22nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Archie Cameron) took tile chai* at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the right honorable the Prime Minister a question, arising out. of a report in to-day’s press that the President of the. United States of America in effect resumed negotiations with the Russian Government for the control and possible elimination of atomic and hydrogen bomb?. I say “resumed negotiations “ because, after the last experimental explosion, in Russia, a statement was made on behalf of the Russian Government in. reply to an earlier suggestion by President Eisenhower concerning a particular form of inspection of stocks of atomic weapons held by various countries. That suggestion has now been broadened, and I ask. the Prime Minister whether the Australian. Government, and the right honorable gentleman in particular, will take an interest in these negotiations with n view to expediting the implementation of the suggestion. Obviously, an international agreement would be required, but pending the working out of details, which must take some time, could action be taken to suspend any experimental explosions by any country?
– The right honorable member’s question appears to be based on a- newspaper report My information about this matter comes from- the same source. When we know more about the proposal I will be in a position, to saymore about it, but the Government, in accordance with its practice, and with that of other Australian governments on matters such as this, will be willing at all tim.es to engage in negotiations of this sort.
– I preface my question to the right honorable the Treasurer by reference to the series of floods which have occurred recently in the Hawkesbury River valley, and which have caused very heavy damage. To relieve distress a local flood relief fund has been instituted, and I ask the Treasurer whether he would be dis posed to consider favorably allowing donations to this fund to be claimed as special deductions under the terms of the Income Tax Assessment Act.
– I have, pleasure in informing the honorable member that if this fund is properly administered as a public fund for the specific purpose of providing relief for flood victims, donations of £1 or more will be allowable income tax deductions.
– I direct to the Prime Minister a question in relation to the terrible disaster that has overtaken Queensland north of Mackay: The cities and’ towns in that area have suffered damage to a degree not yet estimated but which is certain- to involve a colossal sum of money. I give the right honorable gentleman and the House my assurance that I am not asking this question with any desire to gain political support, but. because of the great grief and sorrow that is felt for the people of north Queensland. Moreover, I am aware that this Government and previous- Australian Governments have always been eager to make available financial assistance on such occasions. I ask the Prime Minister whether, immediately on receipt of a request from the Queensland Government, he will make available the maximum amount of finance possible in order to recoup, to some degree, the financial loss that has been suffered by these people.
– These events in north Queensland indeed constitute a terrible disaster, and the Government, in common with all other members of this House, extends its deep sympathy to those persons who have suffered grievously. I am not aware of any request having yet been received from the Premier of Queensland. I can well understand why that would be so, because at the present stage, with the confusion and havoc that has been caused, it must be extremely difficult to get a clear picture of what has happened. I have no doubt that, as soon as the Premier is able to obtain that! picture, he will communicate with meand that, following practices and principles that have already been established, we will be able to render assistance.
– Is the Minister for Health satisfied with the progress of the campaign against tuberculosis in Queensland and other States? Will he indicate the approximate degree to which the cost of the campaign is being financed by this Government ?
– To answer the second part of the question first, the Commonwealth finances the campaign against tuberculosis to the degree that it meets the total capital outlay incurred under the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States and 85 per cent, of the running expenses, that is all those above the base year 1948-49. Expenditure in the base year was small compared with current expenditure, so it will be noted that altogether the Commonwealth’s contribution amounts to a very large sum of money. I do not think that we can ever use the word “ satisfied “ in relation to the progress of the campaign against tuberculosis, but very great progress has been made. In the last year or so, approximately 3,000 concealed cases have been brought to light, a great deal of treatment has been instituted ; new hospitals have been built and opened, and mass X-rays have been undertaken. As a result, the death rate from tuberculosis has fallen markedly. The incidence of tuberculosis, that is, the occurrence of new cases, has not fallen very much, so we are not completely satisfied. However, we believe that very great progress indeed has Deen made under the scheme, which owes so much to my predecessor as Minister for Health, the right honorable member for Cowper.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for the Army, relates to the compensation payments that are made to relatives or dependants of persons who are fatally injured while undergoing national service training or as members of the Citizen Military Force. I ask the Minister whether the Treasury or the Department of the Army assesses the amount of payment. Secondly, will the honorable gentleman inform the House what formula is employed in assessing the amount paid? Finally, is he aware that there is an inordinate delay in finalizing these claims - I know of one claim that has been outstanding for more than three years - and will he try to ensure that in the future determinations are made more expeditiously than in the past?
– These cases conic within the ambit of the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. That act, I understand, is administered by the Treasury, so that the major part of the honorable member’s question would be dealt with by the Treasurer. I shall certainly inquire whether there have been any delays, and if the honorable member knows of any particular instances, I shall be very glad if he would let me have the particular? and I shall have them inquired into.
– Has the Minister for Trade received from the Australian Dried Fruits Association a final stabilization plan for the dried fruits industry t Is it a fact that the found cost of production by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics for the industry is based on a 22^-acre holding? If so, why is it not, based on the actual size of an average block, namely approximately 18 acres? In the bureau’s found cost of production assessment, is the grower-operator’s allowance listed as £750 per annum ; and, if so, why is it so low when in schemes of a like nature the allowance of a dairy-farmer operator is £953, and that of a wheatgrower operator £958 per annum? “Will the Minister arrange to have made available to growers of dried fruits, details of methods used by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics when it assessed the industry’s cost of production at £77.97 u ton?
– I shall answer the last part of the question first so that I shall not forget to answer it. The Bureau of Agricultural Economics now operates under the administrative jurisdiction of my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, but, being familiar with the practices, I am able to say that that bureau acts as a service technical instrument for the purposes of the Government and the various industries. The basis on which it conducts its operations and makes its assessments and calculations has never been influenced by this Government, nor, I am glad to say, by the previous Government. It has always been the practice that the bureau shall be prepared to explain to the industry concerned exactly how it conducts its calculations, and, indeed, officers frequently visit districts for that very purpose. I have received recently a final proposal for a stabilization scheme from the dried vine fruits industry, following quite intensive consultation within the ranks of the industry itself, and between the industry, officers of the Department of Trade, the Department of Primary Industry, myself, and the Minister for Primary Industry. The industry now makes its own explicit proposal. I have made inquiries on the point mentioned by the honorable member as to why a typical farm holding is shown as, I think, 22£ acres, when certain industry interests are claiming that on the facts the typical farm is smaller than that. The advice I am given by the bureau is that it made its assessment of cost of production by investigating the types of farms that excluded small farms, the object being to bring commercial units only into the calculations, excluding small farms or horticultural blocks which had measurable side-line production. The actual category of farms examined was that proposed to the bureau by the industry representatives, namely, the Australian Dried Fruits Association. In regard to the owner-operator’s allowance, this is one factor over which the bureau does not exercise a discretion in assessing the value. The interest allowance on the owner’s own equity is another such item. Those two items, the owner-operator’s allowance and the interest allowance on the owner’s own equity are finally decided by the Government, but they are never decided by the Government until after full negotiations with the industry, and indeed, discussions with the State governments, when some price control factor is injected into a stabilization plan. The bureau’s calculations, in the absence of a decision by the Government, have been made upon the actual payment, I am told, to an employee on a block, which payment, L think, is about £620, not £750. That, amount can be varied to £750. or to what ever other figure is finally decided upon. It is quite a simple matter. There has been a calculation of what the cost would be on £750 because, in the course of negotiations, there have been various approaches to this proposal and this is merely a notional figure. The actual allowance to the owner-operator will be a most important outcome of the negotiations which are now pretty close to conclusion between the industry and the Government.
– I remind the Prime Minister of the answer that he gave to a question asked by me on the 22nd February, namely, that he expected to get a decision from Cabinet at the earliest possible date relative to the grant of financial assistance towards the visit of the Victoria Cross winners to the centenary celebrations in England in June next. Is the Prime Minister aware that several Victoria Cross winners in Victoria will not be able to attend unless a favorable decision can be given now or within the next few days ? If the Prime Minister i? not yet in a position to give a decision, can he now indicate whether, in his own opinion, a. . favorable reply can be anticipated ?
– The suggestions that have been made about the proposed meeting of Victoria Cross winners have not been fully set out in the newspapers. There were, in fact, a series of proposals put forward by the Government of the United Kingdom, some of which deserve some additional examination. “We have, ourselves, no doubt concerning winners of the Victoria Cross and, where they need some member of the family to he with them, concerning that member of the family. There will not be any question about that, but there are other questions that arise about deceased Victoria Cross winners and posthumous awardees of the Victoria Cross which require a little examination. That is going on, and all will be brought to finality within the next few days. In the meantime, I just permit myself to say to the honorable member that winners of the Victoria Cross need have no doubt that appropriate provision will be made for them.
– I ask the Minister acting for the Minister for Defence whether it is a fact that the permanent services are well below strength. Is it also a fact that only a few men are signing on again to serve a further period rafter their time has expired? If so, will the Minister consider the granting of a generous re-engagement bonus in order to encourage men to remain in the service?
– The first point made by the honorable member, that the present services are well below strength, is not a fact. For the year ending 30th June, 1956, the programme provided for 51,622 personnel for the three services. The actual strength for the three services is 51,609, making a shortage of only thirteen on the actual strength so programmed. The second matter raised by the honorable member, regarding few men signing on, is certainly a problem in the services generally. It is a problem that is receiving the attention of the service chiefs, and we shall endeavour to cope with it. The third part of the honorable member’s question referred to the suggested introduction of some generous re-engagement bonus in order to encourage re-enlistment. This is a matter that is being considered by the Department of Defence and the service chiefs, and it will be discussed later to see if some improvement of the position can be effected.
– ls the Treasurer aware that local government authorities throughout Australia are experiencing extreme difficulty in securing even small amounts of loan money from lending institutions? In an endeavour to prevent the stoppage of necessary and vital projects controlled by these public authorities, will the Treasurer endeavour to induce financial institutions to reserve a fixed proportion of their funds for local government loans?
– I say again, as T have said very often, that local authorities and the administration of them come entirely under the jurisdiction of the State governments. They are
State instrumentalities and ‘their financial requirements are considered and provided for at each meeting of the Australian Loan Council.
– Is the Minister for Trade in a position to inform the House of the details of the operation of the proposed export insurance scheme? Will this special insurance ‘be offered to exporters by private companies or arranged by the Government on a nominal basis as an incentive?
– I am not in a position to give the House details of the scheme. The Government has completed its consideration of this matter, and it is intended to conduct some discussions with exporters of both primary and secondary products who could be expected to wish to avail themselves of the proposed facilities. The purpose of those discussions is to ensure that when legislation is presented to the Parliament it is designed along satisfactory lines, so that 1 can then assure the Parliament that the facilities will be considered suitable to be availed of by the export interests that we wish to aid and encourage in this way. It is my own expectation, and the intention of the Government, that the relevant legislation will be presented to the Parliament fairly soon.
– The Minister for Trade recently announced a priority system for the loading and unloading of cargoes. I ask the Minister whether he will consider the granting of a high priority for the lifting of Tasmanian apples, having regard to the fact that they are a perishable cargo and must be shipped to a strict schedule.
– The Government itself has no authority to order priorities, but I am glad to say that the overseas shipping companies have at all times indicated their complete willingness, in a crisis of the character brought about by the recent waterfront dispute, to act in accordance with what the Government officials regard as the highest order of priority in the loading and unloading of cargoes. The Government established a committee representing various departments, of which Dr. Westerman, of the department which I administer, was chairman. The outcome of that has been, in regard to the point stressed, and very specially stressed, by my colleague the honorable member for Franklin, in relation to Tasmanian apples, that apples and pears have been given the very highest order of priority in this regard.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Territories, concerns the Northern Territory Legislative Council, on which a majority of the members are governmentnominated public servants, some of whom have stated that before going into the chamber they have been directed how to vote on certain issues. Did the member for Rum Jungle resign from the council because he felt it was merely a rubber stamp for Government decisions already made? Does his return to the seat unopposed show that this view was supported locally? Is it true that the Administrator and the Minister both have power of veto over the decisions of the council ? Under what conditions- does the Minister believe that the Northern Territory will qualify for self-government, and when does he believe tha.t that state of affairs will he reached?
– The Legislative Council for the Northern Territory operates in accordance with the provisions of an act passed by this Parliament. Of course, until this Parliament amends the act, it must continue so to operate. In some of his questions, the honorable member, by implication, made statements which were not strictly accurate. There is no member for Rum Jungle. There is a member for’ Batchelor, who did resign from the council in a rather dramatic manner.. He stood at the subsequent election and was returned, unopposed. As he was unopposed, the electors, had no chance of expressing any opinion, whatsoever. The honorable member suggested thats the official members- of the Legislative Council received instructions beforehand as to. how. they were to vote. So far as I am concerned,, no instructions have ever been given to any official member of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory.
– The Minister just tells them what they ought to do.
– I do not. The expectation under which we work - I think it is a reasonable expectation - is that persons who are members of a parliamentary body will have their own sense of responsibility, and will act. in. accordance with their own sense of responsibility both to the institution to which they belong and to the Government which they serve. No instructions have been given by me on any occasion to any member of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory as to how he should exercise his vote. The last question asked by the honorable member raised matters of policy, and I cannot trench on those at question time. In general, I think the course of constitutional development in the Northern Territory will follow the pattern that has been followed in every other part of Australia in the development of State parliaments - first, representative government, and then, in due course, when the people can exercise responsibility and have the resources to do it; responsible government. The honorable member suggested that the Administrator could veto and that the Minister, could veto. The actual process is that-, with respect to certain ordinances passed by the Legislative Council, the assent of the Administrator can be given or can be withheld. In the case of. certain other ordinances, the Administrator cannot give his assent. They are reserved forassent by the Governor-General. Mainly, they are ordinances relating to subjects such as lands and native welfare. The practice, of course, as honorable members know, is that when the GovernorGeneral’s assent is required, it is given through the machinery of the Executive Council. In a case when the Administrator gives his- assent, it then lies within the power of the Governor-General to disallow the ordinance. The usual way in which action is taken in those matters is for a recommendation to be made to the Executive Council for the nondisallowance of the ordinance assented to by the Administrator.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. I recollect that on more than one occasion the right honorable gentleman has promised to make available the documents relating to the last double dissolution of the Parliament. Will he be so good as to let me know when those documents are likely to be made available?
– I thought I had made it clear that I proposed to table the documents during the present session of the Parliament. I will do that.
Debate resumed from the 7th March (vide page 607), on motion by Mr. Chaney -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to: -
We, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Common wealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
Upon which Mr. Pollard had moved, by way of amendment -
That the following words be added to the Address : - “ and we desire to add that, in the opinion of this House, the Government should at once terminate all negotiations for the sale or disposal of any of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission located at Carnarvon, Western Australia “.
.- I wish to refer to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). I am glad that it has been moved in the early stages of the session because it has enabled us to clarify the real issue between the Liberal party and the Labour, or socialist, party. The Liberals believe in free enterprise. They believe in private enterprise. They believe that the maximum happiness and the highest standard of living is to be secured when private enterprise is flourishing and prosperous and its income is at a maximum. When that happens a government can, through the medium of taxation, draw ample revenue from which to provide social services of the highest possible standard.
The Labour party, on the other hand, has one, and only one, objective. That objective is the socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange. It wants to see the whole of the industry and commerce of Australia under government control. It does not like private enterprise and does not wish to see it profitable. Thus, when a Liberal government, decides to sell a whaling station violent opposition comes from the socialist party. Labour supporters, who do not wish the whaling station to be sold to private enterprise, say that it is profitable and should be carried on by the Government so that its profits may be retained for the benefit of the people.
Over the years we have had many examples of the failure of socialistic enterprises. One of our greatest problems is the colossal loss sustained by various government enterprises throughout Australia. This morning’s paper reveals that in New South Wales £11,000,000 has been lost this year on the various governmentowned and government-controlled transport industries. How much better off this country would be if that £11,000,000 were available to be spent on development, increased social services, war service homes, homes for civilians, better roads and so on ! Every year millions and millions of pounds are being poured into the sink of government enterprise. While that continues, development will always be checked because much of the money that would otherwise be spent on development must go towards making up the losses on government undertakings. The Labour party suggests that the Australian Whaling Commission’s enterprise has been profitable and should be retained so that it may give competition to private enterprise.
How can it be told whether a government enterprise is ever profitable? In the first place, a government enterprise does not pay customs or excise duties on its capital equipment and plant. Secondly, a government enterprise does not pay rates and taxes. Thirdly, it does not have to pay interest on its capital. Being free of all those charges, the profitability of a government enterprise cannot be gauged according to ordinary business canons.
It is impossible, therefore, to say whether the Government’s whaling venture in Western Australia, has been truly successful.
We are told that over £1,000,000 of government money has been invested in this industry. If interest had to be paid to a bank on that initial capital, the venture would have had to disburse £50,000 a year for that purpose. Had the Australian Whaling Commission been paying such interest it would be showing a debit, for interest alone, of £500,000 over a period of about ten years. What would be the position of this government enterprise if it. had to pay customs and excise duties on its plant, and rates and taxes ?
We are not criticizing the men who pioneered, and have conducted, this venture. The Minister has told us that they have been highly efficient; but that is entirely beside the point. We believe that the duty of the Government is to govern, not to trade. If the Government competes with its own taxpayers the com- petition is unfair, because private industry has to pay rates and taxes while it contributes to the financing of social services, whereas government enterprise does not. In this particular case there are very definite reasons why competition between government enterprise and private enterprise is grossly unfair. The International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling places limitations on the number of whales that may be killed in any one year. In order to observe the terms of that agreement the Australian Government has to decide how many whales may be killed by Australia in any one year, and has to grant licences accordingly to the various companies and interests engaged in whaling, stipulating how many whales each may dispose of in any one year. Is it fair that the’ Government, on which lies the responsibility of deciding how many whales each competitor may kill, should itself be one of those competitors? So, although we do not criticize the manner in which this Government venture has been managed, we say that trading by the Government in competition with some of its own taxpayers is not the right way to make this nation prosperous.
I believe that one of the greatest problems facing Australia arises from the fact that Labour governments of the past started various government enterprises throughout the Commonwealth, with the result that to-day both the Commonwealth and the States are saddled with losses on government enterprises which run into millions of pounds every year. Those losses could have been avoided had those various undertakings been carried out by private enterprise. Unless private enterprise is allowed to conduct undertakings, unfettered by unfair government competition, where are the tax revenues of this country to come from? If the Labour party’s objective is carried out and the whole of our industry, trade and commerce is placed under government control, there will be no private industries and no commercial houses in this country to tax. If there is no private industry to tax there will be no money to provide social services for the people of this country.
The tax revenue of the Commonwealth at the present time is in the vicinity of £1,000,000,000 a year and every penny of that sum comes from private enterprise. If honorable members study government enterprises they will find that losses far outweigh profits. Therefore, we are forced back to the position that all our age pensions, repatriation pensions, grants to the States, the great social services that we provide in this country, all the provision that we make for our roads and waterworks, all the grants for hospitals which are made by the Commonwealth to the States, and so on, come from the profits of successful private enterprise. If, then, private enterprise is destroyed, or if we do not allow private enterprise to conduct its undertakings under a system of fair competition, we shall have no resources to carry on our social services.
Every honorable member should realize that this amendment proposed by the Labour socialist party should be strenuously opposed because it strikes at the root of the whole of our British way of life. The British people have been reared in traditions of individual enterprise. We in British countries have proved that we can secure the highest possible standard of living when we have free and profitable enterprise in which people are enabled to develop their initiative. If, now, we are to have a socialist way of life, which I regard as a completely foreign way of life, where every business undertaking is controlled by the Government and where all the people are civil servants, I venture to say that we shall have a standard of living and a way of life far less happy and far less prosperous than we have to-day.
.- As a student of history I would say that I never thought it would be possible for a member of this House to hear a speech “delivered here which was permeated so much with vicious nineteenth-century capitalism and free enterprise, as has been delivered by the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson.).
– That is an understatement.
– All my remarks are very charitable; but it has shocked me to hear a speech of the type delivered by the honorable member for Sturt. The honorable member can see no good in any system except that under which an investor is given complete freedom to exploit the nation to the limit. I hope for the sake of this country that the Liberal party is not composed of a majority of members who have the same ideas as has the honorable member for Sturt. I rise to support the amendment that was moved by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) in connexion with the proposed sale of the Australian Whaling Commission’s station at Carnarvon. The manner in which members of the Parliament are informed of impending actions by the ‘Government is really amazing. We might have expected that this proposal to dispose of theremely profitable undertaking in Western Australia would have been made known to the House by way of a ministerial statement, but we seem to have to go around comers to obtain this information. We lave to extract it from the Government just as a dentist has to pull teeth. I do not know how the honorable member for Lalor obtained the information about the proposed sale of the whaling station, but we are certainly indebted to him for having raised this matter in the House by way of a question without notice.
The whaling station in Western Australia was established in 1949 by the Labour Government. Whaling has had a chequered career in Australia over a century and a half, but it has been a profitable industry, and the Labour Government decided in 194!) to re-establish it. That was done most successfully. Contrary to the statements made by the honorable member for Sturt, the Australian Government does not control the –haling industry. In an endeavour to conserve the whaling population of the world an international commission decides the number of whales that may be caught. When the whaling industry was established in Australia, private enterprise was given its share in the development of various undertakings. In Queensland, the industry was established with a station on Moreton Island in Moreton Bay. I am sure that honorable members on the Government side do -not know that that is just outside the capital of Queensland. Private enterprise has carried on that industry quite successfully and one can spend a most interesting, if somewhat smelly, day in a visit to the whaling station at Tangalooma.
Reports submitted by the Australian Whaling Commission indicate that the station established by the Labour Government at Carnarvon does not lag behind private enterprise on the score of efficiency. The balance-sheets of the commission show that the industry is so efficiently run that it “has been making very high profits. Last year, the profit was £236,000 on a capital investment of £1,300,000. That was the return to the Commonwealth Treasury. On that basis, I am sure that private enterprise would be able to sustain a dividend of 18 per ,cent., and nobody would complain at such a return on an investment. In addition, the Australian Whaling Commission has made handsome repayments of capital expenditure to the Treasury. As an honorable member stated in the House recently, the industry would be worth £4,000,000 if correctly capitalized. The reports of the Australian Whaling Commission prove beyond doubt that the undertaking is efficient and profitable.
The Australian Government is conducting the whaling industry only in Western Australia. For many years, the people of “Western Australia have been asking the Government for more industries to be established in that State. Some time ago, I read the biography of Sir George Pearce, a brilliant Western Australian. In it, he said that in his earlier days it was most noticeable that anything granted to Western Australia was always given -by a Labour government and never by a Liberal .government. The lifeline that kept Western Australia within the federation - the trans-Australian railway - w.as always .advocated by Liberal members from that State, but it was built by a Labour government. The whaling industry was established by a Labour government in an effort to foster industrial enterprise in Western Australia. As I .have said, it has proved a most successful undertaking, but the House has been informed, by way of an answer to a question, that the Government proposes to dispose of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission.
The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) did not give any reason for the Government’s decision. He merely stated that the Government had established the whaling industry and thought, now that the industry was successful, that it could be handed over to private enterprise. Since 1950, die policy of the present Government has ‘been to dispose of profitable undertakings owned by the people of Australia. Admittedly, there are government undertakings which are not profitable, but which are giving service to the people. To some extent, they are pioneering industries. They are being run at a loss, but this Government will never be prepared to dispose of those industries which are being .subsidized by the taxpayers. The only industries that this Government wants to sell are those which are profitable, and are paying handsome dividends to -the taxpayers.
The Government was a majority shareholder in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, from which the people of Australia were receiving a very handsome profit. The Government disposed of that asset because of political pressure. Again, the Commonwealth’s shareholding in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, a company which played a brilliant part in the development oi industries associated with radio in this country, and which became a very profitable “undertaking, was disposed of to private enterprise.
There have been many rumours regarding the projected sale of the Commonwealthowned ships. Doubtless, as time goes on, the Governments intention in this regard will become evident. However, I am addressing myself principally to the “whaling industry, and I digressed for a short while only to remind honorable members of the line of thought that is being followed by Government supporters. I should have thought that the Australian Country party would object to the Government’s proposal to dispose of the whaling commission’s establishment at Carnarvon, because the latest report -of the commission shows that it has made available to the primary producers of Western Australia considerable quantities of stock meal and poultry feed, which are by-products of the whaling industry. A most interesting paragraph of the report reveals that the quota of whales that may be taken this .year has been reduced by 100 - from 600 to 500. This will result in an increase of the cost of treatment per unit, but the efficiency of the industry is such that it will not .be necessary for the commission to increase the price of stock feed to the primary producers. The merits of private enterprise were championed brilliantly .by the honorable member for Sturt, but could the honorable member name any private enterprise that would continue to sell its products to the primary producers .at the old price when the cost of production rose? I am afraid that the Australian Country party has been completely swamped by the Liberal party, and has been unduly influenced by the remarks of the honorable member for Sturt in relation to this subject, because no member of the Australian Country party is willing to challenge the Government on this issue. Even the Minister for Trade himself is playing the role of captain-gunner, by preparing to harpoon this industry and give it away to private enterprise.
The- Government is behaving somewhat like a drunken man dissipating and squandering his estate ; it is giving away good assets which belong to the people. It is unfair to the people of Australia for the Government to pass over to private enterprise an industry that is operating so efficiently as is the whaling industry. It has not received a mandate from the people to do so. As I said a moment ago, I believe that the Liberal party has swamped the Australian Country party in connexion with this matter. The action of the Minister for Trade, who is the deputy-leader of the Australian Country party, in endeavouring to justify the proposed disposal of the whaling industry lends colour to the rumour that is current in the lobbies that the right honorable gentleman will shortly abandon the Australian Country party and join the Liberal party. Certainly, he has ceased to be a fighter for the primary producers. As surely as private enterprise will readily grasp with both hands the opportunity to acquire the profitable whaling industry, the Minister, who has been handling the negotiations for its sale, will abandon the Australian Country party in favour of the Liberal party. I have no doubt that the Minister for Trade would readily leave the Australian Country party if he considered it to be to his interest to do so.
The primary producers, particularly in Western Australia, are indebted to the honorable member for Lalor for informing them of the Government’s intention to sell the whaling station at Carnarvon. I can well understand why the Government itself was reluctant to do so. I believe that the Government intended to carry its negotiations to the final stage and then present the people with a fait accompli. I hope that, on this occasion at least, the members of the Australian Country party, who profess to protect the interests of the men on the land, will take a stand on behalf of the primary producers, particularly those in Western Australia, who depend on this industry for cheap stock and poultry feed.
– I am greatly tempted to follow the last speaker, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) into many interesting by-paths, including, of course, his assessment of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), the deputy leader of the Aus tralian Country party, who is an extraordinarily able gentleman. Some of the honorable member’s remarks did him no credit. Certain references that he made to the Minister did not warrant my raising a point of order, although I considered them highly disorderly.
During this debate, we have been figuratively bathed in whale oil. The honorable member for Griffith devoted a considerable portion of his time to reminding us of the benefits that flow from the whaling industry. It may interest members of the Opposition to know that, due to the ineptitude of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), as Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in the Labour Government, in allowing himself to be taken in by his advisers, he light-heartedly gave away to the competitors of Australia the right to take £6,000,000 a year out of Australia’s revenue - I am referring to the revenue of the community - and make a present of it to people on the other side of the world. I am not going to disclose the source of my information, but the man who gave it to me is one who could not be challenged on political, scientific or any other grounds.
I can quite understand the honorable member for Griffith pouring out gallons of whale oil in an effort to divert the attention of honorable members from other matters. For instance, we learnt from this morning’s press that it is expected that the transport system in New South Wales will show a deficit of £10,000,000 on this year’s operations. Compare that with the whaling industry, which is making a paltry profit of £236,000 a year. Honorable members opposite have criticized the Government’s intention to sell a profitable undertaking. I suggest to them that if they intended entering into a private undertaking, they certainly would not buy one that was losing £10,000,000 a year.
– I would buy one that would make that amount.
– Quite so. It is a good thing to get rid of government enterprises, and perhaps it is even better, when one has them, to insist upon sound business management, which, apparently, in New South Wales, is a thing that belongs to the dim and misty past. I notice my honorable friend from Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) searching through some volumes for information that may enable him to tell me about all the wicked things that have been done to the railways system by motor cars and aeroplanes. All I have to say is that any enterprise that depends for its existence upon penal taxation on progress is no good to itself or to the country to which it belongs.
I wish now to address myself as briefly and concisely as possible to certain matters that arise from the Governor-General’s Speech. His Excellency, quite rightly, referred to the economic problems that confront Australia. I shall enumerate briefly the problems that I see looming large ahead of us. The present crisis is due to a combination of world factors arising mainly from war and its aftermath. I do not think it is necessary to elaborate that point, except to say that all the countries that were not immediately and disastrously affected by war overextended their economies in an attempt to satisfy their natural desire to increase their own wealth and to save the world from starvation and a breakdown of normal international relations. Also, the devastated nations have rebuilt their economies and are pouring out their goods, especially primary products, on the markets of the world. The two waves have met, and, in the nautical phrase, have caused a rip-tide, which we now have to breast. That is the major factor that we must keep in mind in dealing with this question. We are dealing not with a purely Australian manifestation hut with a world-wide economic illness. My second point is that the effect of these circumstances in Australia is accentuated by, first, a pegged market for government and semi-government bonds, and, secondly, unbridled competition with hire-purchase companies on the same market. I do not want any one to jump to the conclusion that, because I have mentioned the first of these two factors, I necessarily criticize what has been done. I merely emphasize the fact that the two things are utterly incompatible.
I shall now refer briefly to the world factors that I have mentioned and, .particularly, to the place of primary production in the Australian economy. In October or November of last year, I attempted to analyse some of these factors on the basis of my long and somewhat bitter experience. Referring to the depression of the 1930’s, I made my analysis in these words - let me emphasize one lesson which emerged from that great crisis. Briefly, it is that no national economy, and certainly not that of Australia, can be sound and prosperous if the rural primary producing industries are depressed and unprofitable.
Even the U.S.A., with all its vast resources, both secondary, tertiary and financial, had to learn that hard lesson during the disastrous “ thirties “.
That is something so well established in history as not to require elaboration by me. The first factor affecting Australia’s primary production is the world surplus of primary products. I have already referred to the causes of this surplus, and I wish now to add only that the question of the method of dealing with these surpluses is involved. The second factor affecting our primary production is the impact of unwise policies. I have previously emphasized the fact that a decline of profitable primary production causes a decline of prosperity, and even the complete disruption of the economy, particularly in countries such as Australia. I do not think anyone will deny that, in Australia at present, we are involved with the world in the accumulation of great surpluses of primary products. It would be a calamity of the first magnitude if world leaders, including those of Australia, were to panic in the face of these surpluses and remove the underpinnings that prevent an economic avalanche from carrying us into another depression like that of the 1930’s.
I have had long experience in primary production, and, although I have referred to all the rainfall records, I can find no indication of a previous period in which Australia has enjoyed eleven good seasons in succession. Experience throughout the world has taught us that the lean years follow the fat years, and those who lightheartedly disregard that elementary fact will one day very bitterly rue their lightheartedness. The best efforts of good statesmanship should be devoted to the holding of the present position in both Australia and other countries. President Eisenhower, of the United States, in a speech dealing with a plan to stabilize the
American farm economy, stated that the United: States- would: take out of. production a considerable amount of the land at present in use and’ would restore itsfertility. That is a perfectly sane and. natural course for a. government to take. President Eisenhower stated, also, that the United States would undertake a great plan to combat soil erosion, and that farmers would be given adequate credit and, among other things, would be relieved of the federal, tax on petrol used for farm operations. I cite those statements only because I wish to ‘point out, before the axe falls on anything, that, if we approach the problem in a less constructive manner than the Americans approach it, our whole economy will suffer, because primary producers will be driven, to the wall. We face also the problems of costs generally, the present ridiculous position in industrial arbitration and conciliation, and the heavy impact of high taxation on incentive in the community.
So much for the causes of the economic illness as I see them. I turn now to the cures. We have before us at the present time a statement made by eight prominent economists. Their eminent advice, boiled down, is: “Raise taxes and increase interest rates “. How very simple it is ! It is so easy for some accountants, by juggling figures, to prove that a firm is not bankrupt when, as a matter of fact, it is over the brink. It is so easy for economists to recommend a course which is simple of application but may be completely destructive in operation. I feel some relief in knowing that one aseminent as Professor Colin Clark holds the view that this course is not the means of combating the present crisis. I fail to see how the course proposed by the economists can solve any of the difficulties with which, we are confronted. It is nothing more than pouring water into a.- barrel with a bung removed from the other* end. The matter has to be faced, by the Parliament. We have a rising cost of living, which could be accentuated by increased taxes and higher interest rates. Rather should we curb the cupidity of persons with money to invest who are attracted by- high interest rates on some investments. We need a fuller explanation in order to convince us that, higher taxes- and interest rates may be of the slightest use to the community. I am not battling for the primary- producer’. I am speaking for the community, and it. is indisputable that if’ finance for primary production sags, if primary producers become depressed, the whole of the economy sags too. To show just how true is that proposition, we: have only to recall the bitter lessons- of the ‘thirties. How can we help the primary producer to sustain his falling income if we make it more- expensive for him to earn that income % How will it help him to buttresshimself against fluctuations, not over a. few weeks but over a year, if taxes are increased upon the income which he hopes to make? How will it help the business^ man or manufacturer to re-adjust, if the incentives to his employees and to him to- apply themselves to reducing, costs are further destroyed?
I wish that time permitted me to develop my argument more fully. Let me epitomize a few of my points-. T would recommend that we bring the unbridled money market under control. I do- not love controls, but with present conditions we must apply some controls, and we cannot apply them to- government and local government securities and let the money market run wild in another direction, without producing’ distortion. Secondly, I recommend that as soon as possible we appoint the proposed allparty committee, and include in the matters for its- consideration a review of the arbitration and conciliation powers of the Commonwealth. I seriously propose to the Opposition, and to my friend, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), its deputy leader, that we give to the people of the Commonwealth the right to initiate certain constitutional reforms- from time to time. If the- peoplewant such reforms, they are entitled to’ have them. If the people desire a certain modification of the arbitration system, why should they not have it ? If they find that the system is abused, why should they not have the right to initiate a reform? I do not propose the taking away from the Parliament of the right to alter the Constitution, but I propose that,, concurrent with that- power, the people., by petition under reasonable safeguards, should, have the right to compel this Parliament, as its sovereign authority, to give them an opportunity of saying, what they think. I put that matter to the Opposition for its consideration.. I have seen very many proposed alterations to the Constitution come and go. They have come and gone without impact upon the Constitution, for the simple reason, that there was not a natural demand for them in the community. Proposed alterations have been hailed by leaders, but only a few times have they been, accepted. The people should be given the right, for which the Labour party plugged in its earlier days, to initiate by petition a referendum for the alteration of the Constitution. Let the people, as well as the Parliament, have the right to say what is wanted. If a proposal does not happen to suit my side of the House, the people of Australia are entitled to have their word upon it, and likewise if it does not suit the other side. I put that proposal forward seriously. If given the opportunity, the people of Australia might accept it. Its acceptance might lead to some of the constitutional reforms which common sense on both sides of the House dictates that we should have.
I pass now to another point. I recommend that we stabilize the basic wage and the farmers’ returns by cutting the cost to the consumer of basic foods. In other words, if the price of food to the consumer keeps rising, his supply of those goods, which are vital to his health, will be cut down, and illness in the community will be increased. It is very interesting to note that there is a wide- discrepancy between the- lowest and highest rates of’ consumption at various times. In 1938- 39, we consumed 253. lb. of. mea# a head of. population.. The- latest figures showed a consumption of 201.7. lb. In 1944, we consumed 5.2 bushels- of wheat. In 1953-54r55, consumption was cut to 4-.4 bushels. In 1938-39, the consumption of butter was nearly 33 lb. a head. In 1948-49,, it was down, to 24-J- lb-., a reduction of over 9 lb. Out highest ra.te of consumption of eggs - 22 dozen a head1 - occurred in 1946-47, whereas in. 1953-54 the rate was reduced to 17 dozen. A similar trend is apparent in the case of milkconsumption. In 1950-51,. the rate of consumption was- 106i6’ gallons a head. In 1948-49.’, it was 94;3> gallons:.
An examination of the C series index shows that on the last occasion when, the basic wage was increased, the increase was due to higher- prices for. meat, eggs and bread. Immediately the prices of those basic commodities are increased-, there is a tendency towards a. reduction of consumption, at a time when greater consumption .is vital to the handling of. our growing surpluses. I would say that two things should be combined. First, these basic foods- should be sold at a price which enables them to be made readilyavailable to every section of the community for maximum consumption. Secondly, the farmer should be given for has product a payable price, which is not only reasonable for what is consumed now but is also sufficient to ensure that there shall be- no shortage in time of drought. We have had extraordinary fluctuations. Let us. consider the position regarding wheat. Our lowest production of wheat was in 1944-45-, when the whole of Australia- produced less than 53,000,000’ bushels, compared with an average, for the last three years, of 180,000,000 bushels. That enormous swing emphasizes the point I made previously: that we should not allow our desire to overcome- the present surpluses, either here or- elsewhere,, to impel us to throw the whole world into economic confusion. Bather should we attempt to maintain the position until the inevitable turn takes place and we are faced again with the dry and bad seasons which always- afflict the world.
I have pursued this line of argument at considerable length, because I feel that” the situation which confronts us is at complete variance with the proposal’s of the economists who have set out to advise the nation about what should be done. They have proposed that we should increase taxes.. I fail to see how an increase of taxes will solve anything in this community. In my opinion, if we increase taxation, we shall simply destroy the incentive to go on producing at the highest possible level.
Mi”. Calwell. - A good Labour sentiment !
– Wait a minute; I- feel that if we increase, taxes, we- shall increase the cost of living- also: If we are going- to increase the- cost of living-by forcing up the prices of primary products to the basic consumer, rather than finding a more constructive method of assisting the primary producer and the consumer - if we are to influence the basic wage in that way, and on top of that, also add to the cost of other things which the community consumes - how, in the name of common sense, can we control the inflationary spiral? That is something to which I have not yet found an answer.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Before I proceed to support the amendment of the Address-in-Reply which has been moved by the Opposition, may I, in passing, compliment the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) on having, for almost twenty minutes of the 25 minutes that lie spoke, so ably supported the policy enunciated in this House not so long ago by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt’). The honorable member’s remarks represented the closest approach to Labour policy that we have had from the Government side of the House for a long time. If he speaks for the Australian Country party, I predict that, very soon, the Liberal party will find itself in a great deal of difficulty. f listened with much interest, to the honorable member for Sturt. (Mr. “Wilson) this morning, because Ite dealt with the proposal to sell the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission in a way that deserves consideration by every member of this House. Usually, the honorable member deals with matters in such a way that his remarks clearly portray the Liberal point of view - and I use the word “ Liberal “ with a capital L. The honorable gentleman did not depart from that custom this morning. He paid quite frankly that it is the duty of the Government to get out of the whaling business and not to enter into competition with its taxpayers. I wonder how far the honorable member, and other supporters of the Government, are prepared to advance that view. To my mind, it is almost hypocritical for an honorable member who represents a South Australian constituency to enunciate such a policy on behalf of federal liberalism and, at the same time, shut his eyes to the fact that, when an electricity undertaking in South Australia failed to meet the requirements of the South Australian people, the Liberal Government of that State did not hesitate to socialize the undertaking. On that note, 1 propose to analyse the considerations involved in the amendment moved by my friend, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), because behind what was done in .1942, and leading up to the events of 1949, was a situation almost identical with that which confronted the South Australian Liberal Government when it. took action against the electrical undertaking to which I have referred.
It is not correct to say that private enterprise has not had an opportunity to do something about the whaling industry in Australia. The fact is that, in 1936 and 1937, there were two private enterprise whaling companies functioning in Australia. They took 6,000 whales. However, they found other activities which were more profitable. They were not concerned with the requirements of the Australian people, nor were they concerned with what might happen to the Australian nation, although, in 1937, Hitler already was on the march. These private enterprise organizations, which knew in 1936 and 1937 that there was profit to be made from the whaling industry, turned their backs on it.
When we look at the reasons for the introduction of this whaling venture by the Labour government of the day, and consult the relevant legislation, we find reference made to the powers and functions of the commission which was to be set up. The commission was to engage in whaling in Australian waters, and, as an aid to the economic and stable operation of its whaling activities, to do certain things. I can see little difference between the intention of that Government and the intention of the Liberal Government, led by Mr. Playford, in taking control of an electrical, undertaking in South Australia.
– Let us talk about Western Australia.
– Very well. In fact, a Western Australian member of the House had something to say about this matter at the time. But first let us look at the kind of attack to which the legislation was subjected when it came before the House, because if this industry is to be destroyed and handed over to private enterprise, although private enterprise failed to take advantage of the opportunity to do something in the interests of the nation, and in the interests of future generations of Australians, we should first pause and consider, in retrospect, the position that confronted the government of the day and which influenced its decision to undertake the task of establishing the industry. When the measure was introduced in this chamber by the then Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, there was a good deal of discussion about whether the whaling industry, under Government control, should be established in Western Australia, Tasmania, or New South Wales. It so happened that the Opposition of that day deputed to a Tasmanian member the task of stating the case for the Opposition. I wish to devote the time at my disposal to referring to the story that was told then by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder). I do so, because I think his remarks at that time indicate the situation that confronted the Australian Government when this action was first contemplated. The honorable gentleman spoke on the 30th Tune, 1949, and his remarks appear at page 1830 of Hansard, Vol. 203. At page 1834, he said -
I should like to receive from the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture the assurance that, at all times, it will be open for private enterprise, if it can show that it is capable of doing the job, to obtain licences to conduct whaling operations.
That has been done. The honorable member continued - and this is the important part -
The Government is to be castigated for having so long delayed entering the whaling industry. I concede that this Government is not entirely responsible, but Australia has unfortunately allowed Japan to get into the whaling industry far ahead of it.
Shades of the past catching up with the Government ! It now wants to destroy this industry, although its own supporters castigated the Government of the day for having delayed the commencement of the industry. If further proof is required of the view that was held, let us examine the Western Australian position, in terms of the conditions that applied in 1936 and 1937. At that time, this country had just emerged from a fairly severe depression. If ever there was a time when private enterprise had the ball at its feet, it was in the years 1936 and 1937. There were anti-Labour governments in this Parliament, in New South Wales and i;. Victoria. Private enterprise had every opportunity to do anything it wanted. For that reason, two private enterprise organizations had a crack at the whaling industry in 1936 and 1937. The honorable member for Franklin, who handled the Whaling Industry Bill on behalf of the Opposition in 1949, was honest in his approach to the matter. The following comment by the then honorable member for Swan, who is now honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton), underlined very clearly the excuses that one would expect to be made by private enterprise in failing a nation: -
Let us cast our minds buck to what wan happening on the other side of the world in 1938. Norway, from which country we were obtaining the labour to carry out whaling projects was very closely situated to Hitler’s Reich. In March, 1938, Hitler started to march into the countries surrounding Germany. Later in the same year the Munich agreement was signed, and was followed a year later by the outbreak of World War II. So it is quite understandable that no serious activities in connexion with whaling were capable of being undertaken subsequent to 1937.
In this year of Grace 1956, we are being told of all the dangers that confront this nation again. But the dangers that confront Australia in 1956 are perhaps no less, or no greater than those that confronted it in 1937. It was because private enterprise had let the nation down in the development of the whaling industry that the Labour party found, when it attained office, that it had to set about the establishment of a whaling industry for Australia. The price of whale oil had jumped from about £15 to about £122 a ton, and even at that figure, the oil could not be obtained. So it remained for a Labour government to foster an industry that private enterprise had started and abandoned. In doing so, the Labour government followed exactly the same course for the future welfare of Australia as the Playford Government took in connexion with the electricity undertaking in South Australia. In view of these happenings, I become disgusted when honorable members on the Government side talk about socialized industries. The honorable member for New England, who has now left the chamber, reminded us a little while ago about the socialized transport system in New South Wales which he said would show a loss this year of £10,000,000.
– Because the men will not work.
– What a stupid interjection, even from a man who “would not be expected to.know better, anyhow! Does he realize that “but for the low fares in New South Wales the farmers, -whom ‘he is supposed to represent in this Parliament, would have to walk off ‘the land ? It is for the purpose of protecting the people who live in New England, the Riverina and other country districts that we who reside in the metropolitan area of Sydney pay higher fares. We pay those higher fares in order that, the country fares and freights of NewSouth Wales may be kept at a reasonably low figure and so .that farmers may be enabled to obtain those things to which we say they are entitled but which they are being denied ‘by this Government, and by the Bolte Government of Victoria, which is a government of the same kidney as the Menzies Government. I was amused at the honorable member for New England-
– I did not see the honorable member laughing.
– I did laugh, because it was so funny to hear the honorable member for New England attack interest rates. What are the facts in relation to the New South Wales transport system? According to this morning’s press, it will lose about £10,000,000 thi? year. Why will it show that loss? There are three reasons for the deficit. The first is that the New South Wales Labour Government has refused to do as the anti-Labour Government in Victoria has done, and that is increase fares and freights in the country to “the same extent as lias been done in that State. The second reason is that, because of the “don’t care” attitude of the Menzies Government, great sums of money are being expended on roads, and certain people are enabled to make up to £100 a trip out of running road transport between Sydney and Melbourne, and do not pay one penny towards road construction or maintenance. This Government sits idly by and watches that going on ! As a direct result of that attitude, the Victorian transport system, under an antiLabour government, will lose £2,500,000 this year. The loss on the New South Wales transport system will be £4,500,000. Yet, honorable members on the Government side blame the New South Wales Labour Government, but lay no “blame at. the door of the Bolte Government in Victoria. That type of hypocrisy lowers the standard of this National Parliament. If Government supporters cannot face up to Australian conditions in a manner quite different from that of the honorable member for Sturt and the honorable member for New England .this morning, the outlook for this country will be poor until the present Government is removed from office.
Let me return to the speech of the honorable member for Sturt.
– We all agree with him.
– Of course you do, because you have not stopped to think.
– Order ! The honorable member will address his remarks to the Chair. and deal with the amendment.
– If all Government supporters agree with the speech of the honorable member for Sturt, surely you will allow me at this stage to reply to him?
– Order! The honorable member -will confine his remarks to the amendment.
– J am talking about socialized industry. Yon, pir, allowed the honorable member for New England to refer to it. Surely I am entitled to reply to him.
– Order ! The honorable mem ber for New England was speaking to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, and the amendment.
– That is correct, and therefore, the subject of socialized industries comes within the scope of the debate. Let .me return to the speech of the honorable member for Sturt. He was speaking to this subject, and he had a good deal to say about its being the duty of the Government to govern, and not to enter into competition with its taxpayers. “Would he sell the Commonwealth railways ?
– Or the Postal Department.
– Never mind about the Postal Department! I want to pin the honorable member for Sturt down to the Commonwealth railways, because they are showing a profit, while the South Australian railways are showing a loss of about £4,500,000. As a matter of fact, in the last financial year, based on the number of miles travelled, the South Australian railways showed the worst results of any State railways in Australia. That being so, it cannot be said .that the losses suffered by the transport systems are brought about solely by the faulty administration of Labour governments. I want to know whether this Government and its supporters have any regard for public interest when they are considering the sale of the assets of The nation.
– They sell only those assets that show a profit.
– That is why I want to know whether the Government intends to sell the Commonwealth railways, which are showing a profit. It could well be that if Australia were faced with war, private enterprise would do one thing or the other in regard to the whaling commission. It could walk out, as it did in 1936-37. Then, I suppose, the honorable member for Canning would excuse it by saying that with the danger of atomic bombs it could not be expected to maintain shipping on the Western Australian coast. But is that a reasonable answer to the proposition put forward by the Labour party that this industry should be continued in the national interest? When the present Minister was a member of the Opposition he chided the then government for its delay in doing something about this enterprise. Now, when the Government proposes to sell the undertaking, these problems must be examined in the light of their background to ascertain what is really behind the Government’s proposal. I doubt whether any national enterprise, founded by either a Labour or a Liberal government, when taken over by private enterprise, has been able to meet the requirements of the community.
The real test of this matter is not whether it is a paying proposition - and in saying that I may differ from some of my colleagues- but what were the reasons for its establishment in the first place? Did private enterprise have an opportunity to do the right thing by the nation before government action was taken to make of this industry a national concern ? If private enterprise failed, it is almost criminal to remove the concern from government control. It must be remembered that in time of war the inept administration of private enterprise left the nation in want.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. MACKINNON (Corangamite) “12.17] . - It was not my intention to take part in the debate on the amendment moved by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) but there has been such a smoke screen of self-righteousness-
Mi-. DEPUTY SPEAKER.- Order! I understand that the honorable member has already exhausted his right because he has already spoken to the amendment.
– I have not spoken to the amendment, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
– But the honorable member has spoken since the amendment was moved.
– That is so, but I did not speak to the amendment.
– Because the honorable member has spoken since the amendment was moved he has exhausted his right to speak.
Mr. NELSON (Northern Territory) .12.18]. - My purpose in taking part in this debate is to bring to the attention of! the House a matter that is causing considerable concern in the Northern Territory - the proposed cuts in the public works programme for 1955-56. I wish to direct attention to a series of charges made in the Darwin newspaper, The News, about the proposed cuts and also to refer briefly to the reply to those charges given by the Minister for “Works (Mr. Fairhall), who has recently taken up his new portfolio. On the 16th February, that newspaper claimed that no new contracts were to be let and that the sudden freezing of funds by the Commonwealth Government was the cause. Further, the Administrator of the Northern Territory would not comment on the charges made at that time, and the newspaper assumed that there was substantial justification for making them. It said, also, that many contractors had ceased operations, and as a result, at least 150 tradesmen were out of work. The contractors who were still operating had kept on only 30 per cent, of their normal work force. The works affected are the civil aviation aerodrome construction, and school and hospital extensions. The newspaper added that the Administrator had called for a conference to review the position, and that in an interview he had said -
As soon as possible I will have intimate financial discussion with the Acting Administrator, Mr. Archer, and with my own financial officers. Together we will formulate certain procedures for the rest of the financial year - if possible. If necessary, 1 will make strong recommendations to Canberra on suggested moves to stop any definite cessation or los; of impetus in works programmes.
The Administrator would normally be in a position to contradict any suggestion of works cuts had they not taken place, bo that it appears there was some substance in the charges made by the newspaper. A Works Department spokesman in Darwin summed up the position in these words -
The Darwin office of the Department is waiting for detailed a’dvice on finance. This will rr-me from the national works authorities in the south but the Works Department is letting no new contracts at this stage - except a few minor ones to maintain essential services.
The indications were that considerable cuts would be made in the works pro gramme. The Minister for Works replied to these charges in the Melbourne Age on the 18th February, from which I quote the following: -
The report said-
That is the report in the Darwin press - that with 150 men out of work, concern in Darwin was turning to panic.
Mr. Fairhall said that contrary to the impression given in these reports, work was still processing at something very near the normal rate.
However, it was inevitable that the effects of last year’s cut of £10,000,000 in the Commonwealth Public Works programme should how begin to appear.
In effect, work was tapering off to some extent.
New commitments on a restricted scale were still being undertaken, but as jobs finished, some release of day labour could be expected.
Another factor was that the greater availability of labour and materials for contract work had tended towards completion of contract jobs ahead of schedule.
The result was a necessary tapering-off of work, if over spending of the works vote were to be avoided.
That statement by the Minister is drastically at variance with statements made in the past by the Administrator of the Northern Territory, who has complained, time and again, about the method adopted by the Works Department and by Parliament in restricting the works programme, and in failing to carry out the work that it had in hand. Far from clearing up the position, the Minister’s statement only confused it further. I propose to quote from the sworn evidence of the Administrator given before the Public Works Committee in Darwin on Wednesday, 13th July, 1955. It gives a picture of the situation which then existed, and shows conclusively that the Minister for Works, when he replied to the newspaper charges, did not know what he was talking about. On that occasion, the Administrator said -
The serious impact which present methods impose is clear from an examination of our approved works programme of recent years. This will show that the lag in the completion of works is so severe that 70 per cent, of our programme now is made up of revotes from former years. Prospects for new works, therefore, while such conditions exist, are extremely limited. Urgent needs, such as new abattoirs, new high school, new fire station and permanent town hall, may be considered as often as we like, but with the limitations imposed by the system used, cannot be retained on the programme.
That, of course, is an answer to the Minister’s statement that the completion of works has overtaken the programme, as a result of which men have had to he put off. The Administrator further said -
The lag in completion of some of our important buildings is up to two years beyond the originally proposed completion date.
But the Minister has stated that another factor was that the greater availability of labour and materials for contract work had tended towards completion of contract jobs ahead of schedule. There seems to be some discrepancy between those two statements; but I think the House will agree with me that the sworn evidence of the Administrator would be much more accurate than the statement made by the Minister for Works. The Minister’s statement about the completion of the works programme is very difficult to justify. There may be some excuse for the Minister, because he has only recently been appointed to that office, and could not be fully acquainted with the true position. For the labour force in the Northern Territory to have overtaken the works programme in the seven months between the time when the Administrator made his statement and now would have been a physical impossibility. It must be remembered, also, that the wet season arrived in that intervening period, and that as a result the completion of the works would have been more difficult than in the dry season.
At one stage, we were told that a threeyear works programme had been approved by Cabinet. I should like to know whether that programme, which was to have been a means of overcoming the disjointed system of the past, has been implemented. I again quote from the evidence of the Administrator to show that he has been considerably concerned about this matter. He said -
There has been little appreciation, I fear, that a long-term programme of substantial works is the only way to attract strong and capable contractors from outside the Territory. It is futile to expect that even a substantial contractor can bear the overheads of his transference to the Northern Territory and charge such costs to one single job. There must be an opportunity for continuing contracts well projected into the future.
He further stated -
have been extremely concerned at the lack of realism insofar as the growing needs of the Territory are concerned. Cabinet has recently approved the principle of a three-year forward planning for a works programme. I fear that the Treasury, within its approvals and authorities, has been guided by three particular principles -
Although the Government, apparently, has drawn up a three-year programme, it has gone no further than to provide funds for one year. That is why completion of very important works is being delayed. I recently asked the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) whether he had any information about these cuts, but, beyond his reply to the effect that the department was considering the matter, no information was available.
Only this morning, the Administrator called a press conference to discuss this very important matter, and he again expressed his concern at the possible cessation or curtailment of works. I quote the following report of the conference that was given to me -
Mr. Wise said today a complete review of the needs of this financial year and the needs extending into the first few months of the next financial year have been made.
Personal representation has been made in Canberra by the Government Secretary, anr! also by Mr. Archer. Every aspect of the requirements has been presented. Mr. Wise understands that this week all of the representations are being considered by Cabinet.
He stated that at this stage he could give no indication of the curtailment of public works or what works might temporarily have to be deferred.
The report of his comments about the approach road to the new wharf, which is one of the important projects in question, is as follows: -
He commented on the approach road to the new wharf, which he stated was absolutely vital before the wharf could be put into operation. That road comes into the above category (possible temporary deferment).
To defer the construction of the approach road to the new Darwin wharf would be a very serious matter. As you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, know, an extension of the wharf to accommodate two or three ships has been undertaken and the work will be completed in the very near future, but, if the approach road is not completed, the wharf cannot be used. Over the past twelve months, we have had the spectacle of two and sometimes three ships anchored in mid-stream for days and even weeks at a. time because they have been unable to obtain berths. Onlyone berth is available at the present time. Unless the whole wharf can be used, the slow turn-round of ships will continue, and added costs will be incurred by ships coming into the port. As everybody, I think, knows, it costs thousands of pounds” a day to keep an interstate or overseas ship idle in mid-stream waiting for otherships to unload their cargoes. This difficulty should be resolved immediately. Cabinet should take action to ensure that, funds are made available for this project at least, because, if the present state of affairs continues, the whole area will be strangled. That is only one of the results that would flow from the curtailment of such works*
The Northern Territory Administration and the. Department of Works have gone to great lengths to attract contractors to the north to undertake projects that they have thought would be embodied in a long-term- programme. Contractors, on the understanding that they would have a continuing programme of work, have transferred the whole of their organizations to these parts. It is well known that, to transfer an organization, especially to the Northern Territory, is no mean undertaking. The contractor must provide accommodation and messing facilities for his employees, and transfer sufficient plant, materials and skilled men with which to do the work. All these works are costly and take a. fairly lengthy time to complete. If the costs were made a charge against one single job they would be fantastic, but if spread over a programme of works extending over years, they can. be brought down, to a reasonable level i
If the present works programme is currailed’ much of the past expenditure willhave been wasted and the effort that has been made will come to nought. When the vote- is restored; and” work commences again, future contractor will have the task of assembling a new work force. Owe of the most tragic aspects- of the matter is that when these: contractors are forced to leave, with, the feeling that they have been beaten once; they will not want to come back to the Northern Territory. Their plant will have been transferred to the south and their men will have been dismissed and will not be able to find work in their particular, callings elsewhere in the Northern Territory. Those men will go south in order to find employment, and; of course, their families will go with them. As well as a cessation of work there will be a loss of people of the type who are badly wanted in the Northern Territory to build up the population and sustain the progress of the Territory as a State. If this cessation of work occurs, as, of course, has been too often the case in the past, it will take years to reassemble the work force necessary to carry on a planned works programme. That is a serious thing. Skilled tradesmen cannot be found, in the Northern Territory. They are a very difficult race of people to procure anywhere, and. as the position, stands to-day, it is up to the Government to see that these tradesmen are kept in employment in the Territory. The Administrator has pointed out time and time again that when the impetus of a. works programme diminishes in the Territory it takes years and years to get the programme rolling again. That is because of the Territory’s geographical position. That aspect should be considered by the Government before it embarks upon a programme of works cuts. The works programme of the Northern Territory entails an expenditure of not more than £2,000,000 and surely the expenditure of that amount, would not vitally affect the national economy in any shape- or form. If works programmes are- cut in the south the slack can be taken up in other spheres, but in the Northern Territory such cuts must have disastrous results.
It is difficult to follow the attitude of the Government in this respect. Only five months ago, it sent overseas at considerable expense the Administrator of the Northern Territory, Mr. Wise,, to investigate conditions that exist in other parts of the world and the method’s used to overcome certain problems which, have, a parallel in the Northern Territory.
Mr. Wise’s to.ur was extensive and embraced all those areas with problems similar to those which confront the Northern Territory. I know the Administrator very well, and I know that he would devote considerable time and energy in investigating fully any matters which concerned the Territory. He would go to no end of -trouble to carry out the terms of his tour to the letter. As I have said, that tour involved the taxpayers in considerable expense, and it occupied a considerable amount of the Administrator’s time. Mr. Wise has had great experience in tropical affairs and he would be able to give valuable advice .to the Government on the matters that he investigated. It must be very annoying to him to return to the Territory and find that, even though there has not been a complete cessation of works, there has been at least a partial cessation. 1 do udt know what is going to happen to the report he will present, if he has not already presented it. I feel almost pertain that he has already presented his report on the investigations he made. T know it will be a very great disappointment to him if his report is pigeonholed along with hundreds of other reports that have been made on the Northern Territory. In that respect, history is ‘repeating itself. Another report, which has cost the taxpayers a lot of money, is going to find its way into the pigeon-holes of Canberra, which already contain some hundreds, if not thousands, of reports on problems associated with the Northern Territory.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 12J$ to 2.15 p.m.
.-I rise to support the amendment proposed
-Order ! The honorable member has exhausted his time, having spoken to the motion and to the amendment.
– Yes, I thought so.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Mr. Pollard’s amendment), be so added.
The House divided. (Mb. Deputy SPEAKER- Mb. C. E. Adermann.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- On behalf of the Opposition, I wish to move a further amendment at this stage to the Address-in-Reply. I move -
That the following words be added to the Address: - “And we desire to add that this House deplores the deliberate policy of the Government in failing to provide sufficient market support for Commonwealth securities, thereby causing a sharp fall in the market price of such securities, a consequential increase in the interest yield, serious capital loss to the original investor in Commonwealth bonds and unfair gains to speculators; thus aggravating the inflation stressed in Your Excellency’s Speech and causing a rise in interest rates generally. Further, this House expresses the opinion that the Government should at once employ all possible powers to reduce interest rates for the general public welfare and so advance primary and secondary industry, home building, public works and national development.”
This amendment, which I support as well as move on behalf of the Opposition, was foreshadowed last evening by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), when he made one of his best fighting speeches in presenting his case to the Parliament and to the nation. We know that all members of the Government agree, at heart, with this amendment. We know that it will be welcomed outside this House by all Australians who are to-day fighting a losing financial battle against rising costs and rising interest rates on mortgages. If any honorable members object to the wording of this amendment we leave it to them to move another one which will be, in their view, more fitting, so that the whole House will be at liberty to vote on this question
All of us on this side of the House who have suffered from time to time as the result of high interest rates in days gone by fully appreciate the nerveracking effect of exorbitant charges of this kind. On people who are trying to buy a farm or a home, or anything of that nature, the high interest bill each year has imposed a considerable burden, and an increase of 1 per cent, or even one-half of 1 per cent., in interest rates has sometimes meant the difference between success and failure. We on this side of the House believe that not one tittle of evidence can be presented to this Parliament to warrant any increase in interest rates throughout the Commonwealth. An increase in interest rates is universally regarded as precursory of a man-made depression. I say that not lightly, but with absolute conviction. If we study the economics of different countries over the years we find that when internal interest rates started to rise they were on the threshold of a man-made depression. Anything this Parliament does, consciously or un’consciously, to bring about a depression, whether manmade or otherwise, is a crime against every citizen of the country. I am not a “ depression “ philosopher. I feel that perhaps we have sometimes overemphasized the possibilities of a depression, because we have to look at the future. We must do everything in our power not to introduce another man-made depression but rather to avoid one. We have learned a lot since the years between 1930 and 1934. Surely the people who will gain from increased interest rates represent a minority of the people of Australia. We on this side of the House believe in doing the greatest good for the greatest number. That should be thephilosophy of every member of this Parliament. All the members of thisHouse represent electors numbering up to 30,000 or 40,000. Hundreds of those electors to-day are prevented from owning a. home or a motor car or some other amenity to which they are entitled in this; modern age simply because they cannot afford to borrow money, even at present rates of interest. Any increase in those rates will, of course, put these amenities right outside their reach.
I have great pleasure, therefore, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in supporting the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition last night. We feel that the majority of the people of Australia are behind us in this battle to keep interest rates down. We know that the forces behind the Government are trying to pur the Treasurer in the position where he will support a move to increase interestrates, but this is an occasion on which the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) can earn from the people of Australia appreciation rather than the criticism that he usually gets. He is usually the recipient of all the criticism, and all the brick-bats that are thrown at the Government because of its financial policy, but this is an occasion on which the right honorable gentleman can prove that he is a statesman rather than a mere politician motivated mainly by self-interest. I do not think it is beyond the bounds of possibility for the Treasurer to adopt a statesmanlike attitude to this issue. I want to make it as easy as possible for him to resolve the dilemma in which he finds himself. We realize that increased interest rates will probably hit primary industries harder than any other section.
It will also have a harsh effect on small businessmen. The small businessman to-day has large overhead charges, particularly if he commenced in business within the last few years. He is meeting a heavy interest bill each year in order to keep going. The added burden of an increase of the interest rate by 1 per cent, would probably put him out of business. Increased interest rates would also aggravate the housing problem, and we should remember that people suitably housed are the bulwark of any nation. For the reasons I have mentioned we feel that it would be a major catastrophe for this Government to acquiesce in any interference with interest rates at present operating. In fact, we suggest in our amendment that they should be reduced.
I have not previously spoken in this debate, being one of the last of the Mohicans on this side of the House, and I propose to use the rest of my time, if the Government is prepared to let” me have it, to make some remarks on another subject connected with the Addressin.Reply. The topic I wish to discuss is that of communism in South-east Asia.. I shall mention some aspects of methods of defeating communism in those Southeast Asian countries where its influence is spreading. Seato is meeting at Karachi at present, and it seems that the representatives of the Seato nations have come to the end of their tether in seeking an answer to the onrush of communism. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) is at present in Karachi at the Seato meeting. If honorable members have read the newspapers this week they will have observed that Seato has previously over-stressed its military aspect, and is now being urged to concentrate more on economic and social aid programmes for South-east Asia. I feel that Seato will need another weapon before it can effectively answer thu throat of communism in South-east Asia. I shall refer to that in a moment.
I visited Manila, Japan and Singapore about a year ago and I saw for myself the inroads that communism is making in those countries. In Singapore, for instance, where David Marshall is fighting a terrific battle, communism is being spread by the students in the schools.
Throughout Asia the Communists are cleverly using school students for this purpose. In Singapore, there are several big Chinese schools, from which the students are sent out on election campaigns. The schools are closed down and the students go en masse to election meetings. That happened at the beginning of last year. The students helped the candidates of the People’s Action party in the elections, knocking on doors and speaking from motor lorries, and in every other way trying to influence the results of the elections. Another method used by the Communists is to ensure that certain Communist students shall deliberately fail in their examination, so that they can remain at the schools year after year and be elected to leading positions in the schools. Those students then become the Communist agents in the schools with which they are associated. This is a very grave problem. How can Seato answer it? How can armed force answer it? Neither can answer it, nor can economic aid answer it, for this is something of the mind and the heart, and the Communists are working on the minds of the Asian people. They are using racialism, colour, poverty and every other weapon, even the weapon of drugs, in order to achieve their objectives. The Communists of Japan, for instance, are encouraging the importation of drugs from the mainland of China in order to assist in undermining the character of the Japanese people. The Communist,? use every method possible to win the hearts and minds of the Asian students. Communism is a. great threat in Asia.
We have used the political weapon, the military weapon and the economicweapon. But each of those weapons will fail us. This Government, in framing its foreign policy, overlooks what I regard as an absolutely essential weapon. I refer to the ideological weapon, which the Communists are using day and night in their fight to win Asia. This fourth weapon is the only effective answer to the onrush of communism. This evil thing, communism, is well organized and worldwide. It has its roots in every country. It is a great global force. It is an ideological force. In this ideological age, we must use the ideological weapon more and more in our endeavours to win the heart? and minds of the people of Asia.
While’ we- are proposing, perhaps, to increase- the strength of our armed forces in Malaya, the Communists are waging a relentless ideological war in South Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia. They say, “Why should we go to war when the minds of nations can be captured on the ideological battlefront?” They say that ideas” are more powerful than’ bullets. Since. 1945’, Russia has captured about eleven countries without firing a shot. Twenty1 years ago, China sent 250 students to Moscow for ideological training in Communist imperialism. To-day, those 250 students, now grown men, are the leaders- of the Communist regime in China, in charge of 500,000,000 people. That is how the Communists work. We must counter their activities in the sam« way. When Asian students” come here, we must take them into our homes and befriend. them as individuals, not for what we are going” to get out of the countries from which they come or for. what we are going to give to those countries economically, but because we want them to go back to their homes imbued with the ideology of democracy, so that they can help to save their countries from communism.
I believe that red China’s threat to Formosa last year was a feint. When I was in Singapore, it came to my knowledge, through a correspondent on the spot, that Russia had told Chou En-lai, the leader of red China, that if he became involved in a shooting war over Formosa, he could expect no support or military aid from Russia. Three years ago, Moscow, persuaded Chou. En-lai to agree to a plan for intense ideological warfare against South-East Asian countries, whilst maintaining a threat to attack Formosa. That was a clever way of leading the West to believe that the Communists were going to attack Formosa. The idea was that when the West became stirred up over that threat, and when American aircraft and ships moved in to counter what we thought would be an attempt to invade Formosa, the Communists would be working flat out, ideologically, to win south-east Asian nations such as South Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia. That is the way in which the Russians work. The only way to counter them is to disseminate an ideology that is superior to that of communism. But we ignore the ideological- weapon. So far as- ideology is concerned, we fiddle while Asia burns. We are wasting so much money on military weapons that Russia must be laughing- at us: Russia does .not mind how much money we spend on military preparations. While the Russians can win men’s minds by ideological warfare, our military preparations do not concern them. We are draining ourselves economically while Russia is winning the battle ideologically.
Let me turn to another point. In modem warfare,, nations are out-thought before they are out-fought. A nation, can lose a battle- before- the battle has begun. Not “very long ago, Vishinsky, said -
We shall conquer the world, not with atomic bombs hut with, nur- ideas, brains and doctrines.
In this ideological age, the future lies in the hands of those who know how to use ideas to win men’s allegiance. I should like the House to note the change of Russian, policy that was announced recently in Moscow. The new regime in Soviet Russia has repudiated three funda-mental ideas of the Stalinist regime. The first of those fundamental ideas was that war was inevitable so long as capitalism existed in some countries. Stalin believed in the inevitability of war so long as even one nation in the world remained a capitalist nation. The Russians have thrown that idea overboard. The second fundamental point of the Stalinist policy was that it was impossible to establish communism except by armed revolution and civil war. That too, has been repudiated! The third fundamental point was that capitalist encirclement of Russia constituted an ever-present threat to Russia. The new Russian regime has laid that idea aside, at least for the time being. The Russians say now that there is a balance of two forces - the east and the west.
But we must realize that, although there may have been a change of Russian tactics, there has been no change of Russian objectives. If the West remembers that, it will not be fooled by this: latest announcement from Moscow. The change is one from a static attitude to the rest of the world to mobile warfare in the ideological field. It is a- change from, a Maginot line concept to a panzer division concept, of ideological warfare. It highlights the desperate need for the West’ to live and practise a way of life that will be more convincing to the Asians than our greedy actions- have been during the last 300 years. We have taken a lot from Asia but, apart from missionary work, how much constructive work have we done there? We must realize that we must change our attitude to Asia before Asia will listen to what we have to say. That, I think, is fundamental.
We .rely on military strength and military alliances, political strategy and economic aid: to win. our fight against communism. In this- Government,. including both the inner section and the outer section, six of the 22 Ministers are concerned only with war and defence.. We rely also on economic aid, but. we must be careful, lest we. are deluded into believing that a soup-kitchen philosophycan win Asia. We shall not save Asia from communism just by pouring in technical aid and. foodstuffs.. Unless we. use the fourth weapon,, the ideological weapon, communism will win Asia ideologically long before we can possibly win Asia economically.
Mk. Anderson interjecting,
– I am not talking politically now. The honorable member for Hume cannot lift his mind above the level of politics. It is tragically shortsighted not to recognize that this is the ideological age, that communism began long ago to use the atomic power of an ideology to expand, to capture nations, to increase its influence and to. shape men’s minds. We are spending one-fifth of. our budget on. defence and war preparations in peace-time. While we think only in terms of navies, armies, air forces, bombs and infantry, Russia, by ideological warfare, is taking over nations without firing a shot. A half of the world’s population lives within 24 Hours of Australia. Look, at the state those people are in. Japan, without outside aid, can feed only two-thirds of its people. Elections arc shortly to he held in. Indo-China: The north has already been lost to the Communists) and. they are now working on the south. Thecountry might go completely Communist within a year. Indonesia, a Moslem country, in 194S had 5,000 Communist voters. At the last- elections in that country there were 5.000,000 Communist voters. The Communist line in Indonesia is that communism is for God and the Moslem faith and, as a result, many people are going along with them. Malaya and Singapore are riddled with communism. Australia’s- role must be to give Asia’s millions a positive- alternative to communism. I believe that Australia, by demonstrating the benefits that flow from inspired: democracy, is destined to give the answer to communism.
In Asia, communism has advanced through the work of dedicated men, who have entered the government service, the plantations, the trade unions and the political parties for the express purpose of spreading their gospel. Where are the Australians who will do the same- in order to provide an answer to communism ? Without such men there can be no answer, and the West will be doomed. Some observers estimate that, short of war, all of Asia will be Communistcontrolled by 1965. This gives us ten years in which to win or lose the battle for Asia. Can we in that period provide the nations of South-East Asia- with theleadership that will take- them on. theroad of inspired democracy? Some of them are working towards tha-fc end now. They have just attained self-government for the first time. This is– our opportunity to help them. More and more of1 their parliamentary representativesshould come to Australia and more of us should visit them. There should be an interchange of businessmen, industrialists and members of- Parliament so that we may build up our influence in Asia.
We may have to change our opinionson many things. ‘Our approach to personal, national and international issues is so often, dominated and motivated by the- negative attitude, “I couldn’t care less “. While we fail to realize the corroding power of materialism in. Australia and’ the way in which w are driven by sex, security and success ; while we refuse to recognize the tremendous need for a God-inspired democracy to deal with atheistic and materialistic communism, how can we give Asia an abiding effective answer? Democracy as we know it is largely dominated by materialism. So, too, is communism. We must have something greater than materialism with which to combat communism; we must have a God-inspired democracy.
The Russians expect to win the cold war because they base their calculations on the assumption that the West cannot change; that it will continue to he dominated by materialism. Take the issue of the 1956 Olympic Games. Russia intends to bring 400 trained athletes to fight a war of ideas in Melbourne. What will be Australia’s answer to this challenge?
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired. Is the amendment seconded ?
– I second the motion.
– I do not propose to address myself to the great bulk of the speech just delivered by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), though it was remarkable enough for its selfinduced delusion and its misconceptions of the world scene. All I need to say on that point is that the honorable gentleman left me under the distinct impression that while we of the democracies are wasting money on armies, navies, and air forces, the Russians are not doing that, but, instead, are conducting ideological warfare. It will come as a matter of distinct relief to the world to know that Russia does not have 200 or 300 army divisions : that Russia does not have hundreds and hundreds of squadrons of aeroplanes, and that apparently she has gone out of thi! submarine business, because that is the quaint delusion entertained by the honorable member.
– He did not say that.
– If he did not, he utterly failed to convey himself to any thoughtful person in this House. But I am not going to take up my time in debating that matter. I want to go back to the amendment, which is my reason for speaking at this stage, and to which the honorable member for Wilmot made some glancing references in the earlier phases of his speech. The amendment is designed - 1 say this quite plainly - to precipitate a. partial debate on one aspect of the economic policy torn out of its general context. I do not blame the honorable member for Wilmot because in this case it is quite plain that he has taken his paper and read it; but this is conceived by the leaders of the Opposition as a means of precipitating a debate at a time when they think that they may establish some division of opinion on the Government side of the House. They wish to take only one economic problem in isolation and, forgetting all the others, have a warm, hostile little discussion about it. I have indicated to the House that next week I propose to make what I hope will be an important statement - not important because I make it, but important because it will deal with great problems - on the economic situation as the Government sees it. Debate on that statement will be open to the House, and honorable members will be able to examine all aspects of the matter. It is very much more sensible to examine aspects of the economy in the light of other aspects of the economy, than to try to isolate one and pretend that there is nothing else in existence. The whole purpose of this amendment is to take one thing out and to say, “ If only we can get some differences of opinion on this we will be so much further forward
– The differences have already been expressed.
– That may be so, but I am sure that my old and valued friend, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), is not without ambition that he will have more and more. Like myself, he is an old hand at this game. He is an old political sweat like me and he knows that the right time to promote differences is when the people concerned are not completely informed. It is so much easier to disagree about matters on which the information is incomplete than about matters on which the information has been fully provided.
– The Prime Minister has been crystal gazing for a month now.
– I sympathize with the honorable member. The first thing, therefore, that I want to say is that I do not propose, this afternoon, to engage in a general debate on the problem of interest rates, because the interest problem is one of almost a dozen problems involved in the present economic problem. I propose, with the permission of the House, to offer, next week, on behalf of my colleagues and myself, a considered view of the whole pattern of these matters.
– And add to the confusion.
– Then, the honorable member for Lalor will, for once in his life, be able to see the picture as a whole. But at the moment, instead of that, he has a passion for looking at a little bit of the picture and getting frightfully het up about it.
Mr. Haylen interjecting,
– I can hear, from over the way, that the honorable member for Parkes is, as usual, practising headlines.
– The trouble is that the right honorable gentleman gets into them.
– The trouble is that the honorable member for Parkes has given no thought to this problem, whilst my colleagues and I have, for years, given a great deal of thought to it, and I would suggest that the honorable member might well wait until next week, when he will be able to say exactly what he thinks about the matter - or, at any rate, I can guess what he will say, although whether or not that will be what he thinks I do not know. For that reason, I must make it perfectly clear that I do not propose to be forced, at this stage, into a general debate on one of the vexed and difficult problems of the economy, one in relation to which so many factors, city and rural, private and public, have to be taken into account. But I think it would be desirable that I should mention, this afternoon, a few facts in relation to something that has given rise to this motion - namely, the movement in the bond market during the last few weeks - a few facts which, I hope, may serve to prevent serious public misapprehension, because it is easy for people to misapprehend - although misapprehension on the other side of the House is quite understandable, because I have heard of references to the Government’s withdrawing of its support from the bond market, and to what the Government should be doing. As this exhibits a basic failure to understand these matters I want to mention a few facts, without heat and without argument.
If the bond market were left to itself it would be a market in which people who held government bonds would offer them for sale, and people who wanted to buy them would make bids for their purchase, just as they do in any ordinary share transaction on a stock exchange. But, as in those circumstances, a bond market may vary very much between an active market and a very sluggish market, we have had in Australia the advantage of two buying agencies, or authorities, to operate as what I might venture to describe as the official markets for this purpose. The first is the National Debt Sinking Fund. Nobody would expect that the National Debt Sinking Fund ought to be some form of political instrument. The commissioners of the fund are themselves so constituted, and have been for so many years, that they have developed a. completely objective mind on their tasks, and the National Debt Sinking Fund is, in fact, a steady buyer, for redemption purposes, of bonds on the market. That is why we have a sinking fund, and that is how the fund operates. Let us be clear about that.
The second buying authority outside the ordinary private buyers is the Commonwealth Bank, exercising its functions as a central bank. I hope that it is as well understood as it should be that the central bank conducts open market operations in the light of what it believes to be the general credit, economic and monetary position. That is why we have a central bank. The central bank is not the servant of a party. It is something in the middle of the monetary structure of the country, and has great responsibilities. Those are the two authorities on the bond market.
The Treasury does not buy .011 the market. The .National Debt Sinking -Fund and the Commonwealth Bank do that. I shall refer to the Commonwealth Bank -in this context, however, .as -the central hank, because the use of that term .-emphasizes its function in this matter. I may .-say in .respect of recent alterations in .the effective bond rate on the market, the National Debt Sinking Fund is a steady buyer for its statutory purpose, and that there has been 310 change whatever in its buying policy. It is pursuing to-day precisely the same policy for the redemption of loan as it has for years past. T do not wish to imply that that means it necessarily buys the same number of thousands of pounds worth df bonds one week as it did in the previous week. It has always been in the position where it might huy £80,000 worth of bonds to-day, and £90,000 worth -next week, compared with £70,000 worth in .some other week. There are, inevitably, in any sensible set up of that kind, minor fluctuations; but in substance there has been no change in the National Debt Sinking Fund’s buying policy, and nothing that the fund commissioners have done has any relation to any alteration in the bond market of late.
And so I forget about the National Debt Sinking Fund for the moment, and turn to the central bank. Now, sir, the central bank determines its buying volume having regard to its intimate relationship to the general credit and monetary position. The central .bank is a very important instrument in the economy. Everybody who has thought about central banking knows that, by buying on the market, the central bank may inject money into the -system, and, by selling on the market, may take money out of the system. These .open market operations are of the essence of central banking all over the world, and in normal times the Commonwealth Bank, as the central bank, would be .a buyer on the market, to a certain reasonable and limited extent. But, of late, such has been the condition of the market that the central bank has found itself called upon to pay into the market - that is to say, to create and distribute new money on a scale which, in the long run, has become quite incon sistent with .general economic policy. I shall develop that theme in a moment. Therefore, -what it has done in those recent days has been, -not to go out of the market, but, by progressive steps, to seduce its open market purchases from an abnormal level - and I shall say .something about that in a moment - in the direction of a normal level. That has been the whole object of the exercise so far -as the central bank is concerned. Now, sir, honorable members may say, and indeed some of them have been heard to say, that the central bank should have been prepared to go on buying at an abnormal level. I should like them to understand just what that would mean, because the central bank is a responsible body. Its views and its actions on those matters, I may -say to honorable members, have not been the views of one man. There is a hoard, which includes all the relevant people, and they have developed unanimity among themselves on these matters. The central bank very properly says, “ Now, we .are a responsible body, so let us have a look at two things. First of all, we know” - and indeed, I should have thought everybody knew by now - “ that there is a strong inflationary pressure in Australia, and, secondly, there is an enormous pressure of unsatisfied demand upon inadequate supply “. The Commonwealth Bank knows that; it is its duty to know. I shall have something very much more elaborate to say about it next week. Therefore, the Commonwealth Bank, in collaboration with the trading banks, and I say without any hesitation with the complete approval of the Government, has -pursued a policy which means that credit, by and large, is becoming less easy to get. Unless we -restrain credit, we cannot pretend that we are doing anything to meet inflationary pressures. Every government in the world has faced up to this problem, and is facing up to it. Therefore, we have in existence a policy of, at any rate, relatively restrictive advances. The trading banks, not only because they have been told to do so but also because they have a shrewd eye to their own liquidity ratios, have been looking at their advances with some care. Indeed, all the banks, the central bank and the trading banks, have been pursuing that policy. But that is a policy that Cannot be pursued indefinitely, because, eventually, the point is reached where it can inflict grave injury on production; and, therefore, that point must be watched with loving care.
What would we suppose a central bank was doing if, at the very time when there was a restraint upon credit existing, it went on to the market and continued, week after week, and month after month, to make abnormal purchases, running in total, as they would in those circumstances, into very many millions of pounds? What sort of consistency of policy would it be for a central bank to be saying with one voice “ Restrain “ and with another voice “ We are creating for you day by day, week by week and month by month, millions of pounds of new money to add to the existing volume of purchasing capacity?” These considerations are of the very essence of central banking and of credit policy, as well as of inflationary or counterinflationary action. The central bank - I speak quite plainly, and say that I could not agree with it more - has said, “ What nonsense is this ? Because if we go on with these abnormal purchases, we will ultimately find that we are putting so many millions of pounds into the hands of the public that the whole of our banking policies, and the whole of our counterinflationary actions will blow right down the wind “. I should think very little of a central bank if it did not have a responsible and balanced outlook on these matters. It is not to the point for some one to come along and say, “ But the bond market has been affected, and the central bank ought to be doing this, or that”. If the central bank, every day of the week, did what the immediate critic wanted it to do, it would completely founder as a central bank. It must be prepared to have the strength of mind, the balance of . judgment, and the innate courage as a bank, to do what it believes ought to be done in order to restrain inflation.
The only other thing I want to say is that all this, together with other things, will be exposed to the closest debate - from which I shall not shrink - in this House and in this country next week, and thereafter.
The last thing I want to say is, “ Let us not give way to easy short-term views on these matters The enemy of the Australian economy is rising inflation. It is an inflation which rises and continues to rise. It is quite true that we can shut out £100,000,000 or £200,000,000 of otherwise probable imports by imposing import restrictions. We have to do it because of our balance of payments problem. But every £100,000,000 worth of imports that we keep from coming in leaves a very large proportion of the £100,000,000 of purchasing power unable to satisfy itself ; and, therefore, it presses on the cost level and the price level. The central bank, of all bodies, ought to accept a responsible judgment. And so should governments. If there are two groups of people in this country who must, in these matters, be prepared to form their judgments, to act on them, and to stand by them, they are the Government of the nation and the central bank which sits in the middle of the credit and monetary system.
As my last remark, I say to my friends on both sides of the chamber who are, as I am, vastly concerned about placing burdens on our export industries, upon our great rural industries, that unless we are fools we know that all these things are vital to Australia. I know of no more effective way to ruin our export industries than to allow, by a process of inflation, their costs to rise beyond the point at which they can export profitably. There are no people in Australia who are more vitally concerned in the arresting of inflation than are the men on the land. There are plenty of smart fellows in the cities who can pass it on to some one else, but in the long run it will be passed on to the men on the land. They have, if I may put it so, a vested interest in arresting the growth of inflation. We cannot arrest the growth of inflation without doing something, and whatever we do will be quite unpleasant for somebody.
– Why has the right honorable gentleman left it so late?
– I ask the honorable member who has interjected whether, if these movements in interest and in bonds had happened six months ago, he would have been happy. Is be complaining only because they have come so late? No one has encouraged inflation more than have the honorable member and those like him who have encouraged people to get all they can and to accept no responsibility whatsoever.
I have referred at this stage to these movements on the bond market because they are grossly misunderstood in many quarters; and they should be clearly understood. I come back to where I began. I shall not be precipitated into a general argument on these matters because I have an old-fashioned Scottish prejudice in favour of knowing my own mind on all points before I argue them with other people. I know that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) hates economists, but if he became sick I feel sure that he would consult a doctor. I have never understood why a man trained in one art or science is less reliable than one trained in another art or science. However, I leave it to the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) to explain that to his colleagues in due course. Next week, a statement will be presented to this House which will represent the best judgment of the Government. There will be ample scope for it to be debated. If the Parliament does not like it, it will reject it. That is all, and I shall cry a lot less than some people. I could do with a holiday. However, the House will have an abundant opportunity to debate it. This is an attempt made involuntarily by the honorable member to precipitate an untimely debate–
-Order! The Prime Minister’s time has expired.
– Therefore, I move-
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mb. Deputy Speaker - Me. C. F. Adermann.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Mr. Duthie’s amendment) be so added.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mb. C. F. Adermann.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– It is my somewhat difficult task to try to attract a high degree of interest to the subject of industrial relations after the discussion that wc have just had in the House, but I welcome this opportunity to deal, in some measure, with the very interesting speech that was delivered in the House by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) on this subject recently. Because of his long experience of industrial matters and, in particular, in the affairs of the trade union movement, the House always listens attentively to the statements of the honorable member for Bendigo on these matters. Having studied what the honorable member said, I find myself very substantially in agreement with the points that he put forward on measures which might assist us in the. industrial situation in which we now find ourselves.
That situation has some dark areas, and I share his view that the problems of industrial relations will increasingly attract the attention of this Parliament during the remainder of this year. First, we shall have occasion to review our arbitration system. That has already been foreshadowed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), but it has been made more urgent for us by the recent decision of the High Court of Australia in the Boilermakers case. Then there is the unrest over the differentiation in wage levels between those who work under Federal and State awards, unrest which makes itself manifest in various directions, and there are problems arising out of the earlier decision on the margins issue. 1 have no doubt that from time to time, the Parliament will have occasion to look at some of the developments in that connexion. We shall have the impact of those economic changes that are required of us by a difficult balance of payments situation, to which the Prime Minister has just made some reference, and the measures needed to offset inflationary pressures that now beset the economy. We have the problem of the waterfront, and its corrosive, weakening influence on the whole body of the economy. There are the processes of adjustment to the falling demand for coal due to keener competition from other fuels. These factors are already having their effect on particular collieries. The interim report of the authority which is inquiring into the stevedoring industry is now in our hands, and the Parliament will have to look at that aspect.
Running as a sinister fault through all this and the other aspects of the economy is the erosive effect of communism on our industrial affairs. We see the effect of the work of Communists who have no wish to co-operate with governments or with those who have the best interests of Australia at heart. They welcome damage to the economy, regardless of the cost which their measures impose on members of the trade unions whom they influence. Therefore, the honorable member for Bendigo spoke truly when he said there would be increasingly a need for this Parliament to look into the problem of industrial relations.
I have mentioned only a few of the matters which almost certainly will arise for our discussion and attention as the year proceeds. Before I pass to the three particular matters upon which the honorable member for Bendigo recommended some action, I should like to add some information, for the benefit of the House, on certain questions which arise for public controversy from time to time. First, I should like to say a word or two upon the incidence of strikes in Australia, because I believe an unbalanced view is held by most members of the public on this subject. That view is coloured by prejudice, or by emotional factors and, indeed, by political factors because unquestionably one of the reasons why we tend, through the press and the Parliament, to overdramatize the impact of strikes is because there is such a close link - organizational and ideological - between the industrial trade movement and the Australian Labour party, which itself is such a force in the political affairs of Australia. So, to a far greater degree than is the case in other parts of the British-speaking world, we give, through the press and in the Parliament, particular attention to strikes when they occur. That can have a marked impact unless there is a correct view of the effect of these strikes. [Quorum formed.’]
I was about to give the House some figures which I think are interesting as illustrating strike action here in Australia, and while not wishing to minimize the serious effect of strikes or of the disturbances in industry which lead up to the strike situation, it is a fact that over the last five years in this coun try working time lost through strikes, considered over the whole field of industry, has averaged less than one-sixth of 1 per cent. When we break up the strike figures, the record of most of Australian industry becomes very much more impressive, because the very considerable proportion of the working time lost in two sectors in which the workers constitute a relatively small proportion of the industrial work force, namely, the coal industry and the waterfront industry, added quite a large percentage to the total loss of working days. But these two together - the coal-miners and the waterside workers - amount to only about 2 per cent, of the work force and yet last year between them they cost us 4’2 per cent, of our lost working time, and in the previous year they cost us 76 per cent, of our working time. If we subtract from our losses over the whole field those which have come to us from this minor percentage of the work force, we see that the record of Australian industry generally is by no means bad. I think it flows by implication from that, that the working of Australia’s arbitration system over the broad field of industry has been by no means bad in its results. On an average, these figures indicate that we lose less than a half of a working day per man per year as a result of strikes. I should like honorable members to carry that figure in their minds.
Australia loses friends overseas, and perhaps investment from overseas, because from time to time we do ourselves the disservice of painting too black a picture of the strike action which occurs inside this country. That is not the whole story, I know, because there are many situations in which obstruction or go-slow tactics are resorted to which do not amount to a loss of actual working time that could be recorded. But there has been a tendency for management to concentrate its attention on the effects of strikes, and thus lose opportunities which exist in every direction to improve efficiency.
If we go further into the strike story, we find some other interesting features of it. For example, I know there is a belief in some quarters that coal-miners and waterfront workers, by the very nature of their occupations, are prone to greater turbulence and more strike action than are workers in other industries. But the curious fact emerges when the situation is examined that here in Australia we have coal mines in several of the States, but in none of them is there anything like as high an incidence of working time lost as in one State - New South Wales - and on the waterfront there is in some ports a very much bigger percentage of working time lost than in other ports. So it is not just the nature of the work. Indeed, if we look just across the Tasman to New Zealand we find that since that country has been’ able to get rid of Communist influence inside its waterfront union, over the last two years the amount of time lost through strikes has been negligible. Last year, as far as I have been able to ascertain, no time was lost at all through this cause. Each of these circumstances suggests that there is room for improvement, and that the problem cannot be attributed to the nature of the work or any particular personal factors which are not capable of being cured by more effective management, in some instances, and by a more responsible attitude on the part of the trade unionists, in others.
I want honorable members to carry in their minds a very realistic appreciation of the Australian working man - the average Australian trade unionist. Frequently, he has been abused and criticized for his work effort, but I have said more than once in this place - and outside of it - that given the right equipment, able leadership, efficient management and the right incentives, the Australian worker will hold his own with the best to be found anywhere in the world. It is a part of our job in this Parliament to try to create those conditions, and management should accept its share of the responsibility to see that we get the best results. It is ridiculous, for example, to compare the output per hour of the Australian workmen in some industries with that in the United States of America because, on an average, the working man in America has 8 horsepower to his elbow whereas the average Australian workman has only 4 horsepower to his elbow. Quite obviously, if one man has more electrical power, and more up to date and diversified equipment, the odds are that he will produce a better working result. So the critics should turn from blaming the Australian workers, and examine how best his able services can be employed in the community.
The United States has topped the world for high productivity. If we trace the history of productivity in the United States from the beginning of this century, we find that the Americans have improved their output per hour by some 280 per cent. The result of that quite phenomenal increase of man-hour productivity is to be seen in a higher living standard, a rapidly expanding economy, and a stronger nation. We in Australia must do what we can to improve our productivity. If we are to do that, I believe we must be able to assure the working man that certain conditions will be maintained, that there will be ample work opportunities, that the objective of government policies will be a continuing prosperity, and that the fruits of that prosperity and increased production will be fairly shared.
The honorable member for Bendigo said in the course of his recommendations that more extensive use should be made of the technique developed by the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council. I assure him that that is being done. Indeed, this week we have seen in two important directions how the work of that council has contributed to a more realistic appreciation of an effective use of labour under full employment, and to the encouragement of greater production. I have released only to-day a statement on productivity which the members of the council adopted. As I think most honorable members are aware, the council consists on the one hand of representatives of the senior and most responsible management organizations, the Employers Federation, the. Chamber of Manufactures, chambers of commerce and the like, and on the union side, of six of the most senior representatives of the Australian Council of Trades Unions.
I am sure that the honorable member for Bendigo, and others on his side who take a hand in these matters, will acknowledge that the very achievement by this
Government of an advisory body of that character was itself a notable advance in industrial relations. He will be aware as I, of course, have been that governments of all shades of politics have tried for very many years to bring together such a body to examine objectively and in a co-operative spirit the industrial problems of this country. “We have been able to do it, and I am happy to say that a high degree of responsibility is being shown by the members of that organization. They are working well together in the national interest. We have seen some of the fruits of their discussion and thinking in the two significant statements that have come out this week. One of our problems has been to get the average Australian trade unionist to realize that higher productivity is in his own best interests.
– Oh, yes?
– Whatever may be the view of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who is interjecting, this advisory council of senior trade unionists and representatives of management has done good work. I quote from a statement that was released to-day.
– Was it a unanimous decision ?
– It was a unanimous decision of the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council. I quote the following passage from the announcement of the decision: -
It believes that higher productivity would have–
I ask honorable members to note the words “ would have “- material advantages for all sections of the Australian community. It is the view of the Council that all informed persons would agree.
Indeed, the honorable member for Bendigo emphasized that very point, but apparently some of his colleagues do not agree. The announcement stated also -
The Council recognizes that employers’ organizations, trade unions and Governments and also individual employers and employees all have a contribution to make towards achieving a higher level of productivity . . .
The best assurance of productivity growth probably lies in preserving an economic climate in which rewards, whether of employers or employees, depend on efficient performance.
Here is a significant passage in which are mentioned some of the benefits to the whole country -
Productivity gains may be distributed in widely varying proportions among -
consumers through lower price:
workers through higher real wages and salaries and other improvements in working conditions;
proprietors and shareholders through higher profits;–
This body at least is prepared to take a balanced view, even though some other people are not -
As far as relations between employersand employees are concerned, it is a question largely of confidence that the arrangements for fixing wages and conditions of employment will over a period, ensure that the gains are equitably shared.
I think it will be readily agreed that that is a realistic and, indeed, courageous approach to a problem of great importance to the people of Australia as a whole. I do not need to emphasize what was said by the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council about the problem of full employment.
– The Minister is only smearing the Australian Council of Trades Unions.
– The honorable member cannot tell me that the Australian Council of Trades Unions would not agree to the decision. Most of the senior members of the Australian Council of Trades Unions were present and took part in the discussions. I have quoted the statements word for word as they were agreed to in the presence of those gentlemen.
There are many other matters that one would wish to mention. The honorable member for Bendigo referred to the importance of increased industrial power to deal with some of the problems that have arisen, and I agree with him as to its importance. This subject, which is certainly an involved constitutional matter, might very usefully be considered by the all-party committee of the Parliament to be established to inquire into constitutional problems. However, I am sure the honorable member will agree that the processes of that committee are likely to be lengthier than those needed for the solution of the problem immediately ahead of us. Even if there are other ways of dealing with this problem in the future, after we have thrashed out some of the constitutional questions, we now have an immediate problem in front of us, because the High Court of Australia has said, in effect, that the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration cannot exercise a judicial power. That judicial power does not involve only a punitive power. The High Court’s decision means that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court is not able to interpret awards and deal with a great variety of other matters to which the court’s judgment referred, and which will be discussed by the Parliament in greater detail at a later stage.
Lt is rather ironic to recall that the trade union movement itself originally brought pressure to bear on the BrucePage Administration, in 1926, to give the judicial power to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The unions did not wish that power to be exercised by people who did not have a background of industrial knowledge to enable them to exercise it properly. If Opposition members study Volume 113 of Hansard, they will see that the very interests which, to-day, have challenged the exercise of the judicial power by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court pressed the government of the day to give the court that power in 1926. We now have the practical problem of what we are going to do about it. No government that I am aware of - and this goes for Labour governments throughout Australia at the present time - has ever taken the view that the power to arbitrate should not have associated with it the power to enforce. The High Court has now stated that the Arbitrator himself cannot enforce. Who is to carry out the processes of enforcement? There is the problem of the interpretation of awards. Who is to make that interpretation? There is the question of public interest because, particularly with full employment, and a prospering economy, it may well be to the advantage of both employer and employee to agree about, say, higher wage rates which the employer would, in turn, pass on in higher charges to the consumer, and which would not be in the public interest. One of the protections afforded to the public by our arbitration system has been this power in the hands of the judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to take the public interest into account in the consideration of the matters before them.
My time is limited. These are allimportant matters which we have to consider, and I am able to tell the House that the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council, which is so well equipped to consider this problem, studied it in a preliminary way on Monday last. It is to hold a special meeting, in a fortnight’s time, to discuss the problem further, and it is my hope - it may be an ambitious one - that, as a result of those discussions, we shall be able to present to the Government, and, ultimately, to the Parliament, proposals that will represent the greatest measure of agreement that representatives of employers and employees can reach on this important problem. I can imagine no better service that we could do in improving industrial relations than to launch a revised system of arbitration, with the goodwill of all sections of industry - a system that would represent a co-operative effort and would be the result of planning and discussion by those who exercise the greatest responsibility with respect to industrial problems. The problems are difficult and vexed enough. As fellow Australians, we all have a mutual interest in solving them. In some other matters, we have been able to put aside party political considerations in the national interest. The immigration policy is a conspicuous example. If we, as a Parliament, are able to approach these important industrial questions, not with the idea of obtaining party political advantages from one another, but with the idea of doing what is in the best interests of the country as a whole, our economy and our living standards will benefit accordingly.
– I was asked in the House last week whether I would make a comprehensive statement on the administration of import licensing. I think it is more appropriate to endeavour to explain the system of import licensing i-i the Address-in-Reply debate than to make a formal statement on it.
I shall endeavour, within the compass of this debate, to explain the complexities of this system, which, for the time being, is my temporary responsibility. Import licensing has been known in Australia before. It was first found necessary in 1936, and again, of course, during World War II. In war-time, when relationship to the war effort was willingly accepted as the universal criterion of all needs, the only problem was to put first things first. After the war, it was hoped that we could quickly return to the pre-‘ war freedom to import, but the licensing machinery was retained in order to restrict imports from hard currency sources. However, in March, 1952, as a result of the wool boom of the year before and the consequent unbalanced and inflationary increase of imports, it was necessary to re-impose restrictions from all sources. The scheme adopted was basically this. Goods were divided into two categories. Essential goods were put in category A, and non-essential goods, which are sometimes referred to as luxury goods - an incomplete description of this category - were put in category B. Importers were given quotas based on their imports for the financial year 1950-51. Imports of essential goods in category A were cut by 20 per cent, and imports of non-essential goods in category B by 80 per cent. But the commerce of a nation is much too complex to be controlled for long by a simple system such as this and, as the years have passed, refinements of all sorts have been found necessary.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I direct attention to the state of the House.
– Ring the bells.
The bells being rung, and Mr. Opperman proceeding towards the door of the chamber,
– Order ! The honorable member for Corio must return to his place. When attention is directed to the state of the House, no honorable member may leave the. chamber. (Quorum formed.]
– It is consistent with the practices of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) that he, who has been loudest in complaint about the administration of the licensing system, should use the forms of the House in an endeavour to reduce the short time in which I have to explain it. I was saying that the commerce of a nation is much too complex to be controlled for long by a simple system such as this and, as the years have passed, refinements of all sorts have been found necessary. Changes in the state of our balance of payments have enabled variations in the degree of restriction. The right of ex-servicemen, young people growing up, and new arrivals, to earn a livelihood, required the establishment of new quotas, and the needs of our expanding economy led to wide variation of the system of 1952. I will try to describe the present categories established by the Government. A category includes goods of an essential type, which can be supplied to a large extent from local production, but which have to be supplemented by imports. The extent to which the country can afford to do this varies from time to time according to the state of our balance of payments. Licensing is done on a quarterly basis, and in the quarter which ended on the 30th September last category A imports were permitted at 85 per cent, of the base year, but owing to the present crisis against which action was taken on the 1st October last, a further cut of 12- per cent, was imposed.
The next category is B category. This consists, in general, of the less essential goods, but it also includes some goods essential for domestic use but which are usually in adequate supply from local sources. The holder of a B category quota, when taking out his import licences quarterly against his quota, may obtain a licence for any particular commodity included in the whole range of the category. He thus has a wide range of selection or inter changeability. The cut of B quota goods is now 70 per cent, of the base year imports. In other words, a B quota holder who was in business in 1950 can import only 30 per cent, of the quantity of that range of goods which he imported in 1950-51. (Quorum formed.’]
The next category is known departmentally as “Admin. Star”. This is made up of goods which were formerly in categories A or B, but which, experience has shown, need regulating on a more flexible basis than can be achieved by application of the same fixed percentage of base year imports as is currently applied to A or B category goods. Typical examples are iron and steel, goods which are highly essential but mostly supplied by local production. The need to import them varies quickly and demands quick treatment, hence the need for great flexibility. Also included in “ Admin. Star “ are some goods such as cigarettes and whisky, which were taken out of B category in order to prevent the holders of B category quotas diverting all their resources to these commodities at times when they became especially profitable. The effect of transferring a particular commodity to “ Admin. Star “ is that the quota holder is restricted to one particular commodity. There is no interchangeability in “ Admin. Star “ goods.
The next category to which I direct attention is the “ administrative category”. It includes goods which it is either impracticable or undesirable to restrict to a given percentage by value of imports in a past trading period. Such goods are principally capital equipment - machine tools, earthmoving equipment, and other such capital goods for which there can be no steady consumer demand. There are no quotas for administrative category goods, but applications for licences are examined on their merits and issued against the background of the current needs of commerce and industry and the prevailing state of our balance of payments. When a relaxation of the licensing level for quota goods is permissible, it is, of course, accompanied by an easing of licences for capital goods in the administrative category; but even in the times of strictest licensing, such as the present, it is necessary to issue some licences for capital goods for replacement purposes so that our primary _ and secondary industries can be kept moving.
The next category is the “ N.Q.R.”, or no quota required category, which was introduced on the 1st April, 1953, when our credit balances were rising and the Government hoped that licensing could soon be abolished. Licences for goods within the category were issued freely upon application, the only restriction being that the importer had to show that the goods could be imported within one year of the date of the licence. The goods in this category have varied from time to time. When our credit balance of payments has been rising, the list has been extended ; when it has begun to fall, the list has been curtailed. These were mostly essential items such as iron and steel, iodized salt, books, stud stock, agricultural seeds, and item3 of that sort. The list of these has had to be reduced considerably in the present acute situation, and many of them have been placed back in their former categories.
The remaining variation of the system, which I feel I should describe to the House, is that of the so-called “ banks “ of imports. In proper cases, importers have been given the right to group together their quotas for goods which are necessarily associated in their use. These grouped quotas are called banks. As an example of the system, hand tools have been established in a bank, which covers a wide range of carpenters and metal workers’ tools. It is obvious common sense that an importer of planes, chisels, screwdrivers and the like, should be allowed to say in what proportion he wants to import these goods from quarter to quarter so that deficiencies can be made up and his quotas used intelligently. In addition to these arrangements, the Government has found it necessary from time to time to transfer goods from one category to another if experience has indicated that this was necessary. For example, there has been a steady transfer of goods in B category to A or “ Admin. Star “.
Within the framework I have described imports are licensed at a rate determined from quarter to quarter by the current state of our balance of payments. At the end of the September quarter, when our credit balances abroad were declining at the alarming rate of about £200,000,000 a year, and immediate and drastic action became imperative, the ‘Government decided that additional cuts must be imposed in order to bring our import-export budget into balance by the end of June of this year. This required, on the estimates of our future income, a reduction in the value of annual imports from about £850,000,000 to £650,000,000. To achieve the Government’s goal, our imports will thus have to be reduced, roughly, to an average of £55,000,000 f.o.b. a month. The House may be interested to know that goods cleared through the customs for November last were valued at £74,000,000 f.o.b., for December they were valued at £63,000,000 f.o.b., for January, £64,000,000 f.o.b., and for February, £59,500,000. The progress, therefore, appears to be in the right direction and at a reasonable speed, but I should not encourage optimism based on the February figure, as it is impossible, at present, to estimate the extent to which that was influenced by the waterside strike. “When imports are licensed strictly, as they are now, it is inevitable that the system will be criticized. My own belief, after eight weeks of ministerial responsibility for the system, is that it has been carried out with sincerity and ability, and with the integrity which the nation is entitled to expect of its public servants. It is useless, however, to ignore the fact that severe restrictions of imports mean difficulties for business and varying degrees of hardship for individuals. Such restrictions are justified only by the urgent and overriding needs of the national economy. In my opinion, most of the criticism of the system stems from misunderstanding of the complexities of the system, and from the natural anxiety of individuals who are adversely affected by it. The most frequent criticism I hear is that there is trafficking in import licences. The system, like most human activities, is open to abuses, but we do our best to deal with them. However, there is no breach of the law, or of customs practice, when an individual licence-holder seeks a buyer for his goods before he imports -them.
In times of restriction, people who need goods look for importers who have licences and who are able to import those goods. Where a licence-holder imports goods and clears them through customs in his own name, he is entitled to sell them to whom he pleases, and he is equally entitled to contract for their sale before they are imported. Such practices are as old as commerce itself. The advertisements that one sees seeking licenceholders who are able to import goods, are explained by these circumstances, and there is not necessarily anything sinister about them. I do know, however, that some importers charge more than a fair percentage for goods in short supply. The Government regards an excessive charge as an unfair use of a quota or licence, and where cases come to our notice, they are dealt with by cancellation or reduction. The real remedy, however, lies in the hands of the commercial community itself. So soon as buyers refuse to pay unfair prices, so soon will the practice decline, and if unfair practices are exposed; then the licensing authorities can take action to prevent them.
Another current criticism is that injustice lies in the right of B category holders to import an interchangeable range of goods. But there is a common-sense need for this. Take, for example, the case of a man who runs a gift shop. If his quota should be restricted, say, to glass chandeliers and coronation mugs, a ridiculous limitation would be imposed on his capacity to trade. However, changes are necessary from time to time. Where an importer, in a defined and narrow range of business, holds a quota for the import of goods which happen to be in B category, we recognize that he should not have the right to turn away from that business and import something different, merely because the current demand for that article is high. This is dealt with by the steady removal of certain goods from B category and their transfer to “ Admin. Star “. Clear examples of this are whisky and cigarettes both of which originally were in B category and are now in “ Admin. Star “.
– What does “ Admin. Star “ mean ?
– If the honorable member for East Sydney had paid attention to my remarks, he would know.
– Order ! Honorable members will cease interjecting.
– The process of further definition of less-essential goods continues as the need arises.
Another complaint often made is that in times of heavy restriction, such as the present, when essential goods are cut down, there should be no imports of luxury goods at all. We acknowledge that less-essential goods should be cut more heavily than are essential lines, and that is done. A category goods are now cut by 27^ per cent., and B category by 70 per cent, of base year imports, but no proposal totally to exclude luxury goods would stand up to a moment’s reflection. For example, many thousands of Australians legitimately earn their livelihood in the wholesale or retail sale of lessessential goods, and to exclude such goods altogether would put those people out of business and ruin them. [Quorum formed.’] Again, our standards of living depend to some extent on the community having a wide range of choice of nonessential goods for such things as decoration and entertainment. Some degree of import of these goods is also essential to maintain healthy competition between overseas suppliers and Australian manufacturers. A total prohibition would mean that there would be no restraint on the prices of Australian-manufactured goods of these classes. The Government considers that the application of such a severe restriction as 70 per cent, brings problems and hardship enough in its train. Total prohibition on the import of these goods would place a quite undue responsibility on the shoulders of the officials who advise the Government on the categories in which goods should be placed.
Loud criticism was heard in the House this week, particularly from the honorable member for East Sydney, of the fact that Japanese toys should be imported at all. This criticism is answered, in part, by what I have said, but special attention already has been given by the Government to Japanese imports. To avoid the excessive import of low-type Japanese goods, a special reserve list of 36 items has been established, and importers are not allowed to use more than a limited percentage of their quotas to im port goods on that list. There is, thus, a further restriction on the import of nonessential goods from Japan.
In addition to the difficulties I have dealt with, there is the constant problem of dollar reserves. The continuing shortage of dollars available to the sterling area makes it necessary for Australia, in common with other members of the sterling area, to economize strictly in all forms of dollar expenditure. Licences for the import of dollar goods generally are restricted to essential goods not available from any other source. The goods we import from the dollar area are mostly capital goods and raw materials which we cannot obtain from the sterling area, and which are essential to the national economy. Applications for the import of goods from dollar countries are dealt with on the “ administrative “ basis which enables each one to be considered on its merits and dealt with accordingly.
I hope that I have shown the House, by these remarks, that constant and strong efforts are made to keep the licensing system abreast of the changing needs of the nation. In making that system work satisfactorily, we are dependent upon the willing co-operation of commerce and industry. I have referred to the need to resist rapacious demands for excessive mark-ups on imported goods in short supply. There is a corresponding need for abuses of the system to be exposed. Uninformed criticism is unhelpful, but constructive criticism will be welcomed, certainly while this system remains my responsibility.
During the last eight weeks, I have necessarily thought a lot about the possibilities of working away from an import licensing system which nobody likes, least of all a new Minister charged with its administration. While our country is committed to a scale of development, an increase of population to the minimum safe number, the opening up of new agricultural lands and the establishment of new industries, which we all, Government and Opposition alike - or most of us, at any rate - are determined to maintain, then there must be a continuing pressure on our funds available for imports. On the other hand, our income from exports comes from commodities which, by their very nature, fluctuate widely in price - wool, wheat, dairy products and things of that sort–
– I rise to order. I seek an explanation from you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and your ruling, upon a matter that is causing me some concern. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) has taken the opportunity, and the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr. Osborne) is taking the opportunity, to make statements upon some of the functions of their departments, and honorable members who have already spoken in this debate are precluded, under the existing arrangement, from discussing them.I have perused the Standing Orders, and I have not been able to discover whether such procedure is permissible. You, sir, in your wisdom, may be able to tell me whether it is in order.
The second matter I wish to raise is this: Is it lese majeste for Ministers to use the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech for such a purpose? I contend that the procedure adopted by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) in submitting amendments to the Address-in-Reply is legitimate, but ministerial statements on departmental policy should not be made in such a debate. The practice limits us in a grievous way because those honorable members who have already spoken in the debate are unable to reply to the statements. For some time, I have been trying to get an explanation of the trafficking in B class import licences, and the Minister for Customs and Excise is now exposing the matter to the House. I am prevented from replying–
– Order ! The Minister is in order. The Chair has no option but to call Ministers and honorable members as they rise. It is quite customary in the Address-in-Reply debate to discuss the whole policy of the Government.
– I am sorry to disappoint the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), but I have almost finished, while the state of affairs I have out lined continues, it seems to me that there will inevitably be recurring crises in the state of our balance of payments. It seems to me also that the task both for the Government and for commerce and industry is to learn how to anticipate and counter them.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Presentation of Address-in-Reply.
– I shall ascertain when it will be convenient for His Excellency the Governor-General to receive the Address-in-Reply, and honorable members will be informed accordingly.
Motions (by Sir Eric Harrison) agreed to -
That the House will, at the next sitting, resolve itself into a committee to consider the Supply to be granted to Her Majesty.
That the House will, at the next sitting, resolve itself into a committee to consider the Ways and Means for raising the Supply to be granted to Her Majesty.
Debate resumed from the 22nd February (vide page 123), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the following paper be printed: -
.- This paper, which is a very comprehensive survey of international affairs, was presented by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), and the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has already spoken upon it. The Minister pointed out that the view of the Communists as to what should happen in the future remains the same. He said that it is still the Communists’ view and policy that communism shall dominate the world. He pointed out that it is essential, therefore, for the Western countries to maintain strong defence forces. The maintenance of those forces is purely for the purpose of their acting as a shield. It is in no way intended that they shall be a sword. It is in no way intended that they shall be aggressive.
I mention that matter at the outset because the Leader of the Opposition has referred in the course of his remarks to the necessity for conciliation. As I understood him, his suggestion was that this country’s policy should be one of disarmament. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world, and so long as those who are our potential enemies are ready to overrun us, we must be prepared to defend ourselves and to take part in the defence of those who are allied to us and who rely upon us for help.
As to disarmament, you will recall, Mr. Deputy Speaker. that at the close of World War II. the Western Powers were anxious to disarm, and were preparing to disarm. Indeed, they had gone a certain way towards disarmament, but, unfortunately, the Soviet decided that it would not disarm. It has never made any attempt to disarm. Consequently, those Powers which may be grouped as the Western Powers have been compelled to rearm. Such is the state of affairs that it has not been a matter of disarmament, because we had already taken steps in that direction, but it has been rather a matter of our being compelled by the Soviet Powers to rearm. In those circumstances, it is idle to say that all that is necessary to bring about peace in the world is conciliation and disarmament. If conciliation is to mean that, we must appease the Soviet Powers by disarming while they remain armed to the teeth. The only result of such a policy would be that those Soviet Powers would immediately seize upon the opportunity to overrun the world, to exercise that world domination that they desire so much.
On one occasion recently, it was suggested by the Leader of the Opposition that the cause of World War II. was the failure of the Western Powers to disarm, between the two world wars. That is hardly a correct interpretation of history. In the interval between the two world wars, Britain very greatly disarmed, and because Britain had disarmed so greatly, Hitler took the view that Britain was weak and could be overrun quite easily. If we proceed with a one-sided disarmament now, the same thing will happen with the Soviet Powers as happened with Hitler. War will be brought upon us instantly, and an endeavour will be made to overrun us.
During my recent trip abroad to the United Nations, I travelled through Switzerland, and was amazed to see so many soldiers in uniform there. I spoke to one of them, and asked him how it came about that Switzerland, which .1 understood was always a peace-loving country, had so many soldiers. He replied, “ We have been able to be a peace-loving country only through being strongly armed. We have had a strong army for 300 years, and we have had peace for 300 years. During World War II., Hitler sent his planes over our territory. We shot those planes down, and we warned him that if he sent others over wc would shoot them down also. We were not going to have war in our skies, and if we allowed him to come over, his enemies would come over and there would be war in our skies, so that when he sent the planes over we shot them down”. As a result, no more German planes flew over Switzerland during the war. The soldier added, “ It is because we are strong and because to-day we could place 1,000,000 men in the field within 48 hours, that we are able to remain a peaceloving country and keep war away from cur country “.
That little story illustrates what I have been saying - that it is only by remaining strong and having a shield of defensive power that we are able to keep war away and prevent ourselves from being overrun. Prom what the Leader of the Opposition said about conciliation, one would think that the Western Powers had made no attempt whatever to bring about peace. I remind the House that ever since World War II. ended they have made many attempts, both within and without the United Nations organization, to induce the Soviet Powers to accept peace. As I said earlier to-day the Western Powers proved their sincerity by proceeding to disarm. [Quorum formed.]
I do not intend to go through the long list of occasions on which the Western Powers endeavoured to persuade the Soviet Powers to agree to peace in the world. It is sufficient to refer to the efforts made last year by President
Eisenhower, and to the fact that even to-day he has put forward a new proposal. Consequently, it is incorrect for the Leader of the Opposition to suggest that i here must be conciliation, but that no ii i tempt has been made to achieve it. Let I tie Leader of the Opposition, who has his own methods of correspondence, get into touch with the Russians and try to do something to conciliate them. So far as his argument is concerned the facts that I have stated ave a complete answer to it.
But it is not only by the efforts of great men such as President Eisenhower and through power parleys and exhortations that world peace has been sought. Over the past ten years the “Western Powers, by their acts and conduct, have done their utmost to demonstrate their peaceful desires. They have made magnificent contributions towards rehabilitation, relief and reconstruction of wardamaged countries under such schemes as the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, the Marshall Aid plan, and so on. The United States of
America alone spent move than the equiv.-ilo-nt of 40,000,000,000 dollars in oversea? aid. The technical assistance programme of the United Nations organization is another example. Under that scheme no fewer than S3 nations have received assistance. Surely the countries which have benefited must realize that they are being helped by people who would he their friends. Russia has only recently become a member of the technical a distance body, and has con tributed only a small sura towards the scheme, and almost all the work so far has been done by the Western Powers. Under the Colombo plan great sums are being spent to benefit other nations. Are these the acts of warmongers or of peace-loving nations ? Surely the actions speak louder than words. Recently, a member of this House ridiculed the Colombo plan and said that, it provided only food and jobs. Obviously, he did not realize that this end the other schemes I have mentioned have been of tremendous help to industry, commerce, agriculture, education and health requirements in many countries. Living standards and the whole life of many communities has been immensely improved as a result.
What is more likely to bring about peace in the world than to give nations freedom and independence?’ I invite honorable members to contrast the work of the Western Powers with that of the Soviet. During the past ten years, since the end of World War II., the Western Powers have given freedom, independence and self-government to no fewer than 650,000,000 people. In Europe alone the Soviet Powers have enslaved 100,000,000 people in peace-loving countries such as Czechoslovakia and Poland. Which of the two groups of powers is making a practical effort to bring peace to the world? The Soviet Powers have filched the term “ democracy “ and refer to themselves as “ The people’s democratic republics Wha t is their democracy ? Are their elections free ? Where are their parties or their Opposition or their leader of the Opposition? What candidate would dare to stand up and oppose the existing regime? That is the form of democracy to which the people of Czechoslovakia, Poland and other freedomloving countries have been brought. The maintenance of peace has been the motive underlying the whole conduct of the Western countries during the postwar period, and for the first time in history it now seems that the welfare of the whole human race is their objective. It has been stated that this century will he regarded, not so much as a century of war, as a century during which the welfare of the whole human race has become a real political objective.
I have taken upon myself the task of bringing these facts before the House, because it seems to me - and I believe the House will agree with me - that it is time that the eyes of a great number of people in this country were opened. It is time they listened and absorbed the facts of the world situation; and it is time they recognized that the peace-loving powers are the powers of the West and that those powers will pursue their quest for peace and will secure peace for the world.
.- I am quite sure that the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) need not have worked himself up to such a pitch because he thought that honorable members on this side of the House did not appreciate what he was saying. I completely endorse the latter part of his speech, but I should like him and some of his colleagues to recognize the fact that they are not the only members of this House who condemn this evil thing called communism. Whether our views veer to the right or to the left, we condemn communism just as strongly as do supporters of the Government. I think we are all concerned not so much with a diagnosis of the world’s problems as with finding a solution of them.
Soviet Russia preaches equality, but the Russians do not enjoy equality in their own land. There are persons of high and low estate in Russia to-day, just as there were under the Czars. The Russians also make a lot of the brotherhood of man, but where is brotherhood to be found within the borders of Russia? Mothers and fathers spy on each other, children spy on parents, and parents spy on children and relatives. The authorities have their listening posts everywhere with the result that reports are passed on, homes are raided at night and people are carted off to a false trial and probably later to a camp in Siberia. The Russians also talk about fraternity, which means much the same as brotherhood. The three aspects of the slogan that was coined during the French Revolution have no part in Soviet Russia. The Russians talk in one way but act in another. They give to the world their propaganda about liberty, equality and fraternity, but their actions within their own borders are just the reverse. We are not deluded.
Recently, I have read quite a lot about former prisoners of war who spent ten years in Russian camps. The Russians have been getting a tremendous amount of work from Germans, Czechs, Poles and other persons who have been held in what are called labour camps in Siberia. Russia is building up its production at a very fast rate, but it is using slave labour to do so. No democrat, whether he sits on this side of the chamber or on the other side, would approve that practice for one moment. During a. recent visit to Russia by Adenauer, the Russians promised to release German prisoners of war. Apparently that is one promise that the Russians have honoured, because some of the books that I have read recently refer to Germans who have spent ten years in Russian slave camps and who have returned to the West as a result of Mr. Adenauer’s plea when he was in Moscow last year.
We are all aware of the threat of communism, but the important point is how can we remove that threat? We have our military and our economic means, and our political and ideological strategies, but unless all those means are used together, there is no way of removing the threat of communism. Any government which thinks that, without using the ideological weapon, it can stop the spread of Russian communism, is fooling itself. I did not hear the honorable member for Balaclava mention that aspect of the matter.
Tn the short time that is available to me, I wish to acquaint the House with the Hobart declaration of the Australian Labour party. We have heard quite a lot about the Hobart conference, but very few members know anything about it other than what they have read in the press or what the propagandists have had to say. I should like all honorable members to listen carefully while I read the declaration, because they will note that there is very little in it with which they can disagree. Thirty-six delegates should have been present at the conference, but some walked out and only nineteen eventually subscribed to the declaration. Nevertheless, it was an official majority decision. The delegates who walked out have been walking into a lot of trouble since. The declaration is as follows: -
Having regard to the present state of international tension and the resulting threat to world peace, this Conference declares as follows: -
. Australia is, and must always remain, an integral part of the British Commonwealth of “Nations as well as of the United Nations Organization.
Go-operation with the United States in the Pacific is of crucial importance and must lie maintained and extended.
So much for the criticism that we are anti-American ! The declaration continues -
Pacific and South-East Asia areas. The principles cover both collective action to repel military aggression and also - a factor which is usually forgotten - continuous action by way of conciliation and peaceful intervention for the purpose of preventing war and of bringing all armed conflict to an end.
That is what the honorable member for Balaclava was speaking about -
This is only part of our task. Asian peoples also demand - in accordance with the United Nations Charter - the end of colonialism whenever and wherever the people arc fit for self-government. Even more, Asia rightly demands recognition of the dignity and self-respect of Asian nations and peoples. Unless all these principles arc fully acknowledged, western nations will find it impossible tn achieve that real co-operation with Asia which is basic to the maintenance of peace. 7- The Australian Labour party is satisfied that the use of Australian armed forces in Malaya will gravely injure Australian relations with our Asian neighbours while in no way contributing to the prevention of aggression. The guerrilla operations in Malaya have lasted five years-
It, is six by now -
They will eventually be ended by some form of agreement or amnesty. Action towards (his end should begin now.
Labour policy is to oppose the use of armed forces in Malaya.
This conference is firmly of the opinion that there is a grossly inadequate understanding of Asian problems in Australia and of Australian problems in Asia. Therefore it establishes the policy of encouraging exchanges of official ar.d unofficial visits between our countries. In particular, the Australian Labour movement itself should seek direct contact with Asian countries. In this connection no Asian country should be excluded from such exchanges.
The Australian Labour party should seek the appointment of observers at the forthcoming Afro-Asian conference in Indonesia. Delegates representing Labour should be arranged between the Federal executive of the Australian Labour party and the Federal Parliamentary Labour party.
The development of atomic weapon:! has reached such dimensions that the peoples of the world are now faced with the stark and terrifying spectacle of a possible atomic world war causing a danger to the very fabric of the earth, its atmosphere and all its inhabitants which is so real that distinguished scientists refer to the prospect with a sense of “ desperation “. This des Iteration is partly due to the vacillation ami delay in arranging high level political talks aiming at the effective prevention of the use of atomic and hydrogen bombs by any nation, whether for purposes of war or experimental purposes.
Conference therefore directs the Federal Parliamentary Labour party to press for effective action directed towards these great ends. We are convinced that in years to come a nation’s true greatness will come to be measured by its courageous approach to the solution of these tremendous problems here and now.
The S.E.A.T.O. Organization must devote special attention to the peaceful settlement of international disputes in South-East Asia. S.E.A.T.O. as a regional organization within the United Nations has a positive duty to try to lessen international tension in Sout-East Asia and the Pacific. ll should discharge that duty.
A mutual regional pact for security and welfare should he negotiated between Australia, Holland and Indonesia. The pant should aim at promoting the security of the entire areas of Indonesia and New Guinea. Tt should also aim at improving the standards of life for all the peoples throughout this area - so vital to Australia.
There should bc a renewed and vigorous attempt to bring about universal membership of the United Nations in accordance with the spirit of the Charter. No fewer than twelve nations have been excluded by the Russian veto from membership. On the other hand six nations associated with Russia have also been kept out by failure to secure the necessary majority of seven votes in the Security Connell. lt!. Nations now awaiting admission to the United Nations include Austria, Bulgaria, Ceylon, China, Finland. Hungary, Ireland. Italy, Jordan, Korea, Libya, Portugal and Rumania. On the one hand the admission of all applicants would not even disturb the balance of opinion in the general assembly. On the other hand, the admission of all these applicant nations to membership would be in accordance with the general nature of the United Nations as a genuine world organization. Moreover, from a practical point of view opening the door to membership would add greatly to the stature and strength of the Organization as a truly representative world society.
Our defence depends upon the rapid development and peopling of Australia and its territories. In particular the Australian Labour party pledges itself to an adequate plan of national defence of the northern areas of the continent and the territories.
That is the Hobart conference’s declaration on international affairs which has caused so much completely uninformed talk inside and outside the Parliament. There is not one item in that seventeenpoint programme with which every genuine thinker and democrat on the other side of the House would not agree.
– Nonsense !
– If honorable members opposite do not agree with that declaration, it is amazing how little they really desire a solution of world problems. The statement I have just read is comprehensive and covers all the main troublous issues in the world at the present time. I recognize that whilst it is easy to put a declaration like that on paper, it is not so easy to work it out in practice; but the Labour movement is committed to that programme. It would lie well for every one to study that declaration to find out if and where Labour has gone off the track.
Recognition of red China has been mentioned. Members of the Labour party are not alone in thinking that red China should be recognized. The Secretary of the United Nations, who visited here a fortnight ago, told the press of Australia that there is a distinct movement towards admitting red China to the United Nations. I am not raising this subject as a major point; it is an incidental point, among many others, which has to be corrected before we can have a real world organization.
As far back as the 11th January, 1951, the Melbourne Herald advocated that common sense, and a sense of reality must definitely lead to the recognition of red China by the United Nations.
– That was before China marched into Korea.
– That is true. That may have had some effect on the Herald. Its arguments are universal and would not be affected by the current situation, although, of course, changes have taken place since the particular article was written. That article says -
But the recognition of Peking should come if the attempt to bring all Pacific countries together in drafting a treaty for Japan is to succeed. It certainly must come if the Korean war is to be ended without heavy sacrifice.-
The Korean war was taking place at the time -
Acceptance of the facts in China does not commit any nation to approval of the Peking Government, neither docs it spell appeasement. It opens a line of communication. At a time when the risks of a third world war are so high, no means of talking to the rulers of China should be neglected.
That article, which was written during the Korean war, expressed the considered judgment of the leader-writer of the Melbourne Herald.
.- lt is not possible within the scope of the time allotted to each speaker in this debate to cover and canvass all the items and aspects of foreign policy which loom as ones with importance. If I were to proceed to answer the arguments - and my refusal to do so is a wanton display of charity on my part - as presented to thi House this afternoon by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) I fear that the twenty minutes of my time would vanish completely. I do, however, want to engage him on one matter, and that 13 the recognition of red China. It always appears to me to be a curious attitude of mind on the part of the devotees of the cult who press for the recognition of red China, that they are extremely silent on the question of Formosa.
– Why do you not speak English?
– If the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) would stop mumbling and cultivate a little more affection for silence, the Australian people might cultivate a little more affection for him. Is it proposed to neutralize Formosa or is it proposed that Formosa should be handed over, lock, stock and barrel, to the Chinese mainland, to fall under Communist rule? That is a fair question, and I ask members of the Opposition, who are committed to that policy, to make themselves plain in that sense. It is a fair and reasonable proposition, and one that must command their attention.
I want, in particular, to say something about South-East Asia. Even though it may appear to be a. mild anachronism, I believe that South-East Asia and the problems that flow out of South-East Asia cannot be considered in their right perspective unless one goes back to the British museum more than 100 years ago. I know that that, statement may seem odd, but the simple fact is thai Karl Marx did most of his research in the British museum.
– In the library?
– Exactly - in the library. There he concocted a great deal of the basis of the Communist manifesto, and the development of the Marxist theory. It happens to be one of the basic contradictions inherent in Marxism that, colonial countries and Western countries or, if one wishes, capitalist countries - it is a matter of no great consequence how they are described - cannot exist together for all time. That is the contradiction as seen by Marx, and 1. believe that we must examine the problems of South-East Asia and the development of South-East Asia over the last generation with that in the background. It is perfectly true that that Marxian contradiction had a great deal in it. We have seen, over the years, the’ gradual rise of nationalist movements throughout South-East Asia, and we have seen the problems that have accompanied those nationalist movements. All honorable gentlemen will be aware of the nature of those nationalist movements. But the tragedy came when the Union of Soviet. Socialist Republics cashed in on tho.°e nationalist movements in order to further its own ends and its own aims. I say that Western countries, or capitalist countries, on many occasions, committed gross errors of judgment in the pursuit of various policies throughout SouthEast Asia. None of us. I believe, is in a position to say that virtue in all colonial matters is on the side of all Western countries.
France’s history in Indo-China, 1 believe, is a sad and sorry business. The attitude of the United States of America in colonial affairs has been conditioned by the prejudice that went back to the break between the United Kingdom and the United States. The attitude of the United States to colonial matters was one of distrust and disfavour. It believed that colonial countries could be brought to self-government within a strict time-table. It believed that there was no need for any great deal of understanding to be commanded in the matter. The United States believed that Western countries which had colonial peoples within their responsibility should set a definite time-table for those peoples to move towards self-government. Of course, the United States lived to regret the conditioned reflex of mind which ran right throughout America’s thinking on all colonial matters.
When I admit that Western policy in South-East Asia has been in error, J think that the House and the country must recognize the fact that the United Kingdom has made a splendid effort in its colonial pursuits throughout Asia to assist colonial peoples and backward countries. No person, looking at the history of India, Pakistan or Ceylon or, ind-ied, Malaya can let pass unnoticed the fact that the United Kingdom has played a magnificent part in helping those people to establish themselves. But the truth remains that errors have occurred in the past, and it is incumbent upon us now to see that we do not commit ourselves to errors in future.
Lenin had a dictum that he believed the shortest route to London and Paris was through Peking. I believe that we. are now seeing the truth of that Leninist dictum. South-East Asia has virtually fallen under Communist control. A definite date, unfortunately, appears to have been set for self-government in Malaya. I was somewhat distressed to see that there is a proposal to incorporate Singapore within the Malayan Federation. I believe that is a tragedy, for this reason. Whereas General Sir Gerald
Templar’s writ in Malaya had a great value and assisted that country, his writ did not extend to Singapore; and Singapore - in a loose and vulgar sense - is rotten with communism. That fact must be realized, and I hope that all Australians will realize it.
Impinging upon this great problem is the question of population. In 1951 the Indian Census Commissioner released his report on population. He established - I suppose with a reasonable degree of accuracy - that, in 1951, India had a population of 360,000,000. He estimated that India’s population in 1961 would be 410,000,000; and further, that in 1971 it would be 460,000,000. I have taken the report of the Indian Census Commissioner as a basis, and added to it what demographic information I could get. I have arrived at an estimate that the population of Asia and Oceania in 1971 will be somewhere between 1,800,000,000 and 2,000,000,000 people. The population of Australia may or may not approach 14,000,000 people in 1971. I put it to the House that that is a sobering consideration. The Indian Census Commissioner, in his report, said that he believed that there were but two alternatives ; one, catastrophe, to be measured in terms of pestilence and disease; and the. other in terms of a miracle which was described as a widespread and voluntary acceptance of birth control. I do not want to get involved in any Malthusian argument but I believe that the House, in considering South-East Asia, must consider the enormous question of population.
In this country, there has been little attempt to understand Asia or the problems of the Asian people. How many of us can greet Asians in their own language? Do we understand their culture, their traditions, or their background? Do we understand their minds? Of course, we do not! I believe that the great majority of Australians have been deluding themselves for far too long, and I also believe that it is time that a responsive and responsible public opinion was cultivated in this country in order that the problems of South-East Asia might be understood. Great assistance would he given to this country if members of this Parliament were to go on visits to South-East Asia, and see the peoples there, and their problems, at first hand. Further, I believe that a great deal of value would be gained by establishing in this Parliament an all-party Asian affairs committee. Do not imagine that I am trying to fragment the problems of the world ; but here is a matter which is near to u3 in this country. Whilst Opposition members have demonstrated a singular reluctance to join in any move to get unanimity in these matters, I ask them to consider the significance and importance of this problem, and if they find it agreeable to them, to state so in the plainest terms. Of all of these matters concerning South-east Asia there is, of course, one which overshadows all others. That is the question of nuclear warfare. In the world to-day we are seeing a race for supremacy in nuclear and thermonuclear weapons. The Soviet Union to-day possesses thousands of thermonuclear bombs. The United States of America’s stocks of thermo-nuclear bombs is measured in tens of thousands. The proposal has been advanced in this House, and outside it, that the solution to this display of insanity, to this mad rush for supremacy in thermo-nuclear weapons, is to establish some form of international organization to control and to police the manufacture of thermo-nuclear weapons. That appears, on the surface, to be an attractive proposal, but I believe that the House must face the fact that in the past every convention, every treaty, every protocol, every pact entered into, has been broken. The whole of history is littered with broken agreements. I ask the House : Is the establishment of an international agency the solution? Is some peculiar lustration to be performed on human nature? Is man going to renounce his ideas and his ambitions for power in the face of this threatening disaster? We have seen, in our time, the Baruch plan, which was put forward in 1945, proposing to establish an international agency. We saw the first Eisenhower plan, and we have seen the outline of one in the last few days. The Soviet’s attitude to those proposals was one of coldness and disinterest. “Yes; we will accept them”, was the Soviet’s attitude, “ but only if the right of veto is retained “. But that is not a very practical proposal. We have seen the differences of opinion that have emerged between the United Kingdom and the United States of America over the control of nuclear weapons. We saw the Quebec Agreement, which was drawn up between President Roosevelt and Sir Winston Churchill, and we saw an American Congress pass the McMahon Act, being completely unaware of the existence of the Quebec Agreement, and washing out all of its provisions.
Here is a problem that requires great understanding, and, above all, great honesty of purpose. I ask the House: Has the Soviet Union displayed great honesty of purpose, and do the members of the House believe that the Soviet Union would be prepared to enter into an agreement of this nature and hold to it? I should imagine that no person in this House, be he on the Government side or the Opposition side, would accuse me of displaying too much parental affection if I say that, as I look at these problems - the problems of South-East Asia and the problems associated with thermo-nuclear weapons - I fear and become a little apprehensive for the future of my children. Similarly, I should not imagine that I would be accused of parading my patriotism unnecessarily if I say that I fear for the future of this country and its people. But then, I remind myself and this House that despair and despondency will accomplish nothing. The old invocation of the church, Sursum corda - Lift up your hearts ! - can and will sustain those who hear it.
– Why does not the honorable member speak English?
– I know that that sounds nonsense to the honorable member for Hindmarsh, but there are millions of people throughout this country, sincere in their minds and hearts, who want peace, and none of the seventeen decisions of the Hobart conference of the Australian Labour party will secure that in this country.
.- Before dealing with one particular aspect of the statement made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) a fortnight ago, I should like to refer to the allegation of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) that we on this side of the House are not attempting to obtain unanimity on foreign affairs. I doubt very much whether, in the processes of democratic government, unanimity is desired. Although the two political parties in the United States of America, the Democratic party and the Republican party, have shown a spirit of bipartisanship in relation to that country’s foreign policy, they have had very real differences. It is only by the clash of differences openly aired in this House that an acceptable compromise, and the best compromise, can be arrived at, after the forms of democratic parliamentary government have been proceeded with. Therefore, unless the members of a foreign affairs committee may openly and frankly discuss their differences and arrive at a conclusion which can be brought back and thoroughly commended to this chamber, without first obtaining the consent of the Minister to the matters that may be discussed and to the manner in which they can be discussed, the appointment of such a committee must be, in the long run, purely a negative approach, and can only result in an unqualified endorsement of the Government’s foreign policy. That is why we on this side of the House have refused to agree to a one-way committee, in which free discussion and exchange of ideas are denied.
It is quite true, and in this I agree with the honorable member for Moreton, that the world is at present engaged upon a race for supremacy in thermo-nuclear weapons, which can lead to only one logical conclusion. The Minister for External Affairs said in this House on the 22nd February -
At the heart of the grand alliance of free nations are the United Kingdom and the United States, linked with others through Nato and with others again through Seato. The present absence of open conflict in the world has been possible only because of the constructive and generous way in which these two great partners have used their strength and resources to serve the free world as a whole. It is of vital interest to Australia and every other free country that Britain and America should maintain and strengthen their great partnership with each other and with other like-minded nations.
No one can seriously disagree with the general idea behind that statement, but the difficulty, like most difficulties that arise in democratic institutions, is rather one of emphasis. “We have seen before in the history of the world what has happened to another great alliance. We know that inevitably two great alliances have emerged, and we know that the result has been the same in every case - inevitably war.
A review of the statements made by the Minister on the 22nd February of this year and in September, 1954, and by the Prime Minister last year, after considering the policy enunciated by Mr., now Sir Percy, Spender, after the 1949 elections, shows that these statements are characterized by an insistence on defensive military alliances rather than a recognition of the spirit of the United Nations charter of human rights. We can, in fairness, say that there are three aspects of the policy that the Government has pursued. The first one - and significantly the first one - has regard to strong regional pacts. The second has reference to economic and technical assistance for backward countries, and the third refers to close political and economic relationships with like-minded democratic nations. The Geneva settlement gave a new urgency to Seato. We have always insisted that, in these treaties, any agreements relating to military alliances and the like shall be in conformity with the general principles of the charter of the United Nations.
That brings me to the question of the -difference in emphasis. The Prime Minister, in his speech last year, referred to a statement in the charter of the United Nations that armed force shall not be used save in the common interest. Those words, taken out of their context, tend to distort the truth and to suggest the desirability of the use pf armed force as a first measure. But the relevant parts of the passage in the charter from which those words were taken read as follows : -
We, the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind to re-affirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal right of men and women of nations large and small and … to promote social progress and better standards of life . . . and for these ends to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours and … to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the insttution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these ends.
The charter expresses the hope that only as a last resort will the force of arms be used for the preservation of our common interests and our existence. Let us look at the system of alliances which has been built up in the Pacific area. I think it can be said with all honesty that never at any stage has Seato been supported to the extent that our previous Minister for External Affairs, Mr. P. C. Spender, the present Minister for External Affairs and the Prime Minister would like. Proof of what I am saying is to be found in the fact that the decision to send Australian troops to Malaya was not made after consultation with the Seato Powers. It was made without consulting those powers, which were advised of our decision only after it had been made. So we see that the decision to send Australian troops to Malaya could not have been right, because, in the first place, the decision was made in the wrong way. Machinery exists for the making of such decisions in consultation and co-operation with the other nations affected, but the machinery was not used in that case. Therefore, regardless of whether the effect of the decision will be good or bad, it was wrong to make the decision without prior consultation.
We on this side of the House accept the proposition that, despite some aspects of Seato to which I shall refer later, any interference in the internal affairs of a nation should arise only from a request by that nation or as the result of a direction by the Security Council or the General Assembly of the United Nations. The United Nations directed that troops be sent to Korea, because it was considered that that was the only way in which to reach an effective decision there. However, the result was a military stalemate, after much loss of life on both sides - mainly of American lives on our side. We learned that the use of force does not provide a solution to the problem of achieving world peace. In the final analysis, the peace in Korea was a negotiated peace, which could have been concluded in the initial stages if the parties had approached the conference table in the right frame of mind. But, unfortunately, whether the issue be an industrial dispute, a trade dispute or an international dispute, all too often men and nations approach the conference table, asking themselves, “ “What are our minimum demands? “ I submit that the correct approach should be, “ What are the maximum concessions that we can make?” if we look at the South-East Asia treaty, we see that, in Article IV. (b), an attempt is made to bind the contracting parties to a military contract similar to the North Atlantic treaty. But the SouthEast Asia treaty does not go as far as this Government would like. The parties have undertaken that, in the event of aggression against any member nation, they will act to meet the common danger in accordance with their constitutional needs. The Manila pact, as it is sometimes called, makes no attempt to establish the unified military and naval command necessary to put teeth into it. In fact, there are only three Asian members - Thailand, the Philippines and Pakistan. 1 believe it was that fact which prompted Madame Pandit to remark, with some degree of truth, that it was a South-East Asia alliance minus South-East Asia.
A significant feature of the pact - one which may cause a considerable amount of concern in the immediate future as it affects Thailand and Indo-China - is that an attempt is made to define aggressive infiltration and the action to be taken by member nations if that kind of aggression occurs. The pact certainly breaks new ground in its attempt to open up channels for legalized and licensed intervention in the internal affairs of member nations, although there is a qualification that such intervention must be the unanimous wish of all member nations. Last December, Mr. Dulles uttered a forthright warning of the danger of that kind oi intervention.
In the Anzus treaty, we have the position working in reverse. Under the terms of that treaty, we should be bound to go to war over Formosa, in certain circumstances, if America decided to invoke the treaty obligations. In the past, we have seen the realistic approaches that have been made to international problems by a Labour government in Great Bri tain and by a Labour government in this country. We have seen the degree to which conciliation, a desire to negotiate and an appreciation of the human needs of our less fortunate neighbours can contribute to a solution of international problems. Only if we act in accordance with the principles of justice and human equality shall we solve international problems without resorting to force, which we all abhor and which we say unanimously should be avoided.
Therefore, our motive becomes the paramount consideration. If our motive in co-operating in the Colombo plan and trying to reach an understanding with other peoples is only to maintain our own security, I believe that our policy will be regarded, quite rightly, as only a policy of appeasement. If, on the other hand, our motive is to obtain a genuine understanding, for instance, of the Indonesian attitude to Dutch New Guinea or the attitude of the Chinese to the two Chinas and Formosa, and to the admission of red China to the United Nations - which cannot be denied - then, and only then, will we be in a position to take the action necessary to prevent the emergence of threats to world peace and avoid a resort to the ultimate horror of atomic warfare, which would lead probably to the extinction of mankind.
Mr. LUCOCK (Lyne) [5.26 J.- First, .1 would like to congratulate the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) on the very valuable contribution that he made to this debate on foreign affairs. The only objection that I had to one or two portions of his speech was that they rather anticipated what I intended to say and therefore, to a degree, my field has been limited. It was a speech which I think honorable members on both sides of the House must admit has given us food for thought. It is important and valuable that at this particular time we should be debating foreign affairs because, looking around the world, one finds much that calls for serious thought.
I am afraid that I disagree with the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. E. W. Holt), who said that the Government went the wrong way about sending troops to Malaya. He suggested that it was within the province of the United Nations to make a decision upon that matter. However, Malaya was regarded as a domestic issue, over which the United Nations had no control. A similar situation arose in Indo-China. From many quarters it was suggested that the United Nations should intervene by sending the troops of various member nations into that country. The French opposed that suggestion, whenever it was put forward, on the ground that it would widen the conflagration. As has been mentioned on a number of occasions, the sending of troops to Malaya was a response by the Australian Government, on behalf of the Australian people, to a. request by the United Kingdom Government that this country should take some share of the responsibility for the defence of the lands to our north. Moreover, it was welcomed by the Malayan Government. That has been proved conclusively in recent months. The Malayan Government has offered no objection to Australian troops being in Malaya. Now that the Malayan people are to receive their independence we will be able to see the sincerity or otherwise of the Communist guerrilla forces, who have opposed our wish to establish Malayan independence and freedom.
I think that we should all ponder over these words of the Minister for External Affairs -
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and I had both felt it necessary in public statements to recommend caution in coming to too rosy conclusions at that time.
He was referring to the time when the four heads of governments were meeting in Geneva. He said further - 1 told the House that it would be premature to assume that all was well by reason of the Soviet smiles at Geneva. These reservations have unfortunately been justified by what has happened - and what has not happened - since then. I said that, though the heads of government had been able to agree on certain general observations, the test would be when these general statements had to be applied to particular issues such as German unity, European collective security, East-West contacts and disarmament. The first testing times have passed - a session of the United Nations Disarmament Sub-committee, the November meeting of Foreign Ministers, and the recent General Assembly of the United Nations. All these meetings have shown that, when it comes down to specific issues, the Communist attitude is fundamentally unchanged from what it was before the heads of government met at Geneva. Tt is now clear that the Russians meant to reduce surface tensions only, without giving way on any of the specific matters that created the tensions.
I think that the truth of that has been shown by events since the Geneva meetings and the various other meetings mentioned by the Minister. “We must be very careful to keep that in mind whether we are considering this matter or international affairs generally.
No one would deny that the Australian people, in common with the rest of the Western world, desire peace, but a mere desire for peace will not bring it about. We know that heads of the Soviet Government are past-masters in the art of propaganda and that what appear on the surface to be movements for peace can be seen, when analysed, to be merely movements to drive a wedge between the Western democracies. At the same time, we must not be so suspicious as to regard every move by the Russians as hostile. We must analyse carefully not only the words but also the actions of the Soviet Union.
It has been said that we cannot win the battle against communism by force of arms alone. Any one will agree with that. I would like to read to honorable members a report on the assistance that the United States of America is giving to other countries in nuclear development. The report reads -
Secondly, and even more important at this stage to newly developing countries which can think of atomic power only as a dream of the future, the United States is continuing to train technologists from other countries in its most advanced nuclear engineering laboratories. The atomic fuel offer undoubtedly will increase interest abroad in the whole ‘field of nuclear physics and atomic engineering. The latest information on this vital queston of training is that at least 70 technicians and scientists from 29 nations already have graduated from the various research projects being conducted at the famous super-secret Oak Ridge installation and the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago. At the same time, the U.S. had helped to plan an International Atomic Energy Agency, the proposed U.N. body that stems from the President’s original “ Atoms-for-Peace “ blueprint of December, 1953. This projected agency is up for discussion next week when 12 of the U.N. countries meet here to work out a draft statute for this “ Atom Pool “. Whatever the outcome of these talks, the original Eisenhower concept of spreading the peaceful uses of atomic energy has been given new muscle by this week’s encouraging events. [Quorum formed.’] If the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) who drew the attention of the Chair to the state of the House, had as much thought for the country as he pretends to have for attendances in the chamber, we might not have to listen to his interjections on so many occasions.
The obvious question that arises from the President’s plan is: What nation, having in its hands the existing power and the potential power of nuclear energy to such a degree as the United States has and, having a desire to make war on others, and impose its will on them, would spend time, wealth and energy in training technicians from 29 other nations in the peaceful use of atomic energy? The behaviour of the United States in this regard is, in my opinion, in itself further proof of the desire of America, along with the other Western Powers, for a peaceful conclusion to the international discussions on atomic energy.
I have noticed that members of the Opposition state frequently in this chamber that the existing cold war is a war of ideas, and that we must go into it armed with better ideas than our opponents have. They say that if we wish to defeat communism we have to offer the world ideas and ideals which will have greater strength to attract than those that the Communists have. Nobody would deny the truth of that proposition but, as was pointed out by the Prime Minister, the Soviet Union is entering the field of conflict, not only with words, but also with all the material power in arms that it can use safely short of starting a full-scale war. I ask members of the Opposition whether they would care to go to Czechoslovakia, Poland, Lithuania, or any of the other countries which the Soviet Union has ingurgitated in the last fifteen years, and ask the people there whether their countries were taken over by words alone, or whether other means - the fear of the mailed fist, the concentration camp, the brutalities and horrors suffered by those people - were not also used. Let honorable members opposite try to tell the people of those countries that their lands were taken over by the force of ideas alone.
As the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) pointed out, an enlightening comparison is to be found between the numbers of people who have been forcibly taken into the Soviet orbit and the numbers who have been given their independence by the Western Nations. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) said in his speech in the House on the 22nd February -
Let us look at the record more generally. Throughout the world the Communists denounce “ colonialism “ and “ imperialism “. This is good international political talk, and a good deal of sympathy can be gained by so> doing. A century ago the Russian author Turgenev wrote, “If you wish to put your enemy in the wrong or to damage his reputation, blame him for the very vice which you. feel in yourself “.
I would say that honorable member* opposite are assisting the Communists by their constant reiteration of loose statements about the evils of colonialism. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), when speaking of the value of colonialism admitted, as we all do, that the record of our colonialism is not a perfect record. But can any nation in the history of the world claim a perfect record? I am proud to be a citizen of a member country of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and I am proud of the contribution that our empire and our people have made to the peace and progress of the world.
On one occasion the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) quoted a statement made by Mr. Justice Douglas of the United States Supreme Court; hut he did not carry the quotation far enough. He quoted only that part of the statement which suited him. Mr. Justice Douglas said, in addition to what was quoted by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, that it was admitted that the success of India in gearing itself to independence was because of the magnificent foundation which had been laid by the British when India was under British control. I think it is about time that we stopped, in this House of all places, the continual crying down of the efforts we have made in the past, under our colonial policy, to develop the areas we colonized and to improve living conditions for the people there. To talk of such evils of colonialism as existed, and which are now things of the past, as honorable members opposite do, is to hand to communism in former colonial territories, where nationalism is growing, a weapon which can ultimately be turned against ourselves. I tell honorable members opposite now that they may, in truth, be sowing the wind which future generations of Australians will reap as a whirlwind.
Now let us consider the ideological aspect of the world conflict. We have a faith and a way of life far superior to their Communist counterparts, now or ever, and we must be determined that that position shall not alter. At the same time, however, we must also show strength in order to maintain our way of life. When Indo-China fell into the hands of the Communists many leading people in that country literally said, *’ What was the good of fighting ? We might as well have given in to the Communists in the first place and saved ourselves the suffering that we have gone through because of our resistance since, after all, we have been given away at Geneva. We could have gone over to the Communist camp long ago, and saved ourselves from the sufferings of war.” Unless we are prepared to show that we have the strength to back up our words we shall find that words alone are not enough. I would say, without a shadow of doubt, that the Russians back up their words with strength, and sometimes their use of strength comes before their use of words. It is interesting to read reports which are coming from Viet Nam at the moment, which show that the Premier of South Viet Nam, Ngo Dinh Diem, has made tremendous gains in the area under his control and has been able, over a period of time, to establish himself as one of the dominating figures in SouthEast Asia. The futile divisions which afflicted that country are being eliminated, and South Viet Nam has been able to take many refugees from the Communist north off the streets of Saigon, and out of the refugee camps, and resettle them on the land. Diem has been able to make a tremendous advance towards democracy. I believe the reason is that the Western Powers have shown that they have faith in this man, and have shown it not only in words, but also in financial and material military support. The latest results of the elections, which were held recently in order to dis cover whether or not the country supported Diem, are most encouraging. They show that Diem has greatly strengthened his position in that area.
Those are ways in which, as has been mentioned by other speakers on this side of the chamber. we can show the people in these areas that we desire to be their friends and to assist them. We are already showing them that through the medium of the Colombo plan. We should also show them that we shall assist them not only with words, but also, if the need arises, with material strength.
Mention was made of the effect of the admission of red China to membership of the United Nations. Can we admit a country that has shown all the powers and strength of aggression, and has refused to ally itself with the decencies of life? Can such a country be admitted to membership of the United Nations? We say that the Government of red China should, first of all, prove that it is fit to take its place with the Western nations, and then the matter of its admission to the United Nations may be considered. We want from the leaders of red China more than words. They should show by their deeds that they are prepared to join with other nations in working for the progress, not. merely of one area of the world, but for the whole world. One Opposition member said that there would be a great deal of delay in calling a world conference to discuss the banning of atomic and hydrogen bombs.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- 1 approach the discussion of foreign affairs with considerable humility because I recognize the difficult problems involved in it. I am also a little embarrassed by the apparent confidence and selfrighteousness which certain speakers on the Government benches who preceded me in this debate displayed. At the same time as they lamented the development of Communist power in the world they told us of the success of communism in both Europe and Asia. They then expressed their pride in their own policy, and told us what had been done by non-Communist Powers to improve the conditions of people in many lands. This 20-iifiict of aim and achievement is some thing which should make them less selfconfident. In my opinion, the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison), who is interjecting, is just as self-righteous as are some of the lesser lights sitting on his side of the chamber.
It is important, at this stage, to try to outline some of the points of agreement that exist between members on opposite sides of the House, as well as the points of difference between them. Honorable members on this side of the chamber are just as determined to work for and secure tho welfare and protection of Australia as are any supporters of the Government. Moreover, they are just as determined to take the steps necessary to ensure that Australia will be adequately defended as are those on the Government benches. History, with which, from the interjections of one or two members on the Government side, it would appear that some supporters of the Government are not familiar, illustrates what I have said. “When this country became engaged in war in 1914 it was not to the parties now sitting on the Government benches that the people of Australia looked to govern them; they turned to the Australian Labour party. Again, in 1941, when Australia faced the greatest crisis in its history, it was not the Australian Labour party which proved incapable of governing, and which fell into ruins in its inability. It was the parties on the Government side of the House, and again the people turned to the Labour party to govern. I predict that, in the future, as in the past, the Australian Labour party will prove itself thoroughly capable of discharging the responsibility for the adequate defence of Australia.
We on this side have certain differences with the Government, and I suggest that those differences, particularly those relating to Australia’s defence and the most effective way of protecting this country, are shared by some supporters of the Government. Those differences include the financing of our defence policy, the distribution of our resources, and whether the emphasis should be on air, sea or land forces. There are also differences of opinion about where those forces should operate. An objective examination has shown that our views, when they have differed from those of the Government,, have been justified.
During this debate other differenceshave been revealed. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) spoke of countries which, he said, had always loved freedom, and he gave as examples Poland,. Czechoslovakia and other European countries. He added that some of them had come under Communist control. The position is not quite so simple as that,, because some of those countries, before coming under Communist control, were ruled by a privileged class which had no regard for the interests of the massesof the people over whom they ruled.. Had it not been for their unjust treatment of the masses, I am convinced, and’, there is evidence to support my view,, that communism would not have progressed so rapidly in Europe as it hasdone. Some of those nations were not freedom-loving nations before the warSome of them were under a cruel dictatorship. In the noise caused by interjections from Government supporters T repeat that these things had a good deal to do with the advance of communism in the countries to which I have referred. Honorable members will not deny that there were concentration camps, and clear evidence of the mailed first, in some of those countries. Since then, however, the people in some of those countries havebeen given an opportunity to contributeto the economic development of their homeland - opportunities that they did not previously possess. Let us look at Germany, to which the Minister for’ External Affairs (Mr. Casey) referred in his statement to the House. Dealing: with the subject of unification of Germany, the Minister said that the Russianshad made it clear that they would not agree to unification. It must he realized, that the Russians have spheres of influence and of interest, the same as. other nations have.
In referring to the Middle East, the Minister said -
Each side must recognize that the other has interests, and thai the reconciliation of interests is something negotiable either within or outside the United Nations.
As I have said, the Russians also have their spheres of influence. It is completely unrealistic to imagine that they will give up their control of Eastern Germany, and it is equally unrealistic to keep on hammering about it. “When I was in Europe recently, I saw the difference between the treatment of Germany and of Austria by the Russians. The difference was marked. The Russians showed that they feared Germany, but they were not greatly concerned about Austria. I found in many quarters that Russia’s differential treatment of Germany and Austria had been overlooked These matters are not so simple and straightforward as some speakers during this debate would have us believe.
I turn now to another subject raised during this debate, namely, the recognition of the Communist Government of China and the admission of red China to membership of the United Nations. As I listened to the debate, I formed the opinion that the main objection raised was the future of Formosa. Let us face up to the situation there. There are several things which could be done. Formosa could be placed under the control of the United Nations, and in that way the tension now existing would be relieved considerably. I believe that that could be secured if a bargain were made and the Government of red China was recognized and red China admitted to membership of the United Nations, but I know that there are differences of opinion on this subject also. Those are the differences that I suggest do exist between the attitude of honorable members on this side of the House, who are endeavouring to end the conflict and disorder which exist between the political parties on certain issues, and the attitude of honorable members on the Government side.
Let us now return to the matter of the hydrogen bomb. The Minister for External Affairs said he believed that nuclear disarmament was impossible. If he believes that, why does he continue to say that we are ready to negotiate at any time to secure nuclear disarmament? Why does he keep up that fiction? If complete disarmament is impossible under present international circumstances, why keep up the fiction that we think that it might be possible? Let us realize that at present nuclear disarmament is impossible because there is no system of inspection that would be accepted by both sides. Let us then turn to something that is possible - the ending of further nuclear experiments. Here, too, we find a difference of opinion between this side of the House and the Government side. If we can rely on the present power of the hydrogen bomb - which is said to be 1,000 to 2,000 times as great as the power of the bomb which killed 80,000 people in Japan in 1945 - to intimidate the nations into peace rather than war, why should we need bombs of any greater power to ‘further intimidate them into peace ? Do we need to make the hydrogen bomb 10,000 times as powerful as the bombs that fell on Japan during World War II.? Of course we do not. We have gone far enough, and it should be possible to reach agreement without going any further with nuclear experiments. An agreement of that type should be easy to enforce.
– How can an agreement be enforced without inspection?
– In the United States of America, Great Britain and Australia there are instruments which can detect an atomic explosion in any part of the world. Of course we could inspect and we could ascertain where atomic experiments were taking place. That is not only my opinion, it is also the opinion of experts in these matters. That is another matter upon which we on this side of the House differ from honorable members on the Government side. There is also a difference between us about regional pacts, and where in those pacts the emphasis should be laid. The emphasis in regional pacts like Nato and Seato has been placed upon their military content. I do not suggest that a military content is not necessary, but I believe, and so does the party to which I have the honour to belong, that in organizing our defence not only must we give attention to the military content of defence pacts, but stress should also be laid on other matters.
In 1952 and 1954 proposals were put forward to the United Nations - and they were well investigated - for the establishment of a United Nations Economic Development Administration and a special United Nations Fund for Economic Development, which would have guaranteed and protected the economic strength of the “Western countries to enable them to provide economic aid and assistance to Asian countries. We should be directing to the solution of this economic problem the kind of organization that we created during World War II., because nothing less than that will make an appreciable difference to the state of affairs in Asia.
This kind of economic development must come as a first priority and not as a tenth, twentieth or fortieth priority. I suggest that the Minister will not forever be able to live on his achievements through the Colombo Plan, because that is far too small a thing to maintain his diplomatic reputation for the remainder of his political life.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, I was pointing out that the diplomatic platitudes and the Colombo plan were not enough to sustain a diplomatic reputation for the Minister for very long, and that something much more substantial was required. In conclusion, I should like to sum up the remarks I made when I said that the Government and its supporters had tended to discuss foreign affairs in a self-righteous and confident manner, despite the fact that the policy they have supported has been unable to prevent what they themselves have called a rapid and extensive advance of communism. The lack of success of their policy in this direction surely should make them think again. In fact, the Government has had no more success in dealing with the problems of foreign policy than it has had in dealing with the problems of inflation, and we all know that it has had no success in that connexion.
I have pointed out that there are points of agreement between the Government and the Australian Labour party in relation to foreign policy, and points of disagreement also. The points of agreement are that the Labour party has been concerned and probably more concerned than has any other party with the protection and welfare of the Australian people.
It has done more to provide adequate defence for Australia than any otherparty has done. The record of the Labour party in two world wars has proved that contention to the hilt. There are alsopoints of disagreement between the Government and the Labour party on foreign policy, and these are; important and’ deserve consideration. First, it has been claimed that communism has made advances in freedom-loving countries where social conditions were presumably good and the people happy. In fact, the opposite is very nearly the truth. The advance of communism has been made where almost opposite conditions prevailed. The first thing to do in dealing with communism is to remove injustice in the countries where communism might advance.
I have pointed out that it is useless to try to secure the unity of Germany and to refuse recognition of continental1 China. The facts must be recognized. We must also recognize the cause of the problem. When that is done, matters like Formosa can be adjusted by agreement, and there is no reason why Formosa could not be placed under the trusteeship of the United Nations. If, on the other hand, an attempt is made to achieve an unrealizable objective, such as the unity of Germany, it is likely that France will be forced out of the Western alliance. All these are things that can be seen beforehand, but in all of them the policy of the Government has led to failure - and what should have been done has not been recognized until it is too late.
Nuclear disarmament is recognized as impossible,, and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has said so. It is time to cease acting as though it were a possibility. This being the case, we should aim to secure something less - we should aim to stop further experiments in the development of nuclear weapons. Those developments can be effectively policed because nuclear experiments can be detected over thousands of miles. That is a realizable possibility and the important thing is to concentrate on realizable possibilities in foreign policy. That is in accordance with the foreign policy of the Australian Labour party.
On the question of regional agreements, we believe that such agreements as Nato and Seato place too much stress on military matters. We believe that economic development should take priority. The United Nations’ recommendations for the setting up of a United Nations Economic Development Administration received little or no support from the Australian representative when brought before the United Nations Council. On the other hand, the Labour party believes in supporting such proposals to the full. We believe that the problem of economic development cannot be solved by something like the Colombo plan - a few crumbs that drop from the relatively rich man’s table. We believe that economic development requires the kind of effort with which the Western Powers conducted World War II. in the Pacific and European zones. Nothing much less will make an appreciable advance. We can afford such an effort and, at the same time, maintain our standard of living. Our problem is not to produce goods, but to find consumers for the goods we produce.
The Australian Labour party differs from the Government in that this party has a more fundamental respect for the people of South-East Asia and for their movement towards independence. The Government parties adopt a policy of granting independence when they are forced to do so. We wish to follow the practice of the British Labour party which was put into operation in the case of India and our own example in the case of Indonesia. The Government has failed in foreign policy as badly as it has with inflation.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Before I reply to the interesting and somewhat unusual statements that have been made by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), I think it would be wise if I started by stating some facts. We are debating a motion for the printing of a paper on international affairs which was submitted by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) in a ministerial statement. I believe that honorable members should think a moment of the main purpose behind the right honorable gentleman’s mind in making the statement at this time. There are several important reasons for having a Department of External Affairs under the administration of a Minister for External Affairs. The first is that we wish to co-operate with those nations that have the same objectives as ourselves. They are our friends and allies, and we wish to maintain friendly relations in order to promote the peace of the world by co-operation between the nations, and by the interchange of information about our objectives on the peace level as well as in matters of defence. In addition, we want to promote trade between the nations as well as we can by the interchange of ideas. I believe that those are the main ideas behind the Department of External Affairs. I am encouraged to say that because, in his concluding remarks, the Minister said -
I conclude by referring to what I might describe as the “ working rules “ by which this Government conducts the management of our relations with the rest of the world.
The Minister then stated what he considered those “ working rules “ to be. I repeat them for honorable members, because I believe they support my statement about the need for maintaining a strong and active Department of External Affairs. The Minister stated -
East Asia and to co-operate in helping them to solve their problems;
Having stated those points, and remembering what has already been placed before the House by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley ) in a different way, and by the honorable member for Yarra, who has just resumed his seat, the following enunciation of facts will make their remarks even more interesting. I think it is true to say that at the present time we in Australia are fighting a three-front war. To-night, we are discussing only the problems associated with external affairs, which is one of the fronts to which I refer, but the other two fronts cannot be ignored. Indeed, they are related one to the other. The three fronts on which we are fighting on behalf of our country, in order to maintain our position in the world, to maintain our freedom and our standard of living, can be described as follows:One is that we have to recognize the southward march of communism through Asia, South-East Asia and towards Australia. Various honorable members, who have already addressed the House during this debate, have referred to that subject. In relation to it, we have to take into consideration the current economic situation, which was mentioned in passing in the House during another debate to-day, and which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) himself forecast will be the subject of a debate that he will initiate next week.
The third factor that one has to take into consideration is that there is evidence in this country at the present time of planned industrial unrest, because 1 think it is quite true to say that despite the efforts that have been made by this Government, and despite the fights that have been carried on by some members of the Opposition, as well as by some members of the trade union movement, the Communists are regaining power in various organizations in Australia. “Whilst that is a domestic matter - something that is happening within our own borders - it cannot be ignored when we are considering the subject of foreign affairs because, unfortunately, the two run together.
Before continuing with my own remarks, I wish to reply, to what has been addressed to the House by the honorable member for Yarra. He went to some pains to say, first of all, that bc thought that there were quite a number of items on which both sides of the House agreed. I think that is true. He went to even greater pains to suggest that there was a number of points on which members of the opposite sides of the House disagreed. That is very true. May I remind you, sir, that on various occasions honorable members on this side of the House have said that certain members opposite had spoken along the Communist line. The Opposition on various occasions has taken that to mean that. Government members had said that some members of the Opposition were Communists. I do not think that is a proper inference to draw. Nevertheless, some members of the Oppositon say things that are entirely in line with the propaganda that is being thrust upon the world by Soviet Russia by means of international communism.
One could cite many examples. I shall refer to several of the comments by thihonorable member for Yarra prior to the suspension of the sitting before dinner. He mentioned the differences between himself and honorable members on this side of the House in relation to the placement of our forces overseas. I shall deal with that matter in a moment or two. He also said that the people of the countries which are now suffering imperial Communist domination were, in a number of cases, not freedom-loving people, but people living under a cruel dictatorship. “Would the honorable member include Czechoslovakia under that heading? Would he say that the Poles submitted freely to the imposition of imperial communism? Would he say that the Hungarians wished to be placed under the all-embracing yolk of communism ? I gathered from the honorable member’s remarks that he agreed that the Russian occupation of East Germany must continue. That, of course, has been well broadcast by the Soviet itself. I also gathered from the honorable member’s remarks that he advocated the admission of red China to the United Nations. If I may digress for a moment, I noted with interest when both the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and the honorable member for Yarra addressed the House that they used a new phrase “ continental China “. Prom whence does this phrase derive? Always before I have heard the subject country referred to as Communist China or red China. We now have a new phrase “ continental China “. From whence did that term gain its inspiration? I have just cited this one instance to show that the honorable member for Yarra and some other members of the Opposition say things which are the same as the propaganda which we are continually getting from imperial Russia.
I said a moment ago that I would deal in detail with the question of the placing of our forces overseas. I understand, from what honorable members opposite have told us, that included in Labour’s defence policy is a determination to work for the security of Australia. The honorable member for Yarra said that Labour could provide adequately for our defence. Inherent in Labour’s policy is the attitude that we should not send our forces overseas, but that the defence forces of Australia should be concentrated within this country - I presume and hope at various strategic points around the Australian coast, because if we were to dot them a round the entire coastline it would mean that there would be one man to about every 3 miles, which would not prove very effective defence. I consider that our main forces should be concentrated at various strategic points around the coast of Australia. But even if I were to allow that latitude, that would not - once again quoting the honorable member for Yarra - provide adequately for the defence of Australia, because I know, and 1 think all honorable members on this side of the House realize, that once an enemy sets foot on the continent of Australia the battle, to all intents and purposes, will be lost. Our main objective at all times must be to contain the enemy a.= fr.r as we are able within his present boundaries. The basic reason behind the defence policy of the Australian Government is to contain the enemy - there is only one prospective enemy - within his present boundaries insofar as we are able.
That refers not only to the physical aspects of defence but also to the material assistance - what I might term the assistance of friendship - that we are giving to the nations of Asia, and of South-East Asia in particular. The honorable member for Fremantle, to whose speech I listened with a great deal of interest, said, among other things, that the interest of the Asian people in Australia is in on:- motives. He stated that the people of Asia are interested in the motives of the West in general, and that was the subject to which he devoted the greater part nf his remarks. He then went on to say how necessary it was for us to capture the minds of the Asian people, and, to a great degree, I agree with him. However, I disagree with his analysis of the situation. He suggested that the assistance given by us to the countries of Asia under the Colombo plan could be regarded by them with suspicion, because they are suspicious of our motives and our reasons for assisting them.
The first thing [ would say to the honorable member in reply to his assertions is that, if, as I am sure he has done, he has welcomed and entertained in his own home, as other Australian have done, citizens from the countries of SouthEast Asia, both those within and those without the Colombo plan, he will realize how much those people appreciate the offer of assistance with genuine friendship made by Australia. Australia is fortunate in being, able to give this assistance. Our short history and our geographical position enable us to offer assistance and friendship without tags. The contact I have had with Asian visitors to Australia, some of them studying here under the auspices of the Colombo plan, some undertaking private journeys, and some travelling with the assistance of one organization or another, has led me to believe that these people have confidence in us as Australians and feel that we are genuinely trying to co-operate with them, as are other countries of the
Britian. Commonwealth, in the working out of a plan of peace and general cooperation for the interchange of both ideas and cultures and the promotion of trade between countries.
– I do not dispute that. We are not in a position to attach tags to our assistance, in any event.
– We are not in a position to attach tags to the assistance we give to Asian countries. I am trying to get it into the honorable member’s mind that we have no idea of attaching tags to our assistance, and no desire to do so, and I do not think the Asian people believe we have. The other comment I wish to make on this matter is that, through the Colombo plan, which was initiated by Australia, we have supplied the confidence that was lacking in previous negotiations between Western countries and Asian nations. That is a most important factor. The relations between the Asian visitors to our_ country and ourselves might correctly be described now as the happiest of relations.
I wish to mention also another aspect of this matter. I am very glad that several of my colleagues on the Government side of the House from time to time, and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), from the Opposition, this afternoon, have supported suggestions that it is necessary for Australians to make reciprocal visits to the Asian countries from which Australia has received visitors. The visits of Asian nationals to Australia have influenced only a small number of people among their huge populations. Therefore, it is necessary for Australians to make reciprocal visits to Asian countries on a much greater scale than at present. Perhaps parties could be organized by certain organizations. In addition, members of the Parliament also should visit Asia. This suggestion has been made to the Government on a number of occasions by myself and, as I have stated, by a number of my colleagues also. I shall give the House an idea of the period for which these suggestions have been before the Government.
– -Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The speeches made by Government supporters during this debate have followed a line similar to that followed by them during previous discussions of foreign affairs. The remarks of the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean) were no exception. He chided the Australian Labour party for taking, in this debate, what he termed the Communist line. Government supporters take the attitude that any one who does not take the Liberal line automatically follows the Communist line. They never admit that there may be another point of view independent of the Communist line, or the capitalist line which is taken by Government supporters.
I propose, in the short time at my disposal, to debunk some of the arguments advanced by Government supporters. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske), for instance, made a number of statements which are not supported by the facts. He said that Soviet Russia opposed disarmament at the end of World War II. That is perfectly true. It is very difficult to fix the responsibility for the failure to take the initiative in disarming ; but surely the honorable member for Balaclava and other honorable members on the Government side of the House are fully aware that it was disclosed, comparatively recently, that Sir Winston Churchill, as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, had sent to Field Marshal Montgomery a secret memorandum suggesting that the British, the Americans and the French should retain and keep in serviceable condition the arms they had taken from the German forces, because they might have to re-arm the Germans and use them against the Russians. No one knows the degree of knowledge acquired by the Russians about the plans of those who were, at that time, their allies, but who, obviously, were seised of the possibility that there might be a war between the Russians and their former allies. Why are Government supporters not fair in these matters? Why do they not admit that there may have been a good reason for the Russians resisting disarmament at that time, if they had knowledge of the plans of Sir Winston Churchill and the other allied leaders? Is it not perfectly true that, even during the war, as is now history.
Churchill and Roosevelt, two of the great leaders of the allied nations, who had knowledge of the construction of the atomic bomb, withheld that information from the third great allied leader, Stalin? “Was that likely to promote confidence between those great war leaders and their respective nations ? One can readily see that suspicions existed, even when those three great leaders were supposed to be working in unison towards a common objective.
The honorable member for Balaclava does not seem to think it feasible to resort to conciliation in an effort to resolve the differences that exist in the world to-day. He regards any form of conciliation as a kind of appeasement. I hope that his opinion is not generally shared on the Government side of the House. Every peace-loving person, not only in Australia, but also throughout the world, hopes that those differences can be resolved by conciliation. Now we come to the second point made by the honorable member for Balaclava. He said that at the end of “World War I. Great Britain disarmed and Hitler took advantage of the situation. That is not what history discloses at all. It is perfectly true that at the end of World War I., Great Britain, like all of the other participating nations, was war-weary and, of course, it disarmed, but it is also time that the tories, who were in control of Britain in the postwar period, encouraged Hitler to arm and to organize because they believed and hoped at that period that Hitler would attack in the east rather than in the west. It was only because Hitler double-crossed them that they were forced to alter their attitude. Those are facts that are generally accepted.
Let us turn now to the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). He has given us a couple of lectures since he arrived in this chamber. As a matter of fact, already I have heard him referred to in the corridors as Adolph junior. He does bear some resemblance to the historical character who bore that Christian name. Besides having the looks of that famous predecessor of his in history, I think that he has already adopted many of his ideas. He said that the Soviet aim is to achieve world domination. Of course it is, but it is no less the aim of the capitalist nations to achieve world domination. The honorable member for Moreton, in his maiden speech in this chamber ridiculed the idea that there could be such a thing as co-existence. If there cannot be co-existence, the only alternative is a war of annihilation, a war for survival between the warring systems. Thus, the honorable member debunked his own argument, because it must be obvious that if there can be no co-existence, his advocacy is for a fullyarmed capitalist world to destroy the Soviet, and obviously if it succeeds in this destruction the result must be capitalist domination. As a socialist I do not want to see either capitalist or Communist domination. I am just as much opposed to totalitarianism of the left as of the right. Therefore I do not accept the argument of the honorable gentlemen opposite that there is no other line than that pursued by the Liberal party and that pursued by the Communist party.
Let me refer now to the attitude of the honorable member for Moreton towards the recognition of red China. Like many other persons, he adopts the foolish attitude that to recognize a government implies the acceptance of that form of government and the endorsement of all of its past actions. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Approaching such problems in a realistic way, one says, “Here is a government which is accepted and recognized by 600,000,000 people, contrasted with a government which is maintained in Formosa only by the combined might of the Americans and the British, and which controls approximately 10,000,000 people “. What would be the position if we recognized red China ? Is there any difference between recognizing red China and recognizing the Soviet Union? Those persons who argue against the recognition of red China raise no objection to the great Soviet Power being a member of the United Nations organization. Why should not the Government of red China, governing 600,000,000 people, be given the same recognition? Britain has recognized it. Not only the Labour party in Great Britain, but also the Conservatives, have acknowledged that recognition of red China follows a realistic approach to the problem. Recognition of the Government of red China does not imply automatically that Formosa should be handed over to that Government. The problem of Formosa, in my opinion, is one which will have to be approached in a different way. It may be handled by conciliation and agreement, and I am perfectly satisfied that the Chinese would not accept recognition only on the basis of being allowed to re-occupy Formosa. When all is said and done, the matter may eventually be one for decision by the Formosan people themselves. They have not a great deal for which to thank the present Government of that island, because when the Chiang Kai-shek forces were originally driven off the Chinese mainland and took refuge in Formosa, they were welcomed by the Formosans who, after a great number of years under Japanese domination, regarded them as liberators. However, because the Chiang Kai-shek forces were afraid of a Formosan national government, which they did not want to encourage, they set about butchering thousands of Formosans who had been resisting the Japanese prior to the occupation of their country by Chiang Kai-shek’s forces. So it may be that, given the opportunity to make a decision, the Formosan people may decide against the continuance of the present form of government.
If we recognize the Government of red China, obviously the way to trade is opened, and surely Australia, with its great economic problems to-day, needs markets overseas, for the sale of both primary and secondary products. Such markets would be a grea tboon to this country, which is so urgently in need of an outlet for its production. Ability to trade with China would not imply acceptance of its form of government, to which the Australian Labour party is vigorously opposed. As I said a few days ago, all the benefits of trade do not go to the country that buys. Benefits also accrue to the country that sells. The benefits of trade are mutual.
The speech of the honorable member for Moreton was rather a mixture. In regard to South-East Asia, he said that he recognized that nationalist movements existed, and that the Communists had taken advantage of such movements.
The Labour party readily admits the truth of that contention, but that is a viewpoint that has been opposed by the very party with which he is associated now. When members of the Labour party argued that many of these movements in South-East Asia were nationalist movements, Government supporters said that to argue in that way was to take the Communist line. The honorable member said that the Western Powers have made errors of judgment. He went on to condemn the arrangement that is now being entered into for Singapore to join the Malayan Federation. He said that this is a great mistake because Singapore is riddled with communism. After all, it is a matter for the Malayan Federation and the people of Singapore to decide, and I think that it is rather presumptuous on the part of Australia to be seeking to settle all of such problems and differences in every part of the world. If we wanted to take a certain course of action in our own country, we would strongly resent either Singapore or the Malayan Federation telling us what we ought to do.
The honorable member then referred to the United Kingdom. He gave great credit to Britain, and in my opinion such credit is rightly due, for its attitude in respect of granting independence to Pakistan, India, Burma and Ceylon. Of course, Britain gave independence to those countries, but the honorable member for Moreton failed to tell the House that they would never have achieved independence but for the Labour Government under Mr. Attlee. Whenever the tories are in control, they always refer to the approaching independence of such countries. They say that the Malayans are to gain independence, and some other people are to be given independence, but the time for such a move is never ripe. Some Government supporters have spoken about sending delegations to Singapore and the Malayan Federation to ascertain whether the people are ready for independence. In my opinion, it would be a good thing for Australia if persons who seek to dabble in these affairs, which are the concern of other peoples, minded their own business.
Let rae turn now to the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock). In his former field of activity he talked the Christian faith, but he evidently leaves aside the tenets of that faith when he takes part in debates in this Parliament on foreign affairs. He spoke about the great benefits of colonialism. Surely the honorable gentleman is not unaware of the fact that there are also great evils in colonialism. It is perfectly true that people in the various countries he mentioned were trained in public administration, but not because the tories of the time believed that these administrators were to take over the government of their own- country, but because they were useful in the administration of the country and permitted the more ready exploitation of the country’s resources and people. The history of colonialism is a very sorry one, no matter what colonial power we may be discussing. Then the honorable member said, in effect, “ What we must aim. to do is to maintain our way of life “. What did he mean by “ our way of life “? The Australian Labour party is a party of reform. We do not accept that the present way of life in Australia is the acme of .perfection and that it ought never to be changed. We are a party of change and a party of reform. The Labour party does not want communism any more than it wants capitalism. What we want in this country is socialism. Therefore, 1 say that the evils of capitalism - and they are many - should have been well-known to the honorable member for Lyne, because of his former occupation ; but he did not mention them at all.
There is one thing, at least, for which we should give the Communists credit, not that they deserve it, because it is credit which comes to them without their willing it, and that is that the great fear of communism, and the great danger of communism spreading in this world have, in my opinion, forced a change of attitude and a change of opinion on many peoples of the world who, otherwise, would still be talking about the need to retain colonialism. Why do we have a Colombo plan? Does anybody imagine for one moment that the tories in this country, or in any other country, would be worrying about the native peoples in the vari- /.’.- rain ous lands, and concerning themselves with the way in which those people were being exploited, and how their living standards ought to be improved, if it were not for the fact that, with the growth of the power of communism, they became afraid? Because of that fear they have said, “ We have to do something about it”. So we have our Colombo plan and our other schemes for assisting these people to lift their living standards.
The honorable member for Lyne said - and it was quite a concession on his part - that we ought not to reject all the approaches made by the Russians, and! that we must not view them with an air of suspicion. Then he said, having previously stated that we ought not to view with suspicion every advance made by the Russians, that we must be careful to examine what the Russians say. He said that we must also examine what they do, but we must not be suspicious. However are we to get agreement if, every time we go to the conference table, we go there with the idea that the people with whom we are going to negotiate are insincere and do not really mean what they are putting forward? Agreement cannot he reached in that way. As a matter of fact, there is a great deal of significance in the. fact that Russian leaders have been visiting other parts of the world; I think it. is a good thing that they should do so,, and I give full credit to the British 6avernment for not being deterred from its’” intention to invite Russian leaders to visit the United Kingdom. If the people of the world visit each other and get round the conference table, there will he an opportunity for them to reach agreement.
I want to compliment the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). I thought his analysis of the situation regarding the development of the atomic and hydrogen bombs was an excellent one. In my opinion, the views which he put forward to this Parliament ought to be considered seriously. After all, what does the use of the hydrogen bomb mean to-day? Surely, we are not engaged! in a contest to decide who can produce the biggest and best bomb. The Minister for Externa] Affairs (Mr. Casey), in his- recent statement on international affairs in the Parliament, said -
The maintenance of world peace at present depends in large part on the fact that nuclear weapons cannot be used aggressively without the certainty of destructive retaliation.
That is perfectly true. I think that we should have had war long ago had it not been for the fact that both sides possessed this great weapon. The Minister went on to say -
In the hydrogen bomb, there has been developed for the first time a weapon capable of mutual obliteration.
What a great prospect for the world! It does not mean, according to the Minister’s own statement, that if we drop the hydrogen bomb first, we shall be successful in the ensuing conflict; it means, according to the admission of the Minister himself, which, I take it, is based on the views of scientists, that if anybody drops the bomb, whether it is this side of the iron curtain or the other, it will mean obliteration for humanity itself. Therefore, “if that is the case, it is about time people began to speak frankly on the question of nuclear bomb tests. It is all very well for the scientists to say that they are taking every precaution. Professor Messel of the Sydney University, who is engaged in nuclear research, has said that the professors do not know everything about the bomb, that they have created a weapon the destructive capacity of which they do not fully appreciate at the present time. That being so, why should they, in Australia, be using the bomb itself for the purpose of testing out these great weapons of destruction, when even the scientists themselves have different opinions about what the actual effects may be? It is obvious, having regard to our attitude on foreign affairs and to that adopted by the tories who are termed “ Liberals “ in this Parliament, that we have adopted a proper attitude in refusing to be associated with them in their Foreign Affairs Committee.
.-Before t go on to what I have to say, I want to draw the attention of the House to one glaring inaccuracy in the speech to which we have just listened. It occurred when the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) was speaking about tory governments and independence. Let mc remind him that it was the tory Government of Winston Churchill which made all the arrangements for the independence of India, even if they were finally carried out by another government, and it is the present tory Government in Great Britain which has made all the preparations for the independence of Malaya. That is all I have to say about the speech of the honorable member for East Sydney, although later, I shall refer to some things which were said by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt).
The first thing that I want to say to the House is to remind it of the declaration made a little while ago by the Prime Minister of Great Britain and President Eisenhower, after their conference, when they declared that the purpose of the Communist rulers was to extend the practice of communism by every possible means until it encompassed the world. I think most of us in this House will agree with the truth of that declaration. We have had abundant evidence of it in recent years. In fact, it has been explicitly declared by the leaders of Soviet Russia themselves. We have only to look around the world to see it being put into practice. In almost every continent and every country we can see the finger of communism. Wherever there is discontent, wherever there is trouble wherever there is political unrest, we can see it stirring in the world. If we accept that proposition - and I believe that most of us in this House do accept it - then I want to say something which, perhaps, honorable members may find a little unusual, and that is that I believe that, basically, the parties in this House have not very different ideas about, at least, the objectives of foreign policy. They may differ, perhaps, about the methods of it, but I do not believe, and 1 do not think many other people believe, that there is any considerable faction, apart from the Communist party itself, in Australia, which has any desire to secure anything but the prevention of the spread of communism and its domination of free people in the world.
I have said that it is about the methods that we differ, and there are, I believe, between the Government parties and the Opposition considerable differences about the question of method. If that is so, then the question is, “ Are the arrangements that we have made about foreign policy, and the arrangements that we have made for dealing with other States, satisfactory? Are they good, or. at any rate, are they the best that we can make?” They fall, I think, under two headings: First, the sort of general relationships with the States - the maintenance of good relations, friendly terms, and so on, the cultivation of trade, and all that kind of thing between different States; secondly, defensive arrangements. I believe that it is over the second one that the two sides of this House disagree. Do we consider that defensive arrangements are necessary, and if so, to what extent? Of what nature should they be? “We have taken &] sorts of measures to encourage goodwill and good relations with neighbouring States and with other countries throughout the world. I was sorry to hear honorable members belittling the Colombo plan. It may not be the whole answer to our relationships with other States, but at least it is a constructive and powerful move in the direction of securing better relationships with those States which are situated near Australia.
We have taken steps as a member of the United Nations, active steps as a member of the Security Council, to cultivate good relations throughout the world, to improve the status and standing of other nations, to increase their economic welfare and to do all the other things which members of the United Nations should and do carry out. But at the same time, in our relations with other States, we are not called upon to lay aside or to forget our own basic rights. We can bear ourselves with dignity in our relations with other States. “We are not called upon to conceal our views on what we consider to be our basic rights, nor do I believe that we gain in respect if we fail to declare what we consider are our own basic rights or if we fail to stand up for them.
I have been speaking about defensive methods. What are our differences over defensive methods? I am not speaking of the differences of opinion that we may have as to whether the navy should be increased nr the air force should be smaller or larger. I am not speaking about the details of our own defence forces. What I am speaking of is what I believe is the basic difference between the Government side of the House and the Opposition on the question of defence; that is, whether we are to have real defence, as we, on this side, regard it as a member of the free nations, whether we are to integrate our defensive policy with theirs, whether we are to participate, in peace and war, in defensive plans with our allies, or whether we should do what our opponents in this House suggest we should do, and retire from all that and construct some defensive scheme, limited entirely to the Australian shores and rest on that. That, I consider, is the basic difference in this House on defence problems.
To my mind and, I believe, to the minds of the great majority of Australians, there is no question about this. If we are to have any real defence at all, then it has to be a defence which will involve us in great efforts and sacrifices, financially and otherwise, in pea,ce as well as war, and it has to be a defence that is to be integrated with that of our allies.
Let me now say a few things in general terms about what this Government is doing in order to maintain our proper relations and place in the world. Here I come to what the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) had to say when he was speaking in this debate a few days ago. He did the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) less than justice in his criticism of tha’t gentleman’s remarks. The Government at no time maintained that there was no possibility of progressive disarmament, as was suggested by the right honorable gentleman. What the Minister for External Affairs maintained a few days ago, and what the Government has always maintained, was that there can be no such thing as unilateral disarmament, but that in all circumstances there must be adequate arrangements for bilateral disarmament. It is no real disarmament for us to agree to the banning of weapons unless we are certain that the other side will also observe the ban. It is common knowledge that it is on those premises that the whole process of disarmament has been delayed and frustrated by the Communist powers time and time again. Tt is the Government’s view, and 1 believe the view of the great majority of people in the free nations, that, in those circumstances, possession of atomic weapons and hydrogen weapons is a necessity as a deterrent until real measures of disarmament can be implemented and participated in by both sides.
It is not true to- maintain, as has been done, that the Government is not interested in conciliation, or that the Western Powers are not interested in conciliation. On the contrary, numerous attempts have been made by the Western Powers to reach agreement, and I give the House, as examples, two striking proposals of President Eisenhower. One is his so-called “ open skies “ proposal, and the other i3 his proposal for the sharing of atomic energy. Every time the free nations have made these proposals, they have been met with refusals and difficulties from the other side. Therefore, we adopt the view that, although we may be making very slow progress towards disarmament, we are not prepared, nor do we believe it to ‘ be in the interests of freedom itself, to take steps towards disarmament unless our opponents agree to a system of controlled disarmament, with the right of access and inspection by both sides, so that we can be certain that disarmament is really being carried out.
Now I want to turn to two or three particular problems. First of all, I shall deal with the problem of red China. It is very easy to say, as the Leader of the Opposition said the other night, that we either regard whatever the Chinese say as misleading or we put the wrong meaning on their words and refuse to make any agreement with them at all. What we have consistently pointed out is that whatever Peking has said, the Chinese have never departed from their basic declaration that they will in no circumstances agree to anything but what they call the liberation of Formosa by themselves.
It is perfectly easy for us to say, as was said by the right honorable member for Barton, that red China should be admitted to the United Nations. It is perfectly easy to say, as he has said, that
Formosa also should be admitted to the United Nations. But this presupposes the willingness of red China to agree to it, and red China has declared in explicit: terms on more than one occasion that in has no intention whatever of agreeing to. this course of action. It may be, in: theory, a very desirable objective, bun unless we can first of all get some movement from the other side, it is difficul r to know how it is to be brought about. It presupposes a complete reversal of tinpresent policies of red China.
I pass to the question of Viet Nam. It is easy again to say that free elections should be held in Viet Nam, and that we should do everything possible to carry out the terms of the Geneva agreement. The situation is not nearly as simple as that. The situation in Viet Nam is parallel f> the situation in Germany. If we could have completely free elections throughout the country; if half the country was not under Communist domination; if we could be sure that there would be a free vote in both parts of Viet Nam; if w could be sure that we could have a free vote in both parts of Germany; there might be some reality for speaking, as our opponents speak, about events in those countries. As there is no possibility of getting those conditions, the most we can hope for is that those parts of those countries which are still free will be able to maintain their freedom. It is vital to Australia that freedom should be preserved in the countries where it is still maintained.
With regard to the Middle East, it is easy to say that we should rely upon the United Nations organization to settle the troubles there, or to propound theoretical solutions of them. Great Britain and the United States of America, as leaders of the free world, are attempting a piece-meal settlement in the trouble areas, of matters such as boundary disputes and so on. It does not seem real to suggest that there should be some immediate overall solution. There are indigenous problems in the Middle East into which Russia has recently injected fresh disturbances by supplying armS to countries in that area and stirring up strife between the Arab and Israelite peoples. If Australia oan play any effective part in helping Britain and America achieve a piece-meal settlement in the Middle East and bring the countries out of their present state of hostility into better relationship with one another, it will have been abundantly worth-while. That must be done by isolating the various incidents which occur and building on a basis which will produce, ultimately, an overall settlement.
On the question of contact with other countries, the Government parties are at variance with the Opposition. Honorable members opposite - and some members of the Government parties also - have advocated that there should be closer contact between Australia and her immediate! neighbour nations. It is easy to suggest that parliamentary and trade union delegations should visit these countries on conducted tours such as the Russians so strongly favour, but what is needed is a lifting of the iron curtain so that there may be free contact and intercourse with these countries. It would be far better if the press and the radio could go behind the iron curtain and be accepted there. Contact on that basis would be more effective.
– One contact leads to another.
– That may he so, and I am not saying that there should not be contacts of the conducted tour type, but they would have only a limited effect. Australia’s foreign policy should be based on unity with the free world in foreign policy and defence, and also in conciliation, but it is useless to talk about conciliation if it is not backed by defensive power. If the aim of communism is as declared by the two leaders of the free world, to expand its power and influence by every possible means until it encompasses the world - and I am certain that most honorable members agree that that is the objective of communism - then this fact emphasizes the need for unity in diplomacy and real defence with the rest of the free world - not defence in isolation.
An idea is being promulgated that communism offers the other nations an ideology whereas the free world offers something else. The ideology which communism offers to the peasants is land which they do not own, to the people, people’s courts, and to colonial and semicolonial powers some kind of freedom. It is careful to say nothing about its own colonial record of countries subverted, families torn apart, mass deportations and all the other appurtenances of communism. What it really offers is not ideology but blatant propaganda. If that is the kind of ideology the free world has to match I do not want to be in that market.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- At the outset, I wish to correct a statement made by the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron), perhaps with good intentions, but not in accordance with fact. In dealing with the statement of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) respecting the independence of India, the Minister said that .that was either arranged or implied before the Attlee Labour . Government came into office in England. I assure the Minister that the independence of India was initiated, arranged, and achieved as a consequence of the actions of the Attlee Labour Government. When that Government came into office there was no agreement, actual or implied, concerning the freedom or self-government of India. The Attlee Government was responsible for initiating and granting independence to India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon, and it was supported by the good offices of both the Chifley Labour Government and the New. Zealand Labour Government.
The Minister for Health said that the question of the Middle East was fraught with considerable danger to Australia. In order that the minds of honorable members may be refreshed, I quote two statements from a portion of the Minister’s speech devoted to this important matter. He said -
As a member of the Security Council, Australia is directly concerned in the efforts of the United Nations to solve the Arab-Israel problem.
Later, he used these words -
No permanent settlement seems possible unless mutual fears can be reduced and Israel’s right to exist is recognized by her neighbours. On the other hand, Israel has an obligation in respect to the tragic situation of Arab refugees.
I agree with the Minister that the most explosive area of the international situation to-day, where all sorts of strains and stresses are being felt, is the Middle East. What has transpired during the past few days concerning certain Arab countries indicates that the Middle East problem is rapidly reaching an acute stage of crisis. First of all, I wish to deal with the background of the dispute between the Arab States and Israel. In November, 1947, the ad hoc committee of the United Nations made a recommendation to the General Assembly that a portion of Palestine, to be known as Israel, should be created an independent State. I am happy and proud to say that one of the persons associated with that decision was my leader, the right honorable member for Barton ( Dr. Evatt). The decision of the United Nations became effective on the 15th May, 1948, the date upon which the British mandate expired and the State of Israel came into being as an independent State, created by the United Nations and recognized by that organization and all member nations.
The Arab States have made their position clear in relation to the State of Israel both prior to and since its inception. Prior to 1948, they used every possible form of pressure on the United Nations to prevent the creation of the State of Israel. When the resolution was finally adopted by the General Assembly in 1948, six spokesmen for the Arab nations went to the rostrum of the organization that is devoted to world peace and told its members and the world as a whole that, if the State of Israel were created, they would use violence to prevent it operating as a State. On the day following the withdrawal of British troops from Israel, the States of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Egypt jointly attacked Israel in defiance of the decision of the United Nations, and even went as far as to send a telegram to the President of the United Nations glorying in the fact that war against Israel had been started and intimating that there would be no cessation of the war until Israel had been destroyed. On my two visits to Israel in the last four years, I was able to see for myself the destruction that had been wrought as a result of this premeditated and organized attempt to destroy a nation that has been created by the decision of the United Nations. Worse still, hundreds of thousands of Arabs formed a fifth column and, as the troops of the bordering nations entered Israel, they rose up and slaughtered many of the Jewish population, co-operated with the invading armies, and did their level best to bring about the destruction of the State. Although the people of Israel were ill-equipped and poorly armed, they were able, not only to resist the invasion, but also, within a few months, to drive the Arabs out of the greater part of Israel. When that took place, the Arabs who were resident in Israel fled to the adjoining States.
I have mentioned those facts because the Minister for External Affairs stated that Israel had an obligation in respect of the tragic situation of the Arab refugees. The position of the Arab refugees is indeed tragic and pitiful, as those honorable members who have been to meetings of the United Nations will readily understand. During the ninth session of the United Nations organization in 1954, 1 listened to the debate that took place in the ad hoc committee on the question of the continuation of the Palestinian refugees fund. One can quite understand the attitude of Israel, because those refugees were members of a fifth column that had co-operated with an invading army for the express purpose of destroying the state in which they were resident, and they left the country after the invading army had been defeated. It is easy to understand why the Israelis were not prepared to have that fifth column back within their own frontiers. The result is that an international situation has arisen which is causing a lot of trouble to the United Nations. The Arab countries are making no attempt whatever to solve the problem, despite the fact that during the last two years Israel has released to the refugees the property and securities that they left behind when they fled from the country.
The position now is that there is in existence, on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, a small State which has been created by the United Nations. It covers an area of 8,100 square miles. When one takes into consideration the vastness of Australia, that is an exceedingly small area; indeed, it is only twice the size of the electorate that I represent in this House. Israel has a population of 1,750,000, and a frontier of 400 miles. It is a democratic State in which every person of eighteen years of age and over has the right to vote. At the 1954 election, Arab women were able, for the first time in history, to vote for the election of representatives to the Israeli Parliament. It will be observed that Israel, which is being threatened so violently - and in a moment or two I shall quote some recent statements which indicate the attitude of Arab leaders - is a democratic oasis surrounded by desert and anti-democratic fascist countries in which democracy does not exist, and which, month after month, from the time when the armistice was finally arranged by the United Nations, have broken the terms of that armistice. Those neighbouring countries have boycotted trade with Israel, and, in contempt of the Constantinople Convention of 1888, which provided that the Suez Canal should be open to all countries in times of peace and war, have prevented the canal from being used for the purpose of carrying on legitimate trade.
As I have stated, Arab leaders have made statements that indicate their attitude towards the armistice of 1949, which still remains unaltered. They have made no attempt to obtain a peaceful settlement. On the contrary, every move that has been made by the United Nations for a peaceful settlement has been rejected and frustrated. The following statement was made by King Saud soon after his accession to the throne -
The only way which the Arab States must go is to draw Israel up by her roots. Why should we not sacrifice 10,000,000 out of 50,000,000 Arabs so that we may live in greatness and honour?
The Baghdad radio has broadcast the following statement: - . . and it does not matter how peaceloving they may be-
That is, the Israelis - we shall never cease to prepare for the day of reckoning, for the second round, when the Jews will be driven off our soil.
On the 1st July, 1954, the Egyptian Minister of National Guidance said -
The evacuation of the occupation forces from our country will free essential forces of ours. We shall then be able to raise our voice and to liberate Palestine. We shall prepare the forces that will liberate Palestine. And, with the help of God, there will be a great revival.
The final statement that I shall quote indicates that, even if the Palestinian refugee question is settled, there still will not be peace between Israel and the Arabs. I refer to the following declaration that was made in the Syrian Parliament on the 3rd November, 1954, by the Syrian Prime Minister: -
Certain Arab leaders say that there can be no peace with Israel before the implementation of the United Nations resolutions . . . they link peace with Israel with these terms. I denounce such a statement, and I say that there is no connexion between peace with Israel and the return of the refugees and the United Nations resolutions . . . whether they return the refugees or not, peace must not be concluded with Israel in any form. I do not believe that the Arabs would approve peace so long as the Jews remain settled in that spot - the heart of the Arab states - threatening all those around them, and spreading corruption and evil . . . How can we possibly make peace with them while they remain there? This is the first round, and, unfortunately, it was not successful. The Arabs - we included - should prepare for a second round and do their utmost.
If time permitted, I could read many more similar statements to indicate that, no matter how much the Israelis may try, the records of the United Nations show that in 1952, 1953, 1954 and 1955, they have made efforts to bring about peace between their country and the surrounding countries, but that every time their efforts have been rejected by the Arab States. So, we find, that the position to-day has reached, I suppose, its highest stage of tension. The first point to note is that before long the great military bases previously held by Great Britain, which include factories, aerodromes and military installations, will become the possession of Egypt. Secondly, Czechoslovakian arms and munitions in extraordinarily large quantities are being sent to the Arab States, and the balance of armed forces between Arab countries and
Israel, guaranteed by a convention between the United States, Great Britain and France, has been substantially broken down. Finally, the dismissal of General Glubb by the King of Jordan means that a restraining force, so far as the Arab Legion is concerned, has been withdrawn from the command of the 30,000 members of the legion. The position now is regarded so seriously by Great Britain that it has decided to withdraw all officers of the British Army who arc on loan to the State of Jordan at the present moment.
This indicates that because the balance of arms between Israel and the Arab countries has now been disturbed in favour of the Arab nations, and because Egypt, is more prepared for a struggle again in the future, it is quite possible that before long, in spite of all the efforts of the United Nations, and in accord with the tendencies shown by the Arab countries deliberately to defy the United Nations, they will make a second attempt by active aggression to destroy the State of Israel. That action will immediately bring Australia into the picture as a member of the United Nations, because if the United Nations determines to reject that aggression, Australia as a member of the United Nations will immediately be involved in the same way as it was involved in the war in Korea. It seems to me that the stage has been reached where action must be taken by the United Nations in respect of this matter. It has to be taken in either of two directions, either as the result of a decision by the United Nations or by the three nations who have guaranteed collective security in the Middle East. To the extent that Czechoslovakia and iron curtain countries supply arms to the Arab States, a similar quantity of arms will have to be supplied to Israel for the purpose of maintaining its security. Failing that, the United Nations must take some firm stand with regard to countries that have constantly refused to carry out decisions made by the United Nations itself or bv the armistice and boundaries committees, or by various other committees of United Nations.
I suggest that the position in the Middle East is more serious, much more explosive and, generally, more dangerous to mankind than is the position caused by any of the other tensions which are disturbing the world at the present moment. But so far there has been no expression on this matter by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) or by the Australian Government as to how it feels about these matters, what steps it is taking in order to bring pressure to bear on the Arab .States, or to what extent it is standing behind the United States of America, Great Britain and Canada in regard to this question. In no way has this Government disclosed ir? attitude as to what policy should be adopted. I suggest that matters relating to the Middle East should be given earnest consideration by the Australian Government in order that action can be initiated by the three nations I have mentioned or by the United Nations itself for stern steps to be taken to prevent the possibility of aggression breaking out in the Middle East in the near future.
– The debate which has been initiated and continued in this House on the subject of foreign policy has disclosed a state of affairs which was stated fairly and clearly by the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) when he said that there was no fundamental difference in this House upon the objects of our foreign policy, but there were marked differences of opinion upon the methods of achieving that policy. That was a fair statement. I think that it is equally applicable to the overwhelming proportion of Australian citizens. However, it is quite possible that unless we grasp at the outset why we do certain things and why a certain policy should be followed, even with the best intentions in the world, we may find ourselves in a position from which it will be extremely difficult to extricate ourselves.
For many years Great Britain was the dominating factor in world politics and affairs. When Pax Britannica was a real stabilizing force in world affairs, there was one rule which Great Britain adhered to and which I think we still cannot disregard. Before I enlarge on that theme and disclose what I mean, I should like to say that I reject the suggestion which has constantly been put forward in certain quarters for the purpose of discrediting Great Britain and its magnificient past. I reject the idea that the work that was carried out, whatever blemishes it may have had, was other than of great benefit to mankind. The policy to which I refer is that known as the balance of power. Once the necessity for that policy is ignored, we begin to tread in ways that are utterly unrealistic. It might be said, of course, that the United Nations organizations is in itself, in a very real sense, a factor in the balance of power. But the fact remains that that body has not yet evolved sufficient unity of action to enable it to be relied upon at this juncture, with any degree of confidence, . to achieve the results that the policy of the balance of power is intended to achieve. I suppose all honorable members have a sufficient knowledge of what is involved in that policy and what it is intended to achieve. Briefly, it is that no one nation, or group of nations, should be allowed to become so powerful as to be able to impose its will, or ideologies, upon the rest of the world.
For many years, Great Britain, with consummate skill, addressed itself to the development of that policy. At one time, the British fought on the side of France ; at another time, they fought on the side of Germany. If Napoleon threatened the peace of the world, then Great Britain’s influence was joined with the Germans against the French. When the Germans embarked upon the madness of striving for world control, the force of Great Britain was thrown into the scales against that attempt.
I assume that until human nature has progressed in the course of perhaps another 5,000 years or possibly 10,000 years, it will be extremely necessary for those who dominate the thinking of the world to be realistic enough to have high ideals and yet be capable of protecting those ideals with a sufficiency of armed force, whether that armed force lie3 with one group of nations or another. It is just as well that we should face up to these facts, because if we do not, we shall be living in a kind of Alice in Wonderland world with a horizon that is lurid from the explosion of an atomic bomb.
When I ‘ first entered this House, I expressed the opinion, in speaking on foreign policy, that one of the most helpful objectives to be sought would he the building up of the Commonwealth of British nations as a balancing factor against the great power of the United States of America, on the one side, and the tendency to overwhelming power of Russia on the other side. It is quite likely that within a relatively short space of time we shall find, in the growth and extraordinary development of China and the expansion of the East, another factor that must be taken into consideration.
Within the last few weeks, I have heard an eminent military gentleman broadcast a statement that, by Asia’* standards, China is a great power and that, in a short period of time, by any other standards, it will be a world power. It is well that we should face that, because China is one of the world’s most remarkable powers.
In 4,000 years of civilization, China has reached extraordinary heights of culture and development. At certain periods, it has gone down into the trough of degeneration that seems to afflict nations. With extraordinary power of regeneration, it has stepped, up again to heights at which it has carried on for another 600, 700 or 800 years. We are now seeing one of those extraordinary developments of this extraordinary people, who can apparently thrive from pole to pole and prosper and develop in tropical heat or in the frigid climes of the Arctic or the Antarctic. There is no limit to the tremendous natural force and power of that country. For my own part, I regard its emergence as one of those things which has incalculable possibilities for good or for evil.
I believe that, on the balance, it will eventually be a force for good. As the Chinese are an ancient and mature people, with a very robust sense of humour, there is always hope that there will emerge a strong common sense and great power to adopt and develop cultural changes, which, have characterized their amazing history in the past. But that possibility does not mean that, at the present juncture, we should slide into a certain relationship with them without having regard to the factors which motivate them and upon which some of my friends of the Opposition do not appear to be particularly clear.
I said, at the outset, that Great Britain, by the policy that it adopted, enabled the world to make a tremendous forward move towards a greater civilization, and was able to prevent the development of certain tyrannies. There is much to be said in criticism of our British system of government, but, as far as I can ascertain, we have not yet been able to produce in any part of the world, at any time in the history of the world, a system that protected the common man and the common woman and gave them as much elementary justice and fair play as they have received under the various forms of British government.
We have come to one of those periods in the history of mankind in which we see a reshaping of the whole scheme of things, and some of the things that we see, as descendants of British, are not very comforting to us. We in Australia are predominantly and overwhelmingly a British people, in the British tradition. We have seen the effects of World War I. We have seen the titanic struggle waged by Great Britain to retain the strength of the position which it held. We have seen Great Britain plunge into World War II., and throw everything it had - every asset, all its defences, all its capacity to endure which it had built up over centuries of free government - into the pool so that the greatest challenge to freedom which had yet appeared, that of Hitler and his Nazis with their infamous doctrines, should not gain control over mankind and, of course, Great Britain. But the price which has been paid has completely altered the whole approach to foreign affairs.
Let me be more clear about the matter. Let us face the facts, and the impact of those facts upon Australia itself. We have seen Great Britain retreat from India, from Burma, and from Egypt. Now it has retreated from Malaya, and is holding on rather precariously to th” island of Cyprus. If the island of Cyprus should go, the whole of the Middle East, including Turkey, will be thrown into Russia’s ambit, and we can then say good-bye to the control of the Mediterranean.
What is behind this claim that Cyprus should be handed over to the Greek people? There is much more in it than meets the eye. There is much more in it than can be answered by kindly thoughts and kindly ideas. I make that statement without attempting to deride the views that were put forward by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie). The thought that they injected into this discussion may well influence the people of Australia and, indeed, the people of the world. The idea that one cannot fight material force with material force alone is a perfectly sound and a perfectly important one for human beings to realize. But any suggestion that, in this imperfect state of our human development, the whole background of a people can be changed overnight and they can be brought to that state of mind in which brotherly love will prevail and everything will be settled upon a nice friendly basis, implies the complete rejection of the whole experience of this evolving world. I believe that we must have ideals which we should strive to attain, and even though we never attain them, they remain before us as a driving force. But if it is suggested that we should seek the attainment of an ideal while neglecting, for instance, the military alliances into which we have entered, or the relationships that we have formed in Seato, Anzus and other international commitments, I am afraid that I cannot possibly agree with such a proposition. In a sense the world in which we live is in a state comparable with that which obtained at the time of the decline of the Roman Empire. As the great Roman power diminished, and the Roman forces moved out of the furthermost territories,, areas of disorder were left, and men and nations of grasping ambition on the borders of those areas sought to take charge of tSe countries which had lost the protection that they had received when under the Roman eagle. In the same way, Great Britain has been obliged to move out of certain countries, and there are people, hungry for power, willing to stir up strife in order that they may eventually take charge of those countries, and give them infinitely worse treatment than they would have received under their previous control, and leaving them a long period in which to regret that they had not been able to retain the support that they received in the past from Great Britain.
I put it to the House to-night that it is incumbent upon us in Australia to have regard to the facts, which are written large. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), in a very eloquent speech, suggested, if I did not misunderstand him, that Russia acted quite rightly in maintaining control of East Germany.
– Kb. I did not say that.
– That is the impression that I gained from the honorable member’s remarks.
– That was not my meaning.
– If the honorable member says that he did not mean that, I accept his assurance. But there are other people who say that kind of thing. They say that it is quite right for Great Britain to get out of Malaya, Egypt, Burma and other places, but that it is not right to expect Russia to free the 110,000,000 people in central Europe over whom Russia exercises cast-iron control. That is an argument that does not appeal to me. While we co-operate to the full with the United Nations, while we strive ultimately to attain the ideal of an international parliament where differences between nations can be settled on a peaceful basis, and while we hope that the atom bomb will never be used, we must recognize the fact that in the present imperfect stage of human development we should preserve a balance of power which will restrain any nation or group of nations from destroying the peace of the world, and, from our point of view, destroying the freedoms that we in Australia enjoy. [Quorum formed.’]
. - Although this debate stems from the ministerial statement on international affairs, it is quite obvious from the contributions made by honorable members on the Government side that very few Government supporters who have participated in the debate have even taken the trouble to read the statement tabled by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). Had they cared to do so, they would have found that the Minister’s opinion has undergone a considerable change since the Government, more than five years ago, announced its views on foreign affairs. In the ministerial statement which we are now debating, but of which very little has been heard from the Government side, the Minister told us that the Government is now of the opinion that co-existence is a feasible possibility. Indeed, he went further and suggested that it is something for which we should strive. I can remember, as can any other honorable member who will recall the previous debates on foreign affairs, that a few years ago it was almost treason to talk in this House of coexistence. At that time any one who spoke of co-existence was branded as a Communist or a fellow traveller. Similarly, in those days it was almost treasonable for a member of the Labour party to say in this Parliament that he believed in peace, because at that time the Communist party also happened to be talking of peace. Because the Communists were advocating something, we were expected to advocate the opposite course. The Minister now, at long last - and not as soon as he could have done - has followed the Communist line by advocating coexistence, which is the declared policy of the Soviet Government to-day. He is also advocating peace, which is the stated policy of the Communist Government of Russia. He is appealing for an understanding of South-East Asian affairs, which previously the Government was not prepared to consider in the slightest degree.
I want to refer the House to a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in this Parliament on the 7th March, 1951, five years ago, almost to the day. His speech is recorded in Volume 212 of Hansard, and on page 78 he is reported as having said -
Therefore, I propose to say to the House what I believe to be true. The dangers of war have increased considerably. It is my belief that the state of the world is such that we cannot, and must not, give ourselves more than three years in which to get ready to defend ourselves. Indeed, three years is a liberal estimate. Nobody can guarantee that it may not be two years or one year.
He went on to say -
We have not a minute more than three years in which to be ready.
That is what the Prime Minister said five’ years ago. The right honorable gentleman had attended a Prime Minister’s conference in London. He came back to Australia promising, almost guaranteeing, a war within three years at the most, and possibly within two years or even one year. In view of the fact that the Minister for External Affairs says now that the possibility of war is most remote, we are entitled to ask : “What has occurred between now and the time five years ago when the Prime Minister said that war was a certainty? What has happened in that period that has made war, which was almost inevitable five years ago, something which is almost certain not to occur now? We have the answer to that question in the statement of the Minister for External Affairs, when he says -
There is not much likelihood of a global war breaking out in the early future.
He explained that the reason was that the Western powers no longer had a monopoly of atomic and hydrogen weapons, and said that, as Russia possessed the hydrogen bomb now, it was more vital than ever that war should be avoided. According to the Minister, now that Russia has the hydrogen bomb, the possibility of war has disappeared completely. The obvious conclusion to draw from that admission is that when the Prime Minister returned to Australia from overseas five years ago he could not have promised war’ within three years, or even within two years or one year, except on information that he had obtained as a result of his talks with the American Secretary of State. We can be quite certain that, if it were true that the Russians did not have the hydrogen bomb five years ago, they would not have been silly enough to start a war. The Russians have the hydrogen bomb now, and the Minister for External Affairs gives that as the reason why there will be no war.
Having said that, I want to turn to the main subject of the debate. I said at the beginning of my speech that very few honorable members on the Government side of the House appear to have caught up with the changed opinion of the Minister for External Affairs. Many honorable members opposite still rise in their places and want to declare war on all and sundry. They still threaten the Asian peoples with atomic destruction unless they knuckle down and do what 9,000,000 Australian people want them to do. Honorable members opposite are still making their old war-mongering speeches, as though there had been no change in the international situation, as though the hydrogen bomb had not been discovered and as though the views of the Minister for External Affairs were the same as they were five years ago. The onward rush of communism in Asia and South-East Asia will not be stopped by force of arms. Communism is an idea. It is not something at which we can poke a stick. It is not something that we can shoot at and say, “ That was communism. I have destroyed it. It no longer exists “. Communism is an idea in the minds of men. We can defeat it only by putting forward a better idea - an idea which will be more attractive to the peoples of the Asian countries than the idea of communism. But the ideas that we are putting forward now to the Asian peoples as an alternative to communism are not ideas which are likely to be accepted by them. The only alternatives that we are offering to the Asian peoples at the moment are the alternatives of colonialism, imperialism and monopoly capitalism.
The peoples of Asia have been under the domination of colonial powers for 300 years. They are not prepared to remain under the domination of foreign powers any longer. Why should they do so? They have the same right to govern themselves as we have to govern ourselves. The British Government has no justification for withholding any longer from the people of Malaya the right to govern themselves. Every day that the British Government withholds from the people of Malaya the right to govern themselves, it strengthens the grip of the Communists on Asia.
The Asian peoples look at the situation in this way. They say, “ On the one hand, we have the Communist party, advocating self-government. On the other hand, we have the Western powers, representing the non-Communist bloc in the world. They are opposing selfgovernment “.
What the peoples of Asia desire most of all is the right to govern themselves. Unless we are prepared to give them that right, communism will continue to gain ground in Asia. Unless we change our tactics and alter our attitude to Asia, the day will come - perhaps more quickly than most people think - when the whole of Asia will he captured by Communist thought. If we look at the map of Asia, we see that communism is relentlessly spreading its grip day by day. It is capturing the minds of men in Asia. Every day there are thousands more captives of the Communist point of view. By withholding from the peoples of Asia the right to govern themselves, we are playing into the hands of the Communists. We must realize that there is no short cut to the defeat of communism. The discovery and manufacture of the hydrogen bomb has made our previous efforts to stop communism by force of arms no longer a practical proposition.
– What country in Asia is not self-governing?
– The honorable member for Hume asks me to point to a country in Asia which is not self-governing. The places in Asia that I am primarily concerned with now which are not self-governing are Malaya and Singapore. It is to those two places that I am directing my attention at the moment.
– Are there any more?
– Let me remind the honorable member for Hume that, but for the fact that Mr. Clement Attlee, a socialist Prime Minister of Great Britain, gave to the peoples of Pakistan, Burma, Ceylon and India the right to govern themselves, those countries would now be under Communist control. The only reason why they are not within the Communist orbit now is that a socialist government of Great Britain gave them the right to govern themselves. The reason why communism is losing its grip on India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma is that those countries are the only countries in Asia that have been given the right to govern themselves.
It is true that there is a Communist government in China, but that is only because the people of continental China had to choose between the evils of the regime of Chiang Kai-shek - which was as corrupt and as oppressive as the regime of any colonial power could possibly be - and the communism of Mao Tse-tung, which offered them land reform and other reforms that they wanted so dearly. What the people of Asia want most, next to self-government and the right to feel that they are free people, is the right to own their land - something which the feudal lords of Asia denied to them, something which the corrupt and feudalistic Chiang Kai-shek government of continental China denied to the Chinese people. 1 repeat that there is no short cut to a solution of the Communist problem in Asia. The problem can be solved only by the colonial and imperial powers vacating the field, being glad that they have had 300 years in which to exploit the Asian peoples and cutting their losses before it is too late. I am sure it is not generally realized, that the system of government in Malaya to-day, which we are sending our men to help to defend, is a system - a British system, mind you - which denies to the people of Malaya the right of habeas corpus. People can be arrested and imprisoned without trial. Trade union officials can be arrested without a warrant, thrown into gaol and kept there for two years, without a charge being laid against them. Is it generally realized that a great number of Malayan workers are indentured coolies from China who must, out of their miserable wages, pay their fares both ways ? The cold stark fact of the Malayan situation is that, because they have the support of the indigenous population, 3,500 terrorists are keeping at bay 310,000 home guards, Ghurkas, Australians and other troops, who are trying to keep them in check. The Malayans will no longer tolerate the control that has been exercised over them for the last 300 years. These 3.500 terrorists are still there, despite eight years of activity by British forces. The reason is that, as I have said, the people of Malaya are not prepared any longer to tolerate the subjugation that they have had to suffer. We are sending Australian troops to Malaya, virtually to protect the investments of tile wealthy tin-mining companies and rubber-planters. In the fight against communism we must present to the people of Asia something that is more attractive than capitalist imperialism or colonialism.
– A 40-hour week?
– The honorable member for Hume sneeringly suggests a 40-hour week as if that were such a stupid proposition that no one would dare support it. But I mean precisely that. And I mean the same rates of pay and the same entitlement to annual leave and so on as the Australian worker enjoys.
Although some honorable members may not regard a man whose skin is coloured as being a creature of God, let us remember that they are all God’s creatures. The honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) should remember that, too, when he cornea into this House with a Bible in one hand and a machine-gun in the other.
The only idea that will defeat the Communist idea in the battle to capture the minds of Asians is the idea of democratic socialism. I say to those who would sneer at the suggestion, “You have not very much longer to make up your minds as to whether you will give the Asian people democratic socialism or insist upon the retention of monopoly capitalism”. Unless the Western Powers quickly realize that they must counter communism by giving to the people of Asia, first, self-government, secondly the opportunity to own their land, and, thirdly, a system of democratic socialism so that they may gain the benefits of industrialization, the Western Powers will be too late. Only democratic socialism can save Asia from communism. It is no use any one here sitting back thinking smugly that we can continue for very much longer to exploit the Asian people, deny them self-government and deprive them of the product of their labour. Nothing can stop the Asian countries from going into the Communist orbit within five years if the present stupid policy of the West prevails. No longer can one turn gun-boats onto the Asian coast or threaten by force of arms to push back the Communist hordes. As the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has been reluctantly compelled to admit, the hydrogen bomb has ruled out for all time the use of warfare as a means of stopping Communist aggression.
The Minister spoke about propaganda as though it were an evil thing. The Communist people have as much right as we have to indulge in propaganda in Asia. If we are stupid enough not to do likewise, with propaganda as effective as theirs, it will be our own fault if we fail to win over the Asian people.
I wish to refer briefly to the criticism of the Hobart conference decision on foreign affairs. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), in summing up his statement on international affairs, said - . . we aim to create and maintain friendly and confident relations with the countries of South and South-East Asia . . .
At the Hobart conference we said exactly the same thing in paragraph 11 of the declaration. The Minister said further - . . that we actively encourage international discussion of world and regional problems by negotiation . . .
That is precisely what is set out in paragraph 10 of the Hobart declaration. In paragraph (4) of the Minister’s summing up he said -
That is precisely what we said in paragraphs 9 and 13 of the Hobart declaration. In paragraph (6) of the Minister’s summing up he said - . . that we give full support to efforts to find means of achieving effective international control of nuclear weapons . . .
At one time any one who advocated that would have been called a Communist. It is, however, identical with paragraph 11 of the Hobart declaration.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Howse) adjourned.
Cyclone in North Queensland - Zillmere Housing Project.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to avail myself of the opportunity, before the House rises for the week, to refer once again to the great tragedy that has occurred all along the north Queensland coast from Mackay to the top of Australia. Honorable members are aware that the worst cyclone in the history of Queensland has left behind it in that area a trail of devastation, chaos, sorrow and misery. Unfortunately, because of the failure of communications, I am not yet in a position to state the extent of the damage, but we do know that almost every town and city from Mackay and Cooktown has suffered.
I want first to express my sincere thanks to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) for helping me to overcome the great difficulties that are associated with communications to the north. This is not a party or political matter. It is a very serious matter, of which I hope the House will take grave notice. This is no time to be partisan or small. I want publicly to express my thanks to the Postmaster-General for what he has done in the matter of communications. For two days I had been endeavouring to contact my electorate, in which most of the towns involved are situated. In addition, my own kith and kin are in the area and I was very anxious to contact them. I was told this morning by the trunklines people that it might be two days before I could hope to get a call through to Town’sville or any part of my electorate. I appealed to the Postmaster-General and within minutes I was given a priority call to my brother in Queensland. For that, I owe the Postmaster-General my sincere thanks. He has kept me acquainted with the reports that he has received from Brisbane and the thanks of all must go to those who have worked so hard to restore the communications that have been destroyed as a result of this terrible cyclone. I also wish to express my thanks to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Harold Holt) for assisting in the provision of accommodation for the distressed people in the Townsville area.I sent a telegram to the major of Townsville in the hope that it would reach him, despite the severance of communications in the area, and this afternoon I received a reply from him in which he said that all he asked was that the Stuart immigration centre be made available for the accommodtion of the many families left homeless as a result of the tragedy. I approached the Minister on this matter and, within a very short time, I was able to send another telegram to the mayor informing him that he could put these unfortunate people into the accommodation at that centre. As a result of the Minister’s attitude, and his prompt action in making the centre available, many people to-night will have roofs over their heads, and beds to sleep in, of some sort at least, which is much better than they fared last night. So I wish to express publicly my sincere thanks to both those gentlemen and their officers for the kindness that they have extended in connexion with this matter.
This morning I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) whether he would, immediately on receipt of an application from the Queensland Government, make available the maximum possible amount of finance to assist in alleviating the great distress and making good the loss of property that has occurred. I wish to say at once that I appreciate that this is not the first of such calamities. There have been other floods, not only in southwest Queensland, but also in other parts of Australia, and not only in this year but also in other years. On every occasion, the Commonwealth has subsidized, on a pro rata basis with the States concerned, expenditure on the alleviation of the distress caused and to offset the terriffic losses associated with such disasters. In response to my request to him this morning the Prime Minister assured me, and the House, that that would be done in this instance. But I wish to put a further point to the Government in this connexion. It is, that matters of this kind should be treated on a national level. In making that statement I mean it to refer to such disasters generally, and not only to the present disaster, which happens to have struck my electorate; so I hope that I shall not be accused of working the parish pump or anything of the kind. Those calamities are of a national character, whenever and wherever they occur. It is all right for the Commonwealth to offer to meet, on a £l-for-£l basis, State expenditure on flood relief. We must accept, on the surface, the argument submitted by the States that they have insufficient finance to enable them to spend as much money on relief measures as they would like to spend. Of course, they get only £1 from the Commonwealth for every £1 they expend. I say, with complete sincerity, that, whatever the financial position of the States may be, the Commonwealth should view this as a national matter, and should subscribe whatever money is required for relief measures. The restoration or replacement of roads, aerodromes, buildings, and houses that have been destroyed, and the finding of accommodation for men, women and children who have been deprived of their homes in such disasters, constitute a project that I believe to be related, in some way or other, to the defence of this country. It is of no use to talk about defending the country adequately if its roads are out of order, or if we have not a happy and contented community. I put it strongly to the Government that it does not matter what the rehabilitation of the ravaged areas costs. I do not know what it will cost in the present instance because it is as yet impossible te assess the losses, and also because of the fact that the floods have not yet abated. “ The only figure that I have in mind is one that was published in the Brisbane Courier-Mail. That newspaper states that it is estimated that the damage so far will approximate £2,500,000. If that proves to be the final figure, the loss would be made good only if the Queensland Government subscribed £1,250,000, whereupon the Commonwealth would subsidize it on a £l-for-£l basis by the same amount. I suggest that perhaps Queensland cannot afford to expend £1,250,000 on flood relief. The result of a lower expenditure by the State will be a lower contribution by the ‘Commonwealth, if the former subsidy policy is continued, and the final expenditure will fall short of the mount required. For instance, if only £50,000 is expended by Queensland on relief and rehabilitation, and the Commonwealth subsidizes only on a £l-for-£l basis, a total of only £i00,000 will be available to make good loss and damage estimated provisionally, as I have said, at £2,500,000. I fear that Queensland will not be financially able to pay half of the actual cost of damage and losses, so I again say to the Government that whatever the final cost may be, it should not be said that the Commonwealth cannot find the money to assist in rectifying such a chaotic position as Iiss resulted from this tragedy. The Govern ment could provide the money from one of the votes approved by the Parliament. I contend that it could set aside money for this purpose from the defence vote, because, as I have already said, the rehabilitation work necessary is, in some way or other, connected with our defence. Another metnod would be to tax for this purpose people who are more fortunate than are those who have suffered in such disasters. From whatever source the Government may get the money, it is futile and foolish for it to say that it cannot find finance in order to restore happiness and contentment to people who have suffered as those people have suffered, and I hope that it will decide to do a little more than merely subsidize the Governments of States which are afflicted by such distasters on a £l-for-£l basis.
.- I should like to associate myself with the sympathy that the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) has extended to the people who have suffered as a result of the cyclone in Queensland. But I do not agree with his suggestion that the Queensland Government may not be able to afford to compensate the people of north Queensland for the losses they have suffered. I suggest that no monetary contribution will ever compensate those people for the heartbreak and loss they have suffered. However, I feel that the Commonwealth has a responsibility to provide, on a £l-for-£l basis with the State, some form of financial compensation to them. His suggestion that the Queensland Government cannot afford to meet its obligation in this respect, however, is not one that accords with fact.
As we know, the Queensland Government has £25,000,000 in surplus funds which it has .been unable to expend. Those funds were derived from the Commonwealth. Surely, from that surplus of £25,000,000 the Queensland Government could meet at least half of the expenditure that is required to re-establish the people who have suffered from the Queensland cyclone. I am quite certain that the Australian Government will give sympathetic consideration to every aspect of the situation of the people of north Queensland. T cannot say that I have the same confidence in the Queensland Government, but 1 .sincerely hope that that Government will give as much aid as possible because the contribution made by the Australian Government will be determined by the amount expended on relief by the Queensland Government.
My purpose in rising to-night was not to speak on the subject of the Queensland cyclone, but to refer to a report published in to-day’s Brisbane Courier-Mail, which refers to a statement made by the Queensland Minister for Housing, Mr. Hilton. The report reads -
The Housing Minister (Mr. Hilton) yesterday answered allegations on Zillmere housing project’s. He denied that imported houses and materials for the project could not be accounted for by the Housing Commission. . . .
Records show that materials for 88(i houses - except those which were not in short supply when the contract was signed . . . were shipped from France. . . .
When the contractors abandoned their con tract in July, 1953, it was found that - duc to deterioration and damage of timber, wastage in cutting, and corrective work insisted upon bv the Queensland Housing Commission - there was not sufficient imported material on site to complete the contract. . . .
Because of these substitutions, approved by the Commonwealth, neither the AuditorGeneral nor any other person could certify that every house under this contract was erected entirely with imported materials. . . .
That statement of the Queensland Minister for Housing was made in answer to a statement that I made in this House last Thursday night. I suggest that that Minister has attempted in this article dishonestly to conceal the facts from the people of Queensland. I emphasize that. He has dishonestly endeavoured to conceal the facts in this matter from the people of Queensland.
In answer to his statement I say that in my statement made in this Parliament on Thursday last I did not deny that S86 houses had been shipped from Prance. Mr. Hilton goes to great pains to prove that the Auditor-General himself has certified that the houses were in fact shipped. I do not dispute that, but I claim that there are not SS6 houses of French origin at Zillmere. I also claim that the substitutions, referred to by the Minister in his statement and approved by the Commonwealth, of Australian hardwood for steps, sills, plates and bearers, and the S75 sheets of local asbestos cement, are not the only deficiencies. On the ‘7th August, 1955, the Queensland Minister for Housing, in an article written by himself and published in. the Stanthorpe Border Post, cited a report on imported houses which had been made by a committee of his own appointment. That committee was composed of Mr. H. L. Conrad, the president of the Queensland Chapter of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, Mr. G. J. McCarthy, president of the Institute of Quantity Surveyors Incorporated, Queensland, and Mr. C. P. Hornick past president of the Master Builders Association of Queensland. The exact words used by the Minister in his published statement which quoted the report of the committee were -
I would mention that the number of houses involved i* Italian 1.000. French 812, Swedish 49li.
That suggests to me that the Minister himself admits that there are only 812 French houses at Zillmere, and again I state that the people of Queensland are entitled to know what has happened to the balance of 74 houses which the Minister himself appears to admit cannot be found. If the total discrepancy at Zillmere is only 74 houses, that would mean that approximately £185,000 worth of building material has to be accounted for. The Minister has made no attempt whatsoever to explain this deficiency, other than continually to report that the Queensland Auditor-General has certified that the houses were shipped from France. The people of Queensland desire to know what happened to those houses after they were shipped, and where those houses are now. We want to know whether they were sold privately, whether they were destroyed by fire, whether they were inadvertently lost, whether they wereunshipped at some other Australian port, or what, in fact, did happen to them. The Minister owes the people of Queensland an explanation and a full answer to those questions.
Further, I say that this Government has a responsibility in this matter not only insofar as the payment of subsidy is concerned, or only insofar as the Queensland Government has dishonestly claimed a subsidy in respect of houses it cannot produce; but, as it supplied the money that it borrowed from the people to provide finance for the Queensland Government to purchase these houses abroad, it has also a moral responsibility to demand from the Queensland Government an explanation of what has happened to approximately £200,000 worth of building material which, again, I say the Minister for Housing in Queensland cannot produce to justify the payment he has made from the funds made available under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement.
If this is not a conspiracy to defraud, indeed a complete fraud upon, and a sell-out of, the Australian people, then I do not know what is. This Government should take some action through the courts to have a judicial investigation made, or demand by writ from the Queensland Government the moneys that it has obtained under false pretences. This Government should demand that the Queensland Government should give a complete and satisfactory answer to the people of Queensland about where the missing building material may be found.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.26 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
r asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
t asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following answers : - 1 and 2. There is a total of 49 companies registered in Australia as shipowners, particulars of which are shown in Table A hereunder. In many cases, the companies operate ships merely as an adjunct to their normal businesses e.g., Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited and many coal mining and timber companies. In other cases, small owners operate one or two vessels in trades which they have served continuously for many years e.g. Tasmanian Steamers, L. W. Smith, Proprietary Limited, H. C. S. Coasters, &c. Other companies operate in over seas trades, e.g., Burns Philp & Company Limited, Ampol Petroleum. There are also two Government organizations operating ships in the interstate trade, viz., Australian Shipping Board and Western Australian State Shipping Service. 3, 4 and 5. It is assumed the question relates to the more important Australian companies operating in the interstate trade primarily as shipowners. Except in four instances these are all private companies whose annual accounts and balance-sheets are not made public. Where the required particulars are available as with the four public companies, they are listed in Table B hereunder.
Companies Registered as Owners of Australian Trading Vessels of 200 Gross Tons or Over.
Adelaide Steamship Company Limited, Currie-street, Adelaide, South Australia.
Ampol Petroleum Limited, 304 Flindersstreet, Melbourne, C.l, Victoria.
Australian Steamships Proprietary Limited, 522 Collins-street, Melbourne, C.l, Victoria. Managing agents - Howard Smith Limited, 269 George-street, Sydney, New South Wales.
Australasian United Steam Navigation Company Limited, 122 Leadenhall-street, London. Managing agents - MacDonald Hamilton and Company, 247 George-street, Sydney, New South Wales.
Arga Shipping Company, St. Helen’s, Tasmania.
Australasian Petroleum Company Proprietary Limited, 52 Pitt-street, Sydney, New South Wales.
Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, 422 Collins-street, Melbourne, C.l, Victoria.
John Burke Limited, Stanley-street, South Brisbane, Queensland.
Hopewell Steam Shipping Company Limited, Kent-street, Maryborough, Queensland.
Burns Philp and Company Limited, 4 Bridgestreet, Sydney, New South Wales.
William Charlick Limited, London-road, Mile End, South Australia.
Coast Steamships Limited, Lipson-street, Port Adelaide, South Australia.
Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, 1 O’Connell-street, Sydney, New South Wales.
Reginald M. Crouch, c/o M. B. Crouch and Co., 10 Divett-street, Port Adelaide, South Australia.
Diesel Services Limited, 236 Victoria-square, Adelaide, South Australia.
Dunmore Shipping Company Proprietary Limited, 16 Spring-street, Sydney, New South Wales.
Freighters Limited, 15 Divett-street, Port Adelaide, South Australia.
H.C.S. Coasters Proprietary Limited, 582 Little Collins-street, Melbourne, C.l, Victoria.
Hethking Steamships, 4 Bridge-street, Sydney, New South Wales.
William Holyman and Sons Proprietary Limited, Launceston, Tasmania.
Newcastle and Hunter River Steamship Company Limited, 147 Sussex-street, Sydney, New South Wales.
Robert H. Houfe and others, Cl iff -road, Frankston, Victoria.
Huddart Parker Limited, 404 Collins-street, Melbourne, C.l, Victoria.
Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited, 251 Georgestreet, Sydney, New South Wales.
Interstate Steamships Proprietary Limited, 19 Bridge-street, Sydney, New South Wales.
Jones Brothers Coal Proprietary Limited, Pyrmont Bridge-road, Pyrmont, New South Wales.
Kauri Timber Company Limited, 17 Queenstreet, Melbourne, C.l, Victoria.
Leven Shipping Company Proprietary Limited, Lorimer-street, South Melbourne.
Marine Contracting and Towing Company Limited, Lake-street, Cairns, Queensland.
Melbourne Steamship Company Limited, 31 King-street, Melbourne, C.l, Victoria.
Moorah Trading and Shipping Company Proprietary Limited, 33 Queen-street, Brisbane, Queensland.
McIlwraith McEacharn Limited, 94 Williamstreet, Melbourne, C.l, Victoria.
James Patrick and Company Proprietary Limited, 19 Bridge-street, Sydney, New South Wales.
James Paterson and Company Proprietary Limited, 441 Collins-street, Melbourne, C.l, Victoria.
Patson Proprietary Limited, 74 Pitt-street, Sydney, New South Wales.
Riverside Coal Transport Company Proprietary Limited, Short-street Wharf, Brisbane, Queensland.
L. W. Smith Proprietary Limited, Launceston, Tasmania.
Spencer Gulf Transport Company Limited, 15 Divett-street, Port Adelaide, South Australia.
Tasmanian Steamers Proprietary Limited, 464 Collins-street, Melbourne, C.l, Victoria.
Allen Taylor and Company Limited, Commercialroad, Rozelle, New South Wales.
Union Steamship Company of New Zealand Limited, Wellington, New Zealand.
Wallarah Coal Company Limited, 13 O’Connell-street, Sydney, New South Wales.
Western District Timber Company Proprietary Limited, Launceston, Tasmania.
Western Shipping Proprietary Limited, 17 Pakenham-street, Fremantle, Western Australia.
Wilson Hart and Company, Maryborough, Queensland
Australian Public Companies engaged in interstate shipping.
Adelaide Steamship Company Limited -
Directors. -R. G. Hawker (chairman); Honorable Sir Walter G. Duncan, M.L.C.; T. E. Barr Smith; H. H. Lloyd; M. H. E. MacKay.
Paid-up capital of company. - £2,325,135.
Profits as per published annual accounts since1950.- 1950. £156,276; 1951, £156,268; 1952, £241,273; 1953, £252.887; 1954, £264,515; 1955, £159,518.
Huddart Parker Limited -
Directors. - T. J. Parker (chairman) ; T. L. Webb (managing director); P. F. Phillips.
Paid-up capital of company. - £1,250,000.
Profits as per published annual accounts since 1950.- 1950, £158,029; 1951, £210,504; 1952, £183,171; 1953, £300,508; 1954, £308,775; 1955, N.A.
McIlwraith McEacharn Limited -
Directors. - I. N. Holyman (chairman); C. L. N. Barratt; F. G. L. Harding; W. I. Potter; C. B. Hearn.
Paid-up capital of company. - £1,000,000.
Profits as per published annual accounts since 1950.- 1950. £90,326; 1951, £87,211; 1952, £150,625; 1953, £164,678; 1954, £203,475; 1955, £220,542.
Melbourne Steamship Company Limited -
Directors. - D. York Syme (chairman and managing director); T. Henderson; G. S. Smith, S.’ C. G. Macindoe: H. B. Oliphant.
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has furnished the following replies: - 1, 2 and 4. The Government is giving consideration to the possibility of constructing a vessel of the car ferry type for the Bass Strait service, but no final decision has yet been made. Plans are not yet finalized but the Australian Shipbuilding Board is working on the design of the vessel. When all the necessary information, including the price, is available to the Government, a decision will be reached and an announcement made.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 March 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1956/19560308_reps_22_hor9/>.