22nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Minister for External Affairs supplement and bring up to date the statement he made the other day in relation to the Suez Canal proceedings now before the Security Council, where Australia is represented, and in particular, can he indicate whether during the proceedings the possibility of the appointment of a mediator or a mediation authority has been, or is to be, considered?
– As I had the opportunity to inform the right honorable gentleman in the House on a recent occasion, the Security Council last week accepted the resolution moved in the joint names of the United Kingdom and France and also the resolution moved by Egypt. The Council met again on Friday, 5th October, to begin the discussion on the substance as apart from the procedural side of the matter. The Council accepted without objection a Yugoslav proposal to postpone a decision on the requests of Israel and the Arab States to be allowed to appear. Pursuant to an earlier decision of the Council, Egypt took its place at the Security Council table. That was last Friday, 5th October. Mr. Selwyn Lloyd, the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, opened the debate and tabled a joint United KingdomFrench resolution. He said that the United Kingdom case rested, first, upon a determination to uphold rights, properly secured and guaranteed, to free transit through an international waterway; and secondly, upon a determination to seek a peaceful solution by negotiation, the draft resolution providing a basis for negotiation that was just to both the canal users and to Egypt.
Subsequently, Mr. Selwyn Lloyd proposed that after the general debate in the Security Council had finished the Council .might go into closed session. The operative paragraphs of the British-French resolution call on the Security Council: To reaffirm the principle of freedom of navigation of the canal as laid down in the 1888 Convention; to endorse the eighteen-Power proposals as suitably designed to bring about a solution of the question by peaceful means and in conformity with justice; to recommend that the Egyptian Government should co-operate in negotiating, on the basis of the eighteenPower proposals, a system of operation to be applied to the canal and should, meanwhile, co-operate with the Canal Users Association. M. Pineau, the French Foreign Minister, supported Mr. Selwyn Lloyd. Mr. Dulles also made a brief statement in which he said that the United States of America adhered to the position it had adopted at the first London conference, and would vote for the British-French resolution. He also welcomed the proposal for a closed session of the council. Egypt opposed the draft British-French resolution. Dr. Fawzi, the Egyptian Foreign Minister, suggested, as an alternative, the establishment of a negotiating committee. Mr. Shepilov, the Soviet Russian Foreign Minister, also opposed the British -French joint resolution and also suggested the establishment of a negotiating committee to draft a new treaty granting freedom of passage through the canal. That is the present stage. The situation at the moment is inconclusive and indeterminate. The general debate in the Security Council is going on and, presumably, will go on for the next one or two days, or, at the outside, for the next three days. Then there will be a closed session, lt is expected - of course, this is only speculation - that the proceedings before the Security Council will finish at the end of this week or, possibly, at the beginning of next week. The House will see that a proposal has been put forward for negotiation on British-French terms - that is, on the basis of the eighteen-power resolution - and that Egypt, supported by Soviet Russia, has proposed the creation of a negotiating committee.
– I draw the attention of the Minister for Trade to current reports that the United Kingdom Government is interested in joining a mooted European free-trade bloc, subject to the exclusion of agricultural products. Is the Minister able to state what Australian exports to Britain, if any, would be affected if the United Kingdom became a party to a treaty to form a common European market? In particular, does he know whether wine is to be classed as an agricultural product? If it is not to be so classed, can the Minister say what would be the effect on Australian wine exports to Britain if that country joined the free-trade organization? If the Minister has not received definite information from Britain with regard to the definition of the term “ agricultural products “, will he seek such information and advise the House of it, as well as of the situation that might develop with regard to manufactures from agricultural products?
– The Australian Government, naturally, is very interested in the proposal for a so-called European free-trade area. We have been reassured by the announcements of United Kingdom Ministers that there is a clear understanding that foodstuffs and drinks would be excluded from any such scheme. We are in no doubt that Australia’s principal exports to the United Kingdom - which comprise wool, drinks and a variety- of foodstuffs, including wheat - would be unaffected. I shall take early steps to secure complete clarification of the position, but I have no doubt, on my present understanding, that wine would not be involved. In addition to wool, foodstuffs and wine, Australia’s principal exports to the United Kingdom consist of base metals, such as lead and zinc, leather and some other products. The position in regard to those articles is not completely clear, but I am seeking clarification. The honorable member can be quite sure that Australia’s interests will be defended by this Government.
– Will the Minister for Air say whether the present uncertainty in relation to the future production of aircraft in this country is due to any action taken by him? Has there been any alteration of the programme for the manufacture of Sabre jet aircraft in Australia?
– The Sabre programme is not finished yet. The remainder of the honorable member’s question refers to a matter of policy that will be decided by the Government.
– Is the Minister for Health able to give to the House any information with regard to the discovery of a new optical lens - announced in America - which, it is claimed, will restore working eyesight to at least a half of the people normally classified as blind?
– I am not able to give the honorable gentleman any very precise information on the matter. There have recently been reports of the manufacture of a new type of lens which will be of great advantage, at least in some kinds of blindness. My own understanding is that this is just emerging from the experimental stage, but I shall endeavour to obtain further information and let the honorable gentleman have it.
– Has the Minister for Immigration initiated an investigation into charges that have been made by Mr. Dower, of the Melbourne “ Herald-“, that the wholesale smuggling of immigrants into Australia is taking place? If such an investigation has been initiated, will the Minister make available the result to this House as early as possible?
– The first 1, myself, learned of this allegation was when I read it in a Melbourne newspaper on Saturday night. I immediately communicated with the permanent head of my department to see what was known in the department regarding the matter. I was then told that a full report would be submitted to me to-day. I now have that report, and also a supplementary report based on an interview with the woman who featured in the newspaper article. I have not yet had time to study these documents completely, as they have just been placed in my hands, but I shall take a suitable opportunity to make available to those members of the House who are interested, or to the Parliament as a whole, whatever information comes to hand. I can say, however, that the information that is already available to my department, and which has been confirmed by the Police Commissioner of Victoria, completely refutes any suggestion of large-scale smuggling of immigrants into this country, and puts a very different complexion on some of the aspects that were given prominence in the newspaper account.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Supply by paying to him a tribute, on behalf of the party of honorable members from both sides of the House that visited Maralinga and Woomera last week, for the courtesy that he extended to them. 1 should like to say that both the Minister and his staff spared no effort in ensuring that we had an enjoyable visit. His hospitality was greatly appreciated. 1 should like the Minister to inform me whether he has seen a newspaper report to the effect that cattle recently slaughtered at Alice Springs for local consumption were found to be heavily radioactive. Has he any knowledge of a statement which has been attributed to Mr. Pat Davis, the owner of Hamilton Downs station, 50 miles northwest of Alice Springs, that the cloud from the first atomic explosion at Maralinga had “ knocked hell “ out of the country to the north and the north-east of Alice Springs?
– 1 did see a report to that effect. The report stated that the thyroid glands of cattle which had been slaughtered at Alice Springs indicated a geiger count of 3,000 a minute. That, so the scientists say, is quite harmless, and has no significance whatever. But I think the best answer I can give to the honorable member is contained in information that came into my hands about ten seconds ago. It is this: A statement by Mr. Pat Davis appears in the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ of this morning’s issue, in which he emphatically denies having made any statement about an atomic bomb cloud passing over his property, or about the testing of live-stock for radioactivity. He is reported to have said -
It is absolutely untrue that I ever said fellow pastoralists had told me the atom bomb explosion had knocked hell out of the country north and north-east of Alice Springs.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: What reductions in rentals are available to pensioners who are tenants of government homes in Canberra? ls the rental rebate system that applies to all government-owned homes in Canberra on the same basis as the system that applies under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement and operates in regard to houses under the control of the housing authorities in the various States that are parties to the agreement?
– The honorable member has asked me some questions in quite precise terms, and 1 am afraid that 1 cannot give him quite precise answers. 1 do know that many of the features of the rental rebate system under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, which operates in the various States, have been imported into Canberra. I have asked for details of the system, and when they are supplied by the Department of the Interior, which, I hope, will be quite shortly, 1 shall advise the honorable member.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Health, has reference to the new poliomyelitis vaccine recently announced in the United States of America, which is reported to be capable of oral administration. Can the Minister advise honorable members concerning the efficacy of this new vaccine? Does the Minister propose to introduce it into Australia at an early date? If it is readily available, can it be used for adults as well as children, so that the whole population may be immunized?
– For some time, experiments have been proceeding in the United States of America, with the object of producing a poliomyelitis vaccine which may be taken by mouth. These experiments have now reached the stage that a vaccine has been produced, but has not been tested, except, I understand, on experimental animals. There are very great difficulties associated with the introduction of a vaccine of this kind. It is one thing to introduce a known dose of a vaccine into the tissues by injection, but quite another thing to introduce a required amount of vaccine by mouth, in which case it has to be absorbed at some unknown rate from the alimentary canal. There are other dangers associated with a vaccine of this kind, one of them being that the recipients will be carriers of live virus. That fact alone makes it extremely unlikely that the introduction of such a vaccine into Australia would be considered, especially when we already have a vaccine of known efficacy, the use of which entails virtually no undesirable effects. As I understand it, when the experiments on the new vaccine have been completed, it will, like any other vaccine, be suitable for use by either children or adults. As L say, however, it is still in the experimental stages, and I believe that Dr. Sabin, who has been developing it, has himself made no higher claim than that it is ready to be tested.
– Is the Minister for Works aware that the first-aid station at the construction camp at Woomera West has recently been closed down, and that the several hundred men living in tents at this camp are now without a qualified first-aid officer or first-aid equipment? As this camp has always had such equipment available, since the construction of the Woomera rocket range began, and as it is situated some miles from the village of Woomera, will the Minister investigate the matter and, if the position is as L have stated, immediately arrange for the first-aid station to be re-opened?
– I can assure the honorable member that I did not know of the matters to which he has directed attention. I shall have inquiries made, with a view to following the course of action that he has suggested.
– Can the. Minister for Trade say whether an approach has been made to his department, by either French or American interests, regarding the establishment of steel works at Port Stephens, in New South Wales? If no approach has been made, will the Minister arrange for his officers to investigate this area so that advice on the subject, if needed in the future, may be given to both the New South Wales Government and those who wish to establish such an industry, thus assisting to implement the plan for the decentralization of industry, and to develop the great potential of this area?
– To the best of my knowledge, no approach of the kind mentioned by the honorable member has been made to my department by either American or French interests. It really is not a function of the Department of Trade to makethe kind of investigation, and prepare the sort of documentation, that i. think he has in mind. So far as such action applies to Australian industry, the matter is more within the ambit of the States. This is. especially so when one lays stress, as did. the honorable member, upon the decentralization aspect. However,, I assure him that if any explicit requests, apposite to the functions of the. department were made, we would give every assistance.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he intends to make a statement to the Parliament outlining the submissions to be made to the forthcoming economic conference with the State Premiers. Will the proposals include objectives other than that of wage pegging? As this Parliament will shortly go into recess, will the Prime Minister give it an opportunity to debate the proposals and agenda items which will be submitted to the Premiers in the name of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia?
– The precise nature of the proposals to be made, and the arguments to be advanced, have yet to be settled by Cabinet. It would, therefore, be premature for me to say whether there will be any opportunity for discussion of them in this House. I have no doubt that there will be abundant discussion in the meeting itself.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Interior, although perhaps one aspect of it might touch matters which are properly the concern of the right honorable the Prime Minister. I ask the Minister whether he could prepare, and make available, a list showing the head-quarters of all Commonwealth departments. Could he indicate what changes have occurred as a result of the partial occupation of the new administrative block in Canberra, and what further changes are proposed as a result of its completion? Are any other changes in prospect? While it is obvious that great administrative economies could be effected by the speediest possible location of the head-quarters of all Commonwealth departments in Canberra, could not this be usefully correlated with the further decentralization of branch functions in the various States and perhaps, in certain cases, even with decentralization within particular States? Could a statement be prepared showing the principles adopted by the Government in the location of the headquarters of Commonwealth departments, and the decentralization of their functions?
-I shall be glad to have prepared a statement showing the location of the head-quarters of various government departments. As the honorable member has indicated, the question of who is to occupy blocks B and C of the administrative building depends a good deal upon Government policy. That matter is at present engaging the Government’s attention.
– My question to the Minister for Air is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Bonython. Is the Minister aware that, owing to the lack of a production programme at Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Proprietary Limited, Lidcombe, 150 employees were actually listed for service with dismissal notices last Friday, but that at 4 p.m. last Thursday instructions were received “ to hold everything for the time being? Can the Minister give the House any idea of how long it will be before the new policy is determined by the Government, and can he also give an assurance to these 150 employees, all of whom are highly skilled, that the waiting time will not be so long that it will result in them being dismissed?
– This question should more properly have been addressed to the Minister for Defence Production. So far as I know, the Lidcombe factory only does maintenance work on Rolls Royce-Merlin engines for the Royal Australian Air Force. Again, to the best of my knowledge, Rolls Royce-Merlin motors are all completely maintained, and as we have a number of new engines in stock there will be no more work of that type done at Lidcombe.
– I address a question to the Minister for Trade. During the last session of this Parliament, approval was given by legislation for the setting up of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation. Is the Minister in a position to indicate what progress has been made in the establishment of that corporation, and what has been the volume of inquiry to date from various business organizations for coverage and protection by that corporation?
– The inevitable preparatory work for the establishment of this important corporation has been proceeding. The most critical single issue, of course, is the choice of the chairman of the corporation. The Government’s agency, the Department of Trade, has interviewed a very considerable number of prospective appointees to the senior offices of the authority. All I can say at the moment is that I think we are very close to the point at which those important positions will be filled. The gentlemen who are appointed will find that a great deal of the preparatory work connected with the establishment of the corporation has been done, and 1 should expect that there will be no considerable delay before it becomes operative. It is known that there is a fairly widespread interest in the facilities intended to be provided by the corporation, but because as yet there is no authority able to give a decision upon applications, nor indeed to specify the details of the cover offered, explicit requests for cover are not coming in at the present time.
– Will not the Minister for External Affairs agree that the attitude of the Government towards the Suez Canal dispute is that it is alone a conflict between the Egyptian Government and perhaps that of the Soviet on the one hand and the governments of Great Britain, France and the United States on the other? Further, is there any evidence that in part it is really a conflict between the British and French oil and shipping interests on the one hand and the American oil and shipping interests on the other? If that is so, does the attempt at nationalization of the Persian oil industry between 1951 and 1954 provide any guidance about what might be done in the case of the Suez Canal?
– Honorable members will be aware that in replying to questions without notice on the general subject of the Suez Canal, 1 have been careful to confine myself to factual statements largely in reply to questions by the Leader of the Opposition and have carefully avoided giving any expression of opinion, either of the Government or of myself. 1 have done that for the particular reason that there is an item on the notice-paper at the moment, discussion of which presumably will be resumed before very long, and that will be the proper time for debating this question. As for the first part of the honorable member’s question, I think I am inhibited from replying on that basis. In reply to the second part, I know of no conflict of interest between the French and British oil interests nor do I really believe that in any real sense there is any parallel or useful analogy with respect lo the nationalization of the AngloIranian oil industry at the head of the Persian Gulf. That is my reply. I believe I must confine myself at this stage to factual statements. The resumption of the debate, possibly next week, will be the time when we can all air our views in more general form.
– I ask the Minister for Trade whether his attention has been drawn to an article in yesterday’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ which stated, amongst other things, that, although the Department of Trade had granted special concessions for the import of drugs, stocks could not be built up above a dangerously low level. As this is a matter of vital interest to the health of the whole community, I ask the Minister whether the statement is true and if it is, what steps he is taking to overcome this unsatisfactory position.
– I have read the article to which the honorable member referred. It contained not only the suggestion he mentioned, but indeed a number of other rather similar suggestions. I do not believe that the allegation is true. Quite recently a suggestion was made that the essential drug largactil was in short supply and that permission could not be obtained to import it. Inquiries showed that for a long time the department had been in close contact with the importers of the drug; that, by arrangement, licences were being issued to sustain in Australia a stock of five months’ requirements; and that, indeed, over a period, a stock of the drug equivalent to the average requirements for five and threequarter months had been sustained. 1 have had no approaches, direct or indirect, from any importers of life-saving drugs nor from those who might be interested in any way in the importation of drugs to confirm, or even to hint at, the suggestion of an acute shortage of these drugs or that users or distributors are borrowing from each other, as is alleged in a certain newspaper article. 1 cannot believe that if such a situation, as is. alleged, existed, any one concerned with the supply of life-saving drugs to the public and hospitals would not make an approach to me, as Minister for Trade, or to my colleague, the Minister for Health. 1 certainly have nol had any approach from the Minister for Health which would suggest that he has received allegations of this kind of shortage. The truth of the matter ls that this sort of thing is inspired by people who are irritated by the trading difficulties that are inherent in import licensing. I completely sympathize with those who are suffering these difficulties, but the position is not helped by exaggerations, distortions or complete untruths. An allegation was made that a premium of 62 per cent, was paid for a licence for textiles. Any trafficking in licences is quite wrong. If any one brought such an instance, to my notice, I would deal with the matter. But the publication of anonymous allegations of this kind does not get any one anywhere. The truth of the matter is that vested interests in these issues are trying to needle the department along on certain lines by making these broad allegations. I had an instance brought to my notice recently in which it was alleged that a small factory would close because a licence could not be secured for the importation of something for the manufacture of a particular product, which I will not mention. Inquiries revealed that a protective duty had been sought for this product. The Tariff Board reported that export industries would be loaded with the cost of £ 1 00.000 a year for a protective duty for this industry, which would give employment to twenty people. The Tariff
Board, 1 think rightly, rejected the application. But this information came to light following an allegation that import licensing would cause that factory to close. That is fairly in line with the pattern of much of the criticism. I will welcome valid criticism that will expose deficiencies in the administration of import licensing, and I should be surprised if some deficiencies did not exist in such a vast and complex organization. There is no better way to have them corrected than to document the incidents and expose them. I would not resent that, but would correct the situation. But anonymous allegations will not get any one anywhere.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister, supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Macquarie. Is it a fact that the Prime Minister is convening a conference of State Premiers in November to discuss and reach a decision on quarterly basic wage adjustments? If so, will the right honorable gentleman ask the State Premiers also to introduce uniform legislation to peg hirepurchase interest rates? Does the Prime Minister agree that, if such legislation were introduced, it would enable banks, governmental and semi-governmental authorities to compete for their share of investment money?
– The honorable member is rightly informed. I am in the process of convening a conference of the kind that he has described. I have nothing otherwise to add to the answer I have already given to the question asked by the honorable member for Macquarie.
– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service noted the resolution of the Queensland branch of the Waterside Workers Federation in relation to the loading of “ black “ wool? How does that resolution affect the undertaking that has been given by the Australian Government that the wool will be loaded?
– f am not sure whether the honorable member is referring to the resolution of the Queensland branch or the federal council of the Waterside
Workers Federation. The latter came to my notice, and it indicated a likelihood that the Queensland branch might be instructed not to load wool that had been declared “ black “. I have previously indicated to the House, in general terms, the assurance that had been given by the acting Prime Minister on behalf of the Commonwealth Government in relation to the loading of wool once it was available on the wharfs. 1 would add that, having read the statements on principle by the Premier of Queensland - statements of principle which, I am sure, will commend themselves to all who believe in the upholding of industrial law and order in Australia, and in the welfare of our economic conditions - I believe that the Premier of Queensland is entitled to the best support that all of us can give him in the difficult situation in which he finds himself. We have, of course, given thought to the situation that will develop if there is a refusal on the part of the branch of the Waterside Workers Federation in Brisbane to load wool when it reaches the wharfs. Without assuming that that will necessarily occur, we have taken action to put ourselves in readiness to meet that eventuality if it arises.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that large numbers of employees of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation at Port Melbourne are being dismissed or, owing to the uncertainty of the future of the aircraft industry, are resigning their positions with the corporation? If the Minister is not aware of this position, will he have the matter investigated with a view to having those technicians, designers and tradesmen retained in the aircraft industry so that the valuable experience possessed by them will not be lost?
– I shall have an examination made of the developments to which the honorable member has referred. I cannot speak with any authority as to the future of the aircraft industry in Australia, but I point out to him that, if the employees concerned are of the categories mentioned, employment should be readily available for them in other directions. When I have the full story, I shall give the honorable member such information as 1 can.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Supply been directed to a criticism of the activity being conducted at the Long Range Weapons Establishment at Woomera, made by a gentleman who purports to write with scientific authority? Can the honorable gentleman indicate whether or not the author of this critique is a scientist? Further, can the Minister indicate whether it is a fact that this gentleman to whom I have referred spent but two hours at Woomera? Finally, would the honorable gentleman agree with me when I say that two hours is a hopelessly inadequate time in which to ascertain and determine what goes on at the establishment?
– A statement was made by an English journalist, representing an English newspaper, who came out here for the atomic tests, wherein he criticized the activities at Woomera. I think his statement is to be read more as a criticism of the United Kingdom Government than of the Australian Government, so for the most part I shall leave it to the former government to reply, if it wishes to do so. But one or two things were said which I think bear upon our activities and responsibilities. He gave it as his considered opinion, after a recent visit to the range and after having talked with some scientific officers, that although an amount of £10,000,000 was being expended only about £1,000,000 of useful work was going on. It is right, as the honorable gentleman has said, that the journalist was there for, I think, only two and a half hours. He was not, of course, shown any secret matters at all, and I doubt very much much indeed whether any of the scientists there would speak to him on those or, indeed, on any other matters, so I imagine his opportunities for forming a judgment such as that which he purported to pass were extremely limited. His statement contains a great many inaccuracies. As I said before, it is not my purpose to deal with those in detail, but one matter ought to be mentioned. By way of illustrating the argument which he put forward that it was difficult to keep high level scientific officers at Woomera, he mentioned by name a Dr. Green, whom he reported as saying that he was packing up and leaving for England, taking the whole of his team with him. In fairness to Dr. Green, that allegation should be controverted straight away. I have here a statement from Dr. Green, who is extremely annoyed at this report by the journalist. The statement reads -
I am leaving the establishment only because 1 wish to take a position in England and not because of any dissatisfaction with the work I have been doing. I am not taking any of my team with me. There is no question of my doing so.
I think that the accuracy of the rest of the article may be measured by the accuracy of that part of it.
– Is the Minister for Trade aware that in all the big stores and confectionery shops throughout Australia there are vast quantities of Swiss confections, and that-
– Where, in Melbourne?
– Right throughout Australia, I imagine - and that in the jewellers’ shops there are quantities of jewellery and trinkets, also of Swiss origin? Were the credits established as a result of the loan of Swiss francs secured by the Treasurer within the last few years used for the purpose of importing these goods into Australia? If so, does the Minister consider that they contribute to the development of Australia, it having been suggested that that loan was for developmental purposes, or does he believe that they merely add to our overseas difficulties?
– There was absolutely no hypothecation of money borrowed from Switzerland for the purchase of either essential or non-essential Swiss goods. Funds for the importation of either Swiss goods, or the kind of non-essential goods that I think perhaps the honorable member sought to describe, come out of the normal budget allowed for importations. Of the total funds allotted for importation of goods into Australia, a very small proportion indeed - I think, at the present time, not more than 8 per cent. - covers the whole range of finished consumer goods, running all the way from crockery, clothing and piece goods, through to certain nonessential goods. There is no discrimination whatever between countries in the allocation of licences. The only discrimination that is made is between dollar and sterling sources. Quite recently - and this has been a matter of controversy - steps have been taken by the Department of Trade, in accordance with current Government policy, to subdivide the B category items into seven sub-categories, so that no longer is it possible for some one who has an entitlement to an import licence for, say, textile materials, to use that licence to import exotic foods or completely non-essential goods. The subdivision of B category into seven subcategories has been done for the purpose of constricting into a very limited area the opportunity to buy commodities that are not essential for our normal living. There are in this country, of course, people who want to buy things that are not essential, and there are many others whose living has been built up around the supply of those things.
– Ilay on the table the following papers: -
Statements issued by or on behalf of the Government in connexion with atomic weapons tests.
The House will remember that recently, in reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), I stated that a considerable number of press statements had been released for the purpose of informing the public in relation to the atomic tests, and I promised that I. would obtain all of them. I may say that 1 was a little too optimistic; I have not been able to get all of them, but, nevertheless, I have a substantial collection. I also have a copy available for the honorable member for Yarra.
– Do I understand that the documents are all statements by the Minister?
– No, by no means. There are between nine and twelve of them; one happens to bear my name, but some have been issued by the safety committee. Some of them are anonymous. The collection is simply a collection of factual statements put out during the past few weeks.
– By or on behalf of the Government?
– Yes, with its approval.
Report of Public Works Committee. Mr. BOWDEN. -I present the report of the Public Works Committee on the following subject: -
Erection of automatic telephone exchange building at Haymarket, Sydney.
Ordered to be printed.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 4th October (vide page 1224).
Department of the Navy.
Department of the Army
Proposed Vote, £53,750,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
Upon which Mr. Crean had moved by way of amendment -
That the amount of the vote - “Department of Defence, £890,000 “-be reduced by £1.
.-I rise to support the amendment that has been moved on behalf of the Opposition. In respect of the proposed votes now before the committee, I intend to direct some of my remarks to the disparity in allocation as between the various departments, and also to say something of conditions in the Air Force and certain matters in regard to naval administration that I think should be ventilated. The Government has claimed that it has reduced defence expenditure, and has attempted to justify such a course to the Parliament. One finds, however, that the sum of money that is to be devoted to defence during the current financial year is exactly the same as that expended in the previous financial year. On that basis, I fail to see how the Government can say that the defence votes have been reduced.
Last year, £190,000,000 was expended on defence, and this year a similar amount is to be spent. Although the Estimates for 1955-56 provided for the expenditure of £197.000,000, only 190.000.000 was spent. How honorable members opposite can support the claim that defence expenditure is being reduced is beyond my comprehension. In fact, there has been a reduction of the vote of only one department - the Department of the Navy - which has been reduced by £11,000,000, a reduction that has brought with it certain problems that should be discussed here. Over the years, the department, when it has not wanted to spend money at the end of a financial year, has followed the practice of sending notices to people who were performing contracts for it with the result that those persons have had to forgo their contracts and cease work, and unemployment has resulted. That kind of thing happened in Sydney some months ago. Although there has been a ministerial denial of it. there is positive proof to the contrary. I discovered, following investigation, that that was not an unusual occurrence; indeed, it seems to have become part of the administration of the Department of the Navy. When the department informed its contractors to this effect in Sydney recently, notices of dismissal were issued and men were placed out of work. It seems that the department is definitely committed to this policy, but I submit that it is one which it should not adopt. I repeat that the fact that such orders were given a few months ago has been denied, but there is too much evidence to the contrary to make the denial acceptable.
If the Government is reducing its defence expenditure, it seems to be doing so at the expense of persons on the lowest rung of the ladder. The aircraft manufacturing industry is facing a parlous situation similar to that which has been experienced in naval establishments. In Sydney during last week-end, a very prominent person associated with the Royal Australian Air Force stated that, unless Government assistance, was forthcoming, the aircraft manufacturing industry was faced with extinction. Only to-day we have heard in this chamber about the service and temporary withdrawal of dismissal notices in aircraft production establishments.
I submit that the Government should give serious consideration to the fact that, when defence expenditure is reduced, unemployment follows. I have already pointed out and proved conclusively that the policy that has been followed by the Department of the Navy at the end of past financial years has led to unemployment. To-day, naval establishments throughout Australia are approaching the stage where, if the department persists in its policy, they will be faced with extinction. In about a fortnight’s time, “ Vampire “ will be launched at the Cockatoo Island dockyard in Sydney, and I have been informed that it is possible that, after the launching of that vessel, between 100 and 150 employees will be dismissed. During the last fortnight no fewer than 60 persons at that establishment have received dismissal notices. I have no doubt that the same process is in operation at other Australian naval establishments, but I have quoted the above examples because I am in a position to speak authoritatively about them.
Having read the annual report of the Auditor-General upon the Treasurer’s statement of receipts and expenditure, I feel that certain criticisms must be levelled against the administration of the Department of the Navy. Certain things seem to have occurred, or to be occurring, and very little attention has been given to rectifying them. For example, at page 71 of his report, the Auditor-General, when dealing with the naval dockyard at Williamstown, said -
A stocktaking of plant, machinery and equipment at the Naval Dockyard, Williamstown, has not been carried out for a number of years. Although repeated representations have been made to the Department, the matter was still outstanding when this Report was prepared.
It is extremely odd that a request should have been made to the department for years without anything having been done. When dealing with the base at Manus Island, the Auditor-General said -
Following a visit to Manus Island a departmental inspecting officer reported that storekeeping and store accounting generally were unsatisfactory at this base. Particular reference was made in his report to poor stowage of stores, inaccurate stowage records and the holding of large quantities of redundant and unserviceable stores. Insufficient staff, lack of knowledge of regulations and inadequate supervision were stated to have contributed to the unsatisfactory position. Remedial action is being taken.
I refer now to the report on “ H.M.A.S. Hobart “. What has been happening to this vessel has been the subject of a number of questions and inquiries both inside and outside this chamber. The Auditor-General, in the concluding paragraph, stated -
The position is that £1,430,637 has been spent on conversion and modernization of a vessel which, because of changes in Naval policy, is now placed, in its incomplete stale, in Reserve and that additional expenditure, estimated at £ 1,000,001), will have to be incurred before the ship can fulfil a role in the Fleet of the Royal Australian Navy.
From 1950 to the present time the Navy has followed a policy of change and has been unable to make up its mind about what to do with “ H.M.A.S. Hobart “. The figures that I have just read show that it has been quite a costly policy.
The Navy, the Army and the Air Force should be in a position to determine what they propose to do, and if their changes of policy lead to the expenditure of such large sums of money as has been spent on this one vessel, it is time that the Government had a look at the matter. It is unfortunate for honorable members that the Minister for the Navy (Senator O’sullivan) is a member of another place. The naval shipbuilding industry is important in relation to not only defence but also employment, and we are sometimes at a disadvantage in obtaining information about it. The Government proposes that the Navy is the particular arm of defence that should suffer most in the allocation of expenditure. It proposes to reduce naval expenditure by £11,000,000, but it has not proposed a corresponding reduction in the Estimates of other departments; in fact, the Estimates for some defence departments have been increased. The naval shipbuilding programme was laid down a few years ago, and it has been subjected to change. I do not deny that there must be changes in defence planning; but we have reached the stage at which the naval shipbuilding programme has almost run out, and the Government is not prepared to do anything to maintain the stability of the industry. I have already indicated that it is important not only from the viewpoint of defence but also because it employs thousands of artisans.
At Garden Island, about 290 men were dismissed about a month ago. About a fortnight ago, 60 men went from Cockatoo Island. That means that 350 men have been retrenched from naval establishments in Sydney. There is a possibility of the figure reaching 500 in another fortnight or so. Consequently, the question of the retention of staff has become a very important one. The Government should not disperse staff of this kin J which possesses the skill and experience that are so essential in maintaining this vital industry of shipbuilding, repair and maintenance for naval defence. These are some of the matters that 1 have desired to bring to the notice of the committee. I regret that the Government has seen fit to reduce the vote for the Department of the Navy, simply because it will mean unemployment. 1 feel that if the defence vote is to be reduced, it should not be reduced in a way that will create hardship and unemployment.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
. It must be evident to the listening public, and to honorable members in this chamber, that Opposition members, in adopting their present attitude to the vote that we are discussing - the defence vote - are running true to form. During the short period I have been a member of this chamber, I have heard the same criticism levelled, each year, by the Opposition in respect of the defence Estimates. Although 1 concede to Opposition members the right of criticism, I believe that when they criticize and try to pull certain things down, they should have something to put in their place, but such alternatives have not been forthcoming from the Opposition so far. It makes one think that the criticism has been levelled for the purpose of trying to get political advantage.
The matter about which 1 want to speak particularly is the national service training scheme, which, I believe, is one of the greatest defence measures undertaken by this Government. Not only is it a scheme whereby we are training lads in basic military training, but it is a scheme whereby we are also training them to be citizens. When this scheme was introduced by the Menzies Government, it was bitterly opposed by the Opposition, which made all sorts of attempts to upset the scheme and ridicule it. But, in spite of that opposition, I believe that the general public of Australia is satisfied that the national service training scheme has made a wonderful contribution to the country, not only in training the boys in basic defence, but, as 1 said before, in making them citizens.
I have made a particular study of the national service training scheme. I agree that there are certain ways in which improvements could be made to it. Certain mistakes are made, and always have been made, in dealing with defence measures, and they cannot be avoided, but I believe that the boys, in addition to receiving military training, are coming out of the scheme as better citizens. That is a speciality of the national service training scheme. Only last week, while I was proceeding from Brisbane to my home, I picked up two national service trainees who were going to their homes for week-end leave. When I see boys on the road, I pick them up and ask them what they think of the national service training scheme. Without knowing who I am, they all say the same thing. Without exception, they have told me that it is a wonderful idea and that the Government should be congratulated on producing it. Last week I picked up two boys who, in civil life, work in a bank - a white collar job. They were doing their training in the Royal Australian Air Force and they said that, apart from training in the use of aircraft and the other instruction that they were given, they were receiving training in how to take a more responsible place in civil life.
I should not like the national service training scheme to be disbanded. Last Thursday night, in stating that there would be a review of the whole of the defence scheme, the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) said -
I am not going to say for a moment that, now that we have these large numbers of men who have had basic training - some are continuing their training with the Citizen Miltary Forces -we must continue on the same scale.
I hope that those remarks do not indicate that there is to be a cutting back of the national training of our boys insofar as the call-up and the length of service are concerned. I am in favour of economies being made, but I hope that they will not be at the expense of the national service training scheme. I believe that the Government will do a great disservice to our country if it cuts back on that scheme.
I wish to raise another matter; I think that you will allow me to do this, Mr. Chairman. It comes under the proposed vote for the Department of the Army, and is in respect of boys who have been permanently injured while doing their national service training. In the first place, it must not be forgotten that these boys are compulsorily called up. They have to do their training. When they have been injured while doing military duty, they are taken into a repatriation hospital for a few months, and eventually they are discharged from the Army. Their treatment is then given to them, as private citizens, by public hospitals in the various States. A permanently injured boy who may be on his back for the rest of his life - and thank God there are only a few of them - is certainly paid compensation by the Commonwealth, but I do not think it is good enough. It is time that the Army set up its own hospital and continued to look after these boys, because they are soldiers in the strict sense of the word. They do their training under military officers and when they are injured they should not be, as it were, cast off into civil life as though one had said to them, “ This is the finish of you. We will pay you compensation. Now you can get treatment somewhere else “.
– Some of them are not paid compensation.
– I am talking about boys who have been compensated. I do not know of any who have not. I am talking of what I know, not of what I hear. There are boys who have been compensated.
– There are those who have not.
– The honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths) can speak for himself. 1 am speaking of what I know. I am speaking of the boys who have been compensated but who have been cast off as civilians. I believe that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) is sympathetic towards these boys, but as yet, the act does not make any provision for them. I should like these boys to remain the chief care and responsibility of the Army and the Government instead of being cast off, paid compensation, and told, in effect, “ We are finished with you. You are of no more use to us “. That is the position as it appears to the general public. These boys should not be. treated in that manner. 1 know of such a case in Brisbane. A boy, aged eighteen years, was injured in camp. He is now on his back, and will remain there until he dies. His spine was permanently injured while he was doing his military duties. His parents are poor people - his father is a linesman in the Postmaster-General’s Department - and they Jive 160 miles from Brisbane. The mother, who is not a complaining woman, has spoken to me about her son. She has not asked for any concession other than that the boy should be put into hospital among other boys and men who have a similar outlook in life to his, but not in a public hospital with older men who have nothing in common with him. If the act cannot be amended for this purpose, although I think it can, I should like the Government to give consideration to the granting of a free travel pass to parents of boys in such circumstances so that at least once a month they may be able to visit the hospital where their sons are patients. This is not being done at the present time.
I bring forward this matter because, in view of the small number of trainees involved - and even if there were more of them the same consideration should be given - the Army should retain an interest in them and give them the best possible treatment. I ask the Minister for the Army and the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) to examine this matter again. Any economies to be implemented in regard to defence should not be at the expense of the national service training scheme.
.- The subject of expenditure on defence services should not be approached in any spirit of carping criticism, because the international situation is too serious for honorable members to make cheap political capital out of it. The future of Australia, of ourselves, of our families and of generations to come is involved. This is no time for recriminations. World events are moving rapidly, and already it may be nearly too late to save this country. It is easy for members on the Opposition side to say to the Government, “ We told you so “, and to refer to what we have said in the past in regard to Australia’s unguarded shores, the neglected airfields that have been allowed to revert to the jungle, or the wasteful and unnecessary expenditure on projects such as the filling factory at St. Mary’s. No doubt, Government members would retaliate by referring to our alleged acts of omission or commission, but such charges and counter-charges would get us nowhere.
Destructive criticism is futile. The aim of any administration should be to profit from its past mistakes. I urge honorable members, therefore, to be constructive and to make useful suggestions as to how to strengthen Australia’s defences in the little time that is still at our disposal. Opinions vary as to how much longer we may be able to hold this country. Some say it will be ten years, others twenty years, but in view of the ominous signs on the horizon a conflict could start any day.
I am glad that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has seen the light, and has realized the need for a review of Australia’s defence strategy. In view of recent reports of defence expenditure and the changed situation overseas, obviously the imminence of danger to Australia has been brought home to him. As a result of the proposed review our approach to the matter of defence may have to be completely altered, as happened when Australia was threatened with invasion by the Japanese. At that time, experts such as General MacArthur were brought to Australia to advise on defence strategy, and changes in plans were made. If the Prime Minister were to make a statement, honorable members would be in a much better position to judge the present situation and decide whether the proposed defence expenditure is warranted. Until he does so we are largely in the dark. lt is not sufficient for Australia’s defence to be left to the Prime Minister and a few experts. All honorable members know that the views of experts differ. Sometimes they are as wide apart as the poles, and in the case of defence are biased towards the particular branch of the armed forces the individual expert represents. This is a time when the knowledge of both sides of the committee should be pooled, and the responsibility of making decisions on defence shared by all; the Government has a committee dealing with matters of defence, but that is not sufficient. After all, Government members are not in a position even to control the Cabinet. They have no say in me election of their Cabinet. Only Parliament as a whole can accept and discharge responsibility in regard to this matter.
Honorable members are largely in the dark concerning defence expenditure, and if representatives of the people are in the dark, one can understand the indifference and complacency on the part of the people in regard to this matter. No doubt the recent trip of the Prime Minister overseas revealed to him the gravity of the situation, and honorable members can expect to hear a statement from him about it. Democracy is like charity, it begins at home, but where there is no trust there is no love. The Prime Minister should take the Opposition into his confidence if he wants the cooperation of the Parliament and the whole of the people.
I suggest to the Prime Minister that he consider the establishment of a body similar to the War Advisory Council, which operated during the last war period. If the Government were to set up what might be termed a defence advisory council it could invite leaders of all parties to be represented and participate in its deliberations. This is a matter which calls for urgent consideration in the light of present circumstances. Ample evidence exists that there are elements in Australia that are desirous of undermining our economy and weakening our defences so as to play into the hands of forces overseas, and when the enemy strikes, to allow this country to fall into his hands like a ripe plum.
If the Prime Minister takes the Opposition into his confidence; he will find that his trust is respected, as it was during World War II. Perhaps secret sessions of Parliament might be held to deal with matters which should not be made public. But, the more the Government takes the people into its confidence, the more will be built up the morale of the community generally. The press might co-operate more than it does at present. Too much destructive criticism is being published, and not sufficient of a constructive nature. Nowadays, the newspapers are laying more stress on the seamy side of life, publishing stories of crime, sex, gambling and so on, and paying too little attention to matters which are more important to the moral uplift of the community. Large headlines and frontpage reports are devoted to the escapades of youn; ne’er-do-wells, but scarcely any space is given to important events happening overseas.
Last week, 1 happened to hear a broadcast reference to a happening in Peking, but when 1 looked for a report in the press next day, I found that few of the newspapers made any mention of it. lt was a matter which could have an important effect on the future of Australia. 1 heard an announcement concerning an order of the day issued by Marshal Peng Teh Huai, who is the Minister for Defence in Communist China. He was the leader of the Communist volunteers that were fighting against Australian troops in Korea only recently. In his order of the day, he called on all sections of the forces of Communist China to be ready to invade and liberate Formosa at an early stage. If such action were taken by those forces, it could be fraught with serious consequences for Australia. Some people adopt the attitude that what happens to 9,000,000 Chinese in Formosa does not really matter to Australia, and should not concern us at all. The time might come when the people up there might say, “ Why should we worry about what happens to 9,000,000 Australians “.
Present during those same celebrations was Dr. Soekarno, the President of Indonesia. When he was entertained the other night, according to one report I heard over the air, the President of Communist China, Mao Tse-tung, gave him a pledge that Communist China would support Indonesia in respect of the “ liberation “ of Irian, which is the Indonesian name for Dutch New Guinea. How much closer home does that bring the threat? Because, after all, this cry of liberation is one that is spreading throughout the East. Not so long ago the cry was “ Merdeka! “ which means freedom or independence. But now the cry is “ liberation! “. Perhaps before long we shall be hearing the cry that Australia’s aborigines are going to be liberated by these same forces in the East. Those are the menacing signs on the horizon which vitally effect this country and its future.
When I was visiting New Guinea recently I saw a report in the local newspaper, the “ South Pacific Post “, regarding an incident that caused very grave concern to many people in New Guinea, particularly returned servicemen and others who had only recently fought to hold that country against the invader. No reference was made to this particular incident by any newspaper in Australia. The report to which 1 refer was headed “ Sharp Reaction to Inspection by Indonesian Officer “. The report began -
Returned Soldiers and private citizens last week unanimously criticised the Government for allowing an Indonesian Army officer to visit (he Territory to inspect Army installations.
Port Moresby branch of the R.S.L. will ask State Congress to find out why the Government gave the Indonesian Army officer the necessary permission.
That is perhaps something the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) might elucidate, because, according to information furnished to me from reputable sources, when this Indonesian officer went around New Guinea inspecting various defence installations and other features of the country he took a camera with him, and took photographs as he went along. That information was given to me by the wife of an official who was in the aircraft with the Indonesian officer on his tour of New Guinea. Yet if an Australian arrived in Indonesia with a camera, the camera would be taken from him promptly. These may be innocent happenings, but, on the other hand, they may be matters calling for explanation and some serious consideration on our part.
I submit also, that the Government should consider the desirability of devoting part of our defence expenditure to propaganda. During the war we had the Department of Information, which has since been abolished, for the performance of that function. 1 understand that some function of that nature is carried out by the News and Information Bureau of the Department of the Interior. But what is actually being done in regard to propaganda about defence, and propaganda designed to strengthen the morale of the community generally? The world is engaged at present in a war of ideas. Propaganda is a very important means of giving the truth to the people and of strengthening public morale which, after all, is as important as - in fact, more important than - building factories and making munitions of war. I hope that the press of Australia will keep in mind the desirability of co-operating with the Government in giving the facts of the situation to the people.
I should like to refer now to our air defences. A very sad spectacle is provided by the falling into decay and disuse of onceimportant airfields in Australia, particularly in the north, where airfields have been allowed to be reclaimed by the jungle. During the last two years I had the opportunity to visit a number of those once great air bases, such as the Higginsfield aerodrome, on Cape York Peninsula, and the Truscott aerodrome, in Western Australia, which were used during the war. Recently I. also flew over war-time airfields in the Markham and Ramu valleys in New Guinea. The installations at all of these aerodromes have been dismantled, and the airfields are being allowed to go back to the jungle. That is a very sad and very serious state of affairs, because menacing events on the horizon indicate that we may have need of these strategic aerodromes in the very near future.
I agree with the contention of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock) that there should be an air umbrella over this country. I believe that it should extend from our west coast to New Zealand and Norfolk Island. The latter is a place where an air base could be established. Phillip Island could become an unsinkable aircraft carrier, and expenditure on the construction of a service aerodrome there would have more value than the huge expenditure we are making on the maintenance of the two aircraft carriers that we have. The airfield at Manus Island and those in the Markham and Ramu valleys, as well as those in northern Australia and along our north-west coast, could well be reestablished. We do not want to find ourselves in the position we were in during World War II. of having to consider the adoption of a “ Brisbane line “ strategy. We want to be in a position to go out and meet the enemy beyond this country’s shores, and not have to shrink back into our innermost defences as we nearly had to do on that occasion.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- The first thing on which I wish to touch, in a brief discussion of the proposed votes with which we are dealing, refers to the defence personnel who are engaged on several projects within Australia, namely those at Maralinga and Woomera. Whilst I realize that i he main debate on these matters will take place when the committee is considering the proposed vote of the Department of Supply, 1 think that this may be an appropriate time to mention the work being done on those two projects by members of the three defence services.
J was one of those honorable members who had a most interesting opportunity to visit Maralinga and Woomera last week as members of a parliamentary delegation. Apart from the technical interest of the explanations that were given to us, I think my main impression, after having had the opportunity to sort out my ideas, is of the dedication of self that is apparent in all the people engaged in the projects. This applies to the service personnel as well as 10 the scientists who are there. I was impressed by their complete personal identification with, and belief in the importance of, the job they are carrying out at the establishments at Maralinga and Woomera, and by their belief that by doing the best they can in the fields in which they are working they are indeed helping to prevent a war throughout the world. I think that that is the motivating force behind all the work they are doing there. So I am taking the opportunity afforded by this debate to pay tribute to the people who are doing that work in that remote region of Australia.
The second thing that I wish to discuss concerns the three service Ministers - the Minister for the Navy (Senator O’sullivan), the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) and the Minister for Air (Mr. Townley). I hope that an opportunity will be given to honorable members to visit the various establishments of the three services and see members of the services engaged in training and at work. In expressing that hope I realize that it is far easier for honorable members to visit Army establishments than it is for them to visit Air Force and naval establishments. But I remind the Ministers concerned that the former Minister for the Navy provided an opportunity for honorable members from both sides of the chamber to witness Operation Shop Window, which the Navy staged in December. 1954. That was a most interesting experience for those who had the opportunity of heinwith the Navy on that occasion, and I think it gave the honorable members concerned a background knowledge that they would not otherwise have had an opportunity to gain. Prior to that honorable members were invited to Fairbairn aerodrome for Operation Potshot, and the knowledge they gained and the demonstrations they saw were once again of great advantage to them. It is possible for honorable members to visit the various Army camps in their own districts, and I suggest that they take an interest in the work of the personnel, especially that of national service trainees undergoing their initial training of three months in camp. This interest would encourage those who take part in these camps, and it would be good for honorable members to see the work and the training.
I should like again to bring to the attention of the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) the representations made by a number of honorable members on both sides of the chamber that the pay of civilian personnel assisting in training should not be included in income for taxation purposes. This request has been made to the Treasury on various occasions, but so far as I know it has not yet been acceded to. I think it is necessary for honorable members to support the request, because the personnel concerned give a great deal of their time assisting in training others. Certainly they are paid for it, but, after meeting necessary expenses, they have nothing left out of that pay. Indeed, many of them suffer financial loss. The individual contribution towards Australia’s defence made by each of these officers, non-commissioned officers, and men is considerable, and I believe we should encourage them in their work and see to ii that they do not suffer financial loss as a result. Those to whom I refer are the members of the Naval Reserve, Citizen Military Forces, the Citizen Air Force, and the Royal Australian Air Force Active Reserve.
I should like to conclude my remarks by mentioning an entirely domestic matter. I see by the smile on the face of my friend and colleague, the Minister for the Army, who is at the table, that he knows at once that I am about to refer to the need for a new army drill hall at Gosford, in New South Wales. I do not wish to go into the details now. but merely to summarize the position. At the present time responsibility for the central coastal area of New South Wales from the north shore in Sydney northwards rests with the composite 17/ 18th Battalion. Owing to the distribution of the population, B company - or Baker company, in service parlance - which has its head-quarters at Gosford, is considerably over strength. The Minister and his predecessor have helped in the past by obtaining for the company an old staff establishment that was used by the New South Wales Department of Railways, but this is entirely inadequate for a company head-quarters, and even more inadequate for a battalion head-quarters, which we hope the Gosford establishment will become in the very near future. It seems to me as an observer that the number of trainees being drawn from the Gosford area is so great that the 18th Battalion will again become a separate entity, as it was before the 1939-45 war. The action taken to make a head-quarters area available is appreciated, but the establishment provided is totally inadequate. There is no store in which security stores may be kept. As a consequence, on every training night and whenever week-end camps are held, all arms and security stores have to be obtained from the composite battalion’s head-quarters at Chatswood, in Sydney. This makes training and administration very difficult. Provision has been made in the Estimates in the last two financial years for the construction of a new drill hall at Gosford, and I hope that the Minister will take the opportunity, now that I have reminded him again, of examining the detailed representations I have made in the past in order to ascertain whether it can now be provided;
.- A total of £190,000,000 is provided in the Estimates for expenditure on the defence services. I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) for the reduction of the proposed vote for the Department of Defence by £1 as a censure upon the Government for its lack of policy and its constant failure to adopt a comprehensive and properly planned programme for the defence of Australia. This is something of which honorable members must take notice and for which the Government is deserving of the strongest condemnation. On Thursday last the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) pointed the accusing finger at Opposition members, and stated that their criticisms of these matters were insincere. I remind him that Opposition members in this chamber are not the only ones who are constrained to voice their dissatisfaction with the present position. Persons who are in a position to speak on behalf of the nation by virtue of their authority in public positions also have offered criticism. The Auditor-General, for example, is not satisfled with certain aspects of the administration of the defence services. In his view some of the accounting methods adopted do not provide proper safeguards and do not account for various items as fully as is desired. In addition, we have heard the views of the Public Accounts Committee, which reviews public expenditure in various fields. It has only recently considered the expenditure on the defence services, and we know how unsatisfactory was the information it was given on certain matters. As a result, the committee made very strong comment upon some unsatisfactory features of defence expenditure. So it is clear that not only Opposition members in this chamber have expressed concern at certain aspects of defence expenditure.
Lavish expenditure has been made on some things which no doubt were nonessential and have proved extremely expensive for the people of Australia. This Government, during the six years that it has been in office, has expended about £1,031,000,000 on defence, but only about £226,000,000 out of that vast sum has been spent on materials and equipment which are apparent for all to see. I now desire to refer to an article which appeared in to-day’s “ Adelaide Advertiser “, and which was written by a correspondent called Douglas Wilkie. It reads -
OUR WINGS ARE CLIPPED.
Our aircraft industry, set up at huge cost as a vital defence need, Ls a wasting asset for want of Government orders.
Two former Chiefs of the Air Staff have given this warning. They charge Canberra with drift and apathy.
But more than apathy lies at the back of it all - a failure to dovetail our defence needs at home with defence policies abroad.
For instance, the Australian public was noi told that India wanted to place big orders for Australian-made. Avon Sabre jets.
But Canberra raised its hands in horror, lt feared that to fulfil orders from India might “ offend Pakistan “.
Again, had we allowed Israeli pilots to tram in Australia, it is certain that Israel would have bought from us the Sabre jets which are now being supplied by Canada.
We washed our hands of Israel lest we “ offend the Arabs “, including Nasser’s Egypt, against whom we’re now waging a cold war.
New Zealand, too, should be taking our Sabre jets but for some unexplained New Zealand fears of offending British aircraft interests.
Thus Australia lost tens of millions of pounds’ worth of export business. At the same time, we denied ourselves an expanding aircraft industry which would have done more for our future security than anything else we have gained by an outlay of £1,000,000,000 on defence since 1950.
However, it is not only the press that expresses doubts about the Government’s defence policy. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has risen in this chamber time and again to detail to honorable members the unsatisfactory nature of the Government’s policy on civil defence. This Government has made practically no provision at all, up to the present time, for civil defence in Australia.
– Order! The honorable member is now proceeding to deal with a matter that is not at present before the committee, but which is to be dealt with in the next section of the Estimates to be placed before honorable members.
– Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am making but a passing reference to civil defence, about which I believe there is great public unrest, in order to show that the public is greatly concerned not only at the Government’s defence policy, but also at its policy on civil defence. The Government has delayed any decisive action on defence, but that is characteristic of it, and was characteristic of the non-Labour government that preceded the Labour government which steered this country through World War II. I have before me notes that I made while a member of the Government during the last war, and 1 intend to read some of these to honorable members to indicate the unprepared state in which this country was left by a nonLabour government. A note that I made on Tuesday, 30th December, 1941, reads -
A thorough review of the position in the Pacific was made by the chiefs of the fighting forces. The position is pathetically weak, and we shall be a fortunate people if we escape a calamity. There are promises of help, but these are far from satisfying.
On Friday, 31st January, 1942, I made the following note: -
Another very serious review of the position with the chiefs of staff. The aircraft position is deplorable. The former governments led by Mr. Menzies and Mr. Fadden have a serious position to face with the Australian public for neglect in providing this most important arm of defence.
I could continue to read similar notes that I made about other aspects of our inability at that time to offer any trained support to those who were resisting the bombing of Darwin, and who were resisting the enemy elsewhere. Honorable members will perhaps be astonished to know that when Labour came to office during World War II., we did not have one single fighter aircraft. Moreover, our anti-aircraft defences were practically non-existent, and the best of our fighting forces were out of this country. That was the deplorable defence position in which a non-Labour government left this country. I repeat that even when Darwin was being bombed and a decision had to be made about the return of the Australian Imperial Forces to this country, it seemed to me that the parties then in opposition, and which now comprise the Government, attempted to have them diverted to Burma rather than to bring them back to Australia to defend this country and its people. It is apparent that much has yet to be revealed about the shortcomings of our defence system in those days; but at the present time we find that a government of the same political colour as that which failed to give us a strong defence system during the last war, is again taking no definite action and is showing no willingness to develop a suitable plan for the defence of this country.
The Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) has stated that probably as the result of a review that is now taking place certain changes will be made, and that he suspects that those changes will bring subsequent changes in their train. Of course they will! But that is a most remarkable method of reasoning, and it indicates tha’ to the present time this Government has no overall defence plan. The best evidence of that is exhibited by the way in which this Government has dealt with H.M.A.S. “ Hobart “. “ Hobart “ is about twenty years old, having been completed in January, 1936.
The Government has already spent £1,500,000 on the ship, and about £1,000,000 remains to be spent to put it into first-class order. However, instead of completing the re-equipping of this ship, the Government intends to put it into reserve. If “ Hobart “ is later required for service, the work will take a long time and much money will have to be spent on it before it is ready. That indicates, exactly, the approach of this Government to our defence problems; as it was in war, so it is in peace - indecision and inexcusable uncertainty. lt is really equivalent, therefore, to scrapping the vessel because in the future it will be able to render little or no service to the people of this country who have provided £1.500,000 to refit it. That work will contribute nothing to the defence services of Australia. The situation calls for something more than sniggering on the part of the Minister for Defence. His explanations are totally inadequate and his demeanour when he challenges and charges members of the Opposition with insincerity is unwarranted.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I direct the attention of the committee to the Estimates for the Navy. In recent debates and in questions asked in the House, honorable members opposite have referred to a reduction that may have to be effected in the number of workers at the naval dockyards at Williamstown and Garden Island and the naval torpedo establishment. Like Opposition members, I also deplore the fact that workers have had to be retrenched at those establishments, and I deplore it for the additional reason that it will mean that work on new vessels being constructed at the dockyards at present will have to be cut, because that will result in delay in achieving preparedness in the Navy in the near future. I trust, therefore, that Opposition members will join in a demand for an increase in the Naval Estimates so as to avoid the possibility of the unemployment to which they have referred on so many occasions.
The proposed vote for the Navy this year of £39,000,000 compares with last year’s vote of £42,500,000. Before dealing with the future and considering whether the proposed vote for this year will be sufficient one must consider whether the Navy has spent its money wisely during the preceding year.
Insinuations that it has not done so have come from the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and other honorable members opposite. 1 emphatically disagree with those honorable members. In considering the naval Estimates we must consider the task of the Navy and what it is endeavouring to do. It must, as always, have two objectives - the protection of our sea lanes in time of war and the ability to transport and land a task force wherever it may be required during operations near our shores. These duties must be carried out, as far as possible, in co-operation with friendly navies which may be our allies in any future emergency. At present the areas in which such operations seem most likely to occur are the south-west Pacific and South-East Asia.
Bearing in mind the tasks which the Navy must carry out we need to consider whether it is able and equipped to perform them should an emergency arise at the present time. Without looking too much into the future let us remember that even at the present our task is to contain communism in South-East Asia. The whole basis for such containment is the arrangement that is being built up around Seato. Seato is calmly and quietly, without a great deal of publicity, doing the job for which it was created. Over the last few weeks and months it has been obscured, possibly, by the amount of publicity that has been given to the Suez Canal crisis; but even now, in parts of South-East Asia, the Seato forces are doing their job of containing the inarch of communism southward from red China. The Australian Navy is playing its part at the present time, because only last week there appeared in the press reports of the bombardment of certain installations by destroyers from Australia. In the light of the tasks the Navy is destined to carry out, it can do an efficient job with its present equipment. Exercises are being carried out at the present time north of the Philippines and along the coast of Thailand.
In the naval forces engaged in those exercises Australia has two modern aircraft carriers, of which “ Melbourne “ is the most modern of its type in any of the allied navies. It is equipped with Gannet and Sea Venom aircraft, which are also as modern as those in operation in any other navy. No better aircraft for carrying out anti-submarine work can be found than the Gannet, and as an all-purpose fighter the Sea Venom cannot be bettered. Those forces also include two Australian destroyers, which are as modern as those in any other navy, and three frigates which have just been re-equipped and are carrying out their work as well as any frigate in any other navy is capable of doing. Nearly 4,000 officers and men are engaged in the exercises near Thailand in conjunction with other allied navies. They are capable of co-operating not only with the Royal Navy and the navy of the United States of America but also with the other navies operating under the Seato organization. Therefore, judging by the present exercises being carried out, the Australian Navy is capable of transporting a task force that could be used in any form of localized warfare such as was experienced in Korea.
The honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) spent much time in going back fourteen or fifteen years, but it is much more satisfactory to look at the present state of our defences. In the light of our immediate needs and judged on current standards, the Navy to-day, for its size, is modern and efficient and the moneys that have been voted in the past have been well spent. The honorable member for Bonython referred also to “ Hobart “. “ Hobart “ is an illustration of the problems of naval defence. In 1951 an urgent need existed for bringing the fleet to a state of readiness as soon as possible. New ships such as the aircraft carrier “ Melbourne “ were too far from completion to be readily available. We had, therefore, to make use of the ships that could be made available immediately, and the Government decided that “ Hobart “ should be refitted. By 1953 when the refit was half completed, the only trouble was that the threat of war had disappeared; but, in answer to the honorable member for East Sydney, it was then decided to defer the work then being carried out on “ Hobart “ and use the money and materials available to provide for newer ships, such as “ Melbourne “, that were coming forward by that time. Using the argument of the honorable member for East Sydney, one could say that because there was no war between 1856 and 1900, there was no need for the British Navy then. But it was because we had a navy to protect us that there was no war during that time. Similarly, it was because the Western Powers were making active preparations for defence, including the work on H.M.A.S. “Hobart”, that there was no war in 1953.
The time has come for us to review our defence policy and to look ahead. The main role of the Royal Australian Navy in a future war would be to keep our sea lanes open. In spite of what has been said by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock) in previous debates, 1 contend that Australia would be doomed to defeat in a war unless it could maintain a flow of imports. We could not maintain that flow by air - certainly not with any of the types of aircraft at present available. To maintain the flow of imports at the present level, using air transport only, we should require a force of 10,000 transport aircraft and 100,000 aircrew members. In addition, we should require 89 oil tankers - which would have to be escorted by the Navy - to bring oil to Australia so that the transport aircraft could fly back to the bases from which they had come.
The task of our Navy is made more important by what is happening in relation to the Suez Canal. That task must be to preserve sea communication in the South Pacific, in co-operation with allied nations. In a war on any scale that can be imagined at present, submarines would be used extensively. Otherwise, why does Russia, for instance, keep 300 or more submarines capable of operating in the Pacific? Despite statements to the contrary sometimes made on behalf of the Royal Australian Air Force, 1 maintain that anti-submarine warfare at distances greater than 300 miles from these shores can be waged efficiently, reliably and economically only by aircraft carriers. Some members of the Air Force have stated that aircraft carriers are more vulnerable than land bases. The answer to that argument may be that although over 50 allied aircraft carriers were operating in the oceans of the world between 1941 and 1945, not one of them was lost as a result of submarine warfare. Looking ahead for ten years - who can look further than that at this stage - we see that aircraft carriers will be an essential part of the Navy. They must form a part of the defences of Australia. If war broke out, they would be required for anti-submarine warfare, because we could not rely on any forces other than naval forces to keep our sea lanes open.
Therefore, I say that the Navy is proceed”ing on the right lines to-day. We have a Navy of which we can be proud and which is capable of carrying out any task that may be allotted to it. But I do not believe that its present high state of efficiency can be maintained on an annual vote of £39,000,000. I believe that the cut that has been made in the vote will prejudice the future effectiveness of the Navy. I am certainly not a person who looks for war, but I am a person who desires that we shall have an extremely good insurance policy -against war. I believe that the vote for the Navy should be increased, even if that increase could be done only at the expense -of the votes for other arms of our defence forces.
.- No sane person wants war. I should say that even if an insane person wanted war, he would not admit it. Every sane person wants an insurance against war. The only point really at issue is the nature of the insurance policy. I suggest that the difference between the Government and the Opposition -on that matter is that the Government looks mainly to military, naval and air forces and that the Opposition looks mainly to international co-operation and economic development.
Much has been said in the course of this debate to test or justify the total vote for the defence services. The Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) and Government supporters have sought to justify the total defence expenditure on several main grounds, to which I should like to direct -the attention of the committee now. The first ground was the international situation. It appears that, although the international situation was bad from 1950 to 1954, it has been getting increasingly better since then. The second ground referred to was the state of the national economy. The Government has said that, in assessing defence expenditure, it has had in view the importance of maintaining economic stability. All that needs to be said about that argument is that economic stability has not been -maintained by the Government. The third matter mentioned was the claims of national development, lt is worth while for the com mittee to note that the claims of national development tend to be considered as things which conflict with the national defence policy. The fourth matter mentioned by the Minister was related to strategic plans. I point out there that neither the Minister nor any other government spokesman made reference to the economic condition or the economic development of other countries.
The Minister said, also, that what a country could devote to defence was a matter of judgment, in the light of its own circumstances. In that connexion, there are differences of opinion which sometimes cross party lines. In arriving at a judgment, the psychology of defence must be taken into account. The Government’s domestic policy depends upon a high priority being given to defence and also to social tension in the international field. Broadly speaking, the Government’s policy is dominated by the issue of anti-communism. Therefore, for domestic purposes, it is necessary for the Government to place defence and the social tensions arising therefrom in a position of high priority.
The second point to be considered is that the problem of the determination of defence expenditure tends to be seen as the problem of justifying a total defence expenditure of £200,000,000, £190,000,000, or whatever it is. But the requirements of strategic planning - which was mentioned by the Minister - demand that close attention be given to the composition or make-up of the total. We have been buying or making Centurion tanks at a cost of £48,000 each. What kind of strategic plans have we in mind there? Where are those tanks expected to be used? Since 1949, we have been buying or making Vampire fighters, AvonSabre fighters, Vampire trainers and Canberra bombers. What kind of strategic planning is behind that? Where are those aircraft expected to be used? Those are matters about which we have received no information from a government which considers defence largely in terms of total expenditure. An amount of £103,000,000 has been expended on the national service training scheme to train 180,000 youths. That represents an average expenditure of £572 on the training of each youth. I suggest that we are not getting value for our money in this respect. Then there is the Woomera Rocket Range. Where does that project fit into the strategic programme that was mentioned by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson)? Of the total amount of £1,011,000,000 that has actually been expended by the Government on defence since 1950-51, £324,000,000, or 32 per cent., was for capital assets. The remainder - 68 per cent. - has been expended on pay and maintenance. When we look a little more closely at the figures, we find that only 1.3 per cent, of the total amount of £1,011.000,000 has been expended on machinery for actual defence production. This distribution of the defence services’ votes strongly suggests that we have got little of the actual machinery of war. Of course, that might be sound, because capital assets become obsolete very quickly. Looking now to the expenditure of £707,000,000 on pay and maintenance, we see that our permanent defence forces now total 52,000, compared with 34.000 in 1949, although 180,000 youths have been called up for training under the national service training scheme. lt seems to me that, if the expenditure on defence of £1,011,000,000 is to be tested for value, we must rely very much on the value of training and experience. What, then, is the value of training and experience obtained, when it is limited to a relatively small number of people? I think it is very significant that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) announced on Thursday last -
That announcement has great significance, because the Government has already expended £1,011,000,000 on a defence programme which, I suggest, is of doubtful value. That expenditure has contributed very much to inflation, and to the Government’s inability to do justice to those in receipt of low incomes. The announcement has added significance because, right up till last Thursday, the right honorable gentleman and his supporters had defended every detail of the defence programme, as though it were perfect. Then, suddenly, the Prime Minister announced that the defence programme would be reviewed “ in the light of certain circumstances “. What’ are those circumstances? The Government has given us no indication whatever what they are. r believe that both the Parliament and the people have a right to know the particular circumstances that the Government is likely to take into account before decisions are made which will be irrevocable. Let us consider what is the aim of a defence programme. The simple answer is, that the aim of a defence programme is to prepare for war.
That needs, according to the Prime Minister’s statement on Tuesday last -
A full-bodied system of long-range and longperiod conscription … an enormous increase in money in order to provide all the modern equipment that goes to make a modern army, navy and air force.
I suggest that this kind of a defence programme cannot be achieved either now or in the foreseeable future, because it is not necessary to prepare for war. Even the Government recognizes that it is not necessary to prepare for war at the present time, but it is not prepared to admit that fact, because its domestic policy depends upon a contrary assumption. I suggest, therefore, that the aim of the defence policy of this Government is something less than preparation for war. It should, therefore, include such things as the improvement of international relations. At this stage, I should like to quote from “ Partners in Progress “, which was really a report submitted to the President of the United States of America by the International Development Advisory Board in March, 1951. At page 4, this observation was made -
Only by working together in our common interest can we produce the increased volume of food, raw materials, and manufactures that is needed. To achieve lasting peace, security, and well-being in the world we must join forces in an economic offensive to root out hunger, poverty, illiteracy, and disease.
That is the kind of thing that must be given a far higher priority in Australia’s defence programme than it is at present accorded. But I suggest that there are other factors perhaps of lesser importance, that should have a place in our defence policy. We should train personnel and enable them to gain experience, but not necessarily much more. We should obtain the quantity of modern equipment that is necessary for that purpose. We should develop our country economically, for it is upon productive capacity that a defence potential depends. This latter point demands a transport plan for the construction of roads and railways, and the development of air and shipping services. Up to date, these things have not been related to defence production. At the present time, I venture to say that the so-called main highway of Australia - the Hume-highway - could not carry a company of troops, much less a battalion or a division. Judging from recent experiences, they would get bogged between Holbrook and Tarcutta, or between Albury and Holbrook. At least, this demands that the Government, pursuant to its defence policy, should accord national development a defence priority.
If the Government considers that a high level of priority can be given to national development only on the grounds of defence, then let that be done. Furthermore, this demands a forthright approach to the question of solving the CommonwealthStates financial deadlock. This can only be brought to an end by Commonwealth initiative and action. Some of the main differences of opinion between the Government and the Opposition concern Australia’s national development and the economic development of under-developed countries. The following statement in reference to defence needs also appears in the report to which I have referred: -
The Advisory Board has given this long and serious thought. The more deeply we have explored the relationship of economic development to defence the more impressed we have been with how truly inseparable they are.
I suggest that it is not much good for the honorable member for Fawkner and other Government supporters to rely on bombardment, aircraft carriers and frigates to contain communism in South-East Asia. To do so is to court failure, unless we improve our relations with the backward countries and assist them to improve their standard of living. We have not related economic development sufficiently to defence, and we have not worked closely enough with the leaders of the underdeveloped countries. Until we do these things, there can be no security for the Western countries, particularly Australia. The methods of the nineteenth century are not good enough for to-day. We cannot obtain security by means only of hydrogen bombs and jet fighters.
– What are the Russians doing?
– I am not concerned with what the Russians are doing. I am talking about what Australia should do. We can obtain security only by working to improve the economic development of and to raise the standard of living of backward countries. A much higher degree of importance must be placed on international co-operation and economic development than is at present accorded to it with correspondingly less emphasis on force. We can achieve national security in no other way.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. KENT HUGHES (Chisholm) r4.55]. - The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) has just been advocating idealism as the basis for the solution of all defence problems. Ideals are all very well, and every one should have them, but we live in a human world, and we have to mix realism judiciously with idealism. The line that the honorable member has advocated is followed by the same people who follow Mao Tsetung, whose maxim is that everything comes out of the end of a gun. We must be realistic as well as idealistic.
On 18th September last I had a few words to say, during the budget debate, on the subject of defence, and 1 should like now to amplify some of the remarks that I made on that occasion. I said then -
I ask the Government to look at these things.
I referred there to certain suggestions regarding the defence programme. I then continued -
The Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) stated recently that certain things must be altered. T hope that they will be altered quickly.
When the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) answered a question on Tuesday last on defence, I felt that the policies advocated by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock) and other back-benchers on the Government side, who have more than a passing acquaintance with defence subjects, were to be brushed aside. When, two days later, a change of outlook occurred, and the Prime Minister rightly made arrangements to announce it, I was delighted that that change had taken place, and I am sure that the Prime Minister pleased not only many members of Parliament, but also most of the serious-minded citizens in this community.
The review to which the Prime Minister referred will commence with a conference that is to start to-morrow.
No one will take the censure motion of the Opposition seriously. It was presented in a manner that showed at least shallow, if not mischievous, thinking. 1 should like to remind honorable members opposite that one of the troubles that beset Australia to-day is that too many people overseas remember the policy that was followed during the last war, which gave rise to criticism expressed in these terms, “ You Australians are great fighters, but you like to right at home “. That criticism has resulted in many difficulties in obtaining equipment and armaments being experienced to-day, and the Labour government must bear the responsibility for these difficulties.
It is not the amount of money per head spent on defence in Australia that is in question. Indeed, our defence expenditure appears rather shabby when compared with the amount spent per head by Great Britain and the United States of America, the two countries that Opposition members expect to look after them if an emergency arises, as we hope it will not. Those countries are spending much more per head on defence than we are. Therefore, it is not a question of how much money should be spent, but more a question of how the amount that is spent is used. The Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride), who is now sitting on the front bench, has come in for much criticism lately. I feel sympathetic towards him. He, like the Minister for Works (Mr. Fairhall), or any other Minister, is naturally loya] to the Government’s policy, and he must take the criticism that comes along. But I believe I would not be far wrong in saying that the Minister is no more responsible for defence policy than the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) was responsible for the failure of his recent mission to London.
I do not want to deal with the past. The conference that is to take place to-morrow will deal with the present and the future. The Prime Minister said that he spent the whole of the week-end before last working on the problems of defence. His suggestions were put to Cabinet on Tuesday last, with the result that, in the words of the Prime Minister, “ the whole defence programme is to be reviewed in the light of certain circumstances “. 1 certainly, hope; and I believe, that after the defence programme has been reviewed these special circumstances will be announced to the Parliament and to the people. 1 have been in parliament for 29i years* and therefore I suppose that I may be classed as a professional politician.
– A mere boy!
– Yes. 1 was in the Army for only twelve years, and J would not count myself as a professional expert in service matters, particularly a& the last occasion on which I served was as long ago as 1946. It would be foolish, therefore, for me to suggest that one service should be supported vis-a-vis another, or to> express a view on whether flat-tops are up to date or out of date. What I should like to know, and what the Parliament and the people are entitled to know, is what the Government has decided should be the role of our defence forces in the future, in the light of the changed conditions that have been referred to. No-one else can. make that decision for us; it must be made on the basis of realism, not of emotionalism or idealism, even if we have to break with the old traditional roles of the past.
I should like to point out that noChief of the General Staff could possibly plan a reasoned and sensible defence programme unless the Government, which alone can make the decision, has decided’ our future defence role. In the same way. no commanding officer in the field canwrite an operation order unless he is first told what the objective is, and he has an> opportunity to make an appreciation of the situation with that objective in view. ] hope that none of our troubles arise from our Chiefs of Staff not having been told the role that we shall adopt, or from their having been told of roles so ambiguous that it is impossible for them to advise the Government correctly. I am sorry to be using what I suppose is service language in the chamber, but I expect that most honorable members understand it.
– On this side!
– Certainly on thisside, but a number on the other side, too.. The world that we live in, as we all know, is a constantly and rapidly changing world, and traditional lines of thought in this day and age just will not do. I am sure that the Prime Minister, having finished his overseas investigations, will agree with that statement. I believe that the conference that is to take place to-morrow will result in some -very important changes in the defence set-up. The first thing that we must realize - keeping to general principles - is that the security of the free world depends on the closest possible co-operation between the British -Commonwealth and the United States of America. Even if and when Russia agrees to a reasonable disarmament programme and proper international inspection of atomic plants, that close co-operation will still be of great value and the basis or foundation of the security of the democracies. Therefore, our defence programme, in whatever small way it is carried on, must be modelled on strengthening the British Commonwealth and the ties between it and the United States -of America. If that means, as I believe it does, that we have to aline ourselves in the Pacific more with the United States, it does not mean that there should be any loosening of ties with the British Commonwealth.
I wish to make a few suggestions at this stage. Here in the Pacific our role, in relation to defence, is like Caesar’s Gaul. It is divided into three parts - local, coldwar, and emergency or hot war. In connexion with the local function, we must defend ourselves, or be prepared to defend ourselves, against sporadic raids by sea or air. Here again it is a question of equating the possible as against the probable scale of attack, which is a matter for experts. The same applies to civil defence, about which there was a lot of criticism when I was a Minister. In that connexion there is also the comparison of the possible as against the probable scale of attack, and the experts should be able to make the majority of decisions in this regard. “Secondly, we must be prepared to assist in any police action, such as that which is being undertaken in Malaya at present, as long as those nations that are our allies or friends desire it or it is deemed necessary. Thirdly, in connexion with emergencies, we must do whatever lies within our power and capacity, through Anzus and Seato, to plan our defence forces so as to assist in the overall Pacific defence strategy. If I am correct, or even partly correct, in that assertion we must surely face up to the necessity to break away from our traditional types of equipment. As the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock) has so constantly insisted, we must integrate our arms, equipment and communications system with America’s overall Pacific defence strategy. The first step to this end must be a conference with American service chiefs in order to ascertain their views - though we need not necessarily follow them - and learn how we can best build up our defences to assist the general Pacific defence strategy.
Of course, the Prime Minister was right when he said that we were now better equipped, and better prepared, than ever before, but the only other occasion with which such a comparison could be made was before the 1914 war, when we had compulsory military training. I was then a lieutenant in the school cadets and the Prime Minister was a captain in the Melbourne University Rifles. Such comparisons make good debating points, but they do not provide sound evidence of a good defence system. Times have changed so greatly that we must now look at things in a very different light. A system which, in this day and age, obviously could not put a division in the field in less than six months is largely, though not altogether, a waste of money.
Is our national service training scheme useful under existing conditions, or should it be altered to a system with a selective, or ballot, basis such as we find in America, where the term of service is longer and rehabilitation benefits are provided in order to make up to the serviceman for lost time?
Many other questions arise. How does St. Marys fit into the jigsaw puzzle that goes to make up the revised picture of modern warfare? Will it be able to operate at more than 50 per cent, of its capacity if we do not quickly go ahead with the production of the FN rifle? What is the opinion of the service chiefs on this matter? If we are to alter our equipment, is the right machinery being installed at St. Marys?
Still further questions arise. Was the statement made last Sunday by the ex-Chief of the Air Staff correct, or is he biased by the fact that he is now a director of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation? What was, and is, the cost of building aircraft in this country compared with what we can buy them for? Cannot the technical know-how be obtained in any other way? Have our back-room boys attempted to improve on the overseas product, and if so, what has it cost, and what has been the result in terms of aircraft production?
I do not profess to be able to answer these questions, but they all arise as a result of this discussion. Surely in this day and age we can be our age and acknowledge that this is the age of nuclear warfare, guided missiles, long-range bombers and jetpropelled transport. This is an age when, in an emergency, all our communications will lie eastwards and not westwards, and I do not think that the recent Suez trouble has made any difference to that.
My main purpose in speaking has been to ask the Prime Minister to inform the Parliament and the people of the special circumstances that have caused this review of the defence programme, and what the Government has decided shall be our role in both local and external defence. I hope that the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) will make a statement at once on the Government’s decisions, because these are important matters that should not have to await consideration until the Prime Minister has a quiet or free week-end.
– I listen with respect to the honorable member for Chisholm (Mr. Kent Hughes) when he speaks on the subject of defence expenditure and the speech that he has just delivered to this committee indicates quite clearly the need for the review that is to be undertaken during this week. In common with many honorable members of this Parliament, I believe that much of the expenditure of the taxpayers’ money on defence has been wasteful, and that this must happen if it is not spent along the lines best suited to our defence, and in a proper manner.
I propose to refer to one item of defence expenditure which illustrates the wastage of taxpayers’ money, and also the arrogance of the top naval gold braid towards the people of this country and. indeed, towards the Government and the Parliament. I refer once again to the proposal to transfer the Royal Australian Naval College from Flinders, in Victoria, to Jervis Bay, in the Australian Capital Territory. This proposal has been under discussion many times and, despite the fact that every other government from 1930 to 1956 had rejected similar proposals, earlier this year a decision was made that the college should be transferred. The subject was debated in this Parliament on several occasions, and there was a deferment of the proposal until a representative deputation saw the Prime Minister, but a subsequent Cabinet decision confirmed that the Royal Australian Naval College would be transferred from Flinders to Jervis Bay. I continued to oppose the proposal because I believed it to be completely bad and completely wasteful.
On 28th July, 1953, when the move was previously under consideration, the present Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon), who was then Minister for the Navy, announcing that the transfer would not take place, at least in that financial year, said that the proposal presented many difficulties at a time when defence expenditure could not be increased. Some weeks ago, when the budget was presented to Parliament, it was made quite clear that the estimated expenditure for the Department of the Navy, which was £39,065,000, was £11,500,000 less than the estimate for the previous year and, in fact, £9,000,000 less than actual expenditure in that year. Actual expenditure for 1955-56 was £48,023,754 and estimated expenditure for 1956-57 is £39,065,000. Therefore, th» proposed expenditure of the Department, of the Navy this year is almost exactly £9,000,000 less than the actual expenditure last year, but I am shocked to learn that the Navy still proposes to go ahead with the transfer of the Royal Australian Naval College from Flinders to Jervis Bay. It could not be done in 1953, a year in which defence expenditure could not be increased, but it is being done this year, when the expenditure on the Navy is to be reduced by £9,000,000, or almost 20 per cent.!
Another look should be taken at this proposal. Our defence policy is being reviewed this week and as the handling of the taxpayers’ money to the best advantage of the defence of this country is the responsibility of this Parliament, the matter should be examined with a vc-y critical eve. I do not think that the selfishness of senior naval officers - and T use those Words quite advisedly - “should be allowed *o obscure the position. The Government should be given the fa.cts bv the Naval Board. T suggest that it has not been given them.
– The honorable member does not know what he is talking about.
– 1 know quite well what I am talking about. The figures quoted by the Minister for the Navy (Senator O’sullivan) in another place, and by his representative in this House, in answering our criticism of the proposal indicate that it would be necessary to provide at Jervis Bay for an enrolment of 110 cadets. Other figures that are available show that that is completely incorrect. I quoted these figures in this chamber on 20th June this year, and it is completely evident that at the present rate of recruitment and under the present system of restricted entry, there will be in 1959 not 110 cadets, as predicted by the Minister, but 49 in the Royal Australian Naval College. On the Minister’s own figures as given to this Parliament this year, a staff of 94 will be required for those 49 cadets. Again quoting the Minister’s words, the move from Flinders to Jervis Bay will require the enlistment of an additional four officers and 43 ratings. So that by 1959, one year after the college commences to operate at Jervis Bay, if in fact it does operate there - it will be a shocking tragedy if it does - there will be 49 or 50 naval cadets with a teaching and serving staff of 94.
– Does that include cooks?
– It includes everybody. To secure that result, it is proposed to destroy completely the community which has been in existence at Jervis Bay for 26 years. To achieve this end, nearly 400 people will be required to leave their businesses, their employment and their homes, and actually there is no reason for it.
In point of fact, there is no necessity for a naval college to be on the coast at all, because the Minister for the Navy (Senator O’sullivan) said in answer to a written question asked by an honorable member on this side of the committee that they do no seagoing training during their course. In point of fact, the Naval College could be at Ballarat, Bendigo or any other inland city. It is simply a school. From time to time, we have heard the Minister say that it is impossible to carry on at Flinders, that the establishment there is too crowded. That is not a true or valid reason for the transfer of the Naval College, and to support that assertion. I quote the following from a letter dated 2nd June, 1956, written by a former paymaster-commander, who held a position of some responsibility at Flinders Naval Depot -
I am filled with resentment at the Government’s action in deciding to re-open the R.A.N.C. at Jervis Bay. It seems such a flagrant waste of money on a project that is not required either now or in the future. As you know, F.N.D. has the space, accommodation and facilities for training both ashore and afloat.
In a further paragraph in that same letter, he says -
You must know that during the war Flinders Naval Depot was flat out as a training establishment for officers and men, also the Royal Australian Naval College. Even under the strain of this huge training scheme, the place was adequate. Yet now in the Piping days of Peace the Government has the audacity to state the training establishments are too crowded and the Royal Australian Naval College is required for other training purposes - hence the transfer. This is absurd. Another big question to take into consideration is why should cadets be entered for four years training when the main training they have is educational.
He goes on then to deal with the change that has already been made in the training scheme, and although, for obvious reasons, I refrain from mentioning names, the documents from which I am quoting are authentic. Another commander, in a letter written in June of this year, had this to say about the transfer -
Such a move would not benefit the general side of training very much in Flinders Naval Depot because conditions are only over crowded in the ward room, and the Royal Australian Naval College is too far away to become an integral part of the ward room in any expansion scheme.
Over and above this, personnel are leaving the Royal Australian Navy at such an alarming rate and recruiting is at such a low ebb that the extra facilities such a move would provide could hardly be profitably utilized.
I have given the committee figures to show the expense involved in this transfer which will mean moving from the Jervis Bay area a complete community of some 400 people. In all, 58 families will be turned out of their homes, seventeen businesses will be forced to close and every member of the community there will be thrown out of his employment by this move to establish a new place for 49 naval cadets and a staff of 94! It is perfectly obvious that the real reasons behind this move are not such as might be calculated to benefit the cadets; they seek to benefit a few senior officers who see that Jervis Bay is an ideal place in which to live and in which to spend their terms ashore.
The paymaster-commander to whom I have already referred also said in his letter-
The “ Big Brass “ have never ceased to resent the transfer and have continually worked to have the college returned to Jervis Bay. This fact could easily be obtained from files at Navy Office. The opening of the air base at Nowra has accentuated the efforts of the “ Big Brass “ to return the college to Jervis Bay. Their reason for the transfer from Flinders Naval Depot is that there has always been the objection to the college being situated on the same land and in the same vicinity as that utilized for the training of the lower deck. It’s always been the opinion of the college-trained officers that it belittles their status and stature.
I suggest seriously to this committee that there is no other reason for the proposed transfer than that epitomized in the extract I have just read. The naval college officers and the navy board do not want the college anywhere near any. other naval establishment. They do not want it near the naval air training base at Nowra and they do not want it near the Flinders Naval Depot; they want it in that beautiful haven, and to achieve their objective, they are prepared to commit this country to the expenditure of a considerable sum of money, the exact amount of which has not yet been revealed. It has been estimated that the expenditure involved will include £150,000 for compensation to tenants, and in addition an expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds will be required for the rehabilitation of buildings, but the Estimates under discussion allow only £63.,000 for compensation to tenants, £8,000 for rehabilitation of buildings and £1,000 for maintenance staff during the period of the changeover.
I suggest that the whole matter should be gone into again very carefully, and 1 urge the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), who is sitting at the table, and the other Ministers sitting on the front bench to realize that. Politics do not enter into this matter. I emphasize that I am most sincere in asserting that the proposed transfer is a shocking thing to contemplate. It should not be countenanced for a moment, and I appeal to the Government to have another look at the proposal. The honorable member for Chisholm (Mr. Kent Hughes) says that we should follow the policy pursued by the Government of
Great Britain and he referred to what is being done there. In that connexion, I quote the following from the London* “ Times “ of 2nd August, 1956, in which, the First Lord of the Admiralty reveals theeconomies being effected in connexion with the Navy over there -
Naval base at Scapa Flow to be closed.
Naval base, Invergordon to be reduced to care and maintenance.
Chatham and Devonport gunnery schools to beclosed. Training to be concentrated in H.M.S. Excellent at Portsmouth and in H.M.S. Cambridge at Wembury. The A.A. range at Barton’s Point (Sheerness) to be closed.
Chatham and Devonport signals schools to beabsorbed in H.M.S. Mercury in Hampshire, leaving only small centres at Chatham and Devonport; for minor training commitments.
H.M.S. Phoenix (Damage control, anti-gas, &c, school at Portsmouth) to be greatly reduced.
H.M.S. Defiance (Torpedo, anti-submarine and electrical school. Devonport), to be closed, and itsfunction absorbed in other establishments.
Royal Naval Air Station, Anthorn, to be closed.
Royal Naval Air Station, Fearn (near Invergordon), used for storage only, to be disposed of.
Royal Naval Armament Depot Woolwich, to heclosed.
Royal Naval Cordite Factory, Holton Heath, to be reduced to care and maintenance.
Naval Ordnance proofing range (at Kingsclere; near Newbury, Berkshire) to be disposed of.
A considerable number of minor establishments (store depots, engineering depots, boom’ defence depots, camps, &c.) to be closed down.
I suggest that if the British Government,, with all the responsibility it has, finds it wise and necessary in these days to cut defence expenditure to that extent, then we should not be wasting the taxpayers’ money on this proposed transfer of the Naval College from Flinders to Jervis Bay. We should not be contemplating closing down a complete community which I suggest very few members of the present Ministry have seen. I advise them to have a look at what they propose doing. I repeat that under this proposal they will turn 400 people from their homes, they will close down every business there and they will deprive the residents of the area of their employment. This should not be done.
.- I do not intend to join issue with the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) on the transfer of the Naval College from Flinders to Jervis Bay, or, as my colleague the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) said, turfing some one out of some place. The honorable gentleman, like all bis colleagues, began by speaking about wasteful defence expenditure, but immediately went off at a tangent on this subject of the Naval College. I have noticed that tendency with other members of the Opposition ever since this pseudocensure motion on the defence vote was moved.
Members of the Opposition loose off a bit of a blast, say that the Government is not doing enough, and then criticize what is being done. But they offer no suggestion on what should be done. One moment Opposition members say that this Government is behind the times in defence material, and the next moment they ask questions in. the House because there may be some lag in the production line and somebody may bc unemployed. The same gentlemen also fight shy if they are asked to make a contribution to defence to the same extent as that made by taxpayers in other western democracies. 1 suggest to the Labour party that it cannot have it both ways and all ways. If the gentlemen opposite want this Government to have the latest know-how and the latest defence equipment for their own protection and the protection of this country, then 1. ask them straight out: Are they prepared to pay the same rate per head as the taxpayers in the other western democracies? Are they prepared to pay the same rate as the people of Great Britain, who pay £38 a head as against our £20? Let us consider a country that is more comparable with our own, that is. Canada. Australia has a population of 9,000,000; I understand that the population of Canada is between 14,000,000 and 1 5,000,000. Canada is about the same size as Australia. But the people of Canada pay at the rate of £51 a head towards the defence services. If the Labour party wants Australia to have the most up-to-date arms and equipment, then it must be prepared to advocate that the people pay for them. Labour members have come into the chamber to-day, as is their custom at all times, to snipe and run away. This technique of snipe and run away reminds me all the time of the tactics of the countries inside the Iron Curtain.
The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) criticized the purchase of aircraft, and then ran away from that. He did not say whether he advocated the cutting down of the vote of £8,500,000 this year for the purchase of aircraft and associated initial equipment. He did not suggest that we should get rid of the Avon Sabre, the Meteor or other aircraft that we have, and buy other types. He just trotted out this criticism of the equipment we are buying, and immediately switched to national service training. I think that any honorable member who has had any experience in the services will agree with me when I say that, by and large, national service training is one of the best things that have ever been introduced into this country.
– What rot!
– The only contribution that the honorable member for Bonython could make to the debate was to go back to the time when Darwin was bombed. I remind the honorable gentleman that he was a member of the Labour government when Darwin was bombed. He was also a member of the Labour government in 1941 when many of his colleagues produced a lot of fantastic and fictitious ideas. The honorable member for Bonython has suggested that the story will be told one of these days. I hope that day will soon arrive, and that the real story of Singapore also will be told. Then we shall see how the members of the Labour party will fare, and how they should have fared rauch earlier than this.
Let me return to national service training. The honorable member for Yarra - quite deliberately, I say - adopted a line very similar to what we know as the “ Comm.” line. He spoke about having friends overseas. At this juncture I remind him that it has been the aim of this Government to have strong friends overseas, and we can say with pride that we have far stronger allies overseas than we ever had when Labour was in office. He said the cost of putting the boys through the national service training course was £570 a head and that most of them had a period of training of between five and six months. Let me use a convenient figure and take a period of six months for the purposes of the argument. 1 find that it cost a little over £3 a day to give each, boy his training.
Do members of the Opposition, and’ particularly the honorable member for Yarra, want those lads to go into camp without giving them anything to eat, any clothing to wear, any quarters in which to’ live or any instructors? As I am reminded by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), does he not want to ensure that their families are looked after? Does he want the department to cut down on the purchase of ammunition, which this year will cost £15,000,000, and train these boys with wooden guns or air guns? Or does he want them to be trained properly so that if, unfortunately, war should occur or an aggressor should reach this country, those boys will be able to take up arms and protect people like the honorable member for Yarra, who, I think, has not heard a shot fired in anger?
– That is where you make a mistake.
– The honorable member may have done. I said “ I think “. He then skipped from national service training, leaving a doubt in the minds of the people by saying it costs £570 to train each of these boys. He did not mention what they are being trained to do, or the cost that might be involved in the training of men to fit them to take up arms in the defence of this country, should the need ever arise. He skipped to the Woomera guided weapons testing range and, having made a remark about Woomera, ran away from that. This performance reminds me of the article written recently by the English pseudo-scientist, Chapman Pincher. I understand from a very highly decorated Royal Air Force pilot that this man adopted the same tactics prior to 1939 and has adopted them since that time. In this Parliament to-day we heard that he was at Woomera for two and a half hours and was treated as a security risk. Yet members of the Opposition would swallow the sort of stuff that he writes!
What person in possession of his senses, who was prepared to experiment and endeavour to keep up with the rest of the world in defence, would quibble at the expense of Woomera? What person could construct what has been constructed at that range and at Maralinga without some slight wastage? But the members of the Opposition do not agree with that. They run in and say “wasteful expenditure,” but do not pinpoint anything. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) the other night spoke about camouflage, persiflage and so on. But nothing is nailed down; nothing is brought to light so that Labour members can say, “ This is the point we are aiming at “.
– It is time you were nailed down.
– Not before the honorable member will be, 1 hope. The same gentleman, and other members of the Opposition who deal with the matter of defence, also discuss national development. Naturally, national development is one aspect of defence, but the point is that, if we are to have all the valuable assets that they want, then those things have to be paid for. The question is: How will they be paid for? We do not hear anything on that score from any of these gentlemen.
The honorable member for Yarra and some of his colleagues have spoken frequently about the importance of roads in the defence system of this country. I agree that roads form a part of the defence system. But the remarks of those honorable gentlemen in this Parliament are akin to remarks made by people outside this Parliament who talk in airy-fairy terms of hundreds of millions of pounds but do not say one word about how the job will be done or from where the money will come. Unless members of the Opposition are prepared to pinpoint some of the wasteful expenditure that they talk about, then I, for one, will treat their censure motion as just a little bit of skirmishing. Repeatedly, we have heard criticism from the Opposition of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. 1 remember listening to criticism of the programme for the production of the Canberra jet bomber, an aircraft that will play a valuable part in any war in the immediate future. Members of the Opposition criticized the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation for its slowness, and for having to go overseas for technical knowledge; but immediately the press published a suggestion that the corporation might close down or reduce its activities, the Opposition complained that men would be forced into unemployment. The Opposition should tell us clearly what it wants.
I direct my attention now to the defence of the Western Australian coastline. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) spoke of the need for an adequate navy to guard the lifeline between here and
Great Britain so that in time of war we might continue to import the goods we need. Moreover we must send much of our surplus products to the United Kingdom, particularly primary produce. I remind honorable members, also, that we are dependent on oil, and most of our oil comes from the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. One of the finest oil refineries in Australia is on the western seaboard.
For many years, I have suggested that a start should be made on defence establishments on the western seaboard. I admit that we have quite a good, up-to-date airport at Pearce, but that is not enough. At one time, there were Neptune reconnaissance bombers there, but they have been removed to the eastern seaboard simply because we have no facilities in Western Australia for adequate training. It is time that this Government made a start with defence work in Western Australia even if, for a beginning, it established only docking facilities so that ships damaged by enemy action in the Indian Ocean could be repaired on the western seaboard. That would be preferable to taking them to the eastern States, a distance equal to that from London to New York.
Since the promotion of General Blarney to field-marshal - and that was achieved with difficulty by this Government, as the Labour party has always been opposed to the conferring of honours on servicemen - we have not had one man in Australia with a rank higher than lieutenant-general. We have one man now, who is at present the Administrator of the Commonwealth, who served his country well in war and was, at one time, Chief of the General Staff. At other times, he is the representative of Her Majesty the Queen in New South Wales, f do not know how long that gentleman is to continue in the service he is already giving to Australia, but it would be a fitting gesture by this Government if he were promoted to the rank of general before he retires or completes the duties that he is now performing.
– We have too many generals now.
– I am talking of one lieutenant-general, Lieutenant-General Sir John Northcott, and I hope that this Government will recognize the work he has done for Australia.
.- 1 wish to refer to the defence vote in a general way. I support the amendment of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) that the vote be reduced by £1 as a protest by the Opposition against the Government’s reckless spending of huge amounts of public money year after year without being able to show any tangible results. Again, this year, the Government proposes to spend £190,000,000 on the defence services. In the past six years, more than £1,000,000,000 has been spent on defence, yet our essential lines of communication - shipping, railways and roads - have never before been in such a deplorable state as they are now.
The Government appears to have no intention of standardizing the railway gauges. The railway permanent way and the rolling stock in all States continue to wear out and depreciate, while the capital debt of the railway system remains. Harbours and rivers in all States are becoming increasingly difficult for shipping. The road system is a disgrace to the nation. I know that supporters of the Government will say that the roads are a State responsibility, but 1 submit that, in present conditions and with the finance available to them, it is impossible for the States to implement a roads programme. The roads in Queensland are worse than those in any other State. 1 visited that State recently, and saw conditions for myself. In many cases, there are no bridges, and the roads are so narrow that two vehicles cannot pass. In many places, it is impossible to get along the roads if nearby rivers rise. We can imagine what would happen on those highways in time of war. North Queensland needs from 1,000 to 1,500 miles of new roads for defence purposes.
The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) said that he believed defence should not be regarded from a parochial viewpoint, but should be considered broadly. We all agree with that proposition. If Australia is to be defended properly we shall have to throw overboard the present defence policy of the Government. Obviously, our lines of communication should be overhauled immediately in the light of developments that will follow the introduction of automation into industry and the development of nuclear industries. The nation should be working overtime to place railways and road transport facilities on the highest level so that we may have freedom of movement in war. There should be a national roads system around the coast from east to west and from north to south.
Honorable members who saw a film which was shown in Parliament House recently by a representative of Le Tourneau Westinghouse Proprietary Limited know that great progress has been made in the United States of America in the production of huge diesel electric trains, as well as of machines which are capable of going long distances over almost impossible terrain. They carry huge V2 missiles and rockets. Probably, in the defence of Australia in a future war, we shall have to launch such missiles from our coastline at various places. If those vehicles were manufac.tured in Australia, or brought here, it would be useless to try to operate them on the roads system which we have at the present time. Mobility of action on our roads will be one of the main essentials in future defence.
The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) has been lauding the Government’s national service training scheme. I should not have touched on this matter except that I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on 26th September whether or not it was a fact that young mcn who had given good service to the nation had been discharged unfit from the services without either compensation or repatriation benefits, and the Prime Minister, evading the question completely, said -
If the honorable member is pleased to refer to any deficiency in the strength of the armed services, may I say that I can hardly ever remember his putting a question in this House which was not calculated to discourage persons who might have considered entering the armed forces.
It is useless for the Prime Minister to hide and seek to avoid responsibility for the Government’s action in not providing adequate and proper benefits for persons who are injured while in the armed services.
The honorable member for Maranoa said that all the national service trainees to whom he had spoken thought that the -scheme was one of the best that had ever been brought into being. There has been a huge waste of public money on national service training. That money could have been used to far better purpose in improving the nation’s communications. A huge labour force has been wasted. This year an amount of £54,987,000 will be appropriated for salaries and general expenses in the Department of the Army. Many lads who have undergone national service training have expressed grave dissatisfaction, not with the work they have done or the training they have undergone, but with the way in which many of them have been treated. Many who were injured have not been fairly compensated for their injuries. I do not blame the present Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) for the matter I am about to mention. At Singleton to-day there is a huge national service training camp, with hardly any one in it. Boys from Newcastle and northern New South Wales are being taken to Shellharbour to undergo training. Needless expense is involved in making this journey when their training could be undergone within 50 miles of their homes. Last week-end, some of them told me that at Shellharbour there are no bathing facilities, that they have to tip water over themselves in order to have a bath, and that there are no amenities in the camp. If we are to have a contented army and encourage young men to join, we have to treat them better than that.
– Why do you want to reduce the proposed vote? It would have to be increased in order to provide the things that you want.
– We do not need to increase the expenditure, but it should be applied in a better way. A huge expense is involved in transporting men from northern New South Wales to Shellharbour, although modern camps exist round Singleton and other areas from which they come. My own boy was in a camp recently, and he told me that many instructors had no idea of encouraging boys in their training. When a lad dropped his rifle, his instructor made him get down in front of the whole platoon or company, and pick the rifle up. and in doing so kiss the rifle and say aloud, so that the whole group could hear, that he loved his rifle. Government supporters may laugh, but there is nothing worse or more likely to upset the mental equilibrium of a young man than to humiliate him in front of his mates. Any honorable member opposite would not regard as a laughing matter an attempt to humiliate him in front of others.
– That would be an isolated case.
– It is not an isolated case. There have been instances where young men who committed some minor offences were brought out in front of the platoon and told to do so many body presses, and, when their physical conditions prevented their continuing, they were told to put their hands behind their heads and duck walk round the parade ground. These are some of the conditions that prevail under the present training scheme.
– What about calling a man a scab?
– The honorable member is a scab. He would rather have Chinese in Australia, because they would not answer back. Quite possibly Government supporters want these conditions to prevail. 1 contend that if we are to continue, as we must continue, with our defence programme, we should at least train these lads in a proper way. Last Easter, my own son was in camp. In order to get home he had to hire a taxi from Sydney, because the trains could not carry him. The officers in charge of the camp refused to let the trainees out of the camp or to tell them at what time they would be given leave to go home. After Easter lads were sleeping all night on Central Station and suburban stations, in Sydney. Things of this sort upset, and possibly sour, the minds of the young men who are, at eighteen or nineteen years of age, in need of all the instruction that they can get. Instances occur of young men, who have given good service to the country, being discharged on medical grounds without any compensation. In this chamber recently I referred to a young member of the Navy, an engine room artificer, who had served for ten years and then been discharged because he was found to be below the Navy’s physical standard. He has been refused Commonwealth employees’ compensation, although he is suffering from a complaint caused by his service. The Repatriation Department has ruled that his condition is not due to his service, although he has been discharged suffering from a nervous disorder. If we are to keep young men in the Army and the other services we must provide for them and keep them in contentment and satisfied in their work.
Tin CHAIRMAN (Mr. Adermann).-
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Contrary to the opinions that have been expressed from the other side of the chamber, I want to’ say that, in my opinion, the Australian nation has every cause to be proud of the defence policy that has been pursued by this Government since it came to office in 1949. As a private member of this Parliament, and as a Government supporter, I am proud to have been associated with a government which has adopted the defence policy that we have seen gradually being given effect to over a period of years. It is ludicrous to suggest that there has been inefficient expenditure of public moneys on defence, in view of the contribution that has been made by this nation in Korea, in the Seato area, in Malta, in Malaya and at Woomera, and also in view of what happened only a few days ago, when a flight of Canberra bombers took off from Amberley airport, flew right round Australia in 15 hours and successfully bombed the targets that had been set for them. They were allowed only three minutes over the targets in which to drop their bombs. The fact that we have such an efficient Air Force and such a great Navy, and that our Army and defence services generally are stronger than they have ever been in Australia’s peacetime history, is a tribute to the Government’s defence policy.
I suggest that the motion of censure moved by the Opposition, to the effect that the proposed votes for the defence services should be reduced, is one in which honorable members opposite are not really sincere. I think that they do not really support the motion and that it has been moved merely as a party political gesture. Frankly, I was somewhat disappointed to see that the appropriation for the defence services this year is only £190,000,000, instead of £197,000,000, as it was last year. I doubt whether we can really carry out a defence programme unless we have a reserve of finance. In my opinion, it would be imprudent if the defence departments fully expended their annual allocations every year, because there are cumulative commitments which have to be met from time to time. It seems to me an imprudent approach for a government, or a parliament, to maintain that there must be a rigid limitation to the appropriation for this most important of the votes that we have to consider.
Let us remember that the words uttered by the Prime Minister in 1950 and 1951, to the effect that we could enjoy an era, of peace only by preparing for war, are still true to-day. We have been able to remain at peace only because we have been prepared to defend ourselves. Australia has a responsibility to meet its defence commitments. lt cannot expect to do nothing to defend itself while the United Kingdom and other countries of the British Empire, the United States of America and other nations of the Western bloc, are contributing so heavily to their defence. In the event of aggression, we, in the southern part of the Pacific Ocean, cannot ask the people of those countries to come to our aid unless we also make some contribution. We cannot expect to enjoy the privileges conferred by the Anzus and Seato treaties, and the other pacts, unless we are prepared to play our part. As a Parliament, we must recognize how strong are our obligations in this respect. Therefore, I pay tribute to the Government, to the Minister for Defence that these changes would not operate until 1957. The article went on to say -
There are now large numbers of men with basic military training who form a reservoir for the services in the event of war. 1 do not agree with the arguments advanced in this press report. (Sir Philip McBride), and the other service Ministers for the work that they have done in this field. I believe, however, that the National Service Training Scheme warrants further consideration. I read in to-day’s press a suggestion that a change in the scheme was expected to involve both a reduction of intake and a variation of the length of service. It was stated, however,
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I said that I thought the national service training scheme warranted further consideration! I believe, and I am quite sure that all honorable members will agree, that national service training has been a wonder ful asset to our nation. In the first place, those youths who have undergone that training have proved beyond doubt to be better citizens as a result of it; but the moral values of national service training are only a by-product of the whole scheme. The true value of national service training can be assessed only when we consider to what degree it will contribute to speedy mobilization in the event of war. I do not think that at the present time national service training gives the maximum efficiency in that regard, and I believe that some changes are warranted. But in considering these changes I think it is necessary to deal with national service training as it affects the three services individually. Lads called up for national service training in the Royal Australian Navy or the Royal Australian Air Force are required to serve in any theatre of operations; there is no restriction of the area in which they might be required to serve. In the Army, however, the situation is entirely different, and it will continue to obtain unless there is an amendment of the Defence Act or unless the only other alternative is considered, that is, that youths who are called up for training with the Army should be required to sign a document in the same way as are youths who are called up for national service training with the Navy or the Air Force.
I should very much dislike to see a reduction of the intake of national service trainees into the Navy or the Air Force. It must be recognized that the Navy needs to have available to it upon mobilization trained personnel in order to meet a rapid expansion of the organization from a peace-time to a war-time footing. It must be recognized also that that section of the Air Force which is the most highly and technically skilled is the section that suffers the highest percentage of casualties. Because the casualty rate among the skilled members of this service is so high, it is absolutely imperative that we should take every step to ensure that an adequate force is trained to meet its requirements. It is true also that there are elements of the Air Force that are not required to give such highly skilled service, and I believe that when national service trainees are being called up and are being drafted into the Air Force consideration should be given to selecting from industry, for unskilled jobs, only unskilled personnel. In other words, a more selective method of call-up could be adopted. I would oppose any suggestion that there should be a reduction of the intake of national service trainees into the Air Force.
Now let us consider the Army. I believe we recognize that because of selectivity in the call-up for the Navy and the Air Force national service training contributes towards a speeding up of the mobilization of those two services, but I say definitely that it has not contributed towards a speeding up of Army mobilization. As the press has suggested, there is a vast reservoir of trained men, but in the event of war those men would be restricted to a certain area of service. What percentage of them would volunteer for service overseas? Perhaps 25 per cent, or 50 per cent, would volunteer for such service and might be drafted into a suitable unit, but the other 50 per cent, or 75 per cent, of the unit would be completely untrained and a period of perhaps eight or nine months would elapse before the unit was sufficiently well trained to be sent overseas. The trained personnel would be required to mark time in their training while the others received training. So, as far as the Army is concerned, national service training makes no contribution towards the speed-up of mobilization; but if the system were altered I think it could make such a contribution.
I believe that, in relation to the Army, the national service training scheme should be put on a basis similar to that which obtains in regard to the Navy and the Air Force. Youths of nineteen years of age should be called up, but the call-up should not be restricted by geographical boundaries to lads who live within a 5-mile radius of drill halls. By applying such a limitation we are losing some of the very best soldiers in the country and boys who are eager to do national service training are being debarred from doing it. The scheme should be all-embracing; it should be universal. When these lads are called up at nineteen years of age they should be given an opportunity to volunteer for overseas service. Those of them who agree to serve overseas should obtain the permission of their parents, which, as we know, is essential, and they should not go into the normal national service training camps, but should be drafted to units of the Australian Regular Army.
Moreover, they should not undergo a limited period of training to be broken year by year, but should become an integral part of the unit to which they are allotted and be eligible for special payments as they develop greater skill. They should complete the full term of their national service training in the specific unit to which they are drafted and, having completed their term of duty and training, they would automatically be an integral part of that unit. They would be possessed of the esprit de corps of the unit and would be acceptable to their fellow soldiers in that unit. At the termination of their period of national service training they should become members of a reserve in the same way that naval recruits, having completed their training, become members of the Naval Reserve, and should be available for call-up in the event of mobilization. If we did that, I believe that national service training would be an asset to the country and that we would obtain the optimum of efficiency as a result of the expenditure that we are called upon to-night to approve.
If such a scheme were adopted, I believe we would be able to raise not a brigade group but a division of trained troops at a moment’s notice. With one division already overseas, we would be able to devote all the time of the instructors and the nucleus that would be left behind in the training establishments to the preparation of a second division for service overseas. If we are to have defence, let us have a defence system that is operating at the optimum of efficiency, with recognition of the fact that men must be sent overseas in the event of war.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Over the years since this Government assumed office we have witnessed some very strange procedures. To-night we are debating the proposed defence votes. The amount of the defence votes that we are debating is £190,000,000 for the financial year. But the strange situation is this: The provision of £190,000,000 for the defence of this country in 1956-57 is based on decisions of the Government in accordance with its plan of defence which” has been drawn up in co-operation with the heads of the Navy, the Army and the Air
Force. Those persons having discussed the defence plan with the Government, an estimate in respect of that plan has been announced. Yet only a few days ago the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in reply to a question which was asked in this chamber, announced that the defence of this country was in a better condition than in any other peace-time period in the history of Australia. That announcement was made about eight or ten days ago.
One would have thought that the basis for the provision of this £190,000,000 was realistic; that, having examined the defence requirements of Australia, the Government was going to plan accordingly. But when the Prime Minister was asked another question towards the latter part of last week what did he say? Although the provision of £190,000,000 for defence was under discussion and although the Prime Minister had stated, ten days ago, that the defences of Australia were never better in peace-time, the right honorable gentleman then announced to the House and to Australia that the whole plan would be capsized, that it would be reviewed from top to bottom, and that another plan would be enunciated.
– Who said that?
– The Prime Minister. Although he announced, ten days ago, that the defences of this country were better than they had been in any time of peace in the history of this country, we find ourselves discussing a plan for the expenditure of £190,000,000 for defence purposes. What are we discussing here this evening? We are discussing the defence plan of Australia and what it will cost the Australian taxpayer £190,000,000. Yet, after that plan had been announced, the Prime Minister informed the House that there would be an immediate top-to-bottom review of Australia’s defence programme. On what are we to spend this £190,000,000? What is the amount for?
– We keep reviewing it.
– What does the Government propose to do? We are not told, ls it any wonder that the economy of this country is getting into such a sad state when we have as Ministers men who do not realize what this £190,000,000 is to be spent on?
Is it not to be spent on a plan that has already been put into operation? Did not that plan result from a meeting of the heads of the services with members of the Government?
– I said that the Government has to keep on reviewing the defence plan.
– After survey and analysis and investigation, will the Government scrap the plan on which the provision of £190,000,000 is based?
– lt is not rubbish. Since this Government came into office in 1949 it has expended over £1,000,000,000 on the defence of this country. Where are the defences of Australia to-day?
– They are better than ever before.
– The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) says that our defences are better than ever before. But what has the Government to show for its defence expenditure? What has it got for the money? I have said repeatedly in this Parliament that I am opposed to the wasteful manner in which national service training is being carried out under this Government. I am opposed to such waste. I do not want the taxpayers’ money to be squandered, year in and year out, on a defence policy which the Prime Minister has said has to be reviewed from top to bottom.
The defence of Australia is based on the principles that were observed in World War I. Neither the Minister for the Army nor the previous Minister for the Army will deny that I have asked questions in this Parliament about the training that is being given to national service trainees. If honorable members will go into any training camp in Australia, they will see the same set-up as we saw for the training of servicemen in World War I. It is the same training as was provided in World War II. But the situation has completely changed to-day. I was in Tokyo, Japan, in 1946, soon after the atomic bomb was dropped. I came back and stated in this House that there was no hope for the world if there was a third world war. I said that the next war would be an atomic war. I said that the more men a country had congregated in any one area, the greater the casualties would be.
– That is wrong.
– The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) did not see the situation in Japan in those days. I did. I saw where the atomic bomb had been dropped. T saw the results of the dropping of that bomb. I knew that thousands of Japanese had been killed by that experimental atomic bomb. One who saw those dreadful things realized that another world war would not be fought with the equipment that was used in World War I. or World War II. Yet the Government has squandered virtually £1,000,000,000 of the Australian taxpayers’ money, and the Prime Minister informed the Parliament only last week, that our defences are not up to date. I emphasize that the Government has squandered £1,000,000,000 of the taxpayers’ money and the Prime Minister has informed the Australian community that our defences are not modern. I noticed an article in one of the Adelaide newspapers to-day which referred to the national service training scheme. Tt stated -
Both intake and length of training-
This refers to what the Government is to do, although we are debating the proposed expenditure of £190,000,000. The Government does not know where it is going. The article reads -
Both intake and length of training will be reduced, but details will not be worked out until the new review of defence . . .
Why are we discussing the proposed expenditure of £190,000,000 if the defence policy has not been worked out? What is the £190,000,000 for? The Government has announced that it intends to review defence measures because of the developments resulting from nuclear war. Have we not been testing the nuclear weapons at Woomera, the Monte Bello Islands and other places for years? The type of warfare that our boys are being taught in the various camps throughout Australia is nothing but a waste of money.
Before I resume my seat I want to refer to what the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride), in his address on the defence Estimates, said concerning the late Mr. Curtin and the lack of requirements for the defence of this country in the days of which he was speaking. To-day I happened to find a report of something that Mr. Curtin said in 1943. He was speaking twenty months after the previous government was tossed out of office when two of its supporters walked across the floor of the House, so dissatisfied were they with its attempt to manage the defence of the country. It was unable to organize the Australian people. That was the situation at that time, and the same situation would arise if Australia were to go to war to-morrow. The present Government has not made adequate defence preparations. I invite the attention of honorable members to this statement by the late Mr. Curtin in 1943-
The Labour Government had to devote itself with unflagging industry, and often with heartbreaking pains-
This is the Prime Minister of 1943, Mr. Curtin, who had to take over from a Liberal government - to reshaping the country’s war machine in all ils components because of the certainty of which it never lost sight, but of which a former war-time Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had said in a speech in London in March, 1941, could not happen - war with Japan.
In 1941, after the war had been going two years, the Prime Minister of the day (Mr. Menzies), who is the present Prime Minister, said that war with Japan could not take place. The responsibility was left to Labour governments in those days - the Curtin and the Chifley Labour governments - to put this country on a sound war footing. I am convinced that that same responsibility will be thrust on a Labour government again. It is to the everlasting disgrace of this Government that the committee should be discussing Estimates for the expenditure of £190,000,000 on a plan that was put to this Parliament a few weeks ago, and now the Government is admitting that Australia’s defences are not satisfactory.
– That is not true.
– lt is true, and honorable members on the Government side cannot deny it. The committee this evening is discussing the expenditure of money on plans which, on the word of the Prime Minister himself, are out of date. I hope that it will not be long before some responsible members on the Government side take a stand similar to that taken by honorable members in other years when a desperate situation arose, and they crossed the floor of the Parliament to support the Opposition. I hope that they will do that, and throw this Government off the treasury bench.
– Usually, the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) is very modest in his expressions, but to-night he has come out into the open and made extraordinarily wild statements. One could forgive him if he were one of the uninformed members of the Opposition, because wild statements of that kind are characteristic of their speeches. But the honorable member for Adelaide is an ex-Minister for the Army, and he should know better.
He takes exception to the fact that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has announced a review of the defence forces. That only goes to show that the honorable member has forgotten all that he once knew; otherwise he would be aware that all the major countries to-day have their defence forces under review. After all is said and done, is not this in keeping with changing conditions? It is an excellent idea that a review should be made at the present time, and the public will approve. It does not detract, in the slightest degree, from the statement made by the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) that Australia’s defences are in better shape now than they ever were before in time of peace. 1 shall not spend further time on that point. Ignoring some of the foolish points put forward, I assure honorable members who have made suggestions that they will be taken into account by the Government, even though I cannot deal in detail with them all now.
It has been a very pleasant exercise in recent times, for the press, certain members of the public and members of the Opposition, to criticize defence expenditure. Much of this criticism is completely unfounded and uninformed and, so far as the Army is concerned, I propose to give some facts and figures which should help people to understand the position properly. It is easy for speakers from the Opposition side to criticize the defence policy of this Government or that ot any country, particularly since they have not had the responsibility, since 1949, when they returned to Opposition, of facing the problem of defence. On every conceivable occasion, the Labour party has criticized defence expenditure, and almost every activity in which the Australian forces have been engaged. It vigorously opposed the setting up of the national service training scheme and the recruiting organization, and it was very bitter about Australia’s co-operation in sending troops to Malaya. It is difficult to understand this attitude, because when the Labour government was in office in 1949 it had decided to have a regular army as a permanent feature of the Australian defence forces, and it was maintaining a large component of that army in the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces in Japan. The Labour government at that time accepted the main responsibility for the support and administration of that force in Japan.
On many occasions it has been averred that Australia must act in support of the United Nations in the interests of world peace. The Labour government left office at a period that is very important to remember. It was just as the countries of Western Europe had come to the full realization of Soviet Russia’s aggressive intentions. It is strange that in Australia, from that very moment when all other countries of the western world feared for their future and began, urgently, to build up their defences, the Australian Labour party should oppose any extension of defence preparations. This was quite unlike the policy of the Labour party in the United Kingdom, because in January, 1951, the Attlee Government presented to the House of Commons a white paper announcing a three-year defence programme for the United Kingdom to cost £4,900,000,000. So much for the difference between the Labour party in Great Britain and the Labour party in Australia at that time. The determination of this Government to achieve the maximum defence preparedness against what then looked like early aggression on the part of Communist Russia is in line with the decision of all responsible governments in office at that time in the western world. Since this Government assumed office in 1950, there have been significant developments in Australia and 1 snail mention a few of them: The aggression of Northern Korea and the decision of the United Nations to resist it; the decision of the Australian Government in August 1950 to send the Third Battalion Royal Australian Regiment to Korea as part of the Australian contribution to the composite United Nations force there; the entry of Communist China openly into the Korean conflict and that nation’s indication thereby that it would pursue in the eastern half of the world an aggressive policy similar to that being pursued by Russia in Europe; and the decision in1952 to send a further battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment to Korea. Then came the difficulties in Malaya and the decision of this Government in 1955 to station Australian forces there as part of the British Commonwealth strategic reserve. I remind the committee that it was also in that period that the decision was made to form the SouthEast Asia Treaty Organization, and that there occurred the subsequent development of that organization, which is at present actively making decisions with regard to our role in South-East Asia. There also became evident in the last twelve months signs, which are very significant and have bearing on this matter, of Russia’s switching her tactics from the military front to the economic and political fronts. That has a great bearing on the position. All in all, the period during which this Government has been in office has been one when the nation has had to prepare itself against the ultimate peril of war even though the period has been one of ebb and flow of that threat.
In maintaining a policy of defence preparedness within the limits of the economic situation the Government has been faced with a constantly changing world situation. Its period of office has been a period of varying strategic concepts, which have changed rapidly, particularly as more has become known of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons. This change in the world scene means that it is imperative that this country’s defence policy be kept under continual review. I think that that effectively leads into an explanation of the statements made by the honorable member for Adelaide. It shows quite clearly that what has happened has led up to the need for this review at this time, but does not in any way detract from the appreciation this Government has made.
– Yet the Government intends to alter the national service training scheme.
– Who said that we propose to do that? Nobody said that. So far as the Army is concerned, a major review of the role it will most likely be called upon to play in the course of events which looks most probable over the next few years is at present being made. As Minister for the Army and as president of the Military Board I have taken a close part in the extensive discussions which we have had on the board during the past several weeks on this review. The review is a thorough and far-reaching one and is not yet complete. Full information will be available for the discussions which, as the Prime Minister has announced, will commence to-morrow. A good deal of criticism has centred on the money spent on defence, and on what we have obtained for that expenditure. We have heard a number of speakers in this chamber ask what we have done with the money. I propose to answer that question to-night by telling what the Army has done with the money it has received. Since this Government came into office there has been spent on the Army, since 1st July, 1950, the sum of £362,000,000. I should like honorable members to note carefully the figures and facts I am about to give, because it is very easy to criticize without knowing the facts. That sum breaks up roughly as follows: -
Pay and allowances and general expenses of the Regular Army and civilian employees - £150,000,000.
– About 40 per cent of the total.
– Yes, but they must be paid, they must be fed and cared for. I do not think the honorable member will deny that. To continue with the break-up of the total figure -
Pay and allowances and general expenses of the Citizen Military Forces -£38,000,000. For the forces overseas and including the Korean operations, but excluding the pay of the troops engaged therein, which is included in the last figure I gave- £38,000,000.
For the maintenance of arms and equipment- £44,000,000.
For capital expenditure on new types of equipment and the stockpiling to a limited extent of reserves for use in mobilization- £55,000,000.
For the maintenance of existing buildings and works and for the construction of new buildings and works - £34,000,000.
Dealing with the man-power strengths, it is interesting to know that when this Government took office the strength of the Australian Regular Army was 14,700 against an establishment at that time, approved by the Chifley Government, of 19,000. The present strength of the Regular Army is 23,000 against an approved ceiling of 26,000. To meet the situation, the Government introduced a comprehensive scheme of national service which has given basic training to 140,000 young men of Australia. This did not exist when Labour was in office. The Government, in addition, reintroduced the women’s services as part of the Regular Army. In 1949, under Labour, the establishment for the Citizen Military Forces was 50,000, with an actual strength of 18,000. To-day, the strength of the Citizen Military Forces is 78,000, including national servicemen doing their parttime training. In addition, there are 59,000 trained national servicemen at present on the inactive reserve list. We also have enthusiastic units of school cadets in 273 schools, with 33,000 cadets in training. It is pertinent to remind honorable members, when dealing with the subject of personnel, that 12,500 Australian soldiers served in the Korean war in support of the collective action taken by the United Nations to repel aggression, and I think that was a magnificent contribution by this Government.
In the field of equipment, when the Chifley Government left office in 1949 the Army possessed large quantities of equipment of the 1939-45 vintage. Whilst this equipment had certainly remained modern for the four years immediately after the war, the period of office of this Government has seen great technical developments in some fields of defence equipment, lt is the policy of the Government to try, wherever possible, to introduce into the Australian Army new types of equipment as these become available to replace the types of equipment used in the last war.
– Does not that apply to any modern army?
– I suppose it would if the governments in control of them were as intelligent as this Government. A great deal of investigation is being undertaken in this field to keep abreast of modern trends throughout the world, and to make sure that the army of the future is mobile and hard-hitting and is fitted to meet its probable role, both in terrain and sphere, and is integrated as far as possible with those with which it is likely to be associated. It takes a long time to design new items of equipment, put a prototype through trials and then arrange production. With the degree of arming forced on the democracies by the Communist powers much of this equipment has been quite hard to obtain. That has been so during the last few years. Also, in view of its increased technical complexity and efficiency, it is much more expensive.
– Who prepared this statement for the Minister to read?
– For example, the Centurion tank costs about four times as much as the 1945 tank which it replaces. Sufficient Centurion tanks, armoured personnel carriers and scout cars have been bought by this Government to equip the armoured corps with modern vehicles in place of the obsolete 1945 equipment. Some of the major items purchased under the mobilization programme in the last two years may be of interest to honorable members and to many people outside. We have now the following equipment: - 119 Centurion tanks, each of which cost £48,000; 33 armoured personnel carriers; 264 Ferret scout cars; 89 4.2 inch mortars; 2,144 wireless sets of varying types - they are particularly necessary for the jungle conditions for which the Army is now training - fifteen 5.5 inch guns, and £200,000 worth of test equipment for the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. Capital expenditure of £8,000,000 has been made on weapons and ammunition. Much of that sum has been devoted to the production of small arms ammunition for basic training, but the most notable achievement has been the development of a new antitank gun, which is being produced in Australia. Anti-tank weapons of war-time vintage will be ineffective against modern armour. Telecommunication and radar equipment is probably the field in which the most rapid development has occurred since 1945. About £3,000,000 worth of modern equipment has been procured. The determination of equipment policy has been complicated, because the sphere of war-time activity of the Army has been switched from the Middle East to South-East Asia - from the desert to the jungle. An immediate effect of this change has been to increase the requirements of wireless sets.
– What about new broom handles?
– The honorable member’s interjection is not funny. We are dealing with a very serious matter, and I suggest that he should try to take in the facts that I am putting before the committee. High-frequency equipment operates perfectly in the desert, but in the jungle it is unreliable, and very high-frequency equipment is required. Line communications are still a prime requirement, and the manufacture and purchase of light-weight telephone equipment is imperative owing to the likely failure of other equipment. A further £2,000,000 has been spent in obtaining complex equipment for the Royal Australian Engineers. The remainder of the money spent on capital equipment has been spread over a miscellany of items ranging from tentage, blankets and clothing - on which £10,000,000 has been spent - and vehicles - on which £5,000,000 has been spent - to medical stores and drugs, surveyors’ equipment, machine tools, and even two field bakeries.
Purchases of new capital equipment inevitably result in higher maintenance commitments. I think every one appreciates that. For example, from 1949 to 1953, war-time stocks of transport vehicles were used, and these were maintained from wartime stocks of spare parts. These vehicles have rapidly worn out. and since 1953 some 4,000 vehicles of new types have been purchased from capital funds. It has also been necessary to purchase stocks of maintenance spare parts for these new vehicles. Similar purchases must be made for all equipment of new type introduced into the service.
I turn now to Army buildings. On 4th June, 1947, in announcing the Labour government’s post-war defence policy, the then Minister for Defence. Mr. Dedman, said that it was proposed to provide permanent accommodation for units of the Australian Regular Army, and this Government has continued that policy. This week I announced the commencement of a major project for the provision of new barracks at Punkapunyal in Victoria at a cost of £1,700,000. When completed these new barracks will accommodate 1,000 Regular Army men and will be of inestimable value in training recruits and, in the event of emergency, for purposes of mobilization. Housing is one of our greatest problems. Under normal peace-time conditions the Army should be able to rent houses where and when they are required without being obliged to spend large sums on purchasing or building. But the post-war housing position in Australia, particularly in the big States of New South Wales and Victoria, makes this impossible as I think we all know. A large proportion of Regular Army members are married, and, since 1950, 2,400 houses have been built or acquired for Army personnel at various Army establishments. The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), who is not in the chamber this evening, last year raised the question of additional married quarters. At the time my predecessor expressed hopes about the new Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement which was then being negotiated with the States. We all know that it has now been signed and that the States have agreed to allocate approximately 10 per cent, of the houses built under the new agreement to the three services which will advance half the capital cost. It is hoped that this will yield the Army some 300 houses during the current financial year. At this juncture, I should like to say a word of thanks to the State governments for their co-operation in this matter.
– Does the Minister include the New South Wales Government?
– Yes, even the New South Wales Government.
– This is the first time we have heard the Minister commend that government.
– It has done very well. It eventually agreed to co-operate with the Commonwealth. In addition, this year we hope to purchase an increased number of houses. This is probably an even better way to overcome our difficulties in a shorter time. There has been considerable construction activity at the various Army establishments to cope with the increased strengths that I mentioned earlier. For example, 36 new training depots have been constructed throughout Australia for the Citizen Military Forces.
I believe that one of the major undertakings that should be embarked upon at the earliest possible moment is the removal of Army head-quarters from Melbourne to Canberra. For efficient administration this is essential. In addition, it is most undesirable that Southern Command should continue to occupy the buildings at Albert Park in Melbourne.
– Hear, hear!
– I think I have some support for that view from the benches behind me. If Army head-quarters were located in Canberra, Victoria Barracks would go a long way towards satisfying the needs of Southern Command. The move would be expensive and I think it is only because of economic circumstances and the consequent limitations upon what can be achieved that it has not already been made. It would entail the provision of sufficient housing in Canberra for servicemen moved here from Melbourne.
Finally, I would reiterate that notwithstanding the uninformed criticism by the Opposition the statement by the Minister for Defence that Australia is better prepared than ever before in peace-time is literally true, as I think the figures I have cited prove. The overall picture is that we have at least 140,000 fully trained or partlytrained men; we have equipment to the value of approximately £400,000,000- much of it, of course, of World War II. vintage, but still very efficient in the event of war; and we have about £100,000,000 worth of Army property. I think this indicates that the Government has a good record.
Before I conclude, I should like to pay a special tribute to the work of the officers of the Australian Regular Army and the Citizen Military Forces in training national servicemen. Whatever the future may hold, I think it must be admitted that the national service training scheme introduced by this Government has been an unqualified success.
This could not have been so without the efforts of instructors and others who have discharged an enormous task with diligence quite beyond the normal call of duty. They have done a magnificent job.
I thought the committee would like to have the figures that I have cited. They are factual and cannot be disputed. I am sure that every honorable member, having heard them, will agree that this Government can truthfully claim to have built up effective defence forces, and that Australia is now better prepared than ever before in peacetime.
.- I should like to take up the discussion of defence where the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) left off. I have served in the defence forces for a considerable number of years although in a humbler capacity than that of Minister. He stated that Australia is better prepared now than ever before in peace-time to defend itself. That is understandable enough, because unfortunately the Australian Labour party has had little to do with governing the country in peace-time, although most of the foundations of the defences of which the Minister spoke to-night were laid by Labour governments. The Minister said also that the Government has set out to build up a sure, mobile, hard-hitting, integrated force, and I should like to examine that statement. However, before he had warmed up he put forward a few ideas about what he considered to be the attitude of the Labour party. He seemed to insinuate that our policy was something along the lines of the policies of those countries which may be potential enemies, rather than one of strengthening the Australian defence system. I point out that Australia’s defence has been based principally on the foundations laid by Labour governments.
The Minister said that the present Government has spent about £362,000,000 on the Army, but I point out to him that £1 notes, particularly the £1 notes circulated by this Government, will certainly not be an effective weapon against any future enemy. Statistics, £1 notes and columns of figures do not prove anything with regard to an army, and certainly do not build up an army. Let us now examine the objectives of our defence system. This country, with its tradition of non-aggression against other peoples, is obviously preparing to defend itself. 1 am now arguing, not that an attack may not be made many thousands of miles from Australia, but about Australia’s place in a total global war. At the end of World War II. we had upwards of
I, 000,000 men mobilized, and everything in the community was directed towards keeping those men in the field. Towards the end of that war we had nineteen infantry brigades in six or seven divisions, with all their ancillary troops. I ask whether this Government could, within ten days or ten weeks or even ten months, put into the field a fully equipped fighting division with all its armoured support. I refuse to believe that it could do so, and I know the Army intimately. For the best part of my adult life I have been associated with the Army in an affectionate sort of way, and I am attached to it and very keen on it. However, 1 believe that there would be no possibility of a potential enemy - about which the Minister has spoken - being repelled from our shores at present.
Consider the people to our north. If they set sail in their junks, or other vessels - and they are only ten days ‘sail away from us - and made for somewhere on the west coast of Australia, how many troops could the Minister put on the spot to meet them? I believe that this Government has not one single chance of putting an armoured division or infantry division in an effective position to defend the coast. I say that emphatically, and I should be pleased to hear evidence to the contrary. I suggest that when the Minister talks in terms of money, he should relate the expenditure of that money to our objective; which is to defend this country against an armed force which would consist of probably 250,000 men. Any country which proposed to invade Australia would need an invading force of about the size of the Japanese force which invaded the Philippines during World War
We might claim that Australians are pretty good fighters, that we can do all sorts of wonderful things on the field of battle and that we have all sorts of traditions, and so on. but if we are effectively to oppose 250,000 men we must be able to put an equal force of 250.000 fully armed and equipped men against them. It does not matter how many millions we have spent on defence in the last five years; the fighting force available is the real measure of our success; and 1 believe that we could not possibly put an effective force against an invasion army such as 1 have indicated. This goes right to the root of the Government’s defence policy. I do not wish to examine that policy in detail, 1 merely wish to deal with the army component of it. Despite atom bombs, rockets, air forces and such like, at some stage in any armed conflict ground forces will have to be used. Thus, the Army component must be one of the keys to our defence strategy. In Australia we shall have to rely on our citizen soldier, and consequently we must ensure that he receives adequate training.
If the objectives of the defence policy are to defend Australia against invasion or to put an effective fighting force in the field far from our shores, how do those objectives measure up with what the Government has done? The Minister made great play about the Armoured Corps. The present armoured component of our defence system consists of one armoured brigade. So far, not one effective Citizen Military Forces unit and very few citizen soldiers have been trained to drive a Centurion tank. The Minister said that we have 1 1 9 Centurion tanks. I suppose that that is probably sufficient for a brigade, with its support and reserve tanks. So, we have one armoured brigade; but how far will that go in covering the 12,000 miles of our coastline? If we spread one armoured regiment out it would perhaps defend 5 or 6 miles of front on which we have to fight, two armoured regiments might protect 10 miles, or our armour might extend to the protection of 20 or 30 miles of coastline. That leaves an awful lot of the 12,000 miles uncovered.
I do not dispute the statement that Centurion tanks are valuable, or that our men will be able to fight in them as well or even better than those who may attack them. But it is futile to claim that £1.000,000,000 expended on defence, of which £362,000,000 has been spent on the Army, is sufficient to give us confidence in the future. The mere citation of figures means nothing. We have 30 armoured personnel carriers. They could not carry one regiment, or about 1.000 men. They co-‘Id not lift the call-up in my own electorate in one year. We have 264 Ferrets. The Ferret scout car is a beautiful little instrument of war; it carries two or three men and will almost climb up the wall of this chamber. But how many of the enemy would that small number of Ferrets drive off? We have 2,144 wireless sets, but at least 3,000 vehicles are needed to put a division of 15,000 men on the move. After all, when we speak in terms of modern warfare we do not cite figures in the hundreds Or thousands; we are dealing with millions of men, and will need countless thousands of pieces of equipment. The equipment that we have might be all good equipment, but it appears that the quantity of it is such that we cannot claim to have an effective hard-hitting mobile defence force.
I say in the first place that the Government’s defence policy is ineffective for various reasons which I shall outline. It has not maintained the Army as a hardhitting force, because the Army has not enough weapons with which to do the hitting, and it is not sufficiently mobile because Australia is not geared to the production of modern equipment, and we have not the facilities to move the Army. I should like to see the Minister move 119 Centurion tanks across Australia, because this Government has done nothing to make our transport system effective.
The national service training scheme has come in for a good deal of criticism, and that criticism has come not only from the Opposition in this chamber but also from people who have taken part in the scheme. Therefore, we should carefully consider the very basis of national service training in Australia. It has been said that the Government has a 1914 complex - that it has the attitude of mind which believes in calling up large numbers of people and training them to slope arms, to “ shun “, and to “ unshun “. I am not saying anything in particular against some system of general and universal military training, but I do suggest that national service training should be made more effective.
– Has the honorable member seen it in operation?
– Yes, 1 am speaking from my own experience. I was not involved in the scheme as an eighteen year old, but I can speak as a man who has been in the unit which I am proud to serve in, for some considerable time, and I say that we should give the average national serviceman some incentive to become proud of his service in the Army. The Australian Army has a proud record, and the members of it should also be proud of it and of its traditions and should be loyal to it. However, if a man comes back after his three months’ training and feels fed up with the whole business and does not want to continue to serve, it is time that we looked into the whole system. The system is failing because it does not build up basic regimental loyalties, and create the outlook of the Regular Army system, but we have only 23,000 regular soldiers as the nucleus of a fighting force. The national service system also disrupts the private life of the soldier who takes part in it. There is one point that is probably not acknowledged widely, 1 do not think exemptions are fairly distributed. I asked the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) some time ago for figures on this, and they indicated that about 4,000 people in the metropolitan area have been exempted from national service whereas approximately 22,000 outside the metropolitan area have been exempted. If we are going to have national service, let it be national. I shall discuss methods by which we can, perhaps, make it service.
The question we have to ask is: Does national service build up strong units, a pool of trained man-power and an army which has mobility, and does it build up morale? I say it does not. Without, at the moment, advocating its abandonment - that is obviously impossible in view of Government policy - I suggest that the principle of calling up thousands of young men and putting them into camp for continuous training for three months be abandoned in favour of something based on a system similar to the apprenticeship system. All over Melbourne, Sydney and other capital cities are a number of drill halls and a large number of trained soldiers. Instead of men going into camp for three months another system should be adopted. A good deal of evidence exists that the present system does not provide effective military training; it does not put men into units, to start with. My suggestion is that men be taken to the drill halls during working time each week - for half a day each week, perhaps - for twelve months or two years. They could be given their training by professional, highly-skilled instructors. These instructors could very well be modelled on those of the pre-war Australian Instructional Corps, and the same standards adopted.
Esprit de corps could be built around local units by basic regimental training of the soldiers in their various units. An attempt should be made to get away from the fact that training is a nuisance which breaks down a man’s life; and this can be done if it is based upon his working time each day. After all, the eighteen-year-old is unlikely to be in a high executive position; he should be able to afford the time. If that were done it Would reduce the drain on the army system and reduce the need to clothe, feed and house the trainee, which is so expensive, and we would be building up, I arn certain, after twelve months, at least an efficient soldier by half a day of skilled instruction in congenial surroundings by men who had got to know the trainee personally in a unit to which he would ultimately belong. This would also build up just as good a trained pool of man-power as is being done now by taking a man to Puckapunyal or anywhere else for three months.
I am making this proposition to the Minister seriously because, after all, the national service training scheme has come in for a good deal of criticism, much of which is well-founded. The Citizen Military Force itself places a big load upon the family man in his thirties if he intends to soldier on as an officer Or senior non-commissioned officer. He has to give a great deal of his time. The Army could well spend much time in personal relationship appeals to employers to attempt to make the burden easier by bringing the load into the working week rather than into the night time when a man’s rest and other responsibilities are involved. If industry in this country i.s worth defending, it is worthwhile giving men time off during the day to train for that purpose. I speak from personal experience as a permanent government employee in Victoria. Every time I took time off, even though an act of Parliament sanctioned my doing so. T was the subject of hostility from my superior officers. Unless the Government itself is prepared to sponsor and encourage its own employees by giving them time off and making facilities available for them, i; cannot expect private industry to do so. The Citizen Military Force is the backbone and core, and we must appeal to the family man who is worth his salt to serve in it.
.- I feel that certain aspects of the treatment of this subject by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) were sincere and constructive, but they dealt with matters of detail and not with the general principles which, I think, are in question when we are Considering the proposed defence vote. Indeed - and I do not include the honorable member for Wills - I feel that many of the speeches made by Opposition members have been captious and ungenerous, and perhaps worse. It is a very good thing to criticize constructively, but it is not a good thing to make captious criticism in order to gain a little party advantage. It is an even worse thing to criticize in a way which deliberately spreads the idea that nothing can be done and therefore immobilizes the whole defence effort.
One feels that in certain speeches made by the Opposition members to-day there has been a deliberate desire to play into the hands of our Communist enemies by cutting down the defence vote. It is ali very well to say that what we have done is useless be cause of changed circumstances. That is like saying that somebody who has paid insurance premiums for years on a house which has not been burned down has wasted his money. We did not know, we could not see the future and we had to make, from time to time, the best use of the facilities available to us. It is true, as the Government itself has said, that we have n6v>arrived at the time when changed circumstances require a major re-appraisal of Our whole defence policy, but it does not follow from that, that our past defence policy has necessarily been all wrong. The country must face up to the fact, and the committee had better face up to it too, that circumstances have changed and by reason of those changed circumstances new approaches to defence are now necessary. What are these changes? They are the changes fundamentally which have Come with the new weapons and are two in number, one of which has followed the other so quickly that perhaps their identity has been confused.
The first thing that happened was that the atomic monopoly which we had was effectively broken and Russia achieved, if not atomic parity, at any rate atomic saturation. That changed the whole basis of our strategy because it meant that we could no longer continue to use our atomic shield in order to ensure peace and, rightly or wrongly, that is how we did use it during the years 1946 to 1953. The second change, which came right on the heels of the first, was that with the development of the new hydrogen weapon we passed, in a moment almost, from the saturation position to the annihilation position where a major war might well mean the extinction not of this side or that side or of both sides, but of all sides whether belligerent or neutral. It may be that that position has not yet been reached, but it is certain that it lies, at the best, not very far ahead.
The attack of Russian communism on the rest of the world has made a vital difference in the fundamental, political and international problem of our times. Russia throughout - and this still continues - by refusing atomic inspection, and in other ways, has sabotaged our efforts to obtain true international control of atomic energy. In the earlier saturation phase this was no doubt done in the belief that by holding terror over our heads Russia would be able, without war perhaps, but with war if necessary, to bend us to its Communist will. But the new phase radically upset Russia’s plan, because nobody - least of all, a Marxist - can face up to this annihiliation situation with any degree of satisfaction. It would be of no benefit to a Marxist to precipitate an international conflict which involved death for him and his enemies alike. So Russia, faced with this new annihilation phase, may be more amenable to the approaches for international control that we made so frequently from 1946 onwards, but which Russia succeeded in aborting Tn this regard, there is a time limit for Russia as well as for us. Russia no longer can afford to allow the present conditions to continue indefinitely. Power to make these weapons in annihilation qualities mav become filly multilateral - that is. shared by many States, both big and small.
So we have been forced to consider big changes - not small changes - of our concept of the character of our forces and the role that they will play. That is the concept that must underlie any reasonable approach to the defence estimates. It is good that the Government has announced that it is going to institute a major overhaul of defence policy. We do not know what form that overhaul will take. We do not know yet what it will involve. The Parliament will be able to appraise it when it has been made, but at present we should at least commend the Government for instituting it.
For Australia, minor changes - minor, that is, only in relation to the major atomic changes - have been taking place which also alter our whole concept of defence. Perhaps the most important of these is that an industrialized Asia is rapidly coming into being. It is not in being to-day, perhaps, but it will be in the measurable and foreseeable future. An industrialized Asia will be able to provide for its forces conventional arms which will make them, man for man, comparable with our forces. Their numbers being greater than ours by order of magnitude, that will reduce our power to defend ourselves effectively by any means in isolation. Therefore, the question of allies becomes of vital importance.
One of the major roles of our conventional forces may be to secure for us allies in any sudden eventuality. But what ally could be entirely relied upon in the conditions of this new nuclear age? It may be, then, that the question that is being asked - “ What is the role of our forces? “ - may be a question that admits of no answer. It may be that the old concept that you could set down a role for armed forces, the comfortable concent of the old style of warfare, no longer applies. It may be that, above all else, we must have flexibility, that we must be prepared fo- various kinds of eventualities, conventional or not. and tVt a considerable 19. rt nor ai 0f our defence expenditure will have to be devoted to ensuring our internal security against the worst of those eventualities. Therefore, the changes that are foreshadowed are not small changes. They are big changes.
I venture one observation to the committee, not as a settled conclusion, but as the statement of a question to which we should address our minds and try to find an answer. We believe in world-wide, watertight atomic disarmament. We will do what we can to get it; but, pending getting it, what should we do? Until we get world-wide atomic disarmament, is the only course open to us to become atomically armed ourselves? 1 do not try to answer the next question; I merely pose it. Should we devote a large and signicant part of our total defence expenditure to making certain that we shall have atomic armaments in our own hands - useable, not only at the wish of any ally, however dependable, but at the wish of Australia? I believe that our main course should be to ensure world-wide, watertight atomic disarmament, but until Russia consents to co-operate with us in the international systems for control and inspection, with full safeguards, which we have proposed, is not the point that we should be considering the fact that, for all practical purposes, the nations of the world now fall into two classes - the “ haves “ with atomic armament, and the “ have nots “ without it?
– The honorable member for Chisholm (Mr. Kent Hughes) said this afternoon that the real question that we have to consider is not how much is spent, but how it is spent. The committee should be grateful to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) for explaining in some detail to-night how the £362,000,000 spent by his department in a period of six years has, in fact, been spent. The only criticism that I make is that the information was not supplied earlier. Information of that kind should be supplied to honorable members well in advance of the commencement of the debate. The suggestion has been made before, but I make it again now, that with the budget there should be presented a white paper explaining the Government’s defence policy and indicating what there is to show for our expenditure on defence. Otherwise, we shall not know where we are going. Some people regard defence expenditure as a matter suitable for consideration only by experts, but, in the final analysis, it is a body of non-experts - that is, the members of this Parliament - which ratifies the expenditure of huge sums for the defence of this country. The Parliament will not be faithful to its trust if it votes huge sums for defence without having adequate information about the way in which the money will be expended.
The Parliament also should be given information to enable it to consider questions of the kind that were posed just now by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). They are questions which are facing, not only Australia, but all countries. Everybody views with abhorrence the prospect of atomic warfare. There does not appear to be any doubt that if a war were to occur, it would be an atomic war. That is why these questions must be handled with great care. It is easy enough to make fantastic statements, but there is no doubt that, if a war did occur, it would be terrible for the innocent and the defenceless. Warfare to-day is no longer just a military escapade; it is something that affects the lives of the ordinary people in the community. I suggest, therefore, that expenditure on defence is not a matter which concerns only experts. It may be that, in the long run, experts have to decide whether the Navy should concentrate its attention on, for example, submarine warfare or anti-aircraft defence, but I contend that technical defence questions should be considered more openly than they are in Australia. As we know, the United States of America is a great democracy. Recently, there was the spectacle in that country of a debate - almost an open debate - concerning the policies that should be adopted by the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
I suggest that it might be to Australia’s advantage to adopt such a healthy approach to this matter. What is the position in this country? In effect, the Government says to the three defence services: “ Here is £200,000,000. Whack it up amongst yourselves, and try to get the best value for the money “. I am not saying that that is the Government’s policy, but many people believe that more publicity should be given to these matters. I do not think that any security risk was involved in the statement that the Minister for the Army made tonight, about the relative strengths of the various branches of our armed forces, and the number of motor vehicles they employ. I recognize that the Minister for the Navy (Senator O’sullivan) is not a member of this place, but I think that it would be advantageous for a detailed statement on the
Navy to be presented with the Estimates in this chamber. That is the practice that is followed by the British Government, which presents a White Paper on defence to the Parliament. By this means, the views of the defence chiefs filter through finally to the Parliament, which makes the decisions.
I think that it will be conceded that the public press is an important forum of opinion. Both the Melbourne “ Age “ and the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ each makes available two columns for letters from correspondents, and letters are not restricted to 50 or 100 words as in some of the other newspapers. During the last month or so, I have read some quite interesting letters on defence in the various newspapers. Due to these press facilities, correspondents can expatiate at length, and occasionally letters on a particular subject continue to appear in a newspaper for several weeks. This is a valuable contribution to the moulding of public opinion. lt has been stated during the debate on the Estimates now before the committee that only during the last week or so has Labour criticized this Government’s defence policy. Of course, that is not true. It will be recalled that, during the debate on the Estimates last year, a motion similar to the one now before the Chair - that is, that the Estimates bo reduced by £1 - was moved by the Opposition. Furthermore, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) criticized the Government’s defence policy in the policy speech that he delivered during the last general election campaign. On that occasion, the right honorable gentleman said -
There must be an overhaul of the problem of national defence. In Labour’s view, the Federal Government cannot approach the problems from the scientific point of view or from a modern military outlook.
That is an aspect of the matter that was dealt with by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). Our leader continued -
We require selected air bases, better road and rail facilities, more effective naval docking and a continuous emphasis on the air weapon . . . What is required is a plan of preparedness and adherance to the plan.
In the electorate that I represent, there are, one one side of the River Yarra the Williamstown Naval Dockyard, and on the other, at Fishermen’s Bend, two great air craft construction plants - the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Proprietary Limited, and an establishment of the Department of Aircraft Production. The employees of both the aircraft industry and the shipbuilding industry are confused about the future, because they have been told - particularly those of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Proprietary Limited - that no plans have been made for the future of those industries. It appears that, when the 30-odd Sabres now under construction are completed, there will remain only repair work to be done. That certainly will not bs sufficient to keep 3,500 men in employment. Similarly, the Williamstown Naval Dockyard has no plans for further work after three naval vessels that are now under construction are completed. I have discussed this matter with the managements and the workers of both establishments, and they have stated emphatically that shipbuilding and aircraft production programmes cannot be commenced overnight. Between the drawing board stage and the commencement of production. about eighteen months or two years may elapse.
This Government continues to take great credit to itself for what it has done, and is doing, in relation to defence, yet it has not given any definite instructions to the establishments that I have mentioned in connexion with future work. 1 point out that, at both these huge plants, there are many skilled men who like the work that they are performing. Most of them have completed their apprenticeship,’ and many have graduated from technical schools and universities. A large number of these men, particularly those who are married and have families, are now on the lookout for jobs which offer greater security, because they are apprehensive about the future of the industries in which they are at present working. This could well be tragic as far as the future industrial development of Australia is concerned.
If it is not proposed to construct any more naval vessels at the Williamstown dockyard for the time being, the shipbuilding facilities there could be utilized for the construction of merchant ships. Why cannot some orders for merchant vessels be placed with that dockyard instead of being placed with overseas yards? I understand that overseas shipyards have received quite a number of orders for ships required by Australian companies. The placing of some shipbuilding orders with the naval dockyard would enable us to keep intact the highly skilled staff at present employed there. It has been said that there is a greater concentration, and a wider range, of skilled tradesmen employed at the naval dockyard and by the Commonwealth Aircraft Production Corporation Proprietary Limited than on any other construction work in the country. I understand that, at one time, nearly 5,000 technicians were employed by the corporation. However, this number has gradually dwindled; many technicians have drifted away from the aircraft production plant, and those who remain have a feeling of insecurity. The Government should be frank about the matter. lt is not sufficient for the Opposition merely to protest year after year about proposed allocations for defence purposes; we want to know what the Government expects ro get for the money. That was stated from this side of .the chamber at the commencement of this debate. Some information about the Army has been elicited, piece by piece, but we have not yet received very much information about the Navy, and very little about the Air Force. We have had no statement at all from the Government as to its overall defence policy and strategy. What kind of attack does it imagine that Australia should defend itself against? Is our equipment adequate for the circumstances of 1956? Many people, and members of Parliament in particular, are impressed when they hear of 50,000 or 100,000 servicemen, and so many thousand vehicles, but those things do not necessarily mean mobility. They are the bones of a defence force, as it were, without any spirit of life having been breathed into them. No spirit of life has been breathed into the defence policy of this Government. Its policy has been based simply on large numbers, and any one who criticizes the Government runs the risk of an accusation of being unpatriotic. To-day, the criticism comes not only from members of Parliament, but also from important bodies of opinion outside the Parliament. Some of the daily newspapers to-day carried leading articles on the future of Australia’s aircraft industry. Last week, we saw many articles expressing discontent in connexion with the Government’s defence policy.
It is easy enough at any time for the honorable member for Mackellar to suggest that the Prime Minister should be commended for his change of face in the matter of defence, but I think we are at least entitled to ask why it became apparent only last week that a change was desirable in Australia’s defence strategy. We had been lulled for years into a feeling of security engendered by the thought that because we were spending so much money everything was all right. Now it appears that everything is not all right in Australia’s defences, and we should remember that a defence policy, like any other long-range plan, must have a certain aspect of continuity. We should not change our strategy violently overnight. A change should be progressive. How the review from top to toe - to use the Prime Minister’s own expression - will be conducted, remains to be seen. A review from top to toe implies that something is wrong with what has been done in the past.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- We are approaching the time when the debate on the Estimates for this group of departments must conclude, and I wish to make some comments on certain remarks of Opposition members during this debate. I believe the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) to be a very moderate man. He was quite correct tonight in saying that Labour has always criticized the methods employed to build up Australia’s defences. Apparently an honorable member, whom I did not hear, said that such criticism had been heard only recently, but I believe, in common with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, that Labour has always criticized the methods used to build up Australia’s defences, and I would not be far wrong in suggesting that many prominent honorable members on the opposite side have always opposed any means adopted to strengthen Australia’s defences. That is the main point that I wish to make.
Although there are some moderate members on the Opposition benches, there are also those who criticize the means adopted by this Government for the defence of the country, no matter what suggestions we offer in this regard. Tt has become more and more apparent that those honorable members would wish us to have no defence whatever. The honorable member for East
Sydney (Mr. Ward) said that the money spent on defence could have been used to build all the homes, schools and like amenities required in Australia. What does that mean? It means, surely, that he suggests that instead of spending money on defence we should have spent it to build homes and schools. What is the use of homes and schools and industries, and all the other things that make for better living, if we are not prepared to defend them? If an invader can sweep through this country at any time and devastate it, what is the use of our having a high standard of living, a good education system, and all the other amenities that we strive for? We must, therefore, build homes and schools while developing a defence system that will enable us to play our part with other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations and with the other free nations of the world.
I listened very carefully to the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant). He said that the Australian Labour party had little to do with running the country in peacetime. He made that remark in answer to the statement that Australia at present is better equipped to defent itself than at any Other previous period during a time of peace. It is terribly true that Labour has had little to do with the running of this country during peace-time. If we disregard the war period, when the Australian Labour party was in government for approximately eight years, we find that Labour has been in power in this country for only short periods, of which I think the longest was two years and three months. When a Labour government has been in power, the people have quickly discovered that the legislation it introduced was inimical to our economic and general progress, and it has then been removed from office. The honorable member for Wills, however, in the next sentence or two said that Australia’s defences were based on foundations laid by the Australian Labour party. If Labour has had practically nothing to do with the running of the country in peace-time, how could it have laid the foundations of a war effort? It is a sheer impossibility. In fact, the very opposite has been the case. Consider the Empire air training scheme, under which we sent men to Canada for training. Those men were sent overseas to prepare them for the great fight that they put up in the Battle of Britain. We are proud of our airmen who fought in that battle, who won the day and won commendation from every one in the free world, particularly from Mr. Wniston Churchill. All the foundations upon which our Navy, Army and Air Force were built during the last war were laid by a government of the same character as the one in government to-day. Of course, the Labour government came to power afterwards, and, in all fairness, I agree that it did a reasonably good job. But the Labour party cannot now claim the credit for laying the foundations of our war effort. That would be quite illogical.
Does any one suggest that we should man the whole of our coastline at present? To satisfy some Labour speakers, we would have to do so. It was pointed out that we have a certain number of servicemen available, and one Labour supporter asked whether those men could man our coastline. Of course they cannot. It is unreasonable to suggest that we should try to man the whole of our coastline. We need a mobile force, and this Government intends to develop a mobile force to strike at any enemy who strikes at us. The developments in the Suez Canal dispute recently have made it even more apparent that we need this kind of defence.
In dealing with the statements made by back-benchers, I am not dealing with opinions of those who are in close touch with defence matters, because honorable members on both sides of the chamber, whether supporters of the Labour party, the Liberal party or the Australian Country party, have very little idea of the real cost of defence equipment and maintenance. To-night, we heard a very reasoned speech by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer). An honorable member asked who had written his speech, or where he got it from. Of course, he got the material he used in it from the experts. He would be quick to agree, as would the Minister for Air (Mr. Townley), that he is not an expert on all matters. The Government employs experts, who compute the costs and supply the Ministers with statements on various matters, and honorable members can be assured that these statements are made with authority by the Ministers concerned. A statement of that kind is far more valuable than one made by a backbencher. It would be fantastic for me to attempt to evaluate the cost of defence equipment and maintenance.
To-night, we heard also the former Minister for the Army in the Labour government, the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers). I heard him make a certain statement on three different occasions, and I made a note of it. He said that, just after the war, he went to Japan, saw the devastation caused by the atom bomb, and said, “ Let us have total disarmament “. But when, after having been Minister for the Army for nearly four years, he handed over to the incoming Minister, he said that our military forces were of a high standard.
– Were they not?
– The honorable member says they were, but how could he reconcile that with his claim that there should be total disarmament? The two are not compatible. When the Minister said to-night that the national service training scheme had been an unqualified success, there was a fantastic interjection by none other than the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) who said, “ Why change it? “ Does the honorable member mean that a certain scheme, once adopted, should be continued indefinitely?
– If it has been successful, why not?
– The Minister was speaking in the past tense. He said, “ It has been an unqualified success “. The honorable member for Herbert, who lives most of the time in the past, cannot see why any change should be made.
All these things lead the public to believe that Labour is not very anxious to see a strong defence organization created in this country. Is the Labour party, as a whole, in favour of national service training? If a vote were taken, it would be seen that some Labour supporters are, and some are not. There is a difference of opinion such as exists in regard to everything else that Labour does. Generally speaking, I believe that Labour is not in favour of the national service training scheme.
The honorable member for Wills said that he had ascertained that in the metropolitan area 4,000 men had been exempted from training and in the country, 22,000. Surely he knows that there are no exemptions, but only deferments. If a boy is eighteen or nineteen and obtains a deferment he can be called up at any time before he reaches the age of 26. The honorable member for Willis says that he is in the Citizen Army and goes to camp with these lads, yet he does not know the difference between an exemption and a deferment!
According to the honorable member’s figures there have been 4,000 exemptions in the city and 22,000 in the country. Let us assume that those figures are correct, and let us use the word “ deferment “ instead of the word “ exemption “. Why have these deferments been granted? Labour says that it is a great injustice. Obviously the Army, deciding that it did not need quite so many men in the forces and could limit the intake, has adopted the principle of granting deferments to those whose services Australia, in its present stage of development, most needs. One can assume that most of the 22,000 men outside of the metropolitan area, whose training has been deferred, are engaged in primary production. By the same token, most of the 4.000 in the metropolitan area whose training has been deferred are engaged in essential secondary industry, or are students of medicine, science or some other necessary and important subject. Who would suggest that the greater proportion of deferments offered in the country is not very proper at the present time, when we are fighting to overcome our adverse balance of payments? Ninety per cent, of our exports are primary products, and in this category is the best field for increased output for export. This Government would be remiss in its obligation to the people if it adopted any other course; yet the honorable member for Wills sees fit to criticize it!
Honorable members will recall Labour’s attitude to the sending of troops to Malaya. Every Labour speaker opposed it; but not one Opposition member has referred to it during the present debate.
– Why is that?
– The Labour party discovered, from Gallup polls and other indications, that the people were in favour of Australia co-operating with the United Kingdom and New Zealand in Malaya. Labour is always anxious to jump onto the’ band wagon and say, “ We had better quieten down a bit. The people are not with us on this.” What kind of a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations would we be if we refused to send forces to fight in Malaya in co-operation with those of the United Kingdom and New Zealand?
Much of the money provided in the Estimates of late years has been spent in connexion with the recent war in Korea. I remind honorable members that, had the Russian delegate been present at the Security Council of the United Nations, he would have vetoed any proposal to take action in the Korean dispute. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) was most enthusiastic while the negotiations on the Korean dispute were proceeding. As I have said previously, and will say again and again-
– Why must the honorable member do that?
– The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) asks why I keep repeating it. I do so in order to show the people where Labour stands on these matters. As soon as there is any question of fighting, and of defending our country beyond its own shores, Labour fades out. Honorable members can see how quiet the Opposition is to-night. As a rule I receive many interjections, but to-night there has been hardly one. When the shooting war began in Korea, Labour made no move to help in the recruitment of the men who later fought to preserve the liberty of this country.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- We all like the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), but he is an amazing gentleman who can always be relied upon to make the most astonishing outbursts, especially in regard to defence. He said very, very clearly to-night, leaving nothing to the imagination, that in his opinion at least, the Labour party was opposed to any form of defence for this country. He conveniently forgets that in 1941-
– The honorable member is going back to those days again!
– I know that the truth hurts, but somebody once said that one could not tell the truth too often. I remind the Government- although it does not like to be reminded of it - that in 1941, when the Liberal party and the Australian Country party had a majority in both Houses, Australia was at war, and it was the Labour party under the great John Curtin that geared this country for an all-out war effort. I remind honorable members opposite, whether they like it or not. that in those days, although the present Government parties had a majority in both Houses of the Parliament, they abdicated their responsibilities to the nation in the middle of a war. lt was the late John Curtin, and his policies that brought this country to a full state of war and, finally, to victory itself. That is not going to prevent me from reminding them of the truth. When the late John Curtin took over the responsibilities of Prime Minister and of the Government of this country, Australia’s industries were still producing peace-time, and, in many cases, luxury goods. The great John Curtin, with the Labour party behind him, organized those industries and set them to the task of producing goods required for the war effort; and I challenge any member on the Government side to deny that.
– I do.
– Is the great director Who sits opposite and who has no experience at all in this Parliament, and very little outside of it, prepared to deny that I am stating facts? Yet honorable members opposite get up and say that the great and grand Australian Labour party is not prepared to defend this country! So much for the suggestion by honorable members Opposite that the Australian Labour party is not prepared to do anything for the defence of this country. I do not like distinguishing between one speech and another during any debate, but after the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) had spoken to-night, there was no necessity for any other honorable member on this side to speak at all.
– Then sit down.
– The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) suggests that I sit down. I am not going to sit down, because I have something to say to him.
Government supporters interjecting,
– Order! There is far too much interjecting. I ask honorable members to remain silent.
– I always get a good hearing. I do not know whether on this occasion I have been sorted-out for interjections, but nobody seems to worry when interjections are made while I am speaking. In fact, I do not worry much about them myself. The Minister for the Army cited a long list of figures to-night in an effort to -explain how the money that was made available to the Department of the Army was expended. At least I must give credit to him for being prepared to rise and defend - I say “ defend “ advisedly - the expenditure of this money by the Department of the Army. That is certainly more than we get from the Minister for Air (Mr. Townley) or the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) who represents the Minister for the Navy (Senator O’sullivan) in this chamber. The Minister for the Army told us about countless millions and hundreds of thousands and heavens knows what; but to took great care not to tell us exactly :how the money was expended.
– I did.
– The Minister told us that so much was spent on this and so much was spent on that, but he did not go further and give details of the expenditure; and I can understand his reason for failing to do so.
– I will have a private session with the honorable member and give him the details.
– I do not want a private session. It is not a matter for me; it Is a matter for this committee. The Minister for the Army, the Minister for Air and the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy have a responsibility to tell us exactly how the money is being expended. I do not think any person in this Parliament or in Australia would complain about the expenditure of £190,000,000 a year on defence if he could be assured that the money was being spent intelligently; but we are not certain of that. Concern about the way the money is expended is felt not by honorable members of the Opposition alone. All honorable members are equally concerned about it.
The Minister for Defence has made a statement, and the Minister for the Army has made a statement, but neither of them can feel very happy in view of what is being said in newspaper editorials and other press statements as well as by people outside the Parliament as to what is taking place. I do not think they are worried so much about the amount of the expenditure as they are about the way in which the money is being expended, and I am confident that no person would imagine that national service training and all the other ancillaries associated with the training of troops or air or naval personnel would cost £190,000,000. When the sum of £190,000,000 is mentioned, one thinks immediately of big projects. After all, the Government has had £200,000,000 for two years now, and it is to have £190,000,000 this year, and many big projects could have been embarked upon with all that money. The Minister for Defence Production (Sir Eric Harrison), who is now on his way to Mayfair, made a great song about St. Mary’s munitions factory. The estimated expenditure for St. Mary’s is £23,000,000, but what will happen when that money has been spent? What purpose will St. Mary’s serve? Its purpose is to produce all the items needed for training and preparation for warfare, but so niggardly has this Government been and so unintelligent has its approach been that it would seem to have the idea that the personnel who are trained will be ready waiting at St. Mary’s to be issued with the equipment. The intelligent approach would be to transport the products of St. Mary’s to the troops. After all, these things have to be taken hundreds of miles, but this Government has not had the intelligence to work out exactly how they are to be transported.
At the moment, we have what might be called a hill-billy road system throughout Australia, and the Government is determined not to do anything about the construction of roads. In those circumstances, it is probable that it will not be possible to transport the products of St. Mary’s to points where they are to be used by the troops. When the Government talks about an expenditure of £190,000,000, is it not logical to argue that a good deal of that money should be spent an the construction of defence roads?
– The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden), with his great knowledge, says it is not logical. At least, it is good to know where he stands. He says by way of interjection that he does not believe that one penny of the £190,000,000 should be spent on the preparation of defence roads in this country. How is this £190,000,000 to be spent? The Minister for the Army said to-night that a substantial part of it will be expended on the national training scheme.
– That is right.
– I want to make it clear that I am not authorized to speak for the Opposition and, therefore, I do not pretend to do so; but my personal opinion is that up to the present time the national training scheme has been a complete farce. What is more, it seems that the Government believes as I do because, overnight, it has decided that the whole system has to be changed.
– Who said it has decided that?
– As I understand the report attributed to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). he said that the whole system has to be changed. He says, first of all, that the intake has to be reduced and that the period of training has to be reduced.
– Who said that?
– The Minister for the Army is not following the traditions of an intelligent Minister, because he just will not let anybody else speak. I am saying that is a statement attributed to the Prime Minister himself. The Minister for the Army should be very careful about interjecting because on one occasion he made a certain statement which put him in such a position that he had not the courage to speak again for three or four weeks. I repeat that that statement has been attributed to the Prime Minister.
– Order! The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed votes for the Department of Defence, Department of the Navy, Department of the Army and Department of Air, has expired.
Question put -
That the vote proposed to be reduced (Mr. Crean’s amendment) be so reduced.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.) Ayes . . . . ..31
Majority . . 24
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Proposed Vote, £988,000. (Ordered to be considered together).
.- In this group of Estimates, the committee is asked to approve of the provision of funds for the Department of Supply. That means, in fact, that the Government is seeking funds to expend on the provision of facilities for further warlike atomic explosions. In the light of reasons I shall give. it seems incomprehensible that this Parliament - and in particular this Government - and the people of Australia should attempt to condone and facilitate, to aid and abet, the continuance of these explosions in and around Australia. It is useless for the Government to say that these tests are being made for peaceful purposes because power produced for peaceful purposes can similarly be used for warlike purposes, particularly when it is used in the hands of a highly industrially skilled nation such as West Germany.
Opposition to the continuance of these experimental explosions has been worldwide and the opposition to further atomic tests has significant elements which speak for themselves. I shall deal first with some of the Australian expressions of opinion. The Australian Labour party, at its biennial conference in Hobart in 1954, called upon the Government to cease any further experimental bomb explosions. Similarly, the Parliamentary Labour party last month, through its leader, Dr. Evatt, called upon the Government not to permit any further explosions of this nature. Two weeks ago, the Australian Labour party federal executive in Canberra stated -
This federal executive affirms the Labour party’s unqualified opposition to the continued experimentation of nuclear weapons by way of explosions and atomic bombs.
The United Kingdom Labour party conference at Blackpool, representing 6,000,000 persons, last week unanimously passed a similar resolution. In the United Stales of America, the Democratic Presidential candidate, Mr. Adlai Stevenson, in announcing the Democratic party’s policy, called upon the United States to set an example in leadership by stopping atomic large-scale explosions.
Why? Why should the progressive elements in the community in our world be so forthright and dogmatic in their opposition to this insanity? The reason is that sane, thinking people cannot ignore the authoritative warnings that have been issued from time to time by internationally minded and world-renowned authorities. The Research Council of the National Academy of Science stated in its report for 1956, at page 2 -
It is generally agreed that, in the peace-lime development of atomic energy, man has been lucky. He has been dealing with an enormous new force whose potential effects he has only dimly understood. Obviously, it will not do to allow nuclear plants to spring up ad lib. all over the world.
At the moment, the greatest threat to mankind from radiation arises from the repeated explosions of atomic bombs by the United States, Great Britain and Soviet Russia. As scientific pronouncements on this matter become more readily understood by ordinary persons like myself, there is widespread uneasiness and national alarm, despite official announcements from time to time. I ask the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) - and I do not do this from political motives - whether he, or any one else in Australia, can say that, as a result of the atomic bomb explosions that have occurred here, there will not be any genetic ill effects from radiation on any Australian. The scientific report to which I have referred states -
We ought to keep all our expenditures of radiation exposure as low as possible.
– Is the honorable member quoting from the American report?
– Yes. The report continues -
From the point of view of genetics, they are all bad.
Then we have the British report, which was recently published in the United Kingdom. Referring to radiation effects, it states -
We cannot ignore the possibility that, if the rate of firing increases and, particularly, if a greater number of thermo-nuclear weapons is used we could, within the lifetime of some now living, be approaching levels at which ill effects will be produced in a small number of the population.
– What is the number on the page on which that extract appears?
– I cannot tell the honorable member because I have not the printed report before me.
– Is the honorable member speaking now of hydrogen bombs?
– Yes, I am speaking of all types of bombs in this category - atomic bombs, hydrogen and cobalt bombs. Professor Toynbee, in the third of the Dyason lectures delivered at Melbourne in July last stated, as reported in the Melbourne “Age “ of 26th July -
The only ultimate solution for mankind now that it possessed immensely destructive weapons was to bring those weapons under the control of some single world-wide authority.
Previously, on 19th June, the Governor of New South Wales, Lieutenant-General Sir
John Northcott, who saw the effects of the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, when he was in command in Japan, stated -
No matter what the scientists may think politically, if the world is to survive, this element, which can mean so much to us in peace, must never again be used against mankind.
Finally, on 25th May last, at a closed hearing before a United States Senate subcommittee, Lieutenant-General Gavin said in a statement which was released later officially, and was published in the “’ Christian Science Monitor “ dated 29th June, 1956, said -
Washington was stunned by the release of official Army estimates that a full-scale nuclear attack on the U.S.S.R. would kill several hundred million people, including probably millions of the United States own allies outside the Soviet Union, depending on which way the wind blew.
So it would appear that so little knowledge is possessed now that the survival of humanity depends upon which way the wind blows. That might sound frivolous, but I assure honorable members that it is not. It rests squarely upon the three great powers - Great Britain, the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics - to come to an agreement in the banning of atomic warlike explosions, for those three powers, so far, are the only manufacturers of atomic weapons. While atomic power remains the monopoly of the three great powers, there is some hope of agreement. Once other powers acquire the same power, agreement will be more difficult. In Western Europe, West Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg and Holland, under the project known as Euratom, have been striving to set up a western European atomic authority. Atomic power may be used for peaceful purposes, but we know that, in highly skilled hands, there is no difference between the possibilities of atomic power for peaceful and warlike purposes.
We are all agreed that atomic warfare should be banned and, with it, any further experiments. Why? Because every one knows that, in atomic war, there will be no victor and that we do not possess sufficient information of the effects that radiation will have on the human species if further uncontrolled experiments are carried out. Almost every Christian church has demanded that further atom bomb explosions be abandoned. Clear-thinking statesmen throughout the world have de manded their cessation. The British PrimeMinister, Sir Anthony Eden, announced last July that Great Britain would shortly have the hydrogen bomb. At the same time, he welcomed the statements by the Russian leaders that atomic warfare was such that no country would be prepared to> launch an H bomb attack.
With the lessening of east-west tension,, we may now have the only opportunity - the last opportunity - to obtain agreement for a cessation of the atomic arms race pending the setting up of international control as recommended by the Americanscientists’ report. Are we to let fear, suspicion and greed deprive the world of thehope of survival? We should not leave it to the United States and the Soviet alone. We must voice our support now lest we perish. Our hope rests only in the setting up of an international authority as recommended in the American report, and as. agreed to by the United Nations Assembly last year. It suggested an authority to direct the use of atomic power for peaceful purposes. We hope and pray that the necessary control will be vested in such an authority on an international plane, and’ that the three great powers will agree to it.
If, as Mr. Adlai Stevenson has said, the’ United States should give a lead, is there any reason why the small nations like Australia, which gave such a vital lead to the United Nations in its formative years, should not set the example and call for a cessation of this form of nuclear insanity, which is affecting all of us to-day? I think that it behoves this Government, and al! parties of all governments in Britishspeaking nations, to demand that this type of insanity cease. So far as humanity is concerned, if it does not cease, we will cease. I reiterate the quotation which was made this afternoon by my friend, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) of a statement by Nelson Rockefeller -
To achieve lasting peace, security and wellbeing in the world, we must join forces in air economic offensive to root out hunger, poverty, illiteracy and disease.
I say that we can do it now; we may not have the opportunity again. Just as we are attempting economically to assist our Asian neighbours through the Colombo plan’ and such admirable schemes, the real test of the bona fides of western civilization could? not in any more definite way be met now than by a unified demand that the continued explosion of warlike atomic weapons cease forthwith.
– It is not my function to reply to the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. R. W. Holt), who has just resumed his seat. What he said 1 have no doubt will be replied to by my friend -and colleague, the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale). But I should like, in the shortest time that I can, just to put honorable members in possession of a little necessary information about the item appearing at the top of page 94 of the Estimates, in the section devoted to defence services, headed “ Other “Services “, and reading -
Under control of Department of External Affairs.
Division No. 209k. - Economic assistance to support defence programme of South-East Asia treaty organization member countries - £250,000.
What this item refers to may not be quite clear to honorable gentlemen, and 1 want in the briefest of terms to attempt to describe its purpose.
In March of last year, on behalf of the Government, I attended a meeting of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization Council in Karachi, and whilst there, in the course of what 1 had to say on behalf of the Australian Government, and with the authority of the Government, I said that I would recommend the provision of £2,000,000 worth of what I described at that time as twilight aid. That £2,000,000 finds its reflection in the £250,000, which is enshrined in this year’s budget Estimates under Division No. 209k. The expenditure is under the control of my friend and colleague, the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) and myself. For technical Treasury reasons it is described in the Estimates as being “ Under control of Department of External Affairs “, but that is merely a Treasury shorthand means of -saying that the actual accountancy in respect of this item is dealt with by the Department of External Affairs.
The situation is this: As honorable members are aware, there are eight members of the South-east Asia Treaty Organization, of which three members are Asian, namely Pakistan, Thailand and the Philippines.
The United States of America, of course, gives massive aid on the military side, under a very wide variety of headings, to these three Asian countries. The total aid represents very large sums of money. We in Australia, keen members of Seato, believing, as we do, that the organization is a means of deterring aggression and war in south and south-east Asia, and also wanting to show our bona fides as members of the organization and to do what we can to help, particularly our three Asian partners, have evolved what I called at the time this twilight aid. After all, I think that all of us in Australia know very well that we have not shooting Weapons and ammunition to spare even for our friends. All that we are able to manufacture in Australia we need for ourselves. But defence services need more than shooting weapons and ammunition. They need a very wide range of other equipment. So I was empowered, on behalf of the Government, to make the proposal to the last Seato Council meeting at Karachi that Australia would provide, if it was thought useful and it was wanted, up to £2,000,000 worth of aid that was intermediate between normal civil aid such as we give under the Colombo plan on the one hand and what might be called shooting weapons and ammunition on the other hand. At the time I gave instances of such items as defence mechanical equipment, trucks and, maybe, bulldozers, and other forms of equipment used by the fighting services, cloths for uniforms, tinned foodstuffs, training of those countries’ officers, and non-commissioned officers in Australia, communications equipment, and a wide range of other equipment of which I gave some typical examples. It was proposed that we would provide these items and services to these three Asian countries, our partners in the organization, up to a total value of £2,000,000.
That is the simple story of the appearance of this item in the Estimates. This £250,000 is an earnest of our putting into effect the pledge to provide £2,000,000 worth of intermediate aid between civil aid and straight defence, shooting weapons and the like. I may say that the provision for the expenditure of £250,000 is the beginning of the expenditure of £2,000,000. Wc have already sought from Pakistan, Thailand, and the Philippines, their advice as to the sort of things they would care to have under these headings, and that process is fairly well advanced. It has not been a very rapid business up to the present, and it may well turn out that over this and the next financial year the £2,000,000 will not be expended, but, with the approval of the Government, I shall seek the authority of the Parliament for future appropriations under this heading as time goes on. 1 may say that this item is, of course, wholly distinct and apart from, and additional to, Colombo plan provisions of aid for South and South-East Asian countries. It is a demonstration of Australia’s keenness on the Seato arrangement generally, which we believe has already had, and will continue to have, a positive effect on the security of the countries involved, in other words, broadly speaking, the countries of SouthEast Asia and, at one very short remove, Australia. I commend the item to honorable members.
.- The Department of Supply and the Department of Defence Production are now under discussion in the debate on the Estimates. The money provided for the administration and functioning of both those departments comes from the total vote of £190,000,000 that is to be made available for defence services. According to the Estimates, last year the Department of Supply spent £12,796,000. The Estimates now before the committee provide for expenditure of £12,030,000. The Department of Defence Production spent £12,304,000 last year, and the estimated expenditure this year is £19,891,000; so that last year the combined expenditure of the two departments was slightly more than £25,000,000, and this year it will be approximately £30,000,000. I mention that because both of those departments produce essential equipment for the armed services. Obviously, if the various government factories are in full production, not only is the valuable plant and machinery fully utilized, but also, employment is provided in non-governmental establishments, thus helping to stabilize the economy.
I think that all honorable members will agree that the most important defence services for an island continent are the Air Force and the Navy. In those circumstances, one might expect that expenditure on the production of essential equipment for the defence of the Commonwealth would: be concerned mainly with those two arms. Unfortunately, the Estimates do not give us any idea of the kind of work that is being done, the raw materials that are being used and the type of equipment being turned out. In other words, we are not given even a bird’s eye view of exactly how the equipment for our defence forces is being improved or increased in volume. For that reason, we find ourselves at a disadvantage.
– I hope to make good that deficiency later in the debate.
– I assure the Minister for Defence Production (Sir Eric Harrison) that that will be very helpful, particularly to honorable members on this side of the chamber who are gravely concerned about the future employment position at munitions plants. It seems to me that, in regard to certain of the munitions plants, there has been an entire lack of long-range planning. I bring to the notice of the committee the position of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Proprietary Limited at Fishermen’s Bend, which is not a government concern, but which depends upon both the Department of Supply and the Department of Defence Production for orders to enable it to function. It was started at the beginning of World War II. and has been engaged exclusively on the manufacture of aircraft since then. Until a few months ago, it employed approximately 4,500 persons, and has turned out very creditable aircraft for Australian defence purposes. Some time ago, the factory received an order for 90 Sabre jet fighters. Last week, the 61st of those aircraft was completed and towed off the production line. The balance of the order will be completed before the end of the financial year. That, of course, is a great achievement on the part of both the management of the factory and the men who are doing the work, but it is regrettable that, when that order has been completed, there will be no further work for the factory because no other order has been placed with it. Perhaps the only work that could be done there, in the absence of an order from the Government, would be repairing aircraft. Without some such work, the wonderful plant and machinery, and the large staff of skilled tradesmen and technicians, would have absolutely no work to do.
So far, the Government has not announced its policy concerning the new type of fighter aircraft which it proposes to order, and in any event, it must be borne in mind that, before production could be commenced in Australia, considerable time would have to be spent by the staff in familiarizing themselves with the plans, in tooling up the plant, and in inspection of overseas factories in order to see the exact manner in which the aircraft is constructed. I understand that the Royal Australian Air Force has asked for a new American aircraft known as the FI 04, and I also understand that the United States Government has made it clear that it is prepared to approve supply of a number of these aircraft to the Australian Government. Whether the offer will remain open indefinitely. I do not know, but so far, there has been no announcement of Government policy in respect of the new aeroplane that is to be built by the corporation when the Sabre jet fighters are no longer required.
The unfortunate result of all of this is that, whereas a few months ago approximately 4,500 people were employed at the factory, that number has now dwindled to 3,500, and as the number of Sabre jet aircraft to be completed diminishes, more and more of the staff will go off. It is expected that, in a few months, an additional 1,000 people will go off, which will reduce the staff to 2,000 or 2,500. As honorable members know, it is not possible to assemble a staff of skilled technicians and tradesmen in a short space of time. This organization has been operating for fifteen years and during that time has assembled a wonderful staff of technicians and tradesmen. Once that staff begins to disperse, it will be a long time before the corporation will be able to re-assemble suitable staff to do the kind of work that it has been doing during recent years and which it did so efficiently during the war. I suggest to the Minister that this problem should receive the immediate attention of the Government.
In the remaining few minutes at my disposal I want to deal with defence factories generally. They include the ball-bearing factory at Echuca; the ordnance factory at Bendigo, in my own constituency; several factories al Maribyrnong, Victoria; the small arms factory at Lithgow; the fuse factory being built at St. Mary’s; the Department of Defence Production factory at
Fishermen’s Bend; the various dockyards in New South Wales; and the dockyard at Williamstown. The question of what those organizations are to do during the current financial year is causing a good deal of concern, not only to the people who are employed by them, but also to their managements. There is a widespread feeling of insecurity. It is known that severe retrenchment is to take place. Why retrenchments should be made is difficult to understand when it is remembered, as 1 pointed out earlier, that the total vote for the two departments for this financial year is nearly £7,000,000 more than it was last year.
– Approximately £6,000,000 of that will go to St. Mary’s.
– That may be so. Nevertheless, approximately £7,000,000 more will be spent by those two departments this year than was spent last year. That being so. it is very hard to appreciate the reason for retrenchments. It is certain that orders are not being received by the factories. At the Bendigo ordnance factory, overtime has been cut out and certain work upon which the employees were engaged has been slowed down. I believe that within the last week or two a policy has been evolved for these factories, but unfortunately nobody knows what it is. 1 hope that during the course of the debate upon these Estimates either the Minister for Defence Production or the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) will be able to make a statement to the committee indicating to what extent retrenchment will be made, the number of persons who will be dismissed, and why these things are taking place when the total proposed vote for both departments this year is, as I have already pointed out, almost £7,000,000 more than was expended by them during last financial year.
I cannot say what will be the effect in relation to the factories in Melbourne beyond saying that wherever unemployment occurs it has a snowballing effect. Not only will persons employed in the government factories be affected but also persons in outside firms which supply materials to the government factories. Whether we like it or not, more and more people will be dismissed. I also point out to the Ministers concerned and to the committee generally that retrenchments in factories that are concentrated in country districts will have a severe economic effect. Echuca, which is nol very far from Bendigo, has a ballbearing factory. So far, the men engaged there have been employed constantly, and the regular payment of wages has a very big effect upon the economic life of the town. The effect of a fall in the weekly distribution of wages in a small place like Echuca would be severe. The same thing applies to the City of Bendigo, which is the centre of the constituency that I represent. At the present time, 1,200 persons are employed at the Bendigo ordnance factory. A substantial reduction of that staff would have a tremendous impact upon the economic life of the city and a disastrous effect upon the employees themselves, because in the smaller country towns the avenues of employment for displaced employees are by no means as great as in the capital cities. As the Minister for Defence Production knows, retrenchment would mean that in many cases the displaced employees would have to sell their homes and go elsewhere. Then, when the time arrived for a greater production of war-time equipment, the government factories would have the same problem in building up their staffs as would the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Proprietary Limited.
I hope that a general statement on this matter will be made to the committee, because the employees, who have a feeling of insecurity, are entitled to know where they stand, whether their jobs will last, and whether there will be a general decrease of the manufacture of equipment for Australia’s armed forces. That equipment is essential, and unless it is available the defence forces will not be able to give the service that is expected of them.
.- Let us glance at nuclear and projected missile warfare in retrospect. During World War II.. we heard a lot about Hitler’s secret weapon, and we know only too well the reign of terror that later fell on Great Britain with the introduction of the V2 projected missile. From that moment onwards it became clear to all thinking people - strategists, economists and scientists alike - that this was the new weapon of warfare. So at the end of 1945 and the beginning of 1946, Great Britain set out to find within the British Commonwealth of Nations a suitable site for the testing of projected missiles and nuclear weapons.
– And they brought them toAustralia.
– I must say how very fortunate we are that Australia is geographically suited for that purpose. It is time that weceased to look at nuclear warfare with somescepticism. It is real; we must accept it.. We are in the atomic age, and for Opposition members to say that we should try toresist nuclear weapons is like endeavouring, to go back to the penny-farthing bicycle and to place our motor cars in the garage - Following England’s choice of the Woomera, site for the testing of long range projected* missiles there came two mighty industries to Australia - the electronics industry and the aerodynamics industry. We are most fortunate in having those two industrieshere, because, as a result of their being established and the inpouring of capital tr> this country, we are twenty years ahead of our time. Australia, no doubt, is the nation, of the future.
Last year, England spent £60,000,000 - just think, gentlemen, £60,000,000 - on thisproject in comparison with our expenditureof £ 1 0,000,000. Without a doubt, the establishment of the Woomera long range weapons testing ground is meaning and will, mean something tremendous for Australia.
– They ought to get rid of it. and send it somewhere else.
– A Labour government established it. Wake up!
– It established a rocket range.
– At the Woomera testing: ground we experimented, first, with shortrange projectiles - air-to-air, ground-to-air,, and air-to-ground missiles. We are nowdeveloping a long-range deterrent missile. The greater the degree to which we cam develop long range projectiles and thermonuclear physics, the nearer we will come tomaking Australia the nation about which we so much dream. Our contribution is a contribution not only to the British Commonwealth of Nations, but also to the FreeWorld. We are living in a country that h large geographically but which has only a small man-power, and we could not havehoped to develop the two existing testing grounds by ourselves. So I say, sir, that the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) a few days ago about the re-thinking of our defence expenditure was a wonderful thing. Without a doubt, we are now entering a new phase - the atomic phase. Warfare of the type we have known is, to a large degree, becoming obsolescent. We were living in a period in which we were completely dependent economically on coal. We are now living in a period in which we are dependent economically on oil. We are entering a phase in which we shall be completely dependent on uranium. I say that this testing ground for atomic and guided missiles - let us not forget that the one is closely related to the other - will bring about the early development of our uranium fields, and so will help us greatly in that direction. It is only by developing the long-range guided missile and the thermo-nuclear bomb that we can hope to prevent war.
This development is the means of preventing a third world war. There is no doubt whatever in my mind that that is so. So do not let us say that this kind of experiment is dangerous and that we should not have it in Australia. Let us accept this thing. Let us get to know this thing. I feel that it is only by the proper understanding of atomic power and atomic warfare that we shall really do something. It is the development of the atomic bomb that will give us a great deal of knowledge about the development of atomic power.
I feel that in three years’ time there will be atomic generating stations all over England. In view of the Suez situation and the position of England’s oil supplies, the development of nuclear power stations will be a grand thing for that country. Do not let us think for a moment that we in Australia can isolate ourselves from England. We cannot. We often hear the question, “Why should we worry about England? After all, we should be directing our thoughts towards America “. I am afraid that if England goes down economically, we shall go down economically. England’s affairs are our affairs. The true knowledge of atomic power will help Great Britain to such an extent now and in the future that, once again, it will be and we shall be members of a great British Commonwealth of Nations that we are planning.
– I wish to take advantage of this opportunity to express to the committee some views that, possibly, some honorable members have overlooked in their consideration of this matter. I associate myself with the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. R. W. Holt). He delivered a very thoughtful speech, which, I feel, will receive considerable public support. Whatever one may challenge in that speech, one cannot doubt the sincerity of the man. The great sentiment that he expressed carries conviction, and will receive strong support from the Australian community.
Some honorable gentlemen opposite indicated that it was Labour which sanctioned the initial work for the conduct of these experiments. I should like to say. in reply, that those honorable gentlemen should try to be more accurate. The sanction was given in connexion with directed missiles but not in regard to atomic blasts. There is a very great difference between the use of these particular areas for the testing of guided missiles, and their use for the purposes that are under consideration by the committee at the moment. That being so, I hope that no mistake will be made in future as to the nature of the sanction given originally by the Labour party in that matter.
My principal reason for taking part in this discussion is to ask for an assurance more definite than that which has been received up to the moment regarding the safety of the native people. We have been concerned about the radio-active clouds, which have been caused by these nuclear explosions. There has been an earnest desire to explode the atomic bombs under climatic conditions which would result in the dispersal of the radio-active clouds to places far removed from centres of population. The objective has been that the cloud should spread itself over uninhabited areas. As we are most concerned about the possible effects of atomic blasts on our civil community, I want to know, on humanitarian grounds, what provision is being made to ensure the safety of the aborigines. It seems that there has not been the proper understanding of the situation, or the desire to safeguard the native population from the effects of the explosions that there should have been.
– That is not true.
– The aborigines may have been removed from the immediate area of the blast, but they have not been removed from those areas over which the cloud will pass. The unfortunate effects of that cloud are likely to be felt by our native population. Therefore, we have a definite responsibility to see that the aborigines shall not be exposed to any of the perils resulting from the experiments.
I voice the sentiments of many people who are eager to see that these natives, who are unable to speak for themselves or protest in any way, should be given protection. The Government should make certain that they receive that humane consideration which the circumstances justify. Consequently, no danger should be allowed to come to the areas that they inhabit. Their lives are just as valuable as those of any white person, and they should not be exposed to risk any more than should people in the settled areas of civilization. I ask the Minister to intimate that full provision will be made to protect them, although I cannot see how the drift of the atomic cloud over the areas they inhabit can be prevented.
– It does not drift over their territory.
– The Minister is not able to direct the drift of the cloud; that is determined by weather conditions, and I am asking that care should be taken, as far as is humanly possible, to keep it away from native areas. 1 have been informed that about 2,000,000 acres have been taken out of native reserves and used as an atomic experimental area. What has been done to compensate the native people for some of the best hunting country and some of the best watered areas of which they have been deprived? Surely the Government should acknowledge some responsibility to them, although this may be a matter of no consequence to some honorable members who have little regard for broad humanities. The only consideration that weighs with them is what suits the high purpose of their particular outlook, but that is not the view held by a large number of Australians, who are desirous that some consideration should be given to these helpless aborigines.
I endorse the sentiments expressed by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) concerning the workers in defence factories in various parts of Australia that are likely to be affected by any new defence schemes evolved by the Government. When I was Minister for Munitions I was responsible for the establishment of a ball bearing factory at Echuca, and other factories which were set up for the purpose of implementing the decentralization policy of the Labour government. It would be a tragedy to the workers engaged in the Echuca factory if production there should cease. It is playing as important a part in peace-time as it did during the war, when it produced materials which could not be imported. The honorable member for Bendigo feels similarly about the factory to which he referred. It would be a great loss not only to the local population, but also to the engineering industry throughout Australia, if employment at these establishments of men with technical skill and knowledge should be curtailed or terminated to implement the Government’s mistaken policy of economy. Such action would be detrimental also to Australia’s defence preparations.
The aim of any government should be to have workers everywhere profitably employed, and factories such as these are able to produce materials valuable in peace-time as well as for defence needs.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
House adjourned at 11.11 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
e asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In the proposed legislation to increase the value of life assurance premiums as allowable taxation deductions, will the limit imposed on employers’ and other persons’ contributions to funds for the benefit of employees, under sections 66 and 79 of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act, be also increased to £300?
– The answer to th< honorable member’s question is as follows: -
No. When the proposed legislation is enacted, the annual deductions of payments to provide life assurance and superannuation benefits for an employee may be as high as £500, comprised of £300 paid by the employee himself and £200 paid by the employer. In some cases, the deductible payments may be even higher than £500, for example, where 5 per cent, of the employee’s annual remuneration is greater than £200 or where the Commissioner of Taxation, having regard to the special circumstances of the case, considers it to be reasonable to allow an amount greater than £200 or 5 per cent, of the employee’s annual remuneration. Under prevailing conditions, the Government has not felt able further to liberalize these provisions.
t asked the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Land Settlement of Ex-servicemen.
s asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
In addition the following approximate amounts have been spent by the individual States on war service land settlement: - New South Wales, £38,600,000; Victoria, £38,000,000; Queensland. £4,700,000.
Table 1 shows the number of male farmers (owners, lessees and sharefarmers) on rural holdings for each State in Australia as a: 31st March, 1946, and 1955. The actual and percentage change is also shown. Similar statistics for 1939 are not available since statistics of farm employment prior to 1943 do not separate owners, &c. from unpaid family helpers and paid employees.
Table 2 shows the total number of males permanently employed on rural holdings as at 31st March, 1939, 1946 and 1955, and. therefore, embodies the statistics shown in Table 1, together with statistics of paid and unpaid helpers. This table shows that the number of males permanently employed has decreased by some 34,000 or 9 per cent, since 1939, but to the extent that the proportion of farm helpers may have declined since then, any decline in the number of farmers would be less than 9 per cent. There has been little change in numbers of farmers and farm workers since 1946, when most of those who had served in the forces had been discharged.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has furnished the following replies: -
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
H.M.A. Naval Establishment, Williamstown. The principal private shipyards are -
Broken Hill Proprietary Limited, Whyalla. Cockatoo Dock and Engineering Company Proprietary Limited, Sydney.
Evans Deakin and Company Limited, Brisbane.
Morts Dock and Engineering Company, Sydney.
Poole and Steel Limited, Sydney, and
Walkers Limited, Maryborough, Queensland. There are also a number of smaller establishments capable of building vessels up to 200 tons.
Two River class freighters of 8,500 d.w.t. each.
Four “ D “ class freighters of 3,000 d.w.t. each.
Two “DA” class freighters of 3,100 d.w.t. each.
Two “US” class freighters of 3,000 d.w.t. each.
Two passenger/cargo vessels of 2,000 d.w.t. each.
Four Yampi class bulk carriers of 12,500 d.w.t. each.
Two Lake class bulk carriers of 10,000 d.w.t. each.
One Whyalla class bulk carrier of 10,000 d.w.t.
Eleven River class freighters of 8,500 d.w.t. each.
Two Chieftain class bulk carriers of 8,000 d.w.t. each.
Eleven “B” class freighters of 6,500 d.w.t. each.
One “ I “ class collier of 7,000 d.w.t.
Two “ Y “ class colliers of 4,750 d.w.t. each.
Five “ D “ class general cargo vessels of 3,000 d.w.t. each.
One “MM” class collier of 2,100 d.w.t.
Five “ E “ class general cargo vessels of 622 d.w.t. each.
Vessels being built to orders placed by the Commonwealth Government are as follows: -
Six Lake class bulk carriers of 10,000 d.w.t. each. Average cost £1,400,000 each.
Two “ 1 “ class colliers of 7,000 d.w.t. each. Average cost £950,000 each. Two Esk class grain/cargo carriers of 2,000 d.w.t. each. Average cost £650,000 each.
Vessels being built to orders placed by private shipowners are as follows: -
One Whyalla class bulk carrier of 10,000 d.w.t. Estimated cost £1,900,000.
Two bulk carriers of 19,000 d.w.t Average cost £2,700,000 each.
z asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
a asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Has any provision been made in the 1956-57 Estimates for the erection of a new post office at Bankstown and Mortdale?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
No provision has been made in the 1956-57 building works programme for the erection of new post office buildings at either Bankstown or Mortdale.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 October 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1956/19561009_reps_22_hor13/>.