22nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. C. P. Adermann) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Yesterday, the Minister for Labour and National .Service made an announcement in connexion with a report on the stevedoring industry inquiry. I understand that the Minister has received the report, and although printed copies of it may not yet be ready, some copies of it must be available. Can the Minister say when copies will be made available to honorable members? I should also like to know whether I am correct in believing that his answer yesterday indicated that there will be no decision about any particular legislation during this sessional period before the Easter recess.
– I was proposing, following question time to-day, to table the interim report. Printed copies of the report are available. When I table the paper, I propose to make a few explanatory remarks which I think will cover the right honorable gentleman’s questions.
– Some time ago the Minister for Supply made reference to Australia’s interest in the setting up of a radiation committee within the United Nations to study the effects of nuclear radiation on human health and safety. Can he” say whether there have been any developments in that direction, and what the present position is?
– I did say in the House a few days ago that Australia had taken an active part in the promotion, within the United Nations, of a committee to study the effects of radiation on human health and safety. I have just had news that one of Australia’s representatives on the committee has been appointed as its chairman. That, I think, is a compliment to Australia, and a recognition of this country’s active interest in the matter. The chairman of the committee is Dr. 0. E. Eddy, director of the Commonwealth X-ray and Radium Laboratory, which is under the control of my colleague, the Minister for Health. Dr. Eddy is also a member of the safety committee which advises the Government on matters associated with atomic tests. Australia’s other two representatives on the radiation committee are Professor Watson Munro, the chief scientist of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, and Professor J. P. Baxter, who is deputy chairman of the commission.
– Is the Minister for Immigration firmly convinced that the present process of assimilation of immigrants into the Australian way of life is proving a success? If he is not satisfied, will he initiate a discussion on the matter in this House, in order that members may have an opportunity to submit suggestions for improving the position?
– I think it is the generally held opinion, not only of expert observers in this country, but also of people closely associated with immigration procedure and policies elsewhere, that the assimilation of 1,000,000 new settlers by Australia has proceeded remarkably successfully. That does not mean that in every instance we have been successful, but over the broad field we can claim that Australia as a nation has done a splendid job in that direction. I would welcome any constructive suggestions that honorable members from any part of the House may care to make towards improving our methods. Whether it would be practicable to do that by way of a special motion in the course of this sessional period is a matter upon which I am unable to express a definite opinion, but I shall explore the suggestion.
– As the Minister for Labour and National Service will be aware, only one complete day has been worked on the Hobart waterfront since the first overseas fruit ship arrived there twelve days ago. This has been due to disputes over pallet loading, and since last Tuesday an overtime ban has been imposed. Will the Minister inform the
House what action he plans to take to prevent further serious disruption of the overseas fruit shipping programme which has already been seriously delayed?
– I do not know that I quite understand what the honorable member means by “ complete day “ unless he means the overtime work which might ordinarily be included in a complete day. Subject to that qualification, what he has put to me is correct, but, as f understand it, work has been proceeding on all the days since the Board of Reference gave its decision on the pallet issue. An appeal has since been lodged by the union against the decision of the Board of Reference, and I am informed that the judge who is directly concerned with this industry, Mr. Justice Ashburner, will proceed to Hobart on Monday to deal with that appeal himself. As to the general question of waterfront unrest, as I have already told the House and intimated to the Leader of the Opposition this morning, the interim report of the stevedoring industry inquiry will be before the House very shortly. I have prepared a submission for Cabinet on the matter, and I hope that it will be considered at an early date. 1 expect that we shall be able to go ahead with remedial measures before the House rises for the winter recess.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether the Government proposes to amend the Superannuation Act to cover increases of salary to officers determined by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration as distinct from the determinations made by the Public Service Arbitrator? In the drafting of that legislation, will the right honorable gentleman extend consideration to the amendment of such sections as 13 (4a) of the Superannuation Act to protect the rights of officers to increase their superannuation units in all cases where retirement has taken place through age or invalidity as between the date a determination is made by the Public Service Arbitrator, and any subsequent date upon which the
Arbitration Court delivers judgment in any appeal against any determination, made by the Public Service Arbitrator?’
– The suggestion madeby the honorable member will be taken, into careful and early consideration.
– In view of the very great interest of parents in Australia in the safety, efficacy and reliability of the Salk vaccine, is the Minister for Health able to give some up-to-date information regarding the results obtained by vaccination in other countries, particularly Canada, the United Statesof America and Great Britain? Can the Minister fix a date when vaccination will begin in Australia?
– I have no precise information from the United States of America to give the right honorable gentleman at the moment, except to say, in general terms, that such reports aswe have are very favorable. However, I have recently received some information, from Canada where, as the right honorable gentleman knows, we regard all measures taken by way of vaccination against poliomyelitis as of a very high order. While it is not possible to make a statement in categorical terms in comparing the incidence of the disease and the effects of vaccination, I can say that the general effect of inoculation in Canada has been that, in three of the provinces, where about 65,000 children, were inoculated, no cases of poliomyelitis have been recorded. In a comparable number of about 65,000 children, who were not inoculated, there have been about 23 or 24 cases in the last twelve months. The general incidence of the disease has been considerably lower; but this cannot be attributed entirely to the vaccine, because it may be that the incidence is lower also in the unvaccinated1 population. Taking everything into consideration, it appears that, in Canada, where very great numbers of children have been inoculated, the two facts established are, first, the safety of the vaccine, and, secondly, its very great efficacy in preventing poliomyelitis in general, and paralytic poliomyelitis in particular.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question relating to the increase of bank overdraft interest rates which he announced in his oration last evening. The right honorable gentleman will recall that, in 1951 and 1952, when overdraft interest rates last rose, the banks increased the rate of interest on loans to building societies by threeeighths of 1 per cent., and thus brought about an increase of up to 10 per cent, in the amount of repayments or the period of repayments by members of the societies. To illustrate, a borrower for a term of twenty or 30 years had to continue his current rate of repayments for 22 or 33 years respectively, or, alternatively, he had to increase the amount of his periodic repayments by 2s. in the £1. I now ask the right honorable gentleman whether the Government has agreed that interest on loans to building societies shall further increase by the average rate of one-half of 1 per cent, or by the maximum rate of 1 per cent., which he announced last evening.
– I do not profess to have analysed every individual case that can occur. I should be extremely disappointed if, to the degree to which the banks finance building societies, they charged those societies the higher and not the lower rate of interest. Indeed, there will have to be a great number of instances of rates lower than 5£ per cent, if the oi per cent, average is to be maintained.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he is aware that some members of the miners’ federation propose to stage a demonstration in Canberra in the near future. Does the right honorable gentleman know whether the federation has made a decision on this matter? If so, can he say whether such a demonstration would serve any useful purpose?
– I have read of a proposal to send a delegation of some sort to Canberra, I understand next week, for the purpose of interviewing Ministers and other members of the
Parliament, but I have had no official advice of such a deputation coming tosee me, and I have not received any request to that end. Having regard to the difficult problems of the coal-mining industry, I should imagine that the miners would serve themselves and the industry better if they remained at work and tried to improve both performance and the regularity of coal supplies. I have stated in this House more than once that my colleague, the Minister for National Development, and I have been giving a good deal of attention to the problems of the industry. The Joint Coal Board, through its technical officers, has been examining the problems of rationalization, and, in the case of Bellbird colliery, proposals for a resumption of work on conditions which would enable efficient and profitable operation of that mine. We have had conferences with the persons concerned and have intimated that we are willing to hold a further conference just as soon as there is something additional and useful to be discussed. That offer still holds good. I should have thought that leaders of the industry could have served their members and themselves better by pursuing action along those lines than by engaging in useless, futile and wasteful demonstrations such as that which is apparently now proposed.
– I direct a question tothe Postmaster-General. He is new in the job, and his four predecessors, including some Labour Ministers, have given the same reply to applications for telephone installations. That reply, which has been repeated for more than ten years is, “I know full well that the applicant is suffering considerably, but owing to the shortage of cable and telephone equipment I regret that his name will have to go on the waiting list”. T understand that there are 10,000 applicants in Australia on that waiting list.
– Is the honorable member giving information or seeking it?
– I want to know when that reply is to be changed, or whether the Government ever intends to get cable to install telephones. If we had business to transact, at one time we were told, “ Do it by telephone “. Now the advice is, “Do it by air”. That is all the assistance that we can obtain. The Government’s stock reply to applications for telephone installations has outlived its usefulness, and it is time that the Government set about obtaining some cable for installation purposes.
– It seemed to me, listening intently to the honorable member’s question, that he was submitting representations on behalf of some particular applicant.
– Thousands of them!
– As he said, I am a new man in this position. I was attempting to ascertain if there was any way in which I could assist him, but he gave no information about the particular persons to whom his question referred. If he will give me information about particular instances of delay, I shall certainly try to assist him. Regarding the general position, I have already pointed out in this chamber that the Postal Department has installed record numbers of telephones each year for the last three or four years, and it is continuing along those lines. For instance, last year, net installations totalled 122,000, which is the greatest number that has ever been installed in a year. That does not include telephones acquired by transfer and other means. It will be seen, therefore, that in spite of various difficulties, such as poor supplies of cable and other equipment, the department is still providing a very efficient and effective service.
– I also direct a question to the Postmaster-General. I preface it by saying that he will recall that early in the sessional period I mentioned the matter of telephonic communication with the north-west of Western Australia, which portion of the continent is completely cut off, telephonically, from the rest of Australia.
– There are only a couple of kangaroos up there!
– The remark by the honorable member for Gippsland indicates very clearly that he does not know that particular portion of the continent. The Postmaster-General may also recall that I mentioned this matter during the debate on the AddressinReply, and even went so far as to suggest that it might be dealt with under the defence programme. Can the PostmasterGeneral say whether any investigation has been made into the position as it relates to the north-west of Western Australia? If an investigation has been made has he any information that he can give the House for the benefit of those people who are so isolated in that particular portion of the continent ?
– Tes. I think it was within about the first week of my appointment that the honorable member for Canning discussed with me the need for a more effective radio telephone link between Derby and Perth. He also referred to it in his speech on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. Other representatives of Western Australia, in both chambers, have also mentioned the matter to me from time to time with the result that I have made an investigation into the proposal. I might also say that during a visit to the Kimberleys last year I saw for myself the need for improved communications from the stand-point of both communications and defence. Therefore, an investigation has been made, and it has now been decided to proceed with the installation of a radio telephone link between Perth and Derby. The matter is at present in the planning stage in the department, and that planning is practically completed. Shortly, the necessary radio and other telephonic equipment will be placed on order. But I want to make it plain t.o the honorable member for Canning, although I think he will understand the position, that the question of the commencement of this installation will be discussed and decided when the overall capital works programme is being determined before the next budget. Of course, in that discussion, proper consideration will be given to other urgent works which also have strong claims. However, with that qualification, I can assure the honorable member that it is intended to proceed with the installation. It is expected that it will be about 21 months from the date of commencement before the service is in operation, and when it is in operation it will not only provide a direct radio telephone link between Perth and Derby, but also augment the present telegraphic arrangements, and will enable many people in the Kimberleys, who at present have a telephone connexion only to Derby, to communicate direct with Perth.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I remind him that on the 23rd February last, I put a few simple and direct questions to him on the notice-paper. I am rather anxious to receive a reply to them, and now that the right honorable gentleman has completed his complex and gigantic task, T ask whether he can give early attention to answering those few simple questions.
– I accept the rebuke. I will.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer whether he will consider exempting wigs from sales tax. By way of explanation, I point out that the wigs I want exempted from this tax are not those usually worn as an aid to beauty, or as a mark of status, as in the case of my honorable and learned friend from Balaclava, but those used for the purpose of correcting a physical deficiency, as in the case of my esteemed friend the honorable member for Lowe. I submit, sir, that people ought not to be penalized if they have to take special steps, in these days of stress, to procure something that is essential to restoring their morale.
– Representations have been made, from time to time, to exempt the particular commodity to which the honorable member has referred. This is a bald question, of course, but it will be considered in conjunction with the next budget.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a series of articles currently appearing in the Melbourne Herald which seek to create the impression that the majority of public servants are not rendering either efficient or adequate service for the remuneration they receive, and that their numbers are considerably in excess of requirements? If so, will he, as ministerial head of the Public Service Board, which makes him, in a sense, the employer of all Commonwealth public servants, issue a statement refuting these allegations and expressing his confidence in the Commonwealth Public Service as a body of hard-working and conscientious citizens? Ordinarily, I would not ask a question of this kind, but in view of the unfair attacks which are now being made on Commonwealth and State public servants by certain interests, I think a statement from the head of the Government would be appreciated by the Public Service and might well slow down, if it did not bring to a halt, the press campaign which is being waged against officers of the Public Service.
– I cannot say that I have given these articles much study. I saw the first, and I thought it followed what I have now come to regard as the normal pattern. It is, perhaps, an advantage for some of the newspaper organizations that the public servants cannot analyse the efficiency of those organizations, or the extent of their employment.
– Will the Minister for the Interior give consideration to releasing a report which was made by an expert of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria on the electrical undertakings in the Australian Capital Territory? I might say that I did not release that report when it was made to me as Minister for the Interior. At that time, I was hoping that it would form the basis for the establishment of a statutory government corporation. As Canberra is an electrical city, I think that the matters contained in the report, such as whether the charges that are being made are proper charges, would be of great interest to all residents of the Australian Capital Territory. I do not know whether the Minister has had the report brought before him. If that has not been done, I wonder whether he would obtain it and give consideration to releasing it.
– The number of matters to which I have had to turn my attention in the last few weeks, of course, has rather precluded my giving any study to the report to which the honorable member has referred. However, I assure him that I shall call for the report and have a look at it and, if it is possible to release it, I shall do so as soon as possible.
– I point out to the Treasurer that persons who qualify for the age pension receive taxation concessions, whereas, in the case of persons who qualify for the invalid pension, no such con<sessions are granted. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he will review the position with the object of giving to persons eligible for invalid pensions the same consideration as that received by persons eligible for age pensions.
– As the outcome of a question asked by another honorable member, along the same lines, I have caused investigation to be made and consideration to be given to the possibility of some adjustment, and that matter will be considered in conjunction with the next budget.
– Can the Minister for Works say whether it is a fact that, recently, he received a deputation from the Building Workers’ Industrial Union and the Operative Painters’ Union, and that the deputation expressed concern because of the dismissal of a number of members of those unions from employment with the Commonwealth Department of Works? Is it also a fact that, although the Minister for Labour and National Service frequently has stated that there are thousands of unfilled positions, the Minister for Works was unable to offer any hope of alternative employment for those union members? Is it a fact that the Minister stated that there was any amount of work scheduled to be undertaken, but that there was no money available, or in sight, to permit the fulfilment of the programme? Will the Minister state the number of men who have been affected to date, and whether he is in a position to give an undertaking that no further dismissals are contemplated?
– The matters that the honorable gentleman has raised were discussed at some length with the deputation to which he referred. I have already supplied him with the number of people displaced from one particular depot. I am bound to say that opportunities for employment seem to be fairly widespread, despite the dismissals or releases from the Department of Works, because in the particular cases referred to, half a dozen of the people who were offered a transfer to another depot refused the transfer. The fact is, that over the last year, when something like six-sevenths of the Commonwealth public works programme was in the hands of contractors, the availability of men and material made possible a speeding up of work by contractors, with the result, of course, that there was quite a heavy flow of the funds available for the public works programme into the contracts sector of that programme. Consequently there has had to be a diminution of the work available for day labourers. I cannot give the honorable gentleman air undertaking that there will be no further retrenchment, but I can say that, at the moment, the whole programme is being looked at in intimate detail, and I should hope that within the next seven or ten clays we shall have a better picture, and I shall then be glad to give him some further information on the, matter.
– I lay on the table the following paper : -
Stevedoring Industry Act 1954 - Interim Report by Committee of Inquiry, dated 28th February, 1950.
I told the House a fortnight ago that 3 had received the report, and that it had been sent for printing. Prints are now available, and are being distributed to honorable members, who will find the report a useful and valuable contribution to public knowledge of the stevedoring industry and its problems. There has. I know, been some concern expressed at the length of time the committee has taken to reach, the present stage, but a perusal of its report will quickly reveal the. complexity of the problems which face the committee, and which required the painstaking examination of much detail.
The committee is now dealing with the second part of the subject-matter of it’s inquiry, covering the costs and profits of the industry. Its final report will deal with these matters and will, no doubt, refer also to the evidence given before the committee, upon which it reached the findings and conclusions contained in its interim report. . I shall not at. present review the content of the interim report, but Icommend it to honorable members for careful reading. For the convenience of those who might wish to see the findings in shorter form, I have had a summary prepared, copies of which can be obtained from my office. I have already prepared a submission for consideration by the Cabinet. Before final conclusions are reached1 I shall, of course, have discussions with interested parties. It is not intended to introduce relevant legislation before the Easter recess.
– by leave - There are two or three small points that I should like the: Minister for National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) to consider. The first concerns the costs and profits of the industry. The right honorable gentleman will recollect that the inclusion of these items arose from a special resolution of the House, which he accepted after it had been proposed from this side.We regard that as of the very essence of the inquiry. Therefore, these factors cannot be separated from the remaining considerations. The question ofcosts and profits is related to wages and standards. From our point of view, they are, integrally, the same thing. I ask the Minister to consider this aspect of the matter before engaging in discussions with what he calls interested parties. What I am suggesting to the Minister, chiefly, is that this aspect of the matter should not be excluded from the discussions with interested partiesand the debate on the interim report, but should be considered by the Government before it decides to introduce legislation to deal with this subject. Many honorable members on both sides of the House are very interested in the aspect of the matter to which 1 have referred, and I am sure that their opinions would be of direct value to the Government, if it is thinking of taking legislative action.
Mr. HAROLD HOLT (Higgins- Minister for Labour and National Service and Minister for Immigration). - by leave - I do not wish to give the impression that a great deal has not- already been done in relation to the section to which the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has referred. The committee is. in possession of a considerable body of information, and it is proceeding towards finality. As I explained earlier, the interim report was sought at a time when it seemed that the Government might have to act speedily in relation to waterfront unrest. It is quite evident to all members of the Parliament that that unrest still exists and that stoppages on the waterfront, which are interfering with Australia’s interstate and overseas trade are still occurring.
I admit that, if it were practicable to do so, it would be desirable to defer the introduction of legislation until after the final report was received, but, because of the manner in which events are unfolding themselves, it seems almost certain that the Parliament will be called upon to examine the problems associated with this industry before the full inquiry can be completed. I do not wish to imply that, if action is called for as a result of the final findings of the inquiry, it will not be the responsibility of the Parliament to face up to such action:What I am submitting is that, on present indications, we may have to consider, at an earlier stage, some aspects of the problem which I believe can quite logically and sensibly be examined apart from the other considerations that the Leader of the Opposition has mentioned.
– Before a decision is made, will the Minister consider enabling the Parliament to discuss the interim report?
-That aspect of the matter will be considered, but, of course, it will be affected by events as they unfold themselves.
Presentation to the GovernorGeneral.
– I inform the House that the Address-in-Reply will be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General at Government House at 5.15 p.m. on Tuesday next. I shall be glad if the mover and seconder of it, together with as many other honorable members as can conveniently do so, will accompany me to present it.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) owing to his absence from Australia.
SUPPLY. (“ Grievance Day.”)
Wool - Nationalization - Pastoral Industry - Gosford Drill Hall - Passionfruit - Industrial Arbitra- tion - Government Loans - Bankstownpost Office - Apples - Hobart Waterfront.
Question proposed -
That the Deputy Speaker do now leave the chair.
. -I direct the attention of the House to the trouble that is now occurring in the wool industry, which is the most important industry in this country. I think it is common knowledge to all honorable members that recently the shearing rates and shed hands’ rates in Queensland were reduced by 10 per cent., and, more recently, in New South Wales by 5 per cent. It is not necessary for me to review the whole industry, but one point to which I wish to direct attention is this : While wool prices were rising, award rates for shearing workers were increased in unison. Over the last three years, the price of wool has fallen substantially and it is now approximately 20 per cent. below what it was prior to that period. During that time, the graziers have abided by the decisions of the arbitration courts in relation to not only rates of pay, but also working conditions and amenities. I may be a simple country man, but as I understand the position, arbitration means that two people, who have a difference, approach a court and say, “ We have a difference. Will you, an impartial authority, make a decision and so settle our difference ? “ Implied in that procedure is the intention that the contending parties shall loyally abide by the decision of the tribunal. Probably that is old-fashioned, but it is generally prompted by the dictates of honour. Has this been taking place since the recent decision of the Arbitration Court in regard to the wool industry? The court was approached by both parties to the dispute and a decision was made, and one side, which has never previously shown great loyalty to its word or its bond, decided to withdraw its workers. Here was a legal decision made by a legally constituted authority. That authority laid down in an award certain provisions covering the shearing section of the wool industry, but the Labour leaders refused to accept them and withdrew the workers. It is quite clear to every one that those people are disregarding their unwritten bond to abide by arbitration. What is the reason for this policy? We do not know, but it is quite apparent to every one who cares to look at the award, which is still available to people who wish to work in the industry, that this is not a genuine industrial grievance. There is every reason to believe that it is a result of a political scrap, an internecine battle that is going on in the Labour movement between the factions of the extreme left and the extreme right. Those who are suffering because of this internal strife in the Labour movement include workers and employers in a national industry upon which the whole of our economy is based.
It is fairly common knowledge, too, that the great majority of shearers and others engaged in the industry are quite willing to work at the award rates that have been laid down, but they have been denied an opportunity to do so. Intimidation of the worst kind has been indulged in. That has been evident in Queensland, where industrial organizers were sent by their bosses to withdraw men from the shearing sheds. The Labour leaders will probably say, “ There is no intimidation “, but it does take place. In illustration of that fact I direct attention to The Worker of the 27th February, a weekly newspaper which is the official organ of the Australian Labour party in Queensland. On the front page is the heading, “ Shearing at the old rate”, below which appears the following report: -
The following sheds are shearing at the old rates in Queensland:
Opposition members interjecting,
– Do not stir me up. I am trying not to be provocative, but if honorable members opposite stir me up I will become provocative.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order ! Honorable members will maintain silence.
– I am trying to make my speech non-provocative. On the front page of this issue of The Worker the following report appears: -
For the benefit of members, the following are at Oakwood Station, in the Charleville district: -
Then follow the names and addresses of a cook, a presser, and several shearers and shed hands. What does that mean?
– The honorable member forKingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin), who represents an electorate which was previously represented by a very honorable gentleman, recommends and advocates one of the lowest forms of human vice, blackmail, which ranks with rape, murder, and crimes of that kind. What is the meaning of this report in The Worker? It means that the persons named are working under the lawful award of the court, but the leaders of the Australian Workers Union have decided, for some sinister motives of their own, to deny these people the right to work. The position is much more ugly than I suggest, because in this industry we have the closed shop. Mr. Dougherty, who is the leader of the Australian Workers Union, is the man who was directly responsible for the introduction of compulsory unionism in this free country. Where is our freedom, if men and women who wish to earn a living are denied the right to do so? That right is inherent in the Declaration of Human Rights, which includes freedom from fear, freedom from want, and the right of free association.
We were told last evening by the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin), who read his speech, that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) is a great humanitarian who was responsible for the Declaration of Human Rights. How does the honorable member explain that Australians are being denied the right to work under the provisions of a lawful award? It is quite easy to say, “Oh, we will pull these men out “. But the point is that thousands of men and women are affected by this callous indifference to human rights. Australia has been a free country, but nohody can tell me that it is a free country to-day.
We have been discussing, in the international affairs debate, the tragedies that are taking place in China and Russia, where men are no longer free. Is Australia a land of freedom when a properly constituted industrial tribunal issues a lawful award to cover a certain occupation, and people, using undemocratic means such as compulsory unionism and a closed shop, are able to force their will on so-called free Australians, and deny them the opportunity to earn their living in their usual occupation? Is this a part of the plan that the Leader of the Opposition has set, under which workers must surrender their rights of free selection of employment? Is this a part of the fixed plan to establish here the kind of compulsion that has been introduced in countries that are no longer free?
This is a most important matter, and the House should consider it with the greatest care. This is visible evidence of the filching of freedom from our own people. The importance of the wool industry is vital, and disruption in that industry can cause great confusion, because it is the one industry which supports the economy of this country.I ask the Government to consider this matter most carefully, and examine the possibility of appointing a tribunal to enforce the penal clauses of the Commonwealth arbitration act. My principal grievance to-day is that free Australians are not allowed to earn their living in a lawful manner.
has raised a question of very great importance for this country as a whole, and certainly for this Parliament. A serious industrial dispute has developed which might have the effect of with. holding the shearing of our sheep and thereby affecting the basic export of this country adversely. So this is,- perhaps, one of the most important economic matters, at any rate, as well as one of the most important industrial problems which could engage the attention of this Parliament. Now that the honorable member has raised it in this way, I should like to put before the House a few of the facts and, without attempting at short notice to debate the matter fully, to discuss some of the considerations which seem to me to flow from the action of .this very large and very powerful union.
As honorable members are aware, a rate of pay has been fixed for shearers which relates back to the phenomenal increases in the price of wool which developed after the Korean crisis. The price of wool in Australia, as we all recall, suddenly doubled, and that meant an enormous increase in income for graziers and wool-growers generally. Those engaged in the industry as employees felt, naturally and justifiably, that they should share to some extent in this sudden additional prosperity which had come to the industry. So it was arranged at that time, by an award of the conciliation commissioner, that a very substantial increase in rates should be made, and that the increase should be related, quite directly, to the movement in the price of wool. That was admirable in the eyes of some of the employees and, apparently, of the union while that situation persisted; but, in the intervening years, the price of wool has steadily fallen until it approached what we may regard, perhaps, as a more normal level. Quite understandably, the employers, having regard to the original terms of the award and having regard to the movements in the price of wool, have made application for some reduction in the rates awarded to the shearers in their employ. These men, even on the reduced rates now prescribed, could be earning considerably more than the averaGe Australian worker of comparable skill.
Let us get another element in the background of this story. The award whichhas recently been made in the federal field, with which we as a federal parliament are principally concerned, was made by Mr. Conciliation Commissioner Donovan. I am quite certain that honorable members opposite as, indeed, honorable members on this side of the House, will regard him as being a capable conciliation commissioner and one who could be expected to deal quite fairly with this problem. Certainly, there could be nosuggestion of bias on his part in favour of the applicant employers.
– He does not give anything away, either.
– The honorablemember for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths) tells us that he does not give anythingaway. That can hardly be said of hisoriginal award. He was a Labour member of the New South Wales Parliament. He was appointed a conciliation commissioner by a government drawn from, honorable members opposite. He was, at one time, if my memory serves me, private secretary to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), and was, no doubt, a very competent private secretary. I say that, not by any means to question his competence or his objectivity in the work he is doing in his present jurisdiction, but certainly to counter any suggestion, if any one wishes to put it forward, that members of the Australian Workers Union have not been dealt with fairly in this particular matter. At this point, I am reminded of an earlier decision by an industrial tribunal in a decision givenin an atmosphere by no means unfavorable to the views of honorable members opposite. There was an effective reduction, if my recollection serves me, of 10’ per cent, in the rate prescribed by that tribunal. Mr. Donovan’s reduction wa> of the order of 5 per cent.
– I think that the earlier reduction was 5 per cent., too.
– It was 10 per cent.
– It was 5 per cent.
– In Queensland it was 10 per cent., if I may correct the right honorable gentleman. I will be -the first to apologize if I am wrong. [ nave no doubt that the union, on the one hand, may argue that although there was this original arrangement, living costs have risen in the meantime and that factor justifies the continuance of current rates. On the other hand, the employers may argue, with some conviction, that the 5 per cent, reduction by no means conformed to the ratio in the reduction in prices of wool that has occurred in the intervening period. So whatever the arguments on either side may be, we have this result : That an award has been made by the man whom we, as a parliament, have, in effect, given the task of deciding this particular issue.
Now we come to the reaction of the members of the union to the award. I want the Parliament to have in its mind, while we are looking at this reaction, what view would have been taken by the union if the employers “had had a decision given against them, and had set out to adopt comparable tactics in relation to their employees. First of all, we have a union which is numerically the largest union in Australia and which, in the past, has, I believe, enjoyed a great deal of respect because it, of all unions, has been the union that has adhered most closely to the practice of arbitration. It has more than once gone on record as saying that it is an arbitration union. It has believed in the arbitration process and with good cause, because an objective analysis will show that members of the Australian Workers Union have fared proportionately as well as any other- trade unionists by adhering to the processes of arbitration. I hope that the rank and file members of this union will examine very closely, and with some concern, a course of action by its leadership which departs from what has been the traditional practice of the Australian Workers Union.
The second comment I make is that the action of the union in rejecting this award is a breach both of the letter and the spirit of the arrangement which was made following the remarkable increase in the price of wool which took place a few years ago. My third comment bears on the point which was stressed with so much force and spirit by the honorable member. The fact is that this union, a union which has breathed the spirit of Australia in the past and which has had a robust Australian outlook, has consciously and wilfully adopted tactics which, in the past, have earned the most bitter and strongest condemnation of every industrialist in this country - tactics of intimidation. There is no uglier word in the industrial vocabulary than “ intimidation “ of the worker, and when it comes from an employer it is justly condemned by those who speak for the workers of this country. How much more shameful is it when a union which, itself, has .criticized these tactics in the past, blatantly and brazenly employs them at this time!
– Where is the evidence >of that?
– The evidence of it, in the first place, is in the public statements made so forthrightly by leaders themselves of the union. They have made it perfectly clear that any man who accepts work under the rates prescribed by this award will incur the condemnation of his union. Secondly, I have seen a copy of the paper from which the honorable member for Hume read and in it are set out the names of those who are working under the rate prescribed by the court. For what purpose, other than wilful intimidation?
-SPEAKER. - Order ! The honorable Minister’s time has expired.
.- I heard the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) in his condemnation of the members of the Australian Workers Union.
– No, of the leaders.
– I stand corrected, in his condemnation of the leaders.
– Order ! There is too much noise. I ask honorable members to maintain order.
– I listened to the honorable member for Tumut.
– Order !
– I listened to the honorable member for Hume in his condemnation of the leaders of the Australian Workers Union in respect of their decision to encourage or instruct their members not to shear at the rates recently decided upon by the arbitrator in this particular case. When I hear condemnation of this sort I wonder whether the thought has ever occurred to honorable members like the honorable member for Hume that, after all, human beings employed in this industry have certain fundamental rights. He referred to fundamental human rights. Surely, the men employed in this industry have the right to accept or reject the advice of their particular organization. I make bold to suggest that in this case 99 per cent, of the members of the Australian Workers Union are solidly behind their leaders.
– The men would go back to work immediately if they had the opportunity to conduct a secret ballot.
– lo matter what the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) may say, the fact remains that in Australia to-day there is no industry in which a greater return is given for the payment received.
– It is not a question of that.
– It is. There is no question that there is no more prosperous industry in Australia to-day, notwithstanding the fall in the price of wool. If we care to examine a few facts we find that a shearer receives something in the vicinity of ls. 6d. for shearing a sheep whereas the average price for wool received by the grazier is in the vicinity of 72d. per lb. It costs any honorable member of this House about 4s. 6d. to have his hair cut; yet a grazier can get a sheep shorn for ls. 6d. Shearing is the most arduous type of labour one could engage in; I know, because I have done it. It would do some of those who condemn the employees in this industry a lot of good to remember that shearers are rendering the best service for money received in any industry in this country. Only those who are capable of shearing from 100 to 200 sheep a day are qualified to speak about the arduous nature of the industry and the return given for the labour involved.
When honorable members take into consideration the fact that the woolgrowers of Australia are still mighty prosperous, it would be an act of common decency and humanity on their part were they to say, “ Well, after all, we are still well off. We are all paying moreincome tax than ever a shearer will pay”. Look at the facts. After all, would another Id., or even another 6d. a sheep, break the graziers? Within a week or two honorable members opposite will cast a vote in this Parliament to increase interest rates on overdrafts and on moneys borowed by primary producers and others ; and that in itself, particularly as it affects primary producer.who are in debt, will inflict a substantially heavier burden on the woolgrowers who are working on borrowed money than will the few miserable pence of which the honorable member for Hume would deprive the shearers.
Conversation being audible,
– Order ! The noise at the back of the chamber must cease.
– I know that every member of the Australian Country party will toe the line in this House and support the move to increase interest rates, whereas, on the other hand, they have no thought for the men who are engaged in this arduous physical labour and who. j. repeat, are giving the best return for money received of any type of labour in Australia. That has always been thicase.
– What about the coalminers ?
– I would be prepared to take the honorable member on at shearing sheep any day. Being a man who knows the industry, I say that the pastoralists and graziers are waging through their press a campaign to intimidate the members of- their own organizations who are already conscious of the tact that they are getting the best return for any labour in Australia, and who are paying, or are willing to pay. the rate that has been prescribed by the court. What the honorable member for Hume is afraid of is that the ranks of the graziers who have agreed to pay the old rate will gain a great accretion of strength from the decent men in the industry who iki not begrudge paying another penny or twopence a head for shearing sheep. The statement of the honorable member f >r Hume that the leaders of the great Australian Workers Union are intimidating their members is nonsense and humbug when he knows full well, if he reads the newspapers, that for weeks past, ever since this trouble started, the graziers’ organizations have been endeavouring to rally their members into a solid bloc to refuse to pay these increased rates, even if they are prepared to do so. hi those circumstances it is humbug, and the honorable member knows that to be true. As far as I am concerned, so long as the rank and file members of the Australian Workers Union are not prepared to work for this new award, and require to be paid for their labour the price which they think is adequate, I am with them. If the price does not suit them the grazier, the pastoralist and the wool-grower have the right to withhold from the market the product which the shearers take from the back of the sheep, and in fact wool is frequently held back from sale for that reason. The grower markets the wool where and when it suits him, and members of the Australian Workers Union in this c ase are determined to market their labour when and where they choose, and under conditions that suit them. That is a circumstance common to all industry in this country, but there seems to be a prevailing opinion that because an award or a decision is made by some authority, rightly or wrongly, it binds the employer not to pay more.
The honorable member has referred to human rights. The employer has a perfect liberty to pay more if he desires to do so, and may make that extra payment, kit through the tory publication Muster, in which the “Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) writes so brilliantly, the wool-growers are being rallied into a solid bloc - even including the good fellows among them. The purpose of this drive is to ensure that the shearers are refused what, in the ultimate, is a paltry payment for their labour. Justimagine
– Just imagine arbitration awards.
-The honorable member interjects, “ Just imagine arbitration awards “. After all, arbitration awards in this country are only a guide. If employers are willing to pay, more, why should they not do so? If employees are strong enough, by virtue of their union, to get more, they are entitled to get it. It is of no use deceiving ourselves. In this country there is a conflict between employer and employee generally, and it is recognized by both sides. They use their strength and their organizations to fight for what they believe to be justice. That sort of strength was first used in industry by the employers.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The House ought to be indebted to the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) for introducing this very important subject at this critical stage. Australia is dedicated to a system of arbitration and industries are functioning under that system, but at the will and pleasure of those who control some of the industrial unions, and at the will and pleasure of honorable members opposite who are seeking to achieve their own political ends, an effort is being made to violate the decisions of the Arbitration Court and to incite and encourage the shearers to bring about a state of industrial unrest. That ought not to be condoned by any person who has a fragment of patriotism.
The economy of Australia is founded, to a large extent, on the wool industry, which has served its country better than any other industry has served any other country. That is due, largely, to fortuitous circumstances. The Australian Workers Union has made an application to the Arbitration Court for the variation of an award, and the court, sitting in judgment on that application, has reached what is presumed to be a mature decision. But because that mature decision is contrary to the accepted idea of militants within the union, a strike is visited on the wool industry and on the economy of our country, anil a situation is rapidly developing which could have serious consequences for the whole of our people.
The wool industry cannot wait for a long, period for a solution of these problems. When sheep are ready to be shorn, they ought, in the national interest, to be shorn. Since the court has reached a decision, the sheep ought to be shorn under the terms and conditions laid down by that tribunal. Responsible persons cannot condone attempts by a group to hold to ransom those engaged in the woolgrowing side of the industry and, through them, the entire population of the country. Unfortunately, there are grave flaws in the production side of the wool-growing industry and the growers cannot defend themselves against attacks made on them from time to time by militants within the industrial unions.
A person engages in this industry and contracts to work effectively an area of land. He stocks that area with sheep, first in his own interest and, ultimately, in the national interest, but he is pre- vented from carrying on his lawful occupation by a militant group within the industrial union. He is in no position to defend himself, and is frequently forced to pay wage rates in excess of those provided in the award. Such action by the militants violates fundamental principles of the arbitration system. I warn honorable members opposite that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act contains provisions designed to protect the workers against attempts, such as that made by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), to incite them to strike, and also to protect wool-growers from a situation such as has now developed. Section 77 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act1904-1951 provides-
The rules of an organization registered under this Act shall not during the currency of an award in the industry concerned prevent or impede any members of such organization from entering into written agreements in accordance with such award.
The attitude of the Australian Workers Union, or the militant group within it, is a violation of that provision. Section 78 provides - (1.) An officer, servant or agent, or a member of a committee, of an organization or branch of an organization shall not, during the currency of an award - (a)-
Honorable members: opposite should listen carefully to this - advise, encourage or incite a member of an organization which is bound by the award to refrain from, or prevent or hinder such a member from -
entering into a written agreement ;
advise, encourage or incite sucha member -
To my certain knowledge, the rank and. file members of the Australian Workers Union engaged in the shearing industry have always been anxious to get on with the job. That is the general attitude of members of that industrial organization. For the edification of the honorable member for Lalor, who spoke of me so graciously - in the literary sense of the term - I tell him that, for my sins. I was once a member of the Australian Workers Union and was engaged in the shearing industry - and that is more than the honorable member can ever claim. To my certain knowledge, every person engaged in that industry wants, at the appropriate time, to get out into the sheds and, in his own interest, shear as many sheep as possible. That is the attitude of the members of the union to-day. Here we have a conciliation commissioner in New South Wales who, having examined the prosperity loading that had been put on the industry, measured mathematically the progressive fall in the price of wool over the past two years, and decided that the prosperity loading should he reduced by 5 per cent.
– Order ! The Minister’s time has expired.
– We have just heard from the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) a statement concerning the shearing industry, about which, I am quite satisfied, he knows very little. In spite of his boast that he had for a time been a member of .the Australian Workers Union and had worked in the .shearing industry, I venture to say that the only occupation that he ever .carried on in the shearing industry was that of a dag picker, and he was probably a very poor one at that. I will venture to say, too, that he has never shorn a sheep in his life and- that the whole of his operations in the shearing shed would have been confined to dag picking, which, nevertheless, is a very highly skilled job.
The Minister^ who writes in The Land newspaper under the alias of Peter Snodgrass - he is not prepared to put his own name to the rubbish that he puts out in that particular journal - :has sought to tell us something .about the pastoral award. In spite of the challenge of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) about shearing sheep, I would be prepared to shear him any time he likes, because I know something about the shearing industry and, moreover, as president *of the Australian Workers Union in South Australia at this minute, I know something about that union, and about the award itself.
Honorable members would do well to understand the history of this case. This is what happened: The Graziers Association made an application to the court for a reduction in the shearing rate. It should be remembered that the recent reduction was not “brought about by the automatic application of some formula by the court itself. It was the result of an application by the Graziers Association deliberately designed to bring about a reduction in the rate for shearing. When the matter was called on, the conciliation commissioner was advised hy the union that it wanted an increase in the rate of pay. The conciliation commissioner then said, “ If the union wants an increase in the rates of pay, and proposes to put in an application accordingly, and the graziers now have before me one to reduce rates of pay, I think it is ‘Only proper that I should adjourn this matter until the -union’s application has been served”. Whereas the graziers have to serve only one log -of claims, or notice - that is, upon the secretary of the union - the union has to serve some thousands of logs of claims because, under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, it has to serve a log of claims on every individual grazier.
Time was given for the union to pu’t in its claim for a new award. When the two applications eventually came before the conciliation commissioner - one from the graziers to reduce the rates, and one from the una on to increase them - the ^conciliation commissioner proceeded to hear them simultaneously and he indicated that he would give a decision -only after he ‘had property considered both applications. In the meantime, the Industrial Court in Queensland had reduced the rates by 10 per cent. Then a most amazing thine took place. This conciliation commissioner, who had told the parties that he would not give a decision on either case until he could give a decision on both, made an interim award granting the application by the graziers for reduced rates, but refused to give a decision on the union’s application for increased rates.
Had the union’s application for an increase been properly considered by the conciliation commissioner, the increase which the union could have shown under the formula used for fixing the rate, long before the wool value allowance was ever thought of, would have been greater than the reduction had the whole of the wool bonus allowance been taken away altogether. It is not generally understood that a shed hand, and even a dag pickeT like the honorable the Minister for Social Services, gets absolutely no margin at all under the formula that the court has been using for fixing pastoral rates, and that the shearer, who is a much more highly stilled man than the best fitter and turner, or even toolmaker, has a miserable margin of 23s. a week.
Government members interjecting,
-It is no use any one saying “ Ha ! “ when I say that a shearer is more skilled than a fitter and turner, because unless one has been a shearer, one does not know . the skill required. A shearer continues to learn his job until he finishes, no matter how old he may be. I am pleased to note that the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) agrees with me in that regard. My own brother shore at the honorable member’s property and knows something of the conditions there - which, incidentally, are not too bad. The point is that anybody who understands the pastoral industry will agree with me when I say that the skill of the shearer is greater than that of the fitter and turner.
– Hear, hear!
– “ Hear, hear ! “ says the honorable member, and I am pleased that that will be noted in Hansard. In view of the skill required, I say that the margin of 23s. is miserably low. The shearer is the only person that I know of who is compelled to pay something to the boss for being away from home. Under the formula he has 36s. a week ^deducted from his wages for what is called “home relief”. Because he is away from home and therefore is not eating at his home table, it is considered that he ought to pay to the boss 36s. a week. That is a penalty for the privilege of being away from home. In every other award in Australia that I know of, including Mr. Donovan’s own award in the Federal Construction case, men who have to stay away from home are given 7s. a day extra. They do not have it deducted from their wages.
The Minister for Social Services will know that under the Public Service Regulations the Public Service Board - which no one could accuse of being over-generous - gives an allowance of 14s. a day to a linesman who has to go away from home in order to carry out his work. Those are only a few of the instances that one could quote to show that, had the formula been properly considered by the conciliation commissioner, an increase would have had to be given which would have far outweighed the reduction that would have applied had the wool bonus allowance been wiped out altogether.
Do honorable members realize that the cost of shearing a sheep to-day is a smaller percentage of the value of the fleece taken off than it was in the depths of the depression under the infamous Dethridge award of 1932. In that year, under the Dethridge award, the cost of shearing a sheep was equal to 4 per cent, of the value of the fleece. To-day, the cost of shearing a sheep under the old award is not quite 3 per cent, of the value of the fleece; so that, if the same percentage of the value of the fleece was given to the shearer as was given to him in the depths of the depression, he would be receiving £12 a 100 sheep instead of £6 18s. 6d. a 100 sheep as in the court’s new award. If the graziers want to stick strictly to the wool bonus allowance, why did they not agree to the proper application of the bonus in 1951 ? Had the cost of shearing the fleece that applied in 1951 been kept to the same percentage as fixed by Chief Judge Dethridge in 1932, the shearer’s rate would have been £32 a 100 in 1951 and would be £12 a 100 if it applied now. All of the pastoralists in Western Australia are paying the old rates, as are the pastoralists in the west Darling district of New South Wales. 1 want to say to the House that the pastoralists are anxious to pay the old rate, and if it were not for the intimidation of the Graziers Federation of Australia, which is preventing them from paying the old rates despite their anxiety and willingness to do so, there would be no dispute in industry to-day. What did the graziers federation have to say about the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), on whom it tried to bring pressure to introduce legislation which no decent self-respecting domocrat would agree to? The federation calls the Minister “ the gutless wonder “ simply because he is not prepared to be intimidated into doing the things that it wants him to do.
I say that the graziers of Australia cannot win this fight because we are not living now in the conditions that obtained in 1890 and 1891, when the constabulary could be called out to shoot down shearers and bring them into submission, because, as a consequence of that great strike of 1890-91, the shearers of Australia are inside this Parliament saying their piece and telling the people and telling the Parliament that they will not tolerate the kind of action used against the shearers last century. The governments of Queensland and New South Wales are no longer the representatives of the squatters as they were when the graziers took on the last big fight with the Australian Workers Union. I repeat that the graziers cannot possibly win this strike, because the union will empty every single penny of its nearly £2,000,000 worth of assets into this strike before we will give up the fight. We tell the Minister, moreover, that the members of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia are not likely to handle one single bale of wool put on to the wharfs to be sent away, that has been shorn by scab labour, and that the Transport Workers Union are not likely to handle one single bale of wool produced by scab labour.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- To-day is the first “ Grievance Day “ this Parliament has had, and the first grievance I wish to raise is that although “ Grievance Day “ is a clay set aside for private members, I have been trying hard to get the call, and had to give way to two members of the Government, one of whom, I think, was right in answering remarks that had been made, because the matters that were the subject of the remarks come within his jurisdiction. “ Grievance Day “ is private members’ day, when private members grieve to the Government; it is not provided in order to enable Ministers to grieve about matters which have no connexion with their individual positions in the Cabinet.
Having said that, I desire to grieve about another matter this morning, but before doing so I should like, briefly, to reply to the speeches we have heard this morning. First, I think we ought, having heard the challenges of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), to set up a twostand crutching plant in here to see which of them is the best shearer. We might get some shearing done, if the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) could pick up the dags when the two honorable members had finished. Unfortunately, the speeches we have heard from the Opposition this morning have been inflammatory ones which will inflame the present very difficult position. All of us in this House know that it is necessary to-day to have labour and management working in co-operation. Neither can do without the .other. It is all very well to say that shearers are going to stay out on strike indefinitely. They would suffer if they did, and the graziers and the whole country would also suffer. The Australian Workers Union has always agreed to abide by -arbitration in the past, and I think it should be ready to accept the conciliation commissioner’s decision in the present case. After all, everything that has been said by the honorable member for Lalor and the honorable member for Hindmarsh in this chamber to-day, was said before the commissioner, and was considered by him prior to his making of the new award.
His new award provides that the shearing rate of pay will be reduced by 5 per cent., and every honorable member knows that the price of wool has dropped very considerably since the previous award was made. I can cite my own case as an example. In one season I received 257d. per lb. for wool, but this season tha price is only 82-Jd. per lb. If anybody thinks that, with that considerable drop of price, graziers are still able to pay the same rates of pay to shearers, he is mistaken. Not only are graziers now asked to pay the old rates by the Australian Workers Union, but every grazier has also had to expend a considerable amount of money on permanent improvements for his employees, and in increased facilities for use by the shearers. As a result of the alteration of the accommodation act we have the ludicrous position to-day that if I vacated my own house it would not be considered fit for occupation by shearers, because it would not comply with the award. In addition to these very numerous improvements in the way of accommodation awarded in the past, this year we have to put in refrigerators which are used for only three weeks of the year. We also have to put in hot water services for the shearers. So, although the shearers are refusing to work under the new award, they have been given many other benefits. In. any case:,, this is: not. a : matter which individually concerns this Parliament,, although; it concerns the grazing industry and the country to, a. great extent. The Austraiian Workers- Union, was one of the first unions to accept arbitration, and should accept it to-day. It has no right to intimidate those who are prepared to shear under the’ new award.
However. T want to mention, another m’atter in the limited time left at my disposal. 1 wish to point out to the Parliament and the Government the long delays’ that occur in the naturalization of ne”W Australians between the time that they qualify, having had five years’ residence in this’ country, and the time at which the naturalization process is finally completed’. I attended a naturalization ce’remony recently in Wagga Wagga and made a point afterwards of asking persons who had been naturalized how long it had taken them to become naturalized after they had qualified. The lapse of time ranged from ten months in the shortest case to three years in the longest case. As honorable members recall, 1 asked a question recently of the: Minister for Immigration (Mr. Harold. Holt) about this matter, because when the Nationality and Citizenship Bill was introduced into the Parliament about eleven months ago the Minister said -
The clauses of the bill now before the House, are aimed chiefly at removing unnecessary obstacles in the way of the achievement of Australian, citizenship by new settlers in this country.
He went on to say -
A* the House is well aware, nearly a million migrants have come here since the war. ft Ins been the aim of the Government, as It was that of our predecessors in office, to encourage our new settlers to- become true Australians as soon as they possibly could, roth in fact and in law.
There is no doubt that that legislation vas 8 considerable step forward, but I lo not think it has achieved anything ike the results for which we hoped. I lave mentioned the case that occurred at ^agga Wagga recently. Every week I get letters from new Australians who applied or naturalization months, sometimes years, ago. Only last week I wrote to the department about five new Australians.. They applied for naturalization between- tea months and two years ago”, but nothing’ has been done about it.
What is1 the reason for this? We are told that it is necessary to make inquiries abroad’. I want to ask two questions. First, are these inquiries necessary ‘< Secondly, who conducts them?- I feel that such inquiries should not Be necessary. Before an immigrant comes to this country, he is screened. Thai! being; .«” I believe that after he has been in tb,country foi” five years, unless he has committed a1 crime for which he could bideported, he is entitled as of right to become an Australian citizen. Who makes these inquiries abroad? We were told yesterday by the Minister that there are no Australian diplomatic representatives behind the iron curtain. The inquiries are carried out in some case? by British diplomats. I am wondering what sort of inquiries they are. Do the inquirers do what the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) did ? Do they write toMr. Molotov and ask what these people are really like? If an immigrant gets a good character reference from Mr. Molotov, is he then disqualified from becoming, an Australian citizen ? It seems to me to be absurd that we should wait for months, even years, for people behind the iron curtain to tell us what they think of new Australians..
I hope that, as a result of bringing this matter to the notice of the Government, some steps will be taken by the Minister to abolish entirely these inquiries abroad and to place on the department the onus of refusing Australian nationality to an immigrant. If there is no objection by the department to the granting of Australian nationality, the immigrant is entitled to become naturalized as quickly as possible after he ha= qualified.
– I welcome the fact that the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) saw fit to bring the shearing dispute before the Parliament. In his opening remarks, he issued a threat to honorable members on this side. He warned them to be quiet - or else ! Let me tell the honorable member that if he starts to throw punches at us, he will get them back with compound interest. Honorable members on this side are not prepared to accept the statements that he made. Speaking as one who has been associated with the pastoral industry for the greater part of his life, I say that the shearers, in their struggle for existence to-day, are fighting in support of what they consider to be a very just claim.
The honorable member for Hume said that the employers had always abided by arbitration. Let me remind him of something that occurred some time ago. The Australian Workers Union had secured an award for a term of five years. Previously, awards had been made for terms of three years, but on this occasion, notwithstanding the objections of the union, the term was extended. In the proceedings before the late Chief Judge Dethridge, the employers’ representatives said-
We do not know what U in Your Honour’s mind but we are prepared to accept the terms of the award which you see fit to make tor the full period of its existence.
What happened subsequently? In 1930, when wool prices began to drop, the graziers’ and pastoralists’ associations of Western Australia joined in the issue and caused a summons to be issued to the union to appear before the court to show cause why the rates specified in the award - which had still two years to run- should not be reduced. The advocate for the union, the late Ted Grayndler, believing that the position was secure for another two years, had not collected evidence to place before the court in support of a contention that the rates should not be reduced. He appealed to Chief Judge Dethridge to adjourn the case for six weeks, to enable him to obtain evidence to establish his case. I remember verbatim what the Chief Judge said then. His words were -
I do not know what is in your mind. I have no knowledge of the evidence you may or may not be able to place before this court. But, irrespective of what evidence the union may be able to bring, we are forced to the conclusion that a reduction of 22-) per cent, must be forced upon the pastoral workers of this industry.
Was that statement in accord with the spirit of arbitration? The honorable member for Hume has said that the Australian Workers Union is not prepared to accept the decision of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The case that I have cited shows that the employers attempted to bulldoze the workers into accepting a reduction of rates. As my colleague the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) says, the days when the squatters could force reductions of pay upon workers in the pastoral industry have passed. The shearers of these days are represented in this Parliament and their representatives defend them when their conditions are attacked.
The history of the Australian Workers Union in the pastoral industry is a good one. The industry has had a long run of successful years, without industrial trouble. If the conciliation commissioner had given due consideration to the union’s claim for an increase, instead of reducing rates, the position in the industry to-day would have been different. The honorable member for Hume says that members of the Australian Workers Union are intimidated when they offer to work at the award rates. What do the employers do ? Time after time, some employers offer to pay shearers at rates above the award rates. What happens then? The councils of the graziers and the pastoralists’ organizations issue an ultimatum to any squatter who has sheep to shear and who offers to pay shearers at rates above the award rates. He is told that if he dares to dp so, he will find that he is outside his organization. The intimidation is not confined to one side. It is not confined to the Australian Workers Union.
– Stick to facts.
– I am sticking to facts. The employers are prevented by the graziers’ associations from paying over and above the award rates. I say that 50 per cent, of the graziers in Queensland to-day are paying their shearers at the old rates. That applies also in Western Australia. Week after week, we see advertisements in the newspapers in which shearers are offered rates above the award rates. The only thing that prevents graziers from paying those rates is the intimidation practised by the councils of their associations.
The shearing game is a tough game. Every man who works on the end of the tube is entitled to every penny that be can get. For the greater part of the year, he sacrifices his home life to go out into the back country and strip the sheep of their wool. He is justly entitled to every penny that he can earn. A shearer struggles on the end of the tube for six years before lie becomes competent enough to shear the number of sheep necessary to give him a decent and adequate return for his labour. I have done shearing work myself, and I know of the sacrifices made by the men who go out into the back country to take the wool off the sheep for the squatters. After all that important work has been done, we find that the shearer who has actually done the job now gets a lower percentage rate of the price of wool than he received twenty years ago. That may be astonishing, but it has been proved time after time by statistical evidence - and notwithstanding the fact that all costs and prices associated with the industry have increased greatly during the last twenty years.
Therefore, honorable members will note that at the present time the shearer is not getting a just return for his labour. I believe that the union concerned is justified in protesting on behalf of its members against the new shearers’ rates, and it would not be worth its salt if it did not stand up to the graziers’ organization and say that it is not going to accept the new rates because they are not fair and just. How often does the Australian Workers Union make a stand like that? I suggest that it is very seldom, indeed. The Australian Workers Union has abided by the decisions of arbitration tribunals for many years. Indeed, it has played a major part in building up our arbitration system, and for a long time has been prepared to subscribe to its principles. However, we must have justice, and we must ensure that evidence that is placed before conciliation commissioners is rightly weighed, and that a true and just decision is arrived at. The shearers are in the right, and all the sympathy that I have in this matter goes out to them.
Mr. DEAN (Robertson) [32.161.-1 desire to speak about two local matters, but before doing so I want to express appreciation of the fact that honorable members are able to have a “ grievance day” to-day. I hope that on next “ Grievance Day “ more Ministers will be in attendance in the House to hear the grievances of honorable members.
The first matter that I desire to speak about concerns the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer). During the early part of last year, the Minister’s predecessor informed me that provision for the proposed new drill hall at Gosford would be included in the current year’s estimates. He also informed me that it was expected that the new drill hall would be built during 1955-56. Because no work has yet been commenced on that project, I should like to know whether the building of the hall has been postponed. If so, will the Minister for the Army inform honorable members whether due consideration has been given to the points that I raised in my letter directed to him at the beginning of February this year. In that communication I pointed out the special reasons for the erection of the drill hall, and the claims that the central coast district had for the building of the hall.
I do not intend to repeat all those points now. I merely remind the Minister that one of the main reasons why the drill hall should be built is the large population of the central coast of New South Wales. A drill hall is necessary for the further training of national service trainees after they have concluded their initial three months training, and also for the training of members of the Citizen Military Forces in the district. The Minister will remember that, according to the plans, the proposed drill hall is to be of a new type designed to cope with a full battalion, and while in that area there is a composite battalion with one company, it is well over double company strength. If provision for full training of the army personnel in the central coast district is to be made, then it is necessary for the drill hall to be provided. Therefore, if the reason for the non-commencement of the building is that it has been decided to postpone the matter for some time, I do ask that the Minister for the Army and the Department of the Army give due consideration to the points that I raised in the letter previously mentioned, which was addressed to the Minister.
The second matter I desire to raise is the Tariff Board inquiry into the passion- fruit industry. About the middle of last year, I had an opportunity to bring to Canberra a deputation, which convinced the authorities that an inquiry should be held into the importation of passionfruit juice and pulp, mainly from Africa. Itwas said on behalf of the growers that it would be a great advantage if the Tariff Board could hand down its report before the commencement of the harvesting of the summer passionfruit crop, and I have been informed that as a result of the requests made by the growers, the chairman of the Tariff Board expressed the opinion that it would be possible to bring forward the report by the 31st December last year. So far, the report has not been made. The season has already concluded, the harvesting is over and the prices for that crop have now been determined. Therefore, the report will be too late for the present season, and without wishing to anticipate the report I believe it is true to say that it would have been of great advantage to the industry if the report had been made earlier. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who has the ministerial responsibility for the Tariff Board, told me in answer to a question that I asked about two weeks ago that he understood that the report had reached the Department of Trade, and was going through the normal processes. As the report is not yet available, I should like the Minister to inform me when it will be made public. It should be made public as soon as possible.
– I rise to deal with a matter related to industrial arbitration. At present, the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration is dealing with the basic wage case initiated by the Australian Council of Trades Unions. I understand that the Government representative has not yet indicated to the court the Government’s viewpoint. As we must all be concerned about the Government’s attitude, perhaps it could be made clear as soon as possible.
The basic wage was pegged in September, 1953, and because State governments and other authorities had to take into account rising price levels and other factors. Commonwealth public servants receiving £11 15s. a week are now finding that they are receiving about £1 a week less than the cost of living. Indeed, in some States they are receiving almost £2 a week less. I suggest that public servants throughout the country have a right similar, for example, to that of the shearers, to question the validity of the approach of arbitration tribunals to wage levels. Shearers are at present engaged in a fight, not only on their own behalf, but also on behalf of public servants and all other sections of wage-earners in Australia.
Last night, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) delivered a statement on inflation, and the words “ inflation ‘” and “ costs “ were used in that statement at least 25 times. In view of the fact that costs have risen and inflation is a condition of our economy, the workers and those who represent them do not intend to tolerate reductions of wages, whether the reductions are made for shearers, postal workers or locomotive engine drivers. If the arbitration measuring-rod used on the claims of the shearers is to be used on locomotive engine men because road transport is filching’ the traffic that should go to the railways, thus causing losses to our railway systems, we shall resist the consequent wage decreases.
There has been a continual reduction of living standards in this country, mainly because of the Government’s legislation during the six years that it has been in office. Indeed, the position in the Public Service is becoming tragic. Many public servants are receiving wages £1 a week less than the cost of living in New South Wales, and at least £2 a week less than the cost of living in Western Australia. The public servants, and I myself, would like to know what the Government is doing through our arbitration system to restore living standards.
I mentioned another matter of vital local interest about a week ago, namely, the Australian Loan Council’s attitude to the requirements of public authorities such as the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board in New South Wales, and the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works and similar bodies in Victoria. I am very disturbed about this matter, because anything that affects adversely the health of the young people of to-day will affect future generations of
Notwithstanding that there is some vacant land in the area,State schoolsin thedistrict are tryingto cater for 1,000, or even 1,200 pupils; yetthoseschools are not sewered.One ward inthe municipality is notlikelytoget sewerage for a quarter of a century,unless there is an adjustment of thefinancialarrangementsby whichlocal governing bodies can obtain money fromthe Australian Loan Council.It is useless for the Go- vernment to spend £16,000,000 a year on health, and for theNew South Wales Government to add considerably to that expenditure,whilst at the same time the provision of sewerage,which is thefirst essential in any plan to preserve the people’shealth, is neglected. It is impossible to maintain high standards of health in big cities unless special attention is given to public hygiene, and there- foreI ask the Government,particularly the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), to give attention to the claimsof Bankstown. I ask them to do that, not because Bankstown is the district I represent in this parliament, but because conditions there are typical of those existing in other Australian cities. If theTreasurerwill do that, I am surethat he willtell the Australian Loan Council that to neglect this most vital requirement of a growing com muni ty is to continuethe conditions of early horse-and-buggy days. I urge theGovernment to give serious attention to this important matter, because public heal th isthe outstanding requirement of Australia to-day. The Minister’s prede- cessor told us that Australia’s level of
Mr.MALCOLMFRASER . (Wannon) [12.28].-I propose to return to the rather involved question , of arbitration and the shearers’ award.In doing so, I explain to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. H. V. Johnson) that, through an accident of birth, I cannot answerhis question about conditions in the earlythirties. However, I agree withhimthat a revisionofthe shearers’ award is overdue. If there is any logic on theOppositionbenches, honorable memberswill realize thatthe point at issue isnot the basic award,but has todo withthe prosperity loading- a matterwhich isseparate fromthe award. I remind honorable membersthat on two occasionswhen woolprices were rising, the Australian Workers Union asked that the prosperity loading should be increased. On eachoccasionan increase was granted without anyobjection being raisedby the graziers’ council.When the prosperity loading was originally introduced, there was a firm understanding that it would fluctuate according to rises and falls in the price of wool. I repeat that I am speaking of the prosperity loading, not the award itself. At the moment, the award is not, or should notbe,underdiscussion,. By refusing to accept a reduction because theprice of wool has fallen, the Australian Workers Unionhas broken the agreement it entered into. It is not enough for the Australian WorkersUnion to accept arbitration only when prices are on the up grade, andit iswrong for the Opposition to support every action designed to destroy the arbitration system and the maintenance of fair business relationsin any sphere of industry. As I have said, the original agreement has been broken, and the Australian Workers Union is preventing shearers from working under the rule of the Arbitration Court and the law of the land. Honorablemembers opposite should think carefully beforethey encourage any section of the people to breakthe rules ofthe Arbitration Court, and thus open the way to increased industrialunrestthroughoutthe community.
.-I agree withthehonorablememberforFarrer (Mr. Fairbairn) that on “Grievance Day “ thedebateshouldbeinthehands of private members, so that they may be abletoairtheir grievances.
– Ministers should be in the House to hear them.
Mr.COSTA.Iamsympathetictowards the claims of workers in the pastoral industry-shearers, shed hands,and others. I knowthattheir rates of pay are,insomedegree,relatedtothe prosperity of the industry,but Iknow also that manygraziers who themselves enjoy prosperity are willing to pay the old rates. In my opinion, those rates should be paid, because,notwithstanding that there has been a reduction in the price of wool, the cost of living has not fallen. Indeed, it is higher than it was when the last increase in the rate of pay of shearers was given. It is still rising, and, according to what the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) told us last night, it is likely to rise still more.
A matter I wish to bring forward especially this morning relates to conditions in the district of Bankstown. I support the remarks of the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) in this connexion. I wish to draw the attention of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) to the need for a new post office at Bankstown. The present post office wasbuilt in 1923, when the business justified only a small building. Since then, however, the population of Bankstown has increased considerably, with the result that the present post office is completely inadequate for the needs of the district. During the 33 years that the building has been in use, its area has been extended by the addition of only 12 feet, notwithstanding that in the same period the population of the municipality, and the number of industries contained in it, have grown enormously. In 1923, when the post office was built at Bankstown, the population of the district was about 10,000. The latest statistics available are for the year 1955, and show that the population has increased to 134,000. As other evidence of the growth of the district, Imention that, whereas in 1947 industrial buildingsin Bankstown numbered 38, there are now more than 500 such buildings. In the same period,commercialbuildings in the district have increasedfrom 270 to about 13,000. Surely those statisticsshow clearlythat a newpost office at Bankstown is urgently needed.
It is interesting to compare the area available to the public in the post office at Bankstown with that provided in other buildings in the district. The post office hasa space 28 feet by8 feetfor the use of the public,but I am pleased to know that the Commonwealth Bank, further along the street, has progressed with the development of Bankstown,and provides for the public an area112 feet by38 feet, which is about three times that available to the public in the post office. I believe thata study of the number of customers who visit the post office day by day and week by week would show that the post office has more customers than has the Commonwealth Bank. The business of the post office is also more extensive than that of the Commonwealth Bank. Almost every department with business to do in a district uses the local post office.
The Bankstown post office has approximately 14,000customers weekly. Oh what I may term social services day, it is almost impossible to get into the building. The walls almost bulge. In the course of a year, the Bankstown post office is used by 21,000 age and invalid pensioners, 28,000 war pensioners, 2,500 persons who collect naval allotments and 26,000 mothers who receive child endowment. The post office does not compare favorably with other buildings in the city. The Commonwealth Bank and the buildings occupied by the private trading banks are much superior to the post office. The railway station has been extended and brought up to date to keep pace with public needs. The stores and other buildings have also kept pace, to some degree, with the great progress that has been made at Bankstown. It is a shocking thing that a public building, which meets more public requirements than any other, is left in the state it was in 1923, when the population was only 10,000. It has now grown to 134,000.
– Why did not the Labour Government build a new post office at Bankstown?
– We were fighting a war then. The Labour Government was in charge of the war effort, and had to neglect many important projects, although even in war-time we did not neglect them as much as this Government is doing now. I should like the Postmaster-General to visit the Bankstown post office on social services day and see how difficult it is to transact business in such an over-crowded place. The Bankstown post office is, to some degree, the headquarters for other post offices in the district. There are eighteen suburban post offices around Bankstown, and the Bankstown post office supplies them with cash and other requisites. It is a very important centre, and I hope that the Postmaster-General will give this matter early and serious consideration.
– In the short time at my disposal, I wish to direct the attention of the House to the serious situation that has developed in the apple industry in southern Tasmania. A large area under apple orchards is in my electorate. The applegrowers have enjoyed a very good season in relation to the quality and quantity of the fruit that has been produced. Thu only seasonal occurrence of an adverse nature was a serious hailstorm which affected certain areas. The fruitgrowers have done a wonderful job in producing fruit of high quality, largely free of the ravages of pests, but now they cannot get their fruit away to the markets. Since the export season began with the arrival of ships in the port of Hobart about twelve days ago, there has hardly been one full day’s work on the waterfront. Disputes occurred over pallet loading and, since last Tuesday, the watersiders have refused to work overtime.
– Not at Port Huon.
– I was about to direct attention to that fact. At Port Huon, practically all waterside workers are small orchardists as well, or they work in the orcharding industry, and there has been no dispute there, although they have been working with fewer men .in a gang.
The dispute in Hobart arose because thi.waterside workers wanted 27 men for the pallet-loading gangs and the shipowners said that 21 men were sufficient for a gang. The men refused to work over that issue. Then an experimenwas conducted, and it proved successful.
A meeting, which was attended by abou; 1,000 fruit-growers, was held at Huonville, in the centre of the fruit-growing area, last Sunday week. I was present. Representatives of the waterside workers were invited to attend and they did so. Some straight-talking took place, and the result was that the waterside workers agreed to go back to work pending an inquiry by a board of reference into the pallet-loading dispute. The board of reference decided that it was competent for the gangs to work with 21 men, and Mr. Justice Ashburner is to go to Hobart next week to mediate in this matter. Since then, the problem of getting away the earlier varieties of fruit has been accentuated further by the refusal of the waterside workers to work overtime. So far as I can understand the situation, the dispute arose because, when the men were picked for overtime work, two waterside workers were not engaged. A point has been reached where the Australian Government must take some resolute action. If something is not done, many growers will suffer serious losses.
– Why were not the two waterside workers engaged?
– I am not clear about that. I was not present when the dispute arose, but I understand that that was the cause. Most of the orchardists are small men. Their properties are not large. They are not in a position to withstand a serious financial setback. They have to invest about £3,000, on an average, to produce and market their fruit. Many of them work on an overdraft, and if they have a disastrous year, the overdraft has to be carried over to the. next year. The situation that ha.* developed is of great detriment to the whole of the Huon Valley, because 90 per cent, of the industries there, which are engaged in multifarious activities, including the milling of case timber, associated with the fruit-growing industry, depend on the financial success of the season. The time has arrived when some resolute action should be taken by the Government to prevent the situation, which is already bad, from getting worse.
.- L support the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. H. V. Johnson) in stating that, politically, the Australian Labour party is right behind the shearers in their present fight against reduced payment for their work. As previous speakers have said, all the facts support the action that has been taken by the Australian Workers Union in telling its members not to shear except at the old rates. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) has referred to the prosperity loading. If there had been a real prosperity loading in 1951, the shearing rate would have been about £40 a 100 sheep. The shearers did not receive the prosperity loading to which they were entitled in 1.951. Why should they be penalized now and asked to accept a rate, the effect of which will be that the station owners will be getting their sheep shorn at a percentage cost proportionately below the cost of shearing in the time of the depression? Is it any wonder that all the people in western Queensland are solidly behind the shearers?
Debate interrupted under Standing Order 291.
Question resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Debate resumed from the 13th March (vide page 711), on motion by Mr. McMahon -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This measure is of substantial importance to Australia’s valuable meat industry, and particularly to the beef cattle industry, especially in Queensland and Western Australia, and, to a lesser degree, in the other States which from time to time export small quantities of beef. The circumstances that make the measure neces sary began in 1954, when, after the termination of direct contracts between the United Kingdom Government and the Australian Government, the fifteen-year meat agreement was entered into by the two governments to take the place of the former arrangements. The old wartime agreements provided for direct sales between the two governments. The fifteen-year agreement provided that the United Kingdom would take meat for a period of fifteen years, but that the sales would actually be made to private traders in the United Kingdom. The trade was to become a trade between private exporters in Australia and private importers in the United Kingdom. The keynote of the agreement was the provision that, should meat prices in the United Kingdom in any one year not realize the price agreed upon by the United Kingdom Government and the Australian Government, deficiency payments would be made by the United Kingdom Government to the Australian Government, which would then recoup the meat exporters so as to bring the price for the beef they had exported up to the figure agreed to by the two governments.
Early in the first season under this new arrangement, prices for meat on the private trader-to-trader basis were low, and it appeared obvious that deficiency payments would have to be made to the Australian Government by the United Kingdom Government for subsequent disbursement to the Australian primary producers through the meat exporters. In those circumstances, legislation was introduced to authorize the Australian Government to pay to meat exporters a sum which the Government, after having obtained advice from the Australian Meat Board, considered would be adequate to recompense the meat industry. It was estimated, on current market trends at the time, that a payment of l½d. per lb. of the meat so exported would be sufficient to make up the deficiency that would probably be revealed at the end of the trading year, and the sum of approximately £800.000 was distributed to the meat exporters. At the end of the year, it was discovered that the amount paid out was approximately £650,000 in excess of the actual deficiency. The bill reveals this state of affairs - it has been known for some time - and authorizes the Australian Government to impose, on a basis different from the previous levy, an export charge on meat delivered into store for export in order that the deficiency payments in excess of the amount due to the primary producers who exported meat last year may be recouped from exporters this year.
I know that this method has been devised after very mature consideration by the beef exporters, the primary producers concerned, the Australian Meat Board, the Minister for Trade (Mi McEwen), who was formerly Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, and responsible and skilled government officers. Although it achieves a balance between the two factors involved and makes an essential adjustment, by its very nature it is a haphazard and unscientific method. However, it is very difficult to see by what process and by what legislative enactment we could ensure that substantial justice would be done to all concerned. As the bill stands, it is obvious that the Australian Government - or the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, in reality - will recoup itself an amount equal to the excess payments of approximately £650,000, and the Government will be relieved of the responsibility of meeting a guarantee given by it to the Commonwealth Bank, which actually found the money. I frankly admit that I cannot see a better remedy.
The unfortunate feature about legislation of this type is that the matter must be treated on an industry basis. The result is that anomalies occur. In the yea;’ in which a bounty at the rate of l&d. per lb. was paid by the Australian Government to the beef exporters in Queensland, and other parts of Australia such as Victoria and the Northern Territory, for the beef exported by them, the exporting interests^ - the proprietors of the meatworks - knowing that the bounty was to be paid, were able to offer the primary producers higher prices than would otherwise have been possible. On 100 lb. of beef, lid. per lb. amounts to-
– Twelve shillings and sixpence.
– On a beast weighing 700 lb., which would be a reasonable export beast, what would it be?
– It would be £4 7s. 4d. or £4 7s. 6d.
– - I am not as good a mathematician as is the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis), who is so materially assisting me. I shall take it at £4 7s. 6d. It is obvious that, in thos? circumstances, the beef producers should have received £4 7s. 6d. more for a 700-lb. beast, but they did not in fact do so, because the exporters did not bid so high, although they did pay higher prices, having collected the equivalent of £4 7s. 6d. for a 700-lb. beast. Unfortunately, because the estimate of the Australian Meal Board, which, no doubt, was accepted by the Government and its officers, was in excess of the amount required, producers who export this year- and I suggest that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) consider what would be his position if he were a producer - will be levied at the rate of oneeighth of Id. per lb. on the beef exported in order to recoup the Australian Government, the Commonwealth Bank, the Australian Meat Board, or whoever it may be. the payments in excess of the actual deficiency made to beef producers last year. Is that correct?
– -It could be correct.
– I should like to know for certain.
– The Government has stated that this export charge will be reviewed during the year. The minimum charge will be one-eighth of Id. If the charge is greater at the end of the year, those who receive the subsidy will pay the heavier levy.
– Those who export this year will be penalized. As I read the bill, from February until September everybody who exports beef is liable to pay id. per lb., which, on a beast weighing 700 lb., amounts to 7s. 6d. I think that I am correct, in theory in any event and broadly in practice, in saying that if I sell bullocks this year I shall have to meet a charge of 7s. 6d. to recoup an amount which my friend the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) may have received last year in excess of the amount to which he was entitled. This procedure produces a very complex and involved situation. I cannot quite say how it is to be resolved on a mathematically correct and equitable basis, and in that regard I am in sympathy with the Australian Meat Board and the Minister who have to handle the problem. Up to date nobody has found a method of extricating the Government and the various persons concerned from this situation. When the Government - I suppose this would apply to other governments - has to treat a matter on an industry basis it has to proceed on the principle that over a number of years if one remains in the industry, his position will adjust itself in a reasonably equitable manner. I ask the Minister whether that is right.
– It will be adjusted in two years.
– I have my doubts about that. Let us examine the difficulty associated with resolving this problem. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, told us that the net result of paying a bonus of l£d. per lb. of beef in the market at Cannon Hill, Brisbane, last season, was that the price of beef, which had fallen to 117s. per 100 lb. in April, 1955, rose under the influence of the export bounty payments in the following month to 122s. That is a rise of 5s. per 100 lb., or 35s. on a beast weighing 700 lb., whereas, as I interpret the situation, the export interests received £4 7s. 6d. by way of a bounty of l£d. per lb. on meat exported. It is true that the price rose to 126s. in June and July, 132s. in August, and 133s. in September. From April to August the price of beef in the Cannon Hill market rose by 15s. per 100 lb., which is substantially in excess of the amount of £4 7s. 6d. for a 700-lb. beast which was paid to the exporters. All that one can say is that this bill provides a measure of rough justice for the beef industry. At one time the exporter may reap a substantial benefit. At another time, the producer, if he is lucky enough, may reap a benefit in excess of that enjoyed by the exporter.
The Labour Opposition supports the measure. It is a machinery measure by which rough justice is administered to cover the operations, adjusted annually, of the fifteen-year meat agreement. That agreement was first mooted by a Labour government and the preliminary arrange ments for it developed from negotiations between the late Mr. J. B. Chifley, when he was Prime Minister, and the United Kingdom Government of that time. It is true that the Chifley Government was not able to bring to fruition the suggested fifteen-year meat agreement but it laid the basis for it, and later the Menzies Government, although it would not so confess in this House, realized that a fifteen-year meat agreement between thiUnited Kingdom and Australian Governments would be of substantial benefit te the Australian beef producers and to the nation generally. That section of thiAustralian pastoralists and beef producers which was very critical of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture at the time of the inauguration of this agreement is now, because of falling export prices overseas, very ready to acclaim this agreement as being of overall substantial benefit to the primary producers of this country. As I have said, we do not oppose the bill, but I hope that the Minister will make sure that he maintains close contact with the Australian Meat Board, which is presided over by a most competent chairman who, like his fellow members, has rendered a very great service to the Australian meat exporting industry.
The Australian Meat Board comprises representatives of the trade union movement, co-operative export works, private export works, and pastoralists and graziers engaged in mutton, lamb, and beef production. Individual members of such a semi-governmental authority are sometimes placed in an invidious position by a measure of this type. In certain circumstances, prior knowledge of the rate of export levy to be imposed or of a bounty to be paid, puts some of these gentlemen, not willingly or corruptly, in the embarrassing position of being able to take advantage of their position. That has always been one of the difficulties of this kind of legislation. In these circumstances, there is a great need for the Minister to ensure that representatives on the board of producer interests, and especially export interests, are not embarrassed at some juncture because of prior knowledge of a bounty to be paid or a levy to be imposed. Such prior knowledge may, in the ordinary conduct of their business, automatically put them in the position of having an advantage over other interests in the trade.
– It goes a bit further than that.
– That is so. The honorable gentleman, who knows, something about the meat export trade, will agree with me when I say that that is a very great difficulty, which may affect not only export interests but also grazier interests. We all know that these are honest men, but when they are confronted with such a situation there will be a modus operandi, whereby they would agree that the decisions, and sometimes even the recommendations necessary to implement legislation of this type will bo a matter for private discussion between, and final decision by, the chairman, who is an impartial governmental authority and beyond reproach, and the Minister who, also like Caesar’s wife in these matters, with which he is only newly acquainted, is beyond reproach. These points are worthy of consideration.
The grazing and pastoral interests of this country should not be unaware that when the Opposition supports legislation of this character, as it did last year and as it does now, it does so with full knowledge of the importance of the industry and the need to ensure payable _ export prices. It knows that the distribution of a bounty to cover a deficiency payment under this legislation operates in the cattle markets of this country to force up the price, not only of beef for export, but also of beef for the Australian consumer, and that is another grave difficulty associated with legislation of this sort. Exporters will go to the market, particularly in the southern States, where there are not so many export transactions, with the knowledge that the meat they process for export will bring them an extra lid. per lb.; but that will automatically press up prices for buyers of beef for distribution to the Australian community. We are confronted with that difficulty but we accept the measure, and hope that the Minister will ensure that it will be administered with better judgment than previously, when those discrepancies occurred which have resulted in the need to recoup the .Consolidated Revenue Fund, t the
Commonwealth Bank, or whatever it may be. It was bad judgment on that occasion, but I do not suppose that any human being can anticipate from week to week, from month to month or from year to year what our beef, wheat or other primary products will bring in overseas markets.
The honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) and the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) have spoken of wheat being given away by governments. Those honorable gentlemen should remember that at the time to which they refer, the sales were made by governments to a friendly neighbour, to wit. New Zealand. Furthermore, all the wheat that was sold to the United Kingdom Government during the war years and thereafter up to 1948 was the responsibility of the Australian Government and the Australian people. The growers had been paid for every grain of it, and in those circumstances, the Government had to take responsibility for it. I know I am off the beam a little, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I hasten to point out that wheat - and meat - are primary products. This acquisition of wheat was the result of a decision by the Premiers of Australia in 1948 that the Commonwealth Government should continue to acquire the wheat from the growers, and market it. In those circumstances, therefore, full responsibility was taken for selling it to the United Kingdom in a deal that proved to be more advantageous than that recommended by the Australian Wheat Board itself. I leave it at that. I think you have been very tolerant, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We support the bill.
– I have no quarrel with the arguments that have been presented by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) except with his ability to give a slight party political flavour to them. With that exception, the story he has told is substantially correct. I should like also to query one claim he made when he gave the Labour Government, led by the late Mr. Chifley, the honour of initiating this principle of long-term agreements.
– I said the meat agreement.
– I think the meat producers of” Australia will also distinctly remember the time when the Labour Government made contracts with the United Kingdom at prices well below world parity. I should also like to clear up another reference that he made during the course of his speech. Those honorable members who have not studied this measure may have gained the impression, from what he has said, that there is some sort of subsidy attached to this payment.
– I said bounty.
– Or bounty then, whatever the honorable member may like to call it. The facts of the case are these : As a quid pro quo for a long contract which would appropriate all our meat less a certain amount of free quota, the British Government established a minimum price, and in due course, last year and again at the moment, the price of the beef we exported fell below the minimum price. In those circumstances, there is no question of any subsidy or bounty. We made a bargain with the British Government that we would make available to it all our export beef, less a certain quantity, and as a recompense for that, the British agreed to give us a minimum price and undertook to refund to Australia the difference between that minimum price and any lower figure to which the price of our meat might fall.
I believe that the honorable member for Lalor has covered the history of the legislation fairly correctly. We are now in the position of being able to judge the result of this scheme, because it has already operated for one full export season. At this juncture, we can look back and see what has been the result to the main exporting centres of Australia, those of Queensland and northwest Australia. I think it would be impossible to argue, even if we accept all the anomalies mentioned by the honorable member for Lalor, that the scheme has not resulted in great benefit to the cattle industry as a whole. One point which the honorable member did make, and with which I agree entirely, is that the question is not one of how the individual is affected by this refunding of deficiency payments but rather one of how it affects the industry as a. whole.
Looking at it from that point of view, I think it must be admitted that the industry as a whole has benefited and that tremendous benefit has resulted, particularly to those sparsely settled areas to which I have referred. I believe that it has also contributed largely to the encouragement of an industry which is helping Australia out of some of its balance-of-payments problems.
The measure under discussion seeks to refund this id. per lb. It also contains a machinery provision setting out the method by which that refund is to be charged. The latest figures from the United Kingdom market show that Australia’s beef is now selling at approximately 2d. per lb. below the minimum price. This amount, as the Minister rightly stated in his speech, is the equivalent of a figure based on 115s. at Rockhampton, which is one of the main export centres of the cattle industry.
What is the future in connexion with this position? As I have stated, our beef is being sold on the British market at present at approximately 2d. per lb. below the minimum price. In other words, we are now incurring a potential credit in the deficiency payments in the United Kingdom. In addition to that, there is in store in Great Britain at the moment approximately 107,000 tons of frozen meat, which is about 60,000 tons more than what was there on the 1st January this year, and which is almost the equivalent of the quantity of frozen meat that was in store twelve months ago when the prices were falling. When we couple that with the fact that New Zealand, and particularly Australia, have had a very bountiful export season with large numbers of fat cattle available, it is logical to expect that we could be accumulating deficiency payments for at least some considerable time, further during the export season.
Another factor that the House should realize is that, due to the most disastrous waterfront strike, it is possible that deliveries of beef to London will be delayed considerably. If large quantities are delivered at the one time, this may have an even further depressing effect on the market. In those circumstances, it is reasonable to say at this moment that the deficiency payment is likely to go into credit for the benefit of the Australian producer for at least some months ahead, although I admit, when [ make that remark, I may be looking into the crystal bowl. But, last season, due to better buying power in the United Kingdom, the market price rose, and we ran out of a deficiency payment period into a period when meat was selling at a figure above the minimum price, which caused an overpayment now to be refunded. The thing that interests me in connexion with this problem is that, while the actual machinery of distributing the deficiency payment to the producer obviously involves a somewhat shotgun method, it is, I believe, for the benefit of the industry generally.
A point that I think should be discussed in relation to this matter is the possibility of establishing a fund into which, when the deficiency payment was being incurred, a credit could be placed, and from which excess deficiency payments could be drawn. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, when introducing the original bill last year, referred to the possibility of using the accumulated funds of the Australian Meat Board for this purpose, but in actual fact, the funds at the disposal of the Australian Meat Board would be totally inadequate to deal with a situation of this kind. It has been estimated that between t’2,000,000 and £3,000,000 would be required if a scheme of this nature were to be introduced successfully. I feel, however, that the adoption of some such method would obviate the necessity for us to deal with this matter in a legislative manner each year and, in addition, probably would free the Australian Meat Board from a certain amount of difficulty while, at the same time, allowing the arrangement to proceed on a far more even keel.
One of the main points of opposition to this measure concerns the question of quotas, which I mentioned earlier. Certain of the producer representatives and organizations have been opposed to any scheme which would limit the quantity of Australian meat that might be sent, if a suitable occasion arose, to other markets, lt is interesting to note that his year, as the result of a recent arrangement, the amount of free quota was in creased to 15,000 tons of meat, lt isinteresting to note, also, that during this period some 2,000 tons of lamb wereexported to countries other than theUnited Kingdom and the British colonies. That export season has now concluded.. In addition, there were some negligibleexports of mutton. That leaves approximately 13,000 tons of meat which would! be available for export to countries other than the United Kingdom and the colonies. I think that that is one of thereasons why there has been opposition tothis measure, and also why there hasbeen some opposition to including lamband mutton. It is believed that this, arrangement will restrict the possibility of opening up other markets overseas for out meat.
Of course, much depends on our capability, or on that of private individuals, to make sales elsewhere. I believe that there is a great deal of delay in obtaining approval for export outside the quota and that, in many instances, such approval has been blocked. It is of interest that, although there have been approaches from certain organizations of graziers with a view to getting lamb and mutton excluded from the long-term meat agreement, recently a decision was made by the Graziers Association of New South Wales, in council, to recommend continuation of the meat agreement as far as lamb and mutton were concerned.
To sum up, therefore, the position is that, although the return of the deficiency payment to the producer is difficult, the system which has been evolved, although faT from accurate as it affects individual cases, has been for the benefit of the industry as a whole. In my opinion, it has stopped the development of a very depressing .situation in the cattle industry, particularly in those areas with which we, as a Parliament, should be concerned, in relation to the expansion of the industry and the increase of exports. The scheme has a weakness in regard to the possibilities of and opportunities for extension of our trade in meat with other countries. However, I think that honorable members must agree that the benefits we have had from this long-term meat agreement outweigh, at the present time anyway, the disadvantages that may arise because of the restriction of exports. Therefore, with some knowledge of the export industry in Queensland, I commend the bill to the House and congratulate the Minister on the way in which it has been presented.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 14th March (vide page 761), on motion by Mr. McMahon -
That the bill be nond tiowreadasecme.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress. reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Gover- nor-General’s message ) :
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) agreed to-
Thatit is expedient thatan appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the Meat Agreement (Deficiency Payments) Act1955.
Resolution reported and adopted.
In committee: Consideration resumed..
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported withoutamendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 14th March (vide page. 761), on motion by Mr. McMahon. -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This measure has the approval, and, indeed, the commendation of the Opposition. It is purely a machinery measure designed to eliminate annoying duplication by State and Commonwealth authorities. In those circumstances, it would be fantastic for us to oppose it ; on the contrary, we are all for it. At present, the Commonwealth exercises control in relation to fishing beyond certain limits, and the State authorities exercise control within those limits. Both authorities are empowered to issue licences. The State authorities operate the licensing machinery. This measure brings into accord the duties of the licensing authorities, as well as the licensing procedure. It will facilitate administration and make for harmony.
.- The purpose of the bill is to streamline the licensing procedure, and to facilitate co-operation and co-ordination between the States and the Commonwealth in the issuing of fishing licences. A considerable amount of fishing is carried on beyond the limits within which control is’ exercised by the State authorities. For instance, the most frequently used fishing ground’s off the “Western Australian coast lie from 40 miles to 50 miles from the coast, and well outside the normal shipping lanes. In some respects, it is pleasing to note that we are achieving a measure of cooperation and co-ordination between the Conmmonwealth and the States in relation to the fishing industry. It would be still more pleasing if the respective authorities were to encourage greater fishing activity. There is no reason why the Australian fishing industry could not be developed in order to become more important than it is to-day.
In 1949, I was privileged to be the chairman of a royal commission which was appointed to inquire into the fishing industry in Western Australia. That commission elucidated some lamentable facts. It found, for instance, that in Australia we were eating less fish per head of population than were the people of other countries.
– Fish is too dear !
– I shall have something to say about that. The reason for- the high price of fish is that the fishing industry lacks organizations to handle and distribute the catch. It is well known that the people in the country districts of this country are starved of fish.I believe that this problem could be overcome by further co-ordination Between the Commonwealth and State authorities. Unfortunately, the State governments are doing very little to foster the fishing industry, which is very valuable from an economic point of view. During the hearings before the Royal Commission on Fishing, it was stated that fish would never be a popular item of diet in Australia because Australians were basically a meat-eating people. That cannot be denied. We are the greatest consumers of meat in the world.
A moment or two ago, an honorable member interjected to say that the price of fish is too high. If he were to study to-day’s food prices, he would see that a fish diet costs far less than a meat diet. Although many people are clamouring for fish, they cannot buy it. An anomalous’ situation exists in this respect. Actually, fish is being wasted at the seahoard, due to the absence of a coordinated method of distributing it in the country districts. That deficiency could be overcome.
There is a lamentable lack of knowledge, both in official circles and amongst the people generally, about the potentialities of the fishing industry. Commonwealth and State research ships are engaged around our coast investigating the possibility of extending the fishing industry. The good ship Lancelin is floating around the Western Australian coast looking for a good prawn or two
I consider that there is a lamentable waste of public funds involved in trying to find new avenues for trade, whilst both the export market and the home market for fish remain undeveloped. A few months ago, Mr. Robert L. Stix, the president of Robert L. Stix Incorporated, of New York, visited this country. The following report appeared in the West Australian on the 3rd November last: - “ The Japanese are busy fishing tuna out of the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia and selling the catch to America,” said an American visitor to Perth yesterday. He knows, because his firm buys the tuna from the Japanese …” We buy the tuna from the Japanese because the Australians won’t catch them he said. A tuna industry would need a lot of capital, Mr. Stix warned, requiring freezing plants and heavier boats than those plying off the coast now.
So there is an avenue in which this Government could take the initiative in discovering ways and means of establishing another valuable dollar-earning industry.
I understand that the Americans spend a considerable sum of money annually on the importation of tuna, which is regarded as a luxury item of diet in that country. Actually, Mr. Stix camo to Australia in connexion with the crayfishing industry, in which he is interested in America. The article went on - “ I am in Perth visiting packers and trying to line up supplies of cray tails “, he said. The Western Australian product was well, packed for export, Mr. Stix commented, but lie considered that producers could, to their advantage, work out a more streamlined marketing system.
That is not peculiar to crayfish tails; it applies to the whole of the marketing; and distributing system of our fishing industry. A very valuable overseas tradein crayfish tails has been built up in Western Australia. The market for crayfish tails is competitive, but Australia,. South Africa and Cuba together are unable to supply the demand.
Because of the peculiar system of marketing the Australian product, fishermen and other persons engaged in theindustry are denied the income to which they are entitled. The system of marketing crayfish tails is typical of the system used in relation to fish exported toAmerica. The product is sold by the producers to brokers, by brokers to importers, by importers to distributors, by distributors to wholesalers, and from the wholesalers it goes to the retailers and ultimately to the consumer. Each sectionobtains a substantial “ chop “ or “ cop “,. whatever one likes to call it, for handling the product. Honorable members will realize just what a loss that means tothose persons who are actively engaged in obtaining the crayfish. In SouthAfrica, the product is handled in a very much better way with the result that,, although South African crayfish tailsbring a lower price in the United States than does the Australian product, the South African producer obtains a higherreturn. The distributing bureau agency in South Africa was sponsored by thegovernment, but it is maintained by persons engaged in the industry. It isresponsible for the distribution of theproduct direct to the wholesalers, and it ensures that the wholesalers do not fail’ to take advantage of a potential market.
The Australian fishing industry is lamentably neglected, and it is high time that something was done to improve the position. Not only are people generally starved of fish as a change in their diet, but also, as doctors and representatives of country hospitals have stated, because of the haphazard, indeed chaotic, methods of distribution, many people for whom fish is an absolute necessity are denied that food in their diet. Merely because they live in rural areas, they are obliged to do without fish or to suffer the terrible tragedy of being obliged to leave their kith and kin and go to the metropolis in order to obtain their requirements. I take advantage of this opportunity to appeal to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) to go further than does this amendment of the Fisheries Act 1952-1953, to take an active interest in the fishing industry, and to inform the States of the opportunities they are losing by not fostering it. The crayfish industry of Western Australia is a gold mine to the Australian economy, but it could be a much more valuable gold mine. It could produce greater earnings overseas if only this Government would bestir the lazy Labour Government of Western Australia. The only interest that the State Minister in charge of fisheries has displayed over the last few years has been in the odd prawn or two that can be caught off the north-west coast. I believe that the Minister for Primary Industry has the energy and the initiative, to do what is required and that all that is needed is for me to direct his attention to the present situation.
– Do the remarks of the honorable member relate to pelagic fish too?
– The last LiberalCountry party Government of Western Australia attempted to do something in that direction. It brought a couple of ships from overseas, but at the time it was not able to obtain an adequate measure of support or encouragement from the Commonwealth, and the attempt was not successful. The nets that were being used were not suitable but, although the experiment was costing the State a certain amount of money and although there was an unfortunate change of government, the experiment should have been continued. The present Australian Government is of the right type and colour, and it consists of the right kind of people to do something about the fishing industry. Let us, therefore, do something about it. I ask the Minister to take steps to place the industry on a worth while basis, both because of its value to the country and in order to assist the fishermen who are not getting a fair return for their work. We have heard a lot to-day about the rates of pay and the work of shearers. I suggest that some of the shearers should go out on the fishing vessels and see the conditions under which the fishermen work. The shearers talk about their margins, but the fishermen deserve a margin twenty times as great as that of the shearers. Because fishermen are independent and seek to help themselves and do not worry about going to the courts to obtain decision? that ultimately will not be honoured, they are not getting a reasonable return. They deserve some assistance. Moreover, the urgent need to supply fish for inclusion in the diet of country people must be met. I support the bill.
.- First, I congratulate the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) upon what he has done to facilitate and simplify the method of application for fishing licences. Up to the present time, fishermen have had to lodge two applications - one to the State government concerned, and one to the Commonwealth. It is now proposed that the fishermen shall be able to make one approach. The administration nf the issuing of licences will become much easier for officials of the State fisheries departments. It is well known that tho State officials act as agents for the Commonwealth in this matter.
I think it is also well known to honorable members that there are two distinct spheres of responsibility in relation to the fishing industry. I, too, make a plea for the Minister to co-operate with the State governments to assist this worthwhile industry. The Commonwealth is responsible for fisheries within Australian waters beyond the territorial limits, and the States have their own responsibility in addition to the special responsibility ofmarketingwiththeSates. It is quite true, as the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) has stated, that great difficulty is experienced in many country centres in obtaining fresh fish. No doubt you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have noted that, even in the Australian Capital Territory, fish that has not been fresh has been placed on the table. Very often it has been toolong in cold storage. There is, therefore, quite a lot to be done to improvemethodsoftransportation and marketing. Those matters are, toa great extent, the responsibilities of the States. We should keep in mind that the mainpurposeoftheCommonwealthlegislation, where it is complementary to the legislation of the various States, is to conserve theestablishedfisheries,tomaintain production at the maximum level consistent with conservation, and to develop fishing for the various types of fish that are found in the waters around the coast of Australia, and, of course, within the estuaries.
In saying that more fish is required, I have in mind not only the Australian domestic market, but also the great overseas demand for Australian fish. That applies also, as was indicated by the honorable member for Moore, to crayfish and prawns. I know of several inquiries that have been made recently in Australia by businessmen from America and Canada who are interested in importing fish from Australia. When one considers how the quantity of fish imported into this country increased during the period when import restrictions did not apply, one can realize how beneficial to the national economy the development of our fishing industry would be. I know that the work of collaboration with the States is continuing, both in respect of fisheries already established, and in respect of the development of others. However, I think that the most important function of the Commonwealth in the matter of fisheries is a developmental one, and although some fishermen may feel that the requirement to be licensed under Commonwealth as well as State law is an imposition, it should be borne in mind that before any planned development of our latent fishery resources can be put into effect, it is necessary to evaluate the manpower potential of the industry, as well as the production potential of the fishing grounds. I think it is wise also to bear in mind that the Commonwealth, when framing the legislation, fixed purely nominal fees for licences for fishermen and their boats, and imposed no fee for the registration of the gear.
In conclusion, I direct the attention of honorable members to the March, 1956, issueof the Fisheries Newsletter, a publication which, I think, is forwarded to all members. The first article in that issue wascontributed by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon), and it provides, as well as a handsome photograph of the Minister, a good deal of information that would be of interest to fishermen and would also help to stimulate interest in the need to develop and increase the potential of the fishing industry. That article informs us that the fishing industry in Australia is already producing about 57,000 tons of fish and earning over 5,000,000 dollars a year for Australia, plus 22,350 tons of whale products with an export value of about£1,600,000. The article continues -
To faceof this double needforincreased fish production, the catch is unfortunately not keeping pace with our rapidly growing population. Normally, imports provide about half the supply of fish available for consumption in Australia. The last few years should have taught us how unwise it is to rely on imports for essential needs. The recent restriction of imports of course includes fish.
Moreover., if we can producemore fish and thereby import less, or art least not an increasing quantity to meetthe growing shortage, we shallcorrespondingly improve Australia’s trade position.
Those remarks support the arguments that I have already advanced,both for the need for further co-operation between the Australian Government and the States, and the responsibility of the Commonwealth to try to develop the abounding fisheries that surround the Australian coast.
– As the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said earlier to-day, the Opposition supports the measure before the House. We had not desired to debate the measure at length, but so much hasbeen said in the debate that I have felt impelled to make a few remarks on this matter. I know that the fishing industry in Australia has largely been carried on by private enterprise, which is the method advocated by this Government. Recently honorable members in this chamber have been debating the sale to private enterprise of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission in Western Australia, after the Australian Government had developed the industry and shown its possibilities. During that debate we were told by Government supporters that they believed in private enterprise, and yet to-day we have heard two Government supporters throwing the responsibility upon the Government for she development of the fishing industry.
We know that there is no difficulty in >b tain ing a licence if one wants to establish oneself in the fishing industry, and I know of the difficulties that have arisen because of the improper exploitation of our fisheries. Recently, I read of the visit to this country of a couple of Americans, who went out in a boat in the waters to The south of the South Australian coast and fished for tuna. They used the livebait method of catching the fish, and hey were very successful. They came back with 20 tons of fish, but they said that if they had had American fishermen helping them, using American methods, they would have secured 300 tons instead of only 20 tons. There have been controversies about the use of different kinds of apparatus for fishing. Some have advocated the use of seine nets, and there have been advocates of the use of nets with meshes of various sizes. Some fanatics in South Australia have for years engaged in correspondence on the subject in newspapers. Rut in the past there has been nothing at all 10 prevent any company engaging in fishing in Australia and making a success of the venture. I must say that a coldstorage works and a fish cannery have been established at Port Lincoln, but that was done only after the South Australian Government had provided assistance. It is surprising to hear honorable members opposite suggest that the Government should develop the fishing industry, when we have just seen how the Australian Government developed the whaling industry and then sold the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission to private enterprise, saying that it is the function of private enterprise rather than of the Government, to carry on such undertakings.
I agree with much that the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) and the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean) have said. Some of their remarKs were in agreement with my contention that governments, whether State of Federal, should do their best to estabish industries such as the fishing industry. Rut I take exception to honorable members claiming that private enterprise should do this or that job, when those honorable members, particularly those representing Queensland electorates, have condemned the State governments for carrying on undertakings which were not successful. We do not know whether government intervention in the fishing industry will be successful. But I say now that whatever industry the Government establishes, if it is a success, honorable members opposite will want to hand it over to private enterprise. When a Labour government tries to establish an industry, and it is not a success, then Government supporters blame socialism, socialization and social ideas for wasting money, and not doing the best thing in the interests of the community.
On this matter, I should like honorable members to think more clearly. If we believe that private enterprise can do a job, we should not blame a government for not stepping in and making a success of it. There is no need for the Government to tell people that there is any amount of fish off the southern and eastern coasts of this country. Any one who has read the Fisheries Newsletter, which comes out from time to time, or any one who has followed these matters knows very well that the detailed information has been given as to what can be done. But the policy, so far, has been for wonderful private enterprise, in which the Government members believe, to step in and do the job. Now Government supporters say that they want the Government to do the pioneering work, and get the industry going.
I do not desire to debate the bill, because I believe that the licensing systems, State and Federal, should be uniform and that uniformity should be achieved from the date on which this bill takes effect. But, because so many critical remarks have been made about governments’ mistakes and their inability to do a good job, T felt impelled to ask this question - If it is such a wonderful proposition, why does not private enterprise do the job, and show that it can do it effectively?
– I feel that I should, to some extent, join issue with what the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) has said, although in some respects I agree with him. We do not want governments to conduct these industries. We want governments to encourage private industry. We want governments to do those things which will help private enterprise to conduct industry efficiently. In this case, private enterprise is not, generally speaking, big companies but small fishermen, who can be helped and who can take advantage of information which can be given to them from government sources. It is our aim, I hope, to help the small man; and I have some small fishermen operating in my own electorate. If ona looks at the unholy mess that has been made of the socialized fishing industry by the New South Wales Government, one will have a wholesome horror of any further incursion by governments into the operation of these industries. There is my measure of disagreement. Let me come to my measure of agreement, because 1 believe that the Government, in this bill, is evidencing its interest in a great industry.
I shall try to point out some of the practical things which can be done and which lie properly within the Government’s sphere, as I shall try to define it. I agree with what the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean) said about the potential importance of this industry to the Australian economy. I notice that last year we imported something like £5,500,000 worth of fish and fish products. For the six months ended the 31st December, 1955, the rate of importation had very greatly increased. The total for the half year comes to £3,500,000, which brings the rate of importation to £7,000,000 a year. I believe that, by the proper development of our existing resources, we could not only substitute local production for these imports, to the great advantage of our balance of trade but that, in addition, we could reduce the price and increase the availability and quality of fish for the Australian consuming public. That, I think, is just as important as meeting our balance of payments. But those things come down to practical points as to where and how we can expect to make these improvements.
The first thing that I want to say is that, contrary to the impression that may have been formed from the words of the honorable member for Port Adelaide, we know very little about the major fish resources around the Australian coast. We know something of our proper inshore fisheries. Unfortunately, at least so far as the more populous States are concerned, the quantities available from these inshore fisheries are likely to be fairly limited, because Australian waters are fairly poor in their inshore resources. If we are to increase our hauls of fish in any great quantity, it will be necessary to go into the pelagic fisheries. Pelagic fish come in. from unknown sources in the deep ocean, and strike the Australian coast, and remain on the Australian coast for certain seasonal periods. The nature, quantity and details of these migrations are still virtually unknown. We do know that the resources are immense, and that they can be tapped. But we do not know the details. We need, therefore, a great expansion of fisheries investigation. A few hundred thousand pounds spent in this way might well repay itself many times in the way of substitution for imports and even the acquisition of substantial new exports.
The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) mentioned tuna resources. Here, again, I have some personal knowledge. In company with the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Timson) I have just been investigating some of these things on the spot, and I can speak with some authority on some of these tuna occurrences. But I also know that it is important that other people should know the limitations of my own knowledge in this matter and the limitation of the knowledge of all Australian fishery experts in this matter. The department, as the Minister can tell the House, is starting an investigation into the occurrence of tuna on the New South Wales coast. That investigation is long overdue, and I hope that it will be vigorously prosecuted. We know that there have been changes recently in the set up, and we hope that they will be beneficial. At all events, the House should wish the Government and the Minister well in this new venture which is being inaugurated and which may be of very great importance to the Australian fishing industry.
There are certain things which I think could be done more effectively. We have a fisheries base at Cronulla - the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization base - and there seems to me to be some incomplete liaison between the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Department of Trade and the Department of Primary Industry. I think that those bodies should have better liaison. Incidentally, I do not think that this investigation should be confined to New South Wales. Obviously, there are many other parts of the Australian coast that require attention. When we have an increase in the total expenditure there might be better liaison between those two departments of government. There could be better liaison with the Air Force. When we are dealing with pelagic fishing we should avail ourselves very much more of the facilities of air survey. This has been done overseas to a very large extent. So far as New South Wales is concerned it would be simple because the air base at Nowra is ideally situated for making air surveys along the central and southern New South Wales coast. We should see that the training programme at Nowra is integrated with a regular fish survey which could be made available by wireless - most of the small fishing boats are fitted with wireless - to practical fishermen on the spot. In that way the Government could properly and rightly help private enterprise and the -mall individual fisherman who cannot hope to undertake surveys of this character for himself.
I was surprised, when I visited the south coast only last week-end, to find that fishermen who were making a real effort to study tuna did not have access to world literature on the subject. Surely, ir is the function of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization or the Department of Trade, or some liaison between them, to see at fishing time that little libraries on fishery, with particular relation to the local problems, are located in fishing towns.
The fisheries capacity of the whole of the New South Wales southern coast is very largely curtailed by the harbour position. One realizes that this is a State matter, and I do not desire to try to place the responsibility on the Australian Government; but little ports like Bermagui, and possibly Narooma - although I know the latter place is, physically, a little more difficult proposition - should be open to vessels of deeper draught. If one is to exploit fish like the Australian salmon or kingfish, which occur in large shoals and are there for the taking in large quantities, there must be a better cool storage system available. It is, perhaps, not unreasonable for the State Government, rather than the Federal Government, to come into this matter and give a lead to help the small man.
The possibilities of developing smoked Australian fish are very great. Those who have tasted smoked Australian salmon know how good it is and how much better it can be than the unsmoked variety. There is scope here for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization to be operating. I do not believe that our normal, conventional, inshore fisheries are capable of much expansion. There may be some qualifications in regard to prawns. They are hardly inshore, but the new grounds offshore, particularly on the northern coast of New South Wales, are adding immensely to what we considered were inshore resources. Then there is the Australian oyster. The supply is limited, and probably the technical difficulties of export will never make it possible to put many, if any, oysters on the overseas market. However, the Australian oyster is without exception the best oyster available in the world to-day. It should be very much better known and more famous than it is.
These ace small things; but if we can get. our native foods better known we shall help to build up tourist revenue, to which the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer), made such constructive, reference in the House only the week before last. Let me give a small example of the kind of thing I have in mind. These things are all trivial, but the trivial things add up. A French exhibition is being held in Australia at the moment, and T understand that a leading French chef nas come here in connexion with it. Will some opportunity be given to him to see how good the Australian oyster is and will some effort be made to get, through him,, the necessary publicity? Not that any great export trade can be obtained, but if we can build up a justifiable reputation for some of our local foods we shall thus increase tourist revenue. As I said previously, it is a small detail;, but these things are made up of details.
I return to my main theme. If we are to extend our fisheries we must expand our pelagic fisheries, because it is in them that our big opportunity lies. Western Australia has shown us- something of what we can be doing with regard to crayfish. New South Wales, and may be Tasmania - I say “ may be “ because until a survey has been made of the resources we do not know - can build up tuna fishing. I know also that off Port Lincoln in South Australia tuna is present, but nobody knows with what regularity or in what quantities they can be relied upon.
These are questions which the Government should set out to solve. It should make available to practical fishermen on the spot all the help, encouragement and information which it can. This should properly be given by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and other related organizations. I think all honorable members will commend the Government and the Minister for the new interest in fisheries which is being evidenced by this small bill.
.- The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) is always interesting when he does not go off the deep end after red herrings, which he so often does. He is one of the most constructive speakers in this. Parliament when he is not hunting Communists. He. was no exception today, and I thank him, for his round-up of this subject in the limited time that, we have to. deal with- it..
By and large, the fisheries, industry is, undoubtedly,, one of tha most, neglected industries in Australia. This bill brings the matter before us again, foi thought, discussion and helpful suggestion:. One thing- about the fishing industry is that it is the home of healthy individualism. I have been, brought up in the democratic socialistic outlook, and I am a democratic socialist. But that does not mean that honorable members on. this side, of the House despise the little businessman or the small farmer. We are behind those men all the time, and in spite of all the fear-talk from the Government benches, we have never had any idea of nationalizing such people. In the fishing industry we. have what I would call healthy individualism - individualism at its best. There is nothing more rugged nor individualistic than a man in his boat earning a living from the ocean. That is why the fishing industry always appeals to me. Whaling is in a different category, and I supported my colleagues when the whaling base station was established in Western Australia. Everything should be done to promote the industry rather than that the Government should sell the asset.1 of the Australian Whaling Commission. The Labour party would not have considered selling it if it had been in government.
In-shore fishing is the province of the “ little “ men who make their living in all sorts of weather, under all sorts of conditions and facing all kinds of dangers. The purpose of the bill is to make smoother the work of issuing licences. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) in his second-reading speech, said -
In order to reduce this work load, the State.have made provision under their own legislation for State licences issued during December to be effective until the 31st December of thifollowing year.
The purpose of this amendment to the Fisheries Act 1952-1953 is to make the same provision in the Commonwealth legislation, and thereby make it possible for the State officers to issue Commonwealth licences, and effect registrations where applicable, in December at the same time as they issue the State licences.
That is the purpose of the bill, and it is an excellent forward move in cooperation. The consumption of fish in Australia is increasing each month owing to the great influx of people from the other side of the world, and Australian fisheries are not able to cope with the demand. As a previous speaker said, the importation of fish into Australia is increasing each year, and in the coming year it will exceed £7,000,000 worth as compared with £5,500,000 worth last year. Australia should import fish if it cannot provide sufficient supplies from it3 own fishing grounds. Large quantities of fish are being imported from South Africa, and although an importer in Tasmania could sell in that State £6,000 worth of imported South African fish each year, his licence allows him to import only £600 worth. He engages also in catching fish around the Tasmanian coast. He has his own storage space, and is doing a great job in two directions - obtaining fish from Australian waters and importing it from South Africa. T cannot understand the Government’s reluctance to import fish when insufficient quantities are being caught in Australian waters. If the demand exists it should be met, even if fish has to be imported.
Considerable research has been conducted by the Australian Government, through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, into the control of fishing. That organization has done magnificent work to assist the small men in the industry, and has spent considerable amounts of public money in doing so. That is only right, although Government supporters may remind me that these men are engaged in private enterprise, and I agree with them that this is an example of private enterprise as its best. The Australian Labour party, is strongly opposed to monopoly in private enterprise, but it could never be said that fishing is the monopoly of any one man. Hundreds of small men are engaged in it, and the Australian Government has a duty to spend money to help that kind of private enterprise.
The provision of jetties for fishermen is an important measure of assistance ‘ that the Australian Government should give. When the Labour Government was in office, provision was made to spend a proportion of the money in the Federal Aid Roads Fund to build jetties. In Tasmania some jetties have been rebuilt, others lengthened and others modernized with Common wealth funds from this source. Many fishermen find that some of our harbours are difficult to negotiate. The fish do not always choose the best spots on the coastline, and the fishermen have to make the best of some poor harbours. At times, a great deal depends on the availability of adequate jetty facilities.
I agree with the honorable member for Mackellar that the extension of the fishing industry is of vital importance. It seems that the only way in which pelagic fishing can be expanded is for the Commonwealth to enter that section of the industry, but the Government is not disposed to do so. It is withdrawing from all kinds of enterprises, and soon the only undertaking that will be left will be the Post Office, and, maybe, tenders will be called for the purchase even of that some day. No private enterprise in Australia is prepared to undertake deep sea fishing on a large scale. Therefore, the Commonwealth must be prepared to do it. If it does not, this valuable section of the industry, with its handsome income, will be lost to Australia. Such a situation would be unfortunate.
The price factor in the fishing industry is difficult to control because, like the tide, it rises and falls, day by day. The export of crayfish tails to the United States of America has been a profitable undertaking to some of our crayfishermen. In Tasmania, one man has done a magnificent job. Daily he has taken the crayfish to Melbourne by air, and the tails which have been sent from there to the United States have earned thousands of dollars for Australia. He deserves congratulation for pioneering this new enterprise.
The provision of cool storage in ports is a matter in which the Commonwealth could give some assistance. This is a costly item, and I have seen small fishermen break under the financial strain of trying to run a cool storage plant at a port. Either the Commonwealth or the States with Commonwealth assistance, could help the industry in this way.
Oyster farming is another privateenterprise project which deserves commendation, hut it can be expanded only by more men being prepared to risk engaging in it to earn a living. I have shown that there are many aspects of the fishing industry in Australia that still have to be developed, and for this financial assistance from the Government is necessary. The consumption of fish could be greatly accelerated by an intelligent and extensive advertising programme, but because the industry is in the hands of small men all the time, they cannot bear the cost of advertising, as well as capital costs, overhead expenses and overdrafts - which will now carry heavier rates of interest.
I commend the bill, and hope that it is the forerunner of further Commonwealth aid to an important industry.
– I commend the honorable member for “Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) for his first statement that a fisherman is an individualist. He was obviously sincere and just as obviously correct. Fishermen are such individualists that they do not readily accept the idea of co-operatives. As the honorable member said, they go out in all weathers and under tough conditions to gather a harvest from the sea.
I cannot, of course, agree with the honorable member’s socialistic views. I remember only too well something that happened when I was a member of the New South Wales Parliament. The then Chief Secretary, the late Mr. Baddeley, went with me to Eden, on the south coast, because supplies of fish were not coming forward. The State Government had nationalized the fish merchants and formed a co-operative in Harrisstreet, Ultimo. As the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has said, the inshore fishing grounds of Australia aTP. shallow and not very prolific, and, at the time of which I speak, the yield of fish was insufficient to meet requirements. The belief that the best fish were going to the expensive restaurants and hotels, though there was insufficient for the hospitals and the ordinary fish shops, was a public scandal. This was. of course, a reproach to the State Labour Government and the Chief Secretary went with me to Eden to see what he. could do about it.
I well recall the way in which this socialist Chief Secretary approached the matter. He said to the fishermen, “ Those fish out there belong to the people”. Apparently the implication was that the fish ought to be socialized. The fishermen very properly replied, “ All right, let the people go out and get them “. But the people could not do that because they did not know much about fishing, and the fishermen knew all about it. I think that that story ought to be included in the repertoire of the doctrinaire socialists on the other side of the chamber.
Opposition members interjecting,
– If honorable members opposite went out to get the fish they would find that the individualist fishermen, to whom the honorable member for Wilmot has referred, is the only man who can really get them. The Australian fisherman has not had the scientific assistance that he .might have expected to receive. The House is indebted to the honorable member for Mackellar who, with his usual vigour and altruism, has investigated this problem. Last week-end he devoted a good deal of time to’ it and went with that distinguished gentleman, the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Timson) to the south coast and had a look at the tuna fisheries there.
– What did they see?
– I am indebted to the honorable member for KingsfordSmith for that very intelligent interjection. They saw that the coast of Australia had a very narrow shallow-water fishing ground. The Australian continental shelf extends only a few miles from the mainland, and in reefs from some of the islands such as Montague Island, which has perhaps the richest fishing grounds in Australia. European countries, including the United Kingdom, have extensive shallow-water fishing grounds. Almost all of the North Sea yields a rich harvest. There is ample shallow water in which fish can flourish and, moreover, it is warmed by the Gulf Stream, which crosses the Atlantic. Thus, very large quantities of fish come to the people of Europe from the North Sea fishing grounds. In Australia we are not so fortunate. On the south coast especially, the continental shelf, on which one can get such fish as nannygai, schnapper, flathead and bream, is very narrow indeed.
– There are plenty of flathead there.
– And plenty of prawns, too. The last Fisheries Newsletter is devoted entirely to that subject, and I commend it to the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith, for it is an extremely valuable analysis. The honorable member has not indicated that he has read it, so perhaps I should inform him that it deals with the possibilities of intruding upon the American shrimp market. Americans, of course, are very keen on “shrimps” - their name for prawns. They will buy our prawns, especially the deep sea variety, which are suitable for export and return a very good economic price. Those who are responsible for producing the newsletter should be commended because it could result in Australia’s earning, without very much expenditure, an additional export income of £5,000,000.
– One of our best investigators is an immigrant scientist.
– I did not know who prepared the newsletter, and 1 am very glad to know that one of those responsible is an immigrant. I should be delighted to know of anything that could get us out of our balance of payments difficulties. Every sensible Australian will applaud the efforts of those who have brought this opportunity to light. If we seize it we can profit from the great harvest of prawns that may be gathered from the deep sea fishing grounds. The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith asked what the honorable member for Mackellar and the honorable member for Higinbotham saw when they went to Bermagui. They saw, as I have said, that we had a long coastline, broken by harbours and inlets such as Narooma, and estuaries and bays such as Twofold Bay, and that the shelf on which the shallowwater fish could be gathered was very narrow indeed. The honorable member for Wentworth (Sir Eric Harrison) knows that many of his constituents go from Vaucluse to that part of the con tinental shelf which is just outside of Sydney Harbour,, and there fish for marlin, sharks and so on.
– They catch a few squid, too.
– That is so, but the input of fish to the Sydney markets is not great. The honorable member for Mackellar and the honorable member for Higinbotham learnt that ocean surface fish, known scientifically as pelagic fish, and including tuna, come into our waters in great numbers. Tuna may be caught easily by rod and line as soon as they come into shallow water. Sometimes they are so heavy that it takes three men each with a rod to bring in one fish. Photographs in the fisheries newsletter show tuna of that size. They are magnificent fish. At Lord Howe Island they are known as the “ chicken of the sea “, and when cut into steaks they are very delectable indeed.
Tuna must be found before they can be caught and at Bermagui this is done with the aid of a small aeroplane piloted by a very skilful gentleman who not only must be able to fly the aircraft and land on difficult little estuaries, but must also know his fish. He makes a reconnaissance of the coastal waters and is able to bring in the news when the tuna are about. We would like to see more of that sort of thing. It is very regrettable indeed that only one aeroplane should be available for this purpose. Such conditions are too primitive. There ought to be more aeroplanes available. I do not know who sends the aeroplane out. I suppose it is sent out by the Fisheries Division.
– That is socialism!
– The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith apparently does not understand what we feel about this matter. We believe, as the honorable member for Mackellar on this side of the chamber, and the honorable member for Wilmot, on the other side of the chamber, have said, that the individualist should carry out the actual fishing, and that the Government should come in on the research side and provide the funds needed for locating and exploiting fish. That is quite proper, and we believe in it. If that were not the case it would be necessary to have a fishermen’s co-operative which would have to pay for the spotting of fish by aircraft. We believe that it is the Government’s perogative to carry out research and reconnaissance to enable the fish to be located and their movements charted. That is what is happening now. But we are only touching the edge of this problem. There are large quantities of pelagic fish off our coast. If those fish were not taken by our fishermen they would probably go out and be destroyed in the normal way by larger fish which would prey on them. The availability of those fish would have to be such as to enable a study of their cycle, so that we could discover whether or not by taking them we would prevent their breeding. For instance, salmon enter only two estuaries on the south coast, those at Wonboyn and Narooma. The State Government permitted the State canneries to start operating there. There had previously been a condition that no fish would be netted, because fish were to be kept for tourists, but fishermen were permitted to take salmon and put them in a wire netting pen in millions for canning. Since that was done the salmon have never come again in Narooma. It is believed that the reason is that the breeding cycle of the salmon was disturbed, and that when all those salmon were netted no salmon were left alive in the area to guide other salmon into the breeding grounds. Yet salmon used to come in such large numbers that it was possible to walk across them as they lay in the estuary. If we netted tuna on a large scale we might interfere with their habits, so it is probably necessary for us to conduct research into the habits of the tuna in order to discover whether by netting them or by catching them with rod and line in large numbers we should interfere with their breeding cycle so that they would not come back to our coast. These questions have to be considered.
First, there is the purely physical question of the existence of large numbers of tuna off some parts of our coast, and of having trawlers capable of bringing them in. A small industry has been started at Bermagui on a wharf which is not used commercially, the watersiders having crippled the trade for which it was formerly used. The wharf is now being used as a place for the curing of tuna, and a very fine commodity is being produced there at a very reasonable price. I think that the same components are used as are used for the curing of ham, and the cured tuna is something like smoked tuna, and is cheap and good. That shows what can be done.
To sum up, it is necessary that the Fisheries Division should put a good deal of work into this aspect of fisheries research, as it has into research on whales. Work similar to the work on whale research can be done in regard to tuna and the pelagic off-shore fish which come in near enough to our shores to be caught. I urge the Government and the Minister to press on with this work. There is still much work to be done. There is a little aeroplane scouting for fish off the south coast, but there ought to be more aeroplanes and more pilots doing that work, and, at the least, more assistance should be given to the man who carries out the maintenance work on the aeroplane used now. There ought to be full-time, continuous and permanent research into fishing off the shores of Australia. If it is true - and I have no reason to doubt it - that last year we imported fish worth £5,500,000, and that this year our imports of fish will be worth £7,000,000, there lies an obvious means of helping to improve our balance of payments position. The value of our imports of fish will increase in later years. We could save the money spent on buying fish by catching enough fish for our own needs. We could also increase our tremendously important export of lobster tails from the west, and of tuna, oysters, prawns and shrimps, which we are sending to the American market. Now, when we are facing such serious financial problems overseas, we have a glorious opportunity to push on with a project which would mean further production instead of restriction, and which would enable us to start a really big and worthwhile industry. The fish are available, and, as the honorable member for Wilmot has said, it is the individualist who in this instance is the real outpost of private enterprise, the fisherman who has to go out in rough conditions. He ought to be encouraged, and we ought to give him the utmost possible help.
– I am at a disadvantage’ in following a man of such varied interests as the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate). Last night he was dealing with carob beans in Cyprus, and this afternoon he has dealt with shrimps from the Caribbean and prawns from the Australian coast. I shall content myself first with commending the bill, which is a small machinery measure but will make a considerable contribution to necessary co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States in an industry with great potentialities. The Commonwealth’s powers over fisheries are absurdly circumscribed by the Constitution. Placitum (x.) of section 51 of the Constitution gives to the Commonwealth Parliament power to legislate with regard to “ fisheries in Australian waters beyond territorial limits “. Because of last century’s interstate jealousies, coastal fisheries in Australia are divided into eight segments. Each of the States has a segment and the Commonwealth itself has one segment off the Northern Territory, another off Jervis Bay. In addition, the Commonwealth presides over the whole of the area beyond the territorial limits. “We have the absurd position, therefore, that inspectors with different powers under at least seven different sets of legislation are at work round our coast. But, as long as that position continues under the Constitution, we should do our very best to co-operate with the States, and that is what we are doing in this legislation. It is a good machinery bill which will remove one of those absurd duplications and reduplications that we shall continue to have while the Constitution remains as it is.
The only other thing I wish to say arises from a statement made by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who referred to the Fisheries Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization at Cronulla on Port Hacking. He very rightly paid tribute to the research work carried out by the division in exploring the wealth of Australian fisheries near the coast and out to sea. I know those particular premises at Port Hacking very well, because I live in the next street to them. It has been a continuing cause of frustration to” the people in charge of the division, and to all of the devoted band of scientists on its staff, that for many years the Commonwealth has refused to make funds available for the purchase of a deep sea ship for their use. The position in Australia, as I understand it, is that our coastal fishing grounds are not very wealthy compared with the fishing grounds adjacentto the coastlines of most other countries. Furthermore, our equipment is limited and is becoming worn out. That is because the people who catch fish are not really spending enough capital in buying new ships and new trawling equipment. But a. new field of fishing activity has become known to Australia, particularly since the war, in the same way as, once again, the importance of whaling has become apparent to us. That new field is tuna fishing. “We now realize that the waters of the South Pacific are as rich in tuna as are the waters off Chile or the waters of the Mediterranean. Australia, as the nearest country to those wealthy tuna fields, should be engaging in greater exploration and exploitation of them. “We cannot do so until more research on the movements of tuna is undertaken. The Fisheries Division tells me that it cannot engage in such increased research until it gets a sea-going ship which can stay at sea for at least a couple of weeks. The only ship which it has at the moment has not the range or capacity to stay at sea to investigate the movements of tuna. By the time it finds the tuna, it has exhausted half its fuel, and has to go back to port.
Therefore, I take the opportunity presented to me by this bill, rather than wait for the Estimates or another more appropriate occasion, to put forward a plea that the Government, particularly under the incentive of the new Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) should give its urgent attention to this matter. The Minister, in whatever field he has undertaken, has shown his determination and capacity for studying and mastering his subject and pressing his views in this House. I also urge him, on this first occasion, to give his urgent attention to the opportunities which present themselves to Australia, which is the biggest maritime country in the southern hemisphere, for investigating the possibilities of the tuna industry in the south Pacific. I suggest that as the best means of taking advantage of our great natural tuna resources, he should bring his great economic and personal prowess to bear on the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) and the financial myrmidons of the country to ensure that the Fisheries Division will be given the wherewithal to pursue its fruitful studies in this field.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 14th March (vide page 814), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the following paper be printed: - International Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 22nd February, 1956.
– Other speakers in this debate h ave concerned themselves chiefly with problems that exist between Australia and the countries to our immediate north, or with the wider problems that exist between theWestern Powers and the Soviet Union or countries dominated by the Soviet Union. I wish to devote my time to-day more particularly to problems which exist within the British Commonwealth, and within the Western Powers themselves.
We have seen over the last few years - and it is one of the most significant developments of the post-war years - the transition from the British Empire to the British Commonwealth. Although our fathers may not like it, the fact is that the British Empire is passing out of existence, and in its place is coming something which will be far more enduring and beneficial to world peace - the British Commonwealth of Nations. The fact that this is so is too obvious to need reemphasis, but I remind honorable members that India, Pakistan and Ceylon are dominions, and that soon Malaya, Singapore and portions of Africa will receive full dominion status, thus increasing the number of dominions within the British Commonwealth, and thereby increasing its power and influence in the world.
There are many reasons for the emergence of the British Commonwealth, the first to come to mind being perhaps the growth of nationalism ; but beyond that - and this is most important - there is a very sincere recognition by Britain itself that the greatest gift it can give to the world is the gift of self-government, as it has been evolved over the years through the British Parliament. But there are other reasons, equally potent, if a little less kind. Great Britain of itself and by itself is not the world power that it was in 1900, because to-day the Royal Navy and the English Channel cannot alone protect England from troubles that may arise on the continent of Europe. For that reason, England has felt some necessity for retrenchment in its world obligations, and its liaison with Europe through the European Payments Union in the economic sphere and through Nato in the political sphere, both show Great Britain’s very real and true concern with the problems of Europe. Again, it is worth noting that for the first time in a period of peace, England has committed two divisions of garrison troops to the continent of Europe.
This change from the British Empire to the British Commonwealth has had great repercussions on Australia as an integral part of that Commonwealth. Since World War II., perhaps for the first time, we have pursued - partly because changing circumstances have made it necessary, and partly because of our own growing obligations towards the preservation of world peace - a more independent policy than otherwise we might have pursued. Evidence of that can be seen in Seato and the Anzus Treaty, and in the work that we are accomplishing under the Colombo plan. However, there is one very important thing which Australia can do and which I believe our Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) is tending gradually to accomplish, and will accomplish in the future. Through our geographical position in relation to the countries to our north, Australia can be the bridge between divisions of opinion which inevitably arise between England and America, because America has to look to the East to Europe and to the West to the Pacific, and England tends to be more preoccupied with Europe.
Australia can also be the bridge, and this is vital to our continued independence, between the white and the coloured races. The way in which we help the nations to our immediate north, some towards self-government and others towards achieving their own aims and building up their own economies, will do a great deal towards accomplishing this object. Again, I commend the work of the present Government under the Colombo plan. The socialists have often said in this debate that the weapon of ideas is sufficient to overcome the dangers that exist in relations between East and West, but I point out with due deference that it is very difficult to make effective use of the weapon of ideas upon those who have been indoctrinated through two generations, from the first day they go to school, with a certain ideology which cannot be reconciled with our thought or views, or, indeed, with our continued independence. I shall quote a short extract from a speech of a former British Foreign Secretary, Mr. Ernest Bevin, in 1948. Speaking of the differences between East and West, he said -
For a long time we tried - certainly 1 tried to recognize that fact, to say that these two views of life wore irreconcilable, to acknowledge that and then to say : “ Well, as one can never “ - and I say this emphatically - “ us one can never really conquer the other the only alternative is to try to live together and to allow people to enjoy their own economic systems and their own conceptions and ways of life “, To that end we approached the problem. But into the conduct of foreign policy there have been injected methods which make it almost impossible to settle even that problem. The weapons used by the Slav expansionists - as you see in France now and ap you may possibly see in Italy shortly (if the Intelligence is correct), and in Belgium, and probably here if they could get a grip, and in the Far East - the weapons used are civil war, disruption of the economic life of the country, and every possible device to prevent, a nation not in agreement recovering it” economic life after the war.
He went on to say that the Russians had told him many times that they had plenty of time, and were prepared to wait until there were internal disruptions in other countries, when they would step in and institute their police state. I believe that we are destined to a long struggle between the ideas of East and West, and that we shall reach a static position only when Russian militarism ceases its attitude towards the world, or after a great struggle on our part to maintain our independence.
This is partly due to a limited success of the United Nations. If we are to succeed in preventing Russian influence from extending, strength on our part is vital. There must be a wider union of the nations of the free world.
After World War II. economic solidarity was recognized. The evils of imbalance of the ‘thirties were to be banished for ever. There were post-war dreams of economic co-operation between the nations. I propose, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to devote a few moments to this problem. The dreams of the post-war world, I believe, have largely been abortive. We saw originally the clear conception of the Keynes Clearing Union, out of which we have the lesser success of the International Monetary Fund. Under the clearing union, Keynes had instituted the novel idea, of which I shall say more presently, that creditor nations had as great an obligation to get rid of their surplus credits as debtor nations had to get rid of their debts. Obviously, a nation that is always a creditor nation in its overseas balances is not playing its part in the extension and maintenance of overseas trade. Those ideas did not, in full, capture the imagination of people at the Bretton Woods conference, and the scarce currency clause in the International Monetary Fund is all that remains of the original conception that creditor nations should be penalized together with debtor nations.
In addition, there was the Havana charter which, in its original conception, has largely been forgotten. Out of that, we have the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, but whether it has had any real effect on extending world trade under present conditions is doubtful. The Havana charter itself was never brought before the American Congress, although the American representatives at Havana signed it. I believe that the British Commonwealth was not particularly interested in the charter, in view of the fact that complete freedom of trade was postulated in it, and because the Ottawa Agreement would not have been lawful under that charter. In addition, there was the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. It is a strange paradox that, although that bank was set up to encourage development in backward and undeveloped countries - I emphasize backward and undeveloped countries “ - Australia is the largest borrower from the bank. That demonstrates that the International Bank has not fully achieved its original purpose.
The transition period of which the economists of the late ‘forties spoke, and for which there is provision in the International Monetary Fund, is not a transition period, but a permanent period of our present world economic situation. It is a period of imbalance in world trade. Especially during the last few months, we have seen the very real possibility, and, indeed, the actual fact, of trade barriers being increased rather than lowered, and therefore we must ask ourselves why this is so. I believe that one of the principal reasons is that the United States of America has been a persistent creditor since the war years. It is true that that country has shown untold generosity in helping other countries to get on their feet, but lending to other countries only helps them to buy from America ; it does not help America to buy from them. Unless the United States can create conditions inside its own economy so that it can, if necessary, dispose of its great industrial potential within its own boundaries, and so create conditions which will make the United States want to buy as much from abroad as other countries want to buy from it, I believe that the problem of world trade and the difficulties of extending world trade will remain very real.
Present circumstances tend to lead to bi-lateral agreements and to discriminatory action. Examples of this can be seen in France and Argentina. These agreements tend to lower the level of world trade, rather than to increase it. In these days, when we are approaching a possible period of greater economic hardship than we have seen for some time, all the countries of the Western world must be careful lest they fall into the danger of carry ing out policies of economic nationalism which were seen at their worst in the thirties, especially in Germany, under the skilful guidance of Dr. Schacht. These things would be disastrous to the unity of the Western world - a unity which is essential for the continued peace and security of our way of life in the British Commonwealth and other free democracies.
There are some positive things that can be said about these problems. The question that any persistent creditor country, such as the United States, should buy from other countries as much as they buy from it, should receive international recognition. It would do much to increase the volume of world trade and prosperity. The British Commonwealth could, I believe, play a greater part in setting an example to the rest of the free world. We saw how the international wheat agreement was originally introduced, and, later, how, in large measure, it was dissolved because Britain, its original instigator, withdrew from it. Again, in recent years we have seen the disagreements that arise, and which probably will arise in the future, because of the outdated provisions of the Ottawa Agreement. If Britain and Australia cannot get together, they present a poor example to the rest of the world. A new effort is required to solve these problems, and to bring about greater multilateral trade in the Western democracies.
The solution of these trade problems is vital to our continued well-being and security, because if they are not solved, we shall have the sort of internal situation of which Russia and communism can take full advantage; the advantage of which Mr. Ernest Bevin spoke at the Commonwealth Parliamentary conference in 3948. It is all-important that we should look to these economic links within the British Commonwealth of Nations and the free world because of the change that has taken place in the form of the British Empire in its transition to the present Commonwealth of Nations. As a political union, the Commonwealth is looser than the Empire was. If we are to maintain our strength and solidity economically, that union must be made stronger if possible. I hope that within the next few years, more progress will be made towards a solution of these problems because I believe that the struggle with communism and with Russia will be a long one. It will last until they accept a static position in the world. Therefore, we must maintain constant vigilance and effort to make sure that our own security and prosperity are preserved.
.- It has been refreshing to follow the speech of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) and to learn that some of the younger members of the Liberal party support the policy of honorable members on this side of the chamber. Perhaps the only basis for criticism that I could find in the speech of the honorable member for Wannon was in his mention of the weapon of ideas. From the conflict of ideas have sprung some of the greatest reforms in civilization. During the debate on international affairs, we have heard many points raised on both sides of the House which would indicate that foreign policy is vital to our friendship with people on the other side of the world. What I propose to say now I say in all sincerity: What has been most regrettable in the debate on international affairs has been the effort of some supporters of the Government, by resorting to a campaign of character assassination and hostile criticism, to convince honorable members on the Opposition side that their own opinions were correct. That has made me doubt the sincerity of the Government’s attitude on this matter. This House deserves something much better than that. If we are to convince, we must set an example.
Much has been said about poverty in other countries. It is true that, in the main, poverty can open the way to communism. It is also true, unfortunately, that there is poverty in Australia, especially among the aged and invalid pensioners who are entitled to a greater pension than they are receiving to-day. Therefore, before we try to convince people overseas of our good intentions, it may be necessary to put our own house in order. If we are to appear consistent,, those honorable members who have used the privilege of this Parliament to make dastardly attacks upon the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and others should first set an example by showing a better understanding of the affairs of this nation and of other nations.
During the debate, the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) took tho honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) to task for blaming the British for certain industrial and social ills in countries controlled by British capital. The Minister said that Labour had forgotten many things. Maybe we have, but we have not forgotten that the conditions we enjoy to-day have been gained over the years by the Australian Labour party in the face of the fiercest opposition from the opponents of Labour. We have not forgotten, either, the misery that many have had to suffer to achieve those conditions. Sometimes it does us good to be retrospective. Many of the statements that have been made in this chamber during the debate have taken my mind back to the years when we had the struggle for the reduction of the working week from 52 to 48 hours. References that have been made to the conditions under which people live overseas made me think of the time, after the working week had been reduced to 48 hours, when a suggestion was made by a prominent member of the South Australian Government of that, time to the effect that coolie labour would have to be introduced into Australia to offset the effect of the 48-hour week. In other words, the white Australia policy must be broken down, and black labour brought into the country to break down the conditions of the Australian workers. Honorable members on the Opposition side have not forgotten the cry that went up when the working week was reduced from 48 to 44 hours.
Somehow, we seem to remember, also, the depression when we saw thousands of young Australians, men and women, walking the streets of this land of full and plenty, quite unable to secure a day’s work through no fault of their own, but because of a man-made depression. We also remember the 10 per cent, cut in wages and the promises that were made in those days. We have ‘ not forgotten, either, that boys who left school in the days of the depression were not able to secure a day’s work from the time they left school until they joined the Army in 1939. May we never forget to praise those boys and girls who laid down their lives so that we might be free from the heel of the aggressor. I remember, also, what was termed the “ home front “, and the praise that was lavished upon the workers of the country who were asked to provide the sinews of war for those who were in the front line. I remember the attitude of the employers in those days, and the understanding that existed between masters and men. Industrial relations were happy. That was when we stood to lose all. But time has marched on, and there appears to be another line of thought now. It, seems to be the Government’s policy to blame the workers for all the industrial and social ills of this country. Last, but not least, we have not forgotten that history, like human nature, seldom changes.
The Minister for Social Services told us what the British imperialists have done for the masses in various countries. When we speak of the masses, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, it is interesting to note that, recently, British capitalists de’manded that the United Kingdom Government create a pool of unemployed - a pool of misery - in order to stem inflation. Doubtless, when conditions became bad enough, the unemployed would be used to break down the industrial standards of the British workers. I admit that it was a tory, the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, who initiated much industrial and social reform in Great Britain. He became so disgusted at the shocking conditions of workers in the ‘mines and the factories that he revolted against his own party and set about introducing social reform. Something else that Opposition members cannot forget is that to-day’s radicalism is to-morrow’s conservatism.
Much has been said about India. It is true that Britain has spent millions of pounds in India on irrigation and other developments. These improvements and reforms effected by the United Kingdom Government were a very real contribution to a country that badly needed such assistance. It is equally true to say that, on the other hand, capitalism, in the guise of private enterprise, grossly exploited the people of India for private profit. When we speak of India, the Minister for Social Services will remember that the self-same private enterprise allowed women to be used as pit ponies in the coal mines of India. As one author stated, the women did not have to be fed and rugged when work ceased. It is this dualism in the policy of the United Kingdom towards the Indian subcontinent in the past that has caused so much discontent among the people of India. On the one hand, we have a conscientious and public-spirited civil service, and, on the other, a grasping, greedy, profiteering system in the hands of private enterprise. The same thing is evident in the oil industry in Persia and Indonesia. In those countries one can see the very fine living conditions and homes of the Europeans, who enjoy everything that they desire, and, just across the road, as it were, the squallor in which the natives are compelled to live. These conditions apply to many other countries, from which all the wealth is taken, and in which little is invested to improve the conditions of the people.
Much has been said about the atomic bomb and its devastating effects on humanity. I listened with a great deal of interest to everything that was said by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). What strikes me is that, despite all the information we have about atomic, bombs and hydrogen bombs, the Government has done nothing to develop civil defence services to protect Australian citizens from atomic weapons. The basic need in the community to-day is for leadership, tolerance and understanding, but, when one considers the industrial unrest in Australia to-day, one wonders whether these qualities have not entirely departed from our midst. The foreign policy of the Australian Labour party is clear-cut and was laid down in no uncertain terms at the Hobart conference. Members of the Opposition are perfectly willing to debate foreign policy, but they are not prepared to be told that they should not raise this matter or that matter for discussion. The Australian Labour party advocates generous assistance by Australia to Asian people suffering from poverty, disease and lack of education facilities. It also believes in self-government, wherever the people are fit for it, in accordance with the United Nations Charter. It believes also that the use of Australian armed forces in
Malaya will gravely injure Australia’s relations with that country. With the honorable member for Mackellar, Opposition members believe that every endeavour should be made to hold high-level talks to prevent the use of atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs and to bring about a peaceful settlement of international disputes.
Government supporters express a desire to retain the Australian way of life, and, in the next breath, they complain that bricklayers do not lay enough, bricks. I respectfully suggest that, for those who are willing to carry the hod and wield the trowel, there are plenty of bricks to be laid in the field of foreign policy - bricks of example and precept, of endeavour and enterprise, and of tolerance, charity and understanding, not only in relation to the people of foreign countries, but also in relation to the people of our own country, for these are the principles by which we shall be judged. What must the starving people of other countries think of us, when, with granaries filled to overflowing and with record crops to be stored this year, we refuse to trade with them, and we talk only of communism and say not a word about emancipation?
Members of the Opposition are accused of leanings towards communism - an accusation that is far from correct and would not be believed by the great majority of Australians. Therefore, what must the people of those countries to which we so glibly offer help think of the misrepresentation that emanates from this chamber, which is one of the highest elements in the government of the land? Of what avail were similar tactics of McCarthyism to the United States of America in its affairs both at home and abroad? I agree with the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) that no debate can be constructive if the real issues are ignored and personalities are restorted to. The remarks of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) were twisted by Government supporters to convey a meaning totally different from that intended. Such misrepresentation can be taken only as a deliberate technique adopted by certain Government supporters in order to attach the Communist label to every one who does not agree with them.
I conclude by saying that, in accordance with Labour’s policy, Australia must always remain an integral part of the British Commonwealth of Nations and a member of the United Nations. Greater practical support should be given to the United Nations in order to give effect to the principles of the United Nations Charter. The South-East Asia Treaty Organization must devote special attention- to the peaceful settlement of international disputes in South-East Asia, and must do all in its power to lessen international tension there. Finally, we who belong to the Opposition believe that Australia’s effective defence depends upon the rapid development and peopling of Australia and its territories, and an adequate plan for national defence, particularly in northern Australia. We believe, also, that if the Government is to achieve solidarity in its contribution to foreign affairs, it can do so only by making a co-operative approach to these matters and by refraining from misrepresenting Labour members on issues of this nature.
.- The honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor) has suggested that one of the main occupations of Government supporters lies in accusing our Labour friends of being Communists.
– Very true.
– The honorable member knows very well that that is not true. He knows how wrong it is to speak untruths and he knows the fate that awaits those persons who are not truthful. The position is that we who are not socialists and, consequently, not sympathizers with any part of the Communist programme, repeatedly attempt to pointout to our Labour friends that the path they are following, the gospel they are preaching, the deeds they are doing, are an encouragement to our Communist enemies rather than an attempt to meet the main danger which faces this country. Possibly, we are trying to educate the uneducable. For the life of me I would not suggest that any honorable member is a Communist, because I could not prove it, but I can suggest, because I can prove it, that their actions are more helpful to Communists than to those who believe in a democratic system of government. During this debate on foreign affairs we have heard the expression of many different views. How much those views influence the utimate attitude of this nation, or of other nations, to the problems which confront the world, I do not know. Quite frankly, I do not think that they will help very much, because there is so much that is not completely understood. During the debate we have traversed every possible path in the fields of government, industry and goodness knows what else. When all is said and done, we are dealing only with one matter, namely, the system of government which will prevail, either democracy and all that it means, or socialism, a totalitarian form of government and all that it implies. The alternatives can be very simply defined. It is the responsibility of this nation to tell the Asian people, with whose interests we are so vitally concerned at present, the difference between the two alternatives, and to point out that if they accept one they accept a lot of responsibility, and that if they accept the other they accept a lot of trouble.
As I see it, democracy is simply defined in this way: It is a system of government whereby the individual person must think for himself and be responsible for his welfare. That is an essential principle of democracy. Socialism, or any other form of totalitarian government, is the easiest system of government to operate, because under that system the individual is not required to think for himself. His thinking is done for him by the bureaucrats, the socalled leaders, the dictators, those who set themselves in authority over him. All that the individual is called upon to do under a socialistic system is to obey. It is the simplest thing in the world. When I first joined the Army, I asked a young fellow with me what he thought of army life. He said, “ It is the finest living I know. A man has only to do what he is told and he can jolly well do what he likes. There is nothing easier.” That is applicable to the socialistic system - just do what you are told and do what you like. Under the democratic system one has to think. That is an ideology which must be conveyed clearly ro the people of Asia. What is their real problem? Is it not that for years, under the systems of government which have prevailed, the people have had their thinking done for them ? That is not condemnation of any nation operating under our colonial system. The position is merely that they have been so far behind the advances of the Western world that the people’s thinking is done for them, and they have come to rely upon us for a tremendous amount of assistance, and almost their very existence. These nations are now working towards independent nationhood. Some of them have already attained it, and nobody is sorry about that. Indeed, everybody is happy about it, but do the people of those countries know that if they are to have a democratic system they must lose the benefit they have had for centuries of having somebody think for them, and that they must learn to think for themselves? Honorable members opposite refer to our full granaries and suggest that we should go to the Asians with our surplus products and say, “ Here you are. Your stomachs are a little light. Help yourself. Here is something for nothing.” That course would perpetuate the tragedy of years past that these people have relied on others to think and act for them instead of thinking and acting for themselves. That explanation should be made to them.
I listened with very considerable interest to the speech of the honorable member for Fremantle in the course of the debate on the Address-in-Reply. He spoke about the ideological material which was being supplied to the people of India and he spoke of what he saw on the shelves of bookshops when he visited that country. He saw overexposed bosoms and behinds depicted in Australian magazines and really good pictures in magazines emanating from Russia. I do not think that material of that kind makes even the smallest difference one way or another in the attitude of the Asian people. It does not matter whether they see a picture of a girl in a bikini or a picture of a girl in a costume extending from neck to knee. I am afraid that Communists, aided and abetted considerably by honorable members on my right, have encouraged the people of Asian countries to believe that they are entitled to various forms of assistance, and that they will be helped all along the way. I believe in governments encouraging the people to help themselves. That is exactly what we should tell those people. On the one hand they may become enslaved again - I say “ again “ advisedly - by advisers and directors and dictators. On the other hand if they accept democracy - and they must accept it - they accept responsibility for their own physical welfare, and as in the Christian world we teach that every one is responsible for the salvation of his own soul, so they will be responsible for the welfare of their bodies and lives. This is a proposition which is difficult to sell to people who, all their lives, have been so reliant on somebody else. Because of that difficulty it is essential that we should profess to be enlightened people and act in unison. To my mind, it is deplorable to find that in this country the division in matters like foreign affairs is on purely party political issues. It is regrettable that honorable members opposite refrain from taking part in the discussions of the Foreign Affairs Committee - I have no objection to its being called a study circle - and from taking advantage of the opportunities to learn and to tender advice that are provided by that committee. To me, it is deplorable. This refusal is the result of party .bigotry. We shall not sell democracy to the people in whom we are interested if that is the example we set them. I suggest that my Labour friends be honest with themselves, if they cannot be honest with anybody else, and see and appreciate the picture as I have painted it. If they sincerely believe that a true system of democracy will prevail, they should demonstrate that we are united in this desire. We should be in a position to say to these Asian people, “ Here is a country which operates under a democratic system, under parliamentary rule, under a system where the individual is responsible for his own welfare, a system where the individual must think for himself; here is the system which we believe is the best possible one for you, because it places emphasis on the value of human lives. It places emphasis on the individual as against the machine nf state “.
If we want the Asian people to believe in and accept our democratic system - I do not believe there is any honorable member on the Labour side of the House who does not want them to do so - then we. have to demonstrate to them that we are united in our belief in that system, and that we are united in our attempts to help them to achieve that system. We have to demonstrate to them that we are not divided among ourselves on important national and international matters like this by party prejudice.
The second matter with which I wish to deal is the defence of this country. Here again, I have heard a great deal of evidence of muddled thinking, but one factor emerges clearly from the confusion. I refer to the essential difference between my way of thinking, and the way of thinking of those who are led by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). I prefer to be responsible, as far as I possibly can, for my own welfare and for my own defence. The right honorable member for Barton and his followers say, “ Let us rely for our security on the United Nations”.
I admit that the United Nations has done. a wonderful job in every field that it has entered except the field of protective security. Not for a moment would I seek to limit the activities of the United Nations in such fields as education, culture, development, health, and so on. It has done a wonderful job in those spheres, and I should not like to see it limited in any way. But in the field of protective security for the preservation of world peace, it has failed lamentably.
I have heard honorable members in this place give some explanation of the reason for that failure, but I am concerned only with the fact that it will be dangerous for us to regard the United Nations as the only source upon which we should rely for our security. Too many nations have adopted that attitude. T do not intend to name all of them, but I could start in the north of Europe and come nearly to our own borders in pointing to numbers running into two figures, of smaller nations which, because they put their faith in the United Nation? for the preservation of their security, have gone under to victorious powers.
– Name one of them !
– Start with the Baltic States. We could then cite Indo-China, to name one. I could name dozens, but I do not propose to do so. Does the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) suggest that all the Baltic States are free ‘( Does he suggest that the United Nations was successful in defending the Korean people against the greed and the aggression of China?
– Then I suggest the honorable member, who is a legal gentleman, might be prepared to defend me in a court of law if I dived my hand into his coat pocket, took some money out, showed it to the court and said, “I acquired this from him peacefully, and therefore I did not take it illegally. I have not grabbed it from him, although I have taken it from him against his will “. That is what he, a man of logic, is suggesting in this place to us illogical laymen. The position is, that the United Nations entered the fight in Korea, where there was aggression. The very fact that -the United Nations entered the fight indicated that an act of aggression had been committed. And what was the result? There was not even a compromise; it was absolute and complete capitulation. I cannot overlook that fact, and I challenge any one to deny it. Wherever the United Nations has gone in, the result has been the same. And the United Nations has not arrested trouble anywhere else.
To-day tension, exists in half a dozen places throughout the world, and in not one instance has the United Nations been able to stop it. It has reduced, and perhaps temporarily halted it, but no more. So I say that it will be to our cost if we say, “Let us put our disputes to the United Nations. It will save us “. Yes, it will save us, but for somebody else! I remind honorable members that last year in this chamber I quoted extracts from the last report of the United Nations to show that several of its members, at their own conference, had expressed their disappointment at the failure of the organization to be an effective force in the maintenance of world peace or on effective security force for the smaller nations. That open confession came from its own members and leaders in the world.
What is the alternative ? On whom are we to rely but ourselves? Are we to rely on the good offices of our next door neighbour, when he says, “Right, do not worry about barring or locking your windows, keeping a dog, or having a police force. I am not going to trouble you”, and we know that he is making preparations to enter our premises? Are we to rely on the person who, while he is shouting that he is an ardent advocate of law and order, and that he is not going to rob and thieve, is making preparations to enter our premises ? That would be akin to the attitude of the man who, upon seeing a suspicious-looking character with skeleton keys and firearms patrolling the front of his property, almost right in his front garden, says, “ I do not think that man has any evil intent”. That is the position with ns, and so we take no action.
There is too much evidence to the contrary for us to accept the pious utterances of the people of whom we are afraid. Let us be perfectly honest about it. We are afraid of the machinations of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. While the Russians are blinding our Labour friends here with suggestions for peace, they are doing everything possible to show even our logical legal friend from Werriwa that their utterances are not to be relied upon. I do not know whether members of the Labour party deliberately will not see or whether they cannot see what is happening. Whatever the reason is, they could be pitied and excused for their conduct but for the fact that the result is so tragic for this country.
The position is that we have to rely upon our own defences. While we are preaching the ideological gospel to the people in Asia who have to make up their own minds whether they will have a democratic or totalitarian system of government we must convince them that we are united in our faith, in the democratic system.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The statement that was presented to the House by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has given us a very welcome opportunity to discuss foreign affairs. Before I proceed to deal with that statement, may I say that the contribution to the debate of the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) left me in some doubt as to what he would do to deal with the situation which confronts the world to-day. The honorable member had nothing but criticism for the United Nations and advocated that the only way in which we could do any good for ourselves was to depend entirely on ourselves. He repudiated the idea of concerted action in world affairs and, apparently, thought that we should rely on our isolation. In my opinion, it has been demonstrated beyond all doubt that nations such as Australia cannot depend on themselves entirely. Our geographical position, and our lack of population and industrial potential make it imperative for us to recognize that we can survive only by supporting organizations such as the United Nations.
It has become fashionable for supporters of the Government to criticize, in trenchant terms, the United Nations, a tendency which reminds me very much of the criticism that was levelled at the League of Nations, the predecessor of the United Nations. The League of Nations was brought down by people who were determined to bring it down. Despite the criticism of that organization, it is true that the league accomplished a great deal of good in its time. I concede that the United Nations to-day is not 100 per cent, satisfactory. It has its failures, and it also has its successes. I contend, however that it is a great force which is contributing to peace in the world, both to-day and in the future, and that peace can only be achieved and maintained through such an agency. “We of the Australian Labour party do not have to offer apologies to any one for supporting the United Nations.
The statement made to the House by the Minister for External Affairs was notable not only for what it said but also for what it failed to say. The actions of the Government, particularly in relation to two issues, are interesting to consider. First, let me deal with the question of co-existence. It appears that, immediately the term “ co-existence “ is used, and immediately it is suggested that it is possible for the world to live in peace, admitting the fact that there are divided forces operating throughout the world, and immediately the view is expressed that a peaceful solution can be found which will allow the world to remain at peace, the person voicing those ideas is accused of sponsoring the Communist line. The fact that it is necessary for the nations of the world to co-exist is demonstrated by the achievements that have been attained in the development of atomic and nuclear weapons. Although 1 do not subscribe to the view that those developments have placed the possibility of war completely beyond bounds, I submit that they have made it apparent that a state of co-existence amongst the nations of the world must come about. Whilst I should like to feel that war could be avoided in the future, it seems to me that if I adopted that view I should be adopting, at the same time, a form of escapism, because notwithstanding the fact, that the peoples of the world have never wanted war, war has been forced upon them by irresponsible leaders, and there is always the possibility that such leaders will appear again in the future. I am reminded that, in the last days of Berlin, it is possible that the German people could have been saved much of the havoc and destruction that was wrought had the German leaders agreed to capitulate. But. I think it was Hitler who said that if the Germans could not win the war they did not deserve to survive. It was that attitude of mind that brought about much suffering and damage for the German nation.
Hitler was not unique. Unfortunately, history is studded with many such personalities. Therefore, because it is possible that people of a similar mentality again will take charge of nations in the future, the possibility of war cannot be ruled out, and that being so, the nations of the world must try to co-exist. The fact that a person believes that such a state of co-existence can and should be found in no way implies that he supports, or sympathizes with, the objectives of a nation with which Australia does hot see eye to eye. That brings me to the question of China. This Government is merely playing along, but sooner or later it will be compelled by facts, if by nothing else, to recognize red China. Although the Minister for External Affairs has been adroit enough to leave himself a means of retreat, many supporters of the Government who persist in playing politics in this connexion are not providing themselves with an avenue of retreat.
Whether we like it or not, the position is that there is a government in Chin.i. That government has been established by means which we do not like, but there are in the world to-day many governments with whose principles we do not agree,’ nor do we always agree with the methods by which governments attain power. I assume that, in a few months’ time, the Australian Government again will accord recognition to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. As honorable members know, wo have broken off diplomatic relations with Russia, but I suggest that no one will be surprised if relations are resumed within a few months. I ask the Government to be consistent, or at least to explain why it is being inconsistent in this matter. The Government recognizes the government of Russia, hut it does not recognize the government of China, which after all, is of the same type as is the Russian Government. It is obvious that the Australian Government is playing at politics, and whilst that course may be paying dividends at the moment, in the long run it will not do very much good. Certainly, the fact that the Government is exploiting this situation does not do it credit.
The Australian Government recognizes the governments of .some of the satellite countries of Europe, governments which are subject to direction from Moscow. That being so, its attitude in refusing to recognize the government of China is even more untenable. I have not heard it argued that, because a government recognizes the government of another country, it necessarily supports the politics of that country. I am not an authority on this matter, but it seems to me that, under international law, it is almost impossible to withhold recognition of the government of red China. Whether it is a de facto or a dc jure government, I am not in a position to argue, but I say that, in the light of developments, the attitude of this Government in trying to politicize the question of the recognition of red China does it little credit.
The Government has decided that we should send armed forces to Malaya. On the one hand, we in Australia are trying to tell the world that we are making a contribution towards solving some of the problems that prevail in South-East Asia and other parts of the world, by assistance under the Colombo plan and so on,’ and on the other hand, we are destroying the beneficial effects of that assistance by stationing armed forces in Malaya. Of course, I do not deny that we are making a worthwhile contribution to South-East Asia through the Colombo plan. I do not think that the Government was frank either with the people or with this Parliament in relation to the Malayan question. When the real story behind this matter is told, I think we shall find that, as a result of high-level talks between the Australian Government and the Government of the United Kingdom, the Australian Government agreed to undertake some of Great Britain’s responsibilities in Malaya. I am convinced that the sending of our armed forces to Malaya has undone some of the good that was achieved under the Colombo plan, and that the presence of our troops in Malaya will react to our detriment in the near future.
I come now to another aspect of the matter; that is, the effect that the enormous expenditure on the maintenance of armed forces is having on our economy. Although this is a separate subject, it is related to the matter that we are now discussing. I am convinced that the huge expenditure to which we are committed under the Government’s ‘ defence plan is having an adverse effect on our economy. It would be impossible for us to spend such a large proportion of revenue on defence without disturbing the internal economy of the country. If, when preparing his statement on the economic position, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had taken into consideration the effect that the huge defence expenditure is having upon our economy, I am sure he would have admitted that we are seriously and dangerously overstretching ourselves in relation to defence.
Certain supporters of the Government have admitted that it is problematical, in view of the defence responsibilities that the Government has accepted, whether we can safely continue on the present basis. In the Pacific area, we have accepted responsibility for certain activities that were previously performed by Great Britain. Our resources are stretched to the limit in order to maintain our navy. In addition, we have taken over from the United Kingdom certain responsibilities in the Indian Ocean. I believe, as I have said already, that the cost of sending armed forces to Malaya has contributed in a substantial measure to the uncertainty and instability of our economy. Before long, the Government will be forced into a complete volte face in relation to our foreign policy. That was apparent from the statement of the Minister for External Affairs.
To my mind, there are two reasons for the division of opinion amongst the Western nations concerning red China. I think it is true that the United Kingdom is prepared to recognize red China in the interests of trade and commerce. On the other hand, the Government of the United States of America hopes to gain certain strategic and political advantages by not recognizing red China at present. In the long run, both of those countries will have to give wider consideration to this subject. The recognition of red China would not imply approval of the government of that country any more than recognition of the Russian Government implies approval of that government or of the governments of Russian-dominated countries. As honorable members know, the Russian Embassy in Canberra was closed some time ago. Within a few months, it is likely that the Government will consider favorably an application by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to again establish an embassy here. When that happens I suppose the Government will abandon its present attitude to red China.
The realistic stand of the Labour party in relation to this matter does not signify that we believe that Formosa should, or must be, sacrificed. I do not propose, at the moment, to deal fully with the Formosan question, which is. a separate problem altogether, but I think the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) summed up the position adequately when he said that the Formosan question should be the subject of negotiation. Labour’s belief that red China should be admitted to the United Nations does not signify that we consider Formosa should be sacrificed. We do not believe that 10,000,000 people should go down the drain, as it were. All that I am saying is that we should approach this matter realistically.
The United Nations should admit every nation that seeks admission, and the exercise of the power of the veto in the way that it has been exercised by certain powers should come to an end. In the past, all of the great Powers, without exception, have exercised their right of veto to prevent the admission to the United Nations of certain nations that properly should have been admitted. Other factors, also, have operated to keep out of that organization nations that properly should be in it and that, if admitted, would contribute to the wellbeing of the world. It is ludicrous to contend that the United Nations can function effectively while certain nations are able to admit or reject the applications of other nations to join the organization. The arrangement under which certain nations can prevent the entry of other nations that are clamouring for admission - and there are several others apart from China - should be terminated.
I have confined my remarks to the question of China’s admission to the United Nations, because supporters of the Government have attempted to capitalize this subject. They have endeavoured to exploit the position for political gain. As I have pointed out, I am convinced that, in the very near future, they will be compelled to retract their statements. It is absurd for honorable members opposite to say that the Opposition is following the Communist line on this issue. I conclude on this note: The Government of the United Kingdom is pressing for the recognition of China; likewise, the Government of New Zealand supports recognition of China. In view of the attitude of both Great Britain and New Zealand, it is ridiculous for honorable members opposite to say that we on this side of the House are Communists because we share the opinion of those Governments.
.- As this debate has progressed, it has become quite clear that the Labour party is speaking with a dozen voices. No clear foreign policy has been enunciated from the other side of the House. In order to try to clarify their attitude to foreign affairs, some members of the Opposition have recited decisions that were taken at the Hobart conference. One matter of which we have heard very little criticism from the other side of the House is Russia’3 administration of the countries that it has occupied although abundant evidence of heavy and oppressive administration is available ; yet we hear plenty of criticism of Australia and of Great Britain, particularly in relation to India ! The High Commissioner for India in Australia will admit quite freely and openly that England left a great heritage in India. In fact. I understand that people who go to India now feel that the Indians are much closer to Great Britain than they were under British rule. I think that honorable members opposite have over-emphasized what has been described as the cruel colonialism of Great Britain and America. Rather should the attack be directed against Russia.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) rightly placed the emphasis on South-East Asia, because there is a real and pressing need for better understanding with the Asian countries. Many of our Asian neighbours have recently obtained independence, and others soon will do likewise. The peoples of Asia, and their political leaders, are striving to find a political form that suits them. We must give them the best opportunity to adopt a form of government and administration that is suitable and to their own liking. As far as possible, we should influence them to choose a democratic form of government. Moreover, we should influence the countries that were formerly under British administration, but which have already or which very soon will gain their independence, to remain in the British Commonwealth of Nations. We should point out to them the great advantages of so doing. Asian countries that came under Communist domination would have no opportunity to choose the government that they wanted. Whatever honeyed words Russia may use, it has quite clearly shown by its actions that it is one of the most ruthless colonial powers in history. Examples are too numerous to brush aside. They have been referred to many times in this House. It is necessary to mention only one of the many countries that have been victimized by Russia - Czechoslovakia, that great democracy which came under Communist domination and which now has no opportunity to choose its own government. Likewise, Russia does not believe in giving to Asian powers the right to choose their own way of life. Therefore, we have the responsibility of ensuring that they are given that opportunity. In addition, Australia must ensure that communism is kept as far as possible from its shores.
I want to deal with the problem of South-East Asia from two points of view - first, what the Government can do, and, secondly, what the ordinary person in Australia can do to solve it. Many Australians must be asking themselves to-day in what way they can help. Obviously, the Government must accept the main responsibility, but the Australian public can make a very real contribution by getting to know and understand our Asian neighbours. In so doing, they will build up friendship and confidence. Our aim should be to be surrounded by friendly nations. The Government has made a very useful contribution to the Asian countries, but more must be done by both the Australian Government and the Australian public.
Let me refer to the contribution that has already been made by the Government. Whatever one might think of the political views of the Minister for External Affairs, it must be acknowledged that he has put a tremendous amount of energy into bringing about really friendly relations with Asian countries. I do not wish to dwell on the Colombo plan, but it represents a real and practical contribution towards meeting Asia’s needs and has been praised by the Asian countries. But economic aid is of no use without technical aid. I understand that Australia, has sent to Asia more than 100 experts in various callings. I refer in particular to Dr. Rank, a plastic surgeon who performed some very fine surgery that captured the imagination of certain Asian countries. The Government has rendered assistance also under the Seato agreement. Ideas, words, and economic and other forms of practical aid are not sufficient in themselves to build a healthy Asia. What is needed also, and what is being provided under the Seato agreement, is a defence organization. If that organization is handled properly, it can provide the necessary defence for the freedom-loving countries of Asia.
The final aspect of the Government’s assistance to which I refer is the establishment of diplomatic posts in Asia. Australia has very good representatives in Asia, but they will be able to perform their task properly only if the Government ensures that they are well equipped, and that they are provided with proper legation buildings and adequate allowances to do their work. Australia should close up its embassies rather than attempt to run them on shoe-strings. We do not want to be regarded as being the poor cousin among the diplomatic establishments in Asia. Let us not stretch our resources too far, but let us do properly what we undertake to do. If we select our men and if we have faith in them, let us back them up properly and not try to scrape along by giving them only a small amount of financial assistance.
I refer now to what Australians themselves can do to help to build up understanding and friendly relations with Asia. First, I believe that an Asian language that is universally known should be taught in Australia. I understand that a knowledge of Malay would enable one to reach most people in Asia. That language should be taught in our schools. We cannot hope to know Asia unless we have at least a working knowledge of an Asian language, and an understanding of their religions and culture. If an Asian who could not speak English were to visit Australia, he would gain very few real impressions of this country and would not derive much advantage from his visit. Likewise, if an Australian who could not speak an Asian language were to go to Asia and were not able to make himself understood, his visit would be abortive. To Australians, a knowledge of Malay is as important as, or more important than, a knowledge of
German or French. We should have a working knowledge so that there may be a free interchange of ideas and contacts with our Asian neighbours.
Another important form of assistance lies in the field of sport. Australian sportsmen are perhaps some of our best ambassadors. They are able to reach a greater number of people and are better known to the majority of those people than are prime ministers, kings or diplomats. I believe that the Government has missed a great opportunity by not encouraging and financially assisting sporting teams to visit Asian countries. In this regard I shall mention just a few sports. Our world prestige in tennis is very high, and we could send to Asian countries a tennis team of Davis Cup standard, which would attract huge crowds and help to spread a feeling of goodwill among our Asian neighbours. The people of India and Pakistan are very keen and capable cricket players. I suggest that we could send our Australian test teams to tour those countries and play matches against the local teams. The Australian test team which is to visit England this year will interrupt its journey to play three matches, I believe, against Indian teams, and two against Pakistanis. I suggest that such test teams could travel through India and Pakistan and play a whole series of matches. That would prove most beneficial in helping to build up a really warm and friendly feeling among the people of those .nations. I might also refer to the sport of boxing. It will be remembered that Jimmy Carruthers went to Bangkok and really put Australia on the map for the citizens of that city.
Honorable members may be interested to know that the initial rounds of the Olympic Games soccer matches are to be played in Indonesia. Australia could well use the practical experience that it will gain through conducting the Olympic Games this year to initiate a series of athletic events confined to competitors from South-east Asian countries. We will have all the facilities in Melbourne, and we will have the “ know-how “. We will have a unique opportunity of inviting South-east Asian countries to send teams of athletes to Melbourne to participate in athletic events in what might be called the South-east Asian Olympic
Games. The value of sport played with representatives of Asian countries cannot be over-estimated. Goodwill, friendship, sportsmanship and comradeship must be built up between the people of Asia and our own people.
I turn now to another aspect of this matter, which concerns the press. I understand that Australian newspapers have practically no accredited representatives in Asian countries. There are probably more accredited Australian press representatives in New York than in the whole of Asia. Apart from accredited representatives that are sent by Australian newspapers to Asia to cover some crisis or some particular aspect- of their work, the Australian press relies mainly on Reuters or some similar news organization. The Australian press exerts considerable influence on the Australian public, and I feel that our newspapers have a unique opportunity, and a great national responsibility, to send to Asian countries permanent representatives who will study the whole Asian problem and send regular reports to their newspapers. Those reports will be valuable, after their authors have been on the spot for some time and have made a close study of the problems involved. Their views can then be published in the Australian press, and thereby give our people a proper understanding of Asian conditions.
Another means of improving our relations with Asian countries involves the sending to those countries of trade delegations. We should have a well-balanced trade delegation frequently visiting Asian countries, because, after all, we need to increase our exports. We have market? on our doorstep, waiting to be exploited. The Department of Trade is doing a splendid job in trying to build up goodwill in South-East Asian countries, and so sell our products there, and we should assist the efforts of that department by sending abroad trade delegations, to endeavour to induce such a state of mind in the peoples of those countries that they will look to us as their main supplier of goods.
Another aspect of the problem involves tourist facilities. There is no doubt that the most accurate knowledge and best understanding of a country can be gained by personal contact with its ordinary citizens. Contact on the official plane is certainly helpful, but the best understanding can be achieved by bringing together the ordinary citizens of the different countries. At present, Ions: distances and high costs tend to prevent Australians from visiting Asian countries. I suggest that easier travel facilities should be provided by all Asian governments and by the Australian Government, so that an Australian who i? interested in Asia may go there without being subjected to unnecessarily high costs. We could institute attractive tours subsidized by the Government. In Germany before the war a special currency, known as travel marks, was issued. These were German marks that carried a much . lower rate of exchange, so tha i tourists could spend some time in Germany at a reasonable cost. It might 1« worth while to adopt a similar procedure in Australia, and I suggest that thimatter should be examined.
I suggest also that we should organize an Australian-Asian association. Such associations with foreign countries have proved of immense value. Australian members of such an association would have opportunities to meet Asians, and Asians would have similar opportunities to meet Australians.
There- is another aspect of this matter that has not been mentioned in thidebate. It involves our immigration policy, which must play quite a lara part in our relations with Asia. The suggestion has been canvassed in thi.* House and in other places that Australia should establish a quota system for Asian immigrants. I believe that this would serve no good purpose, either for the Asians or ourselves. Australians in general, far from regarding Asians as inferiors, treat those who come to thi1 country without any discrimination at all. I believe that that is because there is no minority problem in this country, and therefore no racial prejudice or bitterness such as exists in countries where large numbers of non-European? and of Europeans live in separate communities. A party of Asian journalist? visited Australia in, I think, September last. They wandered round this country freely, and when they returned to their homelands they said in newspaper articles that they had found the greatest friendliness among Australians, not only at the official level but also among men in the streets, who welcomed them and mixed freely with them.
Australia is not unique in preferring the people of one race above others as immigrants. The same is true of Asian countries. I believe that Ceylon has quite a strict immigration policy. I think that such a policy is quite justified and that it is the only wise course when there is no prospect of members of the immigrant races merging rapidly with the people of their adopted country. I do not believe that any thoughtful person would advocate a change in our policy solely to relieve population pressure in Asia, because no action that Australia can take could possibly have that effect, irrespective of the number of Asians we might be prepared to admit. I think figures have been published to show that if we had the liners Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth continuously transporting immigrants from India to Australia we would make very little impression on the problem of overcrowding in India. In the past economic reasons have been advanced for our immigration policy, but I think the true reason for it is the need to maintain in Australia a homogeneous population, without groups that cannot be expected to become assimilated because of differences of race, culture, religion and so on. Australia does not consider Asians as inferior in any way, but simply as being different from Europeans, and I think that if our policy were explained clearly no offence would be given to the Asians nor would there be any misunderstanding of our actions.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Bowden). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, to-night we are dealing again with the statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) on foreign affairs and the outlook of this country towards other countries. We have heard dissertations on a variety of matters. The subject of the recogni tion of Communist countries has been raised on the Government side of the House. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has discussed the bearing that moral rearmament has had on events in Nigeria. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) said that if we wanted to combat communism and to win Asia to our way of thinking, we would have to give the people there some new ideas. In this debate, I feel that we should consider our attitude as individual members, the attitude of the Government, the attitude of the Opposition, and the outlook of Australia generally on foreign affairs.
My contention is that the Parliament and the Government should give their first consideration to the welfare of the people of Australia. That should be accepted by all as the first matter for which this Parliament is responsible. In the light of that fact, we should endeavour to determine what action in relation to foreign affairs would be in the best interests of our people. I do not want to join issue with any individual in respect of any statement that has been made in this House; but I feel that the rest of the world should understand that, whilst we claim under our democratic way of life that the people of this country as a whole should decide what type of government they want and what type of legislation they want, we immediately concede to other peoples a similar right.
I know that we fear, and many people fear, the ideology of communism. Personally, I object to it very strongly. I do not believe that communism would be in the best interests of this country. But if we contend that we have a right to determine our system of government, then we have to concede to the peoples of other countries an equal right to determine their systems of government. Honorable members opposite have said that we must stop communism. I ask them, “How are you going to stop communism?” I think that all honorable members, no matter on what side of the House they sit, do not desire a Communistic system of government. We do not want a Communistic way of life. How can we best avoid it? I think that one of the crucial questions that have arisen in foreign affairs in recent months has concerned the action that we should take in South-East Asia, particularly in connexion with Malaya.
The Australian Labour party has made it very clear, and the Leader of the Opposition, no matter what may have been said about his outlook, has made it very clear indeed, that we want to stick by the United Nations. In fact, he has said that we should more thoroughly carry out the ideals of the United Nations. In that, I support the Leader of the Opposition. “We on this side of the House say very definitely that we will stand by that declaration. And in considering our position as a member of the United Nations, we must consider also our position in connexion with Seato and pacts that we have with other countries. In meeting our obligations under any such pact, no matter what it might be, we should bring our actions strictly into line with our belief in the United Nations. The contention of the Leader of the Opposition has been that the present Government has not carried out faithfully its obligations as a member of the United Nations. He has claimed that more could have been done in South-East Asia if the Government had observed this policy.
Opposition members have been twitted by members on the other side of the House with being pacifists. I have had a long connexion with the Labour movement. I have known it from my infancy, and I have always known it as a peace movement. The Australian Labour party has always been a party for peace. But when forces have been arrayed against us which have threatened to destroy our rights as a democracy, the Labour party has always been to th>3 fore in doing everything that it could to resist such forces. We have only to look to the two great world wars for proof of that statement. Those wars are the two great criteria by which one can judge the Labour party. The Labour party cannot be judged on what some member has said, or on what somebody has written in a newspaper. The party cannot be judged on what some leader may have said on some occasion. Very likely his words have been taken out of the context. In order to judge the Labour party, it is necessary to consider, in addition to our views on the rights of the people and our attitude on foreign affairs, the action that the Labour party has taken in times of crisis. During World War I., which was a great test of strength, it was a Labour leader who stated that we in Australia would put everything that we had into the fight in order to win that great conflict. We know that was said at that time.
We know, also, the policy of the Labour party in World War II., as expressed at a federal conference of the party in Melbourne. I was a delegate to that conference, and a resolution was moved by the late John Curtin that we should use the whole of our resources for the successful prosecution of the war. That resolution was agreed to, and was carried into effect. It has been said of the Labour party that we would only be prepared to fight in our own backyard, as it were. Again, history is the answer to that allegation. A Labour government was the only government in the history of this country that said that all the people had to be mobilized for the successful prosecution of the war. An anti-Labour government was in office at the outbreak of World War II., and continued in office until 1941, when Labour was called upon to carry on. That anti-Labour Government was not prepared to say to every man in this community, “You have to do your part “. It was left to the Labour Government to do so, and the Labour Government did that without any qualms. So, when I say that the Labour party is a peace party, I can say, just as honestly, that the Labour party has also been prepared to go the whole hog in taking measures necessary to defend this country in an emergency.
Opposition members have stated that we did not think that the Government was right in sending troops into Malaya. Why do we not think that that was right? I made a statement in this House before the decision was made to send troops to Malaya. I made it very clear that the Labour party would stand four square behind the United Nations organization. If any other member country were attacked we would be prepared to do our part to defend it. What I said then was very plain, and I repeat that that is the policy of the Labour party as stated in its Hobart conference manifesto. That manifesto has been criticized by honorable members opposite as being degrading to Australia and as something that has let Australia down. At that conference the Labour party declared, first of all, that it would stand right behind the United .Nations organization. Secondly, it made it clear that it intended to be friends with and do all it could to co-operate with the United States of America. Time and time again, the Labour movement has advocated that Australia should have the closest affiliation with the Mother Country and with other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. As I have stated before, I regret that we changed the word “ empire “. I always liked the term “ British Empire “ ; and, although that change of title has been made, I still look upon the British Commonwealth of Nations as the British Empire.
While we on this side of the House may not be prepared to accept all the ideas put forward by the Government supporters, we are opposed to communism. The statement was made to-day that we must prevent communism from coming closer to Australia. How are we to do “that?
– By stopping the Communists from getting into Malaya.
– I reply to the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) that a great effort was made to stop the influx of Chinese Communists into Indo-China, but what is the position to-day of the country that tried to stop them? The French people fought, virtually alone, against the advance of communism. They were defeated and the Communists advanced into Indo-China. However, in the southern portion of that country, there are still a number of people who believe in democracy and are opposed to communism. We shall not accomplish much merely by rising in this Parliament and saying that we believe we should stop the Communists from coming to Australia. We must do one of two things. We must stop them either by physical force or persuade the countries threatened that they should not let the Communists into their territory. We on this side of the House believe we can do much to accomplish this latter policy by making closer contact with the people of Asia.
I was interested to read in to-day’s Adelaide Advertiser a report about how Indonesians and Malayans feel towards Australia. Under the heading, “ Students Amazed ‘ at Asian Welcome “, the following appeared : -
An Australian student delegation to Malaya and Indonesia had been “ overwhelmed by friendliness “, the leader of the delegation, Mr. J. Greenwood, a law student of the University of Queensland, said in Adelaide yesterday.
The delegation of 12 students had been amazed by their reception, especially from people associated with universities, and civic leaders, said Mr. Greenwood.
The delegation, which arrived by air from Perth yesterday, included two senior students of Adelaide University - the president of the Students’ Representative Council, Mr. M. P. Schneider, and Mr. D. W. Evans, a former president. “ Everywhere wc went we felt that the people were trying to show generous hospitality in return for the kindness shown to Malayan and Indonesian students studying in Australia “, Mr. Greenwood added. “ Apparently Malayan students who have studied here, have taken back very favorable reports to Malaya of the hospitality in this country “.
Mr. Evans said that Australia was very popular in Malaya, particularly among the students.
In hig schools it was noticeable how anxious the students were to visit Australia and continue their education. “ I feel the tour, with its objects of goodwill and international understanding, has provided an excellent starting point for future contact with our South-East Asian neighbours “, Mr. Evans, added.
The hospitality shown by the Malayan, Chinese and Indian families with whom we were billeted, was almost incredible “.
Mr. Schneider said that the Indonesian Government had flown the Australian party from Singapore to Djakarta and return and paid its rail fares and accommodation charges during its six-day stay in Indonesia.
The party, which left Australia under the direction of the National Union of Australian University Students, spent 17 days in Malaya and six days in Indonesia.
I have read that article to the House deliberately in order that the people of this country will know that these people are friendly towards Australia. These students were not accepted because they were prepared to fight or to shoot, although I admit that many people in Malaya approve of the assistance being given to them in their attack on their rebels. Their feeling towards these Australian students arose from the fact that they have been impressed by what some of their nationals have seen of our way of life. “When their students came to Australia they saw not only the Liberal but also the Labour idea of life. They came in contact not only with the rich people of this country, but also with students from workers’ homes, the ordinary folk. They have gone back to their own country, and now we see the result of’ their visit in the report that I have just read.
If we want to rise in the estimation of the Asian people the best thing we can do is to make closer contact with them. I appreciate the fact that an additional amount of £4,000,000 is to be made available in respect of the Colombo plan. Action of that kind will bring results. If we want these people to have something better than they now enjoy, we must give them something that they will truly appreciate. It is useless merely to tell millions of these poor people that they must accept either democracy or communism. The Communists appeal to them by telling them that if they accept communism their living standards will be improved. If we want to appeal to them we also must make them understand that what we believe in is a system that will benefit them.
Labour’s philosophy of peace is right. Of that, I am certain; but I also say that I would never stand by and let anybody force his way into my home. I have no illusion about the necessity of being able to protect oneself. The Labour party believes in that policy; but it does not believe that it is necessary to go round rattling a sword and telling people what we can do with all our big armaments. I am not altogether impressed with a lot that we have heard about the atom bomb, although I realize the dreadfulness of the bomb. Let us appeal to parents in Australia and in England who had sons on the war-ships that were sunk on their way to Japan. There were no atom or hydrogen bombs then, but that did not save the greatest ships of the British Navy from destruction. Other bombs sank them. If we want to abolish the atom bomb we must abolish also the other weapons that can do so much damage.
.- First, I must endorse the sentiments expressed with such sincerity by the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) concerning the British Empire. I agree also with his statement that the first duty of the Government and Parliament is to the Australian people. However, I disagree with his attitude towards Australian troops in Malaya, and the halting of the Communists in their rapid drive southwards through Asia. I’ remind the honorable member that the people of Malaya first began to think very highly of Australia after they had met the 8th Division.
As Seato is now entering its second year of existence I express my appreciation of the excellent groundwork and foundations which have been laid during its short lifetime, and of the extensive pi-ogress that it has made in its endeavours to ensure that Australia and other member nations not only provide security against aggression, but also promote the well-being, economically and socially, of our Asian neighbours. It is most necessary for us to recast our thinking and to rid ourselves of any preconceived ideas of these people, particularly as the progress in many directions made by the Asians and the Communists since the war could not have been visualized before the war. The ever-changing conditions in this sphere call for earnest consideration by honorable members on both sides of the House, because the future of the nations could well depend on forthcoming events in South-East Asia. As I said recently in my maiden speech, our near northern neighbours have a manpower potential more than sufficient to annihilate us. They are, for the most part, uneducated and impoverished, a condition that encourages Communist expansion because the teachings of communism are prone to take root among ignorant and indigent people, particularly when assisted by the subversive activities of Communist agents. It is time that the Western Powers did something to match this challenge. While this situation remains, together with the difficulties of castes, colours, creed and languages, cordial relations are made the more difficult.
These people, like Australians, are imbued with a desire to achieve better conditions, and like our pioneers and leaders, they are building for the future. If, by example, and by giving the benefit of our experience, we can show a genuine earnestness to assist them, it will be to our mutual benefit. “We should make a greater effort by trying to understand the peoples of these countries, and to gain a clearer perspective of their many problems. This would make for a better mutual understanding.
Recently, Indonesia has had its first general election, and throughout that country a new spirit of nationalism has been aroused. Malaya and Singapore are surging towards independence. This is but natural, and independence will most certainly be achieved. Australia has no choice but to accept this situation, and it is necessary that we should not impede these countries’ progress towards a new status if we are to enjoy relations with them as friendly as we might desire. Letus be practical, and strive for a basis of lasting friendship. This cannot be done by mere words. We must promote a greater public interest in the Asian peoples, and convince them of the advantages of our way of living, our freedom and our democracy. To assist in this direction we could convey to them in simple terms, in their own language, by personnel trained to move among the people, the principles in which we believe. We can issue high-class publications in their own language containing photographs and explanations of our way of life. Further assistance can be given by continuous interchange of people, and by extending to them our educational and radio facilities. Russia has been most successful by following similar lines, and its challenge to the democracies to win the minds of Asian peoples must be met.
Communist powers have a very longrange plan. By patient planning, careful manoeuvring to get “ on side “ with the young people who are the potential leaders of to-morrow, by working upon the edu.cated and intelligent types by promises, subtle flattery and glamourizing the possibility of the individual taking his or her place in the evolution of beliefs, they have achieved considerable progress. Russian diplomacy in this sphere is of a very high standard and the Communists do not hesitate to vary their tactics to suit local conditions. They strike where subversive activities are the most effective; they show courtesy where necessary ? and understanding, false though it may be. When it is important to make a display of force, they behave in gangster fashion.
The diplomacy of the democracies is at the crossroads in Asia, and to match the Russian challenge and to understand the Asian mind all the ingenuity, planning, imagination and intelligence of the Western nations must be brought to bear. It is necessary to implement, without delay, a policy of propaganda which is original, interchangeable and variable, so that it can be adapted to appeal to greater numbers of all political affiliations, and to people of standing in the Asian communities. While Russia is pursuing its policy to gain the world for communism, it cannot be expected to remain inactive. Its resources include all the most modem weapons of warfare, and with the help of red China, under the Mao plan which is now in active operation, its military economic and. industrial strength is envisaged to be such that by 1960 it will have outdistanced the Western Powers in the Asian sphere. If this is accomplished the question may well be asked : Who will be the master of South-East Asia?
Consideration must be given to providing practical aid for these countries. It should be something tangible, such as food-producing factories, clothing factories, irrigation schemes, and the like. Not only will these undertakings be a permanent monument to our willingness to assist, but also they will help to overcome food shortages and supply problems which are major problems of the Asian people. The general economic position in most of these countries does not allow them to build modern factories or embark on developmental schemes. Therefore, it would be prudent for us to assist in such undertakings so that the younger Asian people might be able to say, “ This project was built by, or with the aid of, Seato or by Australia”. Positive proof must be given of a genuine willingness to assist them to take their place among the nations as free democratic countries, and not as Communist-controlled satellites.
It is imperative that the rapid growth of communism in South-East Asia should be halted. Honorable members may argue all day about the best methods to achieve this, and to win the friendship of these peoples. I think that all members of this House desire this friendship. It is no use trying to cover up our deficiencies by blaming the past policies of British or American colonization, or by words of obscurity on our part, or on the part of other members of the Western world. All have pursued a policy of inertia in this area for far too long, and it is time to pass the wishful-thinking stage and tackle the problem with deeds. We have taken rather scant heed of the warnings of communistic “ peaceful “ infiltration in Europe, and for years past we have known of its growth in Asia.
If independence and self-government for these’ people are desired under a democratic system - to which the Opposition has expressed agreement - why quibble with the allocation of our troops to Malaya, especially when the Malayan Government has offered not a single objection? When the Malayans achieve their independence, it will indeed be interesting to see to what degree the Communist guerrilla forces will co-operate for the common good. I believe that they will shrink from any sincere effort at cooperation .in this direction. Why, the very purpose of sending our troops to Malayais to ensure that this independence is obtained without aggression. As the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) has said, we want them to choose their own form of government, without undue pressure from elsewhere.
Honorable members opposite have stated that only “ democratic socialism “ can save Asia from communism. As this so-called democratic socialism ha3 been rejected by the electors of this country at the last three federal elections, and has proved an abject failure in Great Britain, America, and France, I fail to see how the Labour party can have any real concern for the Asian peoples if it would thrust upon them a system that has been constantly rejected by democratic peoples. If Opposition members are sincere, they will not withhold their support of the Foreign
Affairs Committee, because- their knowledge and experience could be of assistance in solving this acute national problem.
I would remind all honorable members of a statement recently made at the twentieth congress of the Communist party by the secretary, Comrade Khrushchev. He said - . . that co-operation with the section of the soc.-iali.st movements adhering to other views than ours is possible and necessary. Parliamentary institutions in western countries may become organs of genuine democracy and provide the means for peaceful transitions to a socialist state.
How shrewdly and cunningly this is being applied in Asia, particularly Malaya, and in the world generally to-day. This problem is one of urgency, so let us, in our search for solutions, consider the various proposals that have come forward in this debate. Let us withdraw or modify some of them if need be, in our common effort to obtain a solution to our problem of seeking closer bonds of friendship with our Asian neighbours.
The democracies have faced many changes, and many crises, but although those opposed to our way of life have, through experience, attained a high degree of skill in subversion, and are in possession of great military strength, they have not succeeded, nor will they succeed, in destroying the will of the democratic powers to unite for the common good of all. They have, however, succeeded in taking over countries by peaceful infiltration, by propaganda and by aggression in Europe. We must see that it does not happen at our very front door. Our opportunities are here now. and late though it may be. we must seize them, for our actions could well decide whether we are to see peace in our time or the destruction of our cherished heritage.
I ask honorable members to consider sincerely and earnestly the position in South-East Asia. I referred to it in my maiden speech. It is causing not only myself but many others grave concern. I ask honorable members to forget party politics in a matter of such great national importance. I feel that if this problem is not solved rapidly this generation and future generations will suffer, and this and other parliaments of the
Western democracies will stand condemned. I believe that it is our inherent right to live as we want to, and that if our people decide, as they have to live democratically we should resist with all our efforts attempts, both from within and without, to force upon us a way of life that is completely foreign to us. We have seen the way in which communism has over-run parts of Asia and now threatens Malaya. We have sent our troops to that country, first, in an attempt to halt communism and, secondly, with the intention of stopping the guerrilla forces from foisting upon the people of Malaya a certain course, when the decision should be made in the absence of coercion. We in this country cherish our freedom and the Malayan people should have the same right of free choice as we enjoy. They should not be subjected to intimidation by any great power possessing the instruments of war that science has given the modern world.
We, and other democratic countries, have had to fight for the progress that we have made. The people of Malaya have an equal right to decide the manner in which they will be governed. We, as a democratic people, should do all that we possibly can to assist them. We cherish our way of life because we feel that it is the best way of life and we cannot afford to have in our near north people under Communist domination who might, in the years to come, bring pressure to bear “upon this country with the aid of Asian hordes or other people with communistic tendencies. We do not wish to see in ruin this great country, for which we have fought, which we cherish, and which we hope to hand over to future generations unsullied.
– No doubt we all listened with a great deal of interest to the new honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston), who is paying such a short visit to this House, putting his own point of view in regard to what might be done in South-East Asia. I listened to him rather intently, and I was impressed by the fact that his views were his own rather than those of his party. If I clearly understood him he was suggesting that we might attempt a general co existence with the people who. live to our immediate north. However, if he thinks that, why does he reverse that viewpoint straight away by suggesting that when we have a problem such as exists in Malaya we should drop the co-existence approach and fall into the trap of sending troops to a country where they should not be sent at all? We are not apologizing for our attitude to this matter and history will show that we are right.
Let us look, -first of all, at the background of communism. How did communism first get hold of a great country like Russia? It is history that in 1917 the United States of America encouraged the overthrow of the existing regime in Russia. It is history that America helped in the very overthrow of the Czarist regime, out of which arose the great agony suffered by the people of a great country, with the result that communism developed and flourished.
Is there any member of this Parliament, is there anybody listening to me now, who has not read of, learned from, and understood the hardship, poverty and degradation that existed in China under the government that ruled the country for years? And what happened there? There was not a revolution in the usual sense of the word. The Communists assumed control of China because of the maladministration and the rottenness of the authorities who had had control of China long before the Communists in China had even lifted their heads. That is the broad issue we face, and if we want to survive, as the honorable member for Phillip put it to us, in an era in which we have to live with the people immediately north of us, we must look for the answer in much broader terms than we do now.
Whilst we eulogize the work of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization we, in this House, recall the introduction into this Parliament of the measure to ratify the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty. Those of us who were here, and who have watched the progress of this organization since then, do not forget the tone that was used in the preamble to the bill and which is now, of course, the preamble to the act. It represents the sort of things that we should not do if we want peace. The third and fourth paragraphs of the preamble to the act read -
And whereas those Communist policies represent a common danger to the security of Australia and of the world generally and irc a violation of the principles and purposes if. the Charter of the United Nations:
And whereas, in consequence of the foregoing, countries in or concerned with the security of South-East Asia and the SouthWest Pacific have determined to join together for the purposes of meeting this common danger and of promoting the security and wellbeing of the region of South-East Asia and the South- West Pacific:
How did they do it ? What has been done in Asia to try to bring into line the one great power that can provide the key to peace in this part of the world? I refer to India, a country which is not a signatory to the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty, and not a component part of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization. I might be excused for feeling that, whatever happens to India, will, in the final wash-out, involve Pakistan and Ceylon, because they will act along with India. It is not possible to divide those nations in any consideration of Asia. We would have been well advised to consider the attitude of India, because India has great persuasive power with red China. We do not apologize for contending that red China, as it is termed, should be admitted to the United Nations. There is no rhyme or reason in the refusal of other nations to accede to India’s proposition that red China be admitted. If it was good enough for India, which has tremendous persuasive power in Asia, to suggest that China should be a member of the United Nations, then it was a tragic failure on our part not to accept India’s recommendation. It is no use our thinking in terms of having a few thousand men trying to stop the onward march of communism in Asia, without our first having some recognition of the viewpoint of the people who control India, a country which has such tremendous influence in Asia. Why did we reject India’s suggestion that China be admitted to the United Nations? Not long after we had done so our press featured the visit of the Russian leaders, Bulganin and Khrushchev, to India, where they met the Indian Prime Minis ter and other Indian leaders. As a result, Russia is now pouring into India the things that we have neglected to send there. We talk about what we are doing in Malaya when, in point of fact, we are neglecting the very nerve-centre of the whole of Asia, leaving India to reach a stage at which it can turn only to the people and the organization we refer to collectively as “ communism “.
Communism, as such, arose out of the wants and the privations of a nation. It can expand only where there is want and poverty. It can make good only where there is neglect on the part of those of us who should be able to assist in moulding a line of thought that will give to the depressed peoples of the world freedom from want and’ from the hardships that are bearing down upon them. Anybody who has visited India and has seen Calcutta and some of the other cities there, must surely pause and wonder why we neglected to accept India’s proposition for the admittance of red China to the United Nations. By acceding to India’s proposition we could have gained the goodwill in Asia of a great controlling force in the minds of Asians that can lead them in the direction of decency and along lines acceptable to us. But we have neglected the minds of the teeming millions of India. We have rejected the proposal of their leaders and, in doing so, have rebuffed the people who really have influence in Asia., Instead, we have sent a few thousand men to Malaya. But Malaya and Singapore are mere pawns in this game. It is the old story of governments of the same political colour as the present Australian Government fiddling while Rome burns.
What is the first fundamental necessary in order for us to be able to live in peace with other nations? Frankly, the alternatives that face us are peace or privation. There is no middle course. I notice that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) finally got down, in his long ministerial statement, to the real thing that matters. But he did not get down to it until the last three lines of the roneoed copy of his statement, in which he said - we strive for genuine co-existence in all places and in all circumstances in which it is possible to achieve it.
Those are the Minister’s words, not mine, but they did not occur until the last three lines of a long statement. Perhaps, having regard to the party of which he is a member, he was loath to put even those lines in.
What is the first prerequisite to any real resistance to communism? What is the first fundamental? It is the independence of all nations, big and small, and the giving to the people in each of those nations a stake in their own heritage and in their own country. That is the first fundamental. But how is it to be achieved? It cannot be achieved merely by catching the mind of one man, or the minds of one group of people; but it can be achieved by heeding those who have led the Asians right down through the centuries. When we establish an organization like Seato, without India as a member, then, in my view, whilst it is not valueless, its value has so diminished, through the lack of that important nation as a member, that it is necessary for us to weigh the benefits to be derived from the organization in its present form against the benefits that would be derived from it if it included the influential Indian leaders of Asia.. The proof of that is already becoming apparent. We are continually having conferences on important international matters, indeed there is one being held at present. While that is going on goods are being poured into India in thousands of tons as a consequence of Bulganin’s recent visit.
– It is merely a little trickle.
– I suggest that it is not a trickle. In any case, whatever we can give to India is not even a drop, much less a trickle, because we have neither the capacity to make those gifts, nor the capacity to understand the Asiatic people. Of course, the freedom of Malaya and Singapore is important, but it is not as important as the major issue of finding some means of co-existence for two groups of nations holding different philosophies.I suggest that any action that Australia has taken in Malaya is of very little significance in the world, because the real leaders of Asia are the great nations of China and India.I believe it was the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) who said that it was impossible to obtain a system of co-existence. I say that if it is impossible to do that, then we write finis to civilization.
We cannot continue to live in the state of tension that now exists between the two groups of great powers, that is. between those who believe in the principles of communism and those who do not so believe. There is an arms race in progress at present, and it will continue until a crisis is reached unless we take action to obtain peaceful co-existence. According to to-day’s press, alarm is being expressed in some quarters in the United States of America because it is believed that Russia is outstripping the rest of the world in training scientists; and it is apparent that if Russia can outstrip the Western world in training scientists, it will outstrip the West in nuclear discoveries.
Much has been said about Communists in this country, hut the Communists here are not similar to the Communists who are leading great national movements in Asia and Russia. We on this side of the House offer no apologies for the policy that was announced at the Hobart conference of the Australian Labour party. We understand where we are going, and the importance of our ideas and resolutions about co-existence. We know that we must either work out a formula for living in peace with the nations who have opposite views to our own, or we perish. But, we shall not perish alone.
What is co-existence? It is merely being able to live our own lives and accepting our own responsibilities, and allowing other people to do the same. I believe that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has similar ideas to those that I have expressed, which indicates that one of the principles enunciated at the Hobart conference on coexistence has been copied by the Liberal party. I again direct the attention of honorable members to the last three lines of the Minister’s statement, which I have already quoted.
Surely no honorable member will suggest that the forces that are available against communism in the Pacific or in South-East Asia are sufficient to overcome any forces that may he put into the field by China or any place north of China. If honorable members believe that a free Malaya and Singapore will provide a shield for Australia, they are quite wrong. India, China and the other great countries of Asia will have much more say than Malaya or Singapore in the future of Seato.
Perhaps the recognition of red China will again be raised in this House. The Minister has said that he is not ready to consider that matter just at present, but it seems that he may be ready to consider it before long. I urge this Government to exercise its persuasive power in the United Nations to advance the policy that has been put forward by the Labour party. Bring India and China together in the United Nations, and we shall have taken a big step forward towards the attainment of peace in Asia. Above all, our viewpoint will be brought before great groups of the Asian people, if China is a member of the United Nations ; and that is not possible at the present time.
It is of no use for us to try to convince small groups of people about our good intentions towards Asia. We must convince the leaders of the great nations of Asia. A visitor to Canberra recently said that the future generations of Chinese will be Communists whether we like it or not. In view of that, co-existence is tremendously important, and we must make every effort to achieve it. The best way of doing so is to bring the leaders of red China and India into the family of friends round the table at the United Nations, so that all the respective leaders can get together, understand each other’s views and work out a plan for peaceful coexistence. Action along those lines will enable Asia to understand that Australia is ready and willing to assist under the Colombo plan, and the work of the Australian Labour party in recent times will pay dividends for future generations of this country. When our history is being written, the decisions of the Hobart conference in respect of co-existence will stand out like a beacon, as it were, among important developments in the relations between Australia and Asia.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- One ship goes east and one ship goes west, it is the set of the sail and not the gale that determines the course they take. I believe that the time has arrived for me to tell members of the Opposition that the set of the sail of the British people has always been for liberty, justice and honour - and peace with honour. With the exception of isolated instances such as the speech of the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), we have heard nothing about cementing our ties with the British people throughout the world. I believe that in spite of the League of Nations, the United Nations or any other organization, past or present, the British Commonwealth of Nations to-day is the greatest influence for world peace. Let any honorable member who disbelieves that statement stand up in this House and say so.
Does anybody think that the United Nations is a greater power for peace than the British Commonwealth of Nations? Have not the British people illustrated by what they have done in the past that they stand for peace? Do the British people want to get more land to-day? Certainly, they do not! Therefore, I have been amazed that so many honorable members on the Opposition side have made speeches about Russia and other countries, and the United Nations, but have never mentioned the British Empire - as it used to be called - which has made it possible for them to stand in this House and make the speeches that they have made in this debate. It is amazing. They do not turn their minds back to the past. They want to bury the past and to establish some new ideology which they think will bring peace to the world. They forget that they are members of a great power that will bring peace, if peace is possible.
I have listened closely to the debate, and now want to deal with one or two matters that have been raised. Some of the things that I have heard have not been pleasing, but I was pleased to hear the honorable member for Phillip say that the great friendship existing between the people of Malaya and the Australians was cemented by the 8th Division of the Australian Imperial Forces. I do not merely think that that is so; I know it to be so. I know that when the Australians first went to Malaya the people of Malaya were, at first, somewhat suspicious of any man in uniform, and that when they first went into Malacca the children scattered like frightened rabbits, but within a week, it was difficult to keep them away from the Australian troops. When those troops left, many Malays were sad at the thought that the’ friendly relations that had been established, while not being severed, were being interfered with. That they were not severed is proved by the fact that many of the men who returned to Australia still correspond with friends they left behind in Malaya, whilst others who do not correspond have pleasant memories of happy friendships. Moreover, many Australian soldiers who did not return were helped by the Malays and the Chinese. Many mothers and wives in this country have reason to be thankful to the people of the Malay peninsula for their treatment of their sons and husbands.
I stated earlier that I wished to refer to some of the things said during this debate. First, I shall deal with something said by the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson). He said that our first duty was to consider what was best in the interests of the people of Australia. That is what we all want to do; but we differ about the means of doing it.
– Sack the Government.
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) who has interjected would like to see the. Labour party in power so that it could bring into operation the isolationist policy that has been advocated by him and some of his colleagues. Those who advocate that policy believe that we should not take any action against an enemy until it has lauded in Australia; but I say that any man who has been in a country which has been invaded by an enemy must be convinced that, in the interests of his children and his womenfolk, every effort must be made to keep the enemy from reaching our shores. Speakers on the Opposition benches during this debate have not mentioned that in two world wars Australian troops have kept enemies out of this country by meeting them overseas. Should we not do that again if conditions demanded it? Would any honorable member advocate that we should wait until we could see the whites of our enemies’ eyes? I support right up to the hilt the policy of sending Australian troops to Malaya. That is my personal opinion. I am not tied by any Labour conference, sitting in Hobart! When I spoke about that conference on another occasion I asked whether the Labour party contained any military leaders or tacticians capable of giving the party sound advice, and some one replied that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) was there. T do not want to be hard on the right honorable gentleman, but I do not think that he would claim to be a high military officer or a great tactician. At the Hobart conference the Labour party brought forward a foreign affairs policy that it thought would tickle the ears of the people in certain electorates where it hoped to win new seats. That policy was decided upon before the general election, and the people were told about it; but what did the electors do? Honorable members opposite claim that they have the people of Australia behind them, but even if that were so, I do not think that the people would agree to the way the Labour party would implemen the policy. At election time, Labour party candidates say nothing about socialism; yet it is one of the main planks of that party’s platform.
To hear some honorable members opposite, one would think that Australian troops were in Malaya in quest of gain and preparing to outrage a weaker nation in a war of conquest. Some one has said that their mission is as pure and noble as any soldiers ever undertook to- rid a country of would-be tyrants, and I agree. Do honorable members opposite know what we are doing in Malaya? They are doing the very thing that the honorable member for Port Adelaide has advocated, but which by his actions he negatives. In Malaya our troops are co-operating with the forces of other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), who should know better, wanted to know of what use it was to send a few troops to Malaya. He wondered what they could accomplish. I reply that they can do a lot of good in co-operation with other forces from the United Kingdom and New Zealand. The heart and strength of the British Commonwealth of Nations lies in the fact that its members stand together as one body. We may. not agree on all points; but when any member is in trouble, we have always stood together. The sooner the Labour party learns that lesson the sooner that party will be appreciated by the people.
The honorable member for Port Adelaide also said that the people should be allowed to decide what kind of government they want. Of course, they should have that right. The Australian people have decided on three occasions in recent years what kind of government they want. I agree with the honorable member, and tell him that the people have given their decision. The honorable member for Port Adelaide is one member of the Labour party for whom I have a high regard, and I agree with him that we should allow the people of other countries to choose their own form of government. Indeed, that is the position in Malaya, where the people have been promised the right of self-government. We are agreed on that point, but I ask the honorable member whether Russia allows the people of other countries to choose their own form of government. The honorable member knows that they are denied that right. I do not always agree with members on my side of politics, or with those who say that if a Russian is tickled, or stuck with a pin, he does not act as other human beings do. I believe that there are good Russians as well as bad ones, and I know that, there are good Japanese as well as bad ones. We are not opposed to the Russian people, but we are against the system under which they operate, and the ruthlessness of their leaders. It is that system and that ruthlessness that we have to fight. As Russia will not allow other countries to choose their form of government, how can we co-operate with Russia? When the honorable member for Port Adelaide asked how we could deal with Communists I interjected that we should not let them get into Malaya. In a speech a few days ago, the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) quoted one of the Pitts as saying -
If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country I never would lay down my arms - never ! never ! never !
I agree with that, but the troops in Malaya are not foreign troops. Malaya is under the protection of Britain, and when its people get self-government Malaya will be a member of the British Commonwealth of nations. The foreign troops in Malaya are the jungle terrorists who are prepared to go through the country and murder women and children and ambush and kill helpless men. That is the point. Do honorable members on the Labour side mean to tell us that we, as a Christian nation, should not do all we can to put them down? Should we not co-operate with the British people in the fight for right against tyranny? The Labour party believes that we should not do so, but I cannot comprehend why its supporters think along those lines.
An honorable member on the Opposition side said that the Labour party stood by the United Nations organization. Of course it does - up to a point, while conciliatory negotiations are proceeding. But even the United Nations has to back its opinions with strength because, in the final analysis, it is strength that counts, if one has to resort to it. We believe in fostering peace, but also in being prepared for war. The Australian Labour party believes in disarmament and negotiation.
I can best illustrate my point in that connexion with a story about a certain farm labourer. A bull attacked the farm labourer, and he kept it off with the prongs of a pitchfork. The farmer was upset, and said to the labourer, “Why did you not use the other end of the fork?” The labourer replied, “Why didn’t the bull come at me with the other end ? “ When Russia comes at us with a big fighting force, we have to be prepared. We know that Russia has a breathing space and that it is preparing to fight. Therefore, this nation must be ready. Peace at any price is of no use to Australia or the British Commonwealth ‘f Nations if they hope to survive.
I want to answer some other statements that have been made by honorable members on the Opposition side because they should be rebutted. Some honorable members on the Opposition side have spoken about World War I. and World War II., and the gigantic part that Labour played in those two wars. If a Labour government sent troops overseas in those two wars why should it not do so again? Much of the war effort that brought about ultimate victory in World War II. was the result of work that was started by the government that was in office before the Labour Government got into power in 1941. One was the air-training scheme in Canada. It was established by a Liberal government, and it played a magnificent role in the battle for Britain.
The Malayan students who are coming to Australia return to their homeland and speak well of Australia. I travelled from my home town in Victoria only last Monday with four students from Malaya, who had been staying with residents of the district, and I spoke to them. There were three boys and a girl. Their hosts told me that the students conducted themselves in a way that was an example even to Australians. They were delighted to have an opportunity to visit the country districts of Victoria and to stay with people in different areas so that they could learn as much as possible about Australia. They want to carry their impressions back to Malaya, and I believe they are cementing friendships. Nothing cemented friendships as did the Australian Imperial Forces, but I do not want to repeat myself on that subject.
An honorable member on the Opposition side said that the views expressed by the honorable member for Phillip were his own, and not those of the political party he supported. The Australian Labour party has no views except those that emanated from the Hobart conference. Members of the Labour party are regimented in their views on foreign affairs, just as they are in many other ways.
– The honorable member will be regimented himself by the higher interest rates.
– I have always noticed that when members of the Labour party hear an opposing speaker say something that is quite true, and they want to prevent him from getting publicity, they always bring up something else that has nothing to do with the subject under discussion. I wish to emphasize several points in conclusion. First, we must stand foursquare as Britishers. We must appreciate the value of our freedom and we must realize whence it came. We have just received over 1,000,000 immigrants into Australia. Most of those who came from countries other than the United Kingdom were attracted to Australia by the freedom we enjoy, which they contrast with the system in their own countries where the State is supreme. If we are going to populate Australia adequately, we must keep it free.
Recently, I travelled in a train from Melbourne with an immigrant from Poland, and he said to me, “ I want Australia to stay as it is - free “. With socialism a plank of the Australian Labour party’s platform, we shall be in danger of losing our democratic freedom if the people of Australia are ever neglectful enough of their interests to elect a Labour government to office. The people we bring to this country would not have the opportunity then to enjoy the freedom they deserve after living in those countries where freedom is a thing of the past.
.- I understood that the House was discussing foreign affairs with the objective of attaining the best relationship with other nations. The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) made a very fine fighting speech against the Australian Labour party, but it had nothing to do with foreign affairs. If we want to decide how to handle international relations in the future, we must study history. I have not enough time at my disposal to cover the subject fully, but I wish to point out to honorable members that two ideas are associated with international affairs. They are war and peace. The history of the world goes back a long while, but if we go back about 2,000 years, we read of the Roman empire. The Romans believed that their way of life was better than that of any other people, and they sought to take it to other countries by conquest. They returned home with their slaves, both men and women, and their booty, and paraded the streets. They invaded Great Britain, but it was too far away and they gave it up eventually. They left some impression of their stay on the people of Great Britain. The Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons passed across the stage, and then “William the Conqueror invaded England. That is a broad outline of history from the Western side.
In the East, great battles were fought, and very little was known of them at the time in the Western world where the nations were under the impression that their way of life was better than that of their enemies. Genghis Khan invaded China and after him, his son built the greatest empire the world had ever seen.
I come now to more modern European history. For hundreds of years the first duty of any King of England was to cross the English Channel and fight the French or the people of some other nation, but preferably the French. Spain, another powerful nation, also wanted to be among the spoils. At this period, religious beliefs entered largely into the wars in Europe. Gradually, the British people adopted the policy of helping the weaker nations in order to keep the balance of power in Europe. This was the policy of Pitt and his successors, and its object was to prevent the disturbance of British trade. Incidentally, Great Britain, let us not forget, by war, forced opium on the Chinese people. We have heard much talk about exploitation. The United States of America, Portugal and various other nations exploited Eastern countries mercilessly. India was robbed by the East India Company and jewels and other precious things which were highly valued by the Indian people were taken by force. Similar pillage occurred in the European wars. Statuary, paintings and many other works of art were taken from Italy and various other countries to France and Great Britain. Throughout history, nations have fought for booty, and have warred always with the idea that their way of life was better than that of the people they fought. We can see in Canada proof of the falsity of this idea. Great Britain and France each claimed Canada, and they fought one another for it. To-day, we see French people maintaining in Canada the way of life of their forebears while the British Canadians maintain the British way of life. Each group has been able to see the other’s outlook, and they are able to live together in peace and harmony.
If we wish to maintain friendly contact with other nations, we cannot have Australians saying about them some of the things that have been said in this Parliament. We cannot treat the people of other countries with contempt and, at the same time, try to be friendly with them. The honorable member for Mallee reminded us how we used to boast proudly that the sun never set on the British Empire - it was not the British Commonwealth of Nations in those days. That boast was merely another way of saying that Great Britain had possessions in all quarters of the globe. The position to-day is vastly different from the situation that existed when the Empire was built. Modern nations have modern arms, and, with proper training, can give a very good account of themselves. It is of no use for us to repeat the old story told to the British people during the French wars that one Englishman was as good as half a dozen Frenchmen. It is of no use for us to say that one Englishman is as good as 25 Chinese, or Russians. The nations that used to be considered inferior are coming into their own. Nothing on earth can prevent them from taking their rightful place in world affairs, and it should be our policy to treat them with the respect to which they are entitled and to require them to treat us with due respect. We should no more endeavour to trample on them and their ideals than we should allow them to trample on us and our ideals.
It will not bs easy to maintain respectful relations with other countries. In 33 years as a parliamentarian, I have not often been forced to admit that I was on the losing side. However. I am afraid that, if our relations with other countries are not handled on broad national lines, -and without the bickering and argument that have characterized this debate, I shall be on the losing side internationally. We must make up our minds to be friendly towards other peoples and to encourage them to be friendly towards us. We cannot expect them to abandon the ideals and ideologies that they have valued for many years. Do honorable members think the Chinese would abandon their traditions, and accept our views any more readily than we would accept their views ? Do honorable members think the Indians, the Cingalese, or any other people, would give up what they believed to be the true religion any more readily than we would give up Christianity? They will not abandon their beliefs any more than we would abandon ours.
The present situation in Australia itself is most serious. Any honorable member who does not realize how serious it is is not worthy of a place in this House. All the thought and all the wisdom in this chamber - and there is plenty of both - should be directed to the solution of our present difficulties. Whether an idea conies from the Government side or the Opposition side of the House, if it is important to Australia’s welfare, it should be voiced and given due consideration. There has been much silly bickering about communism, and Government supporters have implied that members of the Australian Labour party are Communists. This is most childish. If this conduct continues, we can never meet another nation on the equal terms on which we should be able to meet it. No doubt, owing to the continual allegations of Government supporters, many people in the Eastern countries believe that members of the Australian Labour party are Communists. We should eliminate bickering, get down to fundamentals, and do our best to maintain friendly contact with the nations that surround us. If we do not do so, Australia and many other conn tries will be doomed to extinction.
Government supporters talk about our having friends in Malaya. The honorable member for Mallee stated that we won World War II. by sending our troops overseas. I remind him that there were no atomic bombs in those days. If Australia were attacked, and atomic bombs were dropped here, our troops in Malaya would be of little value to us. The whole situation has altered. In the past Great Britain has always appeared to be losing a war at the beginning, largely because it fought along the lines of the previous war. However, Great Britain has always Avon its wars in the end, but there will be no second chance in atomic warfare. Whoever wins the first round will definitely be the victor. The nation first attacked with atomic weapons will have no chance to re-organize its forces, if the statements of scientists are to be believed.
I take it that other honorable members have received a copy of a circular which was forwarded to me and which shows the effects of the atom bomb, in the destruction of not only life itself but also the virile power of man to reproduce his species. The position is more serious than many people seem to believe. It can be met only by establishing friendly relations amongst all the nations of the world. The brief precis of history which I gave at the opening of my speech demonstrates the difficulty of achieving this end. but we should be able to face the problem. We should be big enough to set aside personal opinion and petty bickering and to concentrate every ounce of power, brains, and intelligence in an effort to establish friendly relations, particularly with those nations which are adjacent to Australia. There is no ordinary reason why the nations should not live in peace. A minor duke was shot somewhere in Europe and World War I. began as a result. Very often the arms manufacturers have been the cause of war, because from war they make their profits. Arms were sold to Balkan countries and only a spark was needed to set alight the flame that resulted in the holocaust of World War I.
It is said that we should outlaw the atom bomb. If we are to outlaw anything, we should outlaw all weapons of war. That is something which we have never been able to do. If we banned the production, not of all war weapons but only of the atom bomb, we would have another war in a couple of weeks. Only the fact that the atom bomb threatens the men at the top as well as the men on the bottom has prevented an outbreak of war already. The power of atomic energy, when used in war, is dreadful. It should be applied solely to peaceful purposes. The atom bomb has been the greatest influence since “World War 11. in restraining the nations from war. Therefore, good cometh out of evil. Men are supposed to have a high standard of intelligence, and they should bt- able to live peacefully together. They do not violently strike others without reason, except under the influence of liquor. Likewise, nations do not attack without reason. Nature has given us great opportunities. We are worried about the atom and hydrogen bombs, but atomic energy can give us the power we need for the increased production of food and other commodities. Mankind has never been more blessed by Nature than it is at the present time, and if modern scientific developments are applied to peaceful purposes it can progress to heights undreamed of in the past. It rests with mankind to play its part. I hope that our brief discussion will lead to the formulation of a policy which will be of value to us in the handling of foreign affairs.
.- The debate on the motion for the printing of the paper presented by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has taken us through many byways. Indeed it has taken us round the world, and has given us various opinions on the best policy for Australia to follow in the future. But the fundamental fact that has emerged is that there is a great divergence of thought between honorable members on this side of the House and those on the opposite side. It appears that honorable members opposite have regimented their thinking to that of the period in the world’s history between World War I. and World War II. Honorable members who support the Government, regardless of slight divergences of opinion about how the objective of world peace shall be reached, believe that Australia and the free countries of the world should never allow themselves to be placed in a position such as that in which they found themselves in the late 1930’s. First, I desire to comment on one or two statements made by honorable members opposite. The honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Bruce) spoke with great fervour about the friendship of the British and French after years of warfare, and he used, that fact as an illustration of his belief that there is hope for future agreement amongst countries such as Britain, the United States of America, Australia and Russia. I think it might have been more to the point had he instanced the fact that Turkey and England, which fought savagely against each other in the 1914-18 conflict, are now the firmest of friends, with their friendship based on mutual security. However, it should be borne in mind that Turkey is slightly different from Russia, because the philosophy of the two nations and their peoples are poles apart. We, and the English, have learned to trust the Turks and to realize that, in warfare, the Turk is a fair opponent. Until we are convinced that we can similarly trust the people of Russia, our policy must remain as it is - a policy of preparedness for the future and refusal to believe the untrue things that are told to us in the hope that we will believe them and so endanger our own security. Honorable members opposite, throughout the whole of their contributions to the debate, have adopted as their theme the disarmament of nations. I think we shall find that the pages of history are being turned back to that period after the first world war, when the nations spoke of disarmament and in all sincerity sought to end the arms race and to find an answer to the threat of world war in the future. Here, I should like to quote from a book called Sea Power and Empire, by F. J. C. Hearnshaw, Fellow of King’s College and Emeritus Professor of History in the University of London. I ask honorable members to keep in mind the fact that what I am quoting is part of lectures given before World War II. broke out, and for that reason, cannot be coloured by events that took place between 1939 and 1945. It relates to disarmament amongst the nations, and reads -
In the summer of 1021 President Harding, of the United States of America, sent out invitations to eight interested Powers - Japan, B’ritain, France, Italy, and, a little later, China, Belgium, Holland, Portugal. They were asked to meet at Washington in November to discuss (1) naval disarmament, (2) military reductions. (3) abolition of submarines, (4) prohibition of the use of poison gases in war.
I ask honorable members to keep that point clearly in mind. The passage continues -
– When was that?
– That conference was held in Washington in 1921. Out of that conference arose what was known as the Washington Naval Treaty. Under its terms, Britain, America and Japan respectively were to have naval strengths in the ratio 5:5:3. Worked out on a tonnage basis, this meant that the two major powers, Britain and America, were allowed to maintain something like 525,000 tons of warships and Japan 315,000 tons. As a result, the British had to cut down on naval armament. I think all honorable members will remember the 12th April, 1924 when, through Sydney Heads, there sailed a ship of the Royal Australian Navy which had to be scrapped in accordance with this treaty because, under its terms, the Australian naval forces were classed as part of the British forces. At this stage, I feel it necessary to quote an extract from the Australian Encyclopaedia dealing with part of the life of H.M.A.S. Australia.
It reads as follows : -
After much discussion, during which it was proposed (a) to sink her off some port as the basis of a breakwater, (b) to turn her into a training ship for naval trainees, (c) to send her to England to be sold as scrap-iron, it was decided to sink her with naval honours off the mouth of Port Jackson. All useful material having been removed, and much of her super structure and fittings converted into mementos, the hulk - still equipped with her 12-in guns - was on 12th April, 1924 towed to sea, escorted by the Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane. Anzac and Stalwart, and saluted as she went by the light cruisers of a British Special Service Squadron which, under Sir Frederick Field, was visiting Sydney during its tour of the world. Then, 24 miles due east of Port Jackson heads, the Australia was sunk in 150 fathoms.
If the policy pursued by the Opposition were allowed to come into operation, it would not be a case of the ship Australia being sunk in 150 fathoms; it would be a case of the nation Australia being sunk in much deeper water.
I return to this talk of disarmament. At the Washington conference, neither France nor Japan would consent to the abolition of submarines. The following appears in Sea Power and Empire, to which I have already referred: -
The use of poison gas was condemned - a merely academic judgment. As to China, all the nine Powers (including Japan) pledged themselves to respect her independence and integrity and “ to refrain from taking advantage of conditions in her territories to seek special rights or privileges which would abridge the rights of subjects and citizens of friendly States “.
I think honorable members will agree that what happened in 1921 could happen in 1956. If we, the free nations of the world, can be lulled into a false sense of security by the promises offered by a nation that is threatening world peace, we shall be the losers in the finish. Surely we have not forgotten the 1933 to 1938 era, when the mesmerized throngs of Nurnburg were baying Sig heil on the orders of their leader, and We were still lost in a world of lethargy, and were feeling that there was no need to arm the nation because no nation would throw the world into a second world war? I feel that there is a similar danger to-day, and that unless we realize our own strength and our own capabilities; unless we give the free people of the world an assurance that we are prepared to stand with the other free countries against any form of aggression, we are betraying the trust that has been placed in us by every man who fought and died for this country in the past.
There is one thing that will make us get that way. If we believe the threat of the atomic bomb, if we feel that an atomic bomb explosion or a hydrogen bomb explosion will wipe out the universe we shall tend to soften up, and feel that peace at any price is worth while. But I think that the majority of honorable members on this side of the House would far rather die in the destruction wrought by a hydrogen bomb than live in slavery under a nation such as Russia. Unless we are prepared to face death itself, if necessary, in upholding our belief in our ideals, we deserve to live as slave labourers for any one who chooses to conquer us.
There is a difference between the destructive capacity of a hydrogen bomb and that of the worst poisonous gas known in the ‘30’s, when all of us were lulled into a sense of stupidity by the talk that if the world were thrown into a second global war, poisonous gases would immediately rain down and not only would the combatant forces be wiped out but the innocent civilians would die as well. We all know now that throughout World War II. gas was not used by the adversaries. They came to an agreement - an unwritten agreement - that neither would face retaliation. I think that our surest way to ensure peace is to see that the development of our atomic weapons is kept up to the stage where any nation contemplating an attack will know that retaliation will swiftly follow.
As to this idealistic approach to peace, I think we are getting to the stage where the word “peace “ is becoming distasteful to the people of this country. For too long has it been bandied by the wrong types of people, and for too long has it been associated with organizations that owe allegiance to the people who are bent upon our destruction. That being so, we have to look at the whole system and the whole plan for international affairs from the stand-point that this small nation must pledge itself, even to its own destruction, if that destruction is to save the lives of other free men, wherever they may be.
I have heard in this House a great deal of talk about troops in Malaya by people who do not even know what the troops really constitute, or what the problem in Malaya really is. But I feel that even though such persons have no knowledge of those matters, they should realize that Australia has reached a stage in its history when, having accepted nationhood, it has to contribute to its own responsibilities. Those responsibilities do not lie within the borders of its own Commonwealth alone. One member of the Opposition stated to-night that he was quite prepared to protect his home from any one who came into it, but it was obvious that he would not be prepared to protect the home of the person next door, or to stop the attacker from moving into his street. That is typical of the short-sighted policy that the Opposition has adopted. Honorable members opposite want us to return to the pre-war days and to fool ourselves into thinking that we alone can protect Australia. Whatever power was against us, we should be foolish to think that 9,000,000 people, even with the potential of Australia, could do anything but hold an enemy at bay for a very short period. In any such conflict our salvation would depend, as it depended before, on the help of our powerful allies. But we cannot expect help from those allies unless we are prepared to do our part in peace-time, along with them, in a commensurate way.
To dismiss the Korean conflict as something that just happened in a remote part of the world is to show a complete lack of knowledge of the situation as it really existed. In Korea, the Americans suffered more casualties than they did in a similar period of time on the battlefields of France in 1917 and 1918 when, as honorable members know, casualties were terrific. That was the kind of. struggle that took place in Korea, but because we had involved a small force - a force that probably was proportionate to our population and our strength - we have been inclined to brush aside the Korean conflict as a skirmish. Some may say that the doubtful victory in Korea achieved nothing, butat least it showed the threatened nations of the world that the free nations were prepared to act together in force, should the freedom of any one of them be threatened. If that alone came out of the Korean war, I suggest that it was a surer pointer to peace than the platitudinous idealistic utterances of the Opposition. I feel that if this debate went on for much longer, and that if we had to listen to many more honorable members who are pledged to a policy in which they do not really believe, this chamber would need to be not only airconditioned but also pressurized, because their heads are already so high in the clouds.
– It isbetter to be up in the clouds than in the muck in the gutter.
– I had intended to say that I thought that two people in this debate had made speeches which typified the old spirit of Labour, which existed before Labour took the road back, but I must now say that I am glad I did not pursue that line. The struggle that confronts the world to-day is a struggle between Christianity and communism.
– I am just as good a man as is the honorable member.
– In case honorable members, particularly the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), missed what I said, I repeat that the struggle before the world is a struggle between Christianity and communism, and it is as plain as any one can make it that communism, with its single defined line, is something that knows what it wants. What it wants is world conquest.. It has been repeated so often that even the foolish now believe that communism is against Christianity which, unfortunately, has branched out and cannot settle its own differences. Unless we can get down, to a basic aim of mutual assistance and a basic agreement to stand together, the future of this country will be in jeopardy, as will be the future of the whole world.
If honorable members opposite do not believe that there is a struggle between Christianity and communism, let them consider the fate of people connected with Christianity in the countries behind the iron curtain. They will find that missionaries have been treated in such a way that the belief of their people in them and what they stand for has been destroyed. We have seen the reversal of medical ethics. Neurologists and psychiatrists, who have been trained to make the sick mind well, have been used, as in the case of Cardinal Mindszenty, to make the well mind sick. The Communists have used medicine in its most diabolical form, and they will continue to do so, and continue to prepare for the day when they will be the controllers not only of satellite countries, but also the whole world. Therefore, honorable members should be able to see quite clearly that the policy enunciated in the statement of the Minister for External Affairs was in the best interests not only of the people sitting here in this chamber, but also of every person in Australia and, indeed, of every person in the free world.
– I am sure that all honorable members have listened with appreciation to the refreshing realism of the speech just given by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney), and although I assure honorable members that there was no planning in the matter, what he has said is a very close and fitting prelude to what I myself have in mind to say in intervening in this debate.
What I want to do, if I can, in my contribution to this debate, is to make some general observations about the nature of the world situation which we face. There is a tendency - and quite a proper tendency - in a debate of this kind, for honorable members to refer to particular cases, but when they concentrate on the rights or wrongs of this or that particular case, or this or that particular incident, there is always a tendency for them to forget the continuing world situation that lies behind the immediate incident or the particular case with which they deal. That tendency is heightened somewhat by the fact that certain speakers on the opposite side of the House have shown a great preference for making their contribution in the form of the expression of a hope - a hope for peace, a hope for support of the United Nations, hopes which in themselves may be quite admirable but which, when expressed in that way, certainly produce only a vague policy and also tend to obscure the fact that, behind those hopes, there are real difficulties with which we have to deal.
The first point I want to make is that, over and above any particular difficulty or special incident that may arise, either here or somewhere else in the world, there is the continuing world situation. There are certain constant forces at work, and although the strain at any time may become greater or less, and although hope may rise or fade, or fear may grow or diminish, yet those constant forces are still at work, and that continuing situation still exists. What I want to ask the House and invite honorable members to consider is: What is the most striking feature of that continuing world situation to-day? I suggest that, at the present moment of history, the most striking feature is still the fact of power and the fact that politics among nations is still the politics of power. It is a simple fact. lt, is almost trite, but, unfortunately, it is something that is so often forgotten by those who discuss international affairs.
Some nations exert power; some have the misfortune simply to be overawed by it; but whether they exert it or whether they suffer under it, all nations, to-day, I suggest, are influenced in their international relations by the fact that power exists, and that power can be used. Another clear element in that continuing world situation is the alinement of power; and again I say something which is so simple as to be trite. There is obviously one bloc of power centred on the Soviet Union, with ‘Communist China alongside it, and there is another bloc of power grouped around the United Kingdom and the United States of America. There is absolutely no doubt, and there can be no doubt, that Australia as a nation belongs te that second group of powers. Then there is the remaining mass of what might bp termed uncommitted powers, powers which, for a variety of reasons, have not committed themselves either to one group or another. Some are uncommitted, I suggest, simply because of their insignificance or their humility; some are uncommitted because of a conflict of interest, and because they are rather bemused in their own minds by a conflict between old grudges and new aspirations; and some nations are uncommitted because of preoccupation with their own domestic problems of reconstruction and the maintenance of order internally, and so forth; whilst some are uncommitted because they think their own ideas, their own ambition, and their own advantage will be best served if they stay outside of those two great groups.
I suggest to the House that we need not moralize on these facts. We need not become pious about them or express either pleasure or sadness about them. We simply have to remember that they are facts, that they are the dominant facts of the continuing world situation to-day.
We need to remember that. The world is, for better or for worse, divided into national states. Each of those national states has, and indeed is entitled to have, its own set of interests and ambitions, and each national state or group of state3 tries to protect its interests and to advance its ambitions, some more determinedly and more ruthlessly than others. Add to the fact that at the present moment each and every one of those nations, as a result of past experience, places greater reliance on power than on persuasion, and you have, I suggest, the main element in the world situation. The simple test of my last statement is that, as recently as twelve months ago, and on many occasions in the past fifty years nations have learnt from experience that good intentions will not preserve them. They have learnt that when it comes to an issue of peace or war, survival or destruction, a lofty principle is not as good a protective device a? having a powerful friend or power in your own hands. Every one knows that this nation or that nation, or any other nation, is influential in the world to-day, not because it may happen to have a better set of ideas or a more firmly held set of principles, but because it has greater strength. This is not cynicism. It is too easy an escape from reality to suggest that presentation of reality is cynicism. Cynicism would only come into it if Ave accepted this situation as being the inevitable fate of mankind, if we accepted it as something which could not be altered. That would be cynicism. When, in the face of such realities, we make an honest, concentrated, and continuous attempt to overcome that sort of situation, then is a true and practical idealism born in us, one that could possibly spread to other nations. 1 recall to honorable members the formation of the United Nations, because the formation of that organization was an act of such practical idealism, an attempt to master the sort of situation I have described. In speaking of the United Nations at the moment, I shall speak only of its search for security. Recognizing the facts that I have attempted to describe in general terms - the fact of national power and the fact of national interest - and not being able to disregard either of those facts, the founders of the United
Nations attempted to do two things : First of all, they attempted to lay it down that the nations who possessed power should restrict themselves and act only in accordance with certain principles; that they should accept the self-denying ordinance and use their power only in accordance with certain principles. The second thing that the founders of the United Nations tried to do was to lay it down that all nations would use the method of peaceful settlement when any clash of interest arose. In doing that, the realists, who were the practical idealists of the United Nations, could not alter, nor did they attempt to alter, the fact of national interest or national power, nor did they attempt to change the state of the world. What they tried to do was to establish a set of principles, and a method by which those principles might be applied in international relations. That is still a sound aim, and it still should be the objective of our foreign policy, as indeed it is. But we must realize, as another one of the realities of the world to-day, that those two aims have not been achieved ; they have not become the invariable and the trusted rule of the world to-day. The nations to-day do not trust that method as a means of guaranteeing their security.
That leads me to a further observation - that one of the other distinctive facts of the world situation to-day is that practically every nation, large or small, is in a state of apprehension. That is not due solely to the fact that the United Nations is unable to give security. It is not due only to the fact that we live in a world of power. I think that it is due to the fact that we are living in a world of changing power, of shifts in the balance of power, of the emergence of new power, and of uncertainty as to how it will be used, when it will be used, and .for what purpose it will be used. When we take up that line of discussion, and try to look at this emergence of new power, this shift in the balance of power as the main cause of the apprehension and the fear which fill the minds of every nation in the world to-day, we find as the most significant element in the whole situation the changes which have taken place in the Soviet Union in the post-war period.
If we look at the Soviet Union to-day, and compare it with the Soviet Union as it emerged from the world war ten years ago, we must be conscious of several very significant changes which do have a bearing on this question of power. First of all, there is no doubt about it that the Soviet Union to-day is rapidly overtaking that decided advantage which the Western Powers had in the matter of nuclear weapons. I do not know - I do not suppose any honorable member of this House would be in a position to say exactly whether or not the Soviet Union has yet reached parity with the Western world in nuclear weapons, but it certainly has overtaken to a very considerable extent the initial disadvantage it had a few years ago. On top of that, we find that the Soviet Union has built up in- other armaments - the sort of armaments that are sometimes referred to as conventional armaments - a strength which probably exceeds the strength of all the other powers which may be arrayed against it - very significant accretion in the armed strength of the Soviet Union. Then, as the result of its successive aggression, the pushing out of its own borders - its quite merciless possession of the lands of other peoples - it has added to itself considerably in resources of population, raw materials, constructional power and -industrial power of various kinds.
We see in the Soviet Union in the last ten years the march of a mighty imperialism which is gathering strength and more strength to itself every year. The Soviet Union, in its own official publications, claims that in the past five years - from 1950 to the end of 1955 - in its fifth five-year plan, the average annual rate of increase in its industrial output was more than three times as great as the increase in the United States of America, and 3.8 times as great as the increase in Britain. The Russians quote that as a matter of national pride. Although we do not share the pride, and feel not wholly pleased with some of the methods by which that achievement was made, yet we have to recognize that great increase in their industrial power as yet another significant factor in the situation which we face in the world. And. then we find, too, that whereas five, six, or seven years ago the principal weapon of the Soviet Union in those cases where it could not extend its boundaries by the use of arms, was the weapon of propaganda, to-day it is using the economic weapon also. To-day, the Soviet Union is in a position to offer trade agreements to surrounding nations. It can and, according to reports, has supplied arms to surrounding nations. It is in a position also to offer capital equipment to those nations, and there are clear signs of its having, within the last twelve months, commenced an economic drive to extend its imperialism just as, at an earlier period, it used a propaganda drive to extend its imperialism and to buttress the gains that it had made by force of arms.
The fact is that this change in the grouping of power, this vast accretion of strength in one bloc, has taken place, and I suggest that that is one of the major causes of apprehension in the world to-day. Behind all that, as the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) so clearly indicated in his speech, is a clash of ideas between East and West. A clash of ideas in itself would not be serious. There have been earlier periods in the history of mankind when people holding different religious beliefs and different philosophies have been able to live in the world together. That was partly because the world was not as closely intermingled as it is to-day and partly because there was not that aggressive proselytizing attack on other people’s ideas that has been exemplified in the forward march of communism. Speaking for myself, I should be quite content at any time to let any heresy be confuted by its own error, and I regard communism as being a heresy or a departure from the straight lines of civilized thinking. If that were all that was involved in the situation, I should be content, as I have stated, to let this heresy be confounded and confuted by the fact that it was false and in time would be proven to be false. But that is not precisely the situation that exists in the world to-day. The Soviet Union is not content to let us have our ideas and to keep its ideas to itself. On the contrary, it is on a forward march with the arro gant assumption that it is entitled to adopt any measure it chooses in order to suppress the ideas of other people and to overthrow their institutions. Indeed, this attitude is taken to extreme lengths and, if a neighbouring nation will not live in the manner in which the Soviet Union wishes it to live, that nation ceases to live at all.
It is not the fact that the Soviet Union holds a separate set of ideas, but the fact that it is making a determined and resolute attack on the ideas of other people and is refusing to allow other people to live in the world beside it that we must resist. As the honorable member for Perth so rightly pointed out, when it comes to the final issue, we must realize that it is not merely a rivalry between two great groups of power. The situation in the world to-day is a struggle between two ideas, and on one side that struggle is being carried out ruthlessly, relentlessly and unswervingly. We would be false to the faith that we hold if we did not resist. We would be showing that we did not believe in all that we have built up by adopting civilized values and what we regard as proper conduct in international or domestic affairs if we did not stand against that incursion, not only into our own thinking, but also into the thinking of those people who stand on the same side of civilization as we stand. It is that kind of situation which brings the struggle to a head.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Griffiths) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.16 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
t asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister, for Defence Production, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 March 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1956/19560315_reps_22_hor9/>.