House of Representatives
8 November 1956

22nd Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took: the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 2115



Prime Minister · Kooyong · LP

– by leave - As honorable members know, the latest reports are that there has been a “ cease fire “ in Egypt, consequent upon, the announcement by the United Nations of an- international force for use in the Suez Canal area. But it is still necessary to remind the House and the country of the true quality and consequences of recent events.

The free world has had clearly put to it in the last week or two a question, the answer to which will determine not only the future of the United. Nations, but also the future of the world. Israel and Egypt became involved in operations of war. That what Israel did when it invaded Egypt was an act of aggression, few people would be concerned to deny. Yet, as I have previously pointed out in public statements, Israel had become painfully aware of the aggressive attitude of her neighbours and had, quite plainly, made up her mind that something should be done to correct a situation in which Israel’s existence should always be on a precarious tenure. She, therefore, sent her forces into Egypt. It was clear that if this invasion of Egypt proceeded, and Egypt defended herself, there would before long be a war conducted over and around the Suez Canal. If this local war had occurred in some other part of the world, it might have been isolated and either dealt with by the great nations or allowed to wear itself out. But the Suez Canal, as hundreds of millions of people in the world clearly understand, was and is one of the economic life-lines of the world.

We in Australia realize that the great bulk of our overseas trade, which is vital to our own economic existence, passes through it in one direction or the other. The Western European powers, including Great Britain, depend upon a free and open Suez Canal for the vital industrial ingredient, to wit, oil, of their own industrial life and employment. Under these circumstances, should the two great Suez Canal shipping powers, Great Britain and France, have stood aside and pretended that a war in the Suez Canal zone was no concern of theirs? They would have been bent on economic suicide if they had thought so, or said so, or acted so. What then were they to do? Were they to believe that the United Nations could and would promptly and efficiently deal with this matter, not only by words or resolutions, but by deeds? If they had done so, resolutions would have been passed in the General Assembly at any rate but there is no reason to believe that anything would have happened; no more than there is reason to believe that a vetoed resolution of the United Nations will restrain the Soviet Union from its career of butchery in Hungary.

These two great powers, therefore, concluded that action was necessary if the Suez Canal was to be kept free and open and out of a zone of war. That is why Great Britain and France developed their military activities in the Middle East. They have, I believe, been well justified in the result. It is just because they took strong action that the United Nations itself has been galvanized into action. They made it perfectly clear that their object was and is to separate the belligerents, to get a peaceful settlement of disputes, and to preserve the canal. If, as a result of this, both Israel and Egypt have declared a “ cease fire “ and if the United Nations itself is prepared to put in an effective military force to replace the police action of Great Britain and France, we will all very willingly believe that practical action has been taken by the world organization. But at the same time, it must not be forgotten that there will always be the threat of conflict around the Suez Canal if the outstanding issues are not really settled. It must, therefore, not be thought that an international force will have exhausted its function when hostilities have ended. Indeed, these have, in substance, already ended. It must continue its function until the outstanding questions between Israel and Egypt have been settled on a basis acceptable by both, and the future of the Suez Canal as an international waterway, insulated from the politics of any one nation, has been assured.

I think I might with propriety quote the words of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom spoken in the House of Commons on Tuesday evening. He said this -

During the night we received from the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations a communication in which he informed us that both Israel and Egypt had accepted an unconditional cease fire.

He then went on to say -

I should like to make one or two comments on the general situation. There have been and no doubt still are bitter differences upon this matter across the House.

I will lay down what I believe has been the result of the action we took with all its admitted attendant risks which 1 have never concealed. I believe that it has limited the area of conflict. If honorable members think that that is not a fancomment I should like them to consider whether, when hostilities broke out, any of them thought it possible that the other Arab countries would not have been all of them immediately involved in a war with Israel. I believe - in fact I am convinced - that it was only the knowledge of the presence of our forces which limited the conflict to that area. The fact that fighting has now stopped and that the Israeli acceptance of the 10 mile limit has made it virtually certain as far as it can that the two parties shall not re-engage in conflict meanwhile is, I should have thought, also an achievement which all of us should reckon to be worth while.

Going on, Sir Anthony Eden said -

Now I come to what is a more controversial but as time passes may perhaps become a more generally accepted statement of one of the results, namely, that the action we took has been an essential condition for the attempted creation - which we hope will be successful - of a United Nations force to come into the canal zone itself. I ask honorable members to look at the history of the Middle East in the post-war period and ask themselves if anything but this action would have brought the United Nations to take this step. I am absolutely sure it would not. After years of flickering war the stage can now be set - if the United Nations will put forward this force adequate for the task - for negotiations and for a real settlement of the problems of the Middle East.

The concluding paragraph of my citation deals with two matters of outstanding importance. The first is that the United Nations force should be adequate for the task. This is significant. It would be rather a strange circumstance if the properly armed and equipped troops of the United Kingdom and France should be replaced by a force of no military consequence without adequate supply and backing. It should be an effective military force. At present, we in Australia do not know whether it is desired that we should contribute to it. It appears that the introduction of such a force, under United Nations rules, must be with the consent of the nation whose territory is to be entered, and as our Minister in Egypt has just received notification that diplomatic relations with Australia are cut off, it may be that Australia will not be included in a general approval. I do not know. It is probably too soon for anybody to have worked out what its constitution is to bc, how it is to be used, and in what particular respects individual nations should take part in it. All I need say at present, on behalf of the Government, is that if the proposal is to constitute a military establishment which will facilitate the making of a permanent settlement in the Middle East, Australia will certainly be not unwilling to make such quick practical contribution as it can.

The second point to be emphasized is that Sir Anthony Eden has pointed out the objective of a real settlement of the problems of the Middle East. This is a matter of major importance. If all that happened was that the British and French forces, having cleared the canal of physical obstructions, withdrew and were replaced by a United Nations force, and the charter of that force was merely to keep the peace for a limited time, leaving all outstanding questions concerning the canal and the relations between Egypt and Israel unsolved, our people might well ask what was the good of Anglo-French intervention. It is, therefore, essential to emphasize that the conflicts around Israel frontiers and the questions affecting the free passage of the canal cannot be solved by being either ignored or postponed.

The people of Israel have a perfect right to know that their national integrity will be respected. Half the people of the world have a perfect right to know that a nonpolitical control of the canal is guaranteed. Peace is not a mere matter of the cessation of hostilities; it can be founded only upon the sensible removal of differences. In the making of peace in the Middle East, cooperation with the United States will be essential. I am sure that, in spite of recent differences, such co-operation will be freely available. It is for reasons like these and for the general reasons which I set out in my statement to the House on 1st November, that we have supported the action of the United Kingdom and continue to support it.

Some casual but biased observers have suggested that we have merely “ toed the line “. This is, of course, nonsense. We have not, if I may say so, lacked the capacity for expressing our own views, though we have at all times expressed them as British people. But I would think badly of myself and my colleagues would think badly of themselves, if we remained silent or neutral under circumstances in which the Government- of the United Kingdom has been assailed for taking action which we regard as both practical and courageous. I think that already it is being realized more and more that taking a firm course on matters like the Egyptian conflict is not a means of provoking war but of averting war. [ pass to a few other considerations which have been much in our minds in these very troubled days. A good deal of apprehensive talk has occurred about the differences which have been manifested over this Egyptian matter between some of the countries of Europe and some of the countries of Asia. In particular, honorable members will not have failed to notice that some of our Asian friends have protested strongly against Anglo-French action in Egypt, but have had little or nothing to say about the murderous activities of the Soviet Union in Hungary. These are matters which it is considered wise politics never to mention. But a time comes when this rule should be broken. There could be no greater tragedy in the world than for it to become settled doctrine that the great nations of Asia and the great European and neo-European nations have conflicting interests, and that ney must, therefore, accept conflict about them as inevitable. We, in Australia, do not believe that, in world matters, the interests of India must be in conflict with those of Australia or the interests of Asia in conflict with those of Europe. Statesmanship requires that we should all swiftly bring ourselves to an understanding that the world is one, and that ordinary human beings all around the world have similar interests and the same dignified and human ambitions.

Having said this, I would like to say to such people in other nations as may be willing to listen, that there are three aspects of the present Middle East crisis which deserve the urgent and earnest consideration of all men. They are -

First, the freedom and integrity and peace of the Suez Canal are of just as much importance to the villager of Pakistan or India as to the ordinary citizen of Australia or the wage-earner of Great Britain or France. The freedom of the canal, therefore, has a universal quality, the significance of which is not altered by the pigment of the skin or the geographical locality of the canal users. If we are to settle these problems by lining ourselves up in favour of a European bloc or in favour of an Asian bloc, if actions taken by Egypt are to be regarded in Arab communities as good simply because Egypt is an Arab community, then the world will be committing itself to a dispute to which- there can be .no end except in bitterness and destruction. In dealing with such a matter, we must try to look objectively at the merits and at the common good of all; we will initiate the suicide of mankind if we substitute bigotry for judgment, or seek to revive racial hatred under the guise of instituting the brotherhood of man.

Second, the significance which we attach lo great world events depends essentially upon our sense of proportion. Does anybody in Egypt or in Syria seriously believe that the active intervention of the Soviet Union in the Middle East would be, in the long run, to the benefit of Middle Eastern people? Would Egypt, so proud of having marched from “ colonialism “, seriously seek to defend its new freedom by submitting itself to the help and, therefore in due course, the tyranny of the worst “ colonialism “ in modern times? Are the people of southern Asia, who have worked so long and so successfully for democratic self-government, prepared to lend their countenance to a most obvious attempt by totalitarian communism to divide the free countries so that, being divided, they may all become slaves?

Thirdly, I would have thought that the purpose of the United Nations was not to make great powers impotent and small powers truculent, but to reconcile the strength of great nations with the strength of an international organization; to use great power not for aggression but in support of resistance to tyranny; to build around the great peace-loving powers of the world an area of peace which would ultimately become a dominating area of peaceful strength in the world.

Does anybody suppose that an enfeebled Great Britain or an enfeebled France, or. in some circumstances, an enfeebled United States of America, could give to a world organization the strength which alone can make that organization effective and save it from futility?

These are matters to be thought about and to be acted about. Great Britain and France’ rightly felt that if the Suez Canal and the vast traffic which passes through it were to be made unavailable, inaccessible, closed by a war between two minor powers, the time had come when it was necessary that there should be some assertion of the rights of the majority of the people of the world. By bitter experience they knew that with a certain veto in the Security Council, the whole pass might be lost unless definite action preceded debate. They, therefore, took definite action. I have said, and I repeat on behalf of the Government of this country and, as I believe, on behalf of the majority of the people of this country, that we agree with them. They have said, and said truly, that they have no desire to remain in perpetuity as a military garrison on the canal. That has in the past been tried and has been abandoned. But they have been immeasurably wise and courageous in taking steps which would not only anticipate but would, in some measure, compel the attention of the United Nations. I have no doubt that they will welcome relief from their task. But the marshalling of an international police force is not a matter of days or weeks. It requires organization, contribution and discipline. I believe that the United Kingdom and France have pursued their intervention not for territorial conquest, not for any purpose of domination, but to produce peace where the world needs peace; so that, when the United Nations produces an international body in this area, it will not have to fight its way in but will be in such a shape and in such a position that it may first keep the belligerents apart and then bring them together for a sensible and honest and permanent solution of their differences.

Perhaps the most impudent thing that has occurred of late is the self-righteous attitude adopted by the Soviet Union towards Anglo-French action in Egypt. Many of us had just begun to hope that the anti-Stalin movement in Russia heralded a new period in which the Soviet Union would begin to recognize the self-governing rights of other people, and would accord ingly reduce the international tension in the world. This would, of course, have been of great significance if it had happened to be true.

In the modern world, the Soviet Union has made itself a great “ colonial “ power though it has never ceased to inveigh against “ colonialism “. How this propaganda on the Soviet side has succeeded is one of the mysteries of life. For example, Great Britain was the great “ colonial “ power of the nineteenth century. There is no evidence that her “ colonialism “ failed to improve the lot of her “ colonial “ people. But in this century, the whole progress of the old British colonial empire has been towards self-government. It has been made clear that “ colonial “ peoples were not to be kept in subjugation but that they were to be advanced into self-government as their capacity for self-government was developed. In the result, many countries which were once part of Great Britain’s “ colonial “ empire have become completely independent self-governing communities. Up to now, the proof is to be seen in Burma, in India, in Pakistan, in Ceylon. Before long there will no doubt be further proof in the cases of Malaya, Singapore and the Gold Coast countries, while the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland has been advancing rapidly towards a full self-governing status. In brief, the British procedure has been to promote dependent countries into self-government.

On the other hand, the Soviet Union, acting in relation to what we call its satellite countries, of whom the two who are most vividly in the public mind are Poland and Hungary, has pursued a line of policy designed to destroy self-government and to reduce people from independence to “ colonial “ subservience.

It therefore comes as a shock to civilized onlookers to find that at the very moment when the Soviet Union has, by brute force and savage rapacity, been crushing the flame of independence in Hungary, with the loss of many thousands of lives, it should have the effrontery to pose as the defender of Egyptian liberty and to issue the wildest threats against the Western Powers.

I feel bound to make one further set of observations. There has been much propaganda over recent days and weeks. For example, it has been repeatedly said from Cairo that the Anglo-French action in Egypt was the result of a pre-arrangement between Great Britain, France and Israel. This story was always fantastic, and particularly so to anybody familiar with the efforts made by Great Britain to avoid conflict between Jordan and Israel, or Israel and Egypt. But the propaganda has gone on. There must be quite a few scores of millions of people to-day, particularly in Asian countries, who have been persuaded to believe that this allegation is true. For another example, it has been said by some that the action taken by Great Britain and France in delivering an ultimatum to Egypt and Israel and following it up by armed action encouraged the Soviet Union to make an attack upon the people of Hungary, This statement is monstrously untrue.

On Tuesday, 30th October, I made a statement in this House about Hungary, in the course of which I pointed out that the explosion in Hungary was touched off on 23rd October by the action of the police in firing into a peaceful demonstration of university students. From that moment, events in Hungary moved rapidly. There were great loss of life and many other casualties. The whole matter became so intolerably acute that the Security Council held an emergency meeting on 28th October; a meeting at which ten members of the Security Council voted for a discussion and investigation of the matter, but were frustrated by the Soviet veto, which was based upon the clearly invalid argument that what had happened in Hungary was a purely domestic affair. It is quite clear that the events in Egypt were subsequent. Indeed, it was suggested in some quarters - which shows how hard it is to be right - that the invasion of Egyptian territory by Israel was designed to take advantage of preoccupations arising from the tragic events in Hungary! All I need say is that those who are always ready to criticize our friends and to justify our enemies cannot have it both ways. It is to me a melancholy fact that some people, admittedly a small minority of the Australian people, should have so exhausted their vocabularies in denunciation of the action taken by Great Britain and France, an action now proved to have produced good results, that they have left themselves with not enough words to denounce the brutal procedures of the Soviet Union in Hungary.

I have referred to some of these matters with some reluctance, but only because I believe that in these great historic events the record should be kept straight. I have, indeed, another reason for this second exposition of what I believe to be the facts about Egypt. It is this: My colleagues and 1 believe, and have repeatedly affirmed, that the free future of the world depends primarily upon mutual understanding and co-operative action between the people of the United States and those of the British Commonwealth. This does not mean that either Great Britain or Australia, to take two instances, should simply subscribe to the American opinion of the moment. We have our own pride and independence and responsibilities. But the whole history of this century is so full of friendship between our two peoples, and the whole outlook of the United States has been compounded of such generosity and understanding, that I believe that the more the position adopted by Great Britain on this crisis is understood by our American friends, the more they will come to understand that what has been sought is not war, but the averting of war; not aggression, but the effective settlement of disputes which could, if left to work themselves out, involve all the peace-loving people of the world in the kind of conflict which they all hope honorably to avoid.

There my statement was designed to end with a feeling of optimism. But this morning, there has been news on the wireless to the effect that the General Assembly has passed a resolution directing Great Britain and France to withdraw their forces from Egypt forthwith. That appears to have been subsequently officially confirmed. At the moment - that is, when I prepared this statement - we have had no official advice of this decision nor, of course, have we had any opportunity to consult as to its significance. If the report is true - and it is true - its significance is not to be underestimated. But I would prefer to reserve any comment until we have means of knowing what interpretation will be given to the resolution or what the reactions to it of Great Britain and France will be. Even before this announcement, there were still great areas of doubt and uncertainty. For example, there are reports that the Government of Israel no longer accepts the armistice boundaries of some years ago as binding on it. There are statements that the Government of Egypt, which was reported to have accepted a “ cease fire “ unconditionally, now seeks to impose conditions on its acceptance. There are later unofficial reports that Egyptian attacks on British and French troops have not ceased.

There is still considerable vagueness about the international force. Will it be called upon to conduct military operations against the Israelis if the Israelis persist in their present attitude, or against the Egyptians should they not honour the cease fire terms? But above all, the question now is whether the allied forces can be seriously expected to leave at a time when the international force does not even exist.

We have just received messages that this problem is recognized in the speeches made in support of the Afro-Asian resolution to which I have just referred. Dr. Walker, our distinguished representative at the United Nations, has reported to us that several nations have said that in supporting this resolution they interpret it as meaning that they support a withdrawal of United Kingdom and French forces not immediately, and not so as to leave a vacuum but “ as soon as practicable having regard to the fact that it will take some time for the international force to be established and reach the area. Some used phrases such as “ as soon as possible “. Declarations along these lines have been made, we are told, by Canada, Turkey, Pakistan and Iran, and also, be it noted, by the United States. We have been told that the substance of Mr. Cabot Lodge’s statement last night to the Assembly on behalf of the United States was, first, that the United States believed that the withdrawal of United Kingdom and French forces should be phased with the introduction of the international force and secondly that these operations should be carried out as soon as possible.

Leader of the Opposition · Barton

– by leave - I think I can help the House, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in relation to a matter that he emphasized towards the end of his important speech - that is, the decision of the General Assembly which was reached last evening and was reported in the Australian wireless communications not so long ago. I refer to the decision of the General Assembly in a resolution introduced by the Afro-Asian group which consists, I think, of fifteen or twenty nations. I think it should give the key to the problem before us. It reads -

The General Assembly, reaffirming its resolutions adopted by overwhelming majorities on the 2nd. 3rd and 4th November, 1956.

Noting in particular that General Assembly, bv its resolution dated 4th November, 1956, established a United Nations command for an emergency international force to secure and supervise cessation of hostilities in acordance with all terms of its resolution of 2nd November, 1956 -

Confirms determination of United Nations to implement its resolutions and provisions of charter.

Calls upon Israel once again to withdraw immediately all its forces behind the armistice lines and to observe scrupulously the provisions of the Armistice Agreement of 24th February. 1949.

I interpolate that that is, of course, the original armistice agreement which was made under United Nations auspices in thai year between Israel and the Arab States, including Egypt. The resolution continues -

  1. Calls upon the United Kingdom and France to immediately withdraw all their forces from Egyptian territory.
  2. Urges the Secretary-General to communicate this resolution to the parties concerned and requests him to report to the General Assembly within 24 hours from time of adoption of this resolution.

That resolution was carried, I think, by a majority of 65 to one. That is to say, every person voting voted for it, with one exception, and that exception was the State of Israel; so that neither Great Britain nor France voted against the resolution. So, no matter how fervently the Prime Minister puts the case that has been made in the United Nations for the action taken by Great Britain and France, those are the facts. The General Assembly of the United Nations may be considered as representing the public opinion of all the world. The majority by which the vote on this matter was carried was not that of a small bloc of nations. It included practically all members of the United Nations except for seven or eight nations. That vote, of course, is morally binding on all members of the United Nations. The attitude adopted by the Prime Minister to-day is a repetition of the niggardly and disloyal attitude thai he adopted earlier to the United Nations, of which Australia is a member.

From the beginning of this dispute, that has been the issue between those on this side of the House and the Government or, at any rate, the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister, it will be remembered by honorable members, brought this question up for general debate on 25th September, when he came back from the meetings in connexion with the Suez Canal crisis. In making a speech that evening, he advocated for the first time, I think, in this House that outside and above the United Nations Charter there was another law to which powers could appeal. If they were not satisfied with the position or if they lost their case in the United Nations, according to the Prime Minister, they could still appeal to force if they thought it in the interests of the world or in their own interest to do so. Do not honorable members remember the questions that he put as to the failure to agree - because that is all it was - on the future management of the canal? The first was to apply full-blooded sanctions against Egypt. The second was to use force which, of course, would mean war. The third concerned the method of negotiations which had closed the door in Egypt’s face. In other words, if Egypt agreed to give up its claim, it could run the canal, carrying out the obligations of the treaty of 1888 concerning free access through the canal, and could give an account of its stewardship to the United Nations.

I cannot deal with the entire merits of the dispute. The case we made was that these disputes cannot be settled by taking the law into our own hands and using force. Surely that is elementary. It is elementary within the community and it is going to be elementary in the world before long. I agree with the Prime Minister that a similar situation, in some respects, came into existence in Hungary. That is to be dealt with by the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Philip McBride) in a separate statement. But it is the same question - just as the threat of Russia to intervene in Egypt by force, and outside the jurisdiction and contrary to the decision of the United Nations, is completely wrong and completely unlawful. That is exactly the type of illegal action of which unfortunately the British - I mean the British Government for the time being, not the British people - assisted by the French have been guilty, in connexion with Egypt. 1 do not wish to be misunderstood foi a moment, and I shall repeat that in referring to Great Britain in this crisis,- one knows perfectly well that the Government does not, or at any rate it is by no means certain that it does, represent the majority of the people. The first principle observed by Great Britain in foreign affairs under Labour administrations was undeviating support for the United Nations. They did not like some of the decisions, but they accepted them. One cannot always win one’s case before the United Nations, but it is no good adopting the attitude that the Prime Minister continually adopts. He cares so much for the United Nations that he is already looking at this resolution to see what is wrong with it. In his mind what is wrong is the unfortunate fact that 65 nations voted for it and only one against it and that was the unfortunate case of Israel, against which I do not wish to make any comment. No doubt this long struggle has, in some respects, driven the people of that country to desperation. They have often been attacked, and they saw an opportunity to make a deep advance into Egyptian territory.

The Prime Minister says that it is wrong to associate that deep penetration of Egyptian territory with the decision o( Great Britain and France to act by force against Egypt. I think that they are clearly associated and by that I am not saying - the Prime Minister mentioned this allegation - that it was a pre-arrangement; but it is perfectly clear from the statement of Sir Anthony Eden, which the Prime Minister read in this House last week, that the British Ambassador was instructed to go to the Israeli Government in Tel Aviv, and that he got from it the information that there was mobilization of a very special character. He got the assurance of the Government of Israel that there would be no attack on Jordan. That meant, obviously, that there would be an attack on Egypt and, from the very first, if one sees the messages published in the “ Times “ and the other British newspapers - unfortunately, all these details cannot be obtained in a press so far distant as ours is from the scene - it is perfectly clear that the British and French move was timed to coincide with that deen penetration of

Egyptian, territory by the forces of Israel. Is that not plain? One has only to look at it.

Honorable members who know much more of this aspect of the question than 1 do, will realize that the combined forces of two nations, France and Great Britain, operating from a base like Cyprus, must have had the operation planned weeks, and perhaps months, before. Split-second timing was necessary to carry that out with such efficiency. It was not suddenly arranged, lt was ready to go when the Prime Minister spoke to this House in September, because Sir Anthony Eden would not give an undertaking to the Labour party in the House of Commons that he would not use force.

Why the concentration of these forces? What was said about it by Lord McNair, a member of the House of Lords, and also a member of the International Court of Justice? This is the whole difference between us - and some one has to prevail in this. The views of the Australian people must prevail. Which is the right view? Do we go back to the old nineteenth century diplomacy and use force at your own discretion, or do we observe the supreme law - the international law of the Charter - and do our duty as a member of that organization - the world organization for peace? This is what Lord McNair said away back in September -

I have been puzzled by the massing and display of armed force in the Eastern Mediterranean that we have been witnessing during the past five or six weeks. Fifty years ago, yes. At that time armed force was the remedy of last resort which governments could use at their discretion in aid of the diplomacy in order to attain the ends which they regarded as essential.

Then Lord McNair referred to the Charter, and 1 remind the House that the Charter overrides every international agreement in conflict with any of its terms. It is the supreme law, in a sense the constitutional law, governing the relationship between nations. Then he went on to say, in effect -

To-day armed force is no longer a discretionary instrument of policy. Its use is regulated by law.

The Government is bound to come to this conclusion. He concluded -

I am unable to see the legal justification for the threat or the use of armed force by Great Britain against Egypt in order to impose a solution of this dispute.

That was the very dispute in respect of which the Prime Minister was engaged in putting a case for the nations concerned. The Prime Minister, however, comes back to Australia and puts a view which is diametrically opposed to the view of that authority, who based his argument upon the United Nations Charter.

From that source all these things have stemmed. The forces were ready. The question of self-government and other matters in Cyprus were of no moment at that time. The question was one of getting French and British forces ready to make their attack against Egypt, with particular reference to the Suez Canal. That was surely the original intention, but for some time Britain and France were dissuaded, and then darker forces and evil advisers got to work, and in the crisis affecting Israel some one said, “This is the time to make our attack “. Just imagine the position, the horror of it. There was Israel, making a deep penetration towards the canal, with the Egyptian forces completely unready for the attack. What happened among the three nations concerned? The Prime Minister can talk as much as he likes about the United States of America. Of course, it is vital to Australia, in particular, that relationships with the United States should be of the best, but consider the way in which the President of the United States was treated. This is the declaration of the governments- of the three countries, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, on 25th May, 1950 -

The three governments take this opportunity of declaring their deep interest in and their desire to promote the establishment and maintenance of peace and stability in the area-

That is the area, of course, containing the Arab States on the one hand and Israel on the other hand - and their unalterable opposition to the use of force or threat of force between any of the States in that area-

Unalterable opposition! What did they decide?

The three governments, should they find that any of these States was preparing to violate frontiers or armistice lines, would, consistently with their obligations as members of the United Nations, immediately take action, both within ami outside the United Nations, to prevent such violation.

Three nations were concerned - France, Great Britain and the United States. What did the French and the British do? They kept the facts away from President Eisenhower and his government, and deliberately concealed them. Sir Anthony Eden said in the House of Commons -

We are looking at the tripartite agreement.

They looked at it! They had two conferences with the American representatives but never said a word about the action they proposed to take. Why? Because they did not dare to tell them. If President Eisenhower had been warned, I believe that he would have taken steps to prevent what was really an operation of war against Egypt. So, instead of taking action to prevent a breach of the peace, Great Britain and “France added to the complications by making their own attack on Egypt. They did not take any steps in relation to Israel. They did not say to Israel, through their ambassadors, “ You are not to attack any nation. We asked you not to attack Jordan and you have given an undertaking, but if you attack Egypt or any other Arab nation we shall take steps to act with the United States under this agreement.” That was not done, and the fact that it was not done has never been explained by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, because it is inexplicable. Always, that question is evaded. There was no authority under this agreement for Great Britain or France to do anything but inform the United States, to see if a breach of the peace could be prevented. The agreement provided -

The three governments, should they fmd that any of these states was preparing to violate frontiers or armistice lines . . .

That is exactly what Israel was doing. Great Britain and France knew that Israel was doing that, but they did nothing about it; they did not bring that fact to the attention of the United Nations. I say that they did not bring their proposals to the attention of the United States, because President Eisenhower would have said, “What you are doing is outrageous. It is monstrous. You are doing the very reverse of trying to preserve peace. You are creating a situation of enormous danger to the whole of the Middle East and perhaps to the world, yet you are doing it on your own responsibility without consulting your partner under this agreement.” Of course, if they acted in accordance with the doctrine of the Prime

Minister of Australia, that nations are not bound by the United Nations Charter, 1 suppose it could be said that they were not bound to tell their ally about what they were proposing to do.

Such is the way in which the situation developed. Let us look at the ultimatum itself. I shall not repeat the details of the ultimatum as honorable members know them very well. The ultimatum said to Egypt and to Israel, “ You have to go back 10 miles “. As Israel was nearly J 00 miles inside Egyptian territory, that was a stern warning to Israel that it could still remain 90 miles within Egypt, breaking its agreement and interfering with the territorial integrity of Egypt, whereas Egypt would have to go back 10 miles from the canal. Great Britain and France said further, in the ultimatum, “ We will come in. We will look after the canal and the 10 miles of territory on either side of the canal. We will occupy the whole zone “.

I do not think anybody could contradict that that was obviously a move so that British and French forces could obtain military possession of the canal zone. I should like to quote from a statement made by Mr. Gaitskell, the Labour leader in Great Britain, when referring to a speech by the British Foreign Secretary. First, he expressed astonishment at Britain’s abstention from voting, and he criticized governmental insistence that the international forces should also secure a final settlement of the Suez Canal problem. He then said -

This only confirmed in the minds of the whole world that the Anglo-French intervention was noi to separate the combatants but to seize control of the canal.

I do not think that any other conclusion could be drawn. I say that that is the key to the war waged against Egypt, and Egypt alone, by the forces of Great Britain and France. They said it was a police operation. Is it? When a peace officer or police officer sees two persons brawling in the street, with one getting the worst of it and practically out, because of the greater skill or force of the other, is it his function to come in and kick to death, or almost to death, the one who has practically collapsed? That is exactly what happened in connexion with Egypt, and Great Britain and France treated the incident as an opportunity to wage war against Egypt. Just imagine the communique, at the end, saying, “ We have eliminated 95 per cent, of the

Egyptian air force “. Was that the action of policemen trying to separate combatants, or was it the. action of powers who completely failed to realize their duty to the United Nations, and used force in order to bring the armed forces of Egypt to their knees?

That is the record. The more one looks al it, the worse it is. This action was followed in the United Nations, first, by the veto. Great Britain and France were, of course, perfectly entitled to use the veto. But that was followed by the General Assembly condemnation, four times over, of their taking this action. That is the situation in the Middle East to-day, and the consequences are serious. It is all very well for the Prime Minister to talk about questions of colour and groups of nations which happen to belong to Asia or Africa, but they are members of the United Nations. They are entitled to put their views. They have been joining in these resolutions. The nations which have only recently attained the status of nations are perfectly entitled 10 express their independent opinions on all these matters.

I want the Prime Minister to go back to a question which he answered the other day with regard to what used to be called the British Commonwealth but is now called the Commonwealth of Nations. We always think of it, correctly, as the British Commonwealth, because Great Britain is the centre of that Commonwealth. The Prime Minister said that Britain was perfectly justified in not consulting or even informing the other members of the British Commonwealth. Would anybody accept that? Nobody protests more against action of that kind than the Prime Minister on the eve of Commonwealth conferences. He wants a better organization when he goes there. He wants a scheme of consultation. Mr. Curtin wanted the same thing. Indeed, Mr. Curtin and I advocated it. If that does not happen very quickly to meet this emergency, the British Commonwealth will not be a commonwealth at all. That is one of the urgent problems that have to be grasped. “ The Labour movement is taking action on its own in Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, so that, as members of the British Commonwealth, we can meet together to try to work out a solution to these problems. The governments of the various nations should do the same thing. Lack of consultation is one great disaster that is threatening us to-day.

There are other aspects of this subject. 1 mention the constitution of the United Nations. One pleasing feature of this situation is the way in which the General Assembly, consisting of all the nations, has rallied to its responsibilities in a most critical situation. Faced with the exercise of the veto in the Security Council, not only on the question of Hungary but also on the question of Egypt, the General Assembly met immediately. On some occasions, ii sat until the early hours of the morning in an effort to reach speedy and just conclusions on these great questions. 1 answered the Prime Minister last week when he asked, during my speech, “ What can the General Assembly do? With what will it deal? “ It has dealt with this problem in the resolution I cited to-day. Will that resolution be disobeyed by the governments concerned? Apparently the Australian representative did not vote against it. The resolution was accepted by Britain. Australia, New Zealand and France, who were four of the five nations that voted against the first resolution in favour of a cease-fire and the withdrawal of the intervention by Great Britain and France. They are some of the great questions in connexion with this matter which have to be dealt with.

But I want to say here and now - and this is the time to say it - that I object again to the Prime Minister’s niggardly treatment of the very courageous decision of the General Assembly to set up an international peace group. It does not matter whether the word is “ police “ or “ peace “; it means the same thing. The object of this group is not to wage war but to separate the combatants and to see that the decisions of the United Nations are carried into effect. As we have declared so often in connexion with the Suez dispute and other matters, our firm policy is to give unwavering support to the United Nations. That being so. the Labour movement of Australia would think it right and proper that Australia should not wait upon the order of its going but should offer a contribution towards the peace force of the United Nations, which is designed to bring peace into that troubled area. Effective safeguards, in some respects, would be required. I do not want to deal with the details of that now, but if one believes in the United Nations, one should see that its decisions are supported. On the occasion of the Korean dispute, this Government, supported by the Opposition, made a contribution to what was a similar operation, in some respects, to the Suez operation. 1 feel that the position that has to be faced now is this: The events of the last few weeks cannot be recalled. They are not events that will be remembered with happiness by the democratic peoples of the world. For some reason both Great Britain and France took the wrong direction from the first and have continued in that direction with utter disaster. I do not, of course, mean a disaster of arms, but disaster to their leadership of the United Nations. The position is not irretrievable. These things have happened, but the cure is to be provided and can be provided.

I am not satisfied with the position with regard to the consultation by the United Kingdom with other members of the Commonwealth of Nations. In any event, the United Kingdom did not need to consult the Prime Minister of Australia or this Government. The Prime Minister laid down the law in favour of force as against the United Nations; in favour of force as against the law; and in favour of the legality of direct action by force in connexion with Egypt over the canal dispute. Therefore, Sir Anthony Eden would know that, whatever he did, he would be supported by the Australian Government.

Of course, the tragic figure of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) during this situation needs only to be mentioned without being described. He is everywhere but at the point where decisions are being made. He should be at the General Assembly when the General Assembly is meeting. But he is not; he is in Great Britain or in Canada. Similarly, when decisions were being made here, he was away. When decisions were being made in Egypt or in England, he was here. 1 believe that he understands far better than the Prime Minister what the obligations of the United Nations are and that he would not have been - and he should not have been - a party to the great blunders that have been made.

I have now outlined the position. The obligation of membership of the United Nations is to accept the decisions. It is perfectly true that those decisions are not enforceable as are the decisions of a court within a country through the ordinary police force and the sheriff. But they bind members. They are obligations of a very powerful character and are morally binding. I ask the Government to review the action it has taken, to make a contribution to the international force in the Middle East and to support the United Nations. It is vitally important that Great Britain and France should observe and obey the further direction given by the United Nations. They say that they will leave the area as soon as the peace force arrives. Let the peace force arrive as quickly as possible! Those countries have done enough harm in the Middle East. They broke the obligations of the tripartite pact between the United States, Great Britain and France. No other agreement authorizes what they have done. Their action is plainly contrary to the Charter of the United Nations. Let them examine the situation to which they have come. I am expressing not merely an individual opinion; I believe it to be the opinion of the Vast majority of people in this country. I again emphasize that we are not opposing in any way the people of Great Britain. The people of Great Britain are our kinsmen and I believe that in this matter they take the same view as that expressed by the Labour party here.

I wish to mention one other point. It is clear from what the Prime Minister has said that he is uncertain about what should be done and about the meaning of the resolution of the United Nations. In other words, we cannot be sure before we adjourn this afternoon of what the Government proposes to do. I suggest that the House should not adjourn indefinitely. Some date to which the House could adjourn should be fixed so that we can return to debate these great matters.

I again put the proposition to the Prime Minister that our duty is not to see if some one might object to an Australian contribution to the peace force. Who would object? The suggestion that one nation might object can be left until that occasion arises. I am sure the United Nations would be very glad and relieved, in view of a recent voting in the Security Council and particularly in the

General Assembly, to learn that Australia, which was one of the great supporters of the United Nations, would be supporting it in this critical situation by making the contribution that I have suggested.

page 2126


Minister for Defence · WakefieldMinister for Defence · LP

– by leave - The latest information from Hungary suggests that the rebels are still resisting the Soviet forces and that fighting is especially fierce in Budapest. This situation prevails in spite of the declaration of neutrality by the Hungarian Government on 1st November and action in the General Assembly of the United Nations condemning the use of Soviet military force to suppress fundamental rights of the Hungarian people specifically guaranteed by the Soviet Government in the Hungarian peace treaty, and calling on the Soviet Government to withdraw all its forces and cease intervening in Hungary’s internal affairs.

May I briefly outline the sequence of events in Hungary, particularly so far as the entry of Soviet troops is concerned. On 30th October, the Soviet Government issued a declaration about its relations with other Communist countries. This declaration admitted serious shortcomings in economic conditions in Hungary and went on to make two very important points in relation to the presence of Soviet troops in Hungary. The first point was that Soviet troops had entered Hungary at the request of the Hungarian Government. The second point was that the Soviet Government had instructed its military command to withdraw its troops from Budapest “ as soon as this is recognized by the Hungarian Government to be necessary “. The declaration said that this decision had been taken because it was considered that the further presence of Soviet troops in Hungary “ could serve as a cause of even greater deterioration of the situation “.

Two days after this declaration was made, that is to say, on 1st November, the Prime Minister of Hungary, Mr. Nagy, made a dramatic announcement. He said he had protested to the Soviet Ambassador against the entry of Soviet troops, and had demanded their immediate withdrawal. He repudiated the Warsaw pact, declared Hungary’s neutrality, and appealed to the United Nations to defend that neutrality.

He also said that the Soviet Ambassador had promised to obtain an immediate reply to his request for the withdrawal of Soviet troops. One would have thought, in view of the declaration of the Soviet Government of 30th October, that there could be only one reply to Nagy’s demarche. The Soviet Government had clearly stated that it had issued instructions that its troops would be withdrawn from Budapest “ as soon as this is recognized by the Hungarian Government to be necessary “, and the Hungarian Prime Minister had clearly indicated that he wanted the troops withdrawn. As honorable members know, the Soviet reply was to send in more troops and to set up a puppet government under the leadership of Janos Kadar, the first secretary of the Hungarian Communist party. Kadar has said that he will consider the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary when what he calls “ order “ has been restored.

In the United Nations, quick action was taken concerning Nagy’s declaration of neutrality and appeal for assistance to uphold it. The matter was already before the Security Council, where the Soviet representative maintained that the situation was of no international concern. It was then taken to the General Assembly, where the Soviet Union has no power of veto. The General Assembly quickly adopted a resolution which only the Soviet bloc opposed. The resolution noted the Soviet declaration of 30th October, professing nonintervention in the internal affairs of other States, and the appeals of the Hungarian Government for assistance. It condemned the use of Soviet force and called upon the Soviet Government to cease intervening in Hungary and to withdraw its forces. It also requested the Secretary-General to send observers to Hungary to report on the situation, and it invited all members of the United Nations to contribute to the relief of distress in Hungary. The answer of the Soviet Government to this resolution has been to send in further troops and to seal the frontiers of Hungary.

What is happening in Hungary reveals starkly the realities of Soviet policy. The Hungarian people have met with immense suffering as the result of aggression on the part of the Soviet Union. It is not possible to give accurate figures of the casualties, but reports indicate that between 10,000 and 15.000 people have been killed and as many as 50,000 wounded. Already, 15,000 refugees have crossed the border into Austria in order to avoid certain massacre at the hands of the Russian troops.

So much for the unhappy narrative of the last few weeks. Let me now make one or two general observations. First, there is a tendency in some quarters to bring forward the proposition that the AngloFrench action in Egypt is to be discussed on the same plane as the Soviet subjugation of the Hungarian people. This proposition is without validity. Indeed, it is fantastic. There is no need to labour this point. . The purposes of the Anglo-French measures in Egypt have been clear, namely, to separate the combatants and to safeguard the Suez Canal, in which they have essential rights established by treaty and which is of vital interest to the economy of the world. In the application of the measures that have been taken, the British and French forces have been at pains to protect non-combatants. Their targets have been military targets, and there has been no interference in Egyptian political life. The United Kingdom and France have agreed to cease Are and have accepted the view of the United Nations that a United Nations force should take over from them with all speed. On the other hand, the Soviet has entered Hungary without any legitimate basis whatever. Its targets have been mainly civilian targets. It has temporarily destroyed the political fabric of the Hungarian people. It has ignored the views of the United Nations, and it shows no disposition to withdraw and leave the Hungarians to develop their own future.

Secondly, there is a lesson to be learned from the Soviet’s unwillingness to tolerate independence and freedom in other countries. The doctrinal basis of Soviet policy postulates the eventual supremacy of communism, but the application of that doctrine has been curbed by the strength of other countries to resist it. Nevertheless, in countries which are within the reach of the Soviet armed might, the application of Soviet influence has been given full play. Hungary is the latest example of the application of that influence, or perhaps T should say that Hungary, for the second time in ten years, has suffered the full impact of Soviet interference. Tt is ironical that the Soviet should be able to practise a policy of subjugation by armed might while, at the same time, assuring the countries of Asia that it supports the five principles of freedom and non-interference which underly their social philosophy.

Thirdly, no provocation by the Western democracies lies behind, or can be said to have .prompted, the Soviet domination of Hungary. Before the Soviet intervention, the West left no doubt that it welcomed the resurgence of liberal principles in eastern Europe, but it took no step which the Soviet Union could truthfully interpret as foreign intervention either against itself or against the countries of eastern Europe. Finally, it is abundantly clear that Hungary represents no threat to the Soviet Union, unless we say that the expression by people of their natural urge towards freedom and democracy represents a threat to the Soviet Union. If that is the position, few countries can rest easy.

Finally, 1 wish to say that the Government, recognizing the dreadful position of the Hungarian people and the suffering that will follow the invasion by the Soviet Union, is at present endeavouring to decide the best way in which Australia can help these unfortunate people.

Leader of the Opposition · Barton

– by leave - I congratulate the Minister for Defence on the statement that he has made, particularly that portion of it dealing with the decision of the General Assembly of the United Nations regarding organized assistance. I think that something else might be done, if the resolution of the General Assembly is given effect. There have been a number of requests, the fourth of which is that the Secretary-General should investigate the situation, should observe, through representatives named by him, the situation in Hungary, and should report thereon to the General Assembly at the earliest moment, and as soon as possible suggest methods to bring an end to the existing situation in Hungary in accordance wtih the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. I think that is important. It is important that Australia should be active in this matter. If necessary, the Australian Government might send a delegation to ascertain the position, to assist in achieving the objectives that the Minister has mentioned, and to investigate the position generally.

The resolution also calls upon Hungary lo permit observers to enter the territory and report findings. That again, “1 think, is something that need not wait until some further decisions have “been made, and 1 ask the Minister to consider taking action in accordance with that portion of the resolution. There is also a request to specialized agencies to make provision with regard to food, medicine and other similar supplies, and to report to the General Assembly as soon as possible. An invitation to national and international humanitarian organizations is also mentioned.

On th: general question, 1 spoke to the House last week, after the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had made a statement. In substance I agreed with him, and I pointed out that the guarantees of human rights contained in the relevant treaty were inserted as a result of the proposal of the Chifley Government when the post-war settlement was being made. Undoubtedly those rights are being breached. I therefore express general agreement with what has been done, and I suggest that the matter should not be allowed to rest. I agree entirely with the Minister’s positive suggestion. There is only one other comment that I wish to make. I make it because statements have been made in many parts of the world suggesting that the action taken by Russia in Hungary, after it had been reported that Russian forces would withdraw from that country, resulted from the happenings in Egypt. Because of the two absolute statements made by the Minister, I shall read to the House portion of a report that appeared in the “ Manchester Guardian “, which is a very reliable newspaper. The Prime Minister appears to be expressing scorn of that newspaper. Does he want me to quote the London “ Times “, or the “ Daily Mail “, which represent the conservative viewpoint? The “’ Manchester Guardian “ is recognized as being extremely accurate in its international reporting. It is one of the greatest newspapers in the world. The Prime Minister knows that. The newspaper said, in an editorial -

For months, even years, it will be a matter of debate whether Britain’s attack on Egypt sparked Russia’s attack on Hungary. To say the least, it is possible that British aggression tipped the scales in Soviet planning towards violent action.

And the British defiance of ‘United Nations Assembly resolutions has sapped the Assembly’s strength at a most .critical .moment.

Many comments to that effect have appeared in the press in various parts of the world. The West German press is very hostile to Russia .and its international activities, but the following report appeared in one of the Sydney newspapers: -

In Europe, the West German press .unanimously condemned Britain for “ playing hand in hand with Moscow “.

That does not mean that Britain was working with Moscow, but merely that it defied the United Nations’ decision in the way. I have tried to describe. The point is that we must stick to the United Nations in all matters. We cannot support the United Nations organization on one occasion only; we must support it on all occasions. I agree that the decision of the General Assembly in relation to Hungary was correct. We all, but particularly those who support Labour and socialist parties, must .applaud and encourage the triumph of social democracy in such countries as Hungary, some of which were originally social-democratic countries. We agree that this is a proper principle to support. I believe that much can be done by visits to the places concerned, and by giving practical assistance at this time to those in need of it. We on this side of the House are in substantial agreement with the Minister.

page 2128




– Will the Minister for Immigration favorably consider applications for entry to Australia from Hungarian refugees who have been forced to leave their homeland because of Soviet aggression? Does he agree that it is impossible for these people to return to their country while the Soviet forces are in occupation of it, and that any application from them to come to Austrafia should be favorably considered?

Minister for Immigration · DENISON, TASMANIA · LP

– This is one of the matters being considered at the present time. My colleague, the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs, referred to it briefly when he spoke a short time ago. We have already indicated that we will give the most sympathetic consideration to the problems of these unfortunate people. We have sent an immigration officer from Vienna to the border of Hungary, and he is at present investigating the whole refugee problem. We are expecting cables from him at any moment.

page 2129




– Can the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs inform the House whether the report that Saudi Arabia has severed diplomatic relations with Great Britain and France is correct? If it is correct, what grounds were given by Saudi Arabia for this action? Has the Minister any information regarding the present position of oil supplies from Saudi Arabia?


– I shall ascertain the facts and convey them to the honorable member.

page 2129




– I address a question to the Prime Minister. In view of the grave problems arising from the situation in the Middle East, particularly in connexion with our supplies of petroleum products, which are urgently needed by Australian industries, will the right honorable gentleman take such action as he deems necessary and desirable to safeguard our mining industries, so that an abundant supply of coal and other minerals will be available for Australian industry? If the Prime Minister is seised of the importance of this problem, will he take appropriate steps, through the Joint Coal Board, to ensure that no further dismissals occur in the mining industry?


– The question asked by my friend, the honorable member for Macquarie, raises matters which, I think he will agree, I should discuss first with Senator Spooner, the appropriate Minister. Having done that, I shall certainly see that he is advised.

page 2129




– Last week, when I asked the Prime Minister whether he would give consideration to the Australian Government making a financial grant to the International Red Cross organization for the purposes of relief in Hungary, the right honorable gentleman said that he would consider the matter. Has he reached a definite decision yet?


– This matter has already been the subject of some discussion between myself and the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs. I expect to bring it to finality within the next 24 hours.

page 2129




– I ask the Treasurer again: Will he consider making the fares paid by a worker when travelling to and from his place of employment an allowable deduction for income tax purposes? Employers who use motor cars for such travel derive some benefit from the existing provisions. Owing to increased fares, a worker in the metropolitan area of Sydney may have to pay up to £50 a year for journeys to and from his work. A concession of this kind would encourage decentralization. Has the Treasurer considered the matter, and, if so, has he reached a decision favorable to the workers?


– There is no novelty in this request. Proposals of this kind have been considered by successive governments, including the Chifley Government. A committee established by this Government to inquire into and report upon various aspects of the incidence of taxation recommended against such a concession, and the Government has no intention of granting it.

page 2129




– My question, which is addressed to the Prime Minister, relates to a remark made by the right honorable gentleman during his recent statement to the House on the Suez Canal dispute. He said then that he had not so far had an opportunity to consider fully the resolution passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations either (his morning or this afternoon. When the right honorable gentleman has had an opportunity to study properly the resolution and its implications, will he be prepared to call the House together again so that he can indicate what action the Government proposes to take in connexion with it?


– In answer to that question, and in answer also to something which was said by the Leader of the Opposition, I take this opportunity to say that we do not think it is necessary to keep on adjourning the House to a particular date. These things may clear up, but a crisis may develop. Some great question of policy may have to be determined. If so, the House ought to be in a position to discuss it. Therefore, we are proposing that the House shall adjourn to a day and hour to be fixed, but I give the undertaking that, if any major development occurs or if the Government takes a decision on any large matter of policy which the Parliament ought to be given an opportunity to know about and to discuss, we will not hesitate to recall honorable members at short notice.


– My question is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. Would the Prime Minister consider any request by the Opposition for a meeting of the House to discuss what the Opposition regarded as a matter of substance and importance? 1 take it that he would do so.


– Yes. I should, naturally, pay great attention to any such proposal that came from the members of the Opposition or, indeed, from any members of the House, although we should have to make our decision on it. We recognize quite clearly that, at a time like this, large policy decisions in relation to a critical state of affairs ought to be exposed to the view of the House. We shall act on that principle in determining whether it is necessary to recall honorable members at any time. I think they will all agree that ;! would be rather foolish and wasteful to require them to come back here every week for an hour or so if there were no particularly important developments. That is why 1 propose the course of conduct that I have mentioned. We shall not take the step of proroguing the Parliament until the present critical state of affairs has ended and, therefore, the chance that a sudden recall of the Parliament will be necessary has disappeared.

page 2130




– I address a question to the Minister acting for the Minister for Trade. In view of the very satisfactory and substantial surplus of exports over imports during the month of October, will the

Government consider liberalizing the present import restrictions with a view to their early elimination?

Minister for Primary Industry · LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The Government is very glad to be able to say that there is every indication that its policy will prove to be successful and that the plans’ that it laid some months ago will be brought to fruition. However, I think the honorable gentleman will agree that, having got firmly in the saddle, we should not drop the reins too quickly. We think that some little time must elapse before another decision can be made about what should be done about the relaxation of central import licensing. 1 remind the honorable gentleman that the Government keeps this matter continually under consideration, and I can give him the assurance that nothing will be left unattended. I mention that, in addition to the balance of trade, we have to consider invisible export items, which mi ghi amount to a deficit of about £180,000,000 in a year, and also capital items which should be credits. It is not sufficient to look only at the balance of trade. Other factors must be taken into consideration.

page 2130




– Is the PostmasterGeneral in a position to tell the House whether his department intends to withdraw the frequencies at present allotted to Victorian country fire brigades for radiocommunication and to allot instead frequencies under three megacycles, which would involve scrapping or, at least, considerable alteration of existing equipment used by the fire brigades as well as radio sets owned by private citizens to tune into the fire brigade frequencies? As such an alteration would, in all probability, involve a reduction of range and efficiency, particularly during the hours of daylight, will the Minister examine the proposal very closely and do all within his powers to meet the wishes of public-spirited citizens who give long hours of unrewarded labour in playing their part to keep our countryside free from the scourge of bush fires?

Postmaster-General · DAWSON, QUEENSLAND · CP

– I have received representations on this matter also from members of the Senate. It is true that the department has indicated that it desires to alter the frequencies on which the rural fire brigades operate in Victoria - not immediately, but as the equipment at present in use becomes obsolete and has to be changed. However, because of the representations that were made to me, I arranged only yesterday for the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs to convene a conference of the people concerned. He will invite representatives of the rural fire brigades in Victoria to discuss the whole question with responsible officials of the department, with a view to arriving at a satisfactory arrangement.

page 2131




– ls the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that between 2,500 and 3,000 men were unable to obtain employment on the Sydney waterfront” each day during the last two weeks? Can the Minister say whether that state of affairs is likely to cease? Will he tell us where all the vacant jobs are to be found that he has so often told the House exist? Furthermore, has he any knowledge of a rumour circulating in Sydney that dole tickets for 1957 are being printed? I point out that my information on that matter comes from the source from which I was told two months ago that petrol ration tickets were being printed.


– It would appear that the source of the honorable gentleman’s information was as unreliable on one point as it was on the other. As to the number of workers on the waterfront unable to obtain work at any time, it happens that there is a surplus of labour on the waterfront periodically, just as it also happens that there is a shortage of labour. It is because of these fluctuations in the demand for labour on the waterfront that a Stevedoring Industry Authority has been established to fix a quota for engagement in each port designed to average out over the year the requirements of the shipping companies. I do not think, it likely that those who have the prospect of engagement thereafter, and who in any event, when unemployed, have an advantage over workers in other sections of industry in that they are guaranteed attendance money on the days on which work is not available for them, would be looking for other jobs. If the honorable gentleman wishes to know where vacancies exist in other occupations the details can be obtained from the office of the Commonwealth Employment Service in Sydney. I can assure him that the general trend revealed in the latest figures gives no cause for concern about increasing unemployment in the Sydney metropolitan area.

page 2131




I address a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. It has been stated that the Minister will shortly visit South Australia to inspect flood damage. When he makes the trip will he visit the Mallee electorate in Victoria also and inspect the extensive damage done there with a view to providing relief if he thinks it necessary? I am sure that when he sees the damage he will realize that something must be done.


– I intend to visit the war service land settlement scheme at Loxton with my colleague the honorable member for Angas as soon as I can. I had intended also to visit other areas in South Australia where it was hoped that further war service land settlement schemes could be developed. The Government has already made a decision about the help to be given to the South Australian Government for flood relief, and therefore it will not be within my jurisdiction to inspect flooddamaged areas to see whether more assistance can be given. I should like to point that out to the honorable gentleman, because the problem is solely within the jurisdiction of the State governments, which make the necessary representations to the Commonwealth. At the same time I hasten to assure the honorable member that I am in complete sympathy with what he has said. Unfortunately, my time will be fully taken up between now and the end of December, and 1 can tell him only that I regret that I shall not be able to visit his electorate.

page 2131




– I direct to the Minister for Primary Industry a question which is supplementary to others asked of him in recent weeks concerning the Tariff Board inquiry into tariff revision for the woollen and worsted industry. Have the recommendations prepared for submission to the Cabinet been considered? If they have been considered, when does the Minister propose to make the Tariff Board’s report available to all members of the Parliament?


– I regret to have to “inform the honorable gentleman that, although I have read through the file on this matter, I have forgotten exactly what has been decided. However, I shall have a look at the file as soon as questions have concluded and let him know.

page 2132




– I wish to direct to the Minister for the Army a question relative to the excellent publications of the Australian War Memorial which are on sale to the public. I think the proceeds of these sales are now financing the construction of the Hall of Memory. Will the Minister provide all possible facilities for the purchase of these publications by Army personnel and ensure that no restrictions are placed on servicemen who wish to buy them? I suggest that the purchase price could perhaps be entered as a deduction in a serviceman’s paybook in order to assist him to buy any of these publications that he wants.

Minister for the Army · BENNELONG, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– 1 thank the honorable member for bringing this matter to my notice. I assure him that I shall certainly investigate it and make the suggested facilities available if possible.

page 2132




– I ask the Minister for Defence, who is acting for the Minister for External Affairs, whether the economies of other countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations, namely, India, Pakistan, and Ceylon, depend even more than does the Australian economy on unimpeded traffic through the Suez Canal and peaceful conditions in the Middle East. I ask also whether, during the crisis of the last ten days in the Middle East generally and in the Suez area in particular, Australia has exchanged views with those members of the British Commonwealth which are even more intimately concerned than we are. Has Australia, during this period, exchanged views with any governments in the British Commonwealth other than the British, and if so, with which governments?


– It is true that the countries mentioned by the honorable member are importantly affected by the situation respecting traffic through the Suez Canal. In reply to the question whether we have been in communication with those countries and other countries during the last ten days I would say that we have been in communication with our representatives in the countries named on a number of occasions. I cannot tell him precisely how many times, or exactly when we last communicated with any particular country, but I can assure him that we are in constant communication with the countries mentioned on a variety of subjects.

page 2132




– I direct a question to the Treasurer. In view of a number of allegations that have been made in recent weeks by the Queensland Premier and Treasurer concerning the alleged inadequacy of Commonwealth flood relief assistance, can the right honorable gentleman give the House any information on the subject?


– 1 am rather weary of trying to keep up with the allegations made by the Queensland Government about what it is pleased to call discriminatory treatment as between Queensland and other States in the matter of flood relief. In reply to an allegation by Mr. Gair I made a press statement on this subject only last evening. I do not know the extent of the publicity it received in the press this morning. The fact remains that, in extraordinary circumstances, this Government has assisted the State governments over financial difficulties that have been brought about by a national disaster. The Commonwealth assisted the New South Wales Government on a £l-for-£l basis as some compensation for the enormous damage occasioned in northern New South Wales by continual floods over more than two years. The degree of dislocation and loss caused by floods in Queensland was not comparable with that in New South Wales, where enormous costs were incurred in providing relief. Nor was the Queensland damage as great as that suffered in South Australia, where the Commonwealth has recently decided to give assistance. Losses in South Australia caused directly by floods and as a consequence of them by erosion, damage to roads and other means of communication, and general dislocation are estimated by the South Australian Government to total between £5,000,000 and £6,000,000. The South Australian Government accepted the responsibility of providing £800,000 for flood relief in the State budget, and the Commonwealth has matched that with a grant of an equal amount. In other words the Commonwealth is contributing £l-for-£l towards the enormous expenditure on relief as a result of what may be described as a national disaster of a magnitude out of all proportion to the damage suffered in Queensland. If my memory serves me right, the Queensland Co-ordinator-General of Public Works estimated that approximately £380,000 would have to be spent on the reconstruction of roads and bridges, and on local authority works, to repair flood damage in Queensland. The Queensland Government asked the Commonwealth to provide half of that amount. Well, that is quite outside our constitutional responsibility, and it does not come within the definition of national disaster. Consequently, we did not agree to make any contribution in that direction to the Queensland Government. That decision is consistent with the policy that we have laid down, particularly as the Queensland Government had received extra funds for road purposes from the increased petrol tax imposed as part of the Commonwealth’s economic policy, announced last March, which the Premier and Treasurer of Queensland described as disastrous and exorbitant.

page 2133




– Is the Minister acting for the Minister for Trade aware that there is a widespread belief among importers of tractors and other equipment and machinery from Britain and Europe that loan funds obtained from the United States are tied up so as to limit their expenditure to American tractors and other equipment, or that import licences are allocated so as to place the orders for such equipment in the United States? Is he also aware that some European governments are ready to provide Australia with loan funds on a similar basis? If so, will he look into the matter and see whether some arrangement of this sort can be made?


– On the first point raised by the honorable gentleman: I have not heard that importers of tractors and other equipment are dissatisfied, and I do not think they have expressed any dissatisfaction to the Government. On the second point: I think the honorable gentleman’s information is inaccurate. I do not think that there is any tie-up between the dollar loan and the necessity to import from; dollar sources. On the third point: I have not heard that money is available from European sources for similar purposes. I am of the opinion that the information in each case is wrong, and therefore I can only give an answer, to each question, in the negative.

page 2133




– Will the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs have our delegate in the United Nations put the view to that body that no representative of a regime imposed upon Hungary by Russian force of arms is entitled to be accredited as the representative of Hungary in the United Nations, and that the Government of Hungary be recognized by the United Nations as the one which has appealed to the United Nations for protection against aggressive Russian designs and actions in Hungary?


– I shall certainly consider the suggestion made by the honorable member and see what is the most profitable way in which we could bring that matter to some useful conclusion.

page 2133




– My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration. With a view to increasing .the flow of British immigrants to this country will the Minister examine the present undeniable obstacles that prevent large numbers of British people from becoming citizens of Australia? Will he exercise every endeavour to see that the red tape and the vexatious restrictions which impede the flow of British settlers are speedily removed?


– If the honorable member would be a little more specific and tell me what are the obstacles of which he speaks, and what all this alleged red tape consists of, I should be delighted to have a look at the matter. The plain fact is that there are no restrictions of any sort on immigrants from the United Kingdom, who may enter the country in as large a number as the honorable member can obtain nominations in Australia for. I am referring to immigrants nominated by individual persons in Australia. But, because we have shipping space available for immigrants over and above those nominated by individuals, the Commonwealth itself also nominates immigrants from the United Kingdom. The only limitations on that particular group arise from the number of shipping berths available and the accommodation existing for the immigrants in this country. Far from imposing limitations on immigrants from the United Kingdom, we do everything we can to encourage them to come here. The only limitations on British immigration are limitations which are inescapably imposed by shipping and accommodation difficulties.

page 2134


Issue of Writ


– I have to inform the House that yesterday I issued a writ in connexion with the by-election for the Wentworth division, and that the dates fixed were those announced to the House on 23rd October.

page 2134


Assent to the following bills reported: -

Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1955-56. Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill 1955-56. Mount Stromlo Observatory Bill 1956. International Wheat Agreement Bill 1956. Loan (War Service Land Settlement) Bill 1956. Loans Securities Bill 1956.

page 2134


Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.

page 2134


Message received from the Senate intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the House of Representatives in this bill.

page 2134


Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.

In committee (Consideration of Senate’* amendments):

Clause 10 - (1.) Section forty B of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - “(2.) Where-

the employment of an employee who is » contributor by virtue of a direction under sub-section (5.) or (6.) of section four of this Act or sub-section (6.) ot section nine of the High Commissioner Act 1909-1952 terminates or is terminated; and he shall be deemed not to have ceased, by reason of that termination of his employment, to be » contributor.”. (2.) The amendment made by the last preceding sub-section

Senate’s amendment No. 1 -

Clause 10, section 40 B (2.), leave out paragraph (si), insert the following paragraph: - “ (a) the employment of a contributor, being a person who is deemed to be an employee by virtue of sub-section (5.) or (6.) of section four of this Act, sub section (6.) of section nine of the High Commissioner Act 1909-1952 or sub section (2.) of section thirteen of the Australian Security Intelligence Organzation Act 1956, terminates or is teiminated; and “.

Senate’s amendment No. 2 -

Clause 10, sub-clause (2.), after “ sub-section “ insert “ , except in so far as it relates to persons employed under the Australian Security Intel ligence Organization Act 1956.”.

Clause 15 - (1.) Section sixty aba of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead:- “ (2.) Where-

the employment of an employee who is a contributor to the Provident Account by virtue of a direction under sub section (5.) or (6.) of section four oi this Act or sub-section (6.) of section nine of the High Commissioner Act 1909-1952 terminates or is terminated: and he shall be deemed not to have ceased, by reason of that termination of his employment, to bea contributor to the Provident Account.”. (2.) The amendment made by the last preceding sub-section

Senate’s amendment No. 3 -

Clause 15, section 60 aba (2.), leave out paragraph (a), insert the following paragraph: - “(a) the employment of a contributor to the Provident Account, being a person who is deemed to be an employee by virtue of sub-section (5.) or (6.) of section four of this Act, sub-section (6.; of section nine of the High Commis- sioner Act 1909-1952 or sub-section (2.) of section thirteen of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization Ac 1956, terminates or is terminated: and “.

Senate’s amendment No. 4 -

Clause 15, sub-clause (2.), after “sub-section” insert “ , except in so far as it relates to persons employed under the Australian Security Intelligence Organization Act 1956,”.

McPhersonTreasurer · CP

. -I move -

That the amendments be agreed to.

These amendments are brought about in consequence of certain provisions of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization Bill 1956. Clause 13(2) of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization Bill 1956 makes provision for “ temporary “ employees of that organization to become contributors under the Superannuation Act in circumstances comparable with those specified in section 4 (5) of the Superannuation Act in respect of other “ temporary “ employees of the Commonwealth. The effect of the proposed amendments will be that temporary employees of the organization who are contributing under the Superannuation Act by virtue of clause 13 (2) of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization Bill 1956 will not cease to be contributors under that act by reason of their transferring to another position in the employment of the Commonwealth, or an approved authority of the Commonwealth. New sections 40b and 60aba proposed to be inserted by clauses 10 and 15of the Superannuation Bill 1956 already make such a provision in relation to temporary employees other than those employed under the proposed Australian Security Intelligence Organization Act.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Resolution reported; report adopted.

page 2135


Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works · Paterson · LP

– by leave - I move -

  1. That a joint committee be appointed to -

    1. examine and report on all proposals for modifications or variations of the plan of lay-out of the City of Canberra and its environs published in the “ Commonwealth of Australia Gazette” on the nineteenth day of November, 1925, as previously modified or varied, which are referred to the committee by the Minister for the Interior; and
    2. examine and report on such other matters relating to the Australian Capital Territory as may be referred to the committee by the Minister for the Interior.
  2. That the committee consist of two members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Prime Minister, two members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, three senators appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and two senators appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
  3. That every appointment of a member of the committee be forthwith notified in writing to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
  4. That the committee elect as chairman of the committee one of the members appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
  5. That the chairman of the committee may, from time to time, appoint another member of the committee to be the deputy chairman of the committee, and that the member so appointed act as chairman of the committee at any time when the chairman is not present at a meeting of the committee.
  6. That the committee have power to appoint sub-committees consisting of three or more of its members and to refer to such a sub-committee any matter which the committee is empowered to examine.
  7. That the committee have power to send for persons, papers and records and to sit during any recess or any adjournment of the Parliament and during the sittings of either House of the Parliament.
  8. That the committee have leave to report from time to time and that any member of the committee have power to add a protest or dissent to any report.
  9. That five members of the committee, including the chairman or deputy chairman, constitute a quorum of the committee, and two members of a sub-committee constitute a quorum of the subcommittee.
  10. That in matters of procedure the chairman or deputy chairman presiding at the meeting have a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of voting, have a casting vote, and that, in other matters, the chairman 01 deputy chairman have a deliberative vote only.
  11. 1) That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.
  12. That a message be sent to the Senate acquainting it of this resolution and requesting that it concur and take action accordingly.

Under the Seat of Government Act, Canberra was established as the Seat of Government with the intention that it should become the centre of Commonwealth administration. Here is to be established the machinery of administration and around it must grow the public offices and buildings, the homes of extensive administrative staff, the necessary services and amenities to make Canberra the National Capital. This concept was embodied in the Canberra plan, gazetted in 1925, to provide for the aesthetic development of a national capital worthy of the Australian nation.- Due to circumstances arising from war, economic depression and more pressing needs for other forms of development in Australia, the Canberra plan has been realized only slowly. Nevertheless, this city has grown to a population exceeding 30,000 and the foundation of the city’s physical and administrative development has been laid.

In the absence of a long-term plan for the city’s growth, certain problems have become evident, which have in turn been by-passed without solution. The resulting deficiencies cannot easily be rectified. It was this sort of situation, no doubt, which prompted the Senate to set up a select committee to inquire into and report on the development of Canberra as the Seat of Government. That voluminous report will, no doubt, have been read with interest by honorable members who will appreciate, as a consequence, the recent move in another place to establish a committee under Standing Orders designed to exercise some closer parliamentary supervision over the National Capital and its development.

The proposal envisaged the establishment of a similar committee in the House of Representatives with powers of joint consultation. A notice of motion to bring this about stands on the notice-paper in the name of the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser). The Government is of the opinion that the addition of these two proposed bodies to the number of agencies already concerned with Canberra’s development would be wasteful of both time and effort and might well hinder development. Nevertheless, we are keenly aware that the proper development of Canberra is a national and, therefore, a parliamentary responsibility. Certainly, extensive and effective machinery exists for parliamentary supervision of the affairs of the National Capital, mostly through the power of disallowing modifications of the plan and legislative ordinances.

The Government feels that some more constructive avenue of assistance might be of benefit and has therefore proposed, with the approval of interested members of both Houses, that a joint standing committee should be established in which both Opposition and Government parties in both Houses of the Parliament should be represented. As I have indicated, the functions of the committee will be to examine and report on proposals for modifications or variations of the gazetted Canberra plan, which may be referred to the committee foi report by the Minister for the Interior as well as to examine and report on such other matters related to the Australian Capital Territory, as may be referred similarly.

It will be noted that the terms of reference are wide and that the committee will be empowered to send for persons, papers and records. As the nature of Canberra’s developing problems are very often technical and therefore may make extensive calls on the technical staff of the departments -concerned, the desirability of leaving with the Minister the initiative in referring matters for consideration by the committee is understood and appreciated by the members of both Houses bringing forward the original proposals.

There is some indication of the scope for inquiry into the type of problems now pressing. The plan to provide the King’savenue bridge, as well as extensions to the hospital, calls for a final settlement of the lakes proposal, about which there is still some lack of definition. The original Canberra plan, drawn in what might be nol unkindly referred, to as the ‘’ horseandbuggy “ days, threatens to develop extensive traffic and parking problems. As the population of the capital increases rapidly, the number of cars and both local and tourist traffic increases.

The areas reserved for public buildings might profitably be reviewed in the light of actual experience and their effect on the extension of the city’s boundaries reassessed. Already it is evident that the spread of the city is raising tremendous problems associated with the cost of housing and transport and the provision and maintenance of engineering services. If there is not to be a long-term plan of development, Parliament will need to be vigilant against the ever-present risk of adding to the number of temporary buildings in a city which ought to be characterized by adequacy and permanence in such matters. For these reasons, the establishment of a standing committee is put forward as a constructive approach to matters over which the Parliament could rightly seek to exercise closer supervision, and I hope the proposal will have the support of the House.


– I have heard with great satisfaction the announcement by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall) of the Government’s decision in this matter and I have heard with equal satisfaction the terms of the motion that he has put before the House. The establishment of a joint standing committee to oversee the development of Canberra is something for which I have pressed ever since I have been in this chamber. I commend both the Minister and the Government on this decision to establish that committee. It is true that motions have been on the notice-papers, both in another place and in this House, for the establishment of committees of either House, largely for the same purposes as are now to be covered by the standing committee proposed by the Minister. But those notices of motion are on the notice-papers of both Houses only, I feel, because members and senators interested in the proposals had somewhat despaired of securing the establishment of a standing committee of both Houses. So that, whereas in our notices of motion, we had sought the establishment of the lesser, the Minister and the Government, in their wisdom, are now about to establish the greater.

I believe that the. committee will be able to do- very worth-while work not only for this community of Canberra but also for the people of Australia, who have a responsibility for the maintenance of the national capital and who, increasingly, will look to this city as the centre of culture and development. The constitution of the committee - three Government senators, two Opposition senators, and two Government members and two Opposition members of the House of Representatives - retains in the hands of the Government, as does the provision that a Government senator shall be- the chairman, an essential measure of control. It is both necessary and practicable that a Government member should be chairman of such a committee, but I hope that in years to come one limitation may be removed and the committee will have power to elect either a Government member or senator as chairman.

If I understood the Minister correctly, the committee will have power to investigate and report upon only the matters referred to it by the Minister. That is a wise safeguard for the moment, because, in its absence, we could well lose sight of our objective in a maze of decisions, counter decisions and overruling decisions. However, in the future it may be found necessary to extend the powers of the committee to include the power to initiate investigation of matters which it believes should be investigated.

I think it is important to keep in mind that such a committee should not always be tied to -supervising the purely physical development of the capital. Great problems will arise - they are already showing themselves - and as the population increases to its ultimate figure of perhaps 120,000, they will become more and more acute. They will be found not only in the physical, but also in the legislative development of the city, as it affects the daily lives of the people. Tt may well become necessary to extend the function of the committee into the legislative field of inquiry.

I congratulate the Government and the Minister upon this proposal. The establishment of the committee will bring more closely to the notice of Parliament its responsibility for the development of the national capital. It has been truly said on more than one occasion that, in relation to the national capital, this Parliament, which must act for the whole of the Commonwealth, must also act as a State government and indeed as a municipal or shire council. It must govern in the three fields in which these separate forms of government normally prevail. The Government has another great responsibility also. It is the landlord of more than three-quarters of the population and the employer of more than 60 per cent. Therefore, the Commonwealth Parliament has a very great responsibility for, and a very close connexion with, the development of this city, and the standing committee will have a vital and important task to fulfil.

I am very pleased that the Government has taken this step, which will be hailed by the people of Canberra also. It will be necessary, I believe, for the Government to take a further step, and perhaps this step will be taken upon the advice of the new committee. I refer to the need to overhaul the machinery of planning and development and, possibly, to reconstitute the National Capital Planning and Development Committee.


.- 1 wish to add a few words to what the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) has said in support of the proposed establishment of a parliamentary committee on Canberra. The Parliament has sat in Canberra for 28 years now - one year longer than it sat in Melbourne. Unfortunately, the development of Canberra has not proceeded as was originally planned or expected. It has been delayed by two world wars, a depression, and a period, from 1952 to 1954, which was euphemistically described as a “ recession “. I have no doubt that many works were held up in those two “ recession “ years, as well as in quite recent times, and that is unfortunate.

The great secretariat, which is still being erected, was approved by the Chifley Government in 1948. It was to have cost £3,000,000 and the work was to have been spread over five years. Unfortunately, it has not yet been completed, and will not be until next year. Thus, it will have taken nine years, and the cost will probably be £5,000,000, or even more.

Canberra has developed very rapidly in recent times. When World War II. broke out the population was about 1 1 .000. On the occasion of the 1947 census it was 17,000. At the time of the 1954 census it was 30,000, and if the great Commonwealth departments and instrumentalities that are situated in Melbourne and Sydney are brought here it will not be long before Canberra will have a population of 60,000. All of this proves how necessary it is to set up an authority that will oversee the plans of the past, and those that are to be made in the future. 1 have a great respect for engineers and other competent professional men, but very often they lack vision, and it may well be that without the supervision which this committee will be able to give, costly and irreparable mistakes will prevent this national city, this Washington of Australia, from providing for the 100,000 people who will be here in the lifetime of some of the younger members of this Parliament. As

I he committee feels its way the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall) may be in dined to give it greater scope to propose schemes that it thinks should be examined, apart from those that he and his departmental officers are prepared to refer to it It is true, as the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory has said, that the committee should hasten slowly to begin with, lt need not examine every project, but it should examine those that matter most. 1 should like to see the King’s-avenue bridge erected at the earliest possible moment because whenever there is a flood - and we have often had them this year - only one serviceable, high level bridge is available and at times that is out of operation. Though Canberra’s development has proceeded very well, much more could have been done had the times been more propitious, and had other Ministers done as the present Minister is doing.

I commend the Minister upon bringing down this motion, and I commend the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory upon his persistence and continuous advocacy of those things that he believes ought to be done for the welfare of the people of Canberra. I hope that the Minister will be able to refer to the new committee the question of the erection of a new Parliament House. As I have said before, the money could be provided by an annual appropriation of even £500,000 to a trust fund over the next sixteen years.

A new Parliament House is very necessary. Honorable members are handicapped in their work by the inconvenient and crowded conditions of this building. We ought to have at least as modern and as commodious a building, with all the requisites that members in their official capacities require, and, at least, equal to those that exist in the Capitol building, and its adjuncts, in Washington. This is a national parliament, and the sooner we make it a national parliament in fact as well as in name, the better it will be for Australia. I think that all peoples throughout the world love bigness. They are impressed with what governments do to identify themselves with the work of the people and for that reason, if I might digress, 1 think it is most important that the pile of buildings which is being constructed in Melbourne should be completed quickly. I think the Sydney project should also be started.

Mr Chambers:

– And the one in Adelaide.


– I think that all the others, in Adelaide and every other capital city, should be started, so that the State branches of all Commonwealth departments may be gathered together under the one roof. If we have a big Commonwealth building in every State capital, the people will be impressed with the nature of the Commonwealth’s work and responsibilities. A big building which impresses the people will ultimately, I hope, impress them with the need to give more powers to the Federal Parliament so that it can fully discharge all its responsibilities to the people. More powers need to be granted to the Commonwealth Parliament, and I hope that the date of their granting is not too far distant. 1 commend the measure. [Quorum formed.]


.- I should like to support the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall) in the proposition that he has put before the House. T believe that it is a step in the right direction. As chairman of the Public Works Committee, this morning I attended my first meeting of the Australian Capital Territory Planning and Development Committee, which I found suffered from one great disability, in that the reports that it makes are merely statements advising the Minister of those matters which are referred to the committee. The committee has no direct responsibility at all to the Parliament. The committee which is now proposed will, I believe, make reports to the Parliament, and the Parliament will therefore be able to keep an eye on the development of Canberra. We find, in the evidence submitted to the Public Works Committee, a lack of co-ordination between the various departments in Canberra. I am certain that the proposed committee will be able to co-ordinate the activities of those various departments, and I am sure that nothing but good can come from its establishment.


.- 1 could not let this opportunity pass without saying one or two words, especially after the speech by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. First, I agree with the establishment of the proposed committee. I was very pleased to hear that the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) also agrees with it. That shows very clearly that the Government and the Opposition are working together in this matter. It is shown even more clearly because the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, living in this area and being its representative, has a personal knowledge of it which other members have not. The fact that he supports the proposal is all to the good. He was followed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I have had to disagree with that honorable gentleman on a few occasions lately. I do not like doing so, because outside the Parliament he is a very great personal friend. However, inside the Parliament he makes some fantastic statements and suggestions. I could not help but speak after he had spoken. He suggested that we should have big Commonwealth buildings in all the States as a means of impressing the people, and that we should have a new Parliament House at Canberra.

Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!


– In spite of the fact that some of my own colleagues are saving “ Hear, hear! “ to that suggestion, I believe that in present circumstances this Parliament House should be good enough for this Parliament for many years yet. If the

Deputy Leader of the Opposition believes that the Commonwealth has to depend on large buildings in the States and in Canberra to impress the people, we in this Parliament have not been doing very well at any stage since its inception. The only means of impressing the people and getting from them a great national effort is by taking sound action and passing proper legislation. Only this action on the part of the people and the Parliament in conjunction can give to us a great Australia.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 2140


Minister for Labour and National Service · HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– I move -

That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which lime of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.

As honorable gentlemen will be aware, this is the customary motion that is proposed when we come to the end of a sessional period. On this occasion, however, it must be taken as subject to the assurance given earlier by the Prime Minister that, should circumstances make it desirable for the House to bc summoned again at short notice, that action will be taken.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 2140


Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -

That leave of absence be given lo every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its nest sitting.

page 2140


The Parliament - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization - Security Service - Hungarian Refugees - International Affairs - Oil - Egypt - United Nations - Valedictory

Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.

East Sydney

.- I desire to take this opportunity of protesting against she farcical sitting of the Parliament which we have had to-day. I could have understood the Government’s calling Parliament together to give honorable members information that was not available to them through the columns of the daily press in regard to the grave international situation. It appears to me that the only worth-while speech made to-day was made by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). The speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) consisted only of a repetition of what one could read in the columns of the press over the past two or three weeks - a mere recital of generalities. There is no doubt that the House was assembled merely to give the right honorable gentleman an audience. And at what expense to the Australian community! Everybody knows that Parliament is not assembled without considerable cost being incurred. One of my colleagues and I, while sitting on the Opposition front bench, made a calculation of what to-day’s meeting would cost.

There are 123 members in the House of Representatives, and there are 60 senators. Allowing for some absentees, I think it would be safe to say that approximately 160 members attended this special sitting of the Parliament. Varying air fares are incurred in bringing members here the short distance from Sydney or the long distances from other places. Allowing an average return air fare of £25 a member, which I think is rather conservative, the fares alone would amount to about £4,000. Adding to this the living allowances made available to members, and the cost of the employment of officers round this House while this sitting has been proceeding, it would be safe to say that the sitting of the Parliament to-day, which I regard as being an absolute farce, has cost the Australian taxpayer approximately £5,000, to say nothing of the great inconvenience caused to members in coming from various parts of the Commonwealth to attend the sitting. If any honorable member is honest with himself, he will admit that, if he goes into the Library and reads the early edition of the daily press, he will be further advanced on the international situation than he would be by listening to the speech made by the Prime Minister. The early editions of the press report developments which were not even told to this House by the Prime Minister. Therefore, I believe that, while a grave international situation exists, the Parliament should be on ready call. But it should not have been called together merely to provide the Prime Minister with an audience while he made a statement which he could have given to us, anyhow, by sending it through the post. He could have had it typewritten or roneoed and sent through the post to us.

For what reason did the Parliament meet? The House granted leave to two Ministers to make statements - the Prime Minister and the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Philip McBride). The House also granted leave to the Leader of the Opposition to make two statements. Because those four statements were made by leave, the Government did not permit any debate on them. As a matter of fact, it avoided debate. The Government did not want a debate on the statement of the Prime Minister on Egypt, lt was afraid to permit such a debate. In order to fill in the day - and that is all it was - the Government decided to allow an hour for questions. When the questions became a little awkward for Ministers, the hour was cut to 40 minutes. Everybody knows that the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs read the whole of his speech. He read it like a schoolboy in the second term reading an essay to the class. He did not even read it well. I -am certain that, from the way he read it, without emphasis at the correct places, it was difficult for any member of this House to understand exactly what he intended to say. We shall have to await the publication of “ Hansard “ before we know what the Minister said about the situation in Hungary. Anybody who listened to his speech - those who were able to keep awake while he droned along interminably - had grave difficulty in understanding what he said.

While I have the opportunity, I want to mention another matter. I understand that, provided there are no emergency sittings, this Parliament will re-assemble in approximately five months’ time. Therefore, in the next twelve months, the opportunities for honorable members to voice opinions in this Parliament will be rather limited. I want to make reference to a most amazing statement made during a recent debate by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) in his capacity as the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. The Minister made the amazing statement that in some country overseas - I do not think he mentioned where it was - an ingenious machine had been invented to create the varying climatic conditions that might be experienced in any part of the world, and that this machine could help the scientists in that great organization to determine pastures for introduction in some parts of Australia where they could be of great benefit to this nation. He said that this machine would cost £350,000, but that because of the present financial stringency, we could not afford that sort of money. I conclude, from that statement, that the scientists in this great country are to go without this machine, which even the Minister has said may eventually lead to the saving of hundreds of millions of pounds in this country.

Why cannot we afford £350,000 for the purchase of this machine? In my opinion, it is a small sum of money in comparison with the great benefit that the Minister said it would bestow on the Australian community. He submits that we cannot afford £350,000 for such an essential machine required by the scientists working through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, yet he has committed this country to the expenditure of approximately £34,000,000, to date, on assistance to other countries to increase their development. It appears to me that, if we can afford £34,000,000 to assist other countries to improve their living standards, we should be able to afford £350,000 for the purchase of a machine to help our own scientists to reach conclusions that would increase the development of our own country. The attitude of the Minister in this matter appears to be no different from the general attitude of the Government on these matters of expenditure.

I wish to refer to another matter because I was not given the opportunity to do so at question-time. I came into the House just before questions were concluded and I was awaiting my opportunity to ask a question. The Prime Minister cut short question time, although there was no apparent reason why he should have done so other than the fact that the Government wanted to avoid being embarrassed by questions from the Opposition. In actual fact, the Government had no business with which to keep the House occupied, even up to the normal time of suspension at 6 o’clock, and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) moved the adjournment.

If I had been afforded the opportunity, I intended to ask the Prime Minister whether there was any truth in the statement which had been conveyed to me that one of the guards made responsible for the protection of Vladimar Petrov had met with a serious accident, and whether that guard had been given treatment in Yaralla Repatriation Hospital. I wanted to know also, if the accident occurred, what were the circumstances, what injuries were suffered by the guard and whether there was any truth in the rumour that had been circulated that the prisoner, if he can be termed as such, or the protected - whatever designation is preferred - became violent and attacked the guard. I do not know what information the Minister for Labour and National Service, who is in charge of the House, can give us, but I think the Australian community is very much interested in this particular gentleman because it is responsible for his maintenance, and not merely his present maintenance. Evidently the arrangement is an indefinite one; it is to continue for an undisclosed period. If the Australian taxpayer is to incur expense in the provision of guards, accommodation, living allowance, clothing allowance and so on, we are entitled to be informed on these particular matters.

Minister for Immigration · Denison · LP

– I do not wish to detain the House, but I am sure that honorable members will . be pleased to know that the Government has decided to provide sanctuary for up to 3,000 refugees from Hungary who fled across the border into Austria following Russia’s military action. This is part of a swift response by this country to a cabled appeal by the federal Government of Austria to the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. These authorities asked European States and Australia to give asylum to the greatest possible number of refugees from Hungary. As a special gesture in recognition of the urgent human problem involved in the plight of the refugees, Australia will gladly accept 3,000 refugees during the remainder of the present financial year. Details to give effect to the Government’s decision are being worked out at this time.

Arrangements will be made to place workers amongst the refugees in employ ment, but it is anticipated that the group will include a number of compassionate cases, such as children and people of ages exceeding the normal age limits imposed for other assisted migrants. If necessary, normal selection standards may be modified for the group. The important issue is that Australia should make an immediate and positive contribution towards helping these unfortunate victims of aggression. Such a gesture is in keeping with Australia’s proud record in having provided a haven for more than 200,000 displaced persons who were made homeless by the last war, among them being large numbers of Hungarians who have made a fine contribution to Australia’s economy and culture. Australia is proud to welcome their compatriots who again have demonstrated the Hungarian courage and love of freedom.


.- I should like to congratulate the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley) upon his statement concerning the assistance to Hungary. I do not think it is necessary, however, for Australia, in the emergency situation that has developed, to regard 3,000 as the limit. I want to say to you, Mr. Speaker, that 1 think that the attitude of the Ministry this afternoon has been most surprising. We have heard two statements on international affairs. According to reports that we have been receiving from overseas regarding the international situation, the Soviet Union has sent to Great Britain and France a note which must be almost without precedent in diplomatic history, threatening rocket warfare. Yet, there has been absolutely no statement from the Ministry on this matter. That note has been widely interpreted as a blunt threat of war by the Soviet Union. If there were war, it would involve the whole world. Yet this matter has been treated as of no consequence in a discussion in this House devoted entirely to international affairs!

We heard a long statement about a matter in which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was personally involved, and in the course of which he attempted to defend himself and his philosophy. Then we had a statement on the Hungarian situation, with constant attempts to separate it from the Suez affair. We were told that the two were not inter-related. I do not know whether they are inter-related, or whether the Soviet Union needed any courage for aggression, but 1 do know that the moral authority of the West to resist the Soviet action in Hungary was weakened by the situation which existed in the Suez area. We have the very greatest reason to be grateful that the United States of America, as the spokesman for the Western world, had clean hands on both issues.

The other aspect of the matter which is disquieting was the obvious lack of information which the Ministry displayed this afternoon. We cannot get confirmation of the report that Saudi Arabia, a vital oilproducing area of the world, has severed diplomatic relations with Great Britain. Then we had statements which, it was quite clear, were treated as insulting by Asian delegates in the gallery, to the effect that the Asian powers were not concerned about Soviet aggression in Hungary. This was, apparently, an apologia for what was taking place in Egypt, although it was known that Mr. Nehru, at a meeting of Unesco. spoke in the strongest terms about the Russian aggression in Hungary, and although Mr. U Nu also had spoken in the strongest terms about it. I understand, too. that Pakistan has been one of the leading powers in the United Nations in advocating action on the Hungarian issue. It is an absolute tragedy that everything that can be dragged in as propaganda for the personal record of Ministers and the Government in the handling of the international situation is dragged in, even if it involves insults, or what can be interpreted as insults, directed at other members of the Commonwealth. Apparently, the United States has taken this rocket threat from the Soviet very seriously, and I understand from the news that there has been an alerting of defence services in that country. I should like to know whether the Ministry regards that incredible note issued by the Soviet Government as serious. If it does regard it as serious, does it intend to alert the defence services of Australia? , If the Government does not regard the incredible note as serious, why is it dismissed without any reference to it on this occasion - apparently our last meeting for approximately five months?


.- I think all Australians will be delighted to hear the news that- the Government is giving asylum to 3,000 of the victims of Russian aggression in Hungary. I hope that the necessary transport and other arrangements will be made quickly, so that these unfortunate people may come to Australia where, already, there are sizeable Hungarian communities that can help them in their hour of trouble and assist their assimilation into the Australian community. I note that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley) stated that some cases would be treated on a compassionate basis. That is right and proper. I should like the Minister, now that he is examining cases on a compassionate basis, to have a look at some of the “ hard core “ cases that were under the supervision of the International Refugee Organization. Those people of half a dozen races, all behind the iron curtain, have not being accepted for resettlement in Great Britain, Canada, the United States of America, and Australia to date. Perhaps the former Minister for Immigration, the present Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) might lend his weight to consideration of this question of resettlement of the “ hard core “ cases on this basis. There are thousands of them, and this might be a fitting opportunity to bring to Australia these unfortunates who. because of the loss of an eye, an arm, or a leg, or because of some other physical defect, deformity or injury, were not able to come to Australia when we were selecting only the fittest and the ablest persons, with the exception that those who had parents could call them out later.

Many of these people still live in camps, under deplorable conditions, in Germany. Various honorable members have seen them, and so have the representatives of the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration who have been in Australia in recent times. I think that the Government might also extend its benevolence to these people. The action that has been taken is meritorious and commendable and will, I think, be supported by all the people of Australia who are sympathetic to the victims of Russian aggression, and appalled by the bestiality and brutality of the Russians in their attempt to suppress the liberty and the independence of the Hungarian nation.


.- I rise to voice a protest at the cavalier way in which honorable members who represent the public of Australia are treated by the Government in the matter of international affairs.

At the beginning of the year, in either February or March, and on several occasions since then, I requested the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) to arrange a debate on international affairs, but at no time have honorable members on this side of the House had an opportunity to give general expression to their views. In addition, questions on this subject which have been placed on the notice-paper have been treated in a light-hearted and cavalier fashion. It seems that the Government regards our international relations as the private province of the Minister for External Affairs, or the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). I suggest that that is not the right attitude. The proceedings of the House to-day have provided a classic example of that outlook.

Honorable members in this chamber represent the people of Australia. At one stage during the afternoon I counted the number of members present, and there were more than 100. We listened to a speech by the Prime Minister, and we heard his speech annihilated by that of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). Honorable members on this side of the House have contributions to make to such a debate, and I know, too, that there are men of sincerity on the other side of the chamber who also could make worth-while contributions. Yet, the fact that we exist has been ignored. I understand that the Parliament may be brought back at some early date, and if that happens, no doubt it will only be to rubber stamp more decisions with which not only honorable members on this side of the House, but also the great majority of the Australian people, disagree.

I protest against the failure of the Department of External Affairs to keep us supplied with the kind of information that would allow us to make a considered judgment of the whole matter of international affairs. When honorable members on this side of the chamber ask questions on this subject, they are treated as though they have done something that gentlemen should not do. Recently, I placed the following question on the notice-paper: -

  1. Does the department receive reports from officers overseas on the internal conditions of countries in relation to all aspects of government. social conditions, aid the like?
  2. Does the department compile information on countries in which Australia is not directly represented by officers of the department?
  3. Is this information compiled as an academic exercise, or for the use of the Australian people, including members of this Parliament?
  4. If the information referred to is compiled, will he give further consideration to his answer to the question of which I gave notice on the 23rd October with reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

I have received the following answer: -

Information on internal conditions in countries overseas is obtained primarily for guidance in the formulation of the Government’s foreign policy.

The Department of External Affairs is nol the property of the Government; it is the property of the people, and it works, 1 presume, for the benefit of the people. Ii should be prepared to supply us with the information for which we ask. 1 hope that during the recess, no matter how long it lasts, the Minister for External Affairs, or the Minister who acts in that capacity from time to time, will at least arrange that information on international matters is supplied to honorable members, so that when the Parliament re-assembles we shall be able to deal with these important matters in a manner that is worthy of them.


– It is disappointing to honorable members to realize that the Parliament is about to rise - and I do not say this in a carping way, as my later remarks will prove - without honorable members being told by the Prime Minister what the position is with regard to Australia’s oil supplies as a result of the blowing up of pumping stations and other equipment in the Middle East. Radio reports have suggested that it may take nine months to repair the damage caused to pipe-lines by saboteurs in the Arab countries. If that estimate is accurate, I believe that the Government should have told this Parliament something official about the matter. We should have been given some indication of the action that the Government intends to take to meet the situation that will result from the sudden cutting off of the oil supplies from an area from which we have been obtaining two-thirds of our oil.


– The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) made a statement on the matter yesterday.


– But the

Minister’s statement was very evasive, as his statements usually are. He merely said that it had not yet been necessary for the Government to introduce petrol rationing.

Mr Opperman:

– That is quite true, too.


– That is quite true, as the honorable member has said. I should like to know whether the Government contemplates the need for petrol rationing. If a situation arises in which it becomes necessary to ration petrol, how does the Government propose to meet that situation, and what advance steps has it taken towards that end?

The Minister is lacking in frankness when he refused to say clearly and categorically whether it is a fact - and he must know - that Saudi Arabia has cut off diplomatic relations with England and France. Even more amazing, I thought, was the evasive manner in which the Prime Minister dealt with the matter of Egypt’s diplomatic relations with Australia. He did not tell us whether Egypt has, in fact, cut off diplomatic relations. He should know whether Egypt has done so, and I assume that he does know. He merely said, in what I must unfortunately call a rather sneering way, that he had noticed in the press a report that we were no longer persona grata with the Egyptian Government.


– No, he did not.


– He did not use those words, I admit, but he did say that he had noticed in the press that we had no longer any diplomatic connexion with Egypt. If it is a fact that diplomatic relations between this country and Egypt had been severed, the Prime Minister should have taken this opportunity to give a clear, concise statement on the position and its implications for Australia. He should have let us know exactly where we stand, because it is a serious matter when any country severs diplomatic relations with another country. When the Parliament is assembled, surely its members should be told in clear terms what the position is.

I was also disappointed that the Prime Minister did not give us some official and authentic information about the action of the Indonesian workers on airfields in Indonesia, who refused to service Qantas aircraft.It is, again, a very serious matter when a government-owned overseas air line finds itself boycotted by the workers in another country as a consequence of the Egyptian episode. I think that the Prime Minister owed it to the House to make some statement, even if only a brief one. explaining the true nature of the boycott. what is being done to try to lift it, and how long it is expected to continue, because great inconvenience is being caused to persons who wish to travel by Qantas aircraft on routes that pass through Indonesia I thought it remarkable that the Prime Minister was able to make a statement on the Suez affair without once referring to the fact that the Suez Canal had been blocked by ships that were sunk in it. Although he mentioned the fact in a casual skirting kind of way, he did not give am information as to the length of time that it is expected the canal will be closed because of these sunken vessels. It is true as every one knows, that the first ship that was sunk in the Suez Canal was not sunk by the Egyptians for the purpose of putting the canal out of commission. The vessel in question was a frigate that was sunk by bombardment from a British cruiser. I will admit that the naval personnel on the cruiser showed great courage in taking on an Egyptian frigate, but, in any case, they eventually succeeded in sinking it. In addition, there have been other sinkings. Again, I say that it is a tragedy that although we have been called here for a special sitting of the Parliament in order to obtain some information about the matter, I can learn of these things only by means of the overseas radio service.


– The sinking was in the Red Sea, as a matter of fact. As a matter of interest, however, on whose side is the honorable member?


– Asa matter of interest,I am on the side of the United Nations, as distinct from the Prime Minister and those who sit behind him. 1 am on the side of those who are opposed to the use of force to settle international disputes. I am in favour of those who believe that savagery and the law of. the jungle should go by the board, and that gunboat diplomacy should be wiped out for ever. That is the side that I am on.


– What about the right to strike? How does the honorable member stand on that?


– I believe solidly in it.


– That is a different thing!


– An entirely different thing, and I am glad that the Minister is able to discern the difference.


– 1 am unable to follow the honorable member’s logic, if that is what he means.


– 1 simply say that the Prime Minister has failed to give us the information that we thought we would obtain to-day. lt is an unfortunate and disappointing experience for me and my colleagues to come many hundreds of miles only to learn what we could have read in yesterday’s newspaper - not even what we could have read in this morning’s paper, and certainly not a quarter of what we could find out from overseas broadcasts.


.- The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) has suggested that he was disappointed at the attitude adopted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) when he made his statement this afternoon. May I suggest that not only honorable members on this side of the House, but also a great number of those who sit behind the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), and certainly the Australian people, will be disgusted when they read in the press to-morrow that the Leader of the Opposition, when speaking of the statement made by the Prime Minister on the Egyptian situation, was able to spend a lot of time in delivering himself of a harangue against Great Britain, and in giving voice to all the anti-British remarks that he could possibly utter. Reference was then made to the situation in Hungary, where thousands of people have been shot down by Russian troops; where Russian tanks have machine-gunned unarmed women and children in the streets when they could not have expected to be fired upon, and were offering no resistance, but were merely trying to see what was going on. When the Leader of the Opposition made his remarks on the Hungarian situation, following upon the statement made by the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs, he uttered not one single word of condemnation of Soviet

Russia. Plausibly, he talked about the United Nations and the great effort thai that organization is making, but I suggest that the honorable member for Hindmarsh read the pages of “ Hansard “ to see whether he can find there one remark made by the Leader of the Opposition in condemnation of the actions of Russia in Hungary. Although I have been in this Parliament for seven years, I have never yet heard the Leader of the Opposition say a good word for the British Empire or the British people, nor have I heard him condemn Soviet Russia at any stage of his political career. He ran true to form to-day Let me assure the honorable member for Hindmarsh that we on this side were disgusted by the efforts of his leader.

Let us not overlook a fact that was made clear by Sir Anthony Eden in the speech that he made to the House of Commons during the emergency session last Saturday. He put the position in this way: If one sees a fire, one seeks immediately, not to find out how the fire was started, but to put it out. The attack on Egypt by the Israeli forces could have set the whole of the Arab world aflame. Egypt has pacts with Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. They have formed an Arab bloc, in opposition to the Meto agreement, and they have tried to persuade Iraq to join that Arab bloc. When Israel attacked Egypt, the whole of the Arab world could have been drawn into that war.

In that event, the Suez Canal would have been out of action for much longer than three months or six months and - this would have been even more serious - oil supplies to Europe would have been interrupted, with the result that British military aircraft would not have been able to fh and British warships would have been unable to put to sea, because of lack of fuel. The whole of the transport system of the United Kingdom would have come to a standstill. The United States of America could have done no more than supply a limited quantity of oil to the United Kingdom for a limited time, because the Americans consume 25 per cent, more oil fuel than they produce. The United States imports oil. Does the Leader of the Opposition contradict that statement? Let me assure him that the United States imports oil from Venezuela, and that it consumes 25 per cent. more oil than it is able to produce. The countries of the Middle East export 22 per cent. of the total quantity of oil used in the world to-day, and 75 per cent. of the oil reserves of the world are located in that area.

Great Britain had to act quickly when : it saw a situation developing in the Middle East that could have set the whole of the Arab world aflame. Iraq could have been drawn into the Arab bloc to fight against Israel. The only way to prevent that was to act quickly - to put out the fire before the Suez Canal and the oil wells of the Middle East were put out of action for a very long time. Let us not overlook the most significant point. These people have been armed by Soviet Russia, which has been behind all the moves that have been made by the countries of the Middle East for some years. The leaders of Soviet Russia are not so naive as not to realize that if they could freeze theflow of oil from the Middle East they could win the battle for the control of the world. By freezing the flow of oil from the Middle East, they could neutralize the defence forces of the United Kingdom and the countries of Western Europe. Without oil, those countries would be unable to strike a blow, and the Soviet Union would control the world.

Let us have no more of these nonsensical suggestions that the United Kingdom has not been morally honest. Only the woolly headed, the naive and the dishonest will suggest that. By its action in the Middle East, the United Kingdom has averted a third world war - a war in which it would have been physically handicapped to a great degree. In addition, it has prevented Iraq from becoming involved in this turmoil and has delayed, if not permanently destroyed, the opportunity for Soviet Russia to gain control of the oil of the world and, consequently, to gain control of the peoples of of the world and deal with other nations in the way in which it has dealt with Hungary. But it suits the purpose of the Leader of the Opposition to overlook those facts. At no stage of the remarks that he made in answer to the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) did he say one word in condemnation of Soviet Russia - and I listened to every word that he had to say. I repeat that I was disgusted with the efforts of the Leader of the Opposition.

Dr Evatt:

– You dirty slanderer!

Mr. Lawrence

– Order! The Leader of the Opposition will withdraw that statement.

Dr Evatt:

– I withdraw it.

Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER.Order! You will rise and withdraw it.

Dr Evatt:

– I do soI withdraw it.


.- I rise only to reply to some of the extravagant and absurd statements that have been made by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight). Obviously labouring under the stress of emotion, he said several things that must be contested by honorable members on this side. He adopted the juvenile attitude that the members of the Labour party do not now and never will support anything British. He said that during the time he had been a member of this House, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) had never said anything good about the British. What about the right honorable gentleman’s statement to-day that we are behind the aspirations of the British people, but against the absurdities and nonsense of their conservative government? The point that the honorable member for Lilley overlooks, as does his leader, is that public opinion in Great Britain is inflamed at the moment because of the mistakes that the British Government has made in relation to the Suez Canal and the United Nations.

A great deal of lip service is paid to the British people, particularly the British workers, by honorable members on the other side of the House, but the Australian Labour party, when it was in office, made a practical contribution to their welfare. After the war, a Labour government gave £35,000,000 to the British people. In addition, it gave a more sympathetic consideration to the balance of payments problem of Great Britain than has been given by the patriotic tories in this House. During the war, we accumulated £800,000,000 of overseas funds, simply because the British people had to buy everything that we had to sell and, because of the war, could sell us nothing in return. When the British Prime Minister of the day was thinking of funding certain debts, our Prime Minister said to him, “ I think we had better give you a to “. and nothing further was done. We of the Labour party have always spoken up for Australia as a dominion. We have never been stooges. The inspired stoogery of honorable members opposite nauseates everybody in this country. This Government has not the courage to say to the British Government that what it has done is wrong. I have shown, I think, that the young honorable member for Lilley was wrong when he said that we on this side of the House have never had any consideration for the British people.

Let us return to this debate. The Leader of the Opposition has made at least three statements on Hungary. No man could do more. If we use for the purposes of comparison the statement that was made by the ineffectual deputy holder of the External Affairs portfolio, the Leader of the Opposition made a wider, more comprehensive and more complete statement than did the Government spokesman himself. If anybody could make anything of what we heard this afternoon from the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs, he is a better man than I am and a better man than many honorable members on this side.

Mr Snedden:

– That would not be difficult.


– That is a matter of opinion. The situation in Hungary has been seized upon by the Government, avidly and rabidly, for propaganda purposes. If the measure of what the Government knows about that situation is what the Minister for Defence told its, then the Government knows nothing about it. There is no need for the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) to become annoyed. At present he is in touch with a Hungarian who, the Jews of Sydney assure me, is a mass slaughterer - Dr. Laszlo Megay. The honorable member is looking for another Dobson - that miraculous person who exceeded the feats of Olympic Games athletes by swimming Sydney Harbour without getting wet! The honorable member has discovered another protege to use in his propaganda war against those Australians who are a little more, or considerably more, to the left than he is. The new protagonists join with the honorable member to attack the Leader of the Opposition and say that he said this or that, but the old treadmill is worn out. No man fought the Russian veto more steadily and more consistently in the United Nations than did the Leader of the Opposition, as will be seen by any one who reads the records.

Mr Anderson:

– Ha, ha!


– If the honorable member would take his mind away from his turkeys and read the records of the United Nations and of this House he would see that that is true. If he reads the records of the United Nations he will see that Gromyko, who represented the Russians at the time, was time and again worsted in debate by the Leader of the Opposition. But does any one ever mention that? Of course, Government supporters do not. They conduct a propaganda war against one man. It is no longer to be tolerated. The young honorable member for Lilley does not know very much about it. The honorable member for Mackellar professes to know everything about it. I rose merely to state these facts. Opposition members were patient, having been brought here today to hear a statement on international affairs by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). It was a studied and calm statement by a leader. But there was not much in it that we did not already know or had not already guessed. The speeches which followed also were appropriate to the occasion. Then suddenly, because some one considers he has been thwarted of the opportunity to make a speech - a propaganda speech at that - we run into this argument during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House, when, in a few moments, we all shall wish one another a happy Christmas. No one who understood what has occurred here this afternoon would believe in it.


– We are not yet adjourning for the Christmas recess.


– Of course, that is one way out of it. I shall send the Minister a personal Christmas card. There is no doubt that these personal attacks on the Leader of the Opposition are savage, and propagandistic. And they are made to any one who is at hand.

A moment ago, out of a blue sky, we heard about 3,000 refugees coming to this country. Tt brings me sadness to hear of a dead man in any country, because I have always been a pacifist. When a man is dead it does not matter what mistakes he has made. In these crucial situations why do we become so much inflamed by propaganda? If there is a final showdown, we all must work together to deal with the problem, whatever it may be.

We know where we all shall stand if the Suez situation deteriorates to the point of general conflict, and if the situation in Europe results in. a conflict involving the British Commonwealth, of Nations. Yet we spend our time in these intervals bickering, and blackmailing each other! The attacks on the Leader of the Opposition have become intolerable. Every little person in this House - by “ little person “ 1 mean any one who adopts a small-minded attitude in this matter or has shown no previous interest in it - thinks it a good thing to “ knock the old Doc. over “. This sort of thing should end, for the dignity of this Parliament and for the good of the people in general. It should cease finally and completely.


– lt happens because the Leader of the Opposition is wide open to it.

Mr Whitlam:

– The honorable member for Richmond should not forget what happened to Antony in Egypt.


– Yes. Perhaps the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) recalls the famous words - i am dying, Egypt, dying . . .

As the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) has said, let him not forget what happened to Antony, who did not have the benefit of sanctions or of the United Nations.

I want to conclude on the question of the coming of refugees to this country. I was forgetting for the moment that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), who is now at the table, is no longer Minister for Immigration. I do not want to appear callous in this matter. My advice is that the Hungarian frontiers have not been closed. In view of my allegations in regard to the peoples of Europe, which I intend to substantiate, I believe that whether newcomers are refugees or not we must, this time, maintain a degree of screening. Will the Minister not agree with that? I hope this mercy contingent of immigrants will not be brought here without their backgrounds first being investigated. We will welcome genuine refugees and work to help them, and the Australian Labour party will give the Government the maximum cooperation in bringing them here. But let the intake not be loaded with escapees as in the past. This is a matter in which we should be cautious, and 1 am sure the Minister, who, as I have said, was formerly Minister for Immigration, will agree with what I am. saying. I regret that this debate should have taken on an acrid note at this time, and I deplore the repeated attacks on the Leader of the Opposition, particularly the criticism that he did not say anything about Hungary. He has told us more about Hungary than the Government has done, and he has shown by his previous actions that he supports the United Nations.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon John McLeay:

Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.

Minister for Labour and National Service · HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– After I proposed the motion for the adjournment of the House this debate was precipitated by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who made the charge that to-day’s proceedings in the Parliament had been farcical, and that the Government, in effect, had treated the Parliament in a cavalier fashion in bringing it here to-day. The word “ cavalier “ was in fact adopted by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant). The honorable member for East Sydney indicated that the Government had deliberately prevented the opportunity for debate on the statements made, and had stifled discussion. I do not think any one who has been a member of this House for any reasonable length of time would regard the honorable member for. East Sydney as other than a completely biased and dishonest critic of this Government. But I believe it important on an occasion such as this that the facts should be recorded, and that the Government’s stand-point should be clearly known. The first fact that I want to put on record is that at no point of time did the Government deny, or seek to deny, the opportunity for debate by its own supporters or by the Opposition of the statements presented by the Prime Minister- (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride), who is acting for the Minister for External Affairs. That fact was known, or should have been known, to every member of the Opposition. In discharging my responsibility to assist in organizing the proceedings of this House, and I made it known to the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is Deputy Leader of the

Opposition. Subsequently, I personally reaffirmed that fact and informed the honorable member for Melbourne and the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) that if the Opposition wanted a debate it would have it. I made that statement while the bells were ringing for the assembly of the House, which was the latest time at which it could be made, and I made it also at the earliest available time.

Mr Ward:

– To whom did the Minister make it?


– To the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Melbourne.

Dr Evatt:

– It was made just as we were coming into the House.


– That is so, but I had also made it at the earliest possible time, which was when the honorable member for Melbourne spoke to me this morning on the telephone from Melbourne. I had also indicated to the honorable member last week that the Government contemplated a debate continuing at least until 11 p.m. to-day.

Dr Evatt:

– That is not so.


– It is of no use for the Leader of the Opposition to shake his head at me and say, “ That is not so “. Those were the arrangements made. The honorable member for Melbourne will not deny that I left the Government party room to see him. I might just add, in confirmation of what I am stating, that the Prime Minister told Government supporters what he had in mind in the way of a statement, and what the Minister for Defence proposed to say. He put it to the members of the Government parties at a joint meeting that if a debate was desired it would be held. The members of the Government parties took the general view that the position was so confused that the facts were not by any means clearly known, and that we could, therefore, only offer opinions, as members of the Parliament, which could not be said to be firmly based on fact and that, in those circumstances, a debate was not likely to prove very useful. They also took the view -and this was regarded as the decision of the party - that if members of the Opposition wanted a debate, then a debate was to be conceded to them.

Those are the facts. It was after that decision was reached by the Government parties, Mr. Speaker, that, having previously told the Opposition’s deputy leader that a debate would be held, I then went to the Opposition party room and told both the Leader of the Opposition and his deputy that if they wanted a debate they need only move that the paper be printed, and a debate would then proceed on that basis.

Mr Ward:

– I do not believe it.


– I did not expect the honorable member for East Sydney to believe it. But I am not addressing the honorable member; I am addressing you Mr. Speaker, and I am putting a few fact? on record. Quite apart from that, of course the honorable member for East Sydney re f erred to these proceedings as “ futile “. He said that we had had only 40 minutes of questions. The normal procedure is to have 45 minutes of questions. It was quite obvious to the Prime Minister that there was not a great deal of interest in the questions being put by honorable members, after the Parliament had been sitting for mam weeks and, indeed, had been re-assembled only to provide an opportunity, should an opportunity be desired, for a discussion on these important international questions.

Mr Makin:

– Is there not reason why we should come back next week?


– The Prime Minister has said he would consider having the Parliament meet next week if the Opposition wants to come back, and if the Leader of the Opposition presses for a meeting. It is purely out of consideration for honorable members that we do not propose to call them here unless there is something substantial for them to discuss. To-day, there was something substantial for them to discuss.

Mr Ward:

– Then why would you not let us discuss it?


– I would think. Mr. Speaker, that one of the very substantial matters which would be discussed to-day, and on which individual view-points would be made known, by both the Government parties and the Opposition party, was in relation to the practical and immediate question of whether or not Australia would be willing to participate in an international force set up under the auspices of the United Nations.

Mr Ward:

– That was not discussed.


– Did you not discuss it in your party room? lt was certainly discussed by the Government, and it was touched upon by the Prime Minister in our party room. I should have imagined that to be a matter of sufficient consequence, not merely for calling the parties together, but for calling the Parliament together in order to indicate just where Australia stood on that particular matter. So there was one matter of substance, and I have no doubt that if any matter of corresponding dimensions were to arise over the next week or so the Prime Minister would certainly arrange, through you, Mr. Speaker, for the Parliament to he called together.

Dr Evatt:

– That is understood.


– Of course it is understood, and the assurance has been given. Quite apart from that, there have been eight speeches - mine is the ninth - on the motion for the adjournment of the House, which would rather indicate that some honorable members, anyhow, have welcomed the opportunity provided by the sitting to address the House.

Reference was made to the fact that, subject to abnormal circumstances which might arise, and subject to emergencies, the Parliament was not likely to meet for another five months. I do not know whether the impression sought to be conveyed was that the Parliament was, therefore, not going about its business satisfactorily, or doing enough. If that was the implication, I think it might be as well to put on record the fact that this year has been a record year in the history of our federation in respect of the volume of legislation passed. No fewer than 113 bills have been passed by the Parliament this year, which is an all-time record. In addition, the time of the sitting next year has been affected by the fact that a conference of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization is being held in Canberra, and the accommodation and facilities of Parliament House will be required for the purposes of that conference. That is not to say that members of the parties will not be conferring before that time. We have our party meetings arranged for February, and no doubt honorable members opposite will also be making their arrangements.

It has been customary, Mr. Speaker, al this time of the year to express good wishes from both sides of the House to honorable members, and to those who have assisted us in the work of the Parliament. The fact that we have not had a formal or lengthy comment along those lines on this occasion is merely a reflection of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We regard ii as a probability, and not an improbability, that the Parliament will be meeting again before the end of the year. If it does not so meet, we shall all be the better pleased. [Extension of time granted.] I thank the House for extending my time on the motion of the Leader of the Opposition. I wan to say only that if, in all the circumstances, it is not found necessary to bring the Parliament together that state of affairs will, 1 am sure, give us cause for satisfaction, and will most certainly be in keeping with the approaching spirit of Christmas and the peace and goodwill which should obtain at that time. If, unhappily, we must be brought together before the end of the year, there will be a further opportunity for reference to what has been clone here, and to the service that has been performed on our behalf by all those concerned, from yourself, Mr. Speaker, down through the officers of the House to the people who have served us in the parliamentary refreshmentrooms and elsewhere in this building. But. in the event of our not sitting again before the end of the year. I take the opportunity now of saying briefly, but very sincerely, on behalf of the Government and members of this Parliament, that we have all appreciated the service which has been given to us in all those different directions, and to convey also to all members of the Parliament, and to all members of the staff, our very best wishes for a season in which, we hope, the spirit of peace and goodwill will be established.

Leader of the Opposition · Barton

– by leave - I join with the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) in his references to you, Mr. Speaker, to the Clerk of the House, and to all those who have helped us in carrying out our job here. I also feel bound to add that we rely upon what the Leader of the House and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) have said about calling the House together in the event of the international situation making that necessary, and on the Prime Minister’s statement that the Speaker and he will take into account any request by the Opposition in that respect. I do not think I need to go back and discuss the arrangements to which the Minister has referred. I made my arrangement with the Prime Minister, and I have no reason to go into that matter. I thought to-day’s meeting was an important meeting. Whether or not we agree with the content of the Prime Minister’s statement, it was a statement by the Prime Minister of this country. 1 felt that my statement had some importance, too, because we dealt, at any rate, with the question of the possible contribution by Australia to the United Nations emergency force. I think that that would be the view of the House.


– Nobody says that it was not an important statement.


– I think it was very important, but, of course, the importance attached to a statement by A and B may not be admitted by C and D. It all depends on circumstances. I join in the good wishes extended by the Minister to honorable members and staff.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 5.55 p.m. to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker.

page 2152


The following answers to questions were circulated: -


Mr Kearney:

y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. What number and percentage of school children in the various States continue their studies at (a) universities and (b) universities of technology?

    1. Of these, what (a) number and (b) percentage is (i) male and (ii) female?
    2. What is the official school leaving age in i he various States?
    3. What is the (a) number and (b) percentage of the male pupils leaving school in each State who enter upon trade apprenticeships?
    4. What arc the principal trade apprenticeships concerned?
    5. Of the total entering apprenticeships, what are the numbers and percentages in these principal trades?
    6. What (a) percentage and (b) number of pupils who attend universities are assisted financially by (i) payment of allowances and part of their university fees and (ii) payment of allowances and any part of their costs of lodgings?
    7. What are the amounts involved in these payments?
Mr Menzies:

s. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. New South Wales is the only State which has a university of technology. The number of nev entrants V> :hs universities in 1954 and 1955 respectively were: (a) New South Wales, including Canberra University College, excluding University of Technology, 2,104, 2,610; Victoria, 1,480, 1,737; Queensland, 1,060, 1,307; South Australia, 1,050, 1,053; Western Australia, 474, 519; Tasmania, 207, 248; (b) New South Wales University of Technology, 1,014, 1,051; total, 7,389, 8,525. The 1954 new entrants form the following percentages of the estimated relevant school population: - (a) New South Wales, including Canberra, excluding Technology, 4.55 per cent.; Victoria, 4.87 per cent.; Queensland, 5.76 per cent.; South Australia, 10.99 per cent.; Western Australia, 5.34 per cent.; Tasmania, 4.81 per cent.; (b) New South Wales University of Technology, 2.19 per cent.; all universities, 6.28 per cent.
  2. The 1954 new entrants, classified as (i) male and (ii) female, were as follows: - (a) (numbers) New South Wales, including Canberra, excluding Technology, (i) 1,393, (ii) 711; Victoria, (i) 1,063, (ii) 417; Queensland, (i) 800, (ii) 260; South Australia, (i) 666, (ii) 384; Western Australia, (i) 353, (ii) 121; Tasmania, (i) 132, (ii) 75; New South Wales University of Technology, (i) 957, (ii) 57; total, (i) 5,364, (ii) 2,025. (b) (Percentages) New South Wales, including Canberra, excluding Technology, (i) 66.2 per cent., (ii) 33.8 per cent.; Victoria, (i) 71.8 per cent., (ii) 28.2 per cent.; Queensland, (i) 75.5 per cent., (ii) 24.5 per cent.; South Australia, (i) 63.4 per cent., (ii) 36.6 per cent.; Western Australia, (i) 74.5 per cent., (ii) 25.5 per cent.; Tasmania, (i) 63.8 per cent., (ii) 36.2 per cent.; New South Wales University of Technology, (i) 94.4 per cent., (ii) 5.6 per cent.; all universities, (i) 72.6 per cent., (ii) 27.4 per cent.
  3. New South Wales, 15; Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, 14; Tasmania, 16. However, legislation passed but awaiting proclamation by the Governor in Council may have the effect in due course of raising the age to fifteen years in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
  4. It is difficult to obtain precise details of the number of male pupils leaving schools who enter upon trade apprenticeships, because there is little uniformity in the type of statistics provided by the various State authorities. Accurate and complete information on the number of apprenticeships entered into each year is not therefore available. Besides, the conditions of apprenticeship are not uniform in the States. A further consideration is that whereas the estimates of pupils leaving school extend to all ages, the great majority of apprenticeships are entered into during the ages of fifteen and sixteen. Civilian apprenticeship is mainly under the jurisdiction of State apprenticeship authorities. However, not all apprenticeships are registered with these authorities. For example. Commonwealth Government departments and instrumentalities and an important number of State government departments and instrumentalities are exempted from registering their apprenticeships with the State authorities. Some of these organizations voluntarily register their apprenticeships with the State authorities, but others do not. In some States the jurisdiction of the apprenticeship authority extends only to certain areas of the State, e.g., the metropolitan area, and to certain trades. Thus, some trades are apprenticeship occupations in one State, but not in others. Moreover, no information is readily available on the sex of apprentices. The following estimates, which suffer from the deficiencies referred to above, have been prepared of the number of new apprenticeships entered into by male pupils leaving school on the basis of the latest information available. The estimates are also shown as a percentage of the estimated number of male pupils leaving school: It is necessary to bear in mind that in Victoria and Queensland the period covered by the latter estimate does not coincide with that of the other estimate: -

5 and 6. In terms of the numbers of apprenticeships entered into the principal trades and the estimated numbers and percentages of the total in each are as follows. The figures relate to the same periods as shown in the answer to the previous question -

New South Wales - Carpentry and joinery, 986 (13 per cent.); fitting and turning, 922 (12 per cent.); motor mechanics, 901 (12 per cent.): electrical mechanics, 848 (11 per cent.); plumbing, 350 (5 per cent.).

Victoria - Motor mechanics, 578 (15 per cent.); carpenters and joiners, 573 (15 per cent.); fitters and turners, 499 (13 per cent.); electrical mechanics, 348 (9 per cent.); plumbers, gas fitters, 269 (7 per cent.); panel beaters, 128 (3 per cent.).

Queensland - Carpenters, 541 (16 per cent.); motor mechanics, 424 (13 per cent.); electrical mechanics, 411 (12 per cent.); fitters and turners, 362 (11 per cent.); boilermakers, 173 (5 per cent.); plumbers, 172 (5 per cent.).

South Australia - Fitters, turners and machinists, 285 (19 per cent.); motor mechanics, 252 (17 per cent.); electrical workers, 224 (15 per cent.); carpenters, joiners, 104 (7 per cent.); plumbers, gas fitters, 51 (3 per cent. ) .

Western Australia - Carpenters and joiners, 284 (18 per cent.) motor mechanics, 178 (11 per cent.); fitters and turners, 135 (8 per cent.); electrical mechanics, 125 (8 per cent.); butchers (general retail, smallgoods, slaughtermen), 68 (4 per cent.); plumbers, 61 (4 per cent.).

Tasmania - Carpenters and joiners, 172 (25 per cent.); motor mechanics, 75 (11 per cent.); fitters, turners and metal machinists, 63 (9 per cent.); electrical mechanics, 32 (5 per cent.); painters, decorators and signwriters, 26 (4 per cent.); butchers, smallgoodsmen, 24 (3 per cent.); sheet metal workers, 18 (3 per cent.).

For the reasons already stated in reply to the previous question, these figures and percentages are not comparable as between States.

  1. Of 30,792 students, including 8,604 part-time and 3,032 external students, enrolled at Australian universities in 1955, 8,377, or 27 per cent., were assisted by the Commonwealth scholarship scheme, and 7,121, or 23 per cent., were assisted under other schemes of various kinds, including teachers college scholarships. The Commonwealth scholarship scheme pays the compulsory university fees of all scholarship holders, and pays living allowances to full-time students undertaking approved fulltime courses, subject to a means test. In 1955, 29 per cent. of all Commonwealth scholars received living allowances in addition to the payment of fees. The number of these was 2,698, but this includes about 193 who are not studying at universities. Teachers college scholarships are provided by State Departments of Education, and include payment of living allowances. Other scholarships, bursaries, fellowships, cadetships for undergraduate or post-graduate study, are too varied to allow of simple classification.
  2. Under the Commonwealth scholarship scheme in 1955 the average amount of fees paid for each scholar in training was £70 9s. The maximum living allowance payable to a scholar was £240 10s.; the average paid to those in receipt of living allowance was £133 3s. Total Commonwealth expenditure on fees and living allowances in that year was £1,019,611.

Tourist Trade

Mr Aston:

n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

With a view to assisting the beneficial tourist industry and having regard to the anticipated increase in the number of tourists to this country will the Government give consideration to the establishment of a committee consisting of representatives of Commonwealth and State governments, local government bodies, airways, shipping, the Australian National Travel Association and other interested bodies to make a co-ordinated effort to encourage and obtain additional tourists to our shores, give greater publicity to our country, and, by so doing, assist in the alleviation of our balance of payments problem?

Mr Menzies:

– The matter raised by the honorable member is under active consideration by the Government. We have recently increased our annual grant to the Australian National Travel Association, and we are awaiting the report of an interdepartmental committee which we have set up to confer with the association on the possibilities for developing the Australian tourist industry and the most effective organization for the promotion of tourism. Meanwhile the Australian National Travel Association has increased the membership of its board of directors from seven to seventeen, and now includes representatives from the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Chambers of Manufactures, the Australian Automobile Association, road tourist services, shipping, airlines, railways, private travel agencies and hotels and the Director of the South Australian Government Tourist Bureau. The Australian National Travel Association will shortly be opening an office in San Francisco, and it has plans for publicizing our tourist attractions throughout the United States, but especially on the west coast, which is nearest to this continent and a logical source of tourist traffic.

Government Loans and Finance.

Mr Menzies:

s. - On 23rd October, the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme) asked the following question: -

I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that the States incurred deficits totalling approximately £15,000,000 last financial year? Were those deficits funded by the Commonwealth Government at the Commonwealth Bank? What guarantee has been given by the States that a similar, or even worse, result will not occur this year or in future years, and has the Commonwealth informed the States that in future such deficits will be taken into account by the Commonwealth in determining financial assistance in the year following the deficit? 1 now advise him as follows: -

In 1955-56 all States except Tasmania had budget deficits. These deficits amounted to approximately £15,000,000.

The Commonwealth Government does not fund State budget deficits. These deficits may be financed by the States by drawing on any credit balances in their Consolidated Revenue funds, by making temporary use of their trust fund balances or by using portion of their loan moneys for this purpose. A Slate’s budget deficit is regarded as having been funded if this latter method of finance is employed.

No undertakings have been given by the States regarding their budget results in future years. The Commonwealth Government does, of course, take account of State budget results in determining the amount of financial assistance it will give to the States each year.


Mr Beazley:

y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. In the last year for which complete figureare available, how many taxpayers claimed exemp tion for (a) a wife; (b) a first child; and (c) subsequent children?
  2. How many claimed the full £75 exemption allowed for education?
Sir Arthur Fadden:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. The last year for which tabulated information relating to income tax is available is the 1953-54 income year. Those tabulations are practically complete, excluding only those assessments issued after the 30th September, 1955. The number of taxpayers claiming deductions on account of dependants in that year is as follows: -

Separate figures are not available for claims for spouse only, or one child under sixteen years of age only.

  1. This information is not available.
Mr Beazley:

y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

What is the estimated cost to the Treasury of the exemption allowed to taxpayers -

of £130 for a wife;

of £78 for the first child;

of £52 for children other than the first:

for insurance at the new rate of £300;

for charitable donations; and

for education at the new rate of £100?

Sir Arthur Fadden:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

The estimated costs to revenue of the following concessional deductions are as set out below: -

Re (a) and (b). Separate figures are not available for claims for spouse only or for one child under sixteen years of age only.

Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act

Mr Whitlam:

m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. Why does Statement No. 4, annexed to his 1956 budget speech, give the commencing date of the age pension as 1st July, 1909, when a proclamation signed by Andrew Fisher on 1st April, 1909, fixed 15th April, 1909, as the day upon which the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act should commence?
  2. Why does the statement give the commencing date of the invalid pension as 15th December, 1909, when a proclamation signed on behalf of Andrew Fisher on 18th November, 1910, fixed 19th November, 1910, as the date upon which Part IV. (Invalid Pensions) of the act should come into operation?
Sir Arthur Fadden:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. Thursday, 15th April, 1909, was fixed by proclamation as the day upon which the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908 should commence. Old-age pensions were actually paid from 1st July, 1909.
  2. Saturday, 19th November, 1910, was fixed by proclamation as the day upon which Part IV. (relating to Invalid Pensions) of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908-1909 should come into operation. Invalid pensions were actually paid from 15th December, 1910, and this date should be shown in Statement No. 4 as the commencing date for invalid pension.

Nationalization of Resources of Undeveloped Countries

Mr Kent Hughes:

s asked the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -

  1. Did the United Nations Assembly in 1952 pass a resolution declaring that undeveloped countries had the right to nationalize the resources within their own boundaries?
  2. If so, what was the wording of the resolution?
  3. Did the United States of America delegation propose an amendment to the resolution to the effect that if such course of action was taken, treaty rights of individuals and nations and the principles of international law should be respected?
  4. If so, what was the wording of the amendment?
  5. How didGreat Britain and Australia vote on the resolution and amendment?
  6. What was the voting for and against on both the resolution and the amendment?
Sir Philip McBride:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. A draft resolution was introduced into the Economic Committee of the United Nations

General Assembly in 1952 by the Uruguay delega tion which, amongst other things, recommended that member states “ should recognize the right of each country to nationalize and freely exploit its natural wealth as an essential factor of economic independence “. However, following discussion in the Committee, the draft resolution was revised by its sponsors (Uruguay and Bolivia delegations) to omit the specific referenceto nationalization.

  1. The resolution ultimately adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 21st December, 1952, entitled “Right to exploit freely natural wealth and resources “, reads as follows: -

The General Assembly,

Bearing in mind the need for encouraging the under-developed countries in the proper use and exploitation of their natural wealth and resources,

Considering that the economic development of the under-developed countries is one of the fundamental requisites for the strengthening of universal peace.

Remembering that the right of peoples freely to use and exploit their natural wealth and resources is inherent in their sovereignty and is in accordance with the Purposes and Principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

  1. Recommends all Member States in the exercise of their right freely to use and exploit their natural wealth and resources wherever deemed desirable by them for their own progress and economic development, to have due regard, consistently with their sovereignty, to the need for maintaining the flow of capital in conditions of security. mutual confidence and economic co-operation among nations;
  2. Further recommends all Member States to refrain from acts, direct or indirect, designed to impede the exercise of the sovereignty of any State over its natural resources.

    1. In the Economic Committee, the delegation of the United States of America did propose amendments to the draft resolution after it had been revised and the references to nationalization had been omitted.
    2. If the amendments proposed by the United States had been agreed to, the following paragraphs would have appeared instead of the paragraphs numbered (1) and (2) in the resolution finally adopted: -

Bearing in mind the need to maintain mutual understanding and economic cooperation between the nations of the world:

Recommends that Member States maintain proper respect for the right of each country freely to decide for itself whether its progress and economic development can best be furthered by having its natural wealth and resources developed by private initiative or by government enterprise or by both;

Recommends further that when countries decide that it is beneficial to their progress and economic development that they should themselves use and exploit some or all of their natural wealth and resources, member States should refrain from consequential action of a nature contrary to the principles of international law and practices, and to the provisions of international agreements;

Recommends further that countries deciding to develop their natural wealth and resources should refrain from taking action, contrary to the applicable principles of international law and practice and to the provisions of international agreements, against the rights or interests of nationals of other Member States in the enterprise, skills, capital, arts or technology which they have supplied.

  1. In the Economic Committee, the United States amendments were defeated. The United Kingdom delegation voted in favour, the Australian delegation abstained. In the committee, both the United Kingdom and the Australian delegations abstained from voting on the resolution adopted. In the plenary session of the Assembly, the United Kingdom voted against the resolution adopted, and Australia abstained.
  2. The voting on the United States amendment was: In favour, 17; against, 28; abstentions, 5. The voting on the resolution adopted was: In committee - In favour, 31; against, 1; abstentions, 19. In the plenary session - In favour, 38; against, 4; abstentions, 20.

Diplomatic Service

Mr Bryant:

t asked the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -

  1. Does the department receive reports from officers overseas on the internal conditions of countries in relation to all aspects of government, social conditions and the like?
  2. Does the department compile information on countries in which Australia is not directly represented by officers of the department?
  3. Is this information compiled as an academic exercise, or for the use of the Australian people, including members of this Parliament?
  4. If the information referred to is compiled, will he give further consideration to his answer to the question of which I gave notice on 23rd October with reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
Sir Philip McBride:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes.
  3. Information on internal conditions in countries overseas is obtained primarily for guidance in the formulation of the Government’s foreign policy.
  4. In my answer to the honorable members question on 25th October, I stated that a compilation of evidence of practices which fall below the principles stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was not available. Since the principles concerned cover almost every aspect of human activity in every country in the world it is, perhaps, not surprising that no such compilation has been attempted. However, should the honorable member be interested in the more positive aspect of the question, I would refer him to the Year Book of Human Rights published by the United Nations, which reports progress in implementing the principles of the Universal Declaration both in member States and in non-members of the United Nations.

Capital Punishment in the Territories.

Mr Bryant:

t asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -

  1. What crimes are punishable by death in each of the Territories?
  2. When and for what crimes has the death sentence been (a) pronounced; and (b) carried our in each of the Territories?
Mr Hasluck:
Minister for Territories · CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) The Northern Territory: Murder, treason, piracy and attempt to commit murder. (b) Papua and New Guinea: Wilful murder, treason, piracy, attempted piracy with personal violence, rape (New Guinea only), rape upon European female and attempted rape upon European female (Papua only). (c) Norfolk Island: Murder, attempt to murder, rape, carnally knowing a girl under the age of ten years, certain offences against vessels which create danger to human life. (d) Nauru: Treason, piracy, attempted piracy with personal violence, wilful murder, rape. (e) Cocos (Keeling) Islands: The Singapore penal code, which is the basic criminal law of this Territory, provides the death penalty for murder, abetment of suicide of a child or insane person and for certain other offences which may be regarded as having application in Singapore rather than in the different circumstances and conditions of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

  1. As early records for all territories are not available, the following information, except where otherwise indicated, is in respect of the period since the end of World War II. (a) The Northern Territory - (i) Bert Kite convicted of murder and death sentence pronounced 18th October, 1948; subsequently commuted to life imprisonment. (ii) Donald James McFarlane convicted of murder and death sentence pronounced 13th March, 1951; subsequently commuted to imprisonment for twenty years. (iii) Jan Novolny and Jaroslav Koci convicted of murder and death sentence pronounced 12th June, 1952; carried out 7th August, 1952. (b) Papua and New Guinea: (i) Death sentences pronounced total 48 as follows: - 1947, 6; 1948, 2; 1949, 5; 1950, 3; 1951, 1; 1952, 2; 1954, 29.

    1. Crimes: Wilful murder, 42; attempted rape on European female, 5; rape on European female, 1;
    2. Sentences in (i) commuted to varying terms of imprisonment with the exception of one death sentence imposed in August, 1954, for wilful murder and carried out in December, 1954. (c) Norfolk Island: Nil. (d) Nauru: Nil. (e) Cocos (Keeling) Islands: Nil under Australian Administration (commenced 1955).

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 November 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.