22nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether the Australian Government, acting alone or in cooperation with any other government, has referred the dispute regarding the Gulf of Aqaba and the Suez Canal to the United Nations. Has the Government decided on any positive action of that kind? If not, is the Government considering such action, or does it propose to allow the dispute to become more and more acute during a further period of three months?
– There is no immediate, or even any, proposal that Australia, either alone or with any other country, should take the lead in this matter of bringing the Middle East disputes before the Security Council of the United Nations. The position is that the Government of the United States of America, through its accredited representatives in Cairo, has been engaging in a series of talks with the Egyptian authorities during the last week or ten days. Those discussions have not yet reached any definitive point, although, as I think I said in answer to a question last week. I personally believe that they do not appear to show any very great prospect of what would be internationally regarded as success. I would think that the best policy is to allow those talks to continue to whatever end may be achieved. After that, as I said last week, I would expect that the matter would have to go back in some form or other to the United Nations, and probably, in the first place, to the Security Council. I give this opinion as a result of a consideration of what I believe is an almost inevitable prospect. To answer the right honorable gentleman’s question precisely. Australia has not, either by itself or with any other country, made any positive move towards bringing the matter before the Security Council.
– France was the nation mentioned.
– I know that France has been mentioned, but there is no truth in that rumour. We are in constant discussion by telegram with our principal friends in this matter, putting forward suggestions that we believe to be useful. As I say, however, we are not making any positive move; nor would 1 expect that Australia would take the lead in this matter, even if it reaches the stage of a reference to the Security Council.
– Can the Minister for Supply give the House any information as to the likely period of retention, for the purposes of the Department of Supply, of 131 acres of land on a 37-acre public reserve in Melbourne known as Debney’s paddock? Is the Minister aware that this land has been set aside as parkland, and that if certain pressures are successful the public may lose this land for all time? Industrial concerns have encroached on this reserve, and I ask the Minister whether he considers that removal of the Department of Supply buildings would help prevent the permanent filching by industrial concerns of parkland which could, in years to come, be an invaluable asset to the people of Melbourne.
– I recognize immediately that mention of this subject touches a responsive chord in certain Melbournian hearts. I do not identify the piece of land occupied by my department under the name of Debney’s paddock, and I have not the details of it in my mind, but I can appreciate the view that parklands should be reserved as such wherever practicable. I will have the matter investigated and give the honorable member as satisfactory and quick a reply as I can in the circumstances.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry been drawn to statements from various sources that there is a crisis in the egg industry and that eggs might be dumped? If this is the position, will the Minister take immediate action to see that such a wicked and wasteful procedure is prevented and that surplus eggs are made available for distribution amongst undernourished pensioners and other people who are in want? Further, will the Minister see that these eggs are distributed to hospitals, both government and private, and to old folks’ homes?
– At least since I have been Minister for Primary Industry I have been interested in this problem of egg production in Australia, particularly in view of the fact that in recent months the United Kingdom was producing eggs on such a large scale that it appeared probable that it would develop an export surplus. At the last meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council I had the matter placed on the agenda and it was then discussed.
– Why did the Minister not have it laid on the table?
– On one hand we have an apparently serious question from an honorable member, dealing with a serious problem, and, on the other, a foolish remark which suggests that another honorable member does not take the matter seriously at all.
Mr. Ward interjecting,
– The honorable member for East Sydney finds the matter of jovial concern. I know he is one of those who has experienced rotten eggs, but nevertheless he might have the courtesy to let this very important problem be dealt with in a serious fashion in this House.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order! The House will come to order.
– I ask the Opposition whether it takes this matter seriously. My department has consistently been telling the State Departments of Agriculture that this problem has to be taken very seriously indeed. Some time ago help was given in connexion with what is called a poultry improvement plan. In other words an attempt was made to reduce the cost of production of eggs. I personally gave approval for three or four experts to be sent overseas in order to learn the latest methods of egg production and to see what could be done about egg distribution. The Commonwealth Government has not very great powers for dealing with this matter. Powers reside almost completely with the State governments. Therefore, 1 say to the honorable member for Grey - and he should know this as well as I do - that if the question is to be raised of gifts to hospitals, elderly people, and those in need, the problem should be posed to the State governments, and they should be asked to solve it. The New South Wales Egg Board has taken the initiative in this matter and only yesterday one of its experts returned from a trip to Malaya and Singapore, where it is hoped there will be a market for Australian eggs. The industry itself must become more active in trying to sell in markets other than the United Kingdom, because that is the only way this problem can be satisfactorily solved.
– Did the Minister for Primary Industry inform the annual conference of the New South Wales division of the Australian Primary Producers Union that Australian farmers had to do more thinking and planning to keep production costs down? Is it a fact that our primary industries provide the bulk of our overseas credits, which finance imports for secondary industries and so contribute substantially to the economic welfare of the Australian community? If the answers to those two questions are in the affirmative, will he take the earliest opportunity to address, along similar lines, those comprising that sector of the Australian economy whose increased costs adversely affect the primary industries, so that more thinking and planning by them may reduce costs to the primary producers?
– That is a very fair question. I am responsible, administratively, for the primary industries. Therefore, when I had the opportunity of speaking to the Australian Primary Producers Union on Friday, I took the line that, in an increasingly competitive economy, it is essential that quality be maintained. I venture to say that the representatives of the Australian Primary Producers’ Union were wholeheartedly behind me in what 1 said. It so happened that various other speakers who preceded me adopted a similar line. I think that the statement made in the second part of the honorable member’s question was correct. In an expanding economy such as ours we need expanding rural production, because the rural industries are the main source of our overseas funds. We have hopes that, in the future, we shall be able to keep costs down, because primary industries, being competitive internationally, have to have low costs if they are to be successful. The honorable gentleman has asked whether I will direct similar comments to the secondary industries. I will not do that. I have sufficient difficulty in handling my own portfolio.
– If you, Mr. Speaker, have been in the Queen’s Hall, Melbourne - the entrance to the Victorian State Parliament House - you will have been Impressed by its dignity and elegance, largely contributed to by the few but magnificent works of art that adorn its walls. Will you consult with the President of another place with the object of replacing the portraits, good and bad. of famous and not so famous, handsome and not so handsome, politicians that adorn the walls of the King’s Hall by some few dignified and elegant paintings depicting the beauties of the Australian countryside? If you do not do this in time, you will be confronted, probably, by your own portrait glaring at you from the walls.
– I will give consideration to the question raised by the honorable member.
– Can the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization give any information about the method of prevention of evaporation of standing water which was recently developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization?
– I shall be glad to do so. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, a year or two ago, evolved what has become known as the Mansfield method. It is named after a scientist in the Industrial Chemistry Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization at Fishermen’s Bend. This has resulted in the possibility of formidable reductions of the evaporation of standing water in Australia. In the last year at least, the Mansfield system has been applied - I think in all parts of Australia - to small areas of standing water of up to about two acres. I think it has been outstandingly successful, particularly in the hotter parts of Australia, where evaporation is frequently very great. Until lately, there has been difficulty in discovering a method of applying the process to large areas of standing water, such as are used bv water supply authorities in various parts of Australia. Now a method has been evolved. It has been tried out over the last few months at Broken Hill by the Broken Hill Water Board and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. The water storage area for Broken Hill ‘ covers about 1,000 acres. Over three or four months the application of the Mansfield method has resulted in the saving of about 200.000,000 gallons of waterenough to last the town of Broken Hill for about six weeks in the heat of the summer. That represents a decrease in evaporation of about 37 per cent. That figure has been agreed between the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Broken Hill Water Board as representing the approximate result that has been achieved. The chemical that is used for this purpose is called hexadecanol. It is a derivative of sperm whale oil, and is quite cheap. Only very small amounts are needed. It is completely tasteless and harmless to both humans and stock. I regard this discovery as of first-class importance. It has attracted notice in many other parts of the world. Indeed, my mail has been made almost hideous by an influx of letters from the United States of America, South Africa, India and other places. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has produced a pamphlet on the subject, which 1 shall be glad to send to any honorable member who happens to be interested. I believe that this process has a great potential, particularly, perhaps, for the water supply authorities of the towns and cities of Australia, because it will extend the life of existing water supplies and probably save those authorities considerable capital expenditure in the provision of additional water supplies as the population dependent on them increases. At a very modest estimate, and in the very broadest terms, the value of the Mansfield process to Australia can be put at some tens of millions of pounds a year at least, and, of course, at a vastly greater amount for the world. I believe that this process, which has been evolved by a not very senior officer of the Industrial Chemistry Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization at Fishermen’s Bend, will rank with some of the great achievements of the organization from the stand-point of its economic value to Australia and the world.
– Is the Minister for Social Services aware that, because of the Government’s failure to put value back into the £1, as it promised to do prior to the elections, great hardship and suffering are being suffered by age and invalid pensioners, widows and other persons dependent on social services? In view of this fact, Wi the Minister give consideration to bringing before the Parliament immediately a bill to provide for a substantial increase of all pensions in order to relieve the distress caused by the Government’s disastrous financial policy?
– If the honorable member knew his own business, he would know that, year by year and budget by budget, social services benefits have been increased and expanded by the present Government to meet changing circumstances. That has never happened under any previous government. In addition, year by year, the means test has been liberalized in order to extend these benefits to a greater range of people. Even further, social services generally have been expanded to include all sorts of services that were deemed by this government’s predecessors to be utterly impossible.
– I desire to address a question to the Minister for the Navy. Thi question is: What is the present position in relation to the De Havilland Sea Venom jet aircraft of the Royal Australian Navy? Are they available for operational service?
– A few weeks ago, I stated in this House that, as a precautionary measure, the Sea Venom aircraft had been temporarily grounded as the result of a report received from the Royal Navy about a slight defect that had developed in the catapult gear with which they were fitted, and that they would be thoroughly inspected before further use. 1 shall this afternoon issue a press statement which will state that, following inspection, these aircraft will be in operation with No. 808 squadron from Nowra, but that, for the time being. until we receive further reports from the Royal Navy about the extent of its investigations the Sea Venoms will not be returned to H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “, which is at present in other waters.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether, in 1949, wheat was produced at 7s. Id. a bushel and sold at that figure. Is it a fact that, in 1949, the present Prime Minister promised the people of Australia that costs would be stabilized and value put back into the £1? Is it a fact that now, in 1957, the cost of production of wheat is in the vicinity of 13s. 2d. a bushel, and the home-consumption price 14s. Hd. a bushel? As wheat is the basic feed used in the poultry industry, is not the high home-consumption price the real reason why Australian egg-producers are now in such dire difficulty?
– The honorable gentleman has posed four separate questions. I cannot remember the position in 1949, when his government was ignominiously thrown out of office because it had lost the confidence of the Australian people.
– Do not be spiteful!
– The honorable member has asked questions and he had better be given the answer. His government was thrown out of office and the figures at each succeeding election have shown that the confidence of the Australian people in Labour and its leaders has continued to degenerate. I do not remember the 1949 wheat figures, but I do know that wheat is selling well to-day and that the price is the equivalent of, or slightly more than, the cost of production. It was feared that unduly high stocks might build up, but I am glad to be able to say that we now hope they will be reduced by the end of next season to about 40,000.000 bushels, which is a fairly satisfactory level for Australia The present difficulty in sellin” eggs is not wholly assosiated with the problem of costs. It is rather associated with the fact that European countries, particularly the United Kingdom, are also producing eggs and that within the last three months the United Kingdom has become an exporter. So it is a question of overproduction in other parts of the world rather than, fundamentally, one of costs in this country, although they are of great importance. This is an important problem, as the honorable gentleman knows, and I take ii very seriously because it concerns Australian primary producers. I do give him my assurance that, with the State Ministers for Agriculture, we are watching the problem and will do what we can to help find a solution.
– 1 ask the Minister for Primary Production whether his attention has been drawn to figures produced by the Commonwealth Statistician showing the serious impact of the shortage of potatoes, and, to a lesser extent, of onions, upon the basic wage. Has he also noted in regard to the problem of the egg industry, which has been raised previously this afternoon, that from time to time price rises tend to curtail consumption of this health-giving food? If so, will the Minister, who is interested in disposing of our eggs at a price which the consumer can pay, and which is also profitable to the producer, confer with his Treasury colleagues, and any other relevant department, with a view to ascertaining whether it would not be wise and expedient to pay a subsidy, guaranteeing the home-consumption price, so that this healthgiving food may be used more freely? This would not only remove the surplus and improve the health of the community, but also would be a means of stabilizing the basic wage.
-! think it is well known to this House that, unfortunately, the influence of potatoes and onions on recent changes in the C series index and, therefore, in some States, on the basic wage, was greater than its importance warranted. As a result, the Commonwealth Statistician decided to publish two separate indices, one taking potatoes and onions into consideration and one leaving them out. It was hoped that, by this means, the facts would become known and people would learn what the impact of potatoes and onions on the C series index was. As to the future, a thorough review of the problem of the supply of potatoes has, within the course of the last few months, been carried out by the Department of Primary Industry. I think it shows that there may be a slight shortage later this year. Action is being taken, therefore, to see whether that shortage can be avoided. Should the honorable gentleman want to see that report 1 shall be only too happy to make it available for him. As to the subsidization of eggs, I can tell the honorable gentleman that this question of subsidies has received frequent consideration by the Government in the past; and it has been thought not to be a wise method of stabilizing costs as it does not touch causes, and, therefore, has not been accepted as a matter of principle. I shall see that the matter that the honorable gentleman has raised is discussed with my colleague, and I will make certain that that discussion takes place shortly.
– 1 direct to the Minister for Defence Production a series of questions on guided rockets. Has Australia embarked on an expensive programme of defence employing supersonic guided rockets? Has a decision been made to import United States-manufactured rockets produced by the Douglas aircraft company? What is the cos; of the Uni e 1 Slates weapons, and how does the cost and quality of those weapons compare with those of similar weapons available from the United Kingdom? Has any consideration been given to the prospect of producing a suitable long-range rocket in Australia instead of importing such weapons from the United States?
– I am afraid the honorable gentleman’s questions are based on the. purest - or impures - press speculation. No decisions of the kind that he has indicated have been made, and therefore most of the content of his questions falls to the ground. I shall have inquiries made oh as much of his questions as is still above ground, and let the honorable gentleman have a reply.
– Has the Minister for Supply seen a report that radio-active fish are presumed to have caused terrifying new diseases among Pacific Island natives in the Marshall Islands and Tahiti, who are stated to be suffering from incurable skin diseases as the result of eating fish which travelled from areas where United States atomic weapons were tested last year? Is there any truth in this report and, if so. what are the chances of radio-active fish finding their way into Australian waters?
– Answering the last part of the honorable gentleman’s question first, there are no chances of that happening. As to the report he mentions, I am afraid it may be described as a “ fishy story “, if he will permit me to put it that way. I have seen that report he mentions. I also saw in the newspapers on the following day a comment from the Alliance Francaise in Paris rather suggesting that the gentleman who made the statement contained in the report did not have the scientific qualifications that he either purported to have or that the newspapers which published the first report apparently assumed he had. I suspect that the story is a furphy, but 1 will examine all the aspects of it that are worth examination and let the honorable gentleman have a reply.
– I direct to the Minister for Trade a question further to previous questions asked about the Tariff Board’s inquiry into the wool and worsted industry. Will the right honorable gentleman say how much longer the Government intends to withhold this document from the Parliament?
– I think that there has been undue delay in making the report available.
– Far too much.
– I think that is a fair criticism. The matter is under consideration now, and I shall see that there is no avoidable delay in making the report available.
– I ask a question of the Minister of External Affairs regarding a statement made in the American press at the week-end to the effect that American pressure was being brought to bear on France and Australia to influence them to drop their plan to bring the Suez Canal issue again before the Security Council. If this is correct, will the Minister explain on what grounds this decision has been arrived at?
– I am not conscious of any such pressure. Indeed, there has not been any pressure exerted on Australia, nor, for that matter, have we received any communication designed to the end that the honorable gentleman suggests. In fact, if I might refer back to an answer I gave in reply to a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition. Australia has no proposal, either by itself or in conjunction with others, to bring this matter to the Security Council, lt may come to the Security Council in due course, but not at our instance. It is not in the ordinary tenor of things for the United States to bring pressure to bear on us or, I should believe, on any one else, to deter us from any point of view that we may think fit to go ahead with. But in this case there is no truth in the rumour at all.
– Will the Minister for the Interior consider granting a benefit, by way of reduced rental, to tenants of government homes in Canberra who are ex-servicemen and the recipients of total and permanent incapacity pensions, where they have no other income and where there is no adult wage-earner in the household? In considering this question, will the Minister have regard to the sacrifice made by these men for their country, and will he also have regard to the fact that some ablebodied public servants, employees of the Commonwealth, receive very substantial benefit by way of rental reductions in the Territory?
– I can only assure the honorable gentleman that I shall look into policy aspect of the question raised by him and let him have some comment.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry in a position to say what progress is being made in selling Australian wheat and what prospect there is of an early further payment to growers?
– I have stated to the House - and I intended the honorable gentleman to know this too - that there has been considerable progress in selling Australian wheat. I cannot remember the exact figures, but I did say that it was thought that, if the present rate of sales kept up, by the end of next season, instead of having a carryover of. say, 110.000.000 bushels, it would probably be down to 40,000.000 bushels. However. I shall obtain accurate figures for the honorable gentleman and give them to him. As to the second part of the question. I do not know the precise answer, but again, this is one of the questions to which I shall get answers, and I will let him have them as soon as question time is over.
– On Tuesday last, in the absence of the Minister for Trade, 1 asked ihe Prime Minister a question relative to the recent relaxing of import restrictions. The Prime Minister was unable to supply the details I required, and 1 now direct a question to the Minister for Trade: Can the right honorable gentleman inform the House what portion ot the £75,000,000 is to be used for the establishment of new quotas? If no arrangements have been made to assist small firms and individuals who have been endeavouring for years to establish a quota, will the Minister explain the reasons why no action has been taken in this regard? Is it the intention of the Government to perpetuate the iniquitous practice, which has become common since import restrictions were introduced, of firms and individuals without licences being forced to purchase quotas from existing licence-holders at premiums ranging from 5 per cent, to 20 per cent.? Does the right honorable gentleman appreciate that the failure of some firms and individuals to obtain their own quota is causing extreme hardship, loss of business and the dismissal of staff? Is it the intention of the Government to protect existing importers rather than to encourage the entry into the importing field of manufacturers? Finally, will the Minister give immediate instructions to his departmental officers to issue import licences to applicants who are able to prove that the lack of a quota is seriously affecting the efficient conduct of their business?
– The honorable member will realize on reflection, I am sure, that if it were possible to direct the officers of the Department of Trade to issue an import licence quota whenever a case was established, then, by implication, sufficient overseas exchange funds would be available to permit import licensing to be lifted altogether. The very fact that import licensing exists indicates that sufficient overseas funds are not available to satisfy all who legitimately, in the circumstances of their business, need a quota, an increased quota or a special licence. That is the very essence of the matter and the basic, unhappy fact. It is the very core of import licensing. The relaxations that have been recently announced are as great as the Government feels can safely be approved at the present time. The additional £75,000,000 of licensing money, so to speak, will be issued od the lines that were broadly indicated in public statements made by the Prime Minister and by myself. Within that amount, e sum has been set aside, as I have said in the House, for the purpose of meeting the needs of some companies which are in anomalous circumstances, such as those portrayed in principle by the honorable member in his question. There is a sum of money, and there is a policy to ensure that some of the anomalies will be adjusted, but I cannot say that any one who proves the existence of an anomaly in his case will be fixed up. If I could say that, there would be no need for us to continue import licensing - and, believe me, the Government will not continue import licensing for a day longer than is necessary.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Is the Cowra Immigrant Camp now available for disposal? If so, can the Minister indicate whether he will call the Cowra Municipal Council into conference so that the facilities existing in the camp, such as roads, water and electricity, Wil not be destroyed and lost, but will be retained and used to the best national advantage?
– It is quite true thai the Cowra Immigrant Centre has recently been passed to the Department of the Interior for disposal. The prime responsibility of the department, of course, Wil be to preserve the Commonwealth interest in the property. If that can be done without destroying the local interest, if I may call it that, we would be most happy to oblige. I know that the previous owner and the municipal authorities are both interested in the disposal, and I suggest that perhaps the honorable gentleman might call them into conference. If they can present a plan that would preserve both the local and the Commonwealth interests, we will be happy to consider it.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. Will the Minister inform the House whether there is any substance in reports that non-commissioned officers and airmen of the Royal Australian Air Force have imposed a beer strike by refusing to purchase draught beer in their messes, because of an increase in the price of a 7-oz. glass from 9d. to 10d., compared with an increase from 7d. to 9d. for a 7-oz. glass in the officers’ messes? Has the Royal Australian Air Force head-quarters been informed that, because of the strike, a drop in morale of non-commissioned officers and airmen has been noticeable in the past few weeks? If the answers to these questions are in the affirmative, will the Minister take action to remove the causes of dissatisfaction and restore the morale of this important arm of the nation’s defence forces to its previous high standard?
– I am aware of some difficulties about the price being charged for beer in canteens of the Royal Australian Air Force. The matter is being closely considered by the Air Board and by the management of the canteen service. I have no doubt that action will be taken to consider this matter and to act as wisdom determines. As for the honorable member’s further suggestion, that the morale of the Royal Australian Air Force is greatly affected by this matter, let me say that I have much more respect for the personnel of the Royal Australian Air Force than to imagine that their morale depends upon the price of beer.
– Is the Minister for External Affairs, in his capacity as Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, aware that a commercial detergent known under the trade name of Tepol increases the wetting properties of water to a marked degree, and is most advantageous in fire fighting, but that it has the disadvantage of being likely to corrode iron tanks and render the water in them unsuitable for human consumption? Has he been informed that recently the company responsible for its production has produced in limited quantities a new chemical which overcomes the two disadvantages that I have mentioned, although one pint of this new chemical will still double, for fire fighting, the efficiency of 1.000 gallons of water? If the Minister is not aware of these facts, will he make inquiries concerning them, with a view to having the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization assist in the manufacture of this chemical and ensure its wide distribution in country and sparsely settled areas, so that fire fighters in those areas will have a much better chance of overcoming our great enemy, the bush fire?
– I regret to say that I am without information on this subject. I shall certainly look into the matter and give the honorable member a reply.
– Is the Treasurer aware that on 27th March 1 put a question on the notice-paper, asking that the Government explore the possibilities of providing increased finance for housing? As the number of houses under construction annually has fallen from 80,000 to 60,000 while this Government has been in office, will the Treasurer take steps, before the Parliament rises at the end of this week, to see what can be done to provide increased finance for housing, which undoubtedly would not have an inflationary effect on the building industry?
– Did I understand the honorable member to say that there is a question on the notice-paper concerning this matter?
– Then I shall inquire into it and see that the honorable member receives an early reply.
– Will the Minister for Immigration inform the House of the proportion of British immigrants in the total number of immigrants brought to Australia since 1945? Is it anticipated that this proportion will increase under the proposed scheme for the next financial year? Is Australia still attracting more British immigrants than other British Commonwealth countries such as Canada? My final question refers to immigrants from all countries. Is it a fact that the proportion of new Australians skilled in certain trades is greater than the proportion of Australians in the total Australian population who are skilled in those trades? If this is so, can the Minister give the House the respective proportions?
– The number of immigrants brought into Australia since 1945 is, roughly, 1,150,000. Of these, 550,000 have been British nationals. As to the honorable member’s second question, regarding the increase in the proportion, it is a bit early to give an answer, but there is every indication that the numbers will increase this year. As I have told the House previously, the chief limiting factor is the provision of shipping for the purpose of bringing the immigrants to Australia. Recently, we have been negotiating for the use of another vessel, and we feel that our negotiations will be successful. If so, we shall have another ship to bring British people to this country, and that will, of course, increase the intake of British immigrants. At this stage I would say that there is a great possibility of a significant increase in the number of British immigrants this year. The honorable member’s next question had regard to the number of British immigrants going to different countries in the British Commonwealth. Australia has, for some time past, attracted far more immigrants than Canada; in fact, it has attracted more immigrants than Canada and New Zealand put together. As to the honorable member’s final question, for every 100 immigrants who come to Australia, 86 dependants also come to this country. For every 100 of natural population increase in Australia there are 424 dependants. Of the immigrants, 52 per cent, are workers, whilst only 41 per cent, of the Australian population are workers. Skilled workers among the immigrants are in the proportion of 21 per cent., compared with 16 per cent, in the Australian population.
– I table the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, covering the activities of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board up to 30th June, 1955. This is done in pursuance of section 58 (1) (a) of the Stevedoring Industry Act 1956, which requires the authority to furnish a report on the operations of the board which formerly functioned in this field, for the year ended 30th June, 1956. It will be seen that the report is quite factual. This was to be expected since the authority is reporting on a year of activity for which it did not exercise responsibility.
Honorable members will find much to interest them in the report, but I would direct their attention to two particular aspects. The first is the unhappy record during the year 1955-56 of time lost in the stevedoring industry through disputes. The total man-hours thus lost amounted to 8.6 per cent, of the total man-hours worked. Indeed, more time was lost as a result of wharf disputes in tha year than in any other year since the end of World War 11.
– 1 rise to order. I under stood that the Minister intended to table the report. If he wishes to make a statement he must obtain leave.
– I suggest that the Minister be good enough to move that the document be printed, so that the right of subsequent discussion may be reserved.
– I shall do that. Originally, I had intended to make a rather longer statement, but, knowing that we shall be discussing the general question of transport as a matter of urgency, t decided to make only a few remarks when tabling this document.
– I suggest that the Minister be no longer heard. He is merely pick ing out certain aspects of the report that suit his purposes. I could pick out many parts that suit my case.
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor must cease interjecting.
– The time lost for the balance of the year 1956. i.e., from 1st July, was also very high, amounting to 5.7 per cent, of the hours worked. Some improvement occurred in the last quarter of 1956, and that continued into the first quarter of 1957.
The second matter is the decline in the carriage of general interstate cargoes by sea transport. The report now presented gives some interesting figures for Sydney and Melbourne. These appear on page 10 of the report, and, at my request, the authority has projected them to the end of 1956. Those details are attached to the paper I am now presenting.’ The later figures show a continuing decline in the tonnage of interstate cargo loaded and discharged i!t Sydney and Melbourne.
Copies of the report can be obtained by honorable members from the Clerk of the Papers.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
Stevedoring Industry Act - Australian Stevedor- ing Industry Authority - First annual report on operations of Stevedoring Industry Board, together with financial accounts, for year 1955-56.
Ministerial Statement by Minister for Labour and National Service regarding the Report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, and move -
That the Ministerial Statement be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Ward) adjourned.
Department of the Interior Acquisitions Programme - Treasury Minutes on Reports.
– As chairman, I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee: -
Twenty-Seventh Report - Department of the Interior: Acquisitions Programme; together with Treasury Minutes on the Seventeenth and Twentieth Reports of the Committee.
I also present the minutes of evidence taken by the committee in connexion with this report. The Treasury minutes are interesting, because they indicate what the Treasury has been able to do regarding the recommendations which have been made on a number of miscellaneous matters. They are attached to the seventeenth report and the Treasury minute on the twentieth report deals with the recommendation made by the committee in relation to supplementary estimates. The report will be circulated immediately, but the evidence will be available only to honorable members who ask for it.
Ordered to be printed.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be given to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) on the ground of ill health.
– I move - (1.) That Mr. Downer, Mr. Drummond. Mr. Joske, Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes, Mr. Lucock, Mr. Mackinnon, Mr. Timson and Mr. Wentworth be members of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs. (2.) That, until such time as the five remaining vacancies for members of the House of Reresentativeson this committee are filled by members of the Opposition, Mr. Chaney, Mr. Failes, Mr. Turner, Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Wight be members of the committee. (3.) That the foregoing resolution be communicated to the Senate by message.
Perhaps 1 might be allowed to say in explanation of this resolution that the Government is again adopting its procedure of a year ago by appointing eight permanent members and five temporary - i hope - members from our side of the House to the Foreign Affairs Committee. The temporarymembers will serve until such time as the Opposition chooses to elect its own members to the committee. It is necessary for me to say very little more on this subject. Of course, it suits the two parties supporting the Government for the present position to continue, because an appreciably greater number of our members have the privilege and opportunity of acquiring the knowledge that membership of the Foreign Affairs Committee brings with it. However, that might be regarded as a selfish interest. I believe the national interest demands that the Opposition reconsider its attitude towards membership of the Foreign Affairs Committee. I say no more on that. I do not believe it is necessary to argue the matter. I just draw to the attention of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) the situation as it exists and beg leave to hope that before long - I hope very soon - the Opposition will elect to join in the Foreign Affairs Committee.
– I do not propose to take more than a few minutes. This is an appointment of personnel to a committee, and I rise only because the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has again suggested that the Opposition should join this committee. He knows the reasons for our decision on that matter. If there was any hope of the Government taking a modern and realist view of international affairs the Opposition might change its attitude. Then work could be done together. 1 do not wish again to enter into a general debate on foreign policy. There are great issues on whichI think we are opposed. We are in favour of the recognition of China and the admission of China to the United Nations. The actual view of the Government I do not know.I suppose it is divided).But that is an illustration. It is very difficult to work in co-operation on a committee on foreign affairs when there are basic differences. I do not want to speak on this matter with any heat. I will re-submit the right honorable gentleman’s view to my colleagues and if at any time in the future there is a change of Government policy or if my colleagues decide to join this committee, I shall inform the right honorable gentleman and meet his request.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I have received from the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) an intimation that he desires to submit a definite matter of urgent public importance to the House for discussion, namely -
The failure of the Government to take any action in the direction of correcting the existing transport anomalies arising out of which an unnecessary and undue burden is continuously imposed on the national economy. is the proposal supported?
Eight honorable members having risen in support of the proposal,
.- The Labour Opposition, in making this question of transport a matter of extreme urgency, feels that if the Government does not bestir itself in regard to Australia’s transport problem this country will be faced with a crisis that could do irreparable harm to our economy. I draw the attention of the House to the fact that committees from each side of this chamber have already presented reports on this very vital matter to this chamber and that the recommendations contained in those reports on the standardization of certain main railway lines were similar. They provide, in effect, for the linking up of the capital cities of this Commonwealth by a standard-gauge line from Fremantle to Brisbane. Those reports and recommendations were tabled in this House nearly six months ago, but as far as we are aware the Government has not done anything about them. So important are they that I expected to see some reference to them in the Speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, but there was no such reference.
It is true that in the last day or two, since notice of this urgency motion was handed in, we have seen reports suggesting that another committee of Cabinet has been appointed to deal with this subject and bring down a further report. What is the need of another committee? We already have two reports from committees which examined the findings of other transport inquiries, including those made in 1949 and 1921. Now, if the newspaper reports are true, the Government proposes to have another committee to handle this matter. Does that mean there will be another delay of six months before the next report is brought down, and another six months on top of that before the Government does anything further? The Government should cut the curtain of red tape th:it is preventing our . transport problems being tackled. If ever there was an opportunity to do that, that opportunity exists now.
Since the most recent reports were handed down, New South Wales and Victoria have indicated that they agree to the linking of Albury and Melbourne by the standard-gauge line, and they point out that this would save £800,000 a year in the handling of goods alone. The Premier of Western Australia has also indicated his acceptance of the proposed alteration of gauge between Kalgoorlie and Fremantle. The time to act on those reports is now. Men are available, particularly in Western Australia, where there are between 5,000 and 6,000 registered unemployed. Eightyfive per cent, of those men are unskilled workers. Approximately 85 per cent, of the work that is necessary to standardize a rail gauge is unskilled work. What more is wanted? If this work was done it would start the timber mills going in Western Australia again, and the repercussions would foster other industries, so getting Western Australia out of its employment difficulties. That applies also to projects in the other States, particularly in the other two States where the governments have indicated that they are prepared to get on to the job.
An ex-Transport Minister of the Victorian Government said only a short time ago that he believed that all members would agree that there is probably no problem more vital to the stability of the Australian economy than the transport problem. He went on to ask that action be taken to implement the recommendations for gauge standardization made by both of these committees. He did not want a further report He was satisfied with these reports, and the Government should be satisfied also. The Labour party committee’s report does not represent the views only of the committee. It is a report which has been endorsed by all members on this side of the House. It represents the policy of honorable members on this side of the House. It represents the unanimous policy of members of the Labour party throughout the length and breadth of Australia, because it was adopted by the recent Brisbane conference. Consequently, it is binding on every State branch of the Labour party in the Commonwealth.
If we need any support for these recommendations, surely the decisions given in regard to section 92 of the Constitution indicate how important this project is at the present time. No government now has the power to tax or effectively control interstate transport. It has been argued that the interstate road transport operators pay petrol tax, but the damage that their vehicles do to the roads is out of all proportion to the amount of tax that they pay. Some people say that there is fair competition between road transport and rail transport. There is no such fair competition, because, whilst the railways have to construct and maintain their lines, stations, signals and the like, the interstate road hauliers use roads which are provided free by the community and, in the process of using them, destroy them, leaving the community to repair old roads and build new ones. Some reports have suggested that the cost of a heavy-duty road between Sydney and Melbourne would be about £50,000,000. The Government committee has suggested that the cost would be £25,000,000, but it has admitted that heavy maintenance costs would be involved and that the total cost would be prohibitive, having regard to the resources available for the construction of roads in Australia. After all, the Hume Highway is only one of many roads with which we are concerned. If expenditure of that magnitude were undertaken on that highway, it would mean that work on other highways, just as important, would have to be curtailed.
There is a simple method of taking the heavy loads off the roads and putting them on to the railways. The cost, if all the projects that have been recommended were put into operation, would be about £40.000.000. The expenditure on roads has been colossal over the years. The expenditure for the financial year 1954-55 was £84,000,000. From 1933 to 1954, the expenditure was over £600,000,000. The Australian Transport Advisory Council, as the Opposition committee mentioned in its report, suggested that a total of £1,000,000.000 is needed for expenditure on roads over the next ten years. But it went further than that in its latest report, which was published only the other day, and suggested that the minimum amount needed to bring our roads up to the required standard was £1,643,000,000. We shall have a terrific road-building job ahead of us if we do not take the heavy traffic off the roads. The present road building rate is approximately 10,000 miles per annum. It would take 37 years, at the present rate of roadbuilding, to hard-surface the existing road system. So we can see what a colossal job we have ahead of us. The cost of 1 mile of highway averages £50,000, and the cost of maintaining it averages £500 per mile. All these facts show how important it is to get on with the job of providing the missing links necessary to connect the capital cities with a standard-gauge railway.
I want to draw attention to transport costs in Australia, compared with other costs, and then relate them to the costs of transport in other countries. The Australian Transport Advisory Council stated in its 1952 report that transport costs represented 32 per cent, of Australia’s gross domestic expenditure. In 1953-54 the figure was 29 per cent. The latest figure is 33 i. The United Nations Year-book for 1954 showed that in 1953 transport costs represented 10 per cent, of gross domestic expenditure in Canada and the United Kingdom. In the United States of America, they represented 9 per cent, of such expenditure. In 1952, transport costs represented 8 per cent, of gross domestic expenditure in Italy and Japan. In 1951, the figure was 8 per cent, in New Zealand. So it can be seen how important a factor the cost of transport is in Australia. Transport costs represent nearly one-third of all our costs. The cost of everything we do, of everything we wear, of the houses we build, is inflated by onethird by transport costs. The figures speak for themselves, and there is no need for me to go into them at any length. The Government members’ committee suggested that with a standard-gauge line between Sydney and Melbourne the cost of hauling a full truck-load would be less than £5 a ton, and other estimates place the cost as low as £2 10s. a ton, but the present road haulage rate is £7 a ton.
I also want to emphasize how important it is, not only to standardize these lines, but to modernize them and use modern dieselelectric equipment. If the reports of the Commonwealth Railways are analysed, it will be seen how important it is to do that. For instance, in the year 1948-49 the earnings per train mile on the Commonwealth Railways were 20s. 3 id. and the working expenses totalled 23s. 3d. per train mile. In the year 1955-56, despite the doubling of the basic wage and substantially increased margins, the working expenses per train mile had risen only to 27s. 10id., whilst the earnings per train mile had soared to 44s. Hd. So it can be seen how important it is to have a modern railway system of standard gauge. A Tariff Board report dated 23rd August, 1955, states this -
What can be accomplished is shown in the report of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner for the year 1953-54, the first complete year of the use of diesel locomotives only for haulage on the Trans-Australian Railway. The report showed that the cost of operating steam locomotives over the mileage run by diesels would have been £1,063,851, compared wi:h a cost of £230,925 for diesels or, on a mileage basis, 189.21 Id. compared with 41.187d. . . . The Commissioner stated - “The economies effected have more than repaid the capital cost of the locomotives in the last two years alone”.
I emphasize that point so that honorable members will see how important it is that we should do something in this matter. The Tariff Board report of 1946 had this to say about rail transport -
Before the war, the Tariff Board found that costs of interstate transport were sometimes almost, if not quite, as high as costs of transporting competing goods to Australia from the United Kingdom or North America.
What a shocking thing it is to think that our transport costs are so high! The 1955 report states -
A perplexing item of cost in Australia is that of transport . . . now, in spite of the existence of four forms of transport, costs of removing raw materials and goods appear to have increased much more than have the costs of goods generally and of other services.
Because we suggest the standardization of the missing links between the capital cities, we do not say that rail transport is the beginning and end of transport. What we want is a co-ordinated transport system in which each form of transport will play its part - whether sea, road, rail or air. A national plan is wanted. It is the job of this Government to devise such a plan and pave the way for its implementation. Cut through the curtain of red tape and get on with the job! That is why 1 suggest to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), who is now at the table, that there is no sense in appointing another sub-committee to handle this job. Practically unanimous reports on this important matter have been made by committees appointed by the parties on both sides of the House. Many honorable members on both sides support this project, and the Government should get down to the job without any further waste of time. We do not want any more delay. The job is waiting to be done. The men are available to do it, and I am certain that the materials and the money can be found if the Government sets about doing it.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I shall not try to follow the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) by making a purely party political speech. I believe that the subject of transport, which is raised in this proposal, is of very great importance, and, to that ‘ extent, I agree with the Opposition. However, I believe that we shall do better if we examine the problem constructively and try to work as the two committees appointed by the parties on both sides of the Parliament, to which the honorable member referred, attempted to do in the very useful and informative reports that they presented. As to the political charge. I say no more about it. at this stage at any rate, than this: I do not know of any Commonwealth government that has done more in its own sphere, and provided more funds, relative to the general requirements of transport in this country, than the present Government has done during the seven years in which it has held office. That is undeniable.
I suppose that the transport industries are about the most important in Australia. The total cash expenditure on both capital equipment and operations for the domestic transport services in recent years hits been calculated at roughly one-third of the national income. We get some idea of the magnitude of this burden on the Australian economy as a whole when we compare this proportion with the figure of about 10 per cent, other developed countries, including the United States of America. Our expenditure on transport in relation to our resources is therefore very much greater than has to be faced in other parts of the world. Within the transport field, the expenditure on road transport is highest. It amounts to some 70 per cent, of the total. Railways account for IS per cent, to 20 per cent., and sea and air transport, in that order, for the remainder. Various estimates of the transport component in the cost of our finished goods have been made. Again, the figure is very high, and the proportion that is now most commonly accepted is of the order of 30 per cent. So it will readily be perceived that, if we are to make a much-needed attack on the cost problem in Australia in the manner that we all agree to be desirable, an effective programme in relation to transport is vital. This Government has recognized that fact.
Constitutional powers in relation to transport are divided between the Commonwealth and the States. Roads and, except to a small extent, railways are constitutionally within the province of the States, and shipping, including stevedoring, and air transport between States, are within the federal sphere. That is not to say that the Commonwealth should be disinterested in the improvement of roads and railways. On the contrary, the Commonwealth has done a great deal in both fields to aid the States, more particularly in recent years.
Because we recognize the vital importance of transport, and because we see a comprehensive attack on this problem as one of the major tasks that we as a government must undertake in the years ahead, and not by any means in the remote future, we have constituted an important committee of the Cabinet to deal with the matter. It is not, as the honorable member for Stirling seems to imagine, a committee appointed solely to consider the standardization of rail gauges. This Government has more than once considered the problem of standardization, both early in its term and recently. It is quite clear to us, from our examination of that question, that, in order to deal effectively with problems posed by rail standardization, we must at the same time consider the problem of transport as a whole, because desirable and very useful aspects of the standardization of rail gauges may not, at a particular point of time, contribute as much in return for the capital resources devoted to it as would comparable expenditure on the improvement of ports and harbours. I mention that only as an illustration. I do not suggest that one is necessarily exclusive of the other, but it may well be the case - and I believe it is - that, in order to get the best results from a programme for the improvement of transport in Australia, the problem must be dealt with on each of the four fronts - rail, road, sea, and air transport. No one should be concentrated on to the exclusion of the others.
As to road transport, I think it is well known to honorable members that this Government has contributed very considerably in recent years to the financing of road construction. One penny of the increased petrol tax imposed on each gallon of petrol under the little budget of March. 1956. has been paid to the States as part of the Commonwealth’s resistance in the financing of road works. Fo: t:,e financial year 1956-57, it is estimated that .£32,000,0011 will be paid to the States by the Commonwealth out of the petrol tax.
– The Commonwealth is holding millions of pounds for itself.
– As honorable gentlemen opposite seem to want to make a political attack on the Government over this matter, I might remind them that the Commonwealth’s contribution out of the petrol tax in the financial year 1948-49 - the last in which Labour was in office - was £7,700,000, compared with the £32,000,000 that will be provided in the current financial year by this Government.
– What will Victoria receive?
– Time will not permit me to deal with every aspect of this matter in anything like the thorough way that one would wish. As to roads, I merely add that, through the Australian Transport Advisory Council, the Commonwealth, in conjunction with the States, has attempted to find a formula under which the heavy transport engaged in interstate traffic can be made to contribute to the cost of road maintenance.
In the railway field, a vast programme of modernization and purchase of capital equipment has been proceeding since the end of World War II. That programme has been directly assisted by this Government through the various dollar loans negotiated by it with the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development, out of which large sums have been set aside for the purchase of diesel-electric locomotives and other equipment for the railways.
I come now to the very interesting subject of the standardization of rail gauges. Many inquiries and reports in connexion with the break-of-gauge problem have been made. There was the important report made by Sir Harold Clapp in 1945, and other more recent reports could be mentioned. Coming closer to the present time, there are the reports of the two committees appointed by the Government parties and the Opposition party. I want to tell the House of a recent development which I believe is an earnest of this Government’s interest in the standardization of gauges, and its determination to see it in relation to our transport needs and the other aspects of the transport problem. The Victorian Premier sought from the Commonwealth a grant of £25,000 to permit an authoritative survey with respect to the proposal for the standardization of the railway gauge from Wodonga to Melbourne. This Government has informed him that it will be willing, without putting a limit on the amount to be spent on the survey, to contribute to the cost £1 for £1 with the Victorian Government in order to enable the survey to he undertaken. We believe it will provide valuable information and carry the consideration of this important question one stage farther. I am glad to be able to tell honorable members that the Premier of Victoria has agreed to our proposal, and I have no doubt that he will proceed speedily with the survey.
So far as shipping is concerned, we must consider not only the composition of our coastal fleet, but also the provision of capital equipment in the ports and harbours themselves. There are constitutional problems as to Commonwealth and State responsibility, but where something is needed it should be provided, and we should be looking for ways of working out. with the State governments, a useful programme of port and harbour improvements for the years ahead. My colleague, the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), who concerns himself with the coal industry, so far as its problems are within the competence of the Commonwealth, has stated that the provision of suitable coal-loading equipment in New South Wales could have the effect of reducing the price of coal to consumers to the extent of 10s. a ton. This would be a valuable saving and might do much to assist the coal industry in the difficult period through which it is passing.
Then there is the problem of obtaining a better performance on the waterfront of this country. Earlier this afternoon, in tabling a report of the Stevedoring Industry Board, I pointed to the very serious losses of working time which have been occurring on the waterfront. The waterfront work force constitutes only about 1 per cent, of the total Australian work force, yet in 1955 it was involved in 15 per cent, of the total working time lost in the whole of industry. In 1956, the worst of the post-war years so far as the waterfront was concerned, just on 50 per cent, of the working days lost in industry as a whole were lost on the waterfront. This was accompanied by a persistent decline in the volume of cargo handled by interstate shipping, and I suggest that the two were not unrelated. If there is no regularity of schedule around the coast, and interruption to the movement of shipping as a result of industrial trouble - and I do not seek to apportion the blame in this matter - clearly, those who normally would look to ships to carry their cargo will look elsewhere. We could make a quite dramatic improvement in the transport situation of Australia, and in the lowering of transport costs, if we could restore regularity of movement to our coastal shipping.
Time will not permit me to say much about the other aspects of transport, but I would like to mention the widely representative Cabinet committee which is surveying the transport position. Five mem bers of the Cabinet are meeting under the chairmanship of my colleague in the Ministry, the Minister for Shipping- and Transport (Senator Paltridge). Also, each State is represented. There is the Treasurer fr”’- Arthur Fadden) from Queensland, the Minister for National development (Senator Spooner) from New South Wales, the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley) from Tasmania, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) from Western Australia, the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) from South Australia and myself from Victoria. Such a committee should be able to make the comprehensive approach to this vital problem which we think is needed.
The airlines - relatively speaking the infant of the transport industry - have not been overlooked by the Government. We have, in the agreement relating to Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited and Trans-Australia Airlines - encouraged rationalization of services. We have assisted operators to maintain the standard of their fleets with up-to-date aircraft. We have also fostered the development of outback air services and, in this way, assisted national development in remote areas.
To conclude as I began, I emphasize that the Government acknowledges transport to be perhaps the major problem for governments to examine at this time in relation to our Australian economy. We are determined to find answers which will bring useful reductions in costs to the Australian community.
– I do not suppose that we have ever heard such a weak defence of a government that has fallen down on the major problems experienced by a young, growing nation as that offered by the Minister for Labour and Natonal Service (Mr. Harold Holt). He has given us all sorts of excuses and has, of course, claimed that in the last seven years the Government has done more, and spent more, than has any other government in history. If the future is to be judged by what this Government has done in the past this very opportune motion has been necessary, if only to stir the Government into action. I had hoped that the Minister would tell the nation something more than that his Government was to meet the Victorian Government, £1 for £1, in paying for a survey of the line between Wodonga and Melbourne. That is this Government’s contribution to the solution of the Australian transport problem! The Minister should have -riven us an answer to the question, “ Can Australia permit a situation to continue in which 17 per cent, of our work force is tied up in transport, and transport costs amount to 33 per cent, of total production costs? He said nothing about the real problem except that some other committee had been set up.
Not long ago it was my privilege to travel between Sydney and Penrith. There is a place in the sun for every section of our transport, but when I heard the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) speaking the other night about what was being done to protect Sydney in the event of attack I wondered whether any thought at all had been given to transport in Australia. The result of any attempt by the people to leave our major cities would be evident at the first big crossing, and would be to the everlasting disgrace of this and any other government that has ever played about with our transport problems. The time has arrived when we should speak, not about highways between Melbourne and Sydney, but about providing co-ordinated transport. We can then set about producing highways that will give free movement for 150 miles from the cities. One wonders how the Government could have stood by and allowed the present transport situation to develop. After all, the Clapp report was not handed down idly. It gave the Government an opportunity to do something for the future development of Australia. But the Government pigeonholed it as soon as it came into office. At Dubbo, last Friday, Mr. G. B. S. Falkiner, the owner of Haddon Rig, a famous grazing property, said that millions of pounds in rural wealth had gone down the drain because of the failure of the Government to provide a railway link between Bourke and Cunnamulla. And this at a time when this nation depends, almost entirely some Government supporters would say, on its rural industries to provide it with overseas balances to enable it to pay its way in the world! And what has the Government done? It has established a Cabinet sub-committee to inquire into the provision of a line between Melbourne and Wodonga.
The time is ripe when the people of this country should have a transport system more commensurate with modern requirements. I know the diesel-electrification of railway systems cannot be used to its best possible advantage on the haul between Melbourne and Sydney. The lines on which that system can give greatly needed relief are the long-distance lines into the country areas, because diesel-electrification eliminates the need for the haulage of water and coal. We have an illustration of that in the new Commonwealth line between Marree and Stirling North, where it is not necessary to haul water and coal to various points for locomotives.
Millions of pounds have been lost as the result of the inaction of this Government to carry on where the Labour government left off, and provide a line between Bourke and Cunnamulla. As Mr. Falkiner has said, millions of pounds have gone down the drain because of the failure to construct a mere 147 miles of rail. He has said that this could be constructed for about £5,000,000 in about eighteen months, and would give great relief to primary producers in the area. It would also save the cost of hauling water and coal. It is tremendously important to have this railway link; it is equally important to understand that this nation cannot develop along the lines at present being followed. We have had seven or eight good years in our primary industries, but I hate to think what would happen now if there were a serious drought in one or two States while things were reasonably good in other States. The result of a serious drought in this country to-day would be that we would have overstocked pastures in the State or States affected, whilst it would be impossible, because of the inadequacy of our railways system, to transfer starving stock to other areas where feed existed. I remember when the seasons were good and bad alternately. The organization that played the greatest part in those days in saving millions of sheep and cattle was the railway system. I remember when we had to bring stock from Queensland to Victoria for feed, because there was no feed in the south of Queensland although there was plenty in Victoria. If that situation arose again - and it is not improbable, because we have had seven good years - this Government will do down in history as a government which, as is said in the Bible story, lived on the fat of the land for the seven fat years and did nothing to provide for the seven lean years that might follow.
No longer can we afford to have 17 per cent, of our work force tied up in transport. No longer can we tolerate a situation in which 30 per cent, of our costs are caused by transport. No longer can we sit idly by while millions of pounds worth of live-stock are lost because of the lack of a railway system adequate to carry starving beasts to the places where there is abundant fodder.
All we have had from the Government so far is the appointment of a Cabinet subcommittee, which has already recommended that the Commonwealth pay half of the cost of the line from Melbourne to Wodonga. What we want is a full-blooded plan to deal with rail transport on an Australiawide basis. The people want transport developed in a way that can be achieved only by a fully co-ordinated effort.
– Do not misunderstand the position. We have not limited our interest to the Wodonga-Melbourne strip.
– Tt took seven years for the Government to do anything.
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) has looked at every State in respect of this problem.
– Yes. but it took the Government seven years to get moving, and it moved then only as the result of pressure from members of the Opposition and from its own supporters. It was pressure from Government backbenchers and from the Opposition that spurred the Government into action. The Government’s own back-benchers pushed it so far that it had to do something.
It is because of the failure of the Government to take action to put Australia’s transport system in proper working order that the Opposition has raised this subject as a matter of urgency. We have done so in the belief that a government that is inactive in relation to transport is traitorous to Australia - not only to the breadwinners of Australia, but also to those who pay 30 per cent, of their costs in transport charges. The Government’s conduct affects the whole nation. If we have a serious drought in any one State now, and the lack of an adequate railway system throughout the country prevents relief from being given to that State, then the Government, which has had more than seven years in which to put the nation’s railway system in order, will bear the responsibility for the resultant tragedy. Let the Government be warned not to waste another day in getting on with the job it should be doing.
.- The subject raised by the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) as a matter of definite urgent importance is the alleged failure of the Government to take any action in the direction of correcting the existing transport anomalies arising out of which an unnecessary and undue burden is continuously imposed on the national economy. Most honorable members who have spoken in the debate so far have apparently taken the subject to relate to railways only. As the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) said, we must consider the whole of Australia’s transport facilities, and not solely the railways. He said that the Government was looking at this matter generally. A senator, when speaking in another place, quoted a statement by the Premier of Western Australia.
– It was quoted by a Labour senator.
– Yes. He quoted the Western Australian Premier as saying, regarding the link between Kalgoorlie and Fremantle -
I would not agree that the suggested work is entitled to a priority above any other urgent and important works such as the provision of water supplies, electric power, schools and so on.
Of course. Victoria and New South Wales support plans for the standardization of the gauge between Melbourne and Sydney, provided the Commonwealth will supply £10,000:000 for that purpose, lt is very easy for those two States to support such a plan at a cost of £10,000.000 ‘to the Commonwealth. What the Commonwealth Government has to decide, however, and what I want it to decide, is the best way in which it can spend £10.001.000 for the benefit of the people, if it intends to spend that additional sum.
Is the standardization of the line between Melbourne and Sydney the best avenue for the expenditure of that amount? What is carried on the line between Melbourne and
Albury, which is the unstandard section of the track from Sydney to Melbourne? What percentage of the total of goods carried on the Victorian railways is represented by the goods, passengers or anything else carried on the line between Melbourne and Albury? A small card issued recently by the Victorian railways covering the year 1955-56 - the last full financial year - showed what was carried by the Victorian railways in that year. It showed that the principal commodities carried, and the respective tonnages, were: Coal and coke, 2.037,785; wheat. 1,308.408; briquettes, 604,573; fertilizers, 586,326; live-stock, 479,570; firewood, timber, wood pulp, 338,226; flour, bran, pollard, sharps, 250,090; wool, 143,938; fresh fruit, 129,862; stone, gravel, sand. 113,246.
As the Minister said, coal coming to Melbourne or to Victoria should be carried not by rail but by ship. What percentage of these commodities is conveyed on the Victorian railway from Albury to Melbourne? Most of these commodities are coming from production centres to the seaboard or in the reverse direction Is not Victorian brown and other coal coming to the metropolitan area? I have already referred to the quantity of wheat that is being carried from the wheat-growing areas to Geelong at the present time. I think that the Government will have to give this matter a lot of thought and that it will have to undertake much investigation, although that has been objected to by the Opposition, before it decides to spend £10.000,000 on standardizing the railway gauge between Albury and Melbourne. I could indicate countless other ways, in Victoria alone, in which this money could be spent to greater benefit not only to Victoria but also to the nation. No doubt some one will say, “ What about the movement of troops in time of war? “ That is an important question. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) has said that big railway marshalling yards should not be built in Sydney or other cities, because they would be destroyed by an atomic bo-nb
– I did not say that.
– I thought that the honorable gentleman did. However, no doubt he will agree that if railway marshalling yards were built in Sydney or Melbourne they would be liable to destruction by an atomic bomb.
If the Government proposes to spend money on railways to assist the defence of the country, it also should investigate another proposition altogether. I refer to the railway line from Sydney to Hay, and to the need for a link line from Hay to Ouyen, thus giving access to Adelaide and through to Perth, and a line from Ouyen to Patchewollock which would then give a link with Portland, where £5,000,000 is being spent on what will be the greatest decentralized seaport in Australia. It will be able to accommodate, before very long, the largest ships of the world. Surely, we want decentralized ports! We do not want to have everything going to Melbourne. Portland is the great port of the future, and we need a railway line to link Central Australia and Sydney and Perth with it. The Labour Opposition seems to get into a rut and to think only of the present and the past. It must have a wider vision and look to the future of this country, as the Government of Victoria is doing in connexion with Portland.
It is all very well for the honorable member for Stirling to speak about roads. We know that the greatest anomaly in Australian transport to-day is that the State of Western Australia is receiving an unfair share of the petrol tax. We know, too, that the construction of good roads in other parts of Australia is being prejudiced, to some extent, by the fact that the Government of Western Australia is building, right in the metropolitan area of Perth, from federal aid roads money, a bridge over the Narrows to serve metropolitan Perth. How can the honorable member for Stirling justify that? The honorable member did not refer to that matter. He spoke about other transport matters, but he kept well away from that great anomaly that is right at his door. He knows that this money could be spent to construct roads for the transportation of goods to Portland and other parts of Australia.
Everybody knows that the primary producer wants’ good roads and railways, but surely, if £10,000,000 were to be spent on the roads that link the primary producing a-eas with the railways that carry the products to the great seaports of Melbourne and
Portland, it would be spent much more advantageously to the Australian economy than in duplicating the line from Melbourne to Albury. It should not be thought for one moment that I am against the duplication of this line. I believe that to do so would be in the best interests of the country, but I do not think that its priority is so high that it should be done now. 1 am of the opinion that there are many other matters in our country that need attention - not only the schools and the other things referred to by the Premier of Western Australia, but also transport problems, such as the repair of bad roads. The Government could allocate large sums to absorb the materials and the man-power, if it is available, in a much better way than in the duplication of this line.
I have spoken of defence and of what might happen if an atomic bomb were dropped. Of course, the only answer to that is to keep our main transport routes away from the capital cities. The railway line that goes through Melbourne and on to Adelaide strikes, just out of Bacchus Marsh, in Victoria, a grade of such steepness that a train would immediately need to be reduced by half. The scheme that I have put forward, to link Hay and Ouyen, would provide for a line over level country. If constructed, it would have a great future because water from the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme will flow into the valleys of the Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers. I believe that it would be a scheme in the best interests of Australia. 1 again urge the Government not to spend this £10,000,000 on the duplication of the line between Albury and Melbourne now but to look into the suggestions I have made.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- I am of the opinion that the matter brought before the House by the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) is of the utmost importance. It embraces all forms of transport and refers to the anomalies that have arisen. The various forms of transport have been investigated by governments from time to time. At present, the shipping industry is under a close survey that has been going on for a considerable period of time. The airways of the Commonwealth are regarded as the most efficient in the world, and in respect of that form of transport all of us will agree that we have no rivals. To a great degree, the airways are controlled by private enterprise, and the shipping industry is almost completely controlled by private enterprise. So, too, is the road transport industry. The governments of Australia are vitally interested in the form of transport which they control, namely, the rail transport system.
Two committees have been appointed, one by the present Government parties and one by a Labour party government, to investigate this important matter, and they have produced reports which have been similar in their findings. That, of course, is not new. From the time of the founding of the Commonwealth, investigations have been proceeding regarding the need to improve the efficiency of the operations of the railways in the various States. We have had the Clapp report and a number of other reports which have dealt with the importance of this matter, but on all occasions the politicians of the day have said, “We agree with the report, but the time is not now “. lt seems to be one of the curses of political life in Australia that the leaders of governents are apt to say. “ Yes.- but the time is not now “. I feel that now is the time to start trying to improve the efficiency of our railways. After all, the railways are the principal means of carryin “ roods that are the backbone of the country the goods produced by primary producers Tn many cases, they are carried at considerable loss for the benefit of the pl-1 - 7 rv producers.
Transport involves a surcharge of 33J per cent, on the goods produced in the Common wealth. That is. the cost of transport represents a charge of one-third of our national income, a fantastic charge, as was stated by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) only a few moments ago. In the United States of America, transport charges represent 10 per cent, of the national income. We must do something about this if we are to cone with th<* problem of costs in Australia. We must reduce the cost of transport. Investigating authorities, particularly the two committees that have been appointed, have shown that an improved railway system in Australia would he a material factor in reducing the cost of movement of goods. Some little time ago. an agreement was reached between the Ministers tor I transport of New
South Wales and Victoria. I take it that their views represent the opinions of their governments regarding the construction of a standard-gauge railway from Albury to Melbourne at a cost of, I believe, £10,000,000. The principal industry in Albury is the trans-shipment of goods from the broad-gauge railway in Victoria to the standard-gauge railway in New South Wales. Competent authorities estimate that the actual cost of trans-shipping goods al Albury is £800,000 a year. That amount would cover an interest rate of 6 per cent, and a sinking fund of 2 per cent, on £10,000,000, which is the estimated cost of the construction of a standard-gauge railway from Wodonga or Albury to Melbourne. Economically, the proposition is extremely sound. When we consider the increased quantity of goods that would be moved by a standard-gauge line from the important manufacturing city of Melbourne to Sydney and Brisbane, and the increased traffic that would be carried by such a railway, we realize the great saving in cost that there would be to the nation and to the producers of goods in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
I know that standardizing railway lines involves various constitutional difficulties. The States are the masters of this situation. Without the approval of the State government, the Commonwealth cannot construct a railway line in the area of a State. But I believe that if the agreement which has been announced between the New South Wales and Victorian governments were implemented and a standard-gauge line were constructed from Albury to Melbourne, it would be so successful in reducing costs and in providing an efficient service to the producers of goods in Victoria and New South Wales, that all States, after witnessing its successful operation, would agree to the general principle of standardization and its immediate implementation by the Slates and the Commonwealth.
Big jobs can be done in a short space of time. We have the example of the St. Mary’s munitions undertaking, where a factory costing £25.000.000 was completed in almost two years. As 1 have said, the cost of standardizing the railway line from Albury to Melbourne would be £10,000.000. But that is only one matter that has been mentioned bv the two committees concerning standardized railway lines, lt is desired that Adelaide be brought into the scheme and that, ultimately, the line be extended to Perth and Fremantle. The arrangements for the trans-shipment of goods at Kalgoorlie are primitive and. of course, primitive means always involve added costs to the nation. On 26th March. 1957, Dr. Harold Bell, economist to ihe Australian Mutual Provident Society, said -
From a recent study I made of this problem . . 1 was forced to the conclusion that transport represents one of the largest costs in Australian industry and, further, that it is the cost about which we seem to be doing least.
It is to me the gloomiest spot in an otherwise not altogether unhopeful outlook for costs in secondary industry development in this country and I think that secondary industry will be making a good investment if it uses all its influence to achieve a truly national policy on transport. There are. admittedly, enormous political and constitutional difficulties; but the magnitude of the task, in my opinion, is far out-matched by the rewards which a transformation of our transport system could bring.
All competent authorities agree that something could be done and that something should be done. The Government has ample revenues readily available. The green light can be given by the Government and it is entirely in its hands to do something immediately.
Mr. WENTWORTH (Mackellar) [4.251. - The debate this afternoon, to paraphrase a military training maxim, shows that time spent in discussion on transport is seldom wasted. Some valuable things have emerged this afternoon, particularly from the statement made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt). It would be natural, from my association with the Rail Standardization Committee, for me to be thinking first of that aspect, but I realize, as the Minister has said, that that is by no means the only aspect. We need an over-all transport plan, and the attention to this matter given by the Government, and particularly by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) has not been without result. 1 for one do not feel that the roads problem can be set aside. Roads are a vital, perhaps the major, part of our transport system. But among the first things to be done - it is a matter of priority - is the standardization of our main trunk railway lines. That is in the interests of the roads as well as of the railways. The National Roads and Mo ovists Association and the Australian Automobile Association have poin ed out to their members in official publications the importance of rail standardization as a means of increasing road availability for motor transport. The Opposition - and I know that the Opposition always has to make political capital where it can - has been twitting the Government about delay in this matter. 1 am not altogether certain that that is a reasonable attitude at present. After all, the Opposition - I do not want to throw this in their teeth - introduced the Clapp Report in 1945 and was in power for four or five years afterwards without doing anything. I do not blame them for that; I know the difficulties with which they were faced.
We said that we hoped a start could be made in six months. Several months have yet to pass before that period expires and I am hopeful still that our time-table will be found to be not unreasonable. The Government has taken very welcome action in regard to survey. I am very pleased that the Minister was able to announce to-day his agreement with the Premier of Victoria on that matter. I hope that the survey will not finish in Victoria. An urgent survey needs to be made on the South Australian line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie. That is a somewhat more extensive survey than is necessary in Victoria. In Western Australia a survey investigation is still necessary to find out whether the line in its final stages should deviate northwards through the Avon Valley or southwards through Roleystone. That can be determined only by a detailed survey. But I think the Government has some things in view which merit the consideration it is giving. 1 was very glad to hear the statement by the Minister on the membership of trie Cabinet subcommittee and the extreme strength of the Ministers who are members of that subcommittee.
The Government has to consider the matter of priority. After all, even our own committee was unable to determine priority between the two lines from Broken Hill to Port Pirie and Melbourne to Albury. Both of them, we thought, were of top priority, and we were unable to decide which one should be started first. Doubtless, the Cabinet is investigating that matter, and naturally they will want time to do so. lt also has to be fitted into the overall priority. We are not afraid of the result of this examination by the Cabinet. All the problems which were raised by the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) earlier in the debate were considered exhaustively by the committee. About one-third of the membership of the committee, three members out of ten, were members of the honorable member’s own party, and the report was unanimously signed. We are not afraid of this priority examination, but we do not think it unreasonable that such an examination should be made. lt is also necessary to examine further the matter of finance. I believe that overseas finance would be available, if necessary, for these standardization projects. In fact, from my own personal contacts in the United States of America, to mention one country, I have very firm reason to believe that overseas finance would be available if the proposition were properly presented. It may be that the Cabinet at this moment is negotiating in that direction, or following up that aspect of the matter. It is an aspect that could be well followed up, and time spent in that way would not be wasted.
There is also the matter of negotiations with the States. I think it is only three or four weeks since the announcement was made of the agreement between Victoria and New South Wales. I do not know the result of the negotiations regarding the South Australian and Western Australian aspects of the matter. I know that both the Liberal Premier of South Australia and the Labour Premier of Western Australia have expressed some hesitation with regard to certain aspects. Such matters would have to be cleared up. But in regard to this aspect also 1 believe that our committee made a good recommendation when it suggested that if it is impossible to achieve agreement on certain lines, that fact should not delay a start on any line on which agreement has been reached. I do not for one moment think it necessary to try to hasten the Cabinet in its negotiations, because I am sure that it is conducting them with due expedition and diligence. The Cabinet must be given sufficient time to complete them.
– Your committee’s report gave the Cabinet six months.
– That is so, and the period of six months has not yet expired. But 1 join with the honorable member in trusting that the delay will not be an inordinate one. The matter should be given proper consideration at Cabinet level, and 1 do not think we should be unreasonable enough to ask the Cabinet to make a decision until it has become seised of all the facts.
Our committee- and I can speak only for our committee, although I daresay my remarks would apply equally to the committee of honorable members opposite - was entirely satisfied, on the evidence it had before it, of the appropriateness, the expediency and the desirability of the recommendations that it made. We still adhere to those recommendations. We have seen nothing that would justify a change of mind in regard to them. But we would not take the unreasonable view that the Cabinet should accept our recommendations without having had a chance to examine and probe them.
I cannot find it in me to join in the party heat engendered by honorable members opposite, because I believe that the time taken for consideration of these matters has been, so far, no more than adequate. I do, however, join with honorable members opposite in hoping that the delay will not be more than adequate. I believe that the support which these proposals are receiving from all sections of the community will be sufficient to carry the day. The graziers’ association, for example, has endorsed them, as have the motorists’ association and the various chambers of commerce and chambers of manufactures, and it is very seldom that we find all those organizations running in harness. It is even more seldom that one finds a committee of members of the Opposition running in harness with a committee of Government supporters.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker-
Question (by Mr. Harold Holt) put -
That the business of the day be called on.
The House divided. (Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker - Mr. W. R. Lawrence.)
Majority . . . . 26
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Minister for Trade moving a motion in connexion with the Trade Agreement between the Governments of the United Kingdom and Australia.
Debate resumed from 4th April (vide page 591) on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the following paper be printed -
International Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 2nd April, 1957.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, it would be ungracious to begin a speech in this debate without some reference to the distinguished parts played on the international stage by the Prime Minister (Mr.Menzies) and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). Australia has probably never been so well served by its leaders, with so much advantage, or with so much prestige among the nations of the world, as in the last nine months. In consenting to lead a mission to Cairo when his chances of success were obviously slim, the Prime Minister displayed admirable courage; but it is equally in his general approach to the whole Middle East problem and in his incisive pronouncements on it that he has attained a stature in the highest traditions of British statesmanship.
Whether the British and French were right or wrong in going to war against Egypt is a matter permitting of legitimate differences of opinion that cut quite across customary political boundaries. The Opposition has concentrated its fire on the Conservative government in England, but it has not reminded the House or the country that the British in this excursion joined hands with a socialist government in France. For myself, I believe that what Sir Anthony Eden set out to do will be vindicated by history as a wise decision, improperly frustrated. Whether he chose the propitious moment to intervene is arguable, but having resorted to force I for one regret that the Allies did not persevere until their objectives were attained.
One can estimate the correctness of the Anglo-French policy by visualizing what would have occurred had it proceeded to fulfilment. The Suez Canal would have been placed under international control. Colonel Nasser would have been deposed. Israel would have been secured in her right to live. Russian infiltration in the Middle East would have been checked. Stability would have been injected into the whole of that area. and. not the least important, theensuing anti-American feeling would have been avoided. As it is. none of the problems underlying the Egyptian war has been resolved. On the contrary, they have been exacerbated. Colonel Nasser is reinforced in his determination to prevent the internationalization of the canal. He is still bent on destroying Israel. He is still continuing flagrantly to ignore the rights of Israeli shipping; flouting the Constantinople Convention, as well as the much more recent 1951 United Nations directive. His openly proclaimed imperialist aims are stimulated by diplomatic successes hitherto unknown in the whole course of history for a country whose army was defeated so ingloriously in battle.
What are the true reasons for this unhappy and humiliating position in which Great Britain and her overseas kinsfolk find themselves to-day? The answer, I suggest, is not so much in substantial errors in Britain’s Middle East policy since 1945, but rather in the actions of our American friends and the United Nations. I propose to speak very frankly on this matter because nothing is gained by pretending that in our relations with the United States all is well when indeed much is awry.
America, as many of us feel, has never shown a proper appreciation of Britain’s interest in the Middle East, or of the necessity for British influence in that region in order to ensure a smooth uninterrupted functioning of the British economy. Since the war, the influence of American policy on British decisions is well known. It was partly due to pressure from Washington that Sir Winston Churchill consented to evacuate the Suez Canal in 1954 and concluded at the same time a treaty with Egypt, which, of course, Colonel Nasser has since denounced. Since Colonel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal last July, the United States Government has pursued a zigzag course, resembling a liner seeking to escape from an enemy submarine. At first, we saw firm support for the United Kingdom proposals at the September conference in London. Then came the President’s amazing declaration, in the middle of the Prime Minister’s negotiations with Colonel Nasser, that he was opposed to the use of force under any circumstances. This was followed by the Secretary of State’s Canal Users Association, a monumental essay, if ever there was one, in the art of the impracticable. Then, when Britain and France intervened last October and November, the American Government, as we know, strongly assailed their action. America sided with the Soviet against us in the United Nations and, as we were aware at the time, there were ugly stories of threats of oil sanctions against Britain and France from their usual ally.
And after all this fury and hypocrisy in Washington, what has happened? The British and the French were ordered to stop. They complied. Their influence crumbled to mingle with the dust of Arabia. In place of their historic role is propounded the Eisenhower doctrine which tries to do, in a less effective way, because of its unreal reservations, what England and France with their long experience, with their deeper understanding of these regions could have done swiftly to the advantage of the whole of the democratic world. It is quite apparent that, in the eyes of the United States Government, what is wrong for London and Paris to do is right for Washington. Sir, America’s actions are tantamount to denying the right of two great powers to defend and maintain their vital interests. Is she really sincere in this doctrine? What would be the attitude of the United States if, for example, some local Nasser in Central America were to nationalize the Panama Canal in contravention of all existing treaties? Would the State Department then run to the United Nations, call conferences, press for condemnatory resolutions, and accept a comic opera international force such as we now have in Gaza? The question has only to be asked to answer itself. No one believes that the United States, with all her ruthlessness and might when her own security is affected, would do other than settle such a threat in a very direct way and in a very short measure of time.
I pass by the sinister feature, known to many honorable members, of the desire of American oil interests to oust Britain from the Middle East. The subject is too painful to dwell upon. But looking at United States policy in recent months, the conclusion is forced upon us that she has behaved in a shabby, short-sighted, unfriendly way towards her closest ally, her most constant friend, her first line of defence in the west. This is of great concern to us in Australia, not only on account of our attachment to the Mother Country, but because of our pacts with the United States as a member of Anzus and Seato. In the formulation of our foreign policy we shall be wise, very wise, to bear this lesson in mind. 1 believe - and 1 hope that all honorable members, whatever our political differences, will agree with me in this - that we should make it plain to Washington that, however earnestly we seek the closest relations with the United States in international politics, in defence, and in trade, we are not prepared to stand idly by and see Britain humiliated, her influence destroyed in a theatre vital to her survival, her policies defeated and one of her principal lines of communication cut by an upstart dictator.
The Leader of the Opposition and his followers have talked at great length about the United Nations. 1 do not for a moment doubt the genuineness in this respect of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr., Evatt), but he has transformed his own experiences into enthusiasms which affect his judgment. With him, hopes become facts, whereas, viewed in the cold light of achievement, the most we can claim for the United Nations is that it is an experimental body. But alas, to-day, it is exhibiting tendencies which could prove gravely inimical to our welfare. Let us examine its record in the last six months. What did it do about Hungary? Talk to a Jew and ask him whether he regards the United Nations as a protector of Israel! Can we say that it is a friend of the British Commonwealth in relation to British, Australian, or New Zealand interests in the Middle East? Can we possibly claim that the Trusteeship Council showed any real recognition of reality in its recent report about New Guinea? In truth, of course, as we all know, and as we must admit if we are honest, the United Nations has failed to protect Israel. It has underwritten Nasser’s seizure of the Suez Canal. It has sent a pop-gun force to Gaza. It is powerless to free Hungary from Russia’s brutal tyranny and. unless we are watchful and obdurate, it may well try to wrest New Guinea from our hands.
Moreover, what confidence can we possibly derive from the manner of its proceedings? It is fast becoming a partisan, a group-ridden assembly. The A fro- Asian bloc is smiled upon by the Latin-American republics. The role of Russia and her satellites is notorious. Another group consists of what one might call the hard core of British
Commonwealth countries, together with our friends of western Europe and, as a rule, the United States of America. One gets the impression that the smaller nations are using its machinery to settle old scores against each other and against the Great Powers. The main problem, as I see it, for the United Nations to-day is in reconciling the equitable claims of the smaller nations with the maintenance of the vital interests of the Great Powers. This, sir, it has yet to do. In recent months it has shown no solicitude for the vital interests of five members of varying degrees of importance - Great Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. Note, sir, the conclusion from that. It is inescapable. It means that it is willing to jeopardize some of the means of survival of ourselves and our friends. So long as membership of the United Nations means this, we trust it at our peril.
Before I sit down I would like to refer to several courses of action which we might follow in the difficulties, dangers and embarrassments surrounding us. The Minister for External Affairs, in his speech last week, made certain proposals which 1 believe will commend themselves to most honorable members. I would like to add this. Firstly, if Colonel Nasser is adamant in refusing to settle the canal problem except on his own terms, then I believe we should support a British boycott of its use, together with a freezing of Egyptian foreign funds. Secondly, we are all agreed, surely, that Israel has a right to live, free from threats to her territory and to the functioning of her economy. Accordingly, we should join with others in assisting her to withstand Egypt’s unrepentant aggression, backed by Russia’s impudent growls. Israel, we must all realize, is the one reliable, proven ally remaining to the democratic powers in that part of the world. Therefore, it is only elementary prudence to ensure her survival.
Thirdly, I believe that we should press for speedy alternatives to the Suez route. Tn an atomic war, it would probably be valueless. In time of peace, if it is going to become the plaything of egyptian politicians, it will be a waterway that none can rely upon Therefore, I would urge that we should participate with Great Britain in a plan for the construction of giant oil tankers - tankers which are speedy, which can use the Cape route and thereby obviate the necessity to use the canal. Some of these might well be built in Australia, with very great ensuing benefits to our own shipbuilding industry. There is interest also in the idea that investigations should be made for the construction of an alternative canal.
Whatever may be our feelings on this subject, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, we must, of course, co-operate in America’s Middle East policy, but we should always try to influence that country’s statesmen to acquire a more penetrating understanding of the realities of the situation in the Middle East. lt is not enough for President Eisenhower to announce plans for stopping overt Communist aggression. Subtler processes of infiltration, and of capturing the citadel from within, call for equal attention. Above all else, we must try to rebuild the Anglo-American alliance on firmer foundations. I believe that we can gain much by plainer speaking, by refusing to conceal differences, by reconciling economic rivalries, and by devising machinery for constant consultation. The Government could explore the idea of establishing a permanent consultative council, composed of representatives of the United States and of British Commonwealth countries bordering on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. This would include Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and possibly South Africa. Whether or not this is practicable, I believe that Australia has an important part to play in restoring the old relationship. With our usual friendly feelings towards America revived, our contribution in the not-so-long run could be decisive for the peace of the world.
.- I am happy to have the opportunity to contribute to this debate on foreign affairs. I congratulate the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) on his frankness, but I dissociate myself completely from the viewpoint that he expressed and the conclusions that he advanced. I think that he has seriously under-stated the problems of the Middle East. It would perhaps be safe to say that, if one trouble spot in the Middle East were cleared up, all our troubles in that area would not disappear. Unfortunately, the Suez crisis and the dispute between Egypt and Israel are only two of the many serious problems that have confronted the world during the last 200 years.
Some days ago, an Opposition member in this House spoke of the Thailand Government in critical terms. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) took a point of order and attempted to silence that honorable member on the ground that he was speaking in derogatory terms of a friendly power. The Chair rightly ruled against the Minister. I sincerely hope that the day never comes when the freedom of speech of members of this House will be curtailed. This is a place in which we are permitted at least to express our own views and opinions on these matters, and I hope that we shall never in some way be prohibited from doing so. I could not help contrasting the Minister’s attitude to the references to the Thailand Government made by an Opposition member with the silence in which he listened to the barrage of criticism that the honorable member for Angas directed at a friendly power. I consider that the criticisms directed at the Thailand Government by Opposition members can be readily sustained. Government supporters whose association with politics dates back to the war years will recall that, very early in World War II., a military mission from Thailand visited Australia. Great expectations of the results of the mission’s visit were entertained, but after its return to Thailand and Japan’s entry into the war, the actions of the Thailand Government proved conclusively that the faith of some people in the bona fides of that country was misplaced. Members of this Parliament should have the right to say what they feel on these matters without the Minister trying to curtail their remarks or prohibit them from expressing their views.
The honorable member for Angas continued the attack made by some Government supporters not only upon the United States of America, but also upon the United Nations. Government supporters should clarify their attitude in these matters without criticizing the Opposition. The sharp division that is so apparent in the ranks of the Government does not permit one to say with certainty what is its attitude towards the United States or towards the United Nations. Government supporters have attacked the Opposition for its alleged lack of a foreign policy, but they have proved themselves clearly divided on every fundamental issue that has come before the House during this debate. The Opposition has made it perfectly clear that it supports the United Nations, and for this attitude it has been criticized both inside and outside this House. What is the alternative to the United Nations? What hope is there for the future of the world or for justice for the smaller nations if they are to be left completely at the mercy of aggressive powers? It is idle to suggest that international affairs are any different to-day from what they have been down through time. Power politics is the predominant principle in international affairs to-day, and the smaller nations can be defended and protected more effectively by an organization such as the United Nations than without it.
The attitude of Government supporters to the United Nations brings very vivid y to my mind the criticism that was directed at the League of Nations in its declining years. If Government supporters want to disband the United Nations or render it ineffective, they have an obligation to propose an effective alternative. The kind of criticism that Government supporters have voiced in their attempts to discredit the United Nations will not help Australia. Their attitude towards the United States is indeed amusing. Until recently. Opposition members were being twitted for their alleged un-American attitude, but to-day we have heard from the honorable member for Angas one of the most outspoken attacks on the United States yet made in this House. I do not condemn the honorable member for being critical. I am merely pointing out that, on every issue in international affairs, the Government and its supporters have attempted to ignore the realities and tried to play politics. Their present attitude towards the United States is identical with that which they adopted when the war-time Labour Government under the leadership of the late Mr. John Curtin sought that country’s help. Every one knows that the leading members of the present Government, who were then in Opposition, were most outspoken in their condemnation and criticism of Mr. Curtin for. as they said, having- the audacity to by-pass the United Kingdom and call on the United States for aid.
TV Government -has played party politics, no’ only in this debate but in every other debate on foreign affairs. Any reasonable person will agree that the
Opposition’s policy towards red China is easily justified. Opposition to recognition of red China is based on either opportunism or emotionalism. If one can give credence to rumour, the Government is split on the two vital issues - the attitude to the United Nations during the Suez trouble, and the recognition of red China, which is supported by a strong section of Government supporters.
The question of the recognition of red China must be approached rationally. Red China has a population of 600,000,000. The two main lines of thought regarding recognition are those of the United States and the United Kingdom. I believe that the United States is opposing recognition, for strategic reasons, and that the United Kingdom is urging it for commercial reasons. But whatever their reasons, how one can fail to recognize a Communist dictatorship when one already recognizes other countries with exactly the same form of government has always been a conundrum to me. How is it possible to recognize Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and not red China? It is true that diplomatic relations with Russia have been broken off, but I have no doubt that they could be restored to-morrow without any difficulty to this Government. Mere recognition of a country in no way implies support for or approval of the form of government, or policy, of that country.
The position in the Middle East does not admit of an easy solution of the kind postulated by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer). That area of the world presents a number of problems in which power politics play a very prominent part. There is the clash of the three powers, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Russia, in which oil is of paramount importance. The honorable member for Angas while to a degree correct in criticizing the American approach to the Middle East, was not quite fair when he said that that country had completely neglected the problem. On 24th May. 1951, President Truman said -
There is no simple formula for increasing stability and security in the Middle East. With the help of American military and economic assistance, Soviet Russia has already been firmly resisted in Turkey and the Soviet-inspired guerilla war has been decisively defeated in Greece. But die pressure against the Middle East is unremitting. lt can be overcome only by a continued build-up of armed defences and the fostering nf economic development. Only through such measures can these peoples advance towards stability and improved living conditions, and be assured that their aims can best be achieved through strengthening their associations in the tree world.
That repudiates the suggestion that the Americans have no interest in this area. However, it is true that America has not always acted in such a way as to win the commendation of all, and the fact that it has emerged as one of the leading powers in the world and is inexperienced in dealing with people, has brought upon it criticism that is to some extent justified. Nevertheless, the American contribution towards restoring stability in the free world has not received the appreciation that it merited. Under Marshall Aid, the United States of America poured millions of dollars into Europe and, to be frank, got very little thanks for it. “ But “, we are told, “ why should they? America is a wealthy nation and Marshall Aid would have made very little difference to it financially”. There is no doubt, however, that the United States did attempt to contribute substantially to the rehabilitation of Europe. One can understand if the Americans are sometimes a little cranky when they do not get the credit that they should.
On the other hand, one is not deceived by America’s retention of what is euphemistically called the “open door policy”. It has been applied not only in the Middle East but in Asia, also. The aim of that policy is to see that American interests are preserved. In this clash of power politics the Americans have gone to great lengths to safeguard their own interests. Under a system of power politics, small nations are completely at the mercy of large nations. To suggest that the United Nations organization has outlived its usefulness is merely to hasten the downfall of the smaller nations and, perhaps, even the end of the civilized world. There will be no future for mankind unless there is an association of free nations, irrespective of population, size or power, bound by a common concept of the basic requirements of mankind. To deny that fact is to ensure a very bleak future for all civilization.
.- I am sure we all appreciate the ministerial statement made by the Minister for External
Affairs (Mr. Casey). I believe that he was very wise in making a factual report on what had happened in the Middle East, leaving it to be debated by the House. His statement provided many subjects for discussion, and 1 propose to deal with some of them, including the Suez Canal, the United Nations, red China, Malaya, the South-Hast Asia Treaty Organization and Hungary. The last of these has had very little mention from the Opposition - advisedly so, I would say, because 1 do not think that honorable members opposite are on good ground in respect of their attitude to what happened in Hungary.
First, let me say very definitely that I believe that Sir Anthony Eden was quite right in the action he took on Suez. I believe that he took that action at one of those times, not unique in history, when action, if taken, should be taken immediately. Any delay at that stage would have allowed Russia and its satellite countries behind the iron curtain to make great progress in the cold war against the free world. In my opinion, Russia was eager to move into the Middle East, and the action taken by Great Britain and France was most opportune. We should give thanks that there was in office, in the Mother Country at that time, a man who was prepared to take action so as to preserve world peace and the freedom that we have come to associate with the British Commonwealth of Nations.
Now I wish to rebut a few statements made by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). That right honorable gentleman directed some remarks, of course, against the British Government in respect of the action at Suez. He said, “ I am not against the British people. I am only against the Government of the United Kingdom. I believe that the British people condemned the action at Suez “. He made some references to by-elections that have taken place in the United Kingdom. I believe that the results of those by-elections were affected by the disastrous strikes that have taken place in the United Kingdom, and had nothing to’ do with the Suez action. The right honorable gentleman, who says that he is with the British people but against the British Government, says also that he is with the Australian people but against the Australian Government. He says that, at the first opportunity given to them, the
Australian people will sweep this Government out of office. That statement has been made so often that it has become parrot talk. But when it comes to red China, the right honorable gentleman says, “ I am in favour of the government there “. Not against the government, but no mention of the people, because it must be remembered that those vast millions of people in China have been bashed into serving that country’s Communist Government. Does anybody believe for one moment that those millions of people in China are behind their present Government? Certainly not! But the Leader of the Opposition supports that government. He says that we should recognize it because it would be to our advantage to do so, and to the advantage of trade and world peace.
Every time the United Nations organization is criticized, the Labour party asks, “Well, what is the alternative”? Well, what is the alternative? If the United Nations fails, what is the Labour party’s alternative to it? Is it peace at any price? It appears to me that it is, because, judging from what I have seen and heard in this Parliament in eleven years, that is what Labour supports. It even seeped through the secret wireless in Changi prison camp in Singapore during the war that some one in the Labour organization in those days - I will mention no names - wanted to communicate with Hitler to try to end the war. I found out, on my return to Australia, that that was true. The same thing would happen again if Labour were in power, because the truth is that Labour never faces up to its obligations to protect this country. Whenever I make that statement, members of the Labour party ask, “ What about our record in two wars “ ?
– What did your Government run away from in 1941?
– That is what honorable members opposite always say. I suggest that honorable members opposite could well endeavour to find out why a distillery was built at Warracknabeal, in a part of the Wimmera electorate which I once represented, and which is now represented by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Lawrence). Honorable gentlemen opposite should ask their leader why that distillery was built, and why he was at dinners and different functions around the district at that time. 1 do not want to go into the details of that now, because they are nol good to listen to or good to speak of. The fact is that Labour laid the foundations for the defeat of the non-Labour government in 1941, which was really sabotaged by a member or members. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George L_v.”on) knows that perfectly well.
I support the United Nations. But the Leader of the Opposition said that the Government lacked persistent, continual faith in the United Nations. Lacked persistent, continual faith! I would say that the United Nations has to show us something of real worth to humanity before it can attract persistent, continual faith from anybody. So far as I am concerned, it has not done anything yet to deserve that. It has shown that it can condemn Great Britain and France for the action they took in Egypt, but that it will do nothing when Russia attacks Hungary without justification. So it has no right to faith. The Leader of the Opposition asks why we do not have full-scale negotiations on Egypt in progress now. Are not such negotiations going on? Everybody knows, or should know, that the representatives of the United Nations are continually negotiating with Colonel Nasser in order to overcome the Suez crisis. What the Opposition should ask is what is coming out of these negotiations. The answer to that question is, “ Nothing! “ After all the United Nations formulas have been tried, after all the investigations have been made by the United Nations, and nothing has happened as a result, what does the Labour party propose then? lt proposes to act in the same way as it acted during the Korean war when, by a mere accident - the accident of Russia’s absence from a meeting of the Security Council - the United Nations was able to take armed action in Korea. And what did Labour do when that happened? Absolutely nothing! Did Labour help in the recruiting campaign for the Korean war? No! It left everything to the Government.
As far as I can see - and I have watched very closely - the Labour party thinks the United Nations is admirable as a negotiating body. But once the stage of negotiations is past, once it is necessary to back up principles with force - and that is what made the British people great and what produced the position that no human being who stands beneath the folds of the British flag fails to become free - the Labour party will not support a United Nations force.
On countless occasions, when honorable members on this side of the House have criticised the United Nations, members of the Opposition have asked “ What is the alternative? “ The alternative is for the free peoples of the world to get together and see that we have justice - the justice which has become associated with the British people all over the earth.
– How would that justice be achieved?
– It would be achieved only by the nations acting together to do what the United Nations was able to do in Korea. The United Nations is not supposed to be a war-making organization. It is an organization designed to avert war. But, having done everything it can to avert war by means of negotiations, it is supposed to bring into being armed forces to give effect to the will of the nations assembled. What chance is there to do that while there is the power of veto? There is no chance at all. But Labour continues to support the United Nations all the time.
I wish now to say something about Malaya. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell). who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, said that the Opposition did not believe in sending a force to Malaya because it did not believe in supporting the rubber monopolists. Has the honorable member ever stopped to think that the rubber monopolists of whom he spoke might not even live in Malaya?
– I do not think that the honorable member for Melbourne said that.
– The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) may read it in “ Hansard “, if he wishes to do so. It is printed there plainly enough. The honorable member for Melbourne does not believe that we should protect the rubber monopolists. Those who are fighting against the people of Malaya are committing murder in ways that would make ordinary criminals shudder. I suggest that if we are against monopolists there are other ways to treat them than by having murders committed. If you are not on the side of the people who are fighting against the terrorists, naturally you are on side with the terrorists and condone the murders th at they are committing in Malaya. That is the conclusion that must be reached. You are on either one side or the other. You cannot be on both sides, and you are neutral at Australia’s peril. Is the Labour Opposition contributing to the unity of the British Commonwealth of Nations by not co-operating with the United Kingdom and New Zealand in Malaya in the fight against the Communists? Certainly, it is not! The excuses that I have heard advanced by the members of the Opposition to support their contention that Australian troops should not be sent to Malaya lead me to believe that they do not want to fight the terrorists there.
– They do not want to fight the Communists.
– Communists are terrorists, of course. They are the same thing.
– Has the honorable member asked himself why the Americans do not use troops in Malaya?
– America is playing its part. Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia have sent troops there, and they are capable of handling the situation. We should give great praise to our troops for the magnificent job that they have done in Malaya, and we should be proud that they are side by side with the troops of other members of the British Commonwealth.
An important conference of the Seato Council of Ministers was held in Canberra recently. It was a great success and many real aids to world peace flowed from it. The Labour party seems to think that Seato should not be ready to resist an enemy, and that the various nations should conduct more negotiations. That is what we hear all the time from honorable members opposite. They want to negotiate while the Communist menace is pushing ahead slowly all the time. It is pushing ahead in SouthEast Asia, in the Far East, and by means of the cold war in Europe. What would Labour do about that? Nothing whatever! The South-East Asia Treaty Organization can do much to stop the onward surge of communism. It has I believe, the full support of every fair-minded man and woman in this country, and it is an organization that we should support most strenuously.
Coming now to experiments with nuclear weapons, it is well known that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) is against any such experiments. He believes that the proposed tests at Christmas Island should not take place and that we should combat such tests with a view to banning them altogether, lt seems to me that, unless the banning of nuclear tests is world-wide, it will only add to the threat of world war. I have heard few people say, during this debate, that Russia must co-operate with the other countries of the world if there is to be world-wide banning. Honorable members opposite may say that later in the debate, but I cannot anticipate what they will say. What is the point of the Leader of the Opposition saying that we should ban nuclear tests if, by banning them in the free world, we should merely give an advantage to Russia? After all, Russia is continuing the experiments on a very wide scale. We should merely give great assistance to the Russians in the event of a world war, and enable them to wipe us out of existence.
Speaking at a meeting in New South Wales only last week, the Leader of the Opposition said on this subject -
I claim that the unity of the people is of paramount importance.
Perhaps the right honorable gentleman should start with his own party and try to achieve a little unity there, not only in respect of the political matters that are racking the party to-day, but also in respect of matters of world importance, such as immigration. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition wrote a book on co-operation priced at 6d. a copy. I have a copy of it in my hand. Apparently, he cannot get any co-operation from most of the members of the Labour party for this great scheme of immigration that he himself started! Then we have the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), who received an invitation to view, at first hand, the events that are happening in that great country, America. Yet, the honorable member, in a speech that he made here last week, said that he deplored the attitude of certain members of his own party in protesting about his going to the United States. He deplored that because his trip was not of a political nature. Perhaps some other member of the Labour party would have got the trip if the matter had gone to the vote. Certainly, the honorable member for Grayndler would not have got it. We all know that trips to other parts of the world give us wider vision and enable us to deal with international affairs in a much more effective way.
In the speech that the Leader of the Opposition made recently in New South Wales, to which I have already referred, he also said this in relation to tests of nuclear weapons -
Children of the future yet unborn may be affected by the fall-out. Is not that enough to touch callous hearts and to prevent those who are blindly conducting these experiments?
Surely, we all know that only by continuing these experiments and keeping our defences at a high standard have we a chance of combating the Communist menace and of preserving the liberty that we enjoy in this country!
Does every one not know that countless thousands of human beings have died for liberty and freedom? Do not honorable members opposite appreciate that, throughout the history of the British people, they have sacrificed themselves so that others might live in peace and freedom? The Leader of the Opposition speaks about the children of the future! Surely he knows that the tests are being undertaken not because we want war, and not because of some one’s idle whim, but to protect us in the future from the onslaught of a ruthless foe who would think nothing of enslaving us. In fact, he would delight in doing so, and he is planning every day towards that end. 1 think that many people do not realize the great privileges that we of the free nationsenjoy, especially in Australia and the United Kingdom. Down through the years, the British Empire, as it was known, has been the greatest force for peace in the world, even allowing for the influence of the League of Nations in the past and of the United Nations to-day. Yet, honorable members of this Parliament are saying, as 1 just heard an honorable member opposite say, that that was so until Suez.
Let me close on the note on which 1 commenced. I support Sir Anthony Eden. I believe that when history has been written and appears in its true perspective, with sufficient light thrown on it, we shall find that many countries of the world owe their freedom to his actions.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I have followed with interest the speeches of honorable members opposite in support of the paper presented by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). It would appear that the principal purpose of supporters of the Minister has been to criticize the United Nations and, to some extent, to advocate subtly the abandonment of our association with that organization. The speech of the honorable member for Angas (Mr, Downer) was, to say the least, frightening. I have not been a member of this House for many years, but it was the most jingoistic speech that 1 have listened to in this place. He even out-jingoed the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) who, we remember, last year counselled that the British Government should use military sanctions in the Middle East.
As a representative of the ordinary working men and working women of Australia, I am fearful for the future of this country and of the future actions of the government supported by the honorable member for Angas, if the sentiments he has expressed should ever pervade the minds of the Ministers of this Liberal Government. I understand that the honorable member is a potential Cabinet Minister because of his brilliance, his devotion to his leader and his party loyalty. But the people have good cause to dread that the honorable member will enter the Ministry or, worse still, enter the Cabinet, where notice will be taken of his opinions. Until this moment I had the highest regard for the honorable member. [ am not speaking personally in any respect when I say (hat the sentiments that he has expressed strike at the heart of every Australian citizen and every Australian mother who is rearing sons. If the opinions of the honorable member for Angas become operative in the future, those sons will be reared merely to serve as gun fodder for imperialists on the other side of the world.
The sympathies of honorable members on this side of the House are whole-heartedly with the United Nations. We have seen its successes and its failures; no human organization has been completely successful. We have seen successes which, I feel, have astonished the United Nations itself. One early success was in Indonesia, when a frightening civil war was prevented because of negotiations conducted by the United Nations. Then, it acted successfully in the Middle East, and I shall talk about that a little later. In Hungary, we have witnessed its disastrous failure. 1 admit that one must take some notice of the standards of civilization of the countries with which the United Nations is dealing. The civilization of the British and French people is on a far different plane from that of the Russian people. Perhaps that may explain the success of the United Nations in the Middle East and its complete failure in dealing with the tragedy of the Communist invasion of Hungary. However, do not let us discount the successes of the United Nations because there have been many failures. We hope that, in the future, the failures will diminish and the successes will mount.
I feel, as an Australian, that our hopes are with the United Nations. Should that organization go overboard, the hopes of many millions of ordinary people in the world to-day will be completely shattered. Despair will grip their hearts and they will have no hope. We will revert to the days of 1938 and 1939 - the days of power politics and secret alliances between extreme organizations, such as the alliance between Stalin and Hitler, with the common aim of subjecting free peoples to their will. The Australian people must not follow the policy that has been naively announced by the Minister for External Affairs and supported in speeches by honorable members opposite. Our hopes lie in the United Nations organization. I sincerely trust that the organization will continue to function, because while it exists there is a reasonable hope for peace in the world.
– The honorable member should tell that to the people of Hungary.
– The honorable member for Lyne suggests that I should tell the people of Hungary that. It is to the crying shame of the civilized world that we witnessed the recent bloodbath in Hungary. Would the honorable member suggest that the world should have been plunged into a bigger bloodbath when nothing could be done, because of the military situation, to aid the people of Hungary? Would he advocate a military invasion of Hungary? I admit that the action of the Russian nation in invading Hungary warrants the severe condemnation of all civilized peoples.
Further than that, it warrants divine intervention to make the Russians pay for what they have done- to the Hungarian people. It is the tragedy of our age that people who were trying to assert themselves and were demanding freedom, received a promise of it and were then ground down by tanks in the capital city of their own country, lt is nothing to be proud of, and 1 mourn, as much as any other honorable member of this House, the tragedy of Hungary. 1 hope that some day the Hungarian people, who have fought for liberty for as long as those of us who claim to be descended from the grand people of England, will eventually achieve the liberty to which they are entitled and for which they have fought and shed their blood.
We have witnessed a tragedy, as far as Australia is concerned, in the Middle East. Our Prime Minister is one of the principal architects of the disaster in the Middle East. He returned from his mission of failure and reported to this Parliament at length on the actions that he had taken in Great Britain and in Cairo. He concluded his remarks by counselling ultimately military sanctions against the Egyptian Government for its nationalization of the Suez Canal.
– He suggested force, if necessary.
– As my friend the honorable member for Brisbane says, he suggested force if necessary. The United Kingdom Government accepted the advice of the Prime Minister of Australia and. with amazingly accurate timing, the governments of Israel, the United Kingdom and France invaded Egyptian territory. There was an amazing amount of slaughter and carnage in Port Said. Though our former minister in Cairo, Mr. A. R. Cutler, said that the bombing by the Royal Air Force was amazingly accurate, he admitted that one bomb fell on a prison and wiped from this earth several hundreds of prisoners. The carnage was almost indescribable. In American magazines to be found in the library in this Parliament House one can see photographs showing blocks of buildings in Port Said completely destroyed hy the bombing of British and French aeroplanes. That is not something of which Britons or Australians should be proud. Nevertheless, our own Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies counselled the Government of the United Kingdom to take this action.
I am pleased to say that the Australian Labour party has been consistent in its attitude to the Suez Canal dispute. 1 believe that the outlook of the British people is somewhat different from ours, because we all know that the Suez Canal is the lifeline of British trade. If the canal is closed, the cost of sending British products to overseas markets is considerably increased. The freight charges on goods sent to the Far East must rise considerably, and I may say that Great Britain does an extensive trade wilh Communist China.
When the Egyptian President nationalized the Suez Canal, he made no reference to abrogating the 1888 treaty. He was prepared to observe the conditions of that treaty, which provided for the free movement of all ships of all nations through the canal. He made many promises and gave many undertakings. He said that if Egypt was attacked the Egyptians would defend it to the last man. He said that the women of Egypt would go into the Army and fight side by side with the Egyptian men. He made a host of other statements, one of which was to the effect that if Egypt was attacked the Suez Canal would be blocked. The only promise that he kept was the one involving the blocking of the Suez Canal and that, we are told, was why Great Britain and France attacked Egypt That attack failed initially because the canal was blocked. The blocking of the Suez Canal was disastrous from Australia’s point of view. Our principal market, the United Kingdom, was, in effect, immediately placed 4.000 miles farther away from Australia.
The closing of the canal was used as an excuse for increasing the prices of many products brought into Australia. The price of petrol was increased in every State in the Commonwealth because of the closure of the Suez Canal. The price of tea was increased by at least 6d. per lb. in every State for the same reason. I regard it as an excuse rather than a reason, because Australia obtains its tea mainly from Ceylon, and I believe that the price of tea in Australia has been increased so that the price increase in western European countries can he kept to a minimum. In this regard, the Australian consumer has again been made a milking cow.
As a result of United Nations negotiations the Suez Canal is now open to traffic.
The President of Egypt has been described by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) as “ the upstart Nasser “.I agree that the Egyptian President is a dictator of the worst kind. He has stated, however, that he is prepared to observe the conditions of the 1888 convention, but the British Government has advised British shipowners not to use the Suez Canal, and those shipowners have stated that they are not prepared to use the canal at the present time. They do not know to whom they should pay the dues for using the canal. This is a disastrous thing from Australia’s point of view.I suppose that of all the nations of the world we are the most interested in this action of the British shipowners. We are again the victims of the Conference line. As the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said in the great speech that he delivered last Thursday, Australia is being milked week by week by the Conference line because of the increases that it has made in shipping freight charges. In February of this year, the freight rates were increased by 14 per cent, because of the closure of the Suez Canal. The Australian producer must pay that extra amount when he sends his goods out of the country, and those who buy goods imported from other countries have also to pay the increased freight charges. It can be seen, therefore, how greatly the attitude of the British Government and the British shipowners will affect Australian producers and consumers.
There are many problems in the Middle East involving Egypt and Israel. The decision of the Egyptian dictator not to permit Israeli ships to use the Suez Canal warrants action by the United Nations. Discrimination against any nation must not be permitted. Although the Suez Canal is in Egyptian territory, it is, in fact, of great concern to all the countries of the world. This was recognized in the 1888 convention. I do not believe that one can logically object to the action of the President of Egypt in acquiring the canal, which lies in Egyptian territory, and paying compensation to the Suez Canal Company, the former owners. However, when President Nasser associates the Arab refugee problem with his action in preventing Israeli shipping from using the canal, he is committing an act of injustice towards Israel. Although the United Nations supported Egypt in September of last year because it was being attacked, I feel that to-day the United Nations must insist on Israeli ships having the right to move through the Suez Canal, just as the ships of any other nation must have that right.
I have already said that the action of the British Government in advising British shipowners not to use the Suez Canal will prove disastrous for Australia. It will cost us an enormous amount of money, and will further jeopardize the position of many of our primary products in Western European markets. Our primary producers have been selling their products in those markets under difficulties for some time. I have heard the honorable member for Angas refer to the difficulty of selling wine and dried fruits overseas. Those difficulties will be accentuated by the refusal of British shipowners to use the Suez Canal because of prejudice, and because the United Nations insisted on the withdrawal of Great Britain, France and Israel from Egypt.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Opperman) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Trade Agreement signed at Canberra on 26th February, 1957. by the United Kingdom Government and the Australian Governmeni. and move -
That this House approves the trade agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the Commonwealth ofAustralia signed at Canberra on 26th February.
This motion is for the approval of the House for the Government’s acceptance of the new trade agreement with theUnited Kingdom Government to replace the Ottawa Trade Agreement made in 1932.
These last 25 years have been years of great significance in Australia’s history. The economic structure of the country has undergone great changes. Our population has increased from 6,500,003 in 1932 to more t,ian 9,500,u00, nearly a 50 per cent, increase. The number of people in jobs has more than doubled. Great strides have been made towards a more fully developed economy. A striking indication of the progress in our manufacturing industry is the rise in steel production over the last 25 years from a monthly average of about 35.000 tons to almost 250.000 tons to-day.
Electric power consumption has increased more than five-fold since 1932. This impressive increase has taken place alongside a doubling of coal production in the same period. The evidence of industrial development is clear to all in the every-day indications of the production of such goods as motor vehicles, electric appliances and textiles. The production and refining of nonferrous metals has increased tremendously.
On the rural side, too, there has been a steady pattern of development. Without going into details of production, such as the 40 per cent, increase in the wool clip, I will mention only the seven-fold increase in the number of tractors from about 25,000 to about 190,000 and the three-fold increase in usage of fertilizer - to-day we use nearly 2,000,000 tons a year.
These great developments have created a demand for plant, equipment and raw materials, much of which cannot be procured locally. To-day, manufacturing industry is the country’s principal customer for imports. Primary industry also has substantial import needs. Then there are the normal demands created by the sole fact of increased population.
From these developments we have a tremendous appetite for imports. These same developments provide us with our export capacity, but we find .ourselves with a balance of payments problem which is clearly more than a passing phase. In a total picture which includes a forceful programme of development and a vitally significant immigration programme, the Government has geared its policies, and actions to meet the trade consequences of these circumstances.
So you have the Department of Trade appearing and a lively programme on the part of the Government for the stimulation of exports. But the whole community had been very conscious of the cost situation. The need to increase exports underlined this cost problem, just as it underlined the importance of Government activity in setting the international framework within which our export trade must be conducted and our import needs supplied. Hence, in developing its constructive approach to the problem of increasing exports, the Government has planned a systematic and comprehensive review of Australia’s trade relationships with other countries. In this programme, trade with the United Kingdom, which is our greatest trading partner, naturally came under early review. It was clear that a review of the 1932 trade agreement between Australia and the United Kingdom - known in this country as the Ottawa Agreement - was fundamental to any wider review of Australia’s international trade relationships. It is my purpose now to explain what we sought in a replacing agreement with the United Kingdom, and what we secured.
This new agreement was signed in Canberra on 26th February last. As I shall explain, it preserves security in the United Kingdom market for a number of our important primary industries. It secures a significant new arrangement for wheat exports. It offers scope for Australian manufacturers to obtain many of their imported requirements more cheaply. It gives the Commonwealth Government new room to secure new export trade benefits in foreign countries by trade negotiations. Nothing in the agreement encroaches on the established policy of tariff protection for efficient Australian producers. The new agreement represents a positive contribution to our balance of payments position as well as to our cost situation.
The Ottawa Agreement was one of the dramatic incidents of the world depression in which the British Empire closed its ranks to protect its share of a diminishing world trade. That agreement was written to meet the conditions at that time. It brought about the system of reciprocal preferences between Australia and the United Kingdom which has continued since. However, over the quarter-century that had elapsed since the Ottawa Agreement was drawn up, the
Changes I have already, referred to had caused a major, shift in the balance of the agreement and in our trade relationships with the United Kingdom. Lel me illustrate this by reference to preferences and the wheat position. On preferences, under the Ottawa Agreement. Australia was committed to an automatic preference formula which gave tariff preferences to United Kingdom goods over almost the whole range of the Australian tari IT. On the other hand, Australian wheat and wool - the bulk of our exports to the United Kingdom - received no preference. In fact. Australia gave preferences on 80 per cent, of imports from the United Kingdom, but received preference on only about 40 per cent, of Australia’s exports to the United Kingdom.
There is another point about the preferences. Many of the preferences guaranteed to us in the United Kingdom market were expressed in pre-war money values. However, the preferences Australia gave were, for the greater part, expressed in percentage terms. The steep increases in world price levels since 1932 have operated to deprive preferences expressed in pre-war money values of much of their effectiveness. For example, in 1932 the margin of 15s. a cwt. on butter was equivalent to about 15 per cent, ad valorem, but at 1956 prices the same margin was equivalent to about 4i per cent. In 1932 the preference on eggs was equivalent to 12 per cent, ad valorem but at prices for 1956 season eggs, the margin had also fallen to 4) per cent. Thus many of the preferences we received lost much of their value, whilst the greater part of the preferences we gave retained their usefulness. lt has been calculated that the average level of preference Australia has granted to United Kingdom goods in recent years was 14 per cent, by value. Australian goods have received preference in the United Kingdom equivalent to about 9 per cent by value. Again the preferences we held in the United Kingdom market were shared with several other competing countries, for instance. New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries, whereas in’ Australia the preferences we gave the United Kingdom were practically reserved to the United Kingdom alone. So, on preferences, we were giving much more than we were getting.
My second illustration of the major shift in our trade position is wheat. In pre-war years, Australia shipped an average of 52.000.000 bushels of wheat and flour to the United Kingdom. Over the last five years the average shipments have been only 23,000,000 bushels, and in 1954 were as low as 13.000.000 bushels. This post-war position has been attributed to a 50 per cent, increase in the United Kingdom’s domestic production of wheat, as well as heavy importations in recent years of subsidized wheat from other countries.
The trade figures also show the changes since pre-war. In the five years ended June, 1939, Australia enjoyed an average annual trade surplus with the United Kingdom of £24.000.000. In the five years ended June, 1956, we incurred an average annual deficit of £67.000.000. The actual volume of imports from the United Kingdom has almost doubled, whilst the volume of our exports has actually declined to a quite measurable extent. The significance of this, after a period of great Australian population increase, is serious and of important consequence.
Thus the balance of the Ottawa Agreement had changed and our whole trade situation with the United Kingdom had changed. But, of course, in opening up the revision of the Ottawa Agreement it was not our objective to seek to redress an unbalanced position for the mere sake of achieving a balance. We wanted a new. agreement which met our economic circumstances and our policy requirements under to-day’s conditions.
So our first objective was to preserve the great principle of mutual preferences established and confirmed at Ottawa. This principle has been expressly reaffirmed in the new agreement in Article I. In particular we wanted to retain the protection for our exports which the existing preferences and rights of duty free entry gave us in the United Kingdom market. We had tried in 1952 al the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ conference to get support there for a restoration of the value of those preferences which were expressed in the prewar money terms. I only have to say that we gained little support.
At the Review Conference of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1954 we tried to get the rules loosened in a manner that would have enabled the United
Kingdom to restore the value of the earlier preferences to us. There we failed. Clearly, in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade we were inviting our foreign competitors in the United Kingdom markets to vote for a situation that would have advantaged us against them. So, as I say, we failed, lt was against this background that we approached these new negotiations in 1956, therefore with a knowledge that it was futile to ask the United Kingdom to increase our preferences. Our object was to hold what we had in preferences and to improve our trade position by other means, particularly in respect of wheat.
Our second objective was to narrow the obligatory preferences on British imported items significant to our Australian cost structure.
Our third objective was to gain some tariff flexibility in trade bargaining with other countries. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade prevented any thought by us of proposing widening of British preferences as a bargaining factor to be used in trade negotiations, while, on the other hand, the Ottawa Agreement prevented us from narrowing these preferences. We badly wanted room to manoeuvre in the tariff field in trade negotiations so we set out to get some freedom in the new agreement to lower the Australian tariff rates on foreign goods where these tariffs were higher than needed for the protection of our home industries.
The 1932 agreement failed to give Australia clear rights of decision on allowing foreign goods to enter free under by-law in cases where satisfactory equivalent goods were not available from Britain. We set out to correct this position also. As I said, the old Ottawa Agreement was confined to tariffs. We wanted the new agreement to cover our total trade relationship with the United Kingdom and to provide remedies for such matters as imports of subsidized products from other countries, restrictive business practices, the disposal of surplus shipping and so on. All these other problems, as well as the question of preferences and the question of our diminished trade in wheat, we sought to bring within a single new agreement replacing the Ottawa agreement.
Our Government, having cleared its mind on its objectives, the Prime Minister and I opened negotiations in London with the United Kingdom Prime Minister and other British Ministers early, in July, last year. lt soon became clear that the United Kingdom authorities were not prepared for such a comprehensive review of the Ottawa agreement as we were pressing for. The issues involved were important and they were certainly complex. There was no easy meeting of views between the two governments. However, when the talks were adjourned late in July, the principles of a new agreement along the lines of our thinking could be discerned.
The next step was a resumption of the talks in October to carry forward the development of the main points. After many meetings, marked at times by pretty frank exchanges, the heads of a new trade agreement were hammered out and these were signed in London on 9th November. The final step was the drawing up, in Canberra, of the detailed text of the agreement. This was completed in February last and is now before; the House. The negotiations were not simple. Before progress could be made, it had to be strongly emphasized to United Kingdom Ministers that we were determined to secure a thoroughly new basis for our trade relations with the United Kingdom, and a new coverage in the replacing agreement that we sought.
I have stated what our objectives were in these negotiations. In the agreement, our export trade to the United Kingdom has been protected in four positive ways. In the first place, we retain for Australian exports to the United Kingdom the same rights of duty-free entry as were provided under the Ottawa Agreement. This applies to nearly all our exports to the United Kingdom. Secondly, all of the tariff preferences that were guaranteed to us under the old agreement have been re-guaranteed in the new one. To the extent that these preferences are expressed in terms of specific money values such as with butler, eggs, milk products and some fruits, we have had to accept that they could not. be restored to their former degree of value of 1932. As explained. United Kingdom membership of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade effectively obstructed this. A number of other important exports, including cheese, canned fruit and canned meat, enjoy preferences expressed in terms that are not affected in. this way. They are ad valorem terms. The retention of all the preferences, however, is of definite value in a world of sharpening trade competition.
In addition to the renewal of commitments on these preferences, we were also able to secure from the United Kingdom guaranteed preferences that were previously non-contractual on currants, egg powder and egg pulp, jam, rice, tomato juice, pineapple juice, and in the interests of producers in Papua and New Guinea, coconut oil. Thirdly, the new trade agreement in no way touches Australia’s rights under the Fifteenyear Meat Agreement. All rights negotiated at Ottawa in respect of meat are retained.
The fourth step in protecting our export trade is the wheat arrangement. In the prewar years, the United Kingdom bought more than 1,000,000 tons of wheat a year from us. In the last three years, that has fallen to an average of 550,000 tons. The explanation of this diminished buying is, first, a great expansion of local production in Britain resulting from price support policies, and, secondly, the acute competition in recent years which Australian f.a.q. wheat has suffered from wheat exports subsidized by foreign governments and offered in the United Kingdom markets. We sought to meet this situation on a principle. We proposed that protection of each other’s trade against the competition of governmentsubsidized exports of other countries should be a mutual obligation under the agreement. This was not acceptable to the United Kingdom, but on this point it is provided in the agreement that each country shall have legislation capable of being invoked to protect the other’s trade against dumping or export subsidies by third countries. Legislation is to be available, but I make it clear that there is no contractual obligation to invoke and employ it.
In this way, we have secured recognition tn the trade agreement of a principle of great importance to Australian export trade. On the immediate trade problem, the important agreement on wheat that was secured assures a market in the United Kingdom over the next five years of at least 750,000 tons f.a.q. wheat or flour equivalent annually. Any high protein wheat which we might sell to the United Kingdom, and for which there is a ready ^market, would not be counted against the 750.000 tons obligation. The Australian Wheat Board was consulted throughout. A grower member of the board and an officer of the board were present in London during the negotiations. Assurance of an annual market of 28,000,000 bushels of f.a.q. wheat - that is the equivalent of the tonnage that I mentioned - represents a very important further under-pinning of the Australian wheat industry. It avoids the disadvantages which Australia has suffered on occasions through fixed-price long-term wheat sales. 1 am sure that the Australian Wheat Board regards this provision as a quite valuable achievement. The value of this arrangement is to be judged against the recollection that in 1954 the United Kingdom bought only 13,000,000 bushels of our wheat. 1 have been striving since then to achieve an assured basis of adequate sale of Australian wheat to the United Kingdom.
On the import side, the new minimum margins of preference which it was agreed to give to United Kingdom goods are set forth in Article 7 of the agreement. Briefly, producer goods are subject to a minimum preference of 7i per cent. “ Producer goods “ in this context means plant and machinery, and raw materials and goods for further processing in Australia. The tariff items for these goods are listed in schedule B of the agreement. We have also undertaken to accord minimum preferences of Ti per cent, where the British preferential duty is free or does not exceed 10 per cent., and to give a preference of 10 per cent, where the British preferential duty is more than 10 per cent. The comparison will be seen when I mention that, in general, the Ottawa Agreement provided for minimum preferences of 12± per cent - that will now be reduced, as I have said, to 7± per cent. - and 15 per cent, or 17± per cent., according to the level of the British preferential duty. There were, however, goods on which the Ottawa Agreement required us to maintain preferences in favour of the United Kingdom of 20 per cent, and 25 per cent.. or, in a few cases, even greater. The new agreement, as I have said, calls for a maximum level of protection of 10 per cent.
In the new minimum margins of preference of 7i per cent, and 10 per cent.. the Government has therefore secured under the new agreement a very considerable degree of freedom to move in the customs tariff that it sought, lt will now be possible to effect an important easing of the cost load of Australian industry in respect of imported goods. Australian costs will not, of course, be reduced solely as the direct result of reductions of import duties against foreign goods. We can also expect significant savings from the sharpening of competition between United Kingdom and foreign manufacturers in their quotations as preferences are narrowed towards the new minimum levels of preference. The Government will also have a very valuable field of possible tariff reductions for the purpose of bargaining concessions with other countries to secure new openings for our exports in their markets. Tariff changes towards the level of the new preference obligations are expected to take place over a period of time. The freedom to reduce duties on goods from foreign countries was sought for the two purposes already stated - for cost reductions and for trade negotiations. These motives will govern the reductions in existing tariffs against foreign goods, which will not be made in any wholesale or, certainly, in any ill-considered way. It is expected that during this session tariff proposals related to the cost reduction objective will be introduced to reduce the duties against foreign goods of a kind not produced in Australia. Among these items will be included some by-law items of the tariff and a number of other items where the British preferential tariff is free.
In the field of trade treaty negotiations, we shall be turning to possible reductions of the rate of duty against foreign goods. Many of these rates are at levels that have no relation to our protective requirements. The British preferential rate is in fact the protective column for the overwhelming majority of Australian industries. Where protection of Australian industry is an issue, the Government regards the Tariff Board as the established instrument. The provisions of the Ottawa Agreement concerning the fixing of protective duties following inquiry and report by the Tariff Board have been retained in the new agreement.
I have already referred to the by-law question involving the suspension of a preference on the ground that the goods concerned are not commercially available from United Kingdom production. The United Kingdom Government will continue to bs consumed before any particular margin of preference is suspended under the relevant by-law item, but there is clear recognition under the new agreement that it is thi Australian Minister concerned who decide? the issue. Undue delay will be eliminated
There is another group of subjects which, because of their nature, do not readily lend themselves to explicit or contractual arrangements. These questions, however, have an importance in our total trading relationship with the United Kingdom. The use of anti-dumping or countervailing duties to protect each other’s trade is one of these questions which I have already spoken about. The United Kingdom’s own agricultural policies, which have such an effect on the United Kingdom market for wheat, meat, and- other products, and. to-day, for eggs, are another. There are also questions of shipping. Questions relating to United Kingdom imports of American primary products under aid or concessional programmes, and to aspects of restrictive business practices are also in thu list of these items. The new agreement provides for consultation between the twu governments on these matters at the request of either.
The negotiations were long, difficult, and complex. That is where the new agreement is much wider than the old Ottawa Agreement. Indeed, without a high degree o! technical skill and administrative experience, successful negotiation of such a treaty would be impossible, or perhaps dangerous, to attempt. I mention this to pay a proper tribute to the officers of the Government who worked on the negotiations. The officials in the delegation, and those involved in the preparatory work in Australia and in advising the Cabinet during the absence of the delegation, were officers of the Department of Trade, the Department of Customs and Excise, the Department of Primary Industry, and of other departments. The bulk of the work and responsibility, of course, fell upon Mr.’ J. G. Crawford, the leader of the officials and secretary of the Department of Trade. In this work, Mr. Crawford added to th« reputation that he has already established for himself in international negotiations, and the Government, and all the parties who will benefit from this new trade treaty, are indebted to him for his invaluable contribution. For myself, I cannot speak too highly of the value of his work and of his devotion to the Australian cause. Speaking of officials, ‘I should like to pay tribute to the ability and fairness of Sir Frank Lee, who was the leader of the British officials, and who is secretary of the United Kingdom Board of Trade.
I am indebted to my colleague the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon), who was Acting Minister for Trade during my absence and also to Dr. Westerman, who was acting Secretary lo the Department of Trade in Australia during that period.
The agreement is for a five-year term, Subject after that period to termination at six- months’ notice. The operation of the agreement may be reviewed from time to time and there is definite provision for the whole agreement to bc the subject of negotiation during the fifth year.
To sum up, the principle of reciprocal preference is maintained. All contractual preferences for our exports are renewed and some preferences are now, for the first time, made contractual. Duty free entry rights are preserved for our exports. On wheat a . new situation of definite value is created. There” is new scope through tariff action to lower the Australian cost structure. There’ is new bargaining room in trade negotiations with foreign countries. Delays and other irritations in the operation of by-law procedures have been removed. The position of the Tariff Board is maintained. In respect of a number of problems that have arisen in recent years in our trade relations with the United Kingdom wo now have provision for consultation.
This agreement restores balance in reciprocal preference. To maintain the tempo of our national development there must be a stable economic base. This new treaty with our greatest trading partner is a solid contribution to stability in our international trading.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 646).
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) - by leave ^-agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) each speaking for a period not exceeding 45 minutes on the motion in print the Ministerial Statement on International Affairs.
– 1 would like to claim the attention of the House for a little time to-night to discuss some of the points raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) in relation to the position in the Middle East. The right honorable gentleman made’ a speech along lines with which we are not unfamiliar. He has the misfortune to find it difficult to say much good about our friends, but finds some justification very frequently for those who are not our friends. And as I believe that one of the great things in foreign policy is that we should seek friends, make our friendships firmer and firmer, identify our friends, and endeavour at all times to operate in harmony with them, 1 would like to deal with some of the points that the Leader of the Opposi– tion has made. - The first is this.: The right honorable gentleman said, referring to my distinguished colleague, the Minister for Exter-nal Affairs (Mr. Casey) - -The Minister for External Affairs, of course, organizes his Seatos and other organizations for the purpose of opposing radical, socialistdemocratic or Communist governments.
I do not know whether, there is some point’ in the order of the words “ socialist democratic “ or whether the term includes democratic socialists, which I understand is Labour’s new description, or new look, in our own country. He says that these agreements which have been- made, notably the Seato treaty - in which my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, is justly entitled to take great” pride - are “cooked up “ in some sort of fashion to oppose any form of progressive government; and I will assume for this purpose, much against my will, that democratic socialism is progressive instead of reactionary, as we all know. He says that that is the position.
Then he goes on to add, as usual, something about the fascist countries. They are not identified. 1 did not know that there was any fascist country in our orbit which was threatening us, except those countries once brilliantly described by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, thehonorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) as the “ red fascists “. And those are the very people, the potential aggressors, against whom these vastly important treaties have been made. I think it is rather a sad thing, for reasons that I will develop a little later on, that the Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament should take time off so regularly to disparage the Anzus treaty, and to disparage the Seato treaty, just as originally, years back, he disparaged the Nato treaty. Does anybody suppose that the passage I have quoted is a fair account of the Seato treaty, or what it means to us? That is a question that people might ponder very carefully, but in order to deck it out with the necessary synthetic ferocity, the right honorable gentleman threw in some very offensive remarks about Thailand, a country which has had its vicissitudes, as most countries have had, but which is to-day the partner of the United States, the partner of the Philippines, the partner of Pakistan, of Australia, and of New Zealand, in a great South-East Asian treaty which, I believe, is vital to the security of our partners, and of ourselves. It is deplorable that references of this kind should be made to a country with which we are on the most intimate and friendly terms, a country represented with distinction in Australia, a country which for a brief day or two I hopeto visit with a message of goodwill inside the next fortnight.
The next point that I want to refer to in the right honorable gentleman’s speech is that passage in which, to my astonishment, he referred to my alleged views on the subject of the Suez Canal. It has been said, and said very truly, about people like Goering, and other great Nazi masters, that their technique was to say something completely untrue and repeat it, and repeat it, and repeat it, hoping that people would ultimately be beguiled into believing it. Therefore, the right honorable gentleman, referring to the Suez Canal position as it then stood, permitted himself to say this, and I quote his very words -
On 25th September, the Prime Minister asked what were the courses . . . and suggested first of all, full-blooded economic sanctions; failing that, the use of force - that is, war against Egypt, and failing that, unless we continued to negotiate, to do nothing.
Now, honorable gentlemen will see the order of the emphasis - start off with fullblooded sanctions; if they fail, have a go at war; if that fails then, by a strange freak of fancy, you have some negotiations. That is the statement made about the views of the head of the Government of this country by the man who aspires to be the head of the Government of this country. Therefore, it is necessary for me - I apologize to honorable members for repeating this - to nail that utterly dishonest and false statement about what I said. I shall quote my very words without any qualification or apology. I said -
What then should be our programme of action in relation to the Suez Canal, that great international waterway, up to now . . nonpolitical, which is at present the economic lifeline of hundreds of millions of people north, south, east and west of it?
First, negotiation for a peaceful settlement by means of honorable agreement. So far, we have tried this without success. The failure, let me repeat and emphasize, has not been due to any unfairness or illiberality on our side, but to dictatorial intransigence on the other . . .
Should we continue to negotiate on a watereddown basis, in the spirit which says that any agreement is better than none? i cannot imagine anything more calculated to strengthen Colonel Nasser’s hand, or weaken our own.
Secondly, the putting on of pressure by cooperative effort on the part of the user nations. Colonel Nasser must be brought to understand that his course of action is unprofitable to his country and his people, and that he is abandoning the substance for the shadow. This is one of the great merits of the users associationnowestablished by the second London conference. The more canal revenue that is diverted from the Egyptian Government the less will the Egyptian people believe that it pays to repudiate.
So. so far, there is negotiation; there is negotiating pressure by the canal users’ association. My statement continued-
Thirdly, should the United Nations, by reason of the veto, prove unable to direct any active course of positive action, we may find ourselves confronted by a choice which we cannot avoid making. i state the choices.
And I stated the choices in stark terms. They were -
I added to that -
This is. I believe, a realistic analysis of the position.
And so it was! It stated the four possible courses. It made it abundantly clear that I was all for negotiation so long as we were not abandoning things that matter. And, indeed, the United Nations Security Council itself took precisely the same view subsequently when it unanimously adopted its resolution embodying the six principles for negotiation, which were the very principles that I had taken, on behalf of eighteen nations, to Cairo. So, the suggestion that this was something put in a completely reversed fashion is untrue and dishonest.
The third thing that I refer to is that the right honorable gentleman took exception to a statement made by my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, about the unhappy significance of racial problems in the Middle East. He rejected all that. He said, in effect - Oh, no, it was not orthodox enough in socialist circles to suit him. So, he said that the basic economic issue underlying the whole of the Middle East situation, including the Suez crisis, is the struggle of world monopolies to control oil supplies.
– That is true.
– Of course, 1 would expect any democratic socialist - new edition - to say that, because it displeases him. Of course, I would expect the honorable member to say it because he is the master, or rather the victim, of slogans. But I just put a few simple questions. Does this search for oil explain Nasser’s seizure of the canal? Will somebody explain to me, some day, -how he came to seize the canal because the monopolies wanted oil? Does the existence of great supplies of oil in the Middle East explain the issues which exist between the Arab and the Jew? Can anybody explain that?
– It does not explain why you do not get oil from our coal.
– Well, I think the honorable member’s leader, according to the arguments he has used, would answer that by, saying, “ Because it is not in the Middle East”. But who are the monopolists the right honorable gentleman talks about? re they the great eastern potentates who own the oil wells? Did they start trouble over the canal, and close it, so that they :ould not sell their oil? Are the monopolists the importers of the United Kingdom, a country whose industry would almost end without oil, the living of millions of whose ordinary people is dependent on oil? Did they start.to close the canal? I might even say that the monopolists, the great oil companies, are not unwilling in suitable circumstances to get as much as they can. But to the great oil companies, peace in the sources of supply is vital to the continuance of business and profit. All these questions suggest themselves, and I cannot imagine any answer to them that would line up with the statements made by the right honorable gentleman.
Then, the right honorable gentleman went on to talk, not for the first time, about nuclear tests. He made a passionate appeal which, I venture to think, should have been directed to Moscow. Indeed, it should have been directed to Moscow, because nobody in his five wits supposes that the United States, Great Britain and other people in the free world are going on with experiments with dreadful bombs just for the fun of it. I thought that everybody knows to-day that unless we have a deterrent in the free world then the free world is more subject to attack and defeat than perhaps it ever has been in its history.
The right honorable gentleman quoted the distinguished Prime Minister of Great Britain. He said, “The British Prime Minister, Mr. Macmillan, is satisfied as to the safety of these experiments. Who is he to be satisfied “ ? This is a very cun way of disposing of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom! This is a very curt way of disposing of the advisers whom he has available to him and who lead the world in their technical skill and in their developments in these matters! Of course, when the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom says he is satisfied, he says he is satisfied because he has had the highest possible scientific advice. But he is dismissed with a sneer - who is he to be satisfied? I should have borne it better had the right honorable gentleman asked who was I to be satisfied, because, after all. we have had the highest possible scientific advice in Australia on this matter and are constantly improving an organization to ensure that the safety of the citizen in life, limb and property is adequately protected.
Then the right honorable gentleman said something to which I hesitate to refer. 1 kept a straight face with some difficulty when he said it. He said that it was shocking to think that an experiment of this nature should take place at Christmas Island, so named by Captain Cook because it was discovered on Christmas Day! Because a human being, however distinguished, discovered this island and called it Christmas Island, is a most astonishing reason for discarding what is obviously regarded as the most appropriate place for the test. Discarding it in order to do what? To conduct the test elsewhere? Or to abandon it altogether, which is the real object of the exercise? This is the oldest of propaganda; we have heard it, and we have read it in various sheets in Australia. The whole point that was being made was that if you could only get the democracies to abandon their advancement in this field, then perhaps the day of the dictatorship of the proletariat would be nearer.
– Are you serious?
– I am serious. I frequently wish you were:’ Let the honorable member for Yarra ask himself - and answer his own question frankly - whether he wants the Soviet Union to have the monopoly of knowledge and experiment in this field. That is a fair question. If he does not want the Soviet Union to have the monopoly in this field, then all these appeals for cessation should be directed to both sides in this matter. But they are never directed to the Soviet. They are always directed to us. If the Soviet Union is to have the monopoly, then what defence have we? Those questions may be pondered upon with advantage.
Now, sir, I move on from those considerations to say something, quite briefly, about the policy which is apparently advocated by the right honorable gentleman and by at least some members of the Opposition, that it is a good foreign policy in itself to say, “We will take this matter to the United Nations “. Time after time, in this place, I have heard it said: “Plank No. 1 in our policy is unswerving adherence to the United Nations. We must take it to the United Nations “.
Mr. Ward interjecting,
– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) will have an opportunity to speak.
– I hope so.
– Throw him out!
– No, do not throw him out. He is exhibit A. 1 want to say this quite frankly: Taking a matter to the United Nations is not a foreign policy at all. Every nation must work oat its own policy^ the foreign policy that it wants to see adopted and operating, and when it has done that, it may then properly seek acceptance of that policy in the United Nations. The two steps are entirely different, lt is dangerous, sir, to delegate foreign policy to the General Assembly, because the General Assembly, which has recently come into a position of more prominence - not that it can give decisions, but it can make recommendations to the nations - needs leadership, and if it is to have leadership it must get leadership from great nations and small nations which hammer out their views on policy and then come to the General Assembly and say, “ We have studied this ‘ matter. This is what we believe ought to be done “. But it is an abdication of leadership to go along and say, “ Well, here is the problem. Where are the votes? “ Leadership cannot be given in the United Nations without a close consideration of every problem before it ever reaches the United Nations, and that great truth has been overlooked too much in recent events. 1 believe it was overlooked in the case of the Suez matter, with disastrous results - results which, as I shall show, have weakened deeply, although I hope not permanently, the position of two of the great European powers in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Still talking about the United Nations, I wonder whether I might put a few more queries. I should be delighted some day to learn the answers to them. What are the rules now on this matter? We have seen one body of rules applied to Great Britain and France. We have seen them told to go. We have seen one rule applied to Egypt and a markedly different one applied to Israel. We have seen one rule applied to the Western European Powers and a markedly different one to the Soviet Union in Hungary. What are the rules in this game now? The Panama Canal is built on Panamanian territory, but is under a perpetual lease granted to the United States. Suppose that the Republic of Panama, in the name of sovereignty, decided to repudiate its perpetual lease, as Nasser repudiated the Suez Canal lease. Would the United States’ redress depend on an advisory vote in the Assembly of the United Nations? If that is the position, no great nation cas fed ‘ very secure in constructing a vast work of that kind for the benefit of mankind. But is that the rule? Certainly it is the rule that was applied to Great Britain and France. Would it be applied to the United States?
Let me ask another question: If Communist China attacks Formosa, will the United States’ action be conditional upon a vote of the United Nations? 1 can answer that one, because I have discussed it with my American friends. The answer is “ No, it will not “. The United States has a treaty and it will honour its treaty. Yet, in broad principle, it is hard to distinguish between these cases, because after all, Formosa represents a vital interest for the United States and the Suez Canal represents a vital interest for the United Kingdom.
Let me ask yet another question, sir. If the Communists attack one or all the Seato powers in South-East Asia will America have any right to fight, except under a United Nations vote? On the principle propounded by the Leader of the Opposition, they will not. They must not fight except under a decision of the United Nations. Whatever the answer to the first question may be, it is completely plain that in the view of the Americans they have treaty obligations in respect of Formosa, they have treaty obligations in respect of South-East Asia and they will honour them to the letter - if necessary, with force. The distinction apparently is that if you have a treaty, you are entitled to perform the obligations of the treaty; if you do not have a treaty, then the United Nations must speak, and until it does no one can act.
Sir, this throws a new light, does it not, on the intense opposition of the Leader of the Opposition to the formation of treaties? He has always been opposed to Seato. He cast a lot of cold water on Anzus. He permitted himself no more than a dubious ejaculation about Nato. No doubt he realized, with prophetic insight, that people would carry out those treaties and would come to the defence of each other. But he wants a state of affairs in which there will be no such thing as that. In his view, you must take all matters to the United Nations and, even though a problem is one that concerns the very existence of your own country and those of your friends, you must consent to be out-voted by a certain number of people in the General Assembly:
The last group of questions to which I want to direct myself concerns the United Nations’ intervention in the Middle East. The first question is: Was the United Nations’ intervention a success for the United Nations? I think the answer to thai is, “ Yes, 1 suppose it was “. I suppose it was, because the General Assembly made recommendations, they were accepted by United Kingdom and by France, and fighting ended. If that represents a success - and perhaps it does up to a point - then the intervention, in that sense, succeeded. Bui was the intervention good for international justice? After all, there is no use in talking about the United Nations and elevating the mere mechanics of international discussion to great principle. The great principle for which the United Nations must stand is justice.
Was the intervention good for international justice? My answer to that is, “ No, it was not “. In the first place, sir, Israel has been made the victim of double standards on what are called belligerent rights. Let me explain that for a minute. Israeli ships were denied the use of the canal by Egypt in 1951. The matter went to the United Nations and the United Nations passed a resolution saying that Egypt’s action was quite wrong. Egypt’s answer before the United Nations was, “We are at war with Israel. We have an armistice, but there is no peace. We are at war and we have belligerent rights.” The United Nations said that that was wrong, but Egypt maintained its attitude. Israeli ships have not gone through the canal. Egypt has been in contempt of the United Nations for six long years. Finally, the Israelis said. “That is an act of war. You are imposing a blockade on our shipping at a time when we think we are at peace, and you justify it by saying that you are at war. If it is a war, two sides can fight in it “. Therefore, they attacked - and they attacked with historic success.
Then the United Nations, after the intervention by Great Britain and France, itself intervened. What did it do? It said to Israel. “ You must go out of the Gaza strip: you must go out of the Sinai Peninsula “. But what was said to Egypt? The
Egyptians put up the argument, “We have belligerent rights. We are not prepared to allow Israeli ships to go through the Straits of Tiran or the Gulf of Aqaba, because we have belligerent rights “. What has the United Nations done about it? It has been bowing to Colonel Nasser on this matter; through its chief executive officer, with bated breath and whispering humbleness. Israel has no guarantee and no protection. Egypt remains in possession of the field. No Israeli ship is passing through the canal, and there has been no establishment of Israel’s rights in Tiran or Aqaba. Is this a triumph for international justice? I cannot believe it is.
There is another aspect of that matter. The canal was sabotaged by Nasser for no military reason whatever. He sank 49 ships in it when he had no need to sink even a canoe for any military reason. As a result of the intervention of the United Nations, all the nations who have suffered by his act have the privilege of paying to clear the canal - he is not paying - so that it can be handed over to him all free of expense - all nice, neat, clean and in running order. ls that a triumph for justice?
There is a third matter. Honorable members may have noticed that during all these months there has been no more talk of compensating the Suez Canal Company, which, after all, was responsible for the canal long, long ago and which had its concession terminated. Compensation was to be paid, but not a penny has been paid. The canal was just taken from them - an act of confiscation.
– They have done pretty well.
– The honorable member for East Sydney says they have done pretty well. That is his standard of decency on these matters; it is not the standard of decency of this Parliament or of British people. All talk of compensationseems to have gone right down the wind. Is that a triumph for justice?
Finally, I come to the six principles which were adopted by the Security Council in a unanimous resolution, with no veto. They included the principle of non-political control of the canal. What has become of those? They have just blown away in the wind. The United Nations has forgotten about them. Colonel Nasser has forgotten about them. He is back in possession, and there we are. Is that a triumph for international justice? Sir, if my colleague was critical of what has been done by the United Nations in this matter, 1 am bound to say that I thought he expressed his criticism with studied moderation.
The final question is: Was the intervention by the United Nations good, not for the immediate cessation of fighting - I have conceded that - but good for peace in the long run? My answer to thai again is, “ No “. My reasons are four in number. First of all, the United Kingdom and France, which are vital to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, have been humiliated and weakened, and what weakens Nato weakens the whole of the free world. In the second place. Soviet arms have been poured into Egypt and Syria, and they are still going into Egypt and Syria - though, no doubt, the next time -the Soviet sends aircraft to Egypt it will send a few pilots as well - with the result that Soviet influence in the Middle East has been strengthened. This influence of the Soviet Union has, of course, encouraged . Nasser. It was an open secret that between the time of the London conference, which I myself attended, and the discussions in Cairo, Nasser had been in daily communication with Shepilov in Moscow, who had been giving Nasser advice. I call it advice, but perhaps what passed between them was on a stronger basis than that of mere advice. The influence of the Soviet Union was strengthened by this intervention, and that in turn encouraged Nasser, and it will, I fear, encourage others in the notsovery.distant future.
Thirdly, a comparison, no doubt frequently made in Moscow, between the futility of the United Nations in respect - of Hungary and its strenuous action against Great Britain and France in respect of Egypt must have shown the Soviet Un;on that it has nothing to fear from the United Nations. It may have a great deal to fear defensively from the North Atlantic powers. Its ally may have a great deal to fear defensively from the South-East Asian powers. Those are different matters. Butfrom the United Nations the Soviet Union is already encouraged to believe that there is nothing to fear, and that it may. therefore, do what is the essence of the cold war - it may continue to divide and’ conquer with impunity.
The fourth reason, sir, is that if a major war seems unlikely to-day it is because of the deterrent. It is because of the deterrent primarily, and the concerted friendship and organization of free powers backing up the deterrent. But a great war might still be produced by an incautious arrogance on the part of the Soviet Union, flushed with the success it has been having. That is always a possible cause of some mad stroke that may produce a war. A war might even be produced as a result of competition among candidates for the throne in the Soviet Union, because of their contempt for the West and their satisfaction that the position of Western Powers has been weakened. These possibilities - and they are dreadful possibilities - have been increased by the recent and most unhappy events in the Middle East.
Therefore, I say: Was international justice served by this intervention? No! Was the true cause of enduring peace served by this intervention? Nol One can only hope that all of our friends in the world - and they are our friends, because, although we have had some disagreement with them with regard to this matter, they know as well as we do that our friendship must be the rock foundation of our safety - will ponder over these events and take all the steps that need to be taken to see that they do not occur again in our lifetime.
– The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has once again made one of his characteristic speeches; He has proved that he is still Australia’s greatest juggler of words, that he is still our greatest word-spinner; but we listened in vain for the whole 45 minutes during which -he spoke for him to give some lead as to how the world can escape from the present mad position that it has got itself into as a consequence of certain tensions that have been built up, and about which the Prime Minister had nothing to say. The main burden of his speech was an attack on the Australian Labour party. It was,’ as I say. a characteristic speech. As usual, the Prime Minister resorted to an attempt to smear the Opposition and to give it the description of a Communist appendage. The Prime Minister spoke of nuclear tests by the Soviet Union, as though the Opposition, in opposing nuclear tests, were .willing to allow
Moscow to carry them out and merely wished to stop the Western Powers from doing so. No one knows better than the right honorable gentleman that the Opposition’s attitude to nuclear tests is that they must not be carried out, either by Russia or by any other country.
The Prime Minister gave himself away when he accused the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) of constantly repeating untruths in the hope that one day the people would believe them. The Prime Minister is himself a master of the technique of repeating untruths in the hope that the people will believe them. He has spent his whole parliamentary life repeating the untruth that the Australian Labour party is linked in some direct or indirect way with communism, in the hope that people will believe this untruth.
The Prime Minister made no serious attempt to diagnose the cause of international tension or to answer the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition in any other way than by blaming communism. He made no attempt to understand the reasons for Communist success in the world to-day, and it is important to know the reasons for Communist success if we wish to deal with the problem permanently. He made no attempt to suggest an answer to Communist success, except by the threat of another war. He almost accepts, I believe, the inevitability of another world war. In fact, the Government’s attitude has not changed since 1951. when, as honorable members will clearly recollect, the Prime Minister came into this Parliament and told us that he could anticipate - he almost guaranteed - a war with the Soviet Union within three years. That war did not eventuate, much, I often think, to his disappointment.
A war now, however, would be an entirely different proposition from the kind of war that we were guaranteed in 1951. A war to-day would mean virtual annihilation of the human race, because since 1951 a new factor has entered into warfare which was not then known in the way that it is known to-day. This new factor is the hydrogen weapon, the effects of which mankind cannot yet fully conceive and understand. If it could, there would be none of this mad talk about war and the inevitability of war. Does the Prime Minister realize that less than 100 hydrogen bombs would be needed to destroy every great power in the world to-day? Does he realize that only six hydrogen bombs would be needed to destroy seven-eighths of the whole of the population of Australia, including Tasmania? Despite these facts, the Australian Government is moving headlong towards the kind of war that means the virtually complete annihilation of everything good - and everything bad as well - that this and every other country stand for. The Government, I believe, has turned its back completely on the desirability of peaceful co-operation with the other countries of the world, lt knows that the alternative to peaceful co-operation is universal destruction, disaster and death. There is no other choice. 1 refer in this connexion to the declaration of the Brisbane conference of the Australian Labour party, to which reference has been made so often during this debate. I mention in passing all this nonsense about the declaration having been written by Dr. John Burton. Even if it were written by Dr. Burton, would that matter? After all, he is an expert on international affairs, and was appointed by this Government as High Commissioner to Ceylon, lt was not until Dr. Burton resigned this appointment that he left the foreign service of this country. It just so happens, if it is of any interest to honorable members opposite, that Dr. Burton had nothing whatever to do with the declaration.
The declaration states -
Australia must give greater practical support to the United Nations by way of conciliation and peaceful intervention for purposes of preventing war and of bringing all armed conflict to an end.
The Prime Minister announced to-night, for the first time to my knowledge, a statement on behalf of the United States of America which virtually means the complete destruction of the United Nations organization. He told us that he had the authority of the United States State Department to say that if anybody attacked Formosa, then, irrespective of what the United Nations Security Council or General Assembly said in the matter, the United States intended to go to war. If that is correct, then let us look at the position and let us stop this double talk that the Prime Minister had so much to say about. What if some one attacks Egypt and Egypt has an agreement outside the United Nations with Russia? Does that give Russia the right to come to
Egypt’s aid and plunge the world into another blood bath? Of course not. Whatever the United Nations stands for, it does not stand for the kind of thing that allows America on the one hand to make agreements outside the United Nations and Russia on the other hand to make agreements with other people outside the United Nations, and then when one of those lesser countries is attacked, to declare a general world war.
– Tell us about Hungary.
– The same applies to Hungary. If it is right for Formosa to be protected by the United States when it is attacked, then Russia can rightly say that it has the right to go to Hungary’s aid when Hungary is attacked. Lel us stop this double talk and stop trying to split our principles. Let us apply our principles consistently in all circumstances, regardless of what country we are dealing with. The situation that I have described might well arise if this new policy declared by the Prime Minister on behalf of the United States is to take the place of the present set-up in the United Nations. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics might make an agreement with Indonesia outside the United Nations. Mr. Soekarno could hand over the government of Indonesia to a Communist junta, and then if Indonesia were attacked by anybody outside, Russia could claim the right to go to the aid of Indonesia, irrespective of what the Security Council said. If that happened the United Nations would be powerless to stop Australia being plunged right into the vortex of any atomic war.
American aid is appreciated by this country, as the Brisbane declaration made clear. I have heard a lot of criticism about the Brisbane declaration, but not one member of the Government has yet pointed to one clause of it with which he can’ disagree. The declaration states that Australia must continue to maintain friendly relations with the United States. The Labour party appreciates the friendly relations with that country. We appreciated the assistance that the United States gave to Australia in the last war, when the Liberal party criticized the late ‘o’nn Curtin for seeking American assistance without which this country would have been over-run by the Japanese. What we say is that whilst we appreciate
United States aid and whilst we appreciate the friendship of the United States, it is fatal to suppose that we should accept as inevitable a hostile Asia. We do not want to see a hostile Asia; we want to see an Asia that is as friendly towards us as are America and other countries.
An atomic war would be suicidal. And the next war will be an atomic war, not an orthodox war. All the authorities admit that in an orthodox war Russia would walk across Europe in ten days. With Russia in control of all Europe, and the steel production of the Ruhr, of France, and other parts of Europe, added to Russia’s own steel industry, the scales would tip very quickly against the Western Powers. Our position would be untenable and hopeless. So, we are thinking in terms of atomic war only. We can think only of an atomic war because the authorities, including Lord Montgomery, say that we cannot win any other kind of war. So let us be realists. When we talk about force, let us say what we mean. When we say force, let us use the other words - hydrogen and atomic warfare. If we accept that a suicidal atomic war is the only method of retaining exploitation by monopoly capitalism or the control of the world’s natural resources, I say that the position is completely hopeless. As a civilization we are gone and our children and all that we hope will be theirs in this world we can forget, because we will not be here to see it. ‘ The truth of the matter is that the rulers of the Western Powers to-day fear and hate more than- anything else democratic socialism, about- which I will have a lot to say later in this speech. They object to democratic socialism, and yet, if they only knew i, democratic socialism is the only thing that can save their hides from the world of communism. Unless this country and the other democracies adopt democratic socialism and do it quickly they will have left it far too. late.
Now let me deal with the question of banning nuclear tests. The Prime Minister had something to say about this. The Labour party is utterly opposed to the testing of atomic weapons, whether by Russia or any other country. I make that clear. Here again is another declaration of the Brisbane conference -
The development of atomic weapons has reached such dimensions that the peoples of the world are now faced with the stark, and terrifying spectacle of a possible atomic world war, causing a danger to the very fabric of the earth, its atmosphere, and all of its inhabitants, which is so real that the distinguished scientists refer to the prospects with a sense of utter desperation.
Let us see what has been said by another authority, Mr. D. G. Arnott, secretary of the atomic science committee of the Association of Scientific Workers. He believes that thousands of people will die in the future because of nuclear bomb tests. He is quoted in “ Reynolds’ News “ as saying that there has been a sharp rise in the intake of strontium 90 in Britain since last year and that it now seems doubtful if there is any safe dose. He says that the indications are that any increased strontium 90 intake raises the liability to bone cancer and leukemia. Mr. Arnott suggests that children are particularly vulnerable, because they are building bones and they drink more milk. The position is, therefore, that people who are completely healthy to-day could easily be dying in ten years’ time from the very things that the scientists are warning us about. In ten years’ time, people who are now healthy could be dying, riddled with cancer and leukemia, because of this mad, stupid race in atomic weapons testing that is going on in the world to-day. The Prime Minister hit the nail on the head when he said, “ Can we dare be defenceless against Russia? We have to carry on these tests as a deterrent to Soviet Russia “. But the trouble is that while we talk like that, making no effort to stop these tests, Russia is saying the very same thing. The Russians exploded two more atomic bombs during the last three days, no doubt using the argument that while we go on conducting nuclear tests, they must do the same in order to have a deterrent against our use of the bomb.
Do not let anybody say that we would not use the atomic bomb first. Who used the only two atomic bombs that have been used yet? It was we, the Western Powers, who used them against the Japanese of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. So we can no longer plead that our Christian principles are so great as to prevent us from being the first to use atomic weapons. Other peoples of the world, particularly the Asian peoples, will remember that we did not hesitate to use atomic bombs against the defenceless women and children of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, knowing that the Japanese could not retaliate in like manner. This is the situation that we are confronted with in a world where the people are crying out for peace, in a world where the mothers, in particular, are yearning for peace. For how much longer must the mothers of the world produce sons to be used as gun fodder in defence of capitalist investments throughout the world? This thing has to stop. If we do not stop it soon,, we and the sons that the mothers of the world will produce will go up in an atomic cloud.
The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) had a lot to say about the Brisbane declaration, but he did not point to one clause and criticize it. He made a general sweeping criticism of it. Once again, he used the smear campaign. He believes that by repeating his accusation often enough he can get people to believe that, because the Communists support what we did at Brisbane, it must be wrong. I have yet to learn that the Communists do support it. If the Communists do support it, they are much better with regard to their foreign policy than I thought they were, because the policy declared by the Labour party at Brisbane is a policy which I would like to think the Communists would support. I do not know whether the Minister realizes the compliment that he paid to the Communist parties df Australia and of the world when he assured us that they support, in toto, what we did at Brisbane.
There is too much of this nonsense of saying that because the Communists oppose a thing, we should support it. The Communists can sometimes be right, just as we can sometimes be wrong. When the Communists are right, for God’s sake let us be big enough tq agree with them, just as we ought to be big enough to disagree with them when they are wrong. This business of putting ourselves in the wrong in order to ^ opposite to the Communist party is the reason why we are in the trouble that we are in to-day. Because the Communists said that they wanted peace, three years ago it was a crime to believe in any movement for peace. Because the Communists say that we ought to ban atomic warfare and atomic tests, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) would be the first to say that any one who wants the same things must be a Communist, too.
The honorable member for Mackellar and I had a cup of coffee one night with Professor Oliphant. He will remember what Professor Oliphant told us when he tried to explain the enormous power of the hydrogen bomb and gave us an example of what it could do. Over that cup of coffee he told us that it was possible to think of hydrogen bombs in terms of 50 megatons. What is a 50-megaton hydrogen bomb? It is a bomb with an explosive power equal to 50,000,000 tons of T.N.T. In the 1,000-bomber raids on Hamburg in the last war, when 10,000-lb. block-busters were dropped, the amount of T.N.T. in each 10,000-lb. block-buster was exactly one ton. The total amount of T.N.T. dropped in a 1,000-bomber raid on Hamburg was 1.000 tons, but here we are talking about a bomb with explosive power equal to 50.000,000 tons of T.N.T. Think, of the madness of the thing! How much longer is this Government going to go on threatening this kind of war in a world which demands peace, a world in which the mo.hers yearn for peace and the right to see their children grow up?
– Sob stuff!
– The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull; says it is sob stuff only because he has not any sons. If he were a father with sons and had the same love for them as every father that I know has for his sons, he would not call it “ sob stuff “. We have to prevent our young men from being destroyed. The trouble with this Government is that it is hell bent on having an atomic war somehow, and anybody who tries to avoid the kind of suicidal war that we are faced with is called a Communist sympathizer. I say that no country could win an atomic war. There would be no winners. Every country engaged in the next atomic war would be defeated.
The Australian Labour party believes in striving to create a world situation which will ensure the inevitability of peace, rather than the inevitability of war. Labour sees a brighter future for mankind than that which is offered by this Government’s foreign policy. Labour does not accept war as the only alternative to communism, as this Government does. Democratic socialism can destroy communism, and it will destroy communism if it is accepted in time. The only force in the world to-day that can destroy communism is democratic socialism. Democratic socialism is another name for the policies of the Australian Labour party, the New Zealand Labour party and the British Labour party. It is another name which states more explicitly what those parties stand for.
Even if every Communist in the world were burnt or made to believe in capitalism, the threat of war between the capitalists of the United States, of Europe and of Asia would still be just as real as the threat of war is to-day. Do not forget that differences in ideologies are merely the means for lining up the sides in the war that is always carried on when there is greed and avarice on one side and on the other. The causes of war are material as much as they are ideological. Capitalism showed itself to be quite capable of preparing for, and of fighting, two world wars, without the aid of communism. Can anybody who knows the history of World War 1. truthfully say that the Communists started that war? Can anybody truthfully say that the Communists started World War II.? Of course not! If every Communist were burnt to-morrow, the capitalists who started the first and the second world wars would show that they were capable of starting a third world war. The factors which caused those two world wars will remain unless they are understood and grappled with by this and other governments. The factors which caused those wars were material factors - trade, trade routes and closed markets. Closed markets caused the German people to cry out for living space. It was because Hitler could not get a job as a paper-hanger that he became the leader of the Nazi party. It was because hundreds of thousands of other Germans could not get jobs in their own country, due to the fact that the markets of the world were close to German manufacturers, that they turned to the Nazi party in desperation.
– Hitler was a democratic socialist.
– He was nothing of the kind. He was a national socialist. I am glad that the honorable member made that interjection. There are many brands of socialism which we completely disagree with. The national socialism which Hitler espoused and the corporate socialism which Mussolini espoused are two brands of socialism that we completely and totally disagree with. We disagree entirely with the absolute socialism of the Communist countries. We disagree completely with them because we have very good reasons for doing so. We of the democratic socialist parties are the number one enemies of the Communists in every part of the world, because they know that we represent the only force that can stand between them and their complete domination of the world. Because we represent the only force that can stand between communism and its domination of the new world, the Communists know that we are their No. 1 enemies.
The cure, I believe, lies in control by the United Nations of the world’s resources of oil, uranium and other materials that are basic to the world’s economy. I do not believe that any of these basic materials should be monopolized by any one nation, much less by any individuals. Surely no one will say that any nation or individual has a God-given right to monopolize an oil or uranium deposit or any other resource that is basic to the welfare of all God’s creatures! No one can truthfully say it.
In regard to trade routes, I refer in particular to the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal, the Dardanelles, the Kiel Canal, the Straits of Gibraltar, and even, if you like, the Manchester Ship Canal. If it is correct that the Suez Canal should be placed under international control, why should not the Dardanelles, the Panama Canal, the Kiel Canal, and the Straits of Gibraltar also be placed under international control? It is sheer nonsense for the Prime Minister to say that, because the United States of America has a perpetual lease over the Panama Canal, no one in Panama can have any say over it. That nonsense presupposes that this Government has the right to give Kangaroo Island to some other power in perpetuity and that no future Australian Government can reverse its decision. What a mad. stupid and preposterous proposition to advance - that a government of to-day can decide the future of generations unborn in respect of a particular part of its own territory! But that is the basis of the Prime ‘Minister’s proposition. I believe that the only proper course for the preservation of world peace is for Russia, France, the
United States and Britain to withdraw from all bases on foreign territory. Let them all withdraw from every base outside their own territories and the problem of world tension will be solved.
– You will not get Russia out of Hungary.
– The Minister talks about Russia. The trouble in the world to-day is that, while the United States and the other Western Powers fear attack by Russia, Russia sees itself ringed by hostile bases and similarly fears attack by the Western Powers. So the tension is maintained.
– What about the Russian satellites?
– I believe that the satellite countries have every right to resent the presence of Russian troops, but how can we expect Russia to withdraw from those territories while it is surrounded at every point by American bases on foreign territory?
– If the Minister looks at the map, he will see where. I want to see Russia withdraw from the satellite countries. But let us, for goodness’ sake, apply the principle completely and require every other nation to withdraw from its satellites also. Let us not continue to split our principles in our foreign policies. “We cannot have one rule for Suez and one for Hungary “, says the Prime Minister. I agree with him entirely. The Australian Labour party has never adopted one rule for Suez and another for Hungary. It applies a rule that holds good for all countries. Let Government supporters, when they talk about the Hungarian people’s right to self-determination, consider the rights to self-determination of the people of Cyprus and Malaya. Let them apply the rule both ways. Let them not split their principles and do the very thing that the Prime Minister accused the Opposition of doing.
I believe that the immediate aim of this Government, if understood and properly analysed, and that of the other capitalist powers, is to preserve world capitalism from the threat of democratic socialism, because, since the hydrogen bomb has ruled out the practicability of holding communism by force alone, the final phases of the present struggle between the East and West are going to be determined on the battlefield of ideas. Let us remember that: The final stages of the struggle are going to be determined on the battlefield of ideas. Therefore, we have to direct our attention to that battlefield. The battle cannot be won by disgraceful smear campaigns such as those that have made famous - or, rather, infamous - certain United States senators. We do not need a measure such as the McCarran act to prevent every one who has ever been or is ever likely to be a Communist from entering the country. Even Professor Oliphant, a mutual friend of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and myself, was refused entry to the United States, presumably on the ground that he was a dangerous person. How silly can people get? How silly can countries get when they act in that fashion towards respectable people like Professor Oliphant? That is the sort of thing that is happening in the world to-day.
Democratic socialists find no difficulty in meeting Communist argument. We democratic socialists are not afraid of Communists entering this country, because we have an argument that the Communists cannot answer. It is only when one cannot answer the arguments of the Communists that one wants to keep them out. It is only when a country is afraid of the consequences of letting its citizens see Communist countries that it wants to prevent them from travelling to Communist countries. Again I refer to the mad rule of the United States which prevents United States citizens from even entering red Ch ina. If red China is the evil place that the American authorities say it is, would it not be well to allow as many Americans as possible to visit it so that they could return to their own country and tell every one else from first-hand knowledge just how bad it is? I am not afraid of any Communist country or argument because I have a better argument than the Communists can ever advance.
– What is it?
– The argument of democratic socialism, about which I shall tell the honorable member before I finish. It is deplorable that the Americans have resorted to a smear campaign which has resulted in the regrettable episode of the suicide of that magnificent gentleman who represented Canada as its ambassador in Egypt.
– The honorable member had never heard of him before.
- His death was undoubtedly the result of a smear campaign, and it was rightly described by Mr. Lester Pearson as murder by slander. I deeply regret that incident. The great United States has done itself no good in the eyes of decent-thinking people by allowing some of its leading citizens to murder this man by slander. I believe that that is the kind of thing that the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) would do by means of the notice of motion that stands-
– Order! I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– You are very quick to-
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor will keep quiet while I am on my feet. I ask the honorable member for Hindmarsh to withdraw his remark.
– I withdraw it.
– I said-
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor will keep quiet.
– I only said that you are very deaf to interjection by Government supporters.
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor will apologize to the Chair.
– I did not think that you had heard what I said.
– Order! I ask the honorable member to obey the Chair and keep quiet.
– The people who supported the Australian Communist party referendum would have done the very same kind of thing that has been done in the United States, where a person can be declared a Communist without anything being proved against him, without the right toface his accuser in the open courts, and with the consequent loss of his job.
– I rise to order.
– Order! The honorable member for Hindmarsh is getting very far away from foreign affairs.
– My point of order is that the remark made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh is offensive to me and to the House.
An Opposition Member. - It is the truth, anyhow.
– Order! Every honorable member who disobeys the Chair will find himself marching out of the chamber quick and lively. I intend to keep order.
– The allegation that the honorable member for Lyne would indulge in or support practices of the kind mentioned by the . honorable member for Hindmarsh is, first, insulting to me.
– He withdrew it.
– Order! The honorable member for Hindmarsh withdrew that reflection.
– It is not your fault, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that an attempt is being made to prevent me from saying what I want to say.
– Order! I direct the honorable member’s attention to the fact that most of the interruptions have come from his own colleagues.
– What about the interjections from the Australian Country party quarter of the House?
– Order! Most of the interruptions came from behind the honorable member for Hindmarsh.
– The position is simply this: I have said that the democratic socialist party, of which we are proud members, has no fear of meeting the Communist argument anywhere. For the information of honorable members who do not know, I shall point out what democratic socialism stands for. Whereas socialism stands for public ownership and public control, for the public good, of those monopolies which are exploiting the people, democratic socialism goes one step further. It says that the new owners of, or shareholders in- call them what you like - socialist, or publicly owned undertakings will have the right every three years to determine, at the ballot-box, whether they want more socialism, whether they want less, or whether they want to alter the form of the socialism that they have. That is democratic socialism. There is nothing wrong with it. Under the Commonwealth Constitution, every government, whether socialist or not, has to go. back to the people every three years to ask them whether they approve of the measures that it has introduced. The people have a. perfect and complete safeguard because, no matter what socialist measure may be brought in by a socialist government, they have the right, at the end of three years, to put that government back again, or put it out. No politician - and every one present can vouch for the authenticity of this statement - will do something for which he thinks the people will later reject him. He will keep within the limits of what he believes to be the democratic will of the people. Under democracy, if he does not, he goes out.
Democratic socialists believe that there are two distinct forms of private property. One is what we can describe as a person’s home, a motor car, a radiogram, a piano, a. small business, a shop or something of that sort. In other words, it is that form of private property which gratifies human desires. The second is the form of private property which manufactures the first form. In other words, it manufactures the form of private property which gratifies human desires. If human desires are to be met, is it not important, is it not axiomatic, that the second form of private property - the one which produces the first form - ought to be under public ownership and control if it can be proved that the present ownership and control is exploiting the people who desire the first form of private property? That is all that the democratic socialists stand for.
– Order! Is the honorable member linking this up with foreign policy?
– I hope that you will let me proceed. Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, because every speaker on the Government side has mentioned democratic socialism. I ask you to he tolerant and allow me to answer my opposition. I do ask you to bear with me and allow me some latitude.
– I do not desire to stop you from answering charges that have been made against you.
Mr. CLYDE CAMERON__ As a result of this idea of thought control that is being introduced in America, and of the steps that at times we have attempted to take to control the thoughts of people, we are destroying the only real difference, from the point of view of liberty, between the Russian system and democracy. Once we take away a person’s right to think and to express his point of view, the difference between our system and the Soviet system is barely detectable, even with the assistance of an electronic device.
We cannot, and we must not, expect to be able to put people’s minds into strait jackets in Asia either. People have the right to think for themselves. Unfortunately, communism is beating the West in the battle for the minds of men. because the only alternative to communism which the West has so far been able to offer has been the evil effects of monopoly capitalism, and the people of Asia, who have had three hundred years of that, want no more of it. If they are told that this is the only alternative to communism they will say, “ We have had capitalism. Let us have a dose of communism, because it could not be any worse “.
I would like to quote now the remarks of the late Mr. Ben Chifley. On 7th March. 1951. he said in this Parliament something which epitomizes the point of view of every Labour man in Australia-
As much as we ha’e communism, ami unpalatable as ii mav be thai China and other nal ions have gone over to communism we must never forget that only by curing the evils in consequence of which communism spreads can we finally des roy communism itself.
That is true. It cannot be denied. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) says the same thing over and over again in frying to point out that if we are to deal properly with the present world situation we must deal with its cause. The cause of it is communism if you like: materialism if you like: hut if you think that it is communism von will not cure it until you get to the cause of communism. You cannot go on tinkering with effects. Unless the cause is dealt with there is no hope. If honorable members think that that is an exaggeration 1 invite them to look at the position in Italy, the cradle of Christianity, and truly the greatest Christian country in the world. Thirty-six per cent, of the entire population voted for Communist candidates at the last general election. The number of votes gained by the Communists has been progressively increasing at successive elections. It is reasonable to assume that at the next election it will be greater still.
– We hope not.
– Yes, but the number will increase unless the rulers of Italy deal with the causes of communism. The causes of communism there are poverty, hunger and a refusal to give the people the right to earn a living off their own land. Five families own the whole of the land that can be seen on a railway journey of 110 miles.
In France it is the same. There was a substantial increase in the number of Communist voters at the last election. This has all been caused by the fact that France is not able to give to its people the right to work and the right to rear their families as human beings.
Indo-China would not have been lost if the French had had enough common sense to give it the right to govern itself. The democratic socialism government of Great Britain, under Clement Attlee, gave that right to the people of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon. But for that action, those four great Asian countries would now be firmly in the grip of the Communists, just as certainly as night follows day. They were saved by the action of the democratic socialist government of Great Britain.
Will any one say that the 600,000,000 coolies of China really accepted communism in preference to the corrupt Chiang Kai-shek government because they understood, or had ever read, “ Das Kapital “, or understood anything about the finer points of dialectical materialism, or the theory of surplus values? Of course not. They accepted communism in a spirit of utter desperation. They were prepared to turn to any system which would give them some hope, some opportunity of escaping the tortures of the one under which they were Hying. It is true, and has been often said, that whoever controls China controls Asia, and whoever controls Asia controls the world, because two-thirds of the world’s population live in Asia. In 70 years’ time the population of Asia will have doubled. How much worse will the position be then? The lesson to be learnt from these things is that we cannot go on allowing the few rich to grow fabulously wealthy while the millions starve.
I regret that I have to pass by many points that I wanted to make to honorable members. We have to recognize continental China. Mr. Chifley said that if he had been elected to office in 1949 his government would have recognized continental China. I believe that the democratic socialists of this Parliament feel that, regardless of class, colour or creed, every human being, whether he be an Asian, an African or a European, has an equal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I believe that if democratic socialism can be introduced into the world confidence and hope will take the place of doubt and despair, that a new feeling of fellowship will permeate the minds of men and that service to society will be the only measuring rod of success. Democratic socialism, therefore, is the only hope, the only force that can save the world from complete domination by the Communist party.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– In the short time available to me I wish to talk about something practical. Time does not allow me to make an expansive survey of the trials and tribulalations of this troubled world; so, postmortems on Suez I leave to other, perhaps bigger, brains, because, as a simple soldier, I have never been able to understand the object of the exercise, except as far as the Israelis are concerned, and I can only hope that the results there will be beneficial to all concerned. I want to speak for a few minutes as an average citizen, as a member of a free nation, one of the family - not merely of British origin, not merely of Commonwealth affiliation - but one of the worldwide family of free nations which look with dismay at what has happened recently to Anglo-American relations, and which realize that their security and the preservation of their ideals and ways of life depend on the closest possible confidence and co-operation between Washington and Westminster - between Britain and America, the two strongest members of the family.
All of us, of course, know that this is a divided world in which we live. We want to ease international tension. We have the ideal of promoting disarmament provided we can get international safeguards to guarantee it. In other words, we all want to do those things that will, in the long run, bring peace on earth to men of goodwill. But that is not very easy, with the bluff and bluster of the Communist imperialists, such as we see in Europe to-day.
There are two characteristics of the Communists which stand out. One is their respect for strength; the other is that they rapidly exploit weakness. They also promote, with great ability, all kinds of propaganda. Therefore, we do not want our efforts for peace to imply that we are in any way like people being hypnotized by a boa constrictor preparatory to being swallowed. There are many people to-day whose vision is blinded by their own idealism. We can see an example of that on the other side of the House. There are others whose visions are fixed on soft cushions on which they hope to sit in their old age; and sometimes foreign policies are affected unconsciously by such visions. There are others whose perspective is so distorted by subtle narcotics injected into the body politic by the wily that they cannot distinguish between drug dreams and reality. All these people affect, very materially to-day, the friendship between Great Britain and the United States.
Two years and two months ago I tried, when in Tokyo, to issue a warning. All the way up the China coast I had been alarmed at what I had seen and heard to make me realize that the main Communist strategy is to divide and conquer - the old strategy of the Roman imperialists - and that that was the strategy they were applying particularly to the relationship between Great Britain and America. I was alarmed at its success. I was accused of all sorts of things for the statement that I made. I was accused of going against Government policy. One has only to read the article written by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), in “ Mufti “, in May, 1955, to see that I was wrongly accused, or read the Prime Minister’s speech in this House on 20th April, 1955, when he even flattered me by using the same phraseology oi “ divide and conquer “, which he used again to-night. My statement was not against Government policy. It was intended as a warning and to be of some assistance to the United Nations forces in the Far East which at that time were in a time of crisis following the evacuation of the Tachen Islands
I was interested to receive last December, as a result of some publicity I got in America in connexion with the Olympic Games, a letter from General Hull, now retired and living in Washington, who was, at the time I made that statement, United Nations Commander in the Far East. He said -
The statements you made at that time were of great assistance to me, and I will always appreciate the position you took and the support you gave the United Nations Command in the Far East.
Unfortunately, my statement was not popular in Westminster and in some other quarters. The only regrets I have in connexion with that Tokio statement are that my appreciation of the situation was, unfortunately, correct, and has been borne out by subsequent events. I say that it is a pity, not because I said it, but because it was true, that more notice was not taken of it. If we go through the history of recent years in the Far East we find, unfortunately, that every time America wanted to stand firm. Britain wanted to compromise, and the diametrically opposite policies of Great Britain and America in the Far East have now brought about the great division between the two countries which has been evident for some time, particularly as these opposing policies are reflected in the Middle East. The origin of the division is in the Far East, but the repercussions are now in the Middle East. Last July, I tri «o warn people in Washington and Westminster what the result was going to be. But no Cassandra is popular. Now, we see in yesterday’s newspaper reports the statement - I hope it is not true - that Great Britain intends to po it alone and trade with red China. The b=ill has come back into the Far East court. If that is true, all I can do is to plead, without the eloquence but with the same fervidness of heart and voice and mind as
Edmund Burke pleaded on 22nd March, 1775, when he said, in effect, that the question is not what are your national rights, but what is right in the interests of those who love you and love the freedom that you love. Are the interests and greed of the present to barter away the security of the future? Do not think for one moment I am foolish enough to suggest that the mistakes have been all on the one side. I do not think anybody is foolish enough to suggest that. I have not forgotten Yalta, Potsdam and the tragedy of the Marshall mission to China. I wish America would give more credit to Great Britain for fulfilling her historic mission in assisting others to independence, instead of carping criticism on “colonialism”. Since the war more than 600.000.000 people have been granted independence, mainly by Great Britain, but also by other members of the European family of nations of the free world. Without the help of Great Britain most of these people would not have reached natio’nhood. In the same time more than 600.000,000 people have been enslaved by the Communist imperialists. So, I wish America would give Great Britain more praise for her virtues. Perhaps, on both sides of the Atlantic, we should look for things that we can praise each other for, rather than look for things over which we can indulge in carping criticism. On the one hand, we have people who want to carry on the old War of Independence of 200 years ago. These are, one might say, brash people who want revenge still for things tied up with the old Boston Tea Party. On the other side, we have the cynical supercilious and jealous attitude of the stuffed-shirts of the diplomats of the old colonial school. The former are in America, the latter are in Great Britain, and both are in a small minority, but they have had too much influence of late. The vast majority of people, whether in Great Britain, Australia or America, want to see the two strongest members of the family of free nations of the world getting closer together, not drawing farther apart in accordance with Communist strategy. Perhaps I might suggest, in a humble way, that the method of approach is one of the most important things in connexion with this division of opinion. We in Australia have an important part to play, but we cannot play it if we think that Westminster is the fount of all wisdom, or that Washington cannot make a mistake - 1 was going to say “ cannot tell a lie “. But in the long run, there is one other thing we want to remember: That double talk to tickle our listeners’ ears is making the worst of all worlds.
The Labour party, on the other hand, has enunciated a foreign policy. What is it7 It springs from one of two causes. At the best, it is idealism completely divorced from the realism which made a Labour government call for help from America - and rightly so - in 1941, and at its worst, it is based on Sharkeyism, because it follows, item for item, the policy for Australia set out by Mr. L. L. Sharkey at the eighth Communist conference in Peking in September, 1956, and broadcast by the Peking Radio. The Leader of the Opposition started off by attacking Seato. It does not mean anything to him, apparently, but it does to the Philippines and Thailand, and also to some other nations who are not members of it. He went on to insult Thailand. When all is said and done, Thailand’s form, of government is far more democratic than is that exercised by the executive of the Australian Labour party at the present time. Who are the members of the Opposition to criticize? They want to weaken the Malayan Federation by taking away the Australian Imperial Force, which is there only because it was asked to be there. It is helping to provide security and is thereby repaying some of the debt which, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) may remember, we owe to Malaya for its loyalty and for what it suffered in saving us from a worse fate during the last war. That debt has not been repaid.
Finally, I come to the recognition of red China which, I suppose, the right honorable member for Barton thinks is a popular subject at the present time, but concerning which he said, in 1949, that the Communist government” of China could not be recognized in the absence of specific assurances that the territorial integrity of neighbouring countries would be respected, and that the new China would discharge all its international obligations. When he looks at Korea, Indo-China, Tibet, Nepal, the infiltration into Kashmir, arid the Burma border incidents, does he think that those international obligations have been fulfilled and that territorial integrity has been maintained? He does not! Great Britain supported the recognition of red China early in the piece, and what did she get? A smack across the mouth with the back of Mao’s hand, the confiscation of £300,000,1)00 worth of industrial assets without one penny compensation, and other indignities. You can tell it to the marines, but you cannot tell it to the overseas Chinese and make them understand, that recognition of red China docs not mean approval.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), in his usual style and with his usual enthusiasm, has been trying to do a good job and has, in fact, done a darned good job in creating fellowship and understanding between us and our neighbours, and also in assisting to promote security through Anzus and Seato. The Prime Minister, in the speech to which I have referred, on 20th April, 1955, said that, under his leadership. Australia’s prestige- was high and that we had a right to be proud of it. But something has slipped since then. Governments, like individuals, are judged by deeds, not just by words. I find it rather difficult to understand people who advocate a defence policy based on American arms, communications and equipment and then, by inference and inaction, undermine American foreign policy in the same area. In the speech that the Prime Minister made on defence last week, the right honorable gentleman very rightly drew attention to the savage toll of the lives and cultures of the people of South-East Asia taken by the Communists. He described the subtlety of their machinations and their immoral approach to international relations. There are very few people in this House who will not agree with that summing up of the Communists in South-East Asia, but I find it difficult to see the logic in the Government’s policy when, believing that, it promoted the visit of our senior trade commissioner in Hong Kong last year to Peking for an hour’s interview with the Prime Minister of red China. We may disagree as to whether or not he should have gone, but I fail to see the logic of it in view of an apparent ban on Ministers of the Government visiting the Republic of China in Formosa. That visit opened the flood gates for many other visits and many other missions with which we may or may not agree. All I say is that if people want to visit somebody with whom 1 am technically at war, I wish they would do so at their own expense, and I wish they would see other places besides Hong Kong, which is the greatest smugglers’ cave invented by man. Unless the object of the exercise is to cause loss of face to the 14.000.000 Chinese outside Formosa, they ought to visit Nationalist China as well as Peking.
The Prime Minister himself, I am glad to see, is at last going to visit the Far East. 1 am glad that he is to visit the Philippines, and also Japan and Thailand, but 1 am sorry to see that he is not going to pay even a courtesy call on the Republic of China at Taipeh. What is the reason? Is it because Westminster would not like it? ls that the reason we have no consul there at the present time, despite the fact that we have had a Minister here in Canberra for a long time? Was not the Republic of China - a free nation - one of our allies in the war? We owe the Nationalist Chinese a lot more than many honorable members opposite will give them credit for. There are almost the same number of people on Formosa as there are in Australia, and the Government there represents, if not stability, at least something firm in the shifting sands of China’s destiny to the 14.000.000 overseas Chinese. If they lose their morale and go “ Com.” because they think they are going to be deserted, all of South-East Asia will be in considerable danger. 1 should like to ask the Government to have another look at this important question, because I do not think it realizes everything that is involved in it. I myself make no bones about it: I am not in favour of the recognition of red China, for the good reasons given by the right honorable member for Barton in 1949, for the reasons given by the Secretary of State. Mr. Dulles, to Seato recently in this chamber, and for the reasons given by Mr. Walter Robertson, the Assistant Secretary of State for the Far East, in Washington last week, and published in yesterday’s newspapers.
What happens in the future is possibly for the future, but what we do to-day may have a great effect on it. AM I ask is this: There has been a Bermuda conference. The Prime Minister of Great Britain and the President of the United States there discussed many of these subjects which 1 have only lightly adumbrated to-night, but I believe that if all of us realize the importance of ushering in a “ new Bermuda era “, in which trade rivalries, jealousies and the spirit of revenge are submerged to the place where they ought to be, then, perhaps, we can get together and assist all free nations of the world to promote the progress and prosperity of, and guarantee the security of not only those who now belong to the free nations, but also those who love the freedom that we love.
.- It is to be regretted that, in a debate of such importance, private members of the Parliament are afforded only twenty minutes in which to state their views. Had I the time, I should deal with a number of the inaccuracies in the speech of the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes) regarding the Australian Labour party, but I shall merely make reference to his statement that the policy of the Labour party lacks realism. If there is anything which distinguishes the policy of the Labour party from that of its opponents, it is the party’s realistic approach to the situation in which this country finds itself. Nobody but a fool would fail to recognize the precarious position of this country, with a very small population, with a large area, and situated in a part of the world where it is threatened with all types of dangers in the future. Yet honorable gentlemen opposite are concerned only with defending and protecting capitalism. That is their sole desire.
Let us consider what Australia can do. A member on the Government side, earlier in the debate, said that Australia had to fashion its foreign policy according to ils strength. It is no use talking strong unless the means are available to back up your words. That was the tenor of the remarks of the honorable gentleman opposite. What is Australia’s position? If thee is one country to-day that should be striving for peace, it is Australia. Yet we are in great danger. We are in great dan-er because we have, leading the Government of the country, a war-monger - a man who is very anxious and very disappointed because fo far his meddlesome methods ove*seas have not involved this and other countries in ?n armed conflict. It is rather interesting to know that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is so contemptuous of public opinion and of parliamentary on,n’on that consistently, having made a speech. *-e thinks that everything that can be said has been said, and departs for other quarters without paying any heed to the viewpoint of the Parliament or of the Australian community. I know that he always has an excuse. I understand that the reason for his hurried exit this evening is that he has gone away to pack some presents for his friend, the Emperor of Japan, whom he will see on his forthcoming visit to that country.
Let us review the position. The Prime Minister claims to be a champion of democracy. After listening to the Prime Minister, one would think that democracy was challenged from one quarter - that the challenge came only from Communists. It is perfectly true that the Communist philosophy is opposed to that of the Labour party as a democratic organization, but, just as we are threatened by the Communists, so are we threatened by the fascists. Do we hear the Prime Minister ever offer one word of criticism of countries where fascism prevails to-day?
– Where is that?
– In Spain; that is one country. Not one word of criticism of Spain has been uttered by any member of the. Government. Whenever a government which might be regarded as a democratic government leans a little to the left - it need not necessarily be a Communist government; it may be merely a progressive government - this Government immediately dubs it as Communist.
Let us examine the situation in the Middle East, the area in which we have had the latest interference by the Prime Minister. He took strong exception to the nationalising of the Suez Canal. That seems to be his only consideration - nothing else. He is worried about the capitalists who invested their capital in the Suez Canal. Dr. E. Ronald Walker, Australia’s permanent delegate to the United Nations, had something to say on that matter. No doubt he was expressing not his own view, but the view of this Government. He said -
Egypt’s action in nationalizing the Suez Canal could have big repercussions on the flow of capital to undeveloped countries . . . undoubtedly a breach of international law. which, if overlooked or condoned, would encourage further acts of lawlessness.
That was all they were worried about. They thought that, if the Egyptians got away with the seizure of the Suez Canal, other peoples would be encouraged to seize assets that had been established in their countries.
Let me pass on to another aspect of this important question. I have said that the Prime Minister is a war-monger - and so he is. He said that the nationalizing of the Suez Canal constituted a breach of international law. But, in 1952, the United Nations Court of International Justice, dealing with the question of the Iranian seizure of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company’s works, said -
A Government has the right to nationalize any company in its territory.
That appears to me to be quite a just decision. But the Prime Minister referred to the nationalizing of the Suez Canal as Egypt’s wrongful action and said that it should be resisted at all costs. He tried to prove, by reading from a speech that he made recently, that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) had been wrong and dishonest, to use his words. in summing up his policy as one requiring full-blooded economic sanctions and then the use of force. What did the expressions “ at all costs “ mean, if it did not mean resort to force?
It is rather interesting to note that three weeks after the Prime Minister made his statement in this House, the United Kingdom and France struck in Egypt. I should think that the Prime Minister, probably unbeknown to his own colleagues, and certainly unbeknown to the people of his own country, had committed Australia to war in the event of the United Kingdom and France striking. Immediately the United Kingdom and France struck, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) offered to provide a battalion of Australian troops - 900 men - for use in Egypt. What had happened? Would such an insignificant member of the Government as the Minister for the Army, on his own authority, pledge this country to provide armed forces for use in Egypt? He did so because he was in consultation with the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister, who had pledged this country to war, arranged with the Minister for the Army to make this offer from this side of the world. There is no. doubt about what happened.
What led to the nationalizing of the Suez Canal. Let us consider this question frankly. The honorable member for Chisholm suggested that we should be realists in this matter. First of all, the Egyptians were trying to play the iron curtain countries against the Western Powers, and evidently they were doing so fairly successfully. They were bleeding each group in turn to bolster their very weak economy and to get the arms that they desired. But then the Western Powers became disturbed because Egypt was looking to the iron curtain countries to supply the things that she had not been able to get in sufficient quantities from the West. So the Western Powers imposed a trade boycott on Egypt. In 1955, the United Kingdom, which had been the first trading nation with Egypt, had fallen to the eleventh position and the Soviet bloc had risen to the first position. Czechoslovakia, which supplied a lot of the arms acquired by Egypt, was actually buying Egyptian cotton and selling it to Lancashire, in England, for less than the cost of purchase. It was actually losing on the transaction, because it was playing the game of politics.
What happened then? The United Kingdom and the United States of America decided to bring greater pressure to bear on Egypt. We have heard a great deal about breaches of contracts. Although they had entered into an undertaking to help the Egyptians to finance the Aswan High Dam. which was so important to Egypt and which was to cost £580,000,000, they suddenly decided, without consultation and without warning, to withdraw their offer immediately. That was done deliberately because they wanted to bring pressure to bear on the Egyptians. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “, which is not a Communist journal, on 27th July, 1956, said -
The plain fact is that the Anglo-American stand has kicked the props from under the Egyptian President’s foreign and domestic policies . . .
His Domestic Policy was based on the completion of the High Dam (Aswan) within 10 years . . .
It has to be built if the promises to the people are to be even half-way fulfilled . . .
Without it, the rising pressure of population will lower still further the present miserable average living standard in Egypt.
That was the situation. What alternative did the President of Egypt have to nationalizing the Suez Canal to obtain the revenues needed to construct the great dam which would help to lift the miserable living standards of his people? It was merely a question of move and countermove. There is no doubt that that was the situation.
Let me come to the question of Commonwealth consultation. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) denied that the Prime Minister had pledged this country to join the United Kingdom and France in war. Will the Minister say that this country was fully consulted on every move and on every negotiation that was taking place during the days that preceded the attack on the Egyptian nation? lt is perfectly true, and it is widely recognized to-day, that Sir Anthony Eden blundered very badly. If it had been left to the Edens and the Menzieses, we would certainly have been engaged in war to-day, together with France and the United Kingdom. What stopped the war was public opinion, in Great Britain and elsewhere, which demanded that there should be no war over the protection of the assets of a few capitalists who had reaped enormous profits as a result of an investment that they had made in the construction of the Suez Canal. The Prime Minister asked: Who built the canal? Certainly it was not the people who financed it. According to reports which have not been denied, 120,000 Egyptians lost their lives in the construction of the canal. In my opinion the people who invested their capital in the canal have done handsomely out of it. as the figures will show. In any case, the charge that they were not to be compensated is untrue, because the Egyptians agreed to compensate on a proper market valuation. The shareholders did not want that; they wanted the compensation to be made on the enhanced value which they believed their assets possessed.
We find, therefore, that there is something to be said for both sides in this argument. Let us now turn to the question of Commonwealth consultation. Australia is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. We are supposed to he equal partners in this Commonwealth of Nations. If one nation becomes involved in an armed conflict, the others are assumed to be committed. But what is the fact? Australia was not consulted in this matter. The United Kingdom and French forces had invaded Egypt, and the first we knew of it was after the blow was struck. The Prime Minister said that events were moving too quickly for effective consultation. I sincerely believe that the Prime Minister was kept fully informed, and that he knew what was happening, hut that he was not telling his colleagues and he was not telling this Parliament. Lester Pearson, the Canadian Minister, said that the Commonwealth of Nations was on the verge of dissolution. Let us hear what Lord Home, the Secretary for Commonwealth Relations, had to say about this matter. In a most contemptuous statement, he said -
Britain had consulted the Commonwealth nations as much as could he expected, when it is borne in mind that several of them would have opposed her action. All Commonwealth Governments were informed as soon as possible afterwards.
This statement was made by the Secretary for Commonwealth Relations, and he said plainly that Great Britain did not confer with the Commonwealth nations because some of them were opposed to what was happening. He said that in any case those nations were told as soon as possible afterwards. Of course, we know of Sir Eric Harrison’s proposal. His way out of the difficulty was to have two commonwealths, one commonwealth- that you told and the other that you did not. That is the way that Sir Eric Harrison would have dealt with the question of Commonwealth consultations.
Let me now say a word or two about the Israelis themselves. I believe that the Israelis have put up a terrific struggle to exist under very difficult circumstances, and I believe they should be encouraged because Israel is a democratic nation. As a matter of fact, if the Minister for External Affairs would admit it. in Israel to-day there is a great deal of socialism being practised. In a portion of the world where democratic freedoms are unknown except in this particular country, what do we find? In Israel the ordinary Arab and Jew are working quite well together. They are in business together, and they are getting along quite well. But the people who wish to continue racial enmity are the very Arab chieftains who have been hacked by the reactionaries and the conservatives of the world. If the Arabs and Jews were left alone to resolve their own differences they would have a peaceful arrangement in no time. Therefore. I say that those people have been used as mere pawns in the game.
The Leader of the Opposition has said that the big issue behind what was happening in the Middle East was the struggle tor oil. and in the few minutes that remain to me I hope to be able to show that that is so. It is perfectly true thai there are many issues in the Middle East which are not the creation of the oil monopolists, but it is also perfectly true that the oil monopolists, with their great powers, are using these local issues and turning them lo their own advantage, because they know thai 64 per cent, of the world’s oil reserves are in the Middle East, and that 25 per cent, of world production of oil to-day comes from the Middle East. The United Kingdom and the United States of America practically divide the field, and the oil interests of those two countries have been reaping enormous profits. Bui when the Suez crisis arose and oil supplies from the Middle East were interrupted, these great patriots whom honorable members opposite are so prone to talk about, the oil monopolists, immediately raised the price of oil in their own country of America by 1 2 per cent. They were prepared to exploit not only the British nation and the other free nations of the world but also their own people. This is what the New York “ Post “ had to say about this action of the oil monopolists -
It is a grim story of greed and irresponsibility. The country must decide how long it will endure government of, by and for oil interests.
In the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “, of 7th February. 1957, there was a rather interesting article by Dr. Emery Bares dealing with what the oil monopolists have been doing in the Middle East. The author said -
United States ex-Congressman Hamilton Fish, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committee on the Eisenhower Middle East doctrine, declared that United Slates oil men were behind the Arab revolt in Algeria, f (Dr. Emery Bares), first heard of Aramco’s alleged agreement with (he Algerian rebels from a high French official a lew days before Israel attacked Egypt on 29ih October. 1956. The antiFrench rebellion in Algeria started in January, 1955. The French became puzzled at the liberal supply of arms which was reaching the rebels. The Algerian Revolutionary Committee in Cairo seemed to be affluent, lt had ample supplies of cash, including dollars.
The Aramco referred to is a combination of American oil companies, lt is rather interesting to note that at about the sams time the French had struck payable oil at Fort Flatters, 500 miles south of Algiers. On 9th October. 1956. the French captured five leading Algerian rebels by a trick. These rebels were proceeding from Morocco to Tunis for a conference. The pilot of their aircraft landed in Algiers, and when the plane was searched 35 lb. of documents were discovered which had been taken by these five Algerian rebels. The documents included an agreement with Aramco, the American oil monopolists. Under this agreement large sums of money were to be paid monthly to the Algerian Revolutionary Committee, and the Aramco oil combine was to be given the sole rights of oil exploration and exploitation in Algeria, lt is quite evident that the oil monopolists were exploiting the situation in the Middle East, and that the real struggle was for oil and power. Have honorable gentlemen forgotten the story of the Buralimi oasis? The Saudi-Arabians, backed by the United States of America, and the Sultan of Oman, backed by the United Kingdom, claimed that the area in question was in Saudi-Arabia and Oman respectively, because it was considered to have great oil potentiality. Mr. John Foster Dulles issued a warning to Britain, and a report appeared in the Sydney “ Daily Mirror”, of 17th January, 1957, as follows: -
Britain’s activities in the Persian Gulf area threatened Anglo-American relations. Events ill Oman were moving wilh such rapidity (hat nothing short of an immediate understanding could prevent an open U.S.-British split.
That had nothing to do with Egypt, and it had nothing to do with Israel.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Drury) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr. WARD (East Sydney) [10.401.- This morning I received a reply from the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to what 1 regard as a most important question-
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker- Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 30
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.46 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– A very good statement on this matter was made by the Minister for National Development, in the Senate, on 21st March last. I suggest to the honorable member that he should read it.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2 and 3. The staffing and administration of schools in the States is a matter entirely outside the Commonwealth’s responsibility. I am, therefore, not in a position to supply the honorable member with information on these points.
Reception at Parliament House.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
and 4. As per schedule attached.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Mr. Vladimir Petrov.
Mr. Ward Asked The Prime Minister, Upon Notice -
Is he able to say whether (a) a man arrested on the 27th November. 1956, at Surfer’s Paradise, Queensland, originally gave his name as Vladimir Petrov but was subsequently charged under the name of John Olsen, (b) the Brisbane “ Sunday Mail” previously reported that Mr. Vladimir Petrov and his wife were holidaying on the south coast of Queensland, and (c) that the man charged under the name of Olsen failed to appear in court and forfeited his bail?
If the position is as stated. was the person involved the former Russian legation official who, with his wife, sought and obtained political asylum in Australia?
s. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. I have been informed that Mr. Vladimir Petrov was arrested at Surfer’s Paradise on 27th November. 1956. on a charge of drunkenness, gave his name as John Olsen, failed to appear in court and forfeited his bail.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I have received a telegram from Mr. Kraegen and have told him it would not he practicable for me to visit timber districts. I have already made known my views on this matter, and I refer the honorable member to my recent remarks if he has any doubt as to my attitude.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
To the Prime Minister - £10 10s. per day.
To Ministers, President, Speaker and Leader of the Opposition - £7 7s. per day, other than in Canberra or a nominated home base. These allowances have operated since 1st July, 1956. (b) The normal travelling allowance is not paid for overseas travel. In such cases it has always been the practice whatever Government is in office for a grant to be made to cover expenses. 3 and 4. Since 1st July, 1956, allowances paid to the Prime Minister as indeed to all members of Parliament, Ministers and office-bearers of the Parliament have been subject to taxation law in the normal way. The taxation concessions which were available to all members of Parliament a few years ago do not now operate.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. The Lodge is owned by the Commonwealth and is provided as a residence in Canberra for the Prime Minister of the day. Therefore, the Commonwealth meets the cost of maintaining the buildings and the grounds; the cost of staff employed in running the household: and the cost of items such as light and power, fuel and telephones. Other expenses associated with running the Lodge are a personal responsibility.
a asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Import duties -
British preferential - 3s. 3d. each or 17½ per cent, ad valorem.
Most-favoured-nation - 4s. 6d. each or 35 per cent, ad valorem.
General - 5s. each or 35 per cent, ad valorem. (The rate of duty imposed is that which returns the higher duty in each case.)
Cathode ray tubes -
British preferential - £7 each.
Other - £7 each plus 12½ per cent, ad valorem.
Excise duties -
Valves- 2s. 9d. each.
Cathode ray tubes - £7 each.
Customs duties are also payable on the impor tation of various other components of television receiving sets. The rates of duty vary considerably according to the type of component and the country of origin. Similar components, manufactured in Australia, are not subject to excise duty.
m asked the Minister for
External Affairs, upon notice -
Which nations have (a) granted, (b) refused, and (c) expressly deferred recognition of Australia’s Antarctic claims?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows:-
t asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
z asked the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Trade with Japan.
d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Immi gration, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
It has been a basic principle of Australia’s post-war immigration policy that Australia reserves the right to determine who may be admittedto Australia for permanent settlement. This reservation relates not only to tile general suitability of the prospective migrant,but also to their numbers, occupational categories, and so forth. The actual selection process has been devised to ensure the maximum assessment of a prospective migrant’s qualifications. All forms, including application forms, and related documents are those prepared by theCommonwealth Department of Immigration or, if originating from the overseas country concerned, those which have been approved by the Australian Government. The organization in each of the Australian immi gration posts overseas provides for an establishment including -
Selection officers (who are Australian based personnel with knowledge and experience of Australian conditions and requirements);
Medical officers (including radiologists) of the Commonwealth Department of Health;
Security officers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization; and
Technical advisers appointed by the Department of Immigration on the nomination of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, whose function is to advise on the technical suitability of migrant tradesmen.
The selection and medical officers generally comprise a selection team which interviews applicants in permanent processing centres and/or ona mobile basis in various national labour offices,on a regular schedule of visits. The security officers and technical advisers are not as a general rule permanently attached to a selection team but, in performing their specialized functions, join the selection process at required intervals. The actual selection procedure varies according to the country in which the selection is taking place, and to the arrangements made by the host country, but a general pattern does emerge of the processa prospective migrant undergoes from the moment of application to time of approval for admissiointo Australia. This may he summarized as follows: -
When an application on the prescribed form is received by the Australian immigration authorities overseas it is first checked to ensure that the prospective migrant fulfils the Australian criteria as to eligibility for consideration under the relevant scheme. When it has been established that the migrant is eligible for consideration, action is immediately commenced for security checking.
The field office or selection team on circuit nearest the applicant’s place of residence calls the migrant forward for interview, when a processing sheet with the applicant’s personal particularsis completed. This document is in accordance with Australian requirements.
The applicant is examined by a medical officer of the country of emigration. who completes all relevant particulars on the prescribed form, and is X-rayed by an approved X-ray authority.
If the applicant is a tradesman he is interviewed by the Australian technical adviser, who completes a technical officer’s report, which is submitted to the selection officer. In some countries, provision is made for the tradetesting of applicants where this is considered necessary by the technical adviser.
The applicant is physically examined by the Australian medical officer, who also reviews the pre-selection medical examination carried out by the national authorities. The Australian medical officer may require further tests or an additional X-ray examination before making his recommendation, which is later subject to confirmation by the senior Australian medical officer who examines each applicant’s medical dossier.
The applicant appears for examination before the Australian selection officer, who at this interview also checks all personal and official documents submitted by the prospective migrant.
The completed documents (interview and medical reports. X-ray and radiologist’s report, technical report form) are brought together by the selection officer to form a dossier, on which he makes his recommendation before forwarding it to the Australian Chief Migration Officer in the country concerned.
When the dossier reaches the mission head-quarters, the medical form and X-ray photographs are further examined by the Australian Senior Medical Officer and Radiologist, who make a recommendation for approval, deferral or rejection of the application on medical grounds.
Normally the security check has been completed by the time the applicant’s other papers have been finalized, and in the event of the rejection of the applicant on security grounds, the case is closed.
Final action in the other cases is taken by the senior processing officer who checks all documents, including security and medical papers. If satisfied that all the documents are in order, applicant’s dossier is endorsed “ Approved for Migration “.
The average time taken to complete the checking of an eligible applicant is approximately two months after the initial receipt of the application by the Australian immigration authorities. There are currently 125 Australian-based officers engaged upon immigration duties overseas. Of this number 96 (who would include officers on duty from Other departments for specialized functions, but excluding executive and administrative officers) are employed upon the actual work of screening applicants for permanent residence.
m asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
What proportion of the passage fares ofthe 10,000 Hungarian refugees whom Australia has agreed to admit this financial year will be contributed by (a) the Australian Government, (b) the United States Escapee Programme, and(c) the Intergovernmental. Committee for European Migration?
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The majority of the 10,000 Hungarian refugees whom Australia has agreed to accept during the current financial year will come from Austria, which has carried the brunt of this refugee exodus. We are, in addition, taking some from countries of second asylum; that is, European countries to which these refugees have been moved on from Austria to relieve the strain on the latter’s resources. These countries of second asylum, namely, Switzerland, France, Denmark, and Italy, have generally undertaken to make some contribution towards the cost of moving the refugees to overseas countries of permanent resettlement, such as Australia. The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
£A.38 (85 dollars), being the normal Australian per capita contribution in respect of migrants moved under the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration auspices.
£A.56 (125 dollars).
The balance of the passage cost. The average passage cost is 400 dollars (or £A.179) and to the extent that there is a payment by the country of second asylum, the contribution by the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (vide (c) in the previous paragraph) would be reduced.
d asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2 and 3. Such information as is available is contained in the reports by the Committee of me Immigration Advisory Council established to investigate conduct of migrants. Copies of the reports, presented in January, 1952, and November, 1955, have been sent separately to the honorable member. This committee comprised -
The Honorable Mr. Justice W. R. Dovey.
Mr. A. E. Monk, federal president, Australian Council of Trade Unions.
Mr. J. C. Neagle, C.B.E., then federal secretary, Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia.
Mrs. J. G. Norris, O.B.E., National Council of Women of Australia.
These reports establish unequivocally that the incidence rate of crime amongst aliens in Australia is considerably less than the incidence rate for the whole population.
The following figures relate to deportations of-
d asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. There was no resolution to this effect by the delegates at the last Citizenship Convention held in Canberra.
t asked the Minister for Territories the following questions, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are at follows: -
t asked the Minister for Territories the following question, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Vo child was removed without the consent of the mother. In no case was the paternity of the child known.
ser asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
ser asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
ser asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Postal Building at Bateman’s Bay.
r asked the Postmaster- General, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
An imported prefabricated residence is being erected for the postmaster at Bateman’s Bay. A number of prefabricated buildings were obtained by the Commonwealth some years ago to relieve the tremendous strain which the post-war building demand placed upon the supply of local materials and man-power. The plans for the Bateman’s Bay residence were submitted to the Eurobodalla Shire Council in September, 1955, when the local saw-mills were in full production and no objections were raised. The limitation of resources available for Commonwealth works and urgent demands elsewhere caused some delay in advancing the project to construction. It is the general policy of my department and the Department of Works, which is the constructing authority, to use local building materials wherever possible. All the materials used in the Bateman’s Bay residence are of satisfactory quality.
t asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
t asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Army Eviction at Port Kembla.
y asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
ser asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has furnished the following replies: -
Queanbeyan, New South Wales and Canberra, Australian Capital Territory at present controlled by Commonwealth Railways should be transferred to the control of the New South Wales Railways The Commonwealth Railways Commissioner ha.tentatively discussed the matter with the New South Wales Railways Commissioner, who it i.* understood is investigating the proposition.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has furnished the following replies to the honorable member’s questions: -
In the proceedings leading to the issue of the Airlines Pilots’ award the Australian Air Pilots Association placed before the court certain information as to the salaries of air pilots overseas in support of its claims. The learned judges of the Full Court, in their judgment in this matter, stated that they could not regard comparison between Australian and overseas rates of pay as giving any guide, however rough, to the fixation of the salaries of Australian air pilots. It was further stated by the court that the existence of a discrepancy between Australian and overseas salaries of pilots, a discrepancy which would likely be found as to other highly skilled and responsible employees, is not a ground for increasing the salaries of pilots. The court decided its task was to fix the Australian air pilot’s salary in its proper place in this country’s salary and wage system. Since the issue of the Airline Pilots’ award in December, 19S4, pilots’ salaries have been under almost constant review by the various airline companies and the rates approved by the Full Court were increased during 19SS and again with effect from 1st July, 1956. The substantial increases granted from 1st July, 1956, were as a result’ of an agreement negotiated by the Air Pilots Association with Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, Qantas Empire Airways Limited and Trans-Australia Airlines. I might add this agreement has been ratified by the Arbitration Commission and remains in force until 31st January, 1958.
s asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. The question as framed is not clear. Many hundreds of inquiries about migration are made each week by people in the United Kingdom. These are dealt with on a current basis and the number outstanding is nil. Many of those who inquire do not follow up their initial approach. Others, who fall outside the categories currently being recruited in the United Kingdom, or who are in excess of the current targets for a particular work category, although they have no nominator in Australia, may still wish to be considered for migration if an opportunity should arise under Commonwealth nomination or group nomination. The particulars of these are recorded in .an occupational index and in due course many of them are offered opportunities of migration.
Those who remain in this group for any appreciable time comprise mainly categories of workers for whom there is virtually no unsatisfied demand in Australia at present.
The number of workers listed in the occupational index was as at 1st January, 1957, 11,340; 1st January, 1956, 8,675; 1st January, 1955, 11,755. If, however, the honorable member refers to personal nominees (i.e., migrants who are nominated by residents of Australia and foi whom accommodation and employment are found by the nominator) the situation is more clear cut. This group comprises about 60 per cent, of the total number of United Kingdom migrants going as assisted passengers to Australia. The average waiting time of personal nominees, between date of scheduling of their nomination in Australia, and sailing date from the United Kingdom, is approximately six months. Working on this basis, the number of personal nominees awaiting passage to Australia as at 1st January, 1957, 1956 and 1955 respectively would be (allowing for normal wastage) approximately as follows: - 1st January, 1957. 7,200; 1st January, 1956, 7,100; 1st January. 1955, 8,200.
Generally speaking, the only personal nominees whose departure would be delayed more, on the average, than six months after the date of scheduling of their nomination from Australia would be those whose applications were held up on medical grounds or those who themselves request that their departure be deferred for personal reasons Many parents, for example, desire their children to finish a school term. Others wish to dispose of their house or attend to other personal business matters. Many of the migrants included in the figures quoted above would already have been advised about passage arrangements, while most of the balance could expect to hear about passage arrangements within a short time. On the general question of British migration to Australia, the honorable member will be interested to learn that figures provided by the United Kingdom Board of Trade, which are based on sea movements, show that from January, 1947, until June, 1956 (the latest date for which such figures are available) the number of migrants going to Australia from the United Kingdom has been no less than the combined total going to Canada and New Zealand combined. Figures for United Kingdom migration to the main Commonwealth countries of Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand were -
These figures speak for themselves, particularly having regard to the fact that, in common with New Zealand, Australia is at a disadvantage compared with the other countries because of its greater distance from the United Kingdom.
r asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Bearing in mind the important reservations made above, the following are the numbers of permanent new arrivals recorded as going to the various States between October, 1945, and December, 1956. The Commonwealth Statistician maintains records of permanent arrivals entering the various States on a quarterly basis and the last quarter for which figures are available is the quarter ending December last: -
The Commonwealth Statistician has published in the 1954 Census, figures showing on a State basis the period of residence in Australia of persons born outside Australia. These figures refer to persons who, on 30th June, 1954, had been in Australia for periods up to eight years. The results in each State were as follows: -
The honorable member will note that the total shown of 681,616 is substantially less than the total figure of 1,155,330 in the first table. The two major reasons for this difference are -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 April 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1957/19570409_reps_22_hor14/>.