people who witnessed, as I witnessed, the flight from the red terror in Mukden, in 1945, or similar scenes, can begin to realize the plight of the Christian and nonCommunist Vietnamese in the Red River delta to-day. The Government believes that everything that can be done to assist those people should be done. We must try to ease this tragedy by whatever means are available, possibly by acting in concert with other nations. One means of alleviating the plight of the refugees might be through the International Red Cross. Swift and vigorous action must be taken to build up South Viet Nam so that when elections are held they will not be phoney. I do not think it needs any great psychic power to judge what will happen in regard to elections in the Communist-held part of Indo-China. The independence of Laos and Cambodia must he preserved, and subversive action must be stopped there, as elsewhere, as- far as possible. Thailand must be . fully supported through the South-East Asia Treaty Organization or any other regional pacts that can be made with other countries in order to preserve the independence of the free nations in this unstable area. This action must be pursued as vigorously as possible. In relation to all of these things, however, the great unknown factor is China itself. How easy it would be to usher in a peaceful era if China would be true to its own history and traditions instead of allowing itself to be a secondrate nation which is a satellite of Moscow. Before the mechanized age, China was a great power, but it will never again be a great power as long as it remains a satellite of a European power. How false are the protestations of the Chinese Communists viewed in the light of Chinese complaints of 50 years ago about control of Chinese territory and industries by European powers! How long will China remain in bondage to the Moscow reds, with Russia controlling the Manchurian railways, the port of Darien, Port Arthur, outer Mongolia and Chinese Turkestan?
China’s loss of face as a result of nonrecognition by many world powers is nothing compared with the loss of face involved in China’s loss of control of its own ports, its own life lines and its own territory to a European power. Yet China still complains about European powers in China, while not complaining about the European power that now in reality controls China. How can China expect recognition while the Chinese dragon is under the orders of the red bruin; while China gives moral and material support to the Chinese Communists in Malaya, in order to wreck the happy peaceful independence of the Malays; while it wages war by subversive tactics in South-East Asia by the age-old method of supporting a rebel war lord against the rulers, and then ruling through him; while it lays claim to Formosa, which has never meant one bowl of rice to China’s economy, and concerning whose prosperity China has never cared since the days of Koxinga and centuries before his rule; and while it is the root cause of the uncertainty, misery and indecision in Korea? How can China expect recognition while these things go on, and while it expresses nu concern that a European power has control of large tracts of its territory and large portions of its railway system. 1 believe that China has the key to world peace in its hands. If it cared to use it it could open the door to-morrow. But the proof of China’s bona fides and change of heart will require a lapse of time. We have had enough of Hitlers who expect their averments that they have no more territorial ambitions to be taken as gospel. It was Confucius who first said, “ Bo unto others as you would they should do unto you “. Have the Chinese reds tried to burn the books of Confucius, as the first dictator of the Chinese dynasty of T’sin tried to do? If they try to do so they will probably fail, as he failed. On the other hand we can learn a great deal from, the past, without living in it. A survey of the late 1 920’s will remind us of the failures on our part that led to the rise of Hitler. We will remember the occasion when we gave too little too late. Do not let us make the same mistake again. The past can also teach us that a policy of inaction will not stop bushfires. Do we not remember the Manchurian incident, Abyssinia, the march on the Rhine, and Munich ? Last Tuesday I, and, I expect, others, almost felt that the famous painting by Will Longstaff had come to life, and that there was a. second mass meeting, at midnight, at the Menin Gate, of Australian heroes - people who, unfortunately, cannot speak to us as others can, but whose voices can be heard if we only listen. They remind us of certain things that we should have done, but did not do.
Under present conditions no budget can be what we should like it to be. A welfare State is of little benefit if it is a prelude to a state of farewell. Until the situation becomes clearer and more settled, a government that deluded the people would be recreant to its trust. Most State governments are intent on teaching people to gamble, by installing bigger and better lotteries. No Federal Government can gamble with Australia’s security.
– Order ! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- There is little in the speech of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) with which I can agree. However, we can all agree with him when he stresses the seriousness of the present situation. I was disappointed when he began his speech with, as I thought at first, a slur on his own Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), when he talked about people who did not learn to stand to attention. Then I suddenly realized that it could not be the Prime Minister to whom he was referring, because the Prime Minister had learned to stand to attention, although he had not learned to charge, except as a lawyer.
– Order !
– Let me say at the outset that this country is faced with a great number of dangers. It was particularly interesting to hear the Minister for the Interior talking about affairs in China and elsewhere and letting us know of his profound knowledge of these subjects. The thing that amazes me is that themembers of the Government are so very silent about what is going to happen in our own country. What does the SouthEast Asia Treaty Organization mean to Australia? What are the commitments into which this country is entering, or has probably already entered? The danger in this matter is that, under section 51 of the Constitution, the Government has the power to enter into secret agreements with any power, or group of powers, without divulging their contents to thi3 Parliament or the community. Surely it is not going to be suggested that this particular debate will be accepted by the Government and the people of Australia as affording sufficient discussion to warrant the Government proceeding with its plans, because we do not know very much at all about those plans. We do not, know what the Government intends to do, and what the commitments of this country now are or what they will be in the future. Therefore, we want to know more about the whole matter. In fact, we want the Government to give an assurance to the Opposition and to the Australian people that before any commitments are entered into in regard to this arrangement there will be a further discussion of the proposals in this Parliament. We have not had any such discussion yet. As a matter of fact, I tremble at the thought of this Government of no-hopers being in control in the serious situation that exists to-day.
The speech made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) this afternoon in the Parliament had quite a number of statements in it with which every honorable member will agree. The only thing wrong with the Minister’s speech was that it should have been made some years ago, before the mistakes that are now quite clear to everybody were made. Of course national independence in Asian nations is necessary if we are effectively to combat communism, but what is the type of national independence that this Government wants? This Government has not supported any move by any nation to dig out rotten regimes wherever they exist, and has not helped the movements that were seeking national independence. Whoever has suggested that Syngman Rhee had the support of the majority of Koreans, or that Bao Dai, who spends most of his time on the Riviera while his countrymen are dying, is worthy of support? Are they the people that this Government support? Or let us think of the rotten regime of Chiang Kai-shek in China. To support people such as those was playing directly into the hands of the Communists. Honorable members opposite were opposed to any form of progressive Asian government, that wanted to introduce land and other urgently needed reforms. Because it opposed genuine nationalist movements, it played right into the hands of the Communists. Of course, the Communists took advantage of that attitude. Even the Minister for External Affairs himself admits that the movement of the Viet Nam was a nationalist movement at the outset.
In order to get these matters in their proper perspective, let honorable members put themselves in the positions of those who were fighting for national independence, and the right to effect reforms in their own countries and to improve living standards. This Government, instead of assisting those people who were fighting for self-determination, was resisting them and doing everything in its power to defeat and discourage them. While we were doing that the Communists took advantage of the situation and moved in to support those who were fighting for freedom. That is why the Communists are in control of certain of those movements in Asian countries to-day. Now this Government proposes, quite belatedly, to assist those nations in an attempt to defeat the Communists. The Government is talking like a government that is leading a nation of 100.000,000 people instead of only 9,000,000. It wants to buy into every fight that occurs in any part of the globe. There is only one realistic approach, to this matter, and that is to decide what it is possible for
Australia to do in any conflict in which it deems it right to engage, and what it should be expected to do. There is no question of ignoring United States opinion, because I agree with the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) that it is of the utmost importance that Australia should retain the friendship of the great American nation. But the members of the Government talk as though America’s foreign policy was a static thing and as though we should not criticize the policy of the present American Government. They talk as though any criticism of that policy is anti-American. I am quite sure that there are any number of American citizens who quite freely criticize the American Government’s policy in their own country. The American Congress is divided, the chiefs of staff of the American fighting services are divided, and the American nation itself is divided on the particular policy that America has been following in international affairs.
Therefore, while Australia must continue to work in the closest friendship with the United States of America, we should not sacrifice our independence. But that is exactly what the Government is asking us to do. If the Australian Labour party viewpoint, which is the pure Australian viewpoint in this matter, had been followed in world affairs, we might not be in the sorry mess that we are in to-day. Can any honorable member on the Government side deny that if it had not been for the wisdom of the Attlee Government in giving self-government to India, Pakistan and Ceylon, and independence to Burma, there would have been insurrection in all those countries ? Conflicts growing out of national self-determination are arising in other parts of the world and when all is said and done, what right have we to intrude into the domestic affairs of any nation against the will of a majority of its people? Even members of this Government have admitted that when the plebiscite is taken in July, 1956, the Vietnamese will vote for unity. Thar seems to indicate that they do not want our support, and do not want us to do anything to perpetuate a division of their country. They may want our economic aid in order to build up their living standards, and it is from that point of view that Australia should be approaching this problem. Let us find out what we can really do, and then let us do it.
There are honorable members on the Government side who believe that in any future conflict if the main battle is lost Australia’s fate is sealed. That was the theory of some of the strategists in the last war, who stated that it did not matter if the Japanese occupied Australia because if the Allies won the final conflict Australia could be re-occupied later. This Government is thinking along the same lines. Now let us consider who will enter this agreement that lias been mentioned. The Prime Minister said that we do not know what our commitments may be and that they are to be worked out with our partners. But all the great Asian powers are not. prepared to enter this agreement, so who will be our partners? Perhaps the Philippines, and maybe Thailand, but not India, Pakistan and other great Asian countries. Why does the Minister for External Affairs sneer at what he calls the “so-called Colombo powers “, because they have their own viewpoints and they believe that it is in their interests to remain out of this organization? Now, what is Australia to provide towards the organization? I have read quite authoritative articles in magazines, and in the world press, to the effect that the United States of America expects to supply naval and air forces in any future conflict, but that the ground forces are to be supplied by the other members of the organization. It would not be the first time that Australian troops have been used as shock troops on foreign battlefields. How many men can wo provide ?
We have been told very often of late that we must build up our population in order to develop the country and ensure its defence. Australia is a very important country to-day, and more particularly since the discovery of uranium, and because of the possibility of _ the discovery of oil in payable quantities here. Is it not important in any future conflict that Australia, as a most important base, should be adequately protected? Where are we going to get the troops to protect the country, let alone the troops to send to other theatres of operations? It has been recently reported in the press that recruitment for the armed services by this Government has fallen to such a low level that we are not able to obtain half the replacements needed to make good the wastage in those services. If recruitment continues at this level the Australian forces will eventually disappear completely. Now let us consider the problem of the undefended northern parts of Australia. This Government has been in office since 1949, and it is not the first time that a government of the political colour of the present one has had control of the Commonwealth. These governments are always talking about the necessity of developing the northern parts of Australia, but I challenge any member of the ‘Government to tell us of any major work that has been carried out in Queensland, the Northern Territory or the northwest of Western Australia during its term of office. Can they name any developmental or defence work in those areas? I am not aware of the precise population statistics, but while the population of Australia has greatly increased in recent years, the population in the vital areas that I have mentioned has either remained the same or is less than it was a few years ago. Perhaps the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) would know more about that than I do. However, it is quite true that the Government has not built a mile of railway or a mile of road in the Northern Territory since 1949.
– Our policy i3 one of mobility in defence.
– The Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride), who has interjected, has stated that our policy is one of mobility in defence. What does that mean? If it means anything it means that Australia must have the capacity to transport defence forces wherever this country may be attacked. Mr. Fitzpatrick, an executive officer of the New South Wales Government Railways, has declared that from a defence viewpoint the Australian railway system is terrifying. If the Hawkesbury River bridge near Sydney were to be bombed by an enemy, transport facilities to the northern part of Australia would be reduced by 40 ‘ per cent. And yet this Government still talks about what it has done for our defence. The Government has spent about £750,000,000 on defence since it assumed office, but I challenge the Minister for Defence to tell us what the Government has to show for the expenditure of that large sum of money. I suggest that it has been largely wasted. In August, 1953, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland) said -
It is of the utmost importance that Australia’s north should be populated, developed and defended.
The Opposition fully agrees with that statement, but what has the Government done about it? The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), in an article on page 29 of the December issue of his journal National Development, stated -
The conclusion at present is that generally northern Australia is relatively unproductive from the point of view of future development.
That is what this Government thinks of the Northern Territory. Apparently it thinks only in terms of profit. If somebody cannot invest money in an area and make a profit from it, the Government does not think the area worth developing. But I say that unless we rapidly develop the north we shall lose our right to continue to occupy it. The Prime Minister spoke about what is likely to happen in regard to our commitments as a member of Seato, and I am warning honorable members of this Parliament of the danger of military conscription in view of the fact that recruitments to-day art; less than half the wastage in our armed services. The Prime Minister said -
What effect any specific commitments will have upon the present shape of our defence programme or the methods which we now employ, is a matter which I will not presume to judge in advance.
Does that mean that we shall adhere strictly to voluntary enlistments for the services in order to meet our commitments, or does it mean that if the Government cannot get sufficient men that way, it proposes to introduce military conscription in this country? In view of the fact that the Government cannot get sufficient men by voluntary enlistment, is it not obvious what, the Government intends to do if it enters into this agreement. Has the Government entered into a secret agreement yet? If it has not, does it intend to enter into such an agreement which may lead it along the road to military conscription, without giving the people an opportunity of having a voice in the matter, and without giving this Parliament an opportunity of debating it? We must be very careful of the actions of this Government. We do not trust it. Why should we trust it? It is an anti-Australian Government. The Prime Minister concluded his speech by saying -
If, to some cars. this statement sounds unduly of war and preparations for war, the fault is elsewhere. We love peace.
All honorable members who examine the situation impartially must agree with me that the Prime Minister and this Government have proved themselves incapable, to say the least, of providing for the adequate defence of this country. On one occasion I heard the Prime Minister described as being a man of eloquent inaction. Nobody disputes that, the right honorable gentleman makes fine speeches, but, if speeches were all that were necessary to defend this country, we would have nothing to fear. Something else is required for the defence of the country. We want the Government to prove its capacity to govern in a critical situation. I well recollect supporters of the Government quoting the remarks of a former leader of the Australian Labour party in this House, the late Mr. John Curtin, who was Prime Minister in the critical years of World War II. I have also heard those honorable members misrepresent him and. say that he had complimented the preceding Government upon the foundations it had laid for the building up of a great and effective defence structure in Australia.. Everybody knew the purpose of the statement. When Mr. Curtin assumed office as Labour Prime Minister, he could not advertise to the world the weakness of our defences and the manner in which they had been neglected by an antiLabour government. He had to play the game about which the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) has spoken and at which, as he said, the Chinese are so adept. He had to play a game of bluff, because he had to delude the enemy until such time as adequate preparations for the defence of Australia could be made.
Honorable members want assurances from the Government. The Prime Minister said that the House would be kept informed of the progress of negotiations. That is not sufficient. The House wants to know the point of view that will be advanced by the Australian representatives at these talks. It is not sufficient to tell the Parliament or the Australian public after the conference has ended just what had happened. It is very gratifying to have a report in relation to what has transpired, but honorable members want to know from the Government the proposals that it is prepared to place before the other nations. Is it not ridiculous to expect that in this theatre of operations there may be an armed conflict in which India would be opposed to this country? India is a great Asiatic power and its leader, Mr. Nehru, is a great force in the preservation of world peace. He may be criticized by supporters of the Government who are very warlike and who are anxious, as I have stated, to involve Australia in every conflict in the world, but all intelligent and thinking people will agree that Mr. Nehru is the great force to which I have referred. India has declared that it will have nothing to do with the proposed agreement and its implications. The Pakistan Government has not declared that it will participate in the agreement. Pakistan proposes to attend the conference to listen to its deliberations and is not entering into any prior commitments.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Poulard) put -
That the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) be granted an extension of time.
The House divided. (Mb. Speakek - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I do not intend to use the time at my disposal to traverse the ground that has been covered very ably by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) and the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes). I hope to confine myself mainly to a consideration of the very important problems that confront Australia following the recent debacle in Indo-China. Before I do so, I shall refer to the argument that was advanced by the Opposition. I was very interested to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) make an enlightening statement on the general problem and, as he usually does, give a very able review of the powers that are conferred by the Charter of the United Nations. Then, as a kind of after-thought, he dealt with IndoChina as a special case and with its bearing upon the Australian scene. I noted in the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), and more particularly in the remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), an apparent desire to skirt away from any commitment on policy. Both honorable members displayed a remarkable facility for saying something and then spoiling the copy book by blotting it over with something which, if it was not intended to be in disagreement with the remarks of Government supporters may have inadvertently clouded the issue. The honorable member for Melbourne stated that Australians must not be used to fight against Malayan nationalism. On one occasion in this building I heard a member of the Parliament of Malaya, who was a Malayan himself, reply to another speaker in uncompromising terms and state that any one who had the idea that the trouble in Malaya was the result of an effort by Malayans to obtain national control was entirely unrealistic. What was really happening in Malaya was that the British forces were assisting the Malayan people to prevent an incursion of communism, which they realized would utterly destroy their independence. Moreover, the Malayan parliamentarian made it clear that were it not for the fact that the people of Malaya could depend on Great Britain their outlook would have been black indeed. It is essential that we in this House should remember that the position in Malaya not only vitally concerns us as an outpost of the British Commonwealth, but also is of the utmost importance to the people of Malaya.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) made the most extraordinary remarks, in which he boasted that the Australian Labour party was the first to see that friendship with the United States of America would pay the best dividends. Some of his colleagues, on the other hand, have been saying that Australia has been dragged at the tail of the United States of America and has forgotten Great Britain. Honorable members opposite cannot have it both ways. If we are playing the game according to the rules, with either Great Britain or the United States of America, we are not playing false with both countries. We cannot be accused of falling out with both sides. An American once said that the first time in his life that he stood in the middle of a deal he was accused by both parties of doublecrossing. If the arguments advanced by honorable members opposite are correct, Australia’s position bears a striking resemblance to that of the unfortunate American.
I noticed with interest that the honorable member for East Sydney was concerned about the vulnerability of New South Wales owing to its overwhelming dependence on the Hawkesbury River railway bridge, and 1 wholeheartedly agree with him. A New South Wales government of which I was a Minister in 1938 began the construction of a railway line from Dubbo to Newcastle, which was intended to be a defence link of the highest value if the Hawkesbury River bridge should be destroyed. But what has the Australian Labour party, which is in government in New South Wales, done about this vital rail link, the earth works and tunnels for which had been completed? The few rails that had been laid have been removed by the New South Wales Labour Government. I suggest to the honorable member that if he has any breath to spare on this subject he should at least expend it on his friends who, since 1941, have ruled the destiny of New South Wales. The honorable member seized upon a statement by the Prime Minister that, if necessary, the Australian Government would change its defence plans. This was a perfectly reasonable and straightforward pronouncement, but the honorable member for East Sydney sought to inject into it a sinister meaning that the Government intended to foist conscription upon the Australian people. The Prime Minister’s announcement was just as reasonable as would be a statement that if it were necessary to place more emphasis on the provision of bombing aircraft or aircraft carriers for our naval forces, we would perhaps restrict other less important aspects of defence.
There is a sinister parallel between the events leading up to what I shall term the rout in Indo-China and happenings in Europe immediately prior to 1939. Honorable members will recall that in 1938 Hitler broke every pledge that he had made in relation to Austria. He swept in and took possession of that country, and then blandly informed the British Prime Minister, Mr. Neville Chamberlain, that if he were allowed to move into Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia to protect the poor down-trodden Germans there he would entertain no more territorial aspirations. Hitler infiltrated behind the natural fortifications of Czechoslovakia and immediately set to work to swamp the rest of the country, and eventually he precipitated war. The natural fortifications and barriers in the north of Indo-China continue into the territory of Burma, forming a natural barrier against any large-scale aggression from the north. France, for its own reasons, endeavoured to retain direct control of Indo-China while allowing a limited degree of sovereignty, but eventually it was found that this was not practicable, and the French policy has proved to be wrong. I do not canvass that matter at present. The parallel between these events and those in Europe in the years leading up to 1939 is to be found in the manner in which Hitler moved into Czechoslovakia and gained control of that country easily and without the tough fight that he would have had if the democracies had stood behind Czechoslovakia in 1938.
The forces that have infiltrated into Indo-China a.nd supported the Viet Minh movement are now firmly based in IndoChina with the full concurrence of the great powers. They hold territory adjacent to the frontier of Burma, in which country the Shan States are in rebellion, and they have access now to the Siamese border. The territory of Siam extends down the Malayan Peninsula. This gives recent events in South-East Asia, an extremely sinister aspect, and from many points of view the turn that events there have taken is the most disastrous thing that has happened since
Hitler swooped into Czechoslovakia, because there is a curious similarity between the two series of events and between the forces that precipitated World War II. and the perhaps more evil forces with which we are contending in South-East Asia. All Australians must have regard to these matters and ask themselves what policy they will support if they are called upon to help stop the drift that is taking place. No attempt to plug the leak in South-East Asia will succeed in stemming the onward rush of international communism unless the leak in eastern Europe can be plugged simultaneously. More than nine years have passed sincethe war in Europe ended, and Russia controls the destinies of great nations with a total population probably of approximately 120,000,000 people, whose ideals are akin to those of the citizens of the democracies, and who now have no self-determination of their affairs. No one will argue that Poland. Czechoslovakia, Rumania, and that pari of Austria which is under Russian domination have any say in their ownaffairs. The only way of halting the drift is for the nations that have it in their power to do so to tell the Russians: that they must retreat to their own frontiers. Any attempt to prevent the onward march of communism, in South-East Asia without at the same time halting the spread of communism in eastern Europe can be n« more successful than would be an effort to prevent the eruption of a volcano by covering its crater with porous plaster.
What are the basic factors upon which Australian foreign policy should rest? As a small nation with extensive territory, we should have strong allies with similar ideals. Because we may be involved in both military and economic warfare as a result of our alliances, we have a right to be consulted and to state our views. Because Australia is as yet largely undeveloped we should aim at avoiding an excessive commitment to defence that will or may retard national development. That is an aspect on which we should have full consultation with our allies. We are face to face with a further encroachment of international communism, and to achieve the needful balance between a. reasonable share of mutual defence with our allies and the maintenance of a proper rate of national development, our internal economy must be kept stable. Because of the dangers arising from the new situation in Indo-China these factors must continue to engage our close attention. They can be neglected only at our peril.
Anyone who cavils at Australia’s association with the United States of America ignores the fact that since Mr. Neville Chamberlain prior to World War II. told the self-governing dominions that they would have to depend upon themselves if Great Britain were attacked, Australia has adopted a broader conception of foreign policy and has acknowledged that we can no longer depend upon the Motherland to keep our territory inviolate. Mr. Chamberlain’s announcement put us in a dangerous situation. Though the position was later modified, what was true before 1939 is doubly true to-day. More and more we have to depend not only on Great Britain, which can give us limited assistance if world war should occur, but also on the great United States of America, which saved Australia at the critical time when Great Britain was fully engaged in the war in Europe. Finally, we have to depend to a greater extent upon ourselves, and upon the willingness of the people to stop fooling about and to acknowledge that a great country requires .great people to govern it and that if we are to hold Australia we must accelerate the rate of development. These factors receive special emphasis from events in Indo-China. The danger has become increasingly acute and there is no purpose in blaming the French nation, either directly or indirectly, for what has happened.
We, ourselves, know how difficult it is to get Australians to come up to scratch and face a great issue. That fact has been demonstrated in the course of remarks that have been made in this debate. Knowing that, we must be charitable when we endeavour to assess the blame for what has taken place. I have not traversed the past, nor attempted to dig up utterances which honorable members opposite have made on the subject of defence and which would make interesting hearing. We are not here for that purpose. We are here to face the greatest crisis that has confronted us since the end of World War II., and in that spirit to try to hammer out a policy and endeavour to convey it to the nation as a whole so that it will accept the policy as a recommendation from the Parliament as the best means of dealing with a common danger in the interests of the Australian people.
.- The laudable comments that the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) has just made indicate, at least, that he understands the gravity of the hour. Unfortunately, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) did not sound a similar note in the course of his remarks. The speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), which had for its keynote the fact that at least some of the problems in Indo-China could have been assessed and the world could have been made aware of them by some association if not actual cooperation with the United Nations, was entirely lost upon the Minister. To say that cruel, long-lasting war between two groups of the same people is a domestic matter is carrying the dictionary definition of the term a little too far. At this juncture, all of us must consider where we stand as individuals in relation to one of the most serious things that have come to our notice during the life of any of the six last Parliaments. There can be no question about that.
We must look closely at the situation that exists in Indo-China. Has the United Nations been unsuccessful? Does any one contemplate that such an organization that was hastily established after a war would be able immediately to resolve war, or that it would be able to call to superlative strength the 50-odd nations that are trying in the sweat, fear and anguish of war and rumours of war to find a solution to the world’s most ghastly problem. The United Nations might have been more than useful in turning the minds of many into other channels, if it had had closer contact with the conflict in Indo-China, because it is strange that the entire publicity disseminated in a world of mass communications generated black ignorance on important aspects of that conflict. How many of us knew the exact position of troops, or of what the French forces were actually doing, or whether they were capable of meeting the odds against them? As late as the 19th February, 1954, we had the statement that the conflict in Indo-China was nothing more than a domestic incident which could be dealt with. On that date, General Henri Eugene Navarre, Commander-in-Chief of the French forces in Indo-China, made mistake number one, which was, as the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) said, one of the egregious mistakes that were made in this conflict. At the conclusion of the wet season and at what appeared to be the end of the offensive of the Viet Minh, General Navarre said -
The Communists have exhausted their advantage. The dry weather will he to the advantage of the French. The Communists will be wiped out.
That statement was typical of the Maginot line mind, and indicated a refusal to accept the assistance of a world that was eager to help in this tragedy when it was moving so closely towards another world conflagration. But, as if that were not enough, and despite the inimitable courage of the French in their endeavour to make the best of a bad situation, what justification could there have been for mistake number two? During the same week, on the 17th February last, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Radford, and the American Under-Secretary of State, General Walter Bedell-Smith, in a report to the American House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee, which is always in session and really acts as the ticker-tape in respect of international activities, stated that General Bedell Smith had said that any decisive immediate successes were slight, and that prospects of ultimate Communist success were non-existent. Can one wonder if all round Australia people listening in to this debate are hazed when they had not had the information which should have been given to them?
The Communist sweep was on, and the mistake was made. The Minister for External Affairs claimed that the conflict in Indo-China was a domestic incident, and that the United Nations, the great conglomeration of peoples dedicated to the preservation of peace, need not enter into it. That mistake was born of ignorance and misinformation because three weeks after the statements to which I have referred were made, four divisions of the eight divisions of Viet Minh guerillas, led by the Communist General Giap, seeking nothing but nationalism and a belly-full of rice, an army in ragged trousers, swept down into the valley and opened their attack on Dien Bien Phu. which has now become famous as the ultimate in French heroism. That town fell three months later. At the same time, the French stated that the conflict was a domestic issue and was their own problem. It was not; and the rest of the world, eager to help, was left to realize the depth of defeat and frustration. The next mistake that was committed was that so many believed the publicity that was coloured in favour of the Communists by persons who are not actually Communists, but who are misled and are always able to peddle the Communist line. These sources told us that the poor Communist armies had no equipment worth talking about. The fact is that they had eight divisions, namely divisions 304, 306, 308. 312, 316, 31S, 320 and 325. Mr’. Theodore White, one of the best commentators on the American scene, and certainly the best on the Chinese scene, some months ago gave details of the armament.’ and equipment possessed by this army which descended upon Dien Bien Phu. This army was equipped with automatic 77 millimetre recoilless rifles. 120 millimetre Soviet heavy mortars and 81 millimetre mortars, whereas the French artillery had their own eschelon and 105’s that had been captured in Korea. Yet, the Communists were Spoken of as poor, ragged nationalists sweeping down from the hills. Those hills were ringed with 37 millimetre anti-aircraft artillery and the twelve-barrel Russian rocket, the Kat.yuska. The French were outmetalled and outnumbered. Thus, first, we had the lie about information; and, secondly, the lie about armaments.
To-day, the people of the Pacific, including Australians, have a great deal of leeway to make up. Whatever one’s views may be about the rise of nationalism in
Asian countries, one must give serious thought to that problem, as it arose in the interregnum between the two world wars. Mistake number three was the insistence on the myth of nationalism as the cause of unrest in China. I cannot subscribe, to the idea that nationalism to-day is a new theory. The cause of nationalism was lost in China when Sun Yat Sen joined up with the Communists. The Chinese Nationalists at that time had no defence or “know-how”; but they had to live somewhere. Lady Precious Stream, the traditional name of China, went for a ride on a tiger, but did not come back from Moscow. The most horrifying aspect of that development to-day is that the great hero of that time, Chiang Kaishek, is hiding in Formosa. He was the brilliant artillery officer, the product of Japanese training, who was sent to spend some months in the Kremlin at Moscow and to take orders from Lenin. Where is Nationalist China to-day? When the rise of nationalism is peddled as a reason why we should halt at thi3 stage, I cannot follow that line of thinking.
I have made my point with respect to the misinformation that was disseminated about the conflict in Indo-China. That mistake was tragic. With respect to the loss and Chinese nationalism and the success of the Communists, I take the following quotation from Arthur Holcombe in his book The Chinese Revolution. He knew the subleties of the oriental mind. He knew that both sides at that time were playing tough, but one did not succeed. He wrote -
Both parties knew what they wanted. Both were willing to play with fire. Both expected to bc warmed, but not consumed, by the conflagration !
However, one side was consumed, and that was the genuine Chinese nationalist movement. There can be no question about that. We should look at the position in Indo-China and realize the mistakes that were made. The first of these was the decision of the French to make of the conflict a domestic matter when it was of such magnitude that it justified freeworld intervention. I cannot understand the statement by the Minister for External Affairs that if the war in Indo-China had been referred to: the United Nations one nation would have moved the veto. This conflict was so dangerous and so frightening, and it was sufficiently important to affect the world as a whole. The veto might not have been moved. In any event, whether or not Russia would have taken such action, the significance and importance of the conflict was not brought to the attention of the world. Any dereliction in that respect is not to be laid at the door of the United Nations. I deplore the insulting references that the Minister made to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition, who has been president of the United Nations Assembly, and, even to the point of anguish, has participated in negotiations for the settlement of war and the preservation of peace. The Minister’s references made no contribution to the debate.
Until this tragic moment we have not heard the full story of the war in IndoChina. Some people say that when the plebiscite is taken this matter may be resolved in favour of those in the countries concerned who take the view that as they are now within the orbit of the Communists they will remain there. Onething can be done at once. Argosies can be flown across the Pacific. We can repeat what Roosevelt did during World War II., when allied parachutistsequipped with life-saving drugs to givesimple treatment for ailments such asglaucoma and tropical ulcers, weredropped in Japanese-occupied territory. Those parachutists lived in the hills where both the tyrant and’ the pursued go for refuge. In the philosophy of Asia, one has to show that, one is both humble and proud. If wewant to save what we can from the wasteof Indo-China, we must bring our knowledge up to date before we are prepared toshed our blood. That is the answer, to theproblem that exists in Asia.
We must admit that the old colonialism was bad. Let us also admit that the old terrorism exercised by the Chinese warlords was bad. Also that history is ancient, and the sins of history are monumental. To-day, we can think of the tragedy of the past. We can bring common sense to bear in relation to our problems. Charity and enlightened selfinterest form part of our thoughts.-
Enlightened self-interest is our motto today. We can still save the remnants of Asia. We have not done so badly, because of the work of Mr. Attlee in India. We have the Islamic spine as resistance to communism in Asia and the countries of the Archipelago, and there is no reason why that resistance should not be strengthened. The Colombo plan is something, but we need 100 Colombo plans with strength in them, and supported by the magnificent organization that can be provided by the Americans and the British, and Australians with them, to show that we mean business this time. We do not intend to pay ransom. We are trying to buy the soul of the remainder of Asia and save it from the holocaust that is overwhelming it.
The ordinary Australian must realize that he has some hard thinking to do. Whimsy no longer has place in that thinking. We cannot afford to come to any little conclusions. We have raged about happenings in this country and that country. To-day, we must decide between survival and the alternative destruction. We must be on the side of democracy. It is sad that the decay of the British Empire in the Pacific makes Britain impotent in that area. Can Churchill tell us of the position more plainly than by weeping at the table of the House of Commons because of the final fiasco about the Suez Canal? Can lie do more than say, in the classic phraseology of Shakespeare, “I am dying. Egypt, dying “ ? With the loss of the Suez Canal went another link i.n world defence. Should Ave not realize that there is no help in that quarter? Not that the spirit is no longer present, but help is not forthcoming.
Where can we turn? There are only two great Pacific powers, Russia and America. Why should not Australians, whatever our political views may be. turn as we did in World War II., without inhibitions, to those who can help us? But in keeping alive our democratic way of life, it is equally important for us to ensure that it is not quenched in Baltimore or in. Balmain and that it still soars in Colombo as in Canberra. For that reason, we do not suffer a loss of national prestige and character by turning to America. Any group that is tem porarily charged with the government of the country must have a policy of strong allies, enlightened self-interest, and the enduring desire for peace. It should be able to slough off all those little things that it gathers to itself as its darling ideas, if they are wrong, or impracticable. We must always stand for the symbol of the Australian child, the progenitor of the future, who will keep free and white this country that has been won for him in the face of hazards which are a part of our heroic past.
I shall not use superlatives in discussing these matters, because tragedy is never told in superlatives. But we have to consider these matters, and ask ourselves what we shall do. Like all members of the Labour party and the leaders of the present Government, I welcome the proposal for the formation of the SouthEast Asia Treaty Organization. It is a formula for defence, but we must face the fact that it can also be a formula for offence, otherwise it will be quite useless. We have been dreaming. We have been like lotus eaters lying in the sun. We have been forgetful, because we desired to be an infant prodigy at one stage and a grown man at the next stage, although we have not had full cognizance of the responsibilities attaching to that estate. Our holiday has ended, and we must accept our responsibilities with our allies, the free democracies of the world.
The speech of the Leader of the Opposition last week was laden with a logical concept of what has to be done. Treaties, talks and pleadings are important, and should not be overlooked as a means to the attainment of peace. The price of peace cannot be over estimated. Sometimes, that price is paid in humiliation, and sometimes in despair. Because we have a feeling of sympathy for the struggling Chinese people, that does not mean that we believe in Mao-Tse-Tung. Because we may have a genuine regard for the democratic virtues of the great American republic, it does not mean that we like Senator McCarthy. Our attitude should be clearly defined in the one word, “ peace “. and the will to retain it.
– (“Mr Adermann).- Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Donald Cameron) adjourned.
Messages received from the Senate intimating that it had agreed to the appointment of the following joint committees and had appointed the members of the Senate named to serve on them : -
Public Works - Senator Henty, Senator Maher and Senator O’Byrne.
Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting - Senator McMullin, Senator Arnold and Senator Paltridge.
Public Accounts - Senator Byrne, Senator Paltridge and Senator Seward.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Explosives Act - Explosives Regulations - Order - Berthing of a Vessel.
Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Regulations - 1954 - No.6 (Prisons Ordinance ) .
Papua and New Guinea Act - Ordinances -
No. 13 - Ordinances Revision (No. 2) 1952.
No. 16 - Natives’ Contracts Protection (New Guinea).
No. 28 - Bamu River Mission.
No. 30 - Pharmacy Ordinance Amendment.
No. 35 - Animal Disease and Control.
No. 42 - Excise (Beer).
No. 43 - Coroners.
No. 45- Supply (No. 1) 1953-54.
No. 46 - Police Offences (Papua).
No. 47 - Police Offences (New Guinea ) .
No. 53 - Antiquities.
No. 54 - Trading with Natives.
No.64 - Soman Catholic Mission of the Order of Friars Minor.
No.65 - Rubber.
No.66 - Married Women’s Property.
No. 71 - Building.
No. 70 - Maintenance Orders (Canada) (Facilities for Enforcement).
No. 79 - Appropriation (No. 2) 1952-53.
No. 89 - Police Offences (Papua) (No. 2).
No. 90 - Police Offences (New Guinea) (No. 2).
No.97 - Companies (Papua).
No. 98 - Companies (New Guinea).
No. 99 - Roads Maintenance.
No. 7 - Public Service 1953.
No. 10 - Liquor (New Guinea).
No. 11 - Liquor (Papua).
No. 25 - Companies (Papua).
No. 26 - Companies (New Guinea).
No. 28 - Legislative Council.
Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Attorney-General - T. E. Hambling.
Interior - H. F. Hollier.
Postmaster-General - R. A. Bailey, H. Berglas, I. R. Butcher, R. M. Cochrane, S. C. Creagh, J. M. Day, B. J. Fuller, R. H. Green. B. R. Hume, P. J. Kitchen, D. T. A. Langford, D. R. Lockwood, H. I. Maggs, H. R. Perry, M. H. Sparkman, J. A. Speed, A. R. Timmins.
Repatriation - J. Beaumont-Haynes, J. A. Blackwood, G. G. Cumming, J. M. Drummond, J. F. M. Furber, J. R. McGlynn, D. M. Piggins, M. H. Smith, G. C. Thornton, T. J. Thwaite, T. Wunderlich.
Public Service Arbitration Act - Determination - 1954 - No. 33 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
House adjourned at 10.22 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as . follows : - 1. (a) £3 14s. 4d.: (b) £3 10s. 2d.: (c) £36s.1d.; (d) £3 2s. 2d.; and (e) £2 18s. 5d. 2. (a,) £3 4s.6d.: (b) £2 19s. 10d.; (c) £2 15s. 4d.; (d) £211s.; and (e) £26s. 9d.
The above payments assume that interest is charged monthly on the balance outstanding.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What were the totals of (a) revenue and (b) expenditure in respect of the Commonwealth for the financialyear ended the 30th June, 1954?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Excluding self-balancing items, the transactions of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for 1953-64 were - Receipts, £ 1,016,089,059. ordinary expenditure, £960,428,005. Under the authority of section 4 of the Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1953-54, the excess of receipts over ordinary expenditure, viz. £56,270,964, was transferred to the Debt Redemption Reserve.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 August 1954, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1954/19540810_reps_21_hor4/>.