21st Parliament · 1st Session
Dr. Evatt. - I rise to a point of order, Mr. Speaker, in relation to your decision last evening whereby you ordered the. honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) to resume his seat, and immediately called on the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) to speak. The result of that action, of course, was that you called the third speaker in succession in support of the Government. At the time you left the chamber, I was on my feet endeavouring to take this very point of order, but, as the proceedings were terminated by your decision to leave the chamber, I was unable to proceed. I now desire to move as follows-
Mr. SPEAKER. - Order ! The right honorable gentleman may not submit such a motion without the consent of the House.’
Dr. Evatt. - I am raising a point of order.
Mr. SPEAKER- There is no point of order.
Dr. Evatt. - First of all, I submit that you should rule on whether there is a point of order. I ask you to rule that the action that you took in terminating the right of the honorable member for East Sydney to speak, in ordering him to resume his seat, and in then calling on the Minister for Territories, was out of order, and that you had no authority to take that action. You acted either with authority or without authority.
Mr. SPEAKER. - What is the point of order? The right honorable gentleman may not enter into a debate upon the actions of the Chair unless there is a substantive motion before the House.
Dr. Evatt. - You said a moment ago, Mr. Speaker, that I could not move a substantive motion. I had proposed to so move if you had affirmed that you acted with authority in acting as you did. As I have already stated, you ordered the honorable member for East Sydney to resume his seat, and you immediately called on the Minister for Territories to speak. Did you have authority to do that? I submit that you did not. You could have asked the honorable member for East Sydney to withdraw any remark that you regarded as being disorderly, but I submit that you went beyond your power in substituting for the then speaker on behalf of the Opposition a further speaker in support of the Government. There had already been one speaker from the Government parties and a speaker from the third party in the House who supported the Government.
Mr. SPEAKER - Order ! The right honorable gentleman may not canvass the merits of the case. He must simply state the point of order.
Dr. Evatt. - The point of order, Mr. Speaker, is that you had not power to do as you did when you ordered the honorable member for East Sydney to resume his seat and called upon the Minister for Territories to continue the debate. There is no standing order that gives you that authority. I ask you to uphold the point of order, and allow the House to resume the debate at the point at which it was temporarily suspended, and to allow the honorable member for East Sydney to resume his speech. I submit that that is the course that you should take. I have already referred to the consequences of the course that you adopted, and I do not wish to reiterate them.. The question is this : “Was the action that you took within your power, or was it beyond your power? I submit that it was clearly beyond your power. The honorable member for East Sydney may have been out of order. He did withdraw a statement-
Mr. SPEAKER-Order! The right honorable gentleman is now arguing the case instead of putting his point of order.
Dr. Evatt. - I am arguing because 1 question whether your action in calling on the Minister for Territories to take the place of the honorable member for East Sydney was in order. It was either in order or out pf order, and I submit that it was out of order, and that it was beyond your powers to take such action. I ask you to rule in favour of my submission and allow the honorable member for East Sydney to continue his speech. I appeal to you to do that.
Mr. SPEAKER. - Order ! No appeal is necessary.
Dr. Evatt. - No, not an appeal; but. I submit that you have power even now to do that. I object to your ruling as being erroneous and not authorized by the Standing orders.
Mr. SPEAKER,- Order ! The right honorable gentleman is now arguing the case. He must state his point of order.
Dr. Evatt. - My point of order is that your action, Mr. Speaker, in ordering the honorable member for East Sydney to resume his seat, and, simultaneously/calling; upon an honorable member on the Government side to resume the debate was out of order and beyond your powers. That is my point of order. Was that beyond yourpowers? I submit that it was beyond your powersand I askyou now to rulethatyoudidnothave power torule as you did.
Sir Eric Harbison. - The point of orderraisedby the Leader of theOpposition is,Mr.Speaker, that you exercised apower outsidethe authoritygiven to youbythe StandingOrders. MayI point outthat the Standing Orders adopted by the House vest in you certain rights and powers ‘and ‘that when you exercise those rights and powers I take it that you do so without giving a ruling inrespect ofthepower that hasbeen vested in you. You takethe action accordingtotheStanding Orders agreed toby the House. That being the case, without canvassing in any way the disgraceful scenethat occurred last night-
Mr. SPEAKER.- Order!
Dr.evatt. - I rise to order.
Mr. SPEAKER.-Order! I ask the right honorablegentleman to resumehis seat. TheVice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) has the floor and is speaking to the point of order.
Dr.Evatt. -I askyou,Mr. Speaker., toactunder StandingOrders78 and 79 andorderthehonorablememberforEast Sydney towithdrawanyremarktowhich youtookexception.
Mr. SPEAKER.- I certainlywill not order a withdrawal.
Dr. Evatt. -I desire to move dissent from your ruling in not exercising-
Mr. SPEAKER. - There is no ruling. I have simply exercisedmy power.
SirEric Harrison. - TheLeader of the Opposition claims, Mr. Speaker, that you didnot have power to do what you did. I submit thatthe usages of this House and of parliamentary practice on which procedure in this House is foundedprescribe thatincidents ofthis natureshallbe decided upon by the Speaker exercising the powers vested in him under the StandingOrders andhave been sodecided timeand time again. Within my knowledge and that of other honorable members, successive Speakers haveordered honorablemembers tore- sumetheirseatsandthenhavecalledupon another honorablemember tospeak. Up to thepresent, suchaction by the Speakerhas neverbeen challengedbutatthismomentitischal lenged.Evenif there were not power in the Standing Orders in that respect, which I deny, I submit that the practice of the House condones the action that you have taken. Therefore, I submitthat you lavenotgiven anyruling interms but have simply taken action byvirtue of the powers vestedin youunder the StandingOrders.
Mr.Calwell. -The Oppositionunderstands, Mr. Speaker,that youdid not act underanystanding order, but by Virtue ofsome reservepower which iscompletelyundefined.The Oppositionwishestotestthefeeling of the House as to the validityorproprietyof your action last night. To facilitate thebusinessoftheHouse the Leaderof theOpposition asks you to give a rulingor,alternatively, that he be permittedto movedissent from yourruling which motion I would second,inasking thehonorablememberforEastSydneyto resumehisseat, because ofsome remark he made whichyou regardedasderoga- tory,and inviting the Minister forTerritories(Mr. Hasluck) to continue the debate. We shouldlikeyou to give a ruling,so thatwe maytest the feelingof the House. Webelieve,as ademocratic Opposition, that Mr. Speakershouldbe only tooeager at all times tohave the House test any action that hehas taken, or any ruling thathe hasgiven,inorder toascertain whether or not hehas the supportof amajorityof honorablem embers. I do not think that a Speaker should say in effect, “ Well, I havetaken a certainaction, andthat is that. I do not care anything about whatyou say. Ishallnot allowyou to discuss thematter any further, and. we shall simplyresume the business of the House”. I suggest that such a course of actionwould not be a good thing for a Speaker totake in a democratic institution.
Dr. Evatt. - MayIsay one word more on the pointof order ?
Mr. SPEAKER- That is a matter for the House. Therighthonorable gentleman has already spoken.
Dr. EVATT.–I -should -like-
Mr,. SPEAKER.- Order.! What is the point .of order ?
Dr. Evatt. - :I -wish to answer gh argument-
Mr. SPEAKER. - Order ! Will the right honorable gentleman resume his seat-? He must raise -a ‘new point of order, “hut I suggest ‘that we ileal with the first one first
Dr, EVATT - AM right, -sir.
Mr. SPEAKER.– I acted last night in accordance with the ‘usage >and customs of this House in an ‘endeavour ‘to maintain ‘the integrity, the honour and the dignity >o’f the Parliament. No point of order arises.
Dr.. EVATT - Mr. Speaker, 1 raised a point of order. You ‘have now ruled that no point of order arises.
Mr. SPEAKER -I have not given a rifling.
Dr. Evatt. - I now wish lo move that t’he House dissents “from the ruling of Mr. Speaker -
Dr. Evatt; - I wish ito .move that .the Souse ‘.dissents from the present Tiding of Mr. Speaker that :it “was within ins power to terminate the speech of .the honorable member for East Sydney and simultaneously call, .on the Minister for Territories, .and .his ruling .that .such action does not amount to a point :of ‘order.
Mr. Speaker cannot determine finally whether or not it is a point ‘of order. The House must ‘determine the matter. Mr. ‘Speaker ‘has ruled that no point o? order is involved, and I wish to appeal to the ‘House against -that ruling by way of ‘a motion of dissent from Mr. Speaker’s ruling. Therefore, “I -wish to move ‘dissent from the ruling Mr. Speaker gave .two minutes ago, ‘ “with respect, without -any reasons, that no point of order ‘arises from ‘the ac’tion that ne ‘has taken. ‘Surely that is a point ‘o’f order. It cannot ‘be a nything ‘else, otherwise -whenever a ‘point of order is taken, Mr. Speaker may .say that it ‘is ‘.not a point of order, and, therefore, the honorable member mho has raised it may not ‘appeal ‘from the-decision of Me. Speaker , to the House. I submit that nin appeal ‘oan :be made to .the House against Mr. Speaker, and that the House can express , ian < opinion on whether a point of order .is .involved. .1 propose to move dissent, and I shall put my motion in writing in two minutes.
Mr.. SPEAKER. - I suggest to the right honorable gentleman that the proper course would be for Kim .to move a motion of censure on me, or .to move that I be dismissed from the service of the House.
Dr. Evatt. - “1 suggest that such future action will be duly considered, but T am not speaking about -such -a matter now. My object, >a’t ‘the moment, is to ascertain whether .the House will remedy a situation winch, I suggest, should not .haw occurred, and .in which the honorable member for East Sydney was directed to resume his seat. The fact that “Mr. Speaker ‘has -told me that I may take « certain .course of action to-morrow is no answer to .the crisis of .to-day. With respect to yon, .Mr.. Speaker, .1 now wish to move dissent from the ruling -you gave a ‘few minutes ago that my -point is not >a ‘point of .order under ‘the Standing Orders.
Mr. SPEAKER.- Order!
Dr. Evatt. - Will ‘yon allow me t« complete ‘my ‘remarks ? lt -has been said that your action is not warranted -by any v standing , order but by some ‘reserve power, which one Speaker -of this House refer re?l to t>n a previous occasion -as action that -he ‘could ‘take under i*he “umbrella act’”, ‘which ‘covers everything. T ‘ask ,you to simply allow -us to Check -and test your ruling that no point of ‘order is involved in ‘respect of the action that you “have ‘taken. I submit that you have interpreted the Standing Orders by saying that your action i? covered by them and warranted by them. That, .-surely, is a question of the meaning and application df the Standing Order.?. If you will allow me, I propose to submit, in writing. my motion ‘of dissent in regard to your ‘action.
Mr. SPEAKER.- I Mye not quoted any standing order this afternoon, and 1 ‘do not propose to ‘ ‘do ‘so. I have simply stated my position, and it ‘is for the Souse to decide whether it ‘wants tto hear the motion made or not. I have given 110 ruling. I simply referred to what I did, and that is all there is to it.
Dr. Evatt. -With respect, if it is for the House to decide, why not let the House decide it?
Mr. SPEAKER. - The House has its own proper methods for making such a decision.
Dr. Evatt having submitted his motion in writing,
Dr. Evatt. - I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to accept this motion.
Mr. SPEAKER. - I shall not accept the motion in the present position.
Mr. Calwell. - Would you help us to draft it, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. SPEAKER.- I shall not.
Dr. Evatt. - I wish to move -
That this House dissents from the present ruling of Mr. Speaker that he acted within his power in terminating the speech of the honorable member for East Sydney and simultanuously calling on the honorable the Minister for Territories, and from the rulingthatsuch action does not amount to a point of order.
Mr. Calwell. - I second the motion.
Mr. SPEAKER.- The motion is out of order.
Dr. Evatt. - Then I desire to move that this House dissents from Mr. Speaker’s ruling that no point of order is involved in his decision that he acted with an authority last evening in preventing the honorable member for East Sydney from making his speech and in calling upon the Minister for Territories as the next speaker in the present debate. The stage must come when this issue must be submitted to the House. May I have access to the motion I submitted in writing?
Mr. SPEAKER.- I think that that belongs to the record.
Dr. Evatt. - I merely want to identify its terms.
Mr. SPEAKER- All that the right honorable gentleman need do now is to move that my ruling be disagreed with. That is perfectly clear.
Dr. Evatt having submitted inwriting his objection to the ruling,
Mr. SPEAKER.- I rule that the motion is not in order.
Direction and Call from Chair.
– I move -
That the ruling may be dissented from.
– Is the motion seconded ?
– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak to it.
– The question is-
– I should like to speak in support of the motion.
– The motion has already been seconded.
– I wish to speak in support of the motion now that it has been seconded.
– The right honorable gentleman had better ask for the leave of the House to do so.
– I ask for the leave of the House to speak in support of the motion.
Dr. EVATT (Barton - Leader of the Opposition). - by leave - At last the House has come to a decision. The question is whether Mr. Speaker’s last ruling that the motion that was handed in earlier and was ruled out of order is itself out of order. That former motion read -
That this Housedissents from the present ruling of Mr. Speaker that he acted within his power in terminating the speech of the honorable member for Bast Sydney and simultaneously calling on the honorable the Minister for Territories, and from the ruling thatsuch action does not amount to a point of order.
Mr. Speaker ruled that that motion was out of order, but I submit that it was completely in order. I do not say whether the House should have supported that ruling. That question does not arise at present. Mr. Speaker stated that the motion could not be put - that an honorable member may not move dissent from action of the character that I have mentioned. What was your ruling, Mr. Speaker, when you decided that the honorable member for East Sydney should be forced by the order of the Speaker-
– Order ! The right honorable gentleman is now getting on to the matter that I ruled out of order. He may not debate that matter.
– Up to that point, that is correct. I am not dealing with the merits of that matter. I refer to your ruling, not in an attempt to canvass it, but merely to submit that you did not act under the authority of any standing order.
– Order ! The right honorable gentleman may not canvass that matter. The matter before me now is a motion of dissent from a ruling that I have given.
– That ruling was to the effect that no point of order arises. In determining that matter, you did not rule in proper order. On what basis did you rule if it was not according to your view of the true interpretation of the Standing Orders ? You must have had some view of the meaning of the Standing Orders to believe that they authorized your action. When I challenged your ruling, you stated that no point of order arose. I submit that the only way in which we can solve this problem is to challenge your ruling by moving a motion of dissent. Your ruling means, in effect, that, in any instance, you may say that no point of order is involved and that therefore the House cannot review or set aside what you have done. I submit that Standing Order 101 is the relevant and basic standing order. It reads - [f any objection taken to the ruling of the Speaker, such objection must be taken at once and in writing, nml ;i Motion of Dissent moved, which, if seconded, shall be proposed to the House, and debate thereon shall proceed forthwith. 1” submit that that standing order gives the House an absolute general right of review of your rulings, and that your rulings include your opinion that no point of order is involved. I do not think that I need elaborate the matter. I do not want to discuss the merits of your original ruling, in relation to which you stated that no point of order was involved. Yon may be right and you may be wrong in your original ruling. I submit that the House has the right to canvass your ruling that no point of order arises.
.- I shall now speak to the motion. Stripped down to its essentials the case put forward by the Opposition is that the House should at all times be the master of its own business, and that the Speaker should not interpose himself between the House and the Opposition when the Opposition makes an effort to test the feeling of the House on the validity of his actions. If that cannot be done under the Standing Orders as they now stand, the sooner they are amended the better. We want the opinion of the House on your action. We cannot get it directly, so we are trying to gel it indirectly. We want the House to vor/on this issue, because we think the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) should not have been deprived of the right to continue his speech.
1 2.56]. - The point made by the Opposition is one of vital importance, because, as the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has said, the right of tho House to control its own business is a: stake. If die Speaker, in the exercise of an arbitrary power, can say that ii ruling by him is not a ruling, or decideth at an opinion he has expressed from the chair is not a ruling, or say that, a decision he has given is not a ruling, and if the House has no way of appealing from the Speaker’s decision and- itself deciding the point at issue, the control of the House passes from the hands of the membership of the House to the hands of the Speaker. That is a completely impossible position in any democratically elected parliament.
The position you have taken up, Mr. Speaker, is that no point of order was involved in the attempt by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), first of all. to cause you to give a ruling on what you did last night, and secondly, after you expressed your opinon from the chair, to move a. motion of dissent from your ruling. You claim that you gave nf ruling. What you did last night, if ii remains unchallenged and undecided bv the House, will be completely and finally effective. If you are allowed to maintain the position that you can decide arbitrarily whether a. ruling is involved in anything you do, you will have taken away from the House, and the House will have allowed you to take it away, the power of the House to determine its own affairs. Therefore, I suggest that the motion of dissent from your ruling moved by the Leader of the Opposition is one of vital importance to- every Honorable, member. irrespective of whether your- original Killing- was: right or wrong. The1 House must: now uphold the. proposition that the Mouse itself be- given an opportunity to express its opinion om the matter at issue : mdi decide if finally.
Mr: FREETH” (Forrest) [2.58J.r-I support the motion moved’ by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). The only question now at issue, Mr. Speaker, is whether, when a point of order is raised’ and’ you deal with that point of order, that is a ruling from the Chair, 1. think it. is. quite- plain, that it must be a ruling, from the Chair. If that is not n correct view, we arrive at a fantastic position. “What has happened? You took certain action last night.
– Order ! The honor.abie gentleman must not canvass that.
– I merely want to recount the sequence of events. You took certain action last night. To-day, when a point of order was raised by the Leader of the Opposition, you said that no point of” order was in fact involved. Then the right honorable gentleman sought, to move a motion of dissent from that action ‘and we reached the position that you ruled that such a motion of dissent was out of order. Now we have a motion before the House that the House dissent from your ruling that the proposed’ motion of dissent was out of. order. We are getting bogged down in this sequence of peculiar events,, but. the simple point- that has to be decided! by the House is- whether your decision on the original point of order raised by the right honorable gentleman waaia ruling.
I suggest that if the House were to agree to the motion of dissent now before it, that would’ permit the House to consider, on its- merits, the original point of order raised’ by the Leader of the Opposition om.1 which I express no view at all. Quite obviously, if a point of order1 is raised’ and- you deal with it, you give a miling. That is- the’ only question at issue in this motion-.
Mr. MAKIN” (.Sturt) [2.5’9’J;.- As one who formerly occupied the distinguished office that, you have the. honour- to occupy tit the moment, Mr.: Speaker,. I’ want to say that I’ do” not recollect any similar action- being’ taken by a Speaker, nor du I know of any precedents that govern, a situation- like this, lit would, be very dangerous’ if we’ were- to deny t© ourselves the power to challenge the right of theSpeaker to, give, under the cover, of a statement,, something tantamount of a ruling. That being so> I feel- that theHouse would be justified in insisting upon some clarification of the position,, in order to protect the right of honorable members and to see that the provisions of the Standing” Orders and the customs governing the procedures of the House are duly observed’. I warmly support the’ motion that has been moved’ By the Leader of the Opposition to the effect that yon, Mr. Speaker; have not acted in. accordance with the best traditions and procedures of this House.
.- I desire to express my opposition- to, the motion that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition. (Dr. Evatt). Honorable members have to decide whether the application of a standing order, by you, Mr.. Speaker,, can be considered as a ruling. I suggest that we do not lose control of the rights of honorable members, in adhering to our Standing Orders. We appoint, a Speaker and a Chairman of Committees to apply our Standing Orders and’ the matter before the House at present is- merely a matter of the application of those orders. There are provisions in the Standing Orders for members to protect their rights in certain circumstances. Such . circumstances occurred last night, when redress was available under the Standing Orders. If the honorable member had’ offended,, action could have been taken under the Standing Orders, but there was. a failure- to take action. Therefore I suggest that you,, Mr. Speaker, have been quite right ill ruling that there is no point of order involved in this matter.
I do not seek to canvass- what happened last night, except to say that the. Standing Orders provide protection for honorable members’ in certain circumstances, and the Opposition, failed to exercise its rights’ under the Standing Orders to give protection to one of its- members. If the Standing Orders lay down certain: procedures for the- S’peaker, and the Speaker carries out those procedures, his action in that regard is :not a ruling, .because he is carrying out -a decision of the House that has already been made, and which ds embodied in ‘the Standing Orders. The same may he -said if the Chairman of Committees .carries out the ‘Standing Orders. In mother words, the Speaker, in those circumstances, takes an action and does not .give a ruling. Consequently, whenever a Speaker takes action to comply with the Standing Orders, no point of order is involved. If honorable members desire to challenge the Speaker., they may, as you intimated earlier, Mr. Speaker, make a motion o’f lack of confidence in the Speaker. On this particular matter the -Standing Orders contain a provision that could have ‘been .used by the honorable .member affected.
The action of tie Speaker last night was similar to other actions le has taken when he has called upon an .honorable member to speak -or to resume his seat, or when informing .an honorable member that his time ‘has expired. Tie Speaker is given authority for all those acts in the “Standing Orders. If that were not so, we should ‘be in the farcical position that every time a Speaker opened ‘lis mouth ‘to carry out the provisions -of the Standing Orders, he would be considered to have given a ruling. In this case the action of tie Speaker was ‘merely an action carried out by the direction of the House through the Standing Orders.
– [n so far as we believe that all your actions, “Mr. Speaker,, should be .’subject to the decision of the House, we. support the motion of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr.. ,Evatt’).
.-.On this motion alone I find myself in the somewhat unusual position, unique in my experience, of agreeing with the “Leader o’f the -Opposition (Dr. Evatt). [ emphasize that that agreement is restricted ^absolutely -to the motion now before the ‘House. I -support the views that have been expressed ‘by my colleague, the honorable member -for /Forrest ((Mr. Freeth.).. I hold -the -view -that, when a question has ‘been raised in relation to any exercise of authority .by »the C’hair and a decision has been given by the .Chair on that point, the Chair has made a ruling. I hold the view also that that ruling must be open to question by the House. If I may say so with great respect, I think that the present situation has arisen as a result of too narrow an interpretation o’f what constitutes a ruling. It seems to me that you, Mi’. Speaker, hold He view that you ,give a .ruling only when you apply a particular .standing order. As .1 have explained, I hope clearly, it .’is my view that whenever an .exercise of your authority, or that of the Chairman .of Committees, is questioned, and you make. a decision, then you give a ruling. I think that the purpose of the House should be to reach a position in which it may consider and, if necessary, vote upon the substantive issue -which arises from last night’s proceeding. I hold strong views on that which I hope to lav.e the opportunity to express. Iti the .meantime, I agree with my .colleague, -the honorable member for Forrest, -that, in order to arrive at that position, the motion now -before the -Chair must ‘be agreed to by the House.
.- The House has heard a remarkable statement, which was made without challenge from yon, “Mr. Speaker, by the honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann). ‘The honorable member referred to the fact that an honorable member lad offended last night.
– I did not say that. I said, “If he had offended”.
– Well let us have it that way, and that the statement of the honorable member for Fisher “was, “ If ‘he had offended “. I suggest that under those circumstances, if a similar circumstance had arisen to that of last night, possibly you would have asked the honorable member for Fisher to resume his seat. The honorable member for East Sydney .(Mr. Ward) did not commit any offence last night.
-Order ! The honorable member may not canvass the matter.
– All that &e did was to-
– Order! The honorable gentleman may not canvass the mutter.
– The question as to whether an offence was committed has been raised by the honorable member for Fisher. You, Mr. Speaker, did not immediately check him or ask him to resume his seat. You allowed him to proceed on the even tenor of his way without challenge. A statement that an honorable member offended, or a suggestion that lie may have offended, has been allowed to pass without challenge by you or a request that the honorable member who made the statement should resume his seat.
– Order ! The honorable member must not deal with that matter.
– Well. 1 ask you to please state on. what ground you prevent the House from exercising the right which the honorable member for Fisher, according to my interpretation of his remarks, has suggested it should not exercise. He stated that there are standing orders which allow the House’ to deal with its business, and which may be invoked to deal with every situation that arises, livery honorable member knows that, in relation to the Standing Orders and in relation to every bill that comes before the House, there is room for debate and for differences of interpretation. In my opinion, rules that apply to debate on bills which come before the House should apply to the ruling that you have given, and that the House should have the opportunity, which you, apparently, are endeavouring to deny it, of expressing its opinion on your action in the same way as it is permitted to do on any other issue which comes before it from time to time.
Question put -
That the ruling be dissented from.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– The House having decided that the earlier motion, which I forecast, can he moved, I now move it. Tt reads -
That this House dissents from Mr. Speaker’s ruling that no point of order is involved in 11 iS decision that he acted with authority last evening in preventing the honorable member for East Sydney from making his speech and in calling upon the honorable Minister for Territories as the next speaker in the present debate.
That motion, when I proposed it earlier, was, ruled out of order. It has been banded back to me and bears a note, presumably in the Clerk’s handwriting, that it was out of order. I submit that the House, by the decision it has just taken, has dissented from the previous ruling of Mr. Speaker that he exercised his authority when he ordered the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) to resume his seat and gave the fall to the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), and that he was not acting under any authority that could be canvassed by the House. I believe that the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Freeth) and the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) will agree with that view. I moved dissent from, that ruling, but my motion was ruled out of order. Now the House has decided that this motion is in order; and it is that the House dissents from Mr. Speaker’s ruling that no point of order is involved in his decision that he acted with authority last evening in preventing the honorable member for East Sydney from continuing his speech and in calling upon the Minister for Territories as the next speaker. So, in order to get to the merits of that ruling - I mean by the term “ruling”, action taken by Mr. Speaker purporting to exercise an authority - I submit this motion. Mr. Speaker either had that authority or he did not have it. But when T first attempted to move dissent from Mr. Speaker’s ruling in the terms of the motion that I now move - when we challenged Mr. Speaker’s action - he said that no ruling was involved. Then, when I raised a point of order, he said that no point of order was involved. So, in order to get to the point made by the honorable member for Evans that the action of the Speaker might be justified on its merits, I submit that the House must dissent also from the Speaker’s ruling that no point of order was involved when he took the action that he took last night. He decided that no point of order was involved and that he had given no ruling which could bc challenged when, last night, he ordered the honorable member for East Sydney to resume his seat and called on the Minister for Territories. I submit that the same point is involved in this motion of dissent as was involved in the motion which the House has just carried. We are about to get to the question of whether the Speaker’s action last night was within his authority. We must determine, first, whether we can debate the matter at all, and we can only debate it on a motion that Mr. Speaker’s ruling be dissented from. The principle has been stated by the honorable members on both sides of the chamber. We must be given an opportunity to debate it. Although the Speaker has ruled that the action that was taken by him last night did not involve a ruling it must have involved a ruling. The Speaker, must have determined for himself, when he acted as Ite did, that he acted with authority. When he acted, that was a ruling. Where did he get that authority ? The Speaker also ruled that no point of order was involved. I formally move this motion of dissent which, I submit, must be carried having regard to the decision just made by the House.
– We have occupied some time now in dealing with questions of procedure and I am a little disturbed at the possibility that in the middle of all this arguing about procedure the opinion of this House on the matter of substance may fail to become known or appreciated. If the motion which the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) just submitted happens to be carried, though it is by no means the same motion as the first, we should then only have advanced one further step along the road of procedure. It is vastly important in a matter which touches the position of the Parliament in the public mind and the position of the Speaker in this House that with the greatest possible speed and clarity a decision by this House should be registered. I am prepared to cut through all this procedural jungle at once by asking the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) to move -
That this House approves of the action of Mr. Speaker last night in ordering the honorable member for East Sydney to be seated and in calling upon the Minister for Territories.
That is something upon which everybody can talk and be wise, subject to action that might be taken by my distinguished colleague, the Vice-President of the Executive Council. At any rate, it will have the merit, which, from the public’s point of view, is of first-class importance, of enabling the people toknow where this House stands on the action which the Speaker, acting, I believe quite properly, was called upontotake. I ask for leave to submit the motion in the terms I have indicated.It will produce a clear-cut vote of this House asto who is for it andwhoisagainstit.
– I rise to order. The motion seeking approval of Mr. Speaker’s action, which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has just sought leave to move can be reached after my motion has been carried. I submit that it should be carried, because you have given two rulings, Mr. Speaker. But I do not wish the Prime Minister to alter the wholebasis of our challenge by submitting a positive motion, when we have submitted a motion of dissent.
– I thought that the Leader of the Opposition desired to obtain a decision of the House.
Dr.Evatt.-We shall do so, as long as the Prime Minister gives up pretending and supports justly the motion before the Chair.
– So it is just red herring.
Leave not granted.
– The House will proceed with the consideration of the motion of the Leader of the. Opposition.
.- The Opposition wishes to get to the kernel of the matter with the greatest possible speed, but it desires to discuss it initown way and in accordance with the speeches that have been made to-day. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) says, in effect, “Let us cut it short. I shall submit a motion in support of Mr. Speaker’s ruling”. We desire to submit a motion of dissent from Mr. Speaker’s ruling. Government supporters, if they consider that Mr. Speaker should be upheld, can carry their opinion by their votes when a division is taken, But it will manipulate the whole situation tothe disadvantage of the Opposition and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr: Ward) to put. the cart before the horse, as it were, and express an opinion affirmatively on Mr. Speaker’s ruling: I assume, sir, that the rulings of Mr. Speaker at all times gounchal- lenged unless an honorable member submits a motion of dissent. It is a completely wrong procedure f or somebody to suggest-
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That the questionbe now put.
The House divided.. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archer Cameron. )
Majority . .8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
The House divided.
Majority . .7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Mr.Menzies.-I ask for leave to submit to the House, for its consideration, and debate and decision, the motion that I referredto before the last division was taken.
Leave not granted.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison.) put-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Prime Minister moving a motion without notice.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker.-Hon.ArchieCameron.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative, by an absolute majority.
direction AND CALL from CHAIR
, - I move -
That this House approves of the action of Mr. Speaker last night in ordering the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) to be seated and in calling upon the honorable the Minister for Territories (Air. Hasluck) to speak.
This motion will give to the House and to the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) an opportunity to discuss the matter that has been raised - an opportunity which, early this afternoon, I understood, apparently wrongly, the , Leader of the Opposition was very anxious to have, but which he has just voted against having.
I do not propose to canvass the incident of last evening. I did not have the dubious satisfaction of being present. But the facts leading to it are well known and are widely attested. For the purposes of this motion, the material matters are these: A debate, which I gather was of some vigour, was proceeding. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), having been called to order by you, Mr. Speaker, for using an abusive expression-
– It was not abusive.
– It may not be abusive in the circles in which the honorable member moves, but it is abusive in the Parliament, I am happy to say.
– We have heard worse from the Prime Minister.
– The honorable member ought to go back to that sort of thing. I hope that allegations of treachery will not come to he regarded in this or any other Parliament as terms of endearment.
– The Prime Minister knows a good deal about it.
– Over the mumbling and bumbling of the honorable member, I say also that you, Mr. Speaker, after you had exercised your undoubted authority and had very properly rebuked the honorable member for East Sydney for having used this term, were subjected to studied insolence on the part of the honor able member for East Sydney - a studied insolence which was designed deliberately, I have no doubt, to weaken the authority of the Chair and to bring the Chair into disrepute. Under those circumstances, Mr. Speaker, you did something that has been done before, though not very frequently, because conduct such as that out of which your action arose, I am happy to say, is not very frequent. You, sir, did something that I have seen done on a number of occasions. You ordered the honorable member for East Sydney to resume his seat, and you called upon the next member to speak, who happened to be the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck).
It is a very remarkable thing for me to be told at this stage of my parliamentary life that that action either was beyond your power or was an abuse of your power. There could be no discipline maintained in this House unless Mr. Speaker were astute to prevent scenes of disorder from arising and to exercise control over the House. Where Mr. Speaker sees disorderly conduct developing, especially in an insolent- form, as in this instance, he has a perfect right to order the member concerned to resume his seat, to treat him as having terminated his speech, and to call the next speaker. That is a practice that has been observed as long as there has been a parliament in this country. It is a practice that will be upheld by every experienced parliamentarian to be found in Australia. Therefore, the only question is whether you, Mr. Speaker, exercised your authority in good faith or whether, as it is said, you exercised it in bad faith. I do not know how this case will be put. No one would seriously suggest that Mr. Speaker would act frivolously on an occasion such as has arisen. Indeed, the very best proof that a difficult situation had arisen is the fact that this legitimate action on the part of Mr. Speaker lead to a scene that was calculated to disgrace this Parliament in the eyes of the people of Australia. I want to say quite plainly on behalf of the Government, Mr. Speaker, that we entirely support your action of last night and entirely dissociate ourselves from the outrageous scenes which followed your proper action.
, - I am glad that the substance of the dispute between us is now open for debate. That is something for which I have striven for some considerable time. Now that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has proposed this motion, it is open for the House to express an opinion as to the power of the Speaker and his exercise of that power. I submit that he acted without power. No one can point to any standing ord;er to justify his action. Let mc refer the House to the actual proceedings. The Prime Minister referred to them in characteristically extravagant language, but as he was not present at the time, obviously he relied on hearsay accounts of what took place. “What was the background to this matter?
– On a point of order, is it proper and fitting that the right honorable gentleman should quote from the Hansard “flat” covering the debate? I understand that he proposes to do so.
– The right honorable gentleman must not quote from it.
– It is surprising that I arn not permitted to refer to an accurate account of what took place last night. I want to check my recollection of what took place. I shall give my recollection of the events. At the relevant time-
– Order ! The right honorable gentleman must not quote from the “ flat “, if that is what he is doing.
– I am giving my recollection of the events. I shall not quote any words from the “ flat “. I am trying to reconstruct, from the factual record, what took place, without quoting from the. record.
– Order ! I simply cannot allow the right honorable gentleman to stand there with the “ flat “ in his hand - I am quite sure it is the “ flat “ - and say that he is not using it. I tell him that he must not use it in this debate.
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) commenced his speech at 0.4 p.m. At 8 p.m., when the House resumed after the suspension of the sitting for dinner, the honorable member for Martin (Mr. O’Connor) had spoken for five or seven minutes on behalf of the Opposition, putting to the House a view on the despatch of Australian troops to Malaya that was diametrically opposed to the view of the Government. When the honorable member for Martin had concluded his speech, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) spoke, expressing the view of the Government. He expressed it forcibly from his point of view. Then, instead of the Minister being followed, as one would have expected in view of the prior speech of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Joshua), by a member of the direct Opposition, the Speaker called the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon), the deputy leader of the corner party. As every one must have expected, including Mr. Speaker, he supported the leader of his party and also supported the Government.
Government MEMBERS - Hear, hear!
– As honorable members opposite say, “ Hear, hear ! we can take it that I have given a substantially accurate account of what took place. During the time the proceedings of this House were being broadcast, two speeches were delivered in succession, one by a Minister and the other by the deputy leader of the new party in the corner, supporting the Government and attacking the Opposition. Then the honorable member for East Sydney rose to speak. As the speech of the Minister and the speech of the honorable member for Yarra had contained many attacks upon the Opposition, it was not surprising that the honorable member for East Sydney, in the earlier part of his remarks, should seek to answer those attacks and to counter attack. He did so, as he was perfectly entitled to do.
Then the Speaker, I submit, made an error. I am not dealing now with technical questions of the interpretation of the Standing Orders. I am dealing with the spirit of fair play in which he should exercise his powers and attempt to hold the balance between parties. It would have been only fair if the honorable member for East Sydney, who as every member of the House knows, is a great fighting ‘ advocate, had been given an opportunity to reply to the two preceding speeches without undue hindrance from the Chair. I submit that he was unduly (hindered :from the ‘Chair. That is, in effect, the question before .the House.
GOVERNMENT “Members. - Order !
– What is the use of honorable members opposite calling “ Order ! “ ? The question is whether the Speaker was right in what he did. Cannot we say that he was wrong? Is nol that the very question we have to decide ? The Prime Minister has invited debate on that question, and we are entitled to express our opinion on it. Yet when we do so, honorable gentlemen opposite say we are out of order. Are we out of order in criticizing the Speaker, when the very object of this motion is to praise the Speaker and get the House to approve of what he did last night ? I submit that nothing like that has ever happened before in this House, and I hope it will never happen again.
I -am dealing with the events that led up to the disorder. The honorable member for East Sydney had some difficulty in starting his speech because he was interrupted by a point of order raised by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett). However, he began to get into his stride. He had only twenty minutes in which to ‘reply to two twenty-minute speeches of attack and vituperation delivered by a member of the Government and a member of the ‘Corner party. The honorable member for East Sydney moved into his stride and made a criticism of the honorable member for Yarra. He pointed to the fact that the honorable member for Yarra and his colleagues were pledged to oppose the present Government. That waa a perfectly fair statement of fact. Although they had signed pledges to support the Labour party, they -were in fact supporting the -Government. The honorable member for East Sydney denounced that :as an act of treachery to the Labour party. When people on the Government benches and /members of the corner party begin to be .mealy-mouthed about casting aspersions on honorable members, that is something revolutionary, especially under the regime of the present Speaker. There has never been .another parliament in which insults and abuse have been hurled at members of the Labour party such as those that have been hurled at us by the Government parties and the corner party. They call us anything they like, hut the Speaker never intervenes then. He has never intervened once to call to order honorable members who have denounced ,ns as either Communists or supporters of communism. -Should not the law be applied equally to all honorable members ? Let me refer the House to the Standing Orders. Standing Order 77 states -
No member shall ‘use -offensive words against . . . <any member.
The Speaker does not apply that provision to the Government parties and the corner party. Standing Order 7S states -
All imputations . . . and all personal reflections on the members shall ‘be considered highly disorderly.
That standing order is, in -effect, nonexistent when attacks such as those that were made last night by the honorable member for Yarra and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture are made on us. About ten minutes of the Minister’s speech was devoted to attacks on us. The filthy and lying imputations of-
– ‘Order’! ‘The right honorable gentleman will withdraw those words.
– I withdraw them. The false imputation that we are supporters of communism was made again and again by the .Minister. Our opponents apparently can say what they like about us. Let me read to the House Standing Order 79. It states - “When any offensive or disorderly words are used, whether by a member who is addressing the Chair ot by ‘a member who is present, the Speaker shall intervene.
But he does not intervene when members of the Government parties or the corner party do that. He -did not intervene when they did so last night. .1 ask honorable members to read, out of a sense of justice and fair play, the report of the speeches I have mentioned, because I cannot quote from them. They were not the .only speeches of that kind. Such speeches have characterized the debate. I say that during the whole of the session, in relation to foreign affairs, which -should be debated on a high level, systematic attacks have been made on us, and insults have been hurled at as. I do not think there has been one occasion on which the Speaker has exercised his right to intervene except the occasion when the honorable member for East Sydney -was speaking. What, after all, did the honorable member say? He made a comment on the conduct of the members of the corner party in opposing the policy of the Labour party, which they -were elected to support, and in supporting the Government, which they were elected ‘to oppose. The Prime Minister says he does not want the word “treachery “ to he considered as parliamentary. That is not treachery in the sense of treachery to the nation, but it is capable of being called treachery to the nation by people who feel strongly that that conduct is disloyal. Instead of trying to obtain some mutual understanding when people honestly differ from him, and are entitled to express their views, Mr. Speaker acts arbitrarily. He called the honorable member for East Sydney to order simply because the honorable member stated the facts as to what the corner party was pledged to do, . and used the word to which the Prime Minister has referred. Mr. Speaker ordered that the word “ treachery “ should be withdrawn. Now I suggest that if his ruling in that case is to be applied to one honorable member, then it should be applied to all honorable members.
It was quite obvious last night that honorable members on this side of the House who seldom interject considered Mr. Speaker’s action intolerably unfair and unjust. That feeling took possession, not merely of the honorable members of this House, but even of the members of the public who were at that time in the galleries of the House. Mr. Speaker should have allowed the honorable member for East Sydney to remain on his feet and continue his speech. The honorable member did not defy the Speaker. When he was asked to withdraw a term he withdrew it, and then asked the Speaker not to interrupt him further. [ believe that it will be agreed that it is the duty of a Speaker not to trip up an honorable member who is just commencing his speech, especially an honor- able member like the honorable member for East Sydney who speaks rapidly -and is anxious to get to the points of his speech which he desires to impress upon those who are listening. The honorable member said that Mr. Speaker had tripped him up, ‘and if his remark was out of order, Mr. Speaker should have asked that it be withdrawn. But he did not do so, he took the drastic step of ordering the honorable member to sit down and terminate his speech. Then, for good measure, Mr. Speaker called a Minister to speak. If the Minister had spoken, then three honorable members would have put the case for the Government in succession, while nobody had put the case for the Opposition.
Oan anybody deny that Mr. Speaker’s action in that regard was extremely provocative to the Opposition, which at that point considered that he was not applying the Standing Orders fairly to all honorable members. In view of the fact that the Prime Minister was not present during this incident and is unable to recapture the atmosphere at the time, it is completely wrong for him to say that the Speaker’s attitude’ should be approved. After the Speaker’s action last night the members of the Opposition, among them some of the best behaved honorable members of the House, took a certain course because of a sense of frustration and injustice. I regret and deplore what occurred last night, but at the same time I submit that you, Mr. Speaker, were largely responsible for it because you deprived the Opposition of a spokesman. If the honorable member for East Sydney was in error, why did you not call upon another honorable member of the Opposition ? ‘ It cannot be said that no one was available, because half a dozen honorable members of the Opposition were at that time waiting for an opportunity to speak. However, not only did you punish the honorable member for East .Sydney, but you also punished the Opposition, because after you ordered the honorable member for East Sydney to resume his seat you called upon a speaker from the Government side. That action of yours gave rise to the demonstration that occurred, which I greatly regret. When you left the chair, I expected that you would return to the House after a few in mutes when ‘ the House had quietened down, and so allow the debate to be resumed. That is why this debate, which the Prime Minister was trying to introduce in a different form, will be of some value. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that the Standing Orders are applied fairly to all honorable members. ( > Government supporters interjecting,
– I suggest that if the interjections which are now coming from honorable members on the Government side were to come from Opposition members the Opposition would be sternly rebuked by Mr. Speaker. The Standing Orders lay it down quite clearly that -
No honorable member shall use offensive words against any member.
What a revolution there would be if Mr. Speaker applied that standing order to honorable members on the Government side. The Standing Orders also state -
All imputations and personal reflections upon members shall be considered highly disorderly.
So they should be, but they are not. The Standing Orders also state that when offensive or disorderly words are used, a duty is placed on the Speaker to intervene. However, Mr. Speaker does not intervene if such remarks come from the Government side. Your actions in that regard, Mr. Speaker, have led to a feeling that the Standing Orders are not being administered fairly in that respect, and I submit that they should be so administered.
Assuming that you were right in relation to the use of the word “ treachery “, although that is not a word that has not been used in this House, you should have asked the honorable member for East Sydney, after he had asked not to be interrupted again, to withdraw his statement. Then you should have allowed him to continue his speech. The action of Mr. Speaker in ordering the honorable member for East Sydney to resume his seat, and then calling upon a third Government speaker, led to yesterday’s disturbance. After your action, Mr. Speaker, I rose at once to take the point of order that I have been trying to get debated all this day, without success.
Speakers from the Government side cannot point to any standing order which would give you power to do what you did yesterday, although some have said that you acred under a reserve power. When such a reserve power, which no one can remember having been exercised before in this way, is spoken of, we should carefully examine it. I submit that there is no such reserve power of a general character, and that Mr. Speaker should not have deprived the Opposition of a fair share of the debate last night, a consequence of which was the demonstration which I consider deplorable but which was really a protest against Mr. Speaker’s action and not against the Parliament. Of course, I realize that Mr. Speaker does represent the Parliament, but fairly looked at, the events of last night were brought about by Mr. Speaker, who did not act under his legal or constitutional power. Even if he had so acted, a chairman trying to hold the balance between parties fairly would not have acted as he did. An impartial chairman would have been at pains to ensure that one party was not prejudiced. But Mr. Speaker did not do that. Therefore, I submit that the resolution should not have been carried.
Not only was Mr. Speaker’s action an interference with the expression of opinion, but, assuming that the honorable member for East Sydney was wrong in requesting Mr. Speaker not to interrupt him, I submit that the extreme step of preventing the honorable member from continuing his speech should not have been taken. Moreover, such an action should not have been used for the advantage, of the Government by Mr. Speaker calling upon a Government supporter while a number of Opposition speakers were waiting to take part in the debate, which was one of the most important to ever come before this House.
.- I am glad of this opportunity to support the motion of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) which is at present before the House. Earlier, I voted in support of the motion submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) for the purpose of reaching the substance of this matter. The Leader of the Opposition subsequently persisted in trying to submit other motions which did not deal with the substance of the matter, but now we have reached the point.
In my opinion, Mr. Speaker, your action last night was entirely correct. As I observed the situation, this incident began with a speech by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon). His speech quite clearly and obviously stung that part of the Opposition which does not belong to the Anti-Communist Labour party. He quite clearly stung them to the quick with his criticism of their attitude during the foreign affairs debate. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) then replied. Not only honorable members, but also other persons who have followed the proceedings of the House for quite a long time, must realize that one of the characteristics of the Parliament is that the report of the words used does not give the whole substance of the debate. Demeanour, emphasis and gesticulations all form part of parliamentary debate, and the mere reading of a Hansard report that a particular word was held to be objectionable, or was held not to be objectionable, does not explain the whole substance of the debate. The demeanour, emphasis and mannerisms of the speaker must be taken into consideration. I have no hesitation whatever in saying that I fully support your decision that the use of the word “ treachery “ by the honorable member for East Sydney at the time that he used it, and in the way in which he used it, was insulting to the honorable member against whom it was used. I was here, [ saw and heard what took place, and I have no doubt at all that the honorable member for East Sydney was insulting the honorable member for Yarra.
– We do not need any protection.
– I think Mr. Speaker was entirely correct in ordering a withdrawal of the word in the circumstances. Then there followed a plain, clear, and deliberate attitude of contempt towards the Chair by the honorable member for East Sydney. He turned to you, Mr. Speaker, and made a statement to the effect that he did not want to be continually interrupted by you. In the manner in which he said it, at the time and with the emphasis and the gestures that accompanied it, it was clearly deliberately insulting to the Chair. My opinion, Mr. Speaker, is that, in ordering the honorable member to resume his seat, you acted with considerable moderation. I think you would have been entitled to name him for conduct insulting to the Chair, but you ordered him to resume his seat. I say again that I think that your decision was a moderate one. Immediately after that incident, there followed scenes of extra-, ordinary disorder in the chamber. A large number of the members of the Opposition rose to their feet, roared, shouted, booed and gesticulated. The chamber was reduced to a state of disorder that I had never thought possible until I saw it last night. There is one fact that should be recorded, and that is that honorable members on this side of the House left the chamber quickly and quietly. I distinctly remember thinking that in order to support the Chair and the dignity of the House, there was an obligation to leave the chamber as quickly as possible. I did so, and I noticed that a large number of other supporters of the Government did likewise.
We live in times in which the parliamentary institution is not held in the highest esteem by the community. It certainly is not held in the esteem in which it was held when the Australian Parliament was first established, and in which it was held for many years afterwards. Who are the people who will profit ‘ from seeing the Parliament held in contempt? It is those persons who do not believe in parliamentary government as an institution - the disrupters, the enemies of our parliamentary democracy. They are the people who will take profit and pleasure from last night’s incident. I have been interested to observe - and I have inevitably drawn certain conclusions from the fact - that there has been no expression of regret by any member of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition has done his best to justify this intolerable behaviour on the part of his supporters, and. it is plain, I regret to say, from the demeanour of many Opposition members last night and again to-day, that this sort of thing can be expected to occur again. Mr. Speaker, I do not envy your task in controlling the House while that attitude persists on the part of the
Opposition. I content myself by repeating that I think you acted last night correctly and with moderation.
.- Mr. Speaker, I do not suppose it will be any surprise to you to learn that I consider your action to be completely unjustified. I had not been addressing the House for very long last night when the incident to which reference has been made occurred. Those honorable members who care to recall the- circumstances will remember that I obtained the call at four minutes past nine o’clock. At four and a half minutes past nine o’clock, Mr. Speaker, in my opinion, gave himself the call and interrupted my speech and began to take part in the debate. There was no disorderly conduct on my part. What I was doing was- to use what I consider to be a legitimate argument in the debate against those honorable members who occupy the Opposition cross-benches. What I said, in effect, was that Mr. Speaker had called me immediately after the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) had concluded his speech, and that his action in so doing showed that he recognized honorable members on the Opposition cross-benches as being supporters of the Government.
– That is too silly for words.
– That is a matter of debate. I was entitled to express my opinion. It is not a question as to whether the honorable member for Wide Bay- (Mr. Brand) or any other honorable member believes that to be the fact. I believe it to be so. I expressed my belief, and I was entitled to do so. I had been speaking for only half a minute when Mr. Speaker got np and made a contribution to the debate. He did not call me to order. He did not suggest that I was out of order, but he wanted to correct me. That is not the work of the occupant of the chair, who, presiding over the House, is supposed to be strictly impartial. It is for some other honorable member who is participating in the debate to advance that opinion, not Mr. Speaker himself. I have not the exact count, because honorable members are not allowed to refer to the Hansard “ flat “, but I do recollect that, during the few minutes that I was addressing the House, I was interrupted by the Chair on at least nine or ten occasions. Mr. Speaker allowed the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) to raise a very frivolous point of order. What Mr. Speaker should havedone, if he was desirous of preserving order and decorum in the chamber, was to have named the honorable member for Henty, who, in my opinion, was deliberately trying to interrupt my speech in the belief that, with the limited time at my disposal, I would not be able to advance the case that I had prepared against the proposal of the Government, and against the ‘action of the AntiLabour breakaway group in supporting the Government. As a matter of fact, ‘f have been informed that shortly before the resumption of the sitting after dinner, you, Mr. Speaker, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) were in conversation in th, Parliamentary Library, and that you. Mr. Speaker, were heard to advise the Vice-President of the Executive Council to be sure to be in the chamber. What for? You might explain that to us, Mr. Speaker. It may have some significance in relation to this incident, because T am of the opinion that there was nothing improper about my conduct. I did not use any bad language. I used the word “ treachery “ not in a loose sense, but in the development of my argument to show where, in my opinion, honorable members sitting on the Opposition crossbenches, and who are now supporting th+ Government, had been treacherous to the pledge that they signed upon their election to support the decisions and the policy of the Australian Labour party. That was the idea that I was advancing. I had only an ordinary public school education, but to me there is only one way of describing anybody who makes a pledge and breaks it, and that is the way in which I did describe it.
Now the Prime Minister (Mt. Menzies) has entered the debate. He has submitted the motion that is now before the House. He was not present in the chamber when these incidents occurred. His long absences both from this country when there has been urgent business to be dealt with, and from this chamber, are noteworthy. No doubt he waa sipping cocktails when this incident occurred last night. It has been suggested that, because I appealed to you, Mr. Speaker, not to continue to interrupt my speech, I. was guilty of studied insolence. Already five or six minutes of my time had passed, and I was merely appealing to your sense of justice to discontinue interrupting my speech so that I might develop the argument that I had prepared. The Prime Minister and other honorable members opposite have spoken about the outrageous and disgraceful scene that occurred in the chamber. Who was responsible for that scene? In the action taken, I was ordered to resume my seat. Was I disobedient to the Chair? Not at all! I was ordered to withdraw the word “ treachery “ and I did so. Almost immediately after I had appealed to the Speaker’s sense of justice I was ordered to resume my seat. I am justified in believing that it was more than just a small incident, that the action taken was part of a preconceived idea of preventing the voice of Labour from being heard while proceedings in the House were being broadcast and that supporters of the Government exclusively should be given the opportunity to put their propaganda over. As the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, if the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) bad been permitted to continue, he would have been the third successive speaker supporting the Government’s proposals. Surely, honorable gentlemen who talk about supporting democratic government will admit that if one thing is inherent in democracy it is the right of free speech, and that on a major question, such as was before the House, the people should be given the opportunity to hear not only the Government side, but also the Opposition side. Last evening, that right was denied to members of the Opposition when it was arranged that Government speakers should monopolize the time of the House.
What is the reserve power of the Speaker to which reference has been made? I recognize that in the Parliament order must be preserved, that the proceedings of the Parliament should be properly conducted and that for this purpose the Speaker must have reserve power. But such power is required to be exercised only in instances of great disorder in the House; and, I repeat, that no dis order had occurred until the Speaker ruled that I should resume my seat. Therefore, up to that moment he was not justified in using that reserve power. The honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne), who always adopts a sanctimonious attitude, appealing to the alleged good sense and judgment of honorable members, said that it was not so much what I had said but my demeanour and the emphasis which I put upon words that counted in this matter. Honorable members will agree that some of us may express ourselves more forcibly than others on some questions. I challenge the honorable member for Evans to produce any instance in this House in which I have ever used improper language either in debate or by interjection. Therefore, the honorable member introduced that comment only as a sort o.f argument to bolster a weak case.
I am appealing to you, Mr. Speaker. If you have erred on this occasion, as you have on other occasions you should reconsider the position and examine your conscience to try to satisfy yourself whether you consider you acted properly. I had a speech prepared which I believed properly set out the attitude and policy of the Australian Labour party. I believe that I was entitled to make that speech in rebuttal of the arguments that had been advanced against Labour. You, Mr. Speaker, denied me that opportunity, and, therefore, you acted improperly, f. think that the Opposition would be justified in taking action to challenge your impartiality, not only in this instance, bur also in other instances.
.- I am glad of the opportunity to place on record my unqualified approval of the action which you, Mr. Speaker, took last night. This matter has now come up for discussion partly because earlier to-day I voted against your ruling. I want to make it clear that in that instance the motion submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) did not imply any criticism of your conduct last night. During the course of this discussion, two questions have arisen. The first is related to the conduct of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward).
He has just spoken most vehemently on his own behalf. One cannot be surprised at that. But in my experience in this House, I have never found the honorable member for East Sydney to be particularly anxious to conduct on the high plane on which they should be conducted debates of national importance. The least that can be said about his conduct last night has been said by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). “We have too often observed in the honorable member a regrettable lack of the decencies of public discussion of matters of national importance. I shall leave it at that. “When he says that he was merely speaking emphatically, I can only say that if speaking emphatically involves shaking his finger at you, Mr. Speaker, in the manner he did last night, one can only infer from such action that he was grossly disrespectful to the Chair. Therefore your action, Mr. Speaker, was entirely justified.
The other question that has arisen in this discussion is the order of the call from the Chair. I am not aware that any obligation rests upon the Speaker, in the course of a difficult debate in which many different points of views are being expressed, on matters of foreign policy, to stick rigidly to an order of giving the call to honorable members. The argument advanced by honorable members opposite is peculiar. “We had an exact parallel this afternoon. The Speaker called the Leader of the Opposition and then he gave the call to me, and I supported the right honorable gentleman. I do not know whether it is suggested that, because of that, I am a supporter of the Australian Labour party. That is the argument that the Leader of the Opposition is trying to apply in respect of members of the Anti-Communist Labour party because, in this instance, those honorable members spoke in support of certain phases of the Government’s policy. There is no validity in the criticism of honorable members opposite in regard to the order in which honorable members were called last night. Very properly, Mr. Speaker, you gave the Opposition the opportunity to reply to what was said in the course of the debate by the members of the Anti-Communist Labour party. The members of the Opposition abused that right. Disorder ensued and you called upon a Government supporter to speak. The inexcusable and shameful conduct on the part of members of the Opposition after the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) was called upon to speak arose out of your quite legitimate action and is something that all honorable members who have any respect for the Parliament must regret. If honorable members opposite feel that in the heat of the moment they were carried away, they should have the common decency to apologize to the people for the action that they took last night. I particularly regret the fact that the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Webb) was one of the ring-leaders in what took place. In the past all honorable members from Western Australia, regardless of party, have prided ourselves on their conduct in this -Parliament and have tried to observe a high standard in this House. I regret that the honorable member for Swan behaved as he did last night. Not only that honorable member, but also other honorable members who took pari, in that disgraceful performance have nol, seen fit -to express regret for the disorder which they caused.
– I oppose the motion submitted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), but in doing so, I wish to make it perfectly clear that I do not in any way condone the reprehensible, conduct of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). I consider that the honorable member, in the course of his remarks, was extremely rude and most impertinent to you, Mr. Speaker. From his speech to-day, it appears that the matter has gone right over his head, and that he does not think that his manner, at certain times, is extremely offensive. He would be well advised to confer with himself on this point, and consider whether he should be more moderate than he is.
Had there been any objection to your action, Mr. Speaker, it might have been taken last night when the honorable member for East Sydney was requested to resume his seat. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) is not speaking sincerely when he says that he attempted to take such action. His action was completely spoilt, and rendered useless, by the conduct of members of the Opposition. I wish to make it perfectly clear that I consider that such, conduct was disgraceful, and that an apology should be made for it, but it prevented the Leader of the Opposition from taking such remedy as he had. From what 1 hu ve said, Mr. Speaker, it may appear queer that .we should oppose the motion. I point out that we do so for one reason only. I agree that you were perfectly correct in taking action against the honorable member for East Sydney, hut L wish that some other kind of action had been taken because we members of the Anti-Communist Australian Labour party consider that the more the honorable member for East Sydney speaks, the better it is for our party. “We consider that he is one of our best selling lines. I hope that it will be possible for you, Mr. Speaker, to permit him to speak quite frequently - indeed, so frequently that eventually the people will come to believe what he hopes they will believe, which is that he is the real Leader of the Opposition. We consider that your action in regard to the impertinence of the honorable member for East Sydney was fully justified, and we believe that it was only in keeping with the dignity of your office that you left the chair last night.
.- I do not wish to occupy the time of the House unduly on this matter, because much of the ground has been covered. However, I feel that the case presented by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has an inherent weakness. The main point of their remarks is that you, Mr. Speaker, purposely created the position in which three supporters of the Government’s foreign policy would follow one another. If that were so, why did you call the honorable member for East Sydney in the first place, when the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) had also risen ? The mere fact that you gave the call to the honorable member for East Sydney immediately exposes the weakness of the case submitted on behalf of the Opposition.
The matter that I desire particularly to mention has been discussed by the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne). Unfortunately, this Parliament is not held in high esteem by many people. Exhibitions of the kind we witnessed last evening will certainly not do anything to enhance the reputation or prestige of this House. I believe that, no matter what the decision- may have been, there was no justification whatsoever for the demonstration which we witnessed in this chamber last evening. Those honorable members who feel ashamed for that exhibition should completely dissociate themselves from the demonstration.
The claim has been made that a groat injustice was done to the honorable member for East Sydney by interruptions to his speech. Even such a claim as that cannot be justified, because the honorable member had it in his own power to determine whether or not his remarks would be heard in silence. He did not take the opportunity to make his speech without interruption. At the beginning of his speech, he accused you, Mr. Speaker, incorrectly, of a certain action, and your action was immediately explained and justified. That reduced the time available to the honorable member for East Sydney to make his speech. I support the motion and sincerely hope that never again in the history of this Parliament will a motion of this kind need to be submitted.
.- The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Freeth), the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Joshua), and the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) have delivered homilies on conduct. As a matter of fact, the honorable member for Lyne has gone so far as to say that this Parliament is not held in high esteem by many people. Parliamentarians and others who have not taken the trouble to study the conduct of parliaments in Australia and, for that matter in other countries over the last 100 years, have repeatedly made such a statement. Assertions of that kind have been made ever since I was a small boy, but those who take the trouble to study history will find that the conduct of this Parliament and of the State parliaments is infinitely better than it was 50 years ago. The reason is that in all parliaments in Australia, sitting behind the leaders of the Labour party, are the representatives’ of the working classes of Australia.
I must now refer, Mr. Speaker, to the manner in which you handled the situation last evening. The responsibility for what are called unseemly scenes rests as much upon you, sir, as upon any one in this Parliament. I do not make that statement in an endeavour to be unfair to you. You simply cannot help it, Mr. Speaker, and I do not think that I could help it if I occupied the chair. However, the fact remains that certain members of this House, who have been treated to lectures on conduct this afternoon, are a cross section of decent, good, home-loving people, good family men, good men in business, and good all-round Australians. Due, sir, to your unfitness to occupy the position you hold unfortunately, those men were forced, last night, into the position of expressing their indignation. There arose spontaneously in their hearts a feeling of indignation when they considered that one of their number had been unfairly, indeed, harshly treated.
You, sir, should be where the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is. You should be on the floor of this House. I remember well, sir, that you, in your day and generation, -were just as unseemly, if the conduct of the honorable member for East Sydney, and of other members of the Labour party has been unseemly. Prom time to time, you have been expelled from the precincts of this House and you probably deserved such treatment, just as I have deserved it. Your training throughout your parliamentary life has been in the rough and tumble of debate. The occupant of the chair should be completely impartial. To put the matter in the best light, you seem to have an unconscious bias when you are presiding over this House, and frequently, you act accordingly. That is what you did last night, and I admit that, had I been in the chair, I probably would have acted in a similar manner.
Some .men are able co shed unconscious bias when they occupy the chair, but you, Mr. Speaker, cannot do so, and I do not believe that I could do so. You are par- tisan. You revealed that last night. In fact, you show repeatedly that you are partisan. I have defied you as frequently as any man in this House has, and it is said that I have “ got away with a lot “ with you. I probably have. Repeatedly, you have treated me unfairly. Sometimes, you have treated me generously. Ir depends upon your mood. Let me say. sir, that you have a very bad habit of interrupting speakers. I do not know whether you show partiality in doing so. but I have an idea that your partiality, if any, is directed against this side of the House. It has particular application to myself and the honorable member for East Sydney. When we speak as members of this Parliament we speak with feeling. We probably have a more rapid flow of words than have most members of this Parliament, and these are conveyed to our tongues quickly. When we get into our stride we do not like to be interrupted. We expect interruptions from om political opponents, but we do not expect them from the Chair. May I say to you, sir, that you have a very bad habit which shows itself frequently, of interrupting honorable members who are addressing the House, with the words, “ Address the Chair “. You do so not only frequently, but also unnecessarily. There may sometimes be justification for you to interrupt a speaker in that fashion, but when a member who is on his feet addressing the House is so interrupted, it throws him out of his stride. Such interruptions affect even me, at times. Just as one is ready to put the punch into a reply to some objectionable statement made by an honorable member like the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock), you interrupt with the words, “Address the Chair “, with the result that one is thrown out of gear at a most important point of the speech.
All that happened last night was that the honorable member for East Sydney, in quite good humour, after he had apologized - and I emphasize that he apologized - to you for using the’ word “ treacherous “, turned to you, and said, as an aside, “ I do not want any assistance from you, Mr. Speaker.” What is wrong with that? Nothing! It could easily have been allowed to pass.
The honorable member for East Sydney was in good form and, what is more, he was in a good humour. He was enjoying himself, and he should have been allowed to continue to enjoy himself without your partisan interference. I know that actually he might have been out of order, but you did not call him to order on that ground. You simply sat him down. You did not say, “ The honorable member will apologize to the Chair “. You were so full of partisanship and favouritism for the point of view of the honorable members who sit in the corner, that your partisanship got the better of your judgment and you sat the honorable member for East Sydney down, and called an honorable member from the other side of the House who would express a point of view that would bc more favorable to your own point of view. I think that, you indulged in an unconscious display of partisanship. I have sat in three different legislatures as a. member, and. I have also been in the Army, and I have seen, both in parliaments and in the A Army, that the successful control of large bodies of men is solely due to, and based upon, the personality of the man who is entrusted with the exercise of such control. The ability to control men successfully is a divinely given gift. Successful Speakers are born, not elected. There have been men in this Parliament who have .sat in the chair which you now occupy, who could do anything with honorable members, without regulations, without force, without expulsions. They could make me, and even you, Mr. Speaker, when you sat on the benches as an ordinary member, do anything. Why? Because they were recognized by the Parliament as men who were at least impartial, even if they were only unconsciously impartial. They were Speakers to the manner born. Some Army officers
Iia ve the same gift of winning the respect and unhesitating obedience of those over whom they are placed in control. Their men would do anything for them even though they do not appear to differ in intelligence, character, courage or demeanour from other officers whom the same men would obey with reluctance. If you do not mend your ways, Mr. Speaker, there will be a lot more people in this House who will not do anything for you.
Mr. JOSKE (Balaclava) ._4.4S]). - This matter was represented by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) as one that concerned, firstly, the power of the Speaker and, secondly, the propriety of Mr. Speaker’s action. One would have thought that the Leader of the Opposition would have prefaced his remarks to-day by an expression of regret, not merely to the members of this House, and not merely to you, Mr. Speaker, but also to the people of Australia for the unseemly demonstration that was staged in the House last night by those honorable members whom he purports to lead. One would also have thought that between the suspension of the sitting last night and its resumption this afternoon the right honorable gentleman would have thought the matter over and that he would have come into the House to-day and expressed his very great regret that such a shocking disturbance as occured last night should have taken place. The power of Mr. Speaker to order a member of this House who is on his feet, to resume his seat, depends upon Standing Order 79, which reads as follows: -
When any offensive or disorderly words are used, whether by a Member who is addressing the Chair or by a member who is present, the Speaker shall intervene.
Assuming for the moment that disorderly words were used, that fact gives you, Mr. Speaker, a perfect right to intervene. It is recognized practice, at all meeting’s of any kind, that the presiding officer shall have a right to order any person to resume his seat when that person is guilty of the use of disorderly words. Not only is that so with regard to meetings in general, but, as the Prime Minister (Mr Menzies) has pointed out, time and again the occasion has arisen in this House when such an action has been taken by the Speaker. The words of the standing order that I have read are general. They say that the Speaker “ shall intervene “. His discretion regarding the action he shall take in such circumstances is entirely unfettered. The standing order does not say that he shall take this action, or that action. It leaves, to the discretion of the Speaker, the action to be taken by him. The lightest punishment that the Speaker can impose in such, circumstances is to order the honorable member concerned to resume his seat.
I turn now to the other question raised by the Leader of the Opposition regarding the propriety of your action. As the Prime Minister has stated, the honorable member for East Sydney was guilty of studied insolence to the Chair. The Leader of the Opposition, however, and the honorable member for East Sydney himself, claim that the honorable member was merely appealing to your sense of justice. The honorable member for East Sydney says, in effect, “ I am a vigorous speaker, and I was simply appealing to your sense of justice in a somewhat vigorous way, and what the honorable member for Evans said about gestures, and so on, does not matter “. One cannot help being reminded of a novel called The Virginian, which was published many years ago, which contains a statement by one of the characters who, having been insulted, said to the person who had insulted him, “When you say that, say it with a smile “. The judgment of a. remark often depends not on the actual words used but on the manner in which they were used. Impartial observers of the occurrence last night would have no doubt that the words uttered by the honorable member for East Sydney to you, Mr. Speaker, were uttered with viciousness and venom. As the Prime Minister has said, they were in terms of studied insolence. I go farther than that. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. .Keon) made a powerful speech last night. It was a powerful attack 011 the attitude of the official Labour party. It was known that he was to speak last night, and it was realized that he would make a powerful attack, on the official Opposition, and that the press of the following day would have under large headlines accounts of what he had to .say about his former colleagues. The members of the official Opposition were determined that the speech of the honorable member for Yarra should not get headlines in the press. They thought it better, from their point of view, to have a demonstration in the House which would get the headlines. The incident of last evening, which I have already described as deplorable, was far from accidental. It is obvious to any person acquainted with the workings of this House that last evening’s occurrence was a deliberately organized demonstration on the part of the Australian Labour party.
.- The motion deals, not with the conduct of honorable members on this side of the House after you, Mr. Speaker, gave your rulings, but with your conduct in giving those rulings. You ave under fire on three counts : First, for having told the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) to resume his seat; secondly, for having called the -Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) co continue the debate; and thirdly, for having left the chair and adjourned the business of the House for a record length of time.
– Mr. Speaker did not. leave the chair until the uproar took place.
– That is true. When the uproar had subsided, you, Mr. Speaker, should have returned. The only time in the history of this House that the Speaker kas left the chair was the occasion when Mr. Speaker Elliot Johnson did so. He returned within a quarter of an hour when order had been restored. Last evening, order was restored in much les? than a quarter of an horn: The subject of the motion is your conduct, Mr. Speaker, and not the conduct of honorable members on this side of the House, which, however unjustifiable, was caused by your conduct.
The history of last night’s occurrence was this : An honorable member on this side of the House - the honorable member for Martin (Mr. O’Connor) - concluded his remarks in the debate on foreign affairs and defence, which arose out of the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). That honorable member had ten or twelve minutes to speak after the suspension of the sitting for dinner. He was followed by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen), a vigorous speaker. The Minister was followed, as you knew he would be followed, by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon), the Deputy Leader of the Australian Labour party (Anti-Communist - also a vigorous speaker. The honorable member for Yarra was followed by the honorable member for East Sydney, another vigorous speaker. I cannot say that the Minister for Territories, whom you called next, is capable of vigour or vituperation in the category of that of which the previous three speakers are capable. The deplorable thing about last evening’s debate was first, that singular vituperation was permitted to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and the honorable member for Yarra, and that similar latitude was denied to the honorable member for East Sydney; and, secondly, that in sitting down the honorable member for East Sydney you called on the third speaker within three-quarters of an hour to present the same point of view as is advanced by Government supporters.
Many references have been made to your conduct in the honorable office that you hold. The most serious allegation against you is not that you have human frailties - that, to use a colloquialism, you do your block occasionally, as do most honorable members - but that you do not make the greatest possible effort to be fair and that you do not give the appearance of fairness that is required by your office, ft is necessary for any person who presides over an assemblage, or who holds a judicial or quasi-judicial office, not only to be fair, but also to appear to be fair. You, Mr. Speaker, did not appear to be fair when, before the resumption of the sitting after the suspension for dinner last evening, you decided to call the honorable member for Yarra to follow the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. Yon well knew that the same point of view would be presented by both those vigorous, able and dedicated speakers: and so it was presented. You then called an honorable member on this side of the House - the honorable member for East Sydney. You intended next to call the Minister for Territories. In the preparation of the roster for the evening, an rely the fair thing would have been to ensure that the points of view alternated. If the same point of view was advanced by two speakers in succession, the contrary point of view should have been supported by two other speakers in succession. Your roster for the evening denied that fundamental principle of justice.
First, I shall deal with your action in forcing the honorable member for East Sydney to resume his seat. If he had been guilty of disorderly conduct, you could have named him. You could, more summarily, have had him removed from the chamber in accordance with the provisions of Standing Order 303. You did neither of those things. You allowed the honorable member to remain in the House, but you denied him. the opportunity to express his point of view. You denied other honorable members on this side of the House also that opportunity. You were unfair not only to the honorable member for East Sydney, but also to other honorable members who sit on this side of the House and who represent a great part of the Australian people. That is the principal indictment of your conduct. The kinds of disorderliness for which you may name a member are specified in Standing Order 300. Not one of the five items of conduct prescribed in that standing order was perpetrated by the honorable member for East Sydney. Therefore, you could not name him, because, even if he had disregarded your authority, it could not be said that on this occasion he had persistently or wilfully disregarded it.
I do not condone the phrase that the honorable member used in asking you not to interrupt him. His action was cheeky and impertinent, if you like, but the proper way for you to deal wilh it was for you to call on him to withdraw his remark. You had already directed him to withdraw one factual but offensive word, and he had withdrawn it. Do you, sir, think that he would not have withdrawn the other cheeky phrase that he had addressed to you? It was cheeky, but it was uttered under provocation. The honorable member for East Sydney, in his capacity, with respect, is no greater an exhibitionist than you are in your position. Yow and he both ask for trouble. You are in the box seat, of course, and you can discipline the honorable member arbitrarily for the trouble that he might cause. However, we on this side of the House have not the requisite numbers and cannot discipline you for the trouble that you cause.
As I have stated, the first indictment that we on this side of the chamber make of your conduct is that you denied the honorable member for East Sydney the right to express his point of view. Also, you denied .other honorable members on this side of the House the opportunity to give expression to that point of view. You called the Minister for Territories, who was not on his feet at the time. You knew from the list that had been given to you that the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Makin) and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen; both wished to speak in the foreign affairs debate last evening. At the time to which I refer, both those honorable members and the Minister for Territories were seated. When the honorable member for East Sydney was forced to resume his seat you could have called, equally as readily as you called the Minister for Territories, an honorable member with a point of view similar to that of the honorable member for East Sydney, two at least of whom were equally as readily available as was the Minister. They were equally reticent in rising to their feet.
The second allegation, that we on this side of the House make against you, Mr. Speaker, is that you compounded the injustice which you first committed last evening by calling a third member within three-quarters of an hour to support the Government instead of ensuring that the point of view held by the honorable member for East Sydney, which he was putting to the House. was in fact put at the best listening time in this House, it cannot be said that the honorable member for Sturt, in particular, is not as civil and well behaved a speaker as is the Minister for Territories. Furthermore, the honorable member for Sturt is better informed and his outlook is more reasonable.
The third count in the Opposition’s indictment against you, sir, is that you suspended the sitting of the House in the unusual fashion that has been mentioned and for an unprecedented length of time. It is true that this House need not meet for a sessional period more than once a year. If the Government has Supply it may immediately adjourn the House. However, there is a certain practice in these matters. The Parliament is afforded an opportunity to discuss important questions, and therefore this
House meets for more than the minimum time that is required in order to vote the Government Supply. As a result, we have debates in which both sides of questions are or should be debated. Whenever there is unruly conduct - and undoubtedly there was last evening - ibrSpeaker does not have to terminate th, business of the House for the rest of the evening. He can wait until order is restored and can then resume the sitting. But, if I may use a colloquialism, not only did you have the Mace removed but. you took your bat home too. I say, with great respect, that you showed a form of pettiness and thin-skinned susceptibility which disgraced your office. One can forgive you for being an exhibitionist, and one can forgive your itch to interrupt, but there was no need for you, in your position and with your experience of thi? House and the House of Assembly in South Australia, to suspend the sitting and frustrate the business of the Parliament in that fashion for 30 many hour.”.
I have said before that I do not in an,* way seek to condone the outburst which followed the first and second of your acts last night which are the subject of this motion. They are unforgivable, but explainable. Whatever may be said, without curb or hindrance from you, concerning the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), his conduct and his attitude, there can be no doubt of the spontaneity of the outburst made last night by the people sitting behind him. It is completely idle to suggest that anybody contemplated that yon would sit a man down, call on a third person to put the Government’s point of view, and deny for an hour the expression of the Opposition’s point of view. If that is not unprecedented in this House, I do not know what is unprecedented. For that very reason, there was an outburst. The House was crowded. The outburst was spontaneous, unanimous and vociferous. I do not say that I led it, but I do not deny that I participated in it. Under similar circumstances, I might act in the same human but deplorable fashion again. If you behave yourself, Mr. Speaker, we shall behave ourselves too, but if such an exhibition occurs again - apparently last night was the first time in a generation - you cannot expect people to take it on the chin and lie down. ‘Surely it is essential that, for so long as the Parliament is sitting, both points of view shall be expressed in this House. Whatever may be said about the conduct, the hooliganism, of last night, and whatever may be said about the partisanship which preceded it from the Government side of the House, from the corner and from the Chair, there is no doubt that, as the upshot of that partisanship, a point of view which commends itself to a vast number of people in Australia - I believe the majority of the people in Australia - was denied .1 hearing in. this chamber. By abandoning the whole of the proceedings of the House after 9 p.m. and by devoting the whole of the proceedings of the House before 9 p.m. to the expression of one point of view, a point of view which is honestly held by many people and which would have been, vigorously propounded last night by many honorable .members on this side was denied a hearing.
– Just a lot of hooey from a yahoo.
– Order ! That remark must be withdrawn.
– I withdraw it.
– I must admit that I. was well caught there; because I remember using a similar term about the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett). I withdrew the term, Mr. Speaker, with the same grace and alacrity as the honorable member displayed when he applied to to me. That is the conduct that you should have enforced on the honorable member for East Sydney last night. You should have seen to it that any cheekiness and impertinence on his part was ended, hut that his point of view was expressed in this chamber for the edification, not only of the full House here but also of the vast listening public outside. Because, Mr. Speaker, by three acts you denied the expression of that point of view in this House and silenced, not only the honorable member for East Sydney but also all other honorable members on this side who would have expressed that point of view, you stand condemned.
Mr. TURNBULL (Mallee) “5.10J.- It was pitiful to hear the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) say that the honorable members on his side of the House, who represented a cross-section of the Australian people, were forced into the disgraceful demonstration that we saw in the House last night. It has been stated in the press to-day that never before in the history of this Parliament has such a disgraceful scene been witnessed. Of course, that is true. But the honorable member for Lalor tried to wipe it out, as. it were, by saying, “We were forced into it”. Can you force any man who conducts himself as a gentleman into acting like a racecourse urger who has backed the wrong horse and hoots at the judge? Can you force any gentleman into doing that? The answer is that you cannot. I have never heard anything so fantastic as the statement by the honorable member for Lalor that the members of the Opposition were forced into the demonstration of last night. Men of principle, whatever the circumstances, hold their heads high and keep their principles intact. They do not descend to the tactics of the gutter.
Honorable members opposite should remember that, as members of Her Majesty’s Opposition in this Parliament, they have an honorable position to uphold. If the proceedings of last night had been televised, or if a photograph had been taken of the scene that occurred, the Labour party - I leave out the AntiCommunist group - would have been condemned throughout Australia. The members of the Anti-Communist Australian Labour party did not take part in the demonstration, but the remnant that is left of the Australian Labour party did. If the scene had been televised, those who sit behind the Leader of the Opposition would have stood condemned in the eyes of the world. In any event, all of us who think know that the news of what happened here last night will go round the world and will, to some degree, tend to condemn the Parliament of the people of Australia.
The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) condemned the Speaker. I have not always agreed with you, Mr. Speaker, but I know that as I have moved about among Labour men I have heard them say, “At least he is impartial “. They said that up till last night.
But when their favorite was defeated, they tried to silence the Chair by booing, and a disreputable scene occurred. From the way in which the honorable member for Werriwa got up, one might think that he had all the authority about the place, that he had been in the Parliament for 30 years and knew everything that had occurred during that time. I shall prove from Hansard that what the honorable member for Werriwa and the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) have said has never taken place before in this House, has in fact taken place. But before I do that, let me answer one or two of the remarks made by the honorable member for Werriwa. He said, Mr. Speaker, that he condemned you on three counts. The first count was that you had made the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) resume his seat. But he admitted that the honorable member for East Sydney had been cheeky and impertinent, and he asked why you did not call the honorable member to order and give him a chance to continue with his speech. My memory is pretty good, and I think Hansard will confirm it. I remember that you did just that. You called the honorable member for East Sydney to order, but he said that he was not going to have you interfering with him. When you spoke to him after he had said something that was out of order, he turned to you and said, “I do not want any further interference from you “.
– Fair enough!
– The honorable member for Lalor says “ Fair enough ‘. “ Apparently he thinks that the Speaker should not intervene when an honorable member indulges in conduct that lowers the prestige of the House. Apparently he thinks you should act in the way that Speakers and Deputy Speakers from the ranks, of Labour acted in other days. You told the honorable member for East Sydney to resume his seat, and you. called the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck). The second count alleged against you by the honorable member for Werriwa is that you should not have called the Minister for Territories then. I shall prove shortly that on a previous occasion a similar call was given to a member on the other side of the House.
The third count of the honorable member for Werriwa was that you should not have left the chair, or that you should not have left it for so long. I believe that the Leader of the Opposition tried to raise a point of order. He said that He could not obtain a hearing for the boos. I know that most people outside the Parliament, and almost all honorable members of the Parliament, will say that you, Mr. Speaker, acted quite correctly in leaving the chair. Indeed, I believed at one time that you might have had to be conducted from the chair like some football umpires have had to be conducted from the field after football matches. Anything could have happened last night, and I suggest that there has never been a demonstration against a football umpire with worse features than the demonstration against you in this House last night.
Honorable members do not have to take my word for the occurrence; they may read about it in the newspapers. There they will read that honorable member* were shaking their fists at Mr. Speaker and booing and cat-calling. The pres.* has the right to report matters such as the disturbance last night, and it has fully reported that affair. Indeed, for some time I was fearful of what might have happened in this House last night, and I believe that you, Mr. Speaker, acted quite rightly when you left the chair. However, some honorable members, like the honorable member for Werriwa, are of the opinion that yon should have remained in the chair and taken the insults that were hurled at you. It has been said that your action of last night was unique in the history of this Parliament. Some honorable members have stated that yesterday was the first time that any one had been prevented from completing his speech in this House. Many other fantastically untrue statements have been made about your actions. Most of those statements have been made by comparative newcomers to this House, but I do suggest that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) should have known much better than to have made the assertions that he did make this afternoon.
On the 4th June, 1947, a Labour government held office in this country. A former member for Dalley, Mr. Rosevear, who was then the Speaker of the House, had come down from the chair and had spoken from the floor of the House.
– He was quite right in doing so.
Mi. TURNBULL.- I do not suggest chat he did not have the right to do that, I am merely stating that he did leave the chair and addressed the House about the very important subject of parliamentary allowances. After the then Speaker completed his speech, the then Deputy Speaker, now the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark), who was in the chair, called the then honorable member for Balaclava. However, according to page 3400 of volume 192 of Hansard, the honorable member for Balaclava had not been speaking for very long when the then Deputy Speaker said -
Order! Tha honorable member will resume his seat. He has deliberately tried to evade the ruling of the Chair.
Of course the honorable member resumed his seat, exactly as the honorable member for East Sydney resumed his seat last night after being ordered to do so. The then honorable member for Balaclava deliberately tried to avoid the ruling of the Chair, as did the honorable member for East Sydney, and in both cases the honorable members were ordered to resume their seats. However, that is not all that happened on that occasion in 1947. Immediately the then honorable member for Balaclava resumed his seat, the Deputy Speaker indicated why he had directed the honorable member to sit down. The then Deputy Speaker called upon another honorable member to speak in the debate. The Leader of the Opposition has asked why the Speaker did not call upon another honorable member from the Opposition side after the honorable member for East Sydney had been ordered, to resume his seat. He stated that there was no precedent for that action of the Speaker. Well, on the 4th June, 1947, the then Deputy Speaker, after having ordered a member of the then Opposition to resume his seat, called upon a great Labour supporter of the rime, the then honorable member for Reid. Mr. Lang.
– Mr. Lang was an independent Labour member.
– He was a great Labour supporter. If honorable members like to peruse the Hansard report, they will discover that on many occasions in divisions Mr. Lang supported the Labour Government. Yet. he was called after the then Deputy Speaker had ordered an Opposition, member to resume his seat. I suggest that the case and the case of the honorable member for East Sydney are parallel, and yet the Leader of the Opposition has asked why Mr. Speaker did not call another member of the Opposition after the honorable member for East Sydney had been ordered to resume his seat. To-day, the Leader of the Opposition attempted to move a motion of dissent, from the Speaker’s ruling, but when, in 1947, the honorable member for Balaclava attempted to so move on that occasion the Deputy Speaker said -
In accordance with the Standing Orders, the debate tin the honorable member’s motion will be adjourned until to-morrow.
The following day was the oth June. 1.947, but the parliamentary records show that nothing more was said about the motion, a.nd the then honorable member for Balaclava did not have an opportunity to speak about it until the 2nd October, 1947, which was four months later. Moreover, when the matter was dealt with, it was treated in quite a summary manner and was passed over as being of no importance. I again remind honorable members that that is the way in which a motion similar to the one being debated to-day was treated when a Labour government held office and when the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of those days were elected from among the ranks of the Australian Labour party. Consequently, it is very humorous to hoar the honorable member for Werriwa laying it down that the Speaker’s actions and rulings of last night have no prior parallel. I have shown the fallacy in his statements, as well as the fallacies in the speeches of most honorable members opposite, particularly that of the Leader of the Opposition.
.- I wish to make it perfectly clear at the outset that my party, the AntiCommunist Australian Labour party, does not require protection from the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), or from anybody else. I am afraid that I am living in a world of fantasy. Apparently there was no demonstration last night; it was an optical illusion. There was no demonstration at all, and the innocents are abroad, all with halos around their heads. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Webb), a distinguished member of the federal executive of the Australian Labour party, and one of the supreme rulers of the party, was booing and hooting with both hands to his mouth like a Communist at a trade union meeting. Another paragon, of virtue, the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), is, as a rule, suave and distinguished. He booed also.
Mr. Duthie interjecting,
– Order ! The honorable member for Wilmot is out of his seat.
-I shall promptly return to it.
– He proposed the great motion-
– That is a lie.
– Order ! The honorable member for Wilmot will withdraw that word.
-i withdraw the word “ lie “, and say that the statement of the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mullens) is false.
– The honorable member for Wilmot is one of the leaders of the Australian Labour party. Perhaps I am imagining all that. They are unorganized but permanent members of the federal executive of the party. I have an implied sympathy with the honorable member for East Sydney. He gives knocks and he takes them. I give knocks, and I expect to take them. What inevitable hypocrisy on the part of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), who approaches the wailing wall with the cry, “ It is a shocking injustice to me and my party ! “ Oh, the innocents abroad ! He says that there was no demonstration. And the honorable member for Werriwa, with, I submit, a legalistic mind, says that he did not take part. He, wearing the flower of lily- white purity, deliberately absolves himself.
– He said that he did take part, and you may include me, too.
– He still absolves himself. The right honorable member for Barton made the deliberate statement this afternoon- and it is on record - that the demonstration was justified.
– Hear, hear !
– And the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin), who says “ Hear, hear ! “, says it was justified. How are we supposed to protect all of the privileges of the Parliament, which is the corner stone of our democratic institutions, when honorable members say that such a demonstration was justified ? There is only one school of political thought in which one learns that there is justification for demonstrations in a place like this, and that is the school of thought to which a substantial section of the Australian Labour party belongs. When those honorable members talk about this fourth party in the House, let me remind them that there are four official parties here, but that a fifth party, the Communist party, is adequately represented by the Leader of the so-called Labour party.
Opposition members interjecting,
– I am deducing it from the facts.
– I think the honorable member for Gellibrand is a crackpot.
– Order ! The honorable member for Watson must withdraw that term.
Mr.Curtin. - I did not think that the term “crackpot” would be offensive.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman must withdraw the term.
– I withdraw it.
– I rise to order. There were two remarks that came close upon one another. The honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mullens) referred to the Leader of the Opposition as a Communist, and the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) said that the honorable member for Gellibrand was a crackpot. I think that, in fairness, both remarks should be withdrawn.
-Order ! The word “ Communist “ has already been used this afternoon. Let me remind the House that the Communist party is a legal organization in Australia.
– But there are no members of that party here. Let me remind you of that fact.
– Order ! I have never attended a Communist party meeting, and, therefore, I do not know what happens at such meetings. I simply say that it is not for me to judge whether honorable members are members of one party or another.
– J again rise to order. You have just made the statement, Mr. Speaker, that, as you have not attended a Communist party meeting, you do not know what a Communist is. I presume, from that reasoning, that you know what a crackpot is.
-Order! There was reference to what takes place at Communist party meetings. It was for that reason that I said I had not attended any such meetings. 1 do not know from experience, but whether honorable members are or are not members of parties other than those to which they appear to belong in this place is not for me to judge.
– I, also, rise to a further point of order. You, Mr. Speaker, know as well as any other honorable member that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) is the Leader of the Australian Labour party, and that he is not a. member of the Communist party or associated in any way with it. If you pay due respect to the leaders of other parties in the House by insisting that they shall be referred to by their correct titles, I suggest that you should show some impartiality towards the Leader of the Opposition.
– Order ! The Leader of the Opposition is referred to as the Leader of the Opposition. I do not know what are the affiliations or associations of honorable members outside the House, and I do not propose to inquire into them.
– I rise to order. In case you, Mr. Speaker, do not know which party I represent, I wish to make it clear to all-
– “What is the point of order?
– My point of order is that I am not a member of the Communist party, that I never was, that I never will be, and that I represent the great Australian Labour party in this place.
-Order! No point of order is involved.
– I rise to a further point of order. It seems that many honorable members opposite object to the right honorable member for Barton being called a Communist. Those who are most vocal in this matter, particularly the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin), very frequently have called me a fascist and a Nazi, which are very offensive terms. However, I have put up with their comments, but I think there is less evidence to support the use of those expressions towards me than there is to support the statement of the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mullens) about’ the Leader of thcOpposition.
– I, too, rise to a point, of order. Would members of the Opposition be in order in using the word “ Communist “ in relation to supporters of the Government, or is its use to be the sole prerogative of the . “ San ti “- Communist party?
– Order ! It is for the honorable member himself to decide. If any honorable member objects to the use of the term, I shall have to consider his objection, but I do not intend to take the stand that honorable members may not refer to the Communist party.
– To call a person a Communist is the greatest insult that can be offered to anybody.
– I rise to order. A few moments ago, you, Mr. Speaker, made a reference–
– I rise to order.
-. - Sit down!
– The honorable member for Lalor is raising a point of order.
– You referred to people appearing to belong to the Communist party.
-I did not.
– I was under the impression that you referred to honorable members appearing to belong to the Communist party.
– No, I did not.
– Very well, I apologize.
– I rise to a further point of order. It is quite obvious that the Opposition is attempting to obstruct the speech of the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mullens). I ask you whether deliberate obstruction i3 permissible. If it is not permissible, will you ensure that no further points of order are raised, and that the honorable member for Gellibrand is given the right of free speech in the House?
– Order! The Standing Orders provide that a point of order may be raised at any time.
– I have supreme pleasure in repeating - and, by now, it is an elementary fact which has been deduced from conduct, policies and statements, as clearly as night follows day - that the Communist point of view is adequately represented in the minority who follow the honorable member for Barton.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Those same honorable members cannot fob that off. That statement makes an impact which is as solid as that made by a rock, and everybody in Australia knows that it is true. I have made a concession. I have stated that I appreciate the point of view of the honorable member for East Sydney, but is not that Pecksniffian wail that came from the honorable member for Barton, who has a chronic sense of injustice, delightful?
– I rise to order. I should like a ruling as to what is the proper mode of address of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt). We know that the anti-Communist members have a habit of addressing the right honorable member as the honorable member for Barton.
– The Standing Orders provide that every member of this House is an honorable member. By gift from the Crown certain honorable members are right honorable members. The honorable member for Barton is an honorable member by virtue of his election to this House, and by virtue of a further election by his colleagues in this House he is the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition. I do not know whether he has ever objected to being referred to as the honorable member for Barton. If he has done so, I shall have to attend to the matter.
– It is a supreme relief to me to find that for one moment at least the right honorable member for Barton has discarded the conspiracies which seemed always to be dogging his footsteps and has now turned to his favorite plea - injustice. Injustice ! From the leader of a party who has sitting behind him two members of the federal executive steeped in injustice, prejudice, and viciousness !
– I rise to order. The statement made by the honorable member for -Gellibrand is offensive to me.
– Was it a statement about the honorable member?
– Yes; I was elected to the federal executive of the Australian Labour party last month.
– I have no knowledge of who or who is not a member of the executives of different parties, and I do not propose to inquire.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Gellibrand, earlier in the present performance, identified the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Webb) and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) as members of the federal executive of the Australian Labour party. Previously, in the course of his remarks he referred to both of those honorable gentlemen as members of that executive and as members for the divisions which they represent, and castigated them for their conduct. He has now referred to them as being steeped in injustice. I join with the honorable member for Swan and the honorable member for Wilmot in finding those terms offensive. I should think that they were highly disorderly and, therefore, I request that they be withdrawn.
– Whether or not the honorable member for Swan and the honorable member for Wilmot are members of the federal executive of the Australian Labour party is beyond my knowledge andis no concern of mine. If the honorable member for Gellibrand has referred to their conduct outside this House in regard to matters over which they may or may not have control, that also is no concern of mine.
– He should be declared.
– Certified is the word!
– The honorable member for Werriwa says that I should be certified. I would never be certified, in any case, on any ground ; but the last thing I should like to happen to me would be the dire fate of being a sycophant, sinking every political and moral principle that is dear to my heart. The smooth sycophancy of these potential aspirants to cabinet rank! The horizon is fading further away.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman might get somewhat closer to the question before the Chair.
– Mr. Speaker, did you ever think in your wildest dreams-
– That you would be with the “ Libs.”.
– Order !
– I should think that it would be eminently more desirable to be with the “Libs.” than with the “ Corns.”. Did you ever think in your wildest dreams, Mr. Speaker, that you would find these latter day saints giving themselves verbal ablutions to wash away the stain of an administration that never existed, but is a figment of their imagination? What a delightful spectacle, a glorious sight to see my friend, the honorable member for East Sydney, posing! He has never offended. He is a remarkable man. He stood up in this House this afternoon in his lily-white purity and adopted the attitude, “I am without sin. Don’t cast a stone “.
– Ah, my friend !
– Order !
– What about the “pundit from Parkes”?
– Yes. Seriously, the smug hypocrisy of the two members of the federal executive of the Australian Labour party who, in conjunction with the honorable member for Werriwa, led this unseemly and disgraceful exhibition of hooliganism, which is so typical of Communistinspired demonstrations, is enough to make a decent person sick. I believe that the newspapers have sent the correct story forth to the world. The decent element in the Opposition - twenty of those honorable members at least - are uncomfortable and restless, and willing and anxious to disown their leader. My remarks about the state of a man’s body, the absence of tension being comfortable, are strictly relevant because the demonstration that occurred last evening really had nothing to do with the case that the honorable member for East Sydney was putting to the House. That demonstration stemmed from an uneasy conscience. Honorable members who are led by the right honorable member for Barton are on the wrong foot. The public is judging them, and my assessment is that the public will regard last night’s exhibition as typical of the federal executive control of the Labour party by gangsters and filibusterers.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Me. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question put -
That the motion(vide page 374) be agreed
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed (vide page 366).
– I trust, most sincerely, that what has transpired in the last few hours of this debate will be regarded as an epilogue to the preceding speeches, rather than as a preface to the speeches that will follow. This debate, which I regard as a. serious one of high national importance, was inaugurated by a statement on foreign policy and defence that was made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). That statement was. in itself, so lucid and so powerful that I do not think there is any occasion for me. to try to elaborate on it, or to say more than that I support it, and that I commend it to the earnest consideration of all Australians. It is clear, and I think it is something recognized by every member of this Parliament, that the statement, and consequently this debate, deal with matters of very great national importance. This is an occasion on which we are challenged to think, not as people who may be divided by our creeds or political allegiances, or by our occupations, but as Australians who are trying to face an urgent national question, because the decision which we make on this sort of question is a decision which, will bring good, or ill to every Australian, no matter whether he be Labour or Liberal, in office or ou! of office. lt may be that some Australians who aro no less earnest in their patriotism than the very big majority which supports the Prime Minister, might arrive at opinions different from those which are put forward in the statement. We are, I believe, still very happily a nation where there is room for people to hold different opinions. But I do believe that this is one of the questions on which, .if we cannot get a common purpose, if we cannot get a unity of intention in the nation, it becomes a matter of very serious concern to every one of us. It may be that we differ in our methods, but unless, on a question like this, all Australians can be joined in a common purpose, then it bodes very ill for our nation. What is the question? ft is a question of what Australia should do, and do at once, in order to survive. We stand at a point of danger. How shall we meet that danger? We are not debating anything less than that vital question.
We are indeed also dealing, [ think, with a question of even higher importance than our own survival. In deciding the course we shall take as a nation, and what we shall do as a nation to see that we are not destroyed or mutilated, and that we as Australians shall not lose our right to decide what sort of life we shall live, we are, at the same time, making decisions on the great question of what shall happen to mankind and what shall become of the values and principles of conduct on which civilized usage rests, and what shall happen to the whole structure of civilization. Where does every one of us, as Australians, choose to stand in that great conflict of ideas, the great conflict o’f organized power which is being waged throughout the world to-day? That, too, is one of the questions we have to face in this debate. In that regard T should like to say quite plainly that [ think we have a way of life that is worth defending, and I confess to a great deal of impatience with those few members of this House, of whom the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) is a characteristic example, who, being where they are solely because the sort of life we have built in Australia gives them the right and the opportunity to be here, spend their time in this place in disparaging, and in expressing doubt and dislike of the very society in which they enjoy those benefits, while at the same time they see nothing that is not admirable in the society that is working to destroy and undermine the principle? on which our nation rests.
– That is not true.
– Those honorable members who have expressed support for those ideas, and those who interject that it is not true should read, when the Hansard report if available, the full text of the statements made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. Are those honorable members who hold those views not ready to uphold our civilization and way of life, or are they careless about it or even willing to destroy it? When we talk about the security of Australia we are talking about the great issues which divide the world to-day, and also we are necessarily talking about that everconstant issue of international affairs, thcissue of peace or war. When we work for the survival of Australia we workso that peace may be maintained. When we take defence measures we take them so that, if war should unhappily come, we shall prevail and not go under.
Because of the greatness of the issues involved I was very disappointed by tinspeech of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). One expects, on an occasion like this, a firm, clear and reasoned statement from the leader of the Australian Labour party. Considering that speech, I pause to ask myself whether it really did express what the Australian Labour party thinks to-day. Was that hour and a half of repetitions, of insinuations, of avoidance, of twisting, of turnings, really the mind of the Australian Labour party? Was this something that the leader of the Australian Labour party had produced after consultation with his followers? Was i; something that expressed not only his personal views, but also the views of those who sit behind him? Was it something that every one of those who sit behind him is willing to uphold and endorse on all its points? Or was it just something that the right honorable member for Barton produced in consultation with his own group of secretaries and private envoys? Yet he spoke as Leader of the Opposition in this chamber. As no one on the Opposition benches rose to pronounce any dissociation with his sentiments, was must assume that what he said was said with the authority mid approval of the Opposition. Some Opposition members have said, “ Hear, hear!” Apparently some, but not all honorable members opposite are willing to associate themselves with his sentiments. The Australian Labour party, if one. can judge from this speech, does not deny that there is a danger in the world to-day. It does not deny that there is a need for Australia to be concerned about its security.
If the Leader of the Opposition had made such a denial, one might question his ability to read the signs of the times, but one would not criticize his speech on any other ground than that. But he certainly did not make that denial. Implicit in all he said was that there does exist a troubled world, with conflict among the nations. The speech, therefore, has to be considered as a pronouncement on behalf of the Labour party of what the Labour party would do in order to meet that situation. Moreover, as he rambled from point to point, he seemed to recognize, though at a distance, and faintly, that the salient feature of the world situation to-day is that there is a conflict of power, with the Soviet Union and the nations associated with it on one side, and the Western democracies, and the nations associated with them, on the other side. He avoided any explicit statement of that fact, but he did not deny it. Why, if he could not deny the existence of that conflict of power, will he not face up and say on which side he and his party come down? He said quite truly, that Australia faced the possibility of total war with nuclear weapons. If that war unfortunately does come, from what direction will it come? If there is a possibility of total war with nuclear weapons, from where will it be launched, from where will the danger arise, and how do we meet that danger? Those are questions that the Labour party will not face, and hitherto has refused to face, and has avoided facing.
The Leader of the Opposition stated that Australia faced the possibility of a total war with nuclear weapons, and then, when he might have been expected to say what he would do about it, he merely said that we ought to develop friendly relations and take the initiative in bringing peace to the world. That is a nice phrase, but what does it mean in terms of action? Peace and friendly relations are hopes, not policy. At this stage the nation expects from the Australian Labour party not an expression of hope, but a declaration of its policy on these vital matters. It may be that the Labour policy is diplomacy - the diplomacy of the unprepared who try to achieve a peaceful settlement without the benefit of any persuasive force behind them. It may be that Labour’s policy is the negotiation of a peaceful settlement - negotiation by the weak and the hesitant against the strong and the ruthless. What does the leader of the Australian Labour party propose on behalf of the party? His speech made reference to his past efforts in the field of international mediation. One would expect that, following those references to his own past, the right honorable gentleman would have proceeded to state what should now be done, but, following that, excursus into his own diplomatic efforts, he developed another phrase, which I quote -
It is the mind of man and hie courage, initiative, perseverance and endurance which alone oan save US
What do members of the Australian Labour party think that that phrase means in terms of concrete action? How would they translate it into a policy for making friends with. China or resisting the aggression of Russia? How would they turn that phrase into a policy that would have effect in the world to-day? Every member of this House knows, deep in his heart, that one cannot float “out of a sea of troubles on a raft made of abstract nouns. The Leader of the Opposition, who faces troubles within his own party that are no particular concern of mine, is not winning his way in the Australian Labour party by handing abstract nouns around the caucus room. He is winning his own way by hard, tough tunnelling. Does he expect that what he has to do in order to justify his own position in the party should he different from what has to be clone in the hard and grim world of international affairs ? Does he think that a raft made out of his abstract nouns will carry us to safety, or does he realize that in this world of to-day we have to get something more than abstract nouns out of the Australian Labour party and that we must have from that party better support than the offering of these fine phrase*, if the Australian nation is to survive?
The right honorable gentleman did not attempt to outline any of the causes of the present situation. He did not attempt to probe deeply into it. Instead, now and again he merely dredged up from the depths of his mind some aspersion or allusion that he hoped might enable him to place the blame for the existing state of affairs on the United States of America, Great Britain or Australia ; to deprecate colonialism - whatever he may mean by that term ; and to deplore the lack of more frequent debates in the Security Council and other organs of the United Nations. Does that sort of speech indicate what the Australan Labour party regards as the cause of the world’s ills? Are we to stretch the logic of the Labour leader, though it will not hear much stretching, to the point at which we could say that if only the Americans, the British and the Australians, would apologize more often; if only the Americans, the Dutch, the French, the British and the Australians were to walk out of Asia for ever, leaving the newly independent states to take their chance of surviving against Asiatic aggression ; and if only the United Nations would do a good deal more talking, peace would come and good relations would be established? Is that Labour’s policy? One would deduce it from the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition in analysing the world’s ills.
When the right honorable gentleman talked of China, he was definite about one point - the only point about which
Labour is definite to-day - that red China should be recognized at once. The Leader of the Opposition talked also about Malaya and Indo-China. In my view, in many respects he distorted the situation in those countries, apparently in order to justify his view that Australia should not contribute to the security of South-East Asia by sending forces to serve alongside those of her allies. When one has peeled away all the lofty sentiments and cut out all the rotten little specks of insinuation from the right honorable gentleman’s speech, one comes to the core of Labour’s policy. What is it? One pip, and one pip only, of that policy is support for the recognition of red China, without any conditions in relation to its future conduct, and irrespective of the conditions that may prevail at a particular time. A second pip in the core of Labour’s policy is a refusal to contribute anything’ to the security of South-East Asia and, by that means, to the defence of Australia. For the rest, the core of the Australian Labour party’s policy looks as if it has been attacked vigorously by codlin moth.
The Leader of the Opposition called his policy a policy of reality. There is one reality that the right honorable gentleman and other members of the Australian Labour party will not face. It is the fact that a conflict already exists, and that a contest of power is already being waged. The right honorable gentleman spoke as if we were still at peace and as if we were not in fact already engaged in a struggle which is no less unrelenting and no less decisive in its cumulative results than military operations would be. Over the past ten years, many countries of the world have been occupied and many peoples have lost their freedom and independence and have passed into subjection to authorities that they did not choose for themselves. No member of this House can seriously deny that that sort of thing has happened. Those who resisted the changes did not simply take up dignified or reclining positions on opposition benches. They were shot.
The use of the phrases “ cold war “ and “hot war “ cannot disguise the fact that it is only the adjective that differs. The reality in each instance is the same, and cold war; no less than hot war,, is unrelentingly directed towards achieving changes in power in order to increase the power of one group and to lessen in every way the power of another group. The struggle is being waged in ways which,, no less than military operations would do, will affect the outcome of the great contest that is taking place in the world to-day; for the purpose of cold war is to weaken and destroy those who are opposed to the warring, nation and to help ensure that the interests of the belligerent shall prevail. The Leader of the Opposition and all other members of the Australian Labour party must be aware of those facts, [n the light of those circumstances, how can we be so naive as to say that all we have to do is to seek the peaceful adjustment of disputes, when those disputes are already being settled by force? It seems to me that the Leader of the Opposition suggests that the boa constrictor uses force only when, having crushed and strangled its victim, it opens its mouth to swallow it. As the threatening monster approached the right honorable gentleman, he would reach for his copy of the United Nations Charter. As the coils began to surround him, and as he felt their pressure on his bones, he would quote the chapter and verse that he believes would enable him to negotiate a peaceful settlement.
– That one smells a little of the lamp.
– The smell of the lamp is le3S objectionable than are some of the other smells that permeate Australian politics to-day. -
– Don’t be so self-conscious.
– The Leader of the Opposition would do nothing if he were threatened by a boa constrictor. He would allow the crushing to proceed and would continue to talk of peaceful settlement. Then, finally, as he began to disappear-
– Order 1 The honorable gentleman’s time has expired
.- The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has just concluded a speech, the highlight of which, as far as I could see,, was a conclusion full of glittering mixed metaphors. He asked for some diplomatic inquiry into the peace plans and policy of the Government, but, on the other hand, he made some war-like utterances, addressed to the Opposition rather than to the enemy which he sees to the: north of us. I am reminded of his utterances at Darwin recently, when he led a parliamentary delegation there to open the Legislative Council building. The best he could do in his speech was to insult the Australian people by referring to the time of the evacuation of the populace of Darwin after the bombing of the town as a day of national shame. As his guests and members of the delegation, we were horrified t” find that his prepared speech was full of ironic twists and jabs at the people of Darwin. The same kind of twist is to be found in his history of the last war, which I shall deal with later in my speech. As I have only twenty minutes at my disposal, I propose to go hunting for bigger game than the little Minister for Territories.
The objection of Her Majesty’s Opposition to the foreign policy announced by the Government relates mainly to the lack of policy to be found in the official pronouncements. During a recent absence from the House which you forced upon me, Mr. Speaker, I studied at leisure the highly decorative cover of the pamphlet containing the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on foreign affairs and the rather meagre contents of the speech. I should say that it is an actor’s script. It has nothing to do with foreign policy. It is a collection of words calculated to mislead, certainly not to instruct. Without the portly profile, the pontifical sentence and the pregnant pause, it is nothing. The Minister for Territories has warned us that this is a dangerous time. Surely we can expect at this time something with more meat in it, something with more planning to it, and something more valid than the Prime Minister’s speech on foreign affairs. He paid lip service to the United Nations, but Hansard teems with examples of his retreats from support of the United Nations.
His approach to the subject is peculiar, but well-established. I can best describe it, if I may digress for a moment, by referring to his attitude to a project such as the Snowy Mountains scheme. He waits until the project is an accomplished and successful fact, and then stands trumpeting in front of it as if it were his own. That exemplifies his attitude to the United Nations. Sometimes it is a massive force for good. At other times, according to how he has dined and how he feels, it is not so good. We are acquainted with his pontifical periods, which mean nothing. They begin to frighten us. In these serious days, if our contribution to foreign affairs consists only of the Prime Minister’s windy speeches, we are indeed in for trouble.
I often wonder - perhaps the other Ministers can explain it, their anguish being closer to the subject than mine - why the Prime Minister, so to speak, stands in front of the responsible Minister when a statement has to be made. If u statement has to be made on foreign affairs, the Prime Minister makes the statement while his Man Friday, the Minister (Mr. Casey), sits meekly by, waiting for the bones that will be thrown over the massive shoulder. The Minister for External Affairs is a well-meaning gentleman. He is a man of sincerity. But surely it is unfortunate for our relations with India that he is a pukka sahib, that he has been in Bengal, that he was associated with the old days of the British Raj there, and that he is not trusted. He should be trusted, because I think he is sincere. The pukkah wallah, who used to waft the cool breezes through the palaces of Calcutta where the Minister lived has now got a vote and his son and daughter are at a university. The point I am trying to make is that those two protagonists of the Government in international affairs are alarmingly illinformed about the international situation. The speech of the Prime Minister was the speech of a Western statesman, sitting comfortably somewhere north of the equator and looking at our problems through the wrong end of a telescope. It was alarming to the highest degree. The Prime Minister seems to be perfectly satisfied with the conclusions he has arrived at, but no one else is.
The third member of the trio whose task is to create the atmosphere of security which is so desirable in pronouncements on foreign affairs, is the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison). Let me say at once that his only knowledge of foreign affairs is gleaned from the night when a terrorist got in through the window of his house at Rose Bay, went unerringly to the refrigerator and ate his rice custard. It is quite obvious that it was a terrorist. He did not want the plans of our defences or her ladyship’s jewels ; he wanted just the rice. There is the whole plot. It was revealed by the right honorable gentleman in the Sydney Morning Herald, when he told the world of his plight. He told how the nefarious wretch went through the shrubbery, climbed a ladder, ignored all the wonderful documents that had been left lying about, and went unerringly to the refrigerator. He wanted what the East is demanding - his rice bowl. That is the contribution of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to foreign affairs. Have not we the right to be terrified when the three greatest examples of Liberal thought on foreign affairs make that kind of contribution? There should be something more than that.
I disagree with the Minister for Territories when he says that the hour and a half discourse by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) was not a good one. At one time, the Minister worked in the Department of External Affairs. If he had prepared a speech of that kind for his Minister then, he would have rendered a greater service to his country than he has rendered so far. Apart from questions of politics, the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, in my view, fairly traversed his policy, ramifications, aspirations and, I hope, the final destiny of the United Nations. Then the right honorable gentleman turned with skill to an analysis of the situation in the East, including our obligations in Malaya. I found nothing in the speech that was not interesting, and I am an impatient listener. I felt that it was a speech of great importance, and I think the soberminded members of the Government parties will agree with me that it was a contribution to the debate of great merit.
The Prime Minister decided to divide lt is speech into two sections. In the first section, he dealt rather sketchily with the United Nations. That section of Hie speech did not involve him in any way in a retreat from his present attitude that the United Nations is not a had organization, if it works. He talked of truth with justice, and of peace with security. But you have got to fight for those things. You do not fight for them with platitudes. You do not fight for them by moving your profile to the left and the right, with memories of the wonderful days of television during a recent tour abroad. You have got to get down to the job of achieving peace. Peace is no longer a naughty word. It is now a blessed word, because the people have recognized its significance. They have come to realize how far their thinking on this matter is ahead of ours. They have cut through party affiliations. They have penetrated the miasma that shrouds discussions of this kind. They want the atom bomb to be banned, and they want other things that will destroy humanity to be treated with the urgency that they demand. They seek to break the present trend of international thinking which may lead to war.
Then the Prime Minister referred to Malaya. Malaya has now become a blessed name, like Mesopotamia. Malaya is a scar on the heart of the Australian people because of what happened to Australians there some years ago. I have not enough time to read extracts from the rather biased history of the Australians in the war of 1939-45 written by the Minister for Territories in his capacity as Mr. Paul Hasluck, a journalist. He said that the first Singapore expedition was treated with, great, suspicion by the chiefs of staff, and that they were not all keen on this situation, but preferred to go farther afield because of the strategic requirements of the day. Throughout the book the author indicates the misgivings of the high command in relation to our troops being sent to Singapore.
The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Joshua), who is the leader of the corner party, made a. most profound statement about Malaya in regard to high strategy. Ear be it from my purpose to underestimate the courage and ingenuity of the colonel, who has a very fine war record, but thank God he isnot one of our strategists. He said that, if we were to pour two divisions of troopsinto Malaya., then if the Chinese poured two divisions into Indonesia, we should bc facing them and would be able to dosomething about the situation. We certainly would be able to do something about the situation, except that the two bodies of troops would be more than 1,000 miles apart. If our troops were in Malaya and the Chinese were inIndonesia, it would mean that our troops would have been by-passed and isolated..
In view of the rapidly changing methods of war, who is to say what strategy will be effective in a future war. Will the strategy of the next war be astrategy evolved around atomic weapons,. with defence by massive retaliation, or will it be a strategy along the old slogging lines? Who knows what it will be? All that we know is that the Government is to send a battalion of about 1,000 or 2,000 men into Malaya, and that that battalion is to be followed by two divisions, and is an intrusion into an area which we should treat very carefully. I have no doubt that the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) would be very pleased to see one or two battalions of troops stationed in the Northern Territory, because of the vast undefended coastline in that area. I suggest that the Government should lose its old expeditionary force attitude towards modern war. What is wrong with defending our own country in our own country when the next war may be a push-button war and the atomic bombs may fall here within the first few hours of its outbreak?
The Prime Minister said that history has a. habit of repeating itself. If that is so, will history repeat itself when our divisions are again in Malaya, and will they be isolated from Australia and unable to get back here? The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock) made a valuable contribution to this debate when he spoke of air-power. That, in my view, is a better answer than the battalions for Malaya ; it’s modern thinking on defence. In the old days, if the natives in some part of the world gave trouble, the policy was to send a gunboat to deal with them. Now, if we find that we are faced with a situation that we do not know how to deal with, the idea is to send a couple of battalions of Australians. I suggest that this Government is entirely out of touch with what is happening in the East to-day. In fact, it does not want to know what is happening there. What the Japanese call a green breeze is blowing throughout the East to-day. There are two forces at work in Asia, and we must dismiss the ramblings of the corner party that all Asians are Communists with long teeth and gleaming bayonets bent on slaughtering the rest of the world. There is a very potent third force in Asia represented by the Mr. Nehru, of India, Mohammed Ali, of Pakistan, and other great Asian leaders. These forces are mostly Islamic in character, and they seek to raise the status of eastern people. They will certainly not yield to the Communists.
The Prime Minister did not tell honorable members anything about the contests that took place at Bandung, where motion after motion of the Communists was defeated by this third force. Nor did the Prime Minister give us any indication that throughout the East there is a growing appreciation of the necessity for peace, and a sincere desire for peace. The Prime Minister did not tell us any of those things, he dismissed the whole problem with the phrase, “ Let us 3end a couple of divisions “.
Now let us consider what would happen if our troops were in Malaya, and a third world war should break out. .Some American experts have stated that Australia might be expendable. Professor Peffer, who is Professor of International Relations at the Colombia University of America, has stated that we in Australia will be expendable in a future war. He said that if a third world war should occur, the United States might decide that Australia is expendable, and may allow it to be acquired and occupied by an enemy until final victory is won. Of course that is only one man’s opinion, but I suggest that it is an opinion worthy of consideration, in view of the fact that when we sought help from beleaguered Britain during the last war we were told that we would have to take a mauling before we could get help. Is it not absolutely necessary that we should be in a position to defend the citizens of this country in this country?
We have been warned by young Malayan students that it will be considered an intrusion into Malayan affairs if we send our troops to Malaya, and the sober remarks of the Adelaide Mail have been read to honorable members by the honorable member for . Adelaide (Mr. Chambers). That newspaper has stated -
The debate in the House of Representatives indicates the growing alarm among exservicemen at the federal Government’s thinking.
I agree with that, because this Government’s thinking is along lines that were valid, perhaps, in 1935. The Government knows nothing about Malayan reaction to the arrival of troops in that country, and has not given deep consideration to the new concepts of the fight for freedom in the East.
Because of the limited time that I may devote to this speech, I shall now proceed to move the amendment foreshadowed by the Leader of the Opposition when he addressed the House a. short time ago. Therefore, I move -
That all words after “That” be left out , With a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “this House rejects the Government’s proposals to despatch Australian armed forces to Malaya as set out in the paper read by the Prime Minister “.
I shall return now to the statement of the honorable member for Adelaide about the leading article in the Sunday Mail about this matter. That newspaper is conservative in outlook, and yet it stated -
The Government is committed to sending the best of our small trained forces to a spot where they may well be cut off and by-passed at the outset of a major conflict.
Who is to say that that could not happen again? As the Prime Minister himself indicated, history has a habit of repeating itself. The second point made by thi? newspaper is also valid. It was -
The physical presence of our troops on Asian soil may provide the Communists with a trump card for propaganda.
When it was announced on the day of the recent Singapore general elections that Australian troops were to be sent to
Malaya, the elections resulted in a sweeping victory for the labour front led by a Ki: Marshall, who is the head of a progressive democratic movement. Surely we should have consulted with him before we decided to despatch the troops? An election will take place in the Federated States of Malaya in July, and even now it is not too late to find out what those States think about our troops being sent to the East. Surely we are not committed to pushing our troops into a colony, which will soon be a dominion, without making some sort of inquiry from the local authorities as to our reception. All of us must remember that the outcome of the struggle in Malaya will be Communist domination or freedom, a wider spread of terrorism or dominion status for the Malayan States and Singapore.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired. Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
– I enjoyed some of the passages of the speech of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). They were very entertaining. But the honorable member spent half of the precious twenty minutes at his disposal in indulging in personalities, which action clearly indicated the poverty of thought that the Opposition has in relation to this subject. For the remainder of the time at his disposal, he asserted, as did the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), his yearning for peace. We all agree with him in that respect, but the real question is the means to be used to obtain it. Then he referred to the inevitability, as it seemed to him, that if Australian troops were sent to Malaya, they would meet the same fate as did the ill-starred 8th Division, lt may well be that his statements in relation to the desire for peace and the fear of military disaster will strike a responsive chord in the hearts’ of the Australian people, but it is an irresponsible thing for an honorable member to play upon such feelings when discussing the question of how peace may be obtained, and how military security may best be achieved.
The most regrettable aspect of this debate is that it has disclosed a lack of common approach to the question of Australia’s security. In both the United Kingdom and the United. States of America there has been a measure of unanimity between the two major political parties. It is true, of course, that there have been some differences, but in those countries there has been unanimity in relation to the military measures to be adopted persuant to the Nato pact in the West and the Seato pact in the East, and by way of Marshall aid in the West and mutual security in the East. There has been unanimity also in relation to the attitude of those countries towards the Soviet Union. In Australia, however, there is a deep cleavage of opinion, which is very serious from the point of view of our security. I listened to the Leader of the Opposition, and I tried to analyse in simple terms the propositions that he was trying to advance. As far as I was able to understand his argument, he advocated the great objective of peace by means of negotiation, and he indicated that he would like to see red China admitted to the United Nations and that he would willingly abandon Formosa. He indicated also that he would be prepared to forsake the alliance with the United States and to place his faith in the United Nations. He regarded the Seato pact as being provocative. As the principal architect of the pact was the United States, presumably he would abandon the alliance with that country. Moreover, he would leave the Asians to work out their own destiny. Finally, he seemed to believe that troops, and more particularly aircraft, based in Australia would adequately serve our purpose. I think that is a fair summary of the propositions that were advanced by the Leader of the Opposition.
Let me examine his principal proposition, which was that we should seek peace by negotiation. There is an old saying that, if a man deceives you once, he dishonours himself, but, if he deceives you twice, you yourself are dishonoured. It is almost incredible that honorable members, recollecting the history of the past twenty years, should be deceived a second time.
We have before us the lesson of piecemeal, aggression by Hitler’s Germany. I should like to cite some of the motions that were submitted by Labour leaders in the House of Commons before World War II., because there is an extraordinary parallel between those motions and the attitude that is now adopted by the Labour Opposition in Australia. On the 7th March, L936, three years before the outbreak of war, Mr. Attlee submitted the following motion in the House of Commons : -
That as the safety of this country and the peace of the world, cannot be secured by reliance on armaments but may by the resolute pursuit of a policy of international understanding, adherence to the Covenant of the League, general disarmament, the progressive improvement of international labour standards, and economic co-operation, so as to remove the causes of war, this House cannot agree to a policy which in fact seeks security in national armaments alone,
– What was wrong with that?
– That is Labour’s policy to-day. A.s I proceed, I shall explain what was wrong with it. The principal thing that was wrong with, it was that it did not work. On the 17th March, 1936, still three years before the outbreak of World War II., 114 Labour members of the British Parliament voted in favour of the following motion: -
In view of the peril to civilization latent in air warfare this House calls for immediate and sustained efforts to secure the abolition of military and naval air forces.
That attitude is strikingly parallel to the attitude of the Opposition members in this House, who suggest the banning of the atom bomb. On the 28th October, 1.937, two years before the outbreak of World War II., Mr. Herbert Morrison made the following statement: -
There are two policies which can he pursued in foreign affairs. One is that our country should pursue a policy … of national re-armament … I suggest that the sound policy is the policy of the collective organization of peace, the mobilization of as many States as possible on the side of peace and the strengthening and stimulating of the moral authority of the League of Nations in the world.
That again, is precisely the same as the attitude that has been adopted by the Labour Opposition in Australia.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) asked what was wrong with that attitude. I do not say that Labour was alone in adopting it. Mr. Chamberlain attended conferences, which, no doubt, were the sort of conferences that the Leader of the Opposition had in mind. He went to Berchtesgaden and Munich, and attended conferences in those places. But what happened ? Hitler marched into the Rhineland, and he marched into Austria. He said, “ We must incorporate the Sudetan Germans into the Reich and so Czechoslovakia was overthrown. What was wrong with the attitude that was adopted? When Czechoslovakia was overcome, we lost a numerous and wellequipped army, and when the war finally broke out, we discovered that we had been immeasurably handicapped as a result of the adoption of a policy of constant retreat. Again at the end of World War II., Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary were all swallowed up by Russia’s piecemeal aggression. In addition, an attempt was made to secure complete control of Berlin and half of Korea and half of Indo-China have been swallowed up by piecemeal aggression. The balance of power became tipped against us to the point where we have already become severely handicapped. Let us have negotiation, but let it be negotiation through strength. That doctrine was put forward by Churchill in his celebrated speech at Fulton, in the United States of America, in March, 1946. In that speech he advocated three points. The first of them was continued friendship and unity of the English-speaking world, that is, the United Kingdom and the United States. That doctrine holds good to-day. Secondly, Mr. Churchill pointed out that but for the existence of the atomic bomb in the hands of the Americans, Europe would have been overrun. The atom bomb is our strength and shield. Finally, Mr. Churchill advocated negotiation, but negotiation from a position of strength; and Great Britain and the United States began to build up strength.
Is there any reason to believe that the Communists will be more moved by sweet reasonableness than was Hitler’s Germany? Surely, that is wishful thinking. We are well aware of the doctrine of communism, which contemplates the overthrow of the capitalist world by revolution. We know also that if a better system exists in the world, the system for which we stand, the overlording of the rulers at the Kremlin will be threatened. In those circumstances, can we expect more sweet reasonableness on the part of the Kremlin than we found on the part of Hitler? Clearly, we can hope only for a modus vivendi and not a settlement, based on our strength. Centuries ago, Cromwell, who was no less an idealist than the Leader of the Opposition claims to be in his support of the United Nations, once said, “ Trust in God, and keep your powder dry”. Quite obviously, that must be our attitude to-day. Or, some people might think that the atom bomb is so dreadful that we should surrender. I do not know whether that is the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition, but I am sure that it is not the attitude of the Australian people. The right honorable gentleman put forward the United Nations Charter as our shield and buckler and as an alternative to relying on the methods about which I have spoken. He spoke about Seato being “ provocative “. That is an echo of the days before World War JI. He would rely upon the United Nations. He says that the Seato agreement is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations. Article 52 of the Charter reads -
Nothing in the present Charter precludes the existence of regional arrangements or agencies for dealing with such matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security as are appropriate for regional action, provided that such arrangements or agencies and their activities are consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations.
And in the forefront of those purposes, this is set out; -
To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression
At the same time Article 53 of the Charter provides -
No enforcement action shall he taken under regional arrangements . . without the authorization of the Security Council.
That is a necessary provision. The Security Council can be stultified by the veto of any of the Powers, including Russia, and, of course, regional arrangements cannot be regarded as being in any stronger position than the Council itself. Perhaps, the right honorable gentleman has proved too much that the United Nations cannot take effective action because its decisions are always subject to the veto. Therefore, we must act as best we can and from a position of strength negotiate a modus vivendi.
The Leader of the Opposition suggested that the Asian nations should work out their own destiny. What freedom have they to choose their way of life when hostile armies are poised to strike on their borders? Do we not recall that Czechoslovakia, which was the most democratic country in Europe, and Hungary, turned Communist? They did so, not of their own choice, but, surely, because they were occupied by the red Army. They had no choice. Their action was taken under duress, and consent given under duress is not valid. That is the position to-day in which Viet Nam, Burma and Thailand find themselves. How can the peoples of those countries exercise any choice until the threat of hostile armies on their borders is removed, unless they rely on arms of allies to enable them to make such a choice? Can we believe that if those countries become Communist, that will !w no threat to us? That thesis has been advanced by Dr. Burton, who is the alter ego of the Leader of the Opposition. Dr. Burton says it does not matter to us if those countries become Communist, and that no threat will thereby exist so far as Australia is concerned. Surely, any one who advances that view ignores the nature of the Communist world. If these South-East Asians become Communist they will be welded into the vast machine whose purpose is to destroy democratic countries. In fact, we are confronted with the question of whether we believe that our way of life is better than the Communist way of life. I read Dr. Burton’s book and I suggest that any one who wishes to understand the policy of the Leader of the Opposition should read it.
There is a feeling that if communism prevailed in Asia it would be a good thing after all, because communism is a better way of life. So, we come up against the question of whether we believe our way of life is better. If we believe it is, then we should do all we oan to enable these nations to pursue that better way of life.
– Should not those nations be given a say in the matter ?
– Yes ; and that is why we should protect thom, so that they will not be overawed by armies on their borders. Something has been said about letters in the press by Asian students in Australia. Mr. Marshall, who is the leader of the Labour party in the freely elected government of the colony of Singapore, said recently -
I am satisfied that in friendly negotiation with England we oan obtain internal selfgovernment within the lifetime of this Assembly. lt comes ill from us to question the good faith of a nation that now holds out its hand to help us to our feet. The very constitution, hy virtue of which we are here is earnest of the good faith of the English. From whatever angle we view the problem, our welfare lies in close and friendly relations with Britain.
We have been told what a few Asian students have said. On the other hand, Mr. Marshall has said that Britain has given earnest of good faith. Britain gave freedom to India, Ceylon and Burma; the United States gave freedom to the Philippines; and the Dutch gave freedom to Indonesia. Having regard to those facts, are we to be told that the United States, which, itself, gained freedom from the British, is now the upholder of colonialism? The argument has been advanced that only military measures have been taken by the United States and Great Britain. The fact is that the United States instituted the Marshall plan which Churchill described as “the most unsordid act in history “. Only a few days ago, President Eisenhower announced that America would make available the sum of £A.1,570,000,000 for aid, including economic aid, to the free world, three-quarters of which would go to Asian countries. Yet we are told that the only measures taken by our allies are military. Of course, that is not true. I cannot understand the attitude of honorable members opposite, who, while they revile the name “f the United States at every opportunity, nevertheless demand more and more to be expended in improving economic conditions in Asia, not by this country, but by the United States.
In order to secure some common approach, I can only hope that the Government would do what the United States did at the time it was implementing the Marshall plan, which was to give to honorable members the opportunity to see conditions in those countries for themselves. If that were done, honorable members would obtain information at first hand instead of reading something that some Asian students have been reported in the newspapers as saying. In that way we could arrive at the truth for ourselves.
Mi-. MAKIN (Sturt) [9.0].- In this, the first opportunity I have had, I shall use whatever forms of the House are available to me to express my feelings of great hurt and indignation, and to repudiate all those honorable members in the corner who impute that members of the Australian Labour party, which i3 the official Opposition in this House, are subject to the influence or the actions of Communists in this country.
– The official Labour party does not need their help in that respect.
– Order ! Interjecjections are disorderly.
– I repudiate absolutely, and with supreme contempt, the imputations that have been made against us. The Australian people will repudiate the gentlemen who are responsible for those charges at the first opportunity. Honorable members who sit in the corner are an appendage of the Liberal party, and are known for what they are. .
– The honorable member will be known for what he is.
– I assure the House that the honorable gentlemen concerned will receive no quarter from us. We completely repudiate, and regard as disgraceful, their imputations against the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and other members of the Labour party. Labour leaders in the past have been subject to similar treatment. They have been criticized, lampooned and derided by their political opponents. The Labour party has had to contend with that kind of treatment throughout its existence, but has triumphed over its opponents and enjoys the confidence and goodwill of the Australian people. I have no doubt that the electors will demonstrate their confidence in the Labour party at the first opportunity.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), when he made his statement to the House on foreign affairs and defence, paraded at the outset as a man of peace. But before he had proceeded very far, he had the battalions marching again. His gesture of peace was to propose to despatch armed forces to Malaya. Honorable members may be interested to learn that this is not the first occasion on which such a proposal has been made. The present Prime Minister, as long ago as November, 1940, was confronted with the need to make a similar decision. I refer the House to page 297 of the official reference book on the Australian war effort, the author of which is none other than the present Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck). The House will be interested in the following passage: -
The offer of Australian troops for Malaya, as on the previous occasion on which the subject had been raised, was unenthusiastic.
The War Cabinet, in accepting the recommendation, also decided to tell the United Kingdom Government that, for the reasons previously given about the climate and the psychological “ unsuitability of Australian troops for garrison duties, they would prefer Malaya to be reinforced by Indian troops. . . .
That view was held by honorable members opposite in November, 1940. What has happened in the meantime to cause them to change their view? The people of Malaya have not asked the Australian Government to send forces to their country. This is the first time in our history that armed forces are to be sent from this country to another country in peacetime.
– What about Korea?
– I challenge the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) to cite an example as proof that armed forces have been sent from Australia to another country in peace-time. Korea was at war.
– Units of the Royal Australian Air Force are in Malaya now.
– Have the people of Malaya asked the Australian Government to send detachments of troops to their country? At the beginning, it will be only a token force, but if war breaks out, it will be expanded to two divisions. I ask the Government whether its decision means that these forces are to be sent to Malaya with the idea that they will use that country as a jumping off place for an expedition to Formosa. . Mr. Lester Pearson, who is the Canadian Minister for Defence, has indicated that Canada does not feel obligated to become involved in the defence of the off-shore islands of China. Action of this kind might produce the spark that would ignite another world conflagration.
The despatch of Australian troops to Malaya may well excite the suspicion of the people of South-East Asia, cause resentment and misunderstanding, and lead to international ill feeling that might well be irreparable. Perhaps honorable gentlemen opposite are not aware of the serious consequences that could follow the despatch of Australian troops to Malaya. At any rate, the Australian people are gravely concerned about the matter.
The policy of the Government might easily cause the dislocation of the Australian economy. It is said that 60,000 positions require to be filled throughout the country. Has the Government considered the effects on industry and the economy generally of the despatch of Australian troops to Malaya? Those men are needed to fill some of the vacant positions. The troops will be men who, possibly, will be taken from various trades or from their studies in schools and universities. Their careers will be affected, and their lives generally will be dislocated. They will be away for two, three or even five years, and during that time, they will not be able to complete their technical courses or other studies. At the same time, the positions that they would have occupied will be filled by newcomers to this country. That is to say, their employment, their security and their comfort will be in jeopardy. The fact that, in the main, our own
Australian- born are to be required to undertake this expedition is characteristic of the policy of conservative governments, which are prepared to send the manhood of the country to distant frontiers rather than allow them to fulfill the roles that they should fulfil in. Australia. It was that kind of policy which mortally imperilled this country during the last war. As a member of the War Cabinet, I know of the perilous condition of this country, when it had nota single fighter aircraft. The 30,000 rifles it had held as a reserve had been sent abroad, and our best and most experienced fighting divisions were away in the Western Desert at a time when the country was threatened with invasion. I say that the man who was responsible for securing the first air cover for this country, and for providing the means whereby it could be adequately defended, was the present Leader of the Opposition, who went on a special mission both to PresidentRoosevelt and to Winston Churchill. Mr. Casey. - Rot!
Mir. Ward. - What does the Minister for External Affairs know about it?
– Order !
– As a result of that mission the right honorable gentleman secured the first fighters for this country. That being so, it ill-becomes honorable gentlemen opposite to challenge the good faith or the loyalties of honorable members on this side of the House.
I contend that the provision of economic aid to Asia will do more to strengthen our position in Asia, because of the increased goodwill that will follow it, than will our pushing our way into those lands with armed force. A letter from 25 Malayan students, which was published in the Sydney press, states the opinion of the Malayan people about armed intervention. One paragraph of the letter reads -
Our opinion is thatno self respecting citizen will tolerate the presence of any foreign troops, friendly or otherwise. This need not mean that we are hostile towards foreigners. Rather, we would welcome foreigners as friends hut not soldiers trampling over the whole country.
There is a way in which we can help to increase goodwill towards us in Asia, and even to strengthen our position there.
Some steps may already have been taken in that direction, but much more is possible. The resurgence in Asia brings before the old world as well as the new, the imperative need to view the problems of Asia with greater respect and understanding. Those people, who slumbered for many centuries, have awakened to demand the rights of self-government and improved living standards, and the development of their latent powers and resources.
I wish to congratulate the Leader of the Opposition on the masterly speech that he made during the course of this debate, and on the vision and courage that he was able to demonstrate in that statement. He made a most masterly statement. He gave expression to the feelings of the Australian people with regard to our duties towards other lands and peoples. His statement had vision and courage which will win the admiration of the Australian people. I should therefore like to indicate again, in the detail that he gave, some aspects of the policy that he expressed, because it is apparent that honorable gentlemen opposite have not fully absorbed the real significance of the right honorable gentleman’s speech. The first declaration he made was the declaration of the Australian Labour party’s policy in respect of foreign affairs and defence. The points of that policy were: 1. Australia is, and must, always remain an integral part of the British Commonwealth of Nations as well as of the United Nations. 2. Cooperation with the United States in the Pacific is of crucial importance and must be maintained in the spirit of this declaration. 3. The Labour party advocates generous assistance by Australia to Asian people suffering from poverty, disease and lack of educational facilities, and. the end of colonialism, where people are fit for self-government. 4. The Labour party is satisfied that the use of Australian armed forces in Malaya will greatly injure Australian relations with its Asian neighbours and therefore is opposed to the proposal of the Government. 5. Better understanding with the peoples of Asia. 6. Prevention of the use of atomic and hydrogen bombs by any nation. 7. Seato to devote special attention to the peaceful settlement of international disputes in South-East Asia as a regional organization within the United Nations. S. Mutual regional pacts for security and welfare should be negotiated between Australia, Holland Indonesia. 9. Universal membership of nations in the United Nations organization. 10. An adequate plan of national defence with special reference to northern Australia.
This country was denuded of the defences that were so essential to it in Ihe last war, and a Labour government was called upon to accept the responsibilities of administration, and to give this nation the leadership that was able to lift it from the condition of despair and fear that existed in the early days of the war, and to give it some hope of being able to face the future with assurance. It was men like the Leader of the Opposition who gave that kind of inspiration to the Australian people, and gained for us the aid from overseas that was so essential to us.
-Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I do not think that any one will seriously question the sincerity of the honorable member for Sturt (Mr.
Makin), who speaks from the depths of a great and wide experience, both during and since World War II. It is not my intention, if I can possibly avoid doing so, to enter into personal matters and to engage in that sort of controversy which does not maintain the tone of the debate. However, I think it is fair and reasonable to say that it is difficult for us to arrive at any conclusion other than that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and those who are associated with him take a certain line of thought which seems to see all the virtues of those who are associated with world communism, and none of the virtues of those who are opposed to it. I listened most attentively, as I endeavour to do at all times, to the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition and his followers. The thing that impressed me more than anything else was the fact that throughout those addresses attacks were made, not upon those who are disturbing world peace at the present time, but against those who are trying to maintain the freedoms of this world. I do not wish to delve into ancient history, but 1 point out to the honorable member for Sturt that if he would refresh his memory from the records of the debates that took place in this House when Hitler and Mussolini were advancing to power, he would learn that the members of the party to which he belongs consistently opposed the rearming of Australia in order to meet the coming challenge. 1 was not at that time a member of this House, but I took a close interest in the events of that period, and I have a perfectly clear recollection of the attitude of the Australian Labour party at that time. It may be that Labour members, being in opposition, considered that it was their duty to advance the points of view that they then, supported. I state ROW, as I have stated on previous occasions, that if Australia’s foreign policy is to be successful, there must be no party cleavage such as that which has become apparent on this occasion. There must be a broader and a more truly Australian approach to the world situation.
The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has moved, as an amendment to the motion that the paper be printed, to the effect that this House should reject the Government’s proposals to despatch Australian armed forces to Malaya as set out in the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). Is the amendment honest and perfectly straightforward, or is it something that I would call a lawyer’s trick? Does it really mean what the innocent person might take it to mean, that the Australian Labour party completely rejects the proposals for the sending of armed forces to Malaya; or is it designed so as to allow Labour members, when they are attacked outside this House on the question, to reply, “ We are not opposed to the sending of forces to Malaya. We are opposed only to their despatch in the terms of the Prime Minister’s policy statement “ ? The honorable member for Sturt might not have such a thing in mind, but is the amendment really a clever piece of drafting in order to provide an umbrella for some one to shelter under in case of trouble? The Opposition’s action is open to that construction, and it is as well that the matter should be mentioned now.
Having canvassed the possibilities from the point of view of the Opposition, let me state that I accept in toto the proposal set forth in the Prime Minister’s statement. Being fully cognizant of the fact that this Government is faced with an extremely difficult problem - a problem that is apparent to any thoughtful citizen - I give that plan my support. On the one hand, we have in Australia a country in which, in the widest sense of the phrase, one may with justice say, “ Go west, young man “. It is a great country and we are only just beginning to realize the full possibilities of development in areas whose potential value was not previously understood. We must employ more and more of our people in the work of construction and development. On the other hand, we are under the necessity to accept our share of obligations under our agreements with our allies in the terms of various treaties. We are under an obligation also to the United Nations. A balance between these two considerations is required, and that is the supreme problem before this Government. How can it discharge its international responsibilities effectively without retarding the natural and speedy development that is necessary, not only to preserve Australia for our people, but also to ensure that our allies shall have a firm base upon which to build their operations, if, unfortunately, we should ever be engaged in another war ? The problem is not easy of solution. I am content to believe that this Government will not recklessly send large numbers of troops from Australia to the doors of Asia to the detriment of the Australian people’s efforts to undertake the vital task that is necessary to preserve Australia for the Australian people.
Apropos this matter, I notice that a remark attributed to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has been twisted “ by knaves as to make a trap for fools “, to use an old, time-honoured and perfectly apt phrase. I believe that the Minister stated that if we have to stem the tide of communism, it is much better for us to fight in Malaya than to meet communism, on our own shores with the shells falling about us on our Australian ground. That statement has been construed, by people who are either ignorant or of evil intent, to mean that the Minisister stated that Australian troops should be sent to Malaya for the sole purpose of preserving Australia from possible attack on its own shores. That . is a wicked misinterpretation of the Minister’s meaning. Under the terms of our contractual relations with the United Nations and with those Powers that are associated with us in all these problems in the Pacific area, we are solemnly bound to discharge our obligations to preserve, in this world, the four freedoms. Wherever those freedoms are threatened, we must endeavour to preserve them by every means at our disposal. Can any one who gives thought to events in SouthEast Asia, and particularly to events in southern Viet Nam, fail to see the infiltration that is occurring in adjacent countries? Can any one who considers those matters seriously believe that we can stand aside from a reasonable obligation to assist in the defence of Malaya 1 I have heard people, including the honorable member for Sturt, say in this House that the Malayans do not want us there. At the end of 1950, I think, I heard a member of the Malayan Parliament make a most eloquent address, rebuking those who said that we were in Malaya only for the purposes of colonialism. He said, “ We do not want Great Britain to get out of Malaya yet, because we know that if the British go now, into the vacuum they leave will pour those who will destroy our only possible chance of freedom “. That was said by a. .member of the Malayan Parliament, speaking on behalf of his country to reject the theory advanced by people in other parts of the Eastern world that the Malayans are victims of colonialism at the present time. Let me emphasize the words “ at the present time “, because the day has not long passed when all Western nations engaged in colonialism. Judging by what has happened in Indonesia, honorable members may agree that it is possible for a colonial power to get out of a country too quickly for that country’s good. Probably the Indonesians secretly agree that if the Dutch had transferred power to them gradually, many of the troubles confronting them now would have been avoided. The danger of a too rapid withdrawal from Malaya is that it would lead to Communist infiltration and a Communist frontal attack upon the liberties which the Malayans are striving to secure.
The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) disposed adequately of some suggestions that have been made about the attitude of civic leaders in Singapore to the grant of selfgovernment. But Singapore is only a small part of Malaya. Consequently, what may be done there, although important, will not be necessarily of overpowering importance to the rest of Malaya. So far as that part of Malaya is concerned, apparently its civic leaders, most wisely, are eager to have the means of assisting in their own defence. That is one of the things that we must not lose sight of at present. Has any rational person any doubt about what would happen if we left Malaya to-morrow and created a vacuum there ? I certainly have not, and I am quite sure that all those who stand behind the Government’s policy have not. Can any reasonable person have any doubt about what would happen to the unfortunate Malayans if we left Malaya to-morrow? What would happen to their freedom? I suggest that it would be thrown, so to speak, into the discard, as in other countries that have fallen under the baleful influence of imperial communism.
There are certain facts that we must face in the conduct of our foreign affairs policy. We must face some implications of the present position, .implications which some people in this country do not appear to be keen to face. The “ double think” is a term that has become very popular since George Orwell wrote his celebrated book. It is a process by which we see only those things with which we agree, and ignore or push into the back of our minds the things which are unpleasant. It was that attitude which made Hitlerism possible and led the world into the second world war. A great many people on the conservative side of politics as well as on the other side refused to recognize the growing menace that Hitlerism presented to the freedom of the world. .Some of them refused to recognize it from, motives of self-interest, and others from a mistaken idea of pacifism. They were prepared to do anything except face unpleasant facts. Is the world going to unlearn the lesson we learnt then? Is it going to throw away all the experience gained in Korea ? Is it going to ignore the enslavement of countries in central Europe? Is it going to say that we need not worry about those things and that we should assume the world has suddenly become very much better?
I believe in the policy laid down by this Government. The United Nations, under the leadership of the United States and Great Britain has proved to be of great benefit to the world as a stabilizing factor. But it could prove to be a trap, as the League of Nations did, unless we realize that, not only must we have ideals but also we must be prepared to work and, if necessary, fight for them. That is the lesson to be learned from the welter of sluggishness, mental inertia and laziness into which we slipped after World War I. I believe the United Nations is a noble conception which we should endeavour to foster and develop, but do not let us forget that the things which apply to the domestic affairs of this country apply also to the United Nations.
The Leader of the Opposition, dealing with the United Nations, says -that we should work together with other nations in that organization to achieve peace and unity, but apparently he ignores the unpleasant possibility of disagreement. His policy on the home front is entirely at variance with that which he proposes in the international sphere. On the home front, he fights with and rejects those who do not agree with him, but he does not admit the possibility that something similar could happen in the United Nations. The split in his party is an example of how human relationships can break down. Nevertheless, although the difficulty of securing agreement amongst ii multitude of nations is a thousand times greater than the difficulty of achieving agreement in domestic affairs, he says we can go ahead with perfect confidence in negotiating with them and that we can disregard the necessity to take normal precautions to ensure the security of our own country and the maintenance of the ideals to which we subscribe. It is worth while to recall that the four freedoms enumerated in the Atlantic Charter are freedom of speech and of the press, freedom of religion, freedom from, want and freedom from fear. This Government, by co-operating in the Colombo plan and similar measures, is endeavouring to establish freedom from want, but unless we can dispel fear by building up forces that will make the countries on the other side afraid to try to force their will on us, we shall see a complete collapse of our efforts. That will he the result of a failure to face the realities of a situation which, in my opinion, this Government has summed up adequately.
.- I did not think I should have an opportunity to speak in this debate, but I welcome the opportunity to do so. I.’ want to say, first of all, that we of the Labour party agree to a certain platform, but very often, as in the case of the Liberal party, individual members of the party do not agree fully with everything that the party does. But when we, as a party, make a decision about a matter, that matter becomes part of our .platform, and we adhere to it and endeavour to carry it out. My view in connexion with the political position in Asia, particularly in Malaya, is quite definite. I expressed my view about that matter some months ago, and at that time I informed honorable members that I, myself, and the Australian Labour party, fully believe in the principles of the United Nations, and that it is the duty of Australia, as a member of the United Nations, to carry out to the best of its ability all its obligations to the United Nations. I still firmly adhere to that view.
Quite recently I made a radio broadcast in South Australia. I did that just before the federal conference of the Australian Labour party in Hobart, which laid down the procedure to he followed by the Australian Labour party in connexion with our attitude towards Asia. I made it quite clear in my talk that the Australian Labour party, and all its members, believed in the United Nations, but did not believe that Australia should be called upon at any time to jump into the affairs of any other country in order to try to defend democracy in that country. I give honorable members on the Government side full credit for their beliefs about our obligations in Asia, but we must remember that when our men, and the men of other European nations, have entered into the affairs of Asian countries and endeavoured to protect the freedom of those countries, they have not always been properly supported by the people of the countries that they have sought to protect.
Consider the activities of France in Indo-China. Since the end of the last war France has expended a vast amount of money and many thousands of lives in. In do- China, in an endeavour to defend democracy. I suggest that to-day he would be a very brave man who would contend in this House that that vast expenditure of money and that great loss of life has been effective, or that IndoChina is a democratic country. According to press reports, the very people whom we say that we want to try to assist to obtain real democracy, are not fighting against advancing communism and not fighting for freedom for all the people. Different sections of the community are destroying each other, and gradually destroying their own country.
Quite recently much has been reported in the press about Viet Nam. It has been reported that the very refugees who have travelled southward to get away from the Communists, have themselves been attacked or have been involved in battles between various sections of the people in South Viet Nam. It has always been my belief that we should stand up to our obligations to the United Nations, and that we should help, through the United Nations, any nations that are subject to aggression. I have been greatly puzzled in trying to find out the real desires of the people of Malaya. Honorable members on this side of the House have said that the Malayans do not want Australian troops there, but honorable members on the Government side have said that the Malayans really desire our troops to go there to help them. If the people of Malaya are so greatly divided about the presence of Australian troops in their country, is it right for us to take the initiative and send the troops there ?
The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock) spoke of the futility of sending even a couple of divisions of troops to Malaya. At present the Government’s intention is to send about 1,000 men, but I do not think for one moment that the Government believes that 1,000 Australians in Malaya will prevent communism from advancing in that country. It has been said that we could have a strategic reserve of two divisions, or about 50,000 men, in Malaya, but we have been told that at present there are large numbers of British troops and police forces and native Malays fighting the Malayan terrorists. Some have put the number of such forces at about 300,000. Then we have been told that there are about 7,000 terrorists to be suppressed. If large numbers of British troops and police, as well as two squadrons of our Royal Australian Air Force, have not been able to put down 7,000 terrorists, surely an additional 1,000 men will not make much difference. Indeed, according to press reports, the number of terrorists in Malaya seems to have remained constant for some considerable time. Also, if all those reports are true, it is quite plain that the people of Malaya, with all due respect to them, are not backing up to any very large degree the efforts that have been made by the British Government to suppress the rebels.
– The rebels are in the jungle.
– I do not say that they are not in the jungle. If they are in the jungle, what are 1,000 additional troops going to do to help suppress them if tens of thousands of other troops ha ve been trying to wipe out the terrorists for years without success? We should be prepared to stand up for the principles of the United Nations, and those whose principles are that if any one of the member countries is attacked by an enemy, the others should go to- its assistance. Some years ago, during the tenure of office of this Government, fighting broke put in Korea. It must be recognized that, without any opposition from this side of the chamber, the House approved the action of the United Nations when South Korea was being attacked by forces from North Korea, which were being supplied by Russia and China with troops, aeroplanes, guns, and everything else that was necessary to defeat the South Koreans. The Australian Labour party raised no objection to Australian taking part in the Korean struggle. To a large degree, the United Nations were victorious, but it was not the kind of victory that I would like to have seen. However, there has been fixed a line of demarcation between North Korea and South Korea. British French. Turkish and Australian force? combined to help the South Koreans to drive back the forces from North Korea which were being supported, we believed, by Communist countries. If the United Nations were to decide that it was necessary to prevent attacks upon other Asian countries, that would be the time for the Labour party, and for the Parliament, to consider what action should be taken.
I am not quite clear as to what length the party that I represent would go in relation to the utilization of the ‘ air forces that are at present in Malaya. So far, it has raised no objection to the sending of those units to Malaya and to their taking part in driving the rebels from the jungle country. Let me empha size that I am speaking as a party man and that, when 1 come into this chamber as a Labour man, I do my best to give effect to what the Labour party believes to be the best in the interests of this country. The Labour party believes very definitely that the Malayan people do not desire Australian troops to go to their country at the present time. This part of the forces that will be raised in pursuance of the Seato pact will include, not only units of the air arm and the military arm, but also units of the naval ann. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has referred to the cruisei-3 and the other naval units that will he used for the protection of the area covered by the Manila treaty. Hut we are not dealing with that aspect of the matter at present. We are dealing with the intention of the Government to send armed forces to Malaya. Some months ago, I stated that I believed that the Government, if the opportunity occurred, if it saw the Labour party divided, and if it thought that it would be to its advantage, would arrange for an early election. But I make one proviso to that statement, and that is that, if the Government discovers that something that it wants to do will not be popular with the people, it may not be prepared to go to the country at an early date. I think the Prime Minister is in ;i quandary. He is aware of the division of Labour forces and of the presence in the House of a corner party, but he also knows very well that to send troops out of Australia in times of peace, is, as the honorable member for Stuart (Mr. Makin) has stated, something that will In’ of grave concern to the people.
– A gallup poll would reveal the true position.
– A gallup poll discloses one thing to-day and another thing to-morrow. I would say that, if many of the people who were asked for their opinion were to be personally affected, they might very well alter their tune. My memory is not short. I remember being in the country when the conscription issue was raised. At that time Australia had a Labour Prime Minister. T discovered that almost an equal number of supporters of the Labour party and the Liberal party favoured conscription, and that almost an equal number of supporters of the two rival parties opposed it. The Government is taking a very big step when it decides to send our troops to Asia. I have every sympathy with the people of the Asian countries, but my sympathy is not such that I think we should go over to protect them whether they like it or not. I would not say to those countries, “ We are going to stop communism coming into your country whether or not you think there should be a fight over it “. That is not our job. If the forces of communism were to try to overrun those countries, and if they were to seek our help, that would be the time to consider what we should do. Honorable members may smile, or say that it is too late. 1 invite them to remember the fate of the French forces that were destroyed n little while ago when the people of the country that they were trying to defend joined in with the opposing forces.
I regret that the question of communism as related to the Labour party has come so prominently into this debate. I should have preferred honorable members who have dealt with it to have done so more in the manner in which I dealt with it. They would have done better if they had approached the subject from the point of view from which I approached it, instead of trying to suggest that the opposition of the Labour party to the sending of troops out of Australia flows from the desire of Labour leaders to protect the Communists. From its inception, the Labour party has been a peace party; it has never been a warseeking party. Its members have always wanted peace, and they have always been opposed to war except when no other course has been open.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I am sorry to have to disappoint the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), who suggested that communism should not be associated with the Labour party. If there is anything wrong with the adoption of that course, it flows from the fact that we have heard re-echoed from the Opposition benches Communist slogans that echo’ around the world at the present time. Some- of the Statements of honorable members opposite doubtless have been made unwittingly, but I am afraid that, as some of them bear such a close resemblance to the Communist slogans, those slogans must have been so drummed into their trains that they have wittingly and willingly brought them into the chamber so as to spread Communist propaganda. Since the commencement of the debate, there have been liberation celebrations in association with May Day festivities in Communist-controlled and Communistinfluenced countries. Each year, the May Day celebrations give us a very good pointer, not only to the internal propaganda of the Soviet bloc, but also to its approach to co-existence with the free nations of the western hemisphere. In this year, as in other years-, the Soviet bbc has put out a standardized set of slogans for dissemination in Sovietdominated and Soviet-influenced countries. This year, 7S slogans, all of which have emanated from Russia, and which form part of true international Communistic propaganda, have been displayed in the various countries of the world.
– They all came from Moscow.
– They all originated in Moscow. It was interesting to note that, of those 7S slogans, no fewer than 35 urged the people of the Soviet-dominated countries to a greater effort, and to put more power, skill and drive into the efforts of the people in an attempt to rid the world of what they term “ rotten capitalism “. These slogans urge the people to further the advance of the Communist army in its drive against the people of the world. They are significant. Last year, only fifteen slogans of that kind were published, and this year 35 have been published. When we read these slogans we realize bow very closely they condense the speeches that have been made by honorable members opposite in the course of this debate. For instance, how rauch better could one put into a kernel the speech of the honorable member for Hindmarsh than by expressing it in one of those slogans which came straight from Russia and were displayed on the hoardings in this country during the last few days? The slogan to which I refer reads -
Let the instigators of new aggression bc in no doubt that world civilization shall not die. but rather the rotten capitalist, order, soaked in blood and hatred and rejected by the working people and by the oppressed nations. Mav the active co-operation of the nations in the fight for peace be strengthened..
That is a Communist slogan which was displayed for the first time in public in Communist countries on May Day of this year. Yet the very same word’s were used in this House last week by the honorable member for Hindmarsh before the slogans were displayed in this country. The slogans also express opinions that have been expressed from the Labour benches in this House. For instance, slogan No. 20 extols “ the fight of colonial and dependent countries for liberation from imperialist exploitation “. How manytimes have we heard those words from honorable members opposite in the course of this debate, not so much to-day or yesterday but last week before these slogans were -made public to the world ? Slogan No. 17 reads -
We greet the heroic people of Vietnam, who liberated themselves from colonial oppression and are building their happy new life!
Those terms are almost identical with the phrases that we have heard repeatedly from the Opposition benches in this House. If I read all of the 78 slogans, it would be found that very few of the expressions used in them have not been repeated in this House by honorable members opposite. How can those honorable members say that they regret that communism has been introduced into this debate when, during the whole course of it, they have spoken with the voice of communism ?
Some exception was taken to the speech of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) because he directed attention to the fact that speeches made in this House by members of the Opposition will not be ignored by people in Asian countries. I agree with the honorable member on that point. The Leader of the Opposition did a great disservice to this country by his utterances in this House which, when they are published in Asian countries, will run line for line, verse for verse, and test for text with the propaganda that is being pumped into the peoples of those countries by the Communist aggressors. The speech of the honorable member for Hindmarsh must have a tremendous impact upon the people of Asia, and that impact will he to the detriment of Australia. Any one who thinks that these speeches will be ignored by the people of Asia is simply whistling in the dark. They will be published and pushed down the throats of those people and, in that way, an adverse opinion of Australia will be created. As an illustration of this point, a friend of mine who works in Malaya - he is not m capitalist ; his hands are as calloused as those of any man could be - wrote to me and sent me this cutting which I have in my hand and which he took from a newspaper circulating in Malaya. The cutting bears a glorious picture of the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and reproduced the text of a speech made by that honorable gentleman. My friend told me that while he read that article he had his revolver strapped to his side because he did not know what terror would descend upon him and his family, whether, when he went home his wife and child would be there, or whether some outrage would have been committed. This man is an Australian who has been working in Malaya for some years. When he read this article lie was so disgusted that he wrote to ma and said -
You know how I felt when . read that the Deputy Leader of the Australian Labour party, supposedly the workers’ friend., said, “Don’t defend investors “.
That extract was taken from a speech that was made by the honorable member for Melbourne not in this House, or in a prominent place, but in the course of a debate that was held by the Fabian Society in Melbourne. The occasion was not important .and the speech hardly caused a ripple in Melbourne. Yet, out of it came the publication of this picture of the honorable member for Melbourne and headlines telling the people of Malaya that so far as the Labour party in Aus-, tralia is concerned they can stand or fall and need not look to Australia to defend them. My friend concluded his letter by saying-
The last time 1 saw the .picture of .a jaw like the one in the attached picture was on a man who had himself hung upside-flown. History might repeat itself.
That is typical of the disgust which Australian people and British people feel towards stupid statements made by members of the Australian Labour party, who a re looked upon as responsible people overseas, in giving tongue to thoughts that express the policy of the Labour party. How can such statements do any good? How can we expect the people of Malaya to rise and fight communism when they are living in terror and, at the same time, honorable members in this Parliament who are, allegedly, leaders of a great political movement, are spreading this stuff which . is in line with what the Communists have been telling the Malayan people represents the views of the Australian people? I have no doubt whatever that fulsome reports of some of the speeches we have heard in this debate, and of the uproar which occurred in thi3 chamber last night, will be distributed and used to the disadvantage of Australia in the countries under the Communist oppressors.
We have a. tremendous job to do in the world to-day. We do not know, and we cannot gauge, just how much people in the Asian countries are looking to Australia; because Australia is to them the most recent copy book, as it were, of a country that has gained self government for itself and is working out its Owl] destiny. We are the most recent members of the white race to undertake the development of a new country, and to have our own democratic form of government. So, many people in Asia are looking to us as an example, and their eyes, fixed upon us, will read far more than what they see in print. They want to see us here.
It is remarkable how the little things in life impress themselves upon the Asian mind. A friend of mine in Thailand told me that one of the greatest things that happened to promote feelings of goodwill on the part of Asians towards Australia occurred when our champion boxer, Jimmy Carruthers, went to Thailand to fight the champion of that country. He successfully defended his title, but a great impression was made throughout the countryside when he took his wife into the ring with him to be his second. That incident may seem a ridiculously silly little thing, but I have the word of my friend in Thailand, who knows tha t country very well indeed, that the fact that this man held his wife in such esteem, and she held him in such esteem that she acted as his second in the ring, made a tremendous impact on the minds of those, people.
We also have the example of Asian students who come to Australia. They watch very closely what we say and do. They appreciate far more than we can ever imagine the kindnesses that are extended to them. The many voluntary organizations which are adopting- these young students, taking them into private homes and extending to them the courtesies and hospitalities for which Australia is noted, are doing a. tremendous amount of good for this country. Letters which are sent home, and messages which are taken home by word of mouth when the students return to their respective countries, are doing a great deal of good for Australia.
Unfortunately, here, there, and everywhere, there are people who attach very little consequence to the things they say. This remark refers particularly to members of the Labour party. Visitors from Asia listen to what is said, and they cannot help but gain the impression that what they bear from members of a political party in Australia is identical with what they have heard in their own country from, the Communist aggressors.
We must watch those matters, because they carry far more weight throughout Asia than we realize. Our guard must be up all the time, and if honorable gentlemen opposite resent the fact that we say that they are spreading Communist propaganda, I tell them that they should be careful about what they say, because Communist propaganda is most, subtle. It is easy to say things that the Communist want one to say. When an utterance is made by Mr. So and So. M.P., far greater authority can te given to it than to the same statement when it is made by Jim Healy ir some other well-known Communist in the community. So, we should be careful in our conversations, and realize that Asian students in Australia can be the medium of a considerable volume of propoganda favorable to our country. The students have receptive and retentive minds, and they will take back with them to Asia the impressions they have gained here of what we say and what we do. That can have a profound effect on the wide circle of people whom the students will influence when they return to their own countries.
We also need to be very careful in our dealings with these people. The Government should seriously examine any move, or recommendation that may be made, to deport Asians from Australia, or request that they return to their homes when they wish to remain here. It is of profound importance that we should not create the idea in the minds of Asian people that people of their race are nol. welcome here, and that some of them, are being chased home again. Any decision that has to be made upon a matter of this kind should receive the closest attention of a full cabinet meeting, because the forcible deportation of one Asian has a tremendous effect throughout the countryside, and. can undo a great deal of the good that has been done in the past. I urge the Government to adopt, this suggestion.
I should like, if I may, to advise the Government on another point. I refer to Australians in South-East Asia who have taken to themselves brides from the countries in which they are living, perhaps Malay or Chinese wives. A few Australians have taken Asian brides, but the women are not guaranteed entry into Australia if anything happens to their husbands during this time of Communist oppression and terror. A bad impression is being created in the minds of everexpanding circles of friends of the brides, when it becomes known that if anything happens to their husbands, it does not follow automatically that they will be able to return to the sanctity and security of Australia. Sometimes, children are involved in the matter. We automatically admit the children, but the wives may enter only after a great deal of difficulty. I urge the Government to give serious consideration to this matter. An endeavour should be made to ascertain the names of Australian men who have married Asian women, and a guarantee should be given as soon as possible that if the women wish to come to Australia with their husbands, or without them should anything happen to them, Australia will welcome them and provide for them. I believe it is of great importance indeed. It is by little things of this kind that we can either create a great deal of goodwill, or force a large number of friends into the hands o.l: the Communist aggressors.
I find myself in agreement with very few thoughts that have been expressed by Opposition speakers in this debate, but T am in accord with the statement of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) that communism is an idea. Members of the Labour party express themselves as opposed to the Communist movement inside and outside6 Australia, and tend to regard it as something that occurs in the trade union movement in Australia and outside it; or perhaps - and this is extending kindness to them - that communism also extends to the armed forces inside the Soviet bloc, but stops at that point. Communism is an idea. Its greatest weapon and its mo3t powerful force in the world to-day is that it is a psychological force, and has a strong appeal. Some Opposition members say, in the first few words that they utter in a speech, “ I am against communism “, but later they say what the Communists want them to say.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wholeheartedly support the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that the Australian Government will send the equivalent of two division of troops to Malaya. I wish also to express my extreme concern over the attitude which has been adopted by the Australian Labour party in this House. I refer to the Australian Labour party, as distinct from the Anti-Communist Labour party. I am concerned about the Australian Labour party’s attitude to the policy of the Government in establishing Australia’s defence bases beyond the shores of Australia, and in the British possession of Malaya. The position is that, here in Australia, we have our homes. Here in Australia lies the very future of not only this generation of Australians, but also of ‘future generations of Australians. While we can continue to live under a democratic system of government, we can fashion and mould the future conditions under which our children may continue to live. But, at present, there is in the world a very real threat to the future of this country and to coming generations of Australians. That threat is the threat that we will be overwhelmed by the advancing red tide that threatens to deluge this country and to take out of the hands of the Australian people the control of the administration, and the future destiny, of Australia. It is pathetic to think that any Australian should hear enunciated in the National Parliament, where the representatives of the Australian people are gathered, statements such as that which we heard from the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). That honorable member suggested that Australian troops sent to Malaya would be used to massacre the native inhabitants of that country. How could any member of this Parliament, which represents the Australian people, suggest that such was the trait of Australian soldiers or the characteristic of Australians generally, that they would endeavour to annihilate or massacre the native people of Malaya? The only reason Australian troops are being sent to Malaya is that that country is the forward outpost of Australia. We all sincerely hope that there will not be a third world war, but, should there be a third world war, we on this side of the Parliament do not want to see Australians destroyed, and Australia become a battlefield. If there is to be a third world war, let us keep it as far from the shores of Australia as possible. It is true that Australia cannot completely aline its foreign policy with that which is dictated by the United Kingdom. The situation of England is vastly different from that of this country. England is faced with the prospect of complete annihilation in the event of a third world war in which nuclear weapons are used. There is no possibility that England can escape, that fate in such a. war, because it has been clearly stated that a handful of hydrogen bombs could eliminate England and destroy perhaps 20 per cent, of the war potential of the western democracies. The fact that England has allocated air bases in England to the United States means that England cannot adopt a policy of neutrality in a third world war.
– The honorable member really means “ Britain “, not “England “.
– I stand corrected. We know that the whole of the western seaboard’ of the Pacific Ocean, has, gradually but surely,’ been falling behind the Iron Curtain ever since the end of the last war. Under the terms of an agreement, Russia received, as a reward for its participation for a period of only five days in World War II. against Japan, full control of the Kurile Islands,. Sakhalin, Sinkiang Province,. Outer Mongolia, Inner Mongolia and Manchuria. Not only did. Russia gain control of these countries at the end of World. War II. for participating in the fight against Japan for only five days, but Russia also seat- into Manchuria, five days before Japan, capitulated, 1,250,000 troops, who never saw any real action. Immediately Jagan capitulated, those troops turned over to the. Communists who were fighting the civil war in China, all the arms and equipment surrendered by the Japanese; They armed the Communists, and thus gave them great assistance in destroying the administration of Chiang Kai-shek. That was a very vital contribution to the driving of Chiang from the mainland of China on to Formosa. Not content with grabbing China by subversive and aggressive activities, the Communists also gained control’ of what started as a nationalist movement in Indo-China. They gained control of. it to such an extent that a manifesto was issued by the Viet Minh rebels in. Indo.China which expressed complete loyalty to Russia. So we have had,, in. the last few years, the collapse of almost the entire Asiatic mainland on the western seaboard’ of the Pacific Ocean. The only countries in East and SouthEast. Asia that have not drifted behind the iron curtain as a result of the subversive and aggressive activities of communism are Formosa, Laos,. Cambodia, Southern Viet Nam and Thailand. There is to be a general election in Indonesia towards the end of this year, and we are most apprehensive about the possible result of it, because Indonesia itself could drift behind the iron curtain, as a result of the election and the subversive activities that have been carried on in the United States of Indonesia by the Russians.
So there are left Australia, which i.geographically an integral part of Asia, and a chain of islands, off the western seaboard of the Pacific, which have not yet been captured by the Communist forces. Right in the centre of tha i chain is Taiwan, or Formosa, and it v against Taiwan that the Communist forces are being concentrated’ for an attack. The Kremlin is directing the policy of the Chinese Communists under Chou En-lai. The Communists are endeavouring to make the off-shore islands’, known as the Pescadores,, the geographical centre of the dispute, which ic being exploited by them for the purpose of trying to create a cleavage between the United States and the United Kingdom, because the Communists believe that the most effective way of gainingcontrol is to divide the- forces opposing communism. Therefore; they are- attempting ‘ to drive a very definite wedge- into the relationships of the United Kingdom and the United States by Communist- propaganda, and in this country we have heard that policy being advocated by- Communistand Communist apologists’. We have heard, these people enunciate the propaganda that Australia is- being dragged along behind the policies- of the United States and the United Kingdom. There is no truth in that statement. The Australian Government is fully appreciative of the position in which the United1 Kingdom is placed. It is also fully appreciative of the position in which the United States i3 placed. In addition, it fully appreciates the threat, to the entire democratic world that emanates from the Kremlin.
We have not. in any way tied our policy to that of any. other nation. This Government’s foreign policy is in the best interests of Australia. We on this side of the. House, hope that we shall be able to see some beacon light of hope in the future, but at present nothing but dark clouds are on the horizon, because, since World War XL, the democratic nations have not won one point in the battle to maintain the security of the free countries of the world. No member of this Parliament, and no other Australian citizen, wishes to interfere with the domestic affairs of any other nation. However, we are all vitally concerned with the security of our own country. We jealously guard the principles by which we endeavour to mould and guide the destiny of Australia for the welfare of future generations of Australians. All thinking Australians fear most the danger that our right to develop and guide the future of our nation might be taken out of our hands and that we shall not be able to leave to our children and to future generations a country that will offer better prospects and conditions than those to which we were born. Our hopes can be realized only if we control our own destiny. While we do so, every day and in every way conditions in this country improve. The principles that I have just stated are those for which we are righting and for which this Government is prepared to send troops to Malaya. We wish to ensure that we shall be able to defend and protect our right to govern A Australia’s destiny.
The Communists, by propaganda,, have exploited and magnified any differences that might exist between the foreign policies of the Australian Government and of the United Kingdom Government, and they have realized also a most significant thing: There are two main ideologies in the world which are powerful and are violently opposed to one another. One is the ideology of Christianity and all that is good. It embraces the laWs of God and teaches the doctrine of love. Opposed to the ideology are the laws of dialectic materialism and the doctrine of hate as preached by the Kremlin and its Communist allies, who, if they can divide the Christian nations and turn them one against the other, will have won a diabolical victory. Never in Australia’s history has it been more important that all the Christian churches should unite before they are destroyed individually. Nevertheless, we have heard preached by the minions of the Communists and by the Communist apologists the doctrine of sectarianism and bigotry. I deplore the sort of teaching that resorts to such propaganda and exploits the Communist party line in an effort to cleave and divide the Christian churches by spreading a doctrine of doubt among those in the Asiatic countries who are not Christians, Such a doctrine can be most effective in attaining control over the thoughts of those people who do not subscribe to the Christian ideology and to the principles of democracy, and who have not yet attained those standards that we in this country have attained.
There is no doubt that the Christian nations are the most advanced and are those in which conditions are .best. In the Christian countries there are no really indigent people, no starvation and no poverty. In the Christian countries every one has a great measure of freedom. Those are the countries that the Communist nations seek to destroy. With all the emphasis at my command, I declare that any one who preaches sectarianism and bigotry follows the Communist line and does more than does any one else to sabotage the struggle against the greatest threat that the world has ever known. It breaks the heart of every loyal Australian to know that the leader of the major political party in opposition resorts to such tactics to lure away the dogs that were yelping at his own heels by dragging a red herring across the trail. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) resorted to Communist-inspired tactics to save his own political soul at the expense of the country. The statements made by him and by the honorable member for Hindmarsh will be quoted throughout the Communist world and will be blared forth by Communist radios to the ignorant people who know no better in the villages of Indonesia and Indo-China. The tactics of those honorable members play into the hands of the Communists.
What seeds of treachery are being sown in Australia ! It is possible that we may be forced, for our very preservation, to fight in the defence of Australia at any time within the next few years. In fact, we may he compelled within the next twelve months by force of arms to defend our shores against Communist aggression. It is essential for any government that must prosecute a war to gain the support of all sections of the community, but what chance has it of doing so when the seeds of treachery have been sown in the hearts of those unthinking people in this country who would believe the statements of the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Hindmarsh? I cannot deplore too greatly the statement of the honorable member for Hindmarsh that Australian soldiers will be sent to Malaya to massacre the native inhabitants. Is there one member of this Parliament who believes that there is truth in that statement? There is not. The honorable member himself does not believe that there is truth in it, because he knows that no Australian soldier would lend himself to the exploitation of native peoples by such tactics. It is completely foreign to the ideals of Australians; yet the honorable member preaches that doctrine. What is his purpose? Is it to provide propaganda for the Communists to use in an attempt to destroy this country ?
I do not believe that one-fifth of the honorable members who sit behind the Leader of the Opposition support his statements or believe one iota of them. But those honorable members have not the courage to join the splinter group, the members of which are undoubtedly Labour supporters. They differ from this Government on every point of its policy except those points that are vital to the preservation of the freedom of the Australian people. The splinter party is not a sectarian party. I make that statement as a Liberal and a Protestant. The AntiCommunist Labour party is led by a Protestant, and I make no apology for honoring the stand that the members of that party have taken in this Parliament. I deplore the attitude of those who sit behind the Leader of the Opposition and who have endeavoured to exploit Communist tactics by playing up sectarian bigotry. They know that tactics of that sort have been used successfully by the Communists, and they attempt to destroy the only ideology that can possibly counter the propaganda of the Communist forces in the world.
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Coutts) adjourned.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to bring again to the notice of the House some salient facts about the financial crisis in the Australian dried fruits industry. I notice that Labour members are already laughing, but they do not . know the case I am going to put forward. I ask the House to listen to what I have to say. The Australian dried fruits industry is asking this Government for some financial assistance. In the ten minutes allotted to me, I cannot go into much detail, so I shall content myself with stating very briefly some of the salient points of this very important industry. Let me say, first of all, that the crisis in the industry has been brought about by rising costs of production and the slow sale of fruit in the United Kingdom. At the present time, there is ?1,500,000 worth of the 1954 crop still unsold in the United Kingdom. The industry is unable to carry on satisfactorily because it lacks adequate finance. In addition, adverse weather conditions during the picking and drying season just closing have brought chaos to it. There has been a loss of about 25 per cent, of the crop. Much of the fruit is not yet in the packing houses. A lot of the fruit going to the packing houses is marked “ Distillery “, but it cannot be sold to the distilleries for the simple reason that, under one of the regulations, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) cannot give permission to distilleries to buy dried fruits for distillation for fortifying spirits if he finds there are enough fresh grapes for the purpose.
In view of the enormous loss of fruit sustained by the growers due to bad weather conditions, it is beyond their financial capacity to absorb the additional costs involved in the packing of a raindamaged crop. The marketing system for dried fruits has been pointed to throughout the years as the classic example of a good marketing system. The industry is not in any way to blame for its present financial situation. It has to bear the high costs resulting from the high standard of living and high wages paid in this country, but it gets an adequate return to meet those costs, for the simple reason that 80 per cent, of the products of the industry are exported. Receiving low prices overseas, the industry is unable to cope with the situation in which it finds itself in Australia. It is not an industry that lends itself to the machine age, because grapes cannot be picked by machinery. In addition, the wages paid by the growers represent a higher percentage to returns than is the case in any other primary industry.
Prior to 1939, the preference on United Kingdom sales - that is where most of our dried fruit is sold - was £10 10s. a ton, or approximately 25 per cent, of the selling price. The preference now i3 £S 10s. a ton, or S$ per cent, of the selling price, about one- third of the pre-war percentage. America overcomes the difficulty of selling dried fruits by paying on sales in the United Kingdom a subsidy of £A.15 a ton. Turkey subsidizes Turkish dried fruit sold there to the extent of £A.28 a ton.
There is a long-term and a short-term way to assist the industry. Some assistance is required immediately. Very shortly, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics will make a survey to ascertain the costs of production. The last survey was of the 1949-50 crop, and another will be made shortly. When the correct cost of production has been ascertained, there is a chance that a stabilization scheme somewhat on the lines of the wheat industry scheme will be established, under which the cost of production will be guaranteed to the growers. The industry requires a. substantial loan at a low rate of interest to assist it immediately. I point out that it is an important industry, which, under normal circumstances, earns £8,000,000 a year for Australia. The growers are asking for financial assistance through a stabilization scheme, and a loan for three to five years at a low rate of interest. But also a substantial subsidy has been suggested, because it cannot possibly continue to carry on under present conditions. I have said that it is an important industry. The size of the average block is only IS acres, but many thousands of people in Australia are dependent on the industry. There were 14,379 people on the electoral roll of Mildura, in 1954. I think it would be a conservative estimate to say that 10,000 of those people are dependent in some way upon the dried fruits industry. .
The industry is run mainly by soldier Settlers. There are very few other people in it. The soldier settlers engaged in the industry at Mildura, Red Cliffs, Merbein, Robin Vale, Nyah, Nyah West and other places along the Murray must have assistance if they are to carry on in the industry. That is of paramount importance to them, and is also of great importance to Australia. I suggest that the Government should send some body to the Sunraysia area to get first-hand knowledge of how the industry is situated and to talk with the growers. I have in mind, not the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, but some committee of this Parliament, acting on behalf of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen). It could, go to the packing houses and the growers and find out the financial position and report back to the Parliament. I am sure the investigations of the committee would prove up to the hilt the truth of what I am saying.
Let me say in conclusion that next Saturday morning a mass meeting will be held at Red Cliffs, in north-western Victoria, which I shall attend. I believe that, out of that meeting and further negotiations, there will come a specific scheme that will be put to the Government. When, it has been put to the Government, I shall be very vocal in advocating its adoption if I consider it to be practical and reasonable. Up to the present time, these people have never had any assistance from the Commonwealth. They are worthy people, working in a great industry. Although the size of the average block is small, the industry had done much to make the Mallee, in north-west Victoria, one of the garden parts of Australia. I “ believe I shall receive some support from other honorable members in my advocacy of assistance for the industry, so I leave the matter there at this stage, hoping that the Government will give consideration to what I have said. I know that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is most sympathetic to the industry, and that he has already done something to help it by getting the support price in the United Kingdom extended. As the member of this Parliament for the area mostly concerned, I have put forward the case for the industry so that the Government can get moving quickly and provide as soon as possible the financial aid necessary to enable the industry to continue at a fully productive level.
.- I do not believe that any honorable member will contest the view that the Australian dried fruits industry is a magnificent industry. It is conducted largely by ex-servicemen from World War I., and also by many ex-servicemen from World War II. Co-operative enterprise is the order of the day in the industry. It is well known that until comparatively recently the industry was prosperous. It was prosperous largely as a result of the enterprise of the people who conducted it, but also because during the last war, and until recently, it had the valuable support of the United Kingdom Government, because that government was an important bulk purchaser of our dried fruits.
The United Kingdom is on the eve of a general election. We know that the British Labour party, under Mr. Attlee, which was associated with the Churchill
Government when bulk buying schemes were introduced during the war, has undertaken that if it is returned to office it will once again resort to a measure of bulk buying of the products of the British Commonwealth. I see a glimmer of hope for the dried fruits industry in that undertaking. However, the industry seeks some measure of assistance now, during the critical stage which it is going through.
Whether the industry’s claims are correct or not I do not know, but we have available an instrument of government, created by the Chifley or the Curtin Labour Government, which is called the Bureau of. Agricultural Economics. Normally, it takes that bureau a considerable period of time to make a thorough and decisive investigation into any primary industry, but I believe that during the time it has been in existence it has accumulated sufficient basic knowledge for it to make, at the request of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen), a recommendation which may justify some immediate assistance to the dried fruits industry. I do not say that assistance should be given to that industry without some prior investigation, because it is well known that there are disputes in the industry. Foi example, there is an old organization in the industry; there are people who say that organization is no good, people who say that the packing-house system operates as a monopoly and that the monopoly needs to be destroyed; and there are people who say that there is terrorism in the industry and that those who have votes in connexion with the packing houses are terrified to exercise their franchise in case their fruit is classified down in the sheds.
That sounds fantastic, but the position in the industry has deteriorated since the last Labour government relinquished office, because’ that government gave a better deal to this industry than any preceding or succeeding government has given it. Since the bulk purchase scheme and the contract system with the United Kingdom have lapsed, the financial position of the industry has deteriorated still further. As a result of the depreciation of our currency and the operation of the
Ottawa Agreement - for which the Labour party was not responsible - the industry has deteriorated still further. It is now unfortunate .that because in .previous times the Ottawa Agreement operated to the advantage of the industry, because of increasing costs in this country since 1949 and the reduced purchasing power of dried fruits growers’ incomes, and because of other high costs as the result of the economic policy of this Government, the growers have now found themselves in dire distress. Because of their distress the matter now before the House is one of urgency and I suggest that something should be done for the growers as promptly as possible.
– I support the eloquent and dynamic plea put forward by my colleague, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) on behalf of the dried fruits industry. T am very glad to see from both sides of the House the desire of honorable members to make some contribution to the debate on this matter. I think that the House must realize that the dried fruits industry is one of the Cinderella industries of this country. It has not enjoyed anything like the great flush of the economic boom that so many other sectors of the Australian economy have profited by in recent years. The honorable member for Mallee, in a comprehensive way, has related some of the difficulties that the industry for the la3t year or so has been labouring under. I was sorry to hear the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) yield to the temptation of trying to make party political capital out of the fact - I took down his words - that the position of the growers has deteriorated since Australia lost its last Labour government.
Opposition MEMBERS - Hear, hear!
– Those honorable members opposite who have said, “ Hear, hear!” have illustrated their ignorance of this industry, because the industry was never so prosperous as it was from 1949 to about 1952 or 1953. The Opposition knows that we are complaining about something of comparatively recent origin and as a result of an accumulation of circumstances during the last year or eighteen months. Therefore, I hope that there will be no party political approach to the real and dire need of the* growers in the dried fruits growing areas.
One of. their many difficulties is that dried fruits are partly luxury products, and therefore the demand in the local market is rather a variable one. There are many ways in which that demand can be stimulated. For example, the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page), who is so free with his distribution of milk for school children, could also think in terms of currants, raisins and sultanas, because, as a doctor, he would be cognizant of the fact that, in the nutritional sense, dried fruits are equally good for school children as milk. I make that statement in parenthesis by way of example of what could be done to stimulate local consumption of dried fruits.
The dried fruits growing areas are to be found not in a particularly easy part of Australia from a living viewpoint. They abound principally in the Murray valley areas, represented mainly by the honorable member for Mallee and myself. The season there is very often tricky, as the last summer has been, with very heavy losses, especially on the Victorian side. The climate is harsh, and the terrain generally could only be described as semi-desert.
It is particularly unfortunate that at this time, when Australian internal costs have never been higher, the competition of overseas markets should be more intensive than at any time in the last twenty years. We must never forget the way in which governments, both Commonwealth and State, have deliberately induced large soldier settlement schemes in various parts of the Murray irrigation areas. Millions of pounds of the taxpayers money, after both World War I. and World War II., have been poured into those districts. Quite apart from the humanitarian factor, it is only common sense that now those people are encountering real and genuine difficulties, the Government should display a sympathetic attitude to their predicament. We have a real obliga tion to them, and I am quite sure that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture will induce his colleagues in the Government to ensure that that obligation is discharged. The House has already been told what the representatives of the dried fruits industry are proposing. The Australian Dried Fruits Association has asked the Government to consider a stabilization scheme. I very much hope that the Minister will ensure that the officers of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture shall not confer with the representatives of the industry simply with muffled tongues and bound hands. Quite frankly, I have been a little disturbed by some of the Minister’s statements in the House when he has been asked questions on this subject. I know, of course, that, in answer to a question, the right honorable gentleman cannot give a. firm undertaking, but the industry is looking forward to something definite being done, especially by the Government, and not to being merely put off with polite phrases of sympathy. Furthermore, if, upon examination, a stabilization scheme appears to be impracticable, the question of a direct subsidy for the growers may very well arise. The honorable member for Mallee said that they wanted both. I think that that, is asking for a little too much. If a stabilization scheme is not practicable, the Government may have to come in and give a subsidy. Whatever happens, I hope that the Government, and the Minister in particular, will act, and that they will act this year, because, unless something fairly definite is done before December, this great industry will find itself drifting very rapidly towards the rocks.
.- I endorse the appeal that has been made to the Government on behalf of the dried fruit-growers. The ground has been covered very fully. The dried fruits industry is a very important industry. It is a developing industry, which has turned deserts into very fertile regions. Ernestine Hill’s book entitled Water into Gold portrays what has been done in the Murray area. The problem with which the dried fruit-growers are confronted is that, to a considerable degree, they have lost the home market. I have always believed that the home market is one of the best markets for any industry to foster and hold, because on the home market it can manipulate the prices through government agencies to enable it to achieve a condition of prosperity. On the export market, an industry is entirely in the hands of the country that is importing the product, and it is in competition with other markets. During World War IX, and the period that immediately followed it, slightly better prices could be obtained on overseas markets. The Australian market for dried fruits was substantially affected, because many housewives who previously used dried fruits in their cooking drifted into the habit of making plain sponge cakes and the like. The result was that the industry lost a very substantial home market. If people get out of the habit of using a product, it takes a long time for them to get back into it.
I think that very great efforts should be made by the Government, and by the industry, to regain the home market, and that something should be done to stabilize the price. If the industry could be assured of a stable price over a period of years, and of a substantial home market, many of its problems would be overcome. The difficulty with which the industry is confronted is a. pressing one. I know that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) has been sympathetic. But it is not sympathy alone that the growers want. They want practical assistance also. I appeal to honorable members opposite, who have more influence with the Government than have honorable members on this side of the House, to use their efforts in the appropriate place to induce it to do something of a substantial nature to help the industry. If honorable members opposite do that, they may be assured of all the practical support that it is possible for the Australian Labour party to give on the floor of the House in carrying out any scheme that they may wish to bring into operation. There is no obstacle to something being done other than the will of the Government. I appeal to the Government to take note of the appeal that ha? been made on both sides of the House, and to bring forward some substantial proposal to assist the growers to develop their markets, and to give them a stable price over a period of years so that they may be assured of long-term security as well as immediate assistance.
.-Those people who are engaged in the dried fruits industry, and those who are dependent upon them, are very much indebted to the vigorous plea that has been made to-night by the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). Almost all of those people who are engaged in the production of dried fruits in Western Australia, numbering several hundreds, are contained in my electorate. I support the honorable member in everything that he has stated, but I go further and point out to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen), and to other honorable members, that the problem is one of extreme urgency. The growers have just completed the harvesting of a crop, the disposal of which and the receipt of the proceeds of which are still matters for the future. Most of the growers are heavily in debt over the production of that crop and previous crops. It will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for them to obtain financial assistance from the ordinary financial sources to enable them to prepare for the production of next year’s crop. That is rather a dismal outlook for people who have stood very firmly and very loyally behind Australia in satisfying its needs. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) stated that the dried fruits industry is one of the Cinderella i industries of this country. I agree. T add that the dried fruits-growers are a completely overlooked people, because of the fact that they have not previously raised a clamour in this or in any other place to obtain assistance in overcoming their unfortunate circumstances. From the commencement of the industry, those persons engaged in it have adopted a system of self-help. By co-operative effort they have established a marketing system to which reference has been made by the honorable member for Mallee, and the success of which is a shining example to other primary producing sections of the community. Because of the fact that they have not been a clamorous people, they have been ignored. They have made considerable sacrifices in the interests of Australian consumers.
I remind honorable members that the dried fruit-growers have not been so fortunate as to participate in the prosperity that has been enjoyed by other sections of the community in recent years. By their sacrifice, they have enabled the Australian consumer to obtain dried fruits at prices which have been below those that they could have obtained overseas at a time when they might have lined their pockets, because, although they could then get better returns in this country than they get at present, those returns were not as remunerative as the returns then offering overseas. Now, when they find themselves in unfortunate circumstances, and they have contributed so generously to the economy of this country, they are surely entitled to equally generous treatment. The honorable member for Mallee referred to the inquiry that was conducted by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics into the cost of production. An inquiry was made also into the particular conditions existing in the industry in Western Australia. However, that inquiry was somewhat inconclusive. I agree that a further inquiry should be conducted. This Government, the State governments and the growers should get together in order to arrive at a long-range plan which would obviate circumstances arising similar to those that now exist.
I am concerned most about the provision of immediate assistance to the industry. Every other section of the community, except this industry, receives a reward commensurate with either the cost of living or the cost of production. Surely, it is not too much to ask that some plan be devised to ensure to these people at least the cost of production. That assistance has been given to every other primary industry. Probably, the position of the growers in Western Australia is rendered more urgent because many of them have suffered severely from floods. Those floods occurred at the same time as the disastrous floods occurred in Queensland and New South Wales, but these growers did not make any appeal to other people to get them out of trouble. I have seen vines with the grapes unpicked completely covered by water. In such instances the growers’ work for the whole of the preceding year has gone for nothing. Some of them lost the whole of their vines.
However, they did not make any clamour for other people to come to their assistance. They now need assistance urgently, and I make a plea to the Government that whatever it does it should do as quickly as possible, first, to relieve the embarrassments and doubts which assail the industry; and, secondly, and more importantly, to provide them, with the wherewithal to live during the next twelve months and enable them to help the economy by producing a commodity which the community cannot do without.
.- i take this opportunity to express my need of praise to the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) for directing the attention of the House to this matter. I emphasize the grave urgency of this very vexed question. To me the implications are even greater than those that were mentioned by the honorable member for Mallee and by other honorable members who have spoken in support of his request. This industry is experiencing the first serious fracture in our post-war economy. It is the first primary industry that has been threatened in this particular way since the end of World War II, and I trust that the Government will take immediate action before conditions in it are allowed to spread to other primary industries, which could easily happen. The dried fruits industry is the first industry that has become a victim of the rising cost structure in this country. Unlike all other primary industries, growers engaged in it have no opportunity to change their production in any way. The dried fruits grower is bound to his normal agricultural operations, from which he has no escape. As the cost structure rises all he can hope to- do is to increase his production or hope for remunerative prices in order to recoup his outlay. If either of those contingencies fails, ruin will be visited upon him as it is upon other primary industries from time to time.
So, I welcome this opportunity to direct the attention of the House to the dangerous position in which persons engaged in this industry find themselves. They have to withstand the hazards of the seasons. These hazards, of course, are normal to all primary producers and it is not suggested that they should be enabled1 to escape from such hazards. How ever, in addition, the dried fruits industry has to suffer the vagaries of the climate. Although the season may be favorable and the crop prospects may be good, climatic conditions may deteriorate swiftly. A single fall of rain can destroy the entire harvest. Growers have also to contend with the fluctuation of prices because of the fact that 80 per cent, of their production is sold on the export market. For that reason, this industry is particularly vulnerable. It is a very sad state of affairs for the industry when people throughout the world who, when in danger, were prepared to pay remunerative prices for a commodity such as this, are not now prepared to pay such prices when they are out of danger. The people of the United Kingdom, for whom nobody has greater affection than I have, were willing to pay any price for this commodity when they were in dire need during World War II., but as soon as that danger passed, there arose a regrettable tendency on the part of consumers of this product to escape from their responsibilities. The consumer reserve.11 the right to buy on the cheapest market. That observation has evoked laughter from honorable members on both sides of the chamber ; but let me remind them that impassioned pleas were made to these producers to increase production in order to give greater assistance to the people of the United Kingdom during World War II. Such pleas were made to the producers of this commodity in every year of that conflict. If it is meet that consumers should buy in the cheapest market surely it ought to have been meet for the dried fruitgrowers in this country to hold the people of the United Kingdom up to ransom when they were in dire extremity. The dried fruitgrowers in Australia did not do that but, on the contrary, made their product available to the advantage of the people of the United Kingdom. In that way, these growers made a substantial contribution to the war effort. However, as soon as the danger had passed, the people of the United Kingdom developed a tendency to say, not only to this industry, but also to other primary industries, “ We do not want your product, and if you insist upon selling it. at high prices we reserve the right to buy at lower prices “. Assistance to the industry cannot be maintained on that basis.
I trust that the Government will take appropriate steps immediately to meet the situation in the industry. It can do so in a variety of ways all of which, I am sure, are being examined by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Mc.Ewen). I trust that his examination will be successful in meeting this grave situation. I repeat that the Australian Dried Fruits Board has no possible escape from its production. The wheat-grower can expand, or contract, his production to meet a particular situation, and the wool-grower and meatgrower can do likewise; but the dried fruitgrowers, who have created oases in our arid areas, are bound to the number of acres that they have under vine and they are duly bound to harvest to the best advantage their production for the year. They have no hope of expanding, or contracting, their production or of changing to another industry.
.- We have heard quite a number of honorable members, mostly Government supporters talking about the dire needs of the dried fruits industry. I do not think that the Parliament needs any convincing on the point. The thing that amazes me is that honorable member after honorable member on the Government side should get up and speak about the distress in the industry. They have the remedy in their own hands. Why do they not take the matter up with the Government they are supporting and propose some positive motion, so. that we could support them ? They are not prepared to do that. What is the purpose of raising this matter in the Parliament ? It is not that they want to help the industry. They recognize that the industry is only important to them in certain electorates, particularly that of the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). What the honorable member for Mallee wants to do is to get copies of the speech he made here this evening and send them to the dried fruits producers in his electorate, with a view to making them believe that he is putting up a great battle for them.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archiecameron.)
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Air Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1955, No. 29.
Defence Act - Royal Military College - Annual Report for 1953.
Elections - Statistical Returns in relationin the House of Representatives Elections. 1954, for the several States and Territories.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Defence purposes -
Gan Gan (Port Stephens), New South Wales.
Newcastle, New South Wales.
Meat Export Charge Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1955, No. 20.
Norfolk Island Act - Regulations - 1955 - No. 1 (Bean Seeds and Bean Plants Ordinance).
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1955, Nos. 27, 28.
Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of the Interior - C. S. McKay.
River Murray Waters Act - River Murray Commission - Annual Report for year 1953-54.
House adjourned at 11.27 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Repatriation has furnished the following reply : -
Yes. The Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance representative, Mr. B. C. Scott, O.B.E., completed his tour of duty in Australia in May, 1954, and returned to the United Kingdom on 13th May, 1954.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
s. - The Minister for Repatriation has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
s. - The Minister for Repatriation has furnished the following replies to the honorable member’s questions : -
z asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon, notice -
Having regard to the need for the utmost efficiency of airport lire crews, will he recommend to the Public .Service Board that members of airport (ire crews be given the right to permanency instead of being forced to accept employment as temporary officers?
– As part of its current programme to provide the latest available equipment for fire-fighting services at major Australian airports the department has also given consideration to the personnel aspects. A superintendent of fire services and a chief fire officer have recently been appointed to the headquarters staff and are carrying out a review of fire-fighting establishments throughout the Commonwealth. “When this review is completed proposals for a permanent organization will, if it is thought necessary, be submitted to the Public Service Board, which, if approved, will provide opportunity for permanent appointment to suitably qualified temporary employees and others.
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
s asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
In view of the unseasonable weather which has been experienced, particularly in southeastern Queensland, and the current suggestions that atomic experiments arc to some degree responsible, will he instruct nuclear scientists under Ids control to investigate the possible connexion between atomic bomb experiments and this freak weather?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
I feel that the matter which the honorable member has raised is probably one primarily for meteorologists. The Government however has been taking a keen interest in investigations overseas on the question whether there is any connexion between atomic tests and the weather. Eminent meteorologists overseas are of the opinion that the vagaries of the weather arc in no way due to atomic tests. Some df their recent published statements will make this clear. Sir Graham Sutton, Director of the Meteorological Office of Britain, in a recent article in Nature in which the whole subject is carefully examined, says that “ the available evidence points to the conclusion that recent thermonuclear trials cannot be held responsible for any world-wide extremes of weather encountered in 1954. “. In the same article Sir Graham says, “ it would be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to establish a ‘ cause and effect ‘ sequence on purely meteorological grounds. What evidence exists points, in fact, to the opposite conclusion”. In the United States these matters have been the subject of elaborate studies over a number of years, and the same conclusions have been reached. Dr. H. Wexler, Chief of the Scientific Services Division of the United States Weather Bureau, -=o testified at a recent hearing by the Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy. None of the results of the atomic tests in that country, he said, “ has had any effect on the weather anywhere ‘. In the same hearings another eminent United States meteorologist said, “the most exhaustive research had failed to show that the atomic tests conducted since World War IX., have in any way influenced the world’s weather”. On the basis of any authoritative statement I have seen, there appears to be no justification for making atomic tests the scapegoats for freak weather. The matter is, however, being kept under constant review overseas, not only by the United Kingdom and the United States, but also by the World Meteorological Organization of the United Nations. The Government here through its appropriate agencies will continue to study closely the results of investigations being made into this subject.
Post a l Department. ‘
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What will be the increased cost this financial vear in the wages and salaries of all employees of the Postmaster-General’s Department as a result of the decision of the Arbitration Court in the margins case?
– lt is estimated that the increased cost will be about £1,919.000.
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to thehonorable member’s questions are asfollows : -
The 1.945 regulations contain no reference to radio interference. 3 and 4. It is not clear whether the Commonwealth has power under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905-1950 to make laws providing for the control of radio inductive interference affecting radio reception, including sound and television broadcasting. The practicability of introducing legislation to meet the position is being taken up with the Crown Law officers with whom measures designed to effectively ensure the installation of suppression units on electrical appliances at the time of manufacture will also be discussed.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has furnished the following replies to the honorable member’s questions : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 May 1955, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1955/19550504_reps_21_hor6/>.