22nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2,30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. PEARCE presented a petition from the United Protestant Association of Queensland praying that the Parliament give immediate consideration to a temporary cessation of the intake of Southern European migrants to allow more people of British and Northern European stock to settle in Australia.
Petition received and read.
– With the concurrence of the House, I desire to announce to honorable members that, as requested by the Leader of the Opposition yesterday, I have conveyed to the Prime Minister the best wishes of the House for his early and complete recovery from his illness. The Prime Minister has asked me to thank the Leader of the Opposition and honorable members for their concern for him, and to say that he is looking forward to being able to return to his office as soon as the state of his health permits.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Defence a question about a proposal, or a plan, for him to visit the United States of America in connexion with the purchase of defence equipment. Can the Minister elaborate a little on this matter so that the House may be informed from the correct source instead of through the press?
– No official announcement of a visit by any mission to the U.S.A. has yet been made. When such a mission is decided upon, an announcement will be made.
– Does the Minister mean that such a mission has not yet been decided upon?
– I said that no official announcement had been made.
– 1 desire to direct a question to you. Mr. Speaker. In explanation, I should like to state that several of my constituents have recently informed me that they attempted to telephone me while I was at Parliament House, and were unable to reach me. In addition, when I was away from the building on one occasion, I tried to communicate with two members whom I knew to be present, but 1 was unable to do so. f ask whether you are satisfied that the paging system is satisfactory. If not, will you consider increasing the volume slightly where necessary? Will you also instruct the telephone operators to see that parts of the building which have no paging system, such as the library, are checked when a member cannot be found? Would it be possible to ascertain, occasionally, what percentage of the calls made to members present at Parliament House are received by them? Is a list of the members who are absent on any day given to the telephone operators so that callers can be advised of their absence?
-I shall have a look at the matter raised by the honorable member, and if necessary I shall confer with my colleague in another place and we shall advise the honorable member in due course.
– I address a question without notice to the Minister for Trade. Has the right honorable gentleman’s attention been directed to a statement, attributed to a member of the consultative committee on import policy, that Australia should strive to find a better solution to her balance of payment problems than the periodic imposition of import restrictions? This gentleman said that the control of imports by the issue of licences was a clumsy interference with individual initiative and was liable to serious abuse.
– Order! What is the honorable member’s question?
– I am about to ask it. I desire to ask the right honorable gentleman whether he agrees with that statement, and, if not, whether he does not think that some better and more equitable system of import controls than that at present operating could be introduced.
– Referring to the statement made by Mr. W. S. Kelly, for whose opinions 1 have great respect-
– I did not name him.
– The honorable member named him yesterday. Import regulation is an objectionable administrative arrangement. The Government itself concedes that readily. It exists only because of the overriding necessity of preserving the international solvency of the country. The truth of the matter is that, during the period of office of this Government, the Australian citizens have attained such high prosperity, capacity to spend, and standards of living, and the tempo of development both in the public sector and the private sector has been so great, that the end result has been a demand for imports exceeding the earning capacity of our exports. That is the situation, and the Government has devoted itself primarily to policies encouraging the earning of export income - with very considerable success, as the figures show. But in the meantime, and as no more than a stop-gap to be entertained only so long as it is unavoidable, import licensing has been chosen as the device for preserving the international solvency of the country and the value of our currency. It will not be retained for any longer than there is necessity for it. That is the simple explanation of the situation.
I know it has been suggested by the gentleman who is quoted that tariffs should be used as a substitute for import licensing. On that I say that more than half of the total imports into this country are the requirements of Australian manufacturers and that to try to curtail the volume of requirements of Australian manufacturers, by the device of loading them with additional tariffs would seem to be quite contrary to the general public interest of Australia, as well as that of the manufacturing community. I am sure that the Government is right in choosing import licensing, wretched as it is, as the best device in our national circumstances.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question. In explanation, let me say that I have been informed that the prices paid for tobacco-
-Order! There is too much audible conversation.
– I am informed thai the prices paid for tobacco grown in Queensland are greater than the prices paid for tobacco of the same quality grown in Victoria. I ask the Minister whether this is so, and if it is so, whether he can explain this price difference.
– It is correct to say that the prices paid for tobacco leaf in Queensland are greater than those paid for tobacco leaf in certain parts of Victoria. I am not prepared to enter into a discussion of the reasons given by various interests. Some people say that the smoking quality of Queensland leaf is a little better than the smoking quality of Victorian leaf, and vice versa. Others say that because of certain transport difficulties, and because of the need to encourage the production of Queensland leaf, a small premium should be given. There are several considerations which enter into this discussion, which is not one that the Government willingly enters into, but which it leaves to the two parties to work out for themselves. What I should like to say to the honorable member is that I think that this year the returns to Queensland producers have been excellent, and I have every expectation that this year also the prices paid to the Victorian growers will certainly not be disappointing.
– I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs. Is it a fact that the United Nations General Assembly passed ten resolutions condemning the crimes of the Soviet Union and the Kadar Government in Hungary, and that these resolutions have been totally defied? Is it also a fact that when United Nations observers were barred from Hungary the United Nations General Assembly finally set up a commission to hear eye-witness accounts of events in Hungary from refugees abroad, as well as from newsmen and neutral observers, and that this commission has finished its investigations and has begun to compile its report? Is it further true that every day’s delay means that more people in Hungary are persecuted and condemned to deportation or death without even the help of protests from world public opinion, or the United Nations? If these are facts, and as the Hungarian revolution will be cold history by next September, when the next regular session of the General Assembly is scheduled to be held, will the Minister make urgent representations to have the present session of the General Assembly reconvened immediately in order to hear the report of the special commission on Hungary, and to take action regarding it?
– A general, broad answer to the numerous questions asked by the honorable gentleman is: Yes, those things are broadly true. The United Nations General Assembly established a special committee consisting of representatives of five countries - Australia, Ceylon, Denmark, Uruguay and Tunisia - to investigate the spontaneous uprising in Hungary in October and November of last year and to report back to the Assembly. Australia appointed its Ambassador to the Philippines, Mr. Shann, as its representative on that committee, and Mr. Shann became the rapporteur of the committee. The committee has had hearings in New York, London, Geneva, Vienna and Rome - I think that is the full list of the capitals in Europe in which it had its hearings - and its report is now in course of compilation.
It is expected that the report will be available towards the end of this month. As soon as it is received it will, of course, be transmitted to the governments concerned, including the Australian Government. It will be examined rapidly and then the governments, or the Secretary-General of the United Nations, plus the general committee, together with the president of the present 11th session of the General Assembly, will decide whether or not the present Assembly should be reconvened - because the assembly is still technically and formally in existence and can be reconvened at relatively short notice. I think that reconvening of the Assembly takes only a matter of a few days, which are necessary for the despatch of the requisite telegrams to the various governments and the obtaining of agreement to reconvene. Not only will the report of the special committee have been received by then, and be taken into account by the reconvened Assembly, but also the reports received from Australia and other countries that have accepted Hungarian refugees will also be taken into account. Australia, of course, had an investigation on this matter, at its end, and I have already laid on the table the relevant report which, 1 expect, has been read by a number of honorable members, lt is an extremely interesting report. Such report: will have been taken into account by this special committee and, I expect, will find some space in the report eventually submitted by it to the General Assembly. I cannot say more than that.
– Is the Secretary-General of the United Nations now in Hungary?
– I do not believe so. 1 believe that the Secretary-General, Mr. Hammarskjoeld, is in New York at the moment, but I am not absolutely certain of that. However, I will undertake that the representation made by the honorable member is taken into serious account by the Government when the time comes to consider the reconvening of the present Assembly. That means that this report will not then have to wait until next September, when the next Assembly convenes.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration: Is it possible to indicate the number of immigrants who have been settled in country districts in relation to the total number which enters Australia yearly? What proportion of the new immigrants are being absorbed by the primary industries? What means is the Department of Immigration employing to encourage new Australians to settle in decentralized areas?
– I cannot answer the honorable member’s question offhand, because it involves far too many figures, but 1 shall be pleased to let him have any statistics that are available. The only figure that comes readily to my mind is that, of all the people recruited for the rural industries during the last three or four years, about 70 per cent, have been new settlers from other countries.
– I ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he will have laid on the table of the House, as early as possible, all of the Tariff Board reports now in the hands of the appropriate Minister. Further, will he suggest to the Minister that any further Tariff Board reports that come into his- hands before the end of the present sessional period be placed on the table of the House before the recess?
– The Minister for Trade will answer the question.
– There is a number of Tariff Board reports which can be tabled shortly. 1 undertake to table all reports, subject to a reservation which I shall mention. Those that can be tabled will be tabled before this sessional period ends, but 1 cannot undertake to table, before the sessional period ends, every Tariff Board report that has been presented, for a reason which, I am sure, the Parliament will understand, lt is a reason that has been traditionally understood by the Parliament. The Tariff Board’s function is to report to the Government, but there is no obligation upon the Government to accept the board’s report. That is an historic fact. The Government cannot decide whether it will accept or reject a report until that report has been examined at its own level - often an inter-departmental officials level. If a report recommended a substantial increase in duty, it would be quite improper to reveal that fact before the Government had decided to take the appropriate parliamentary steps to increase the duty - in short, to make the whole business community aware that a substantial increase in duty had been recommended. But to permit a hiatus to occur between the publication of the recommendation and the Government’s decision to take action would, of course, lend itself to taking advantage of a “ release from bond “ situation, which no government in the history of this country has ever condoned.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Air by referring to my personal representations on behalf of Aircraftman Hickey, who resides in my electorate. Considerable publicity has been given to Aircraftman Hickey’s allegations that he did not receive speedy or adequate medical treatment from the Royal Australian Air Force after an accident, and further, that his parents were not notified of his admission to hospital. Can the Minister say when the inquiry into this matter is expected to be completed and a reply to my representations given?
– I regret that the honorable member has not already received a final reply. Inquiries are proceeding, but they are not yet complete. However, I can give the honorable member an interim answer now. I think that three separate complaints were made about this young man, who was a national service trainee in the Air Force and was involved in a motor accident while proceeding to Newcastle from Rathmines. The first complaint was, I think, that his parents were not informed. Preliminary inquiries show that they were informed by telephone, either on the morning after the accident or the morning after that - I am not clear which. At any rate, within a comparatively short time they were informed by telephone of the fact that he had been involved in an accident. It is probably correct to say that they did not get any formal written notice, but I am not aware that it has ever been an invariable practice of my department to give written notice in these matters. It seems to me that the important thing is to give effective notice.
The next complaint was that he did not receive adequate treatment. He was taken to hospital in Newcastle and X-rayed immediately after the accident. His facial injuries were stitched up and he was returned by ambulance to the Air Force hospital, so it hardly seems likely that he did not get correct treatment at the time. The next complaint was that he had a broken bone in his face. He has now a broken bone in his face, but whether he got it as a result of the motor accident, or as a result of later events, is open to some doubt, as honorable members may realize in a moment. The final complaint was that he was forced to attend a bivouac when he was not fit to do so. The fact is that, some seven days before he went on the bivouac, he was asked by his superior officer whether he was in a fit state to attend or not, and he preferred to attend. The records also show that he took part in a passing-out parade of his unit and afterwards danced all night before he went home. Though I can understand the anxiety of the parents, from all that I have heard about this young man, he is an average virile, strong and healthy young Australian and fairly well able to look after himself.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration whether his attention has been directed to the fact that last year about 38,000 immigrants left Australia for their place of origin, or for some other country. Is he aware that though Britons accounted for 41 per cent, of arrivals, they also accounted for 80 per cent, of departures? Has any attempt been made to establish the factors contributing to this high departure rate and, if so, are the principal reasons, first, the lack of suitable accommodation because of the housing crisis and, secondly, the chronic difficulty experienced by immigrants in obtaining suitable employment?
– The honorable member’s so-called facts are all wrong. The pertinent statistics show that permanent arrivals in Australia have been of the order of 1,150,000, of whom 950,000 have come from northern Europe, and 550,000 have been British nationals. This country receives more British immigrants than Canada and New Zealand put together.
– We lose more, too!
– The honorable member for East Sydney has probably been misled by the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures. The Statistician puts down under departures every one who goes overseas for a period of twelve months or more. For instance, a doctor may be going-
– And “ arrivals “ include those who have been abroad and are returning.
– They do not. If the honorable member will examine the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures he will see at the bottom of the page a caution that the figures are not meant to be applied to immigration. The department has information showing that though about 6 per cent, of British immigrants have returned to the United Kingdom, a substantial number of these have either come back or are now applying for permission to come back.
– Is the Minister for Supply and Defence Production prepared to comment on the announcement by the United States Army of the adoption of the T.44 rifle as a new, standard weapon?
Despite the Minister’s recent assurance regarding the FN. 30 rifle and the standardization of ammunition with that of the United States forces, this recent move could be taken as indicating that Australia’s planned production is already outdated. I should be relieved to know that that is not so.
– I saw a report about this matter, and asked the American Embassy to supply me with a copy of the official report. The embassy has done so. It is true that the American army is standardizing upon the new rifle mentioned. There was some disappointment in some quarters that the United States of America has not seen fit to standardize on the F.N. rifle as Great Britain and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization powers, as well as Canada and Australia, have done. However, that is entirely a matter for the United States. The important thing is that their rifle takes the same ammunition as the F.N. rifle, so that there is complete interchangeability in the most important element, which is the ammunition. The decision of the Government of the United States has had no effect at all on Australian planning. We propose to push ahead with the decision to make the F.N. rifle in this country as fast as we can.
– Is the American rifle better?
– The American rifle is only marginally different from the Australian rifle. The suggestion which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition made last night that the American rifle is very much better than the F.N. rifle, is quite wrong. The official statement of the American authorities concedes that there are only marginal differences between the performances of the two rifles. The Australian and British Governments, and the governments of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization powers, are completely satisfied with the performance with the F.N. rifle.
– Is the Treasurer aware that on Saturday afternoon last the Council of the Municipality of Bankstown officially opened a sewage disposal depot, which cost in the vicinity of £250,000 to erect, and which was made necessary by the lack of sewerage in the municipality? Is he also aware that the Municipality of Bankstown. which is situated approximately 12 miles from the City of Sydney, performs no fewer than 29,500 services each week for the householders of the municipality? Does the right honorable gentleman recall that, together with other honorable members whose electorates cover the Municipality of Bankstown, I have made repeated requests for a special grant of money to be made available to the Bankstown Council for the provision of sewerage in the municipality? Is he aware that the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board of New South Wales could double the amount of mains it is laying each week, but is unable to make any increase because of the shortage of finance? Will the right honorable gentleman give urgent and sympathetic consideration to making a special grant of money available to the Council of the Municipality of Bankstown for the provision of sewerage? If he cannot make the grant immediately will he give an assurance that the submissions of the Premier of New South Wales at the next Loan Council in relation to loan money for the Metropolitan Water and Sewerage Board will be given favorable consideration?
– The honorable member’s question should be directed to the Premier of New South Wales. The local authority to which he refers is a State instrumentality under the control and jurisdiction of the New South Wales Government.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Immigration been directed to the fact that at the annual conference of the New Citizenship Convention no provision has been made in the past for specific proposals to be considered by special committees in relation to problems of employment on the land as they affect immigrant settlers? In view of the great importance of primary industry to Australia, will the Minister consider discussing with the organizers of that extremely valuable conference a programme in which recognition will be given to the great importance of primary industries and of the employment of immigrants therein?
– No, I have not seen the statement to which the honorable member has referred; but I will have it brought to my attention as soon as it is possible to do so and will give consideration to the propositions made.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. Is it a fact thai a certain gentleman is making a systematic canvass of all the capital cities of Australia in a search for scrap iron? Is it a fact that this gentleman is paying £2 a ton above the ruling rate to corner all the scrap iron available? Can the Minister tell the House whether this gentleman is an agent for the Japanese Government and is being paid a royalty of £5 a ton on all purchases of scrap iron exported to Japan? Is it a fact that this gentleman enjoys the privilege of a special export licence which enables him to export to Japan unlimited scrap iron, to the detriment of the steel industry in Australia, which is suffering from a severe shortage of scrap iron in consequence? Could it be that the high prices paid by the Japanese Government for scrap iron is the cause of the unbalance of payments between Japan and Australia, about which the Prime Minister complained recently? Further, is it a coincidence that excessive exports of scrap iron to Japan always occur during the term of a Liberal government? If so, why?
– I have not a clue as to what the honorable gentleman is talking about.
– If you want the name of the gentleman, I can give it to you.
– I invite the honorable gentleman to do so.
– I will give it to you.
– Give it now. What are you keeping secret?
– Answer the question!
– What are you keeping secret?
– The allegation by the honorable member does not sound to me as bad as when a Western Australian Labour government contracted to sell 15.000.000 tons of iron ore to the Japanese for a royalty of 3d. a ton. If the honorable member has anything he wants investigated, let him give names and I will look into it.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. By way of explanation, I refer to the serious bush fires in the Mount Lofty ranges last February in which valuable country was burnt and a woman lost her life. Quite the most vulnerable township in these districts is Cherryville, which was also partially destroyed in the fires of 1955. In view of its precipitous terrain and the important strategic position of Cherryville in the organization of local emergency fire-fighting services, will the Minister order an improvement to the existing part-time telephone arrangements and allocate a rural automatic exchange for the better service and protection of this highly productive area?
– This is a problem which the honorable member for Angas asked me to look at several weeks ago. The question falls into two phases. I shall deal with the last part of the honorable member’s question first; that is, the question of the establishment of a rural automatic exchange at Cherryville. Investigations show that while the dangerous position that exists at Cherryville during time of fire is fully appreciated, there is in the department a long waiting list of areas which have very strong claims to the installation of rural automatic exchanges. Therefore, I regret that just at the moment I cannot promise to give the undertaking for which the honorable member has asked regarding the early installation of a rural automatic exchange at Cherryville. Naturally, the matter will be kept in mind, and I have asked the department to pay particular attention, in the determination of priorities in this matter, to the fire hazard which exists al Cherryville.
The honorable member also asked whether an improvement in the part-time services in such areas could be effected as a temporary measure. I inform him that it is the general practice of the department, at any time of severe fire hazard, or other hazard, such as floods, to adopt the practice of providing, at departmental expense, a continuous service. I understand that this was done at Cherryville at the relevant time, and I assure the honorable member that a continuous service at departmental expense will always be provided at such times.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry given any consideration to the poultry industry? Is he aware that poultry farmers have to pay fair average quality prices for second-grade wheat and poultry feed, and that as a consequence many poultry men have gone out of business? Will the Minister investigate these conditions, as a result of which poultry men are handicapped in comparison with other primary producers, and will he endeavour to assist them?
– Recently, one section of the poultry industry of Australia submitted certain proposals to the Prime Minister in connexion with the difficulties that are now being faced by that industry. Among the matters that are being considered . are the price paid for feed wheat and the question whether a stabilization scheme for the industry can be developed. I am not yet in a position to advise the honorable member just how far the departmental researches have gone, but as soon as I can give him some definite information I shall be only too happy to do so.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Defence Production, is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Swan. By way of explanation, I cite the Minister’s reply to the honorable member for Swan, in which he said that the slight difference of calibre-
– Not of calibre. They have identical calibres.
– I quote from the Minister’s reply in which he said that there was a marginal difference.
– Not in bore.
– I want the Minister to say whether the rifle that the United States has selected will use the same calibre ammunition as the FN. 30 rifle. If not, does this not become a most serious matter for the Australian Government, because it will create enormous supply problems and result in congestion along the lines of supply, including jungle trails, to areas where Australian and American troops are fighting in conjunction?
– I welcome the question of the honorable gentleman, because it gives me an opportunity to clear up a misapprehension that may exist in his mind. I did not say that the difference was marginal in calibre. I said that it was marginal only in respect of performance. Indeed, the whole point I was making in my answer was that both weapons will use .30 ammunition. I remember that 1 used the phrase “! complete interchangeability of ammunition “. What the American authorities have said - and I read now from their official message - is that the performance of both weapons throughout the test was superior to that of another rifle which they mention, and that between the two there were only marginal differences. Actually, the American choice is one pound lighter, but in rate of firing and in all the other important elements the Americans do not suggest that their rifle is better than the FN. rifle. Neither the Australian Government, nor the United Kingdom Government, would dream of making any change. We are satisfied that we have a weapon that is as good as any other in the world.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer a question concerning the reconstruction of the railway between Townsville and Mount Isa. Have the Commonwealth Co-ordinator-General of Works and the Queensland Co-ordinator of Works, who were sent to the United States of America to consult the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development about the financing of this work, returned, and have they, or has either of them, submitted a report on the likelihood of obtaining financial assistance? Has the Government been advised by the International Bank whether it will finance the project? Has the Government received any advice about the financing of the work from New York, or has it been advised of an investigation, or a proposed investigation, by a committee representing overseas private financial groups? If this is so, has the International Bank refused to finance the project? If it has refused to do so, who will finance it? Is the Commonwealth prepared to co-operate with the Queensland Government in the reconstruction of the railway, and what is the likelihood of the work being commenced in the very near future?
– I should like to put the honorable member right on a very important aspect of his question. The Queensland Co-ordinator of Worksand the Commonwealth CoordinatorGeneral of Works certainly went toWashington and New York, in the United. States of America, but not to consult the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The bank has not been approached, either directly or indirectly, because the project must be thoroughly investigated before any such approach is made. The two officers visited the United States for the purpose of obtaining the services of the most competent authorities in the world on railway construction for the appointment of a committee to investigate this very important project. A report has been presented to the Queensland Government, and that Government and the Commonwealth are working in close collaboration on the matter.
– What did the officers go to the United States for?
– To get the services of experts.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the heavy crop losses frequently suffered by dried vine fruit growers owing to wet weather while grapes are on the racks for natural drying, can the Minister say what measures, if any, are being taken to investigate the possibilities of an improved system for artificially drying grapes?
– When the stabilization plan for the dried vine fruits industry was under investigation, it became obvious that one of the important causes of losses was wet weather or humid conditions, which ruined the grapes while they were on the racks. It was considered that one of the causes was probably a lack of airflow over the grapes while they were drying on the racks. Investigations were made, with the co-operation of my colleague, the Minister for Supply, who lent the services of a top-ranking officer from the Aeronautical Research Laboratory, and also of my colleague the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and it was thought that an artificially induced flow of air could be passed over the grapes while they were drying in order to save enormous quantities. The Department of Primary Industry has made funds available, and I am hopeful that, within the next few weeks, a technical expert will begin his investigations, if he has not already begun. When his work is completed, he will report to me and to representatives of the dried vine fruits industry.
– Will the Minister report to me?
– I shall do so with pleasure.
– Will the Minister for Trade inform the House about the issue of import licences, since the partial easing of restrictions, in order to allow millions of feet of Japanese plywood to be imported into Australia? Is he aware that the Australian saw-milling industry has been encouraged to increase its output in order to meet the demand of the building industry, and that it is able to supply all the requirements of the reduced building programme? The report of the Tariff Board for 1955 shows that the capacity of the machinery installed in plywood factories in Australia exceeds current consumption by not less than 100,000,000 square feet. If the Minister is aware of these factors, does he agree that the importation of plywood from other countries while the present chaotic state of the timber industry continues will aggravate the position? In any event, if restrictions on imports of plywood are to be eased regardless of the consequences, should not preference be given to CommonwealthNew Guinea Timbers Limited at Bulolo, an enterprise in which the Government has a substantial interest?
– I shall endeavour to assemble all the facts needed to enable me to provide the honorable member with the information that he seeks. It has not been the Government’s policy to exclude by import licensing all foreign production of a commodity merely because we in Australia have a capacity to produce it. The honorable member mentioned Japan. I hope that he does not overlook the fact that that country is now Australia’s second biggest customer, and is buying from us about £100,000,000 worth of goods a year, whereas we are buying about £20,000,000 worth per annum in return. I venture to say that it would not be in the public interest for us to adopt a policy of preventing such a good customer from selling us a product merely because we in this country had a capacity to be self-sufficient in that commodity, regardless of considerations of quality, cost, or customer preference.
– by leave - I desire to make a statement about a matter concerning which the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) asked a question on Thursday last. It relates to certain improper activities by members of the staff of the Adelaide office of the Taxation Branch. 1 informed the honorable member that I would see what information I could obtain for him. In view of the amount of publicity, some of it, unfortunately, not accurate, that has been given to this matter, ] feel that it is desirable for me now to inform the honorable member in some detail of the true position. Some months ago it was discovered that two officers of the income tax section of the office in Adelaide were involved in collusion in the fraudulent manipulation of used tax stamps for the benefit of themselves and taxpayers. When this discovery was made, the two officers were immediately suspended from duty, and an intensive examination of the procedures within the office was begun. In the course of the examination, it was found that another officer of the branch was involved in the tax stamps frauds. That officer also was suspended from duty. Subsequently, criminal charges were preferred against all three, and they are now serving gaol sentences. The amount involved in the stamp frauds was about £17,000. The three officers have already made restitution of approximately £10,000. The remaining £7,000 either will be made good by the officers concerned or will be recovered from the taxpayers involved.
Because of discoveries made when the procedures of the office were being overhauled, the Commissioner of Taxation decided upon an investigation of the activities of the staff generally in the Adelaide office. That investigation disclosed malpractices of a different kind by other officers. Two junior female officers were dismissed because they had suppressed evidence relating to the activities of the three officers involved in the tax stamp frauds. The action of the female officers was regarded as foolish rather than malicious, and with the advice of the Deputy Commonwealth Crown Solicitor in Adelaide, no criminal proceedings were taken against them. Six officers were found to have been engaged in either preparing, or assisting to prepare, income tax returns, contrary to a specific instruction forbidding the preparation of returns by officers. In some instances, officers were found to have assessed returns either prepared by them, or in the preparation of which they had assisted. In some of them, excessive claims were made for concessional deductions. Proof that a fee for the assistance given in the preparation of returns was accepted by some of the six officers was obtained. All six officers were suspended from duty pending action against them under the Public Service Act.
One of the officers has already been prosecuted under the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act and was fined for having, in his own personal income tax returns, made excessive claims for medical expenses and other concessional deductions. Similar action was taken against several of the taxpayers for whom he had prepared returns. Several of the persons for whom another officer had prepared returns were also prosecuted and were fined for having lodged false returns. Prosecutions for lodgment of false returns are in course against three other officers and a number of the persons for whom they prepared returns. In the sixth case, no evidence was discovered that the officer’s own returns were false or that the overclaims in the returns prepared by him for- the taxpayers were his responsibility. He had, however, flagrantly disregarded an instruction lawfully given that he must not prepare returns for taxpayers. He was suspended from duty and subsequently his dismissal was recommended to the Public Service Board. On appeal to the appeal board established under the Public Service Act the punishment recommended was reduced and in place of dismissal the board imposed a reduction in classification.
Another officer whose activities came under suspicion suffered a heart attack during the investigation and retired because of his illness. As nothing more than disobedience had been discovered against him, no disciplinary action has been taken.
Charges of improper conduct for having engaged in outside employment without the specific approval of the Public Service Board, and of having failed to include the income from that source of employment in his returns, have been preferred against a junior officer.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh asked whether it was true that a suspended officer who had only one year’s service remaining had threatened that if he were dismissed, he would disclose the names of other officers guilty of improper practices. The Commissioner of Taxation states that he knows of no such threats. Two of the officers suspended on account of their activities in preparing returns might be said to be nearing the retiring age. Neither of these officers, so far as the Administration is aware, has made any threat to disclose the names of other guilty parties if proceeded against. No request for immunity from disciplinary action and no promise of immunity therefrom on such terms has been received from, or given to, any officer and no such request would be entertained.
The Commissioner states that he has gone to some lengths to unearth all cases where officers are involved in irregular practices, to discipline offenders, and to discourage recurrences.
I would like to point out to the honorable member that the irregularities discovered are very small by comparison with the size of the organization coming under the administration of the Commissioner of Taxation. Altogether some 7,000 persons are employed on the Commissioner’s staff, assessing and collecting some £800,000,000 annually from some 4,000,000 taxpayers. In the circumstances, the high degree of fidelity maintained is notable. It is not unnatural that on odd occasions there are diversions from the narrow path of honesty and rectitude. When these are discovered they are ruthlessly dealt with so that the high reputation which the organization enjoys may be maintained.
– I lay on the table of the House the following paper: -
Parliament House, Canberra - The case foi a permanent building - Statement by the Presiding Officers, and report by the Secretary, Joint House Department.
Motion (by Sir Arthur Fadden) agreed to -
Thai leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Brand) on the ground of ill health.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm) on the ground of ill health.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Papua and New Guinea Act 1949-1954.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill does not raise any new question of policy but seeks to modify the provisions in the Papua and New Guinea Act 1949-1954, relating to the qualifications of members of the Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea.
As honorable members are aware, there is a Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea, composed of both nominated and elected members, and the qualifications of members are set out in the Papua and New Guinea Act 1949-1954. In this respect, the act follows very closely the models established in this Parliament and other Australian parliaments and among the disqualifications from membership is a provision that a person who has an interest - other than as a member, and in common with other members, of an incorporated company of more than 25 members - in any contract or agreement made by or on behalf of the Commonwealth or the Territory, is not qualified to be elected or appointed or to continue as a member of the council.
Recently, occasion arose to seek legal advice on the exact effect of this disqualification, and the legal officers of the Government have taken the view that the disqualification is not limited to cases in which a person supplies goods or services.
– I rise to order. I understand that there is a bill before the House, which is being discussed. The
Minister has not explained why we have not been given copies of the bill. I would like to know how we can discuss a bill which we have not seen.
– I have just made some inquiries. It appears that stocks of the bill, which were expected, have not yet come to hand from the Government Printer. I had previously made a copy of the bill in draft form available to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). It is a matter of the convenience of the House - whether members prefer to take the bill to the second-reading stage, as the Minister is now doing, when the debate will, of course, be adjourned to a later date, or to defer the measure now until copies of the bill are received. It is a matter for the House to decide.
– 1 object to this practice being introduced and I object to the Minister continuing his speech.
– The position is that the Minister sought leave of the House to introduce the bill. A copy of the bill has been supplied to the Leader of the Opposition, and in those circumstances I suggest that the procedure is in order.
– I would like to know whether a copy of the bill is in the House. You, sir, contend that the matter is in order. I do not know whether there is a copy of the bill in this House. We have heard a title read, but I do not know whether that was just off a piece of paper or off the bill itself. I contend that we should keep to proper parliamentary procedure, and parliamentary procedure is that when leave is granted to introduce a bill, the Minister concerned presents it and the Clerk reads the title of it. If the Clerk has it, well and good. The point is that you, Mr. Speaker, have been asked for a ruling. The Leader of the House wanted to know if there were any objection to what he proposed. If the bill is present in the House in physical form, then there should be a copy of it for all honorable members.
– Order! The Minister sought the leave of the House to move the second reading forthwith. That leave was granted and the Minister is now operating on the authority given by the House where it granted him that leave.
– Mr. Speaker, on the point of order-
– Is the honorable member intending to canvass my ruling?
– Sufficient copies of the bill are now available for all honorable members.
– Well, all right.
– Continuing my remarks, I would explain to the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), that I did present a copy of the bill to the House, as required by the Standing Orders. I handed it to the Clerk. Of course, we had no intention of proceeding with the debate forthwith. It was expected that, following the usual custom, I would explain the bill to the House and the debate on the second reading would then be adjourned and that before the debate was resumed copies of the bill would be available to every honorable member. I shall now resume my remarks on the bill, and for the sake of clarity go back to a point a little before that at which the point of order was raised.
Recently, occasion arose to seek legal advice on the exact effect of the disqualification, and the legal officers of the Government have taken the view that the disqualification is not limited to cases in which a person supplies goods or services to the Commonwealth or the Territory, but applies in all cases in which a person enters into any form of contract or agreement with the Government, including such contracts or agreements as a lease of land, a lease of buildings, or a mining lease. In Papua and New Guinea, where, at this stage of its development, a large number of public activities are conducted by the Government, a large percentage of the European population are leaseholders in one capacity or another, and the strict application of the disqualification would exclude a very large percentage of the population from any hope of participating in the work of the legislature. Moreover, it is considered that the fact that a person has a contract or agreement, such as a lease, with the Commonwealth or the Administration, does not necessarily reduce the likelihood that he will act in a disinterested and impartial way in most of the matters which come before the Legislative Council.
The bill, therefore, is intended to remove the absolute disqualification, and provide that a member of the Legislative Council, who is a party to, or has a direct or indirect interest in, a contract made by or on behalf of the Commonwealth under which goods or services are to be supplied to the Commonwealth or the Administration, shall not take part in a discussion of a matter, or vote on a question, in the council, where the matter or question refers directly or indirectly to that contract. In other words, a person who stands in a contractual relationship to the Commonwealth or the Administration, is not rigidly excluded from membership of the council but, if he becomes a member, is prohibited from taking part in the discussion or vote on any matter in which he has an interest.
In a community such as exists in the Territory to-day, it is highly unlikely that the interest which a member may have in any matter which comes before the council would escape the knowledge of other members of the council, particularly as the members of the council include a number of officers engaged in the business of the Government. It is, therefore, proposed that all questions concerning the application of this new provision shall be decided by the Legislative Council itself on the motion of any of its members. I expect that that will mean, in practice, that if, at any time, any member of the council has reason to believe that another member has an interest in a matter before the council, he may raise a challenge in the council itself, and the council shall determine the matter on the spot.
I feel confident that this new provision will uphold the traditional view that a member of Parliament should not be in a position to discuss, or vote on, matters in which he has a pecuniary interest, while at the same time it will not exclude from membership persons capable of giving good service to the community.
Before we had received the legal advice to which I. referred earlier, and before doubt had been cast upon the qualifications of existing members, the council had functioned in the belief that all of its members were qualified to sit and to act on the council. The advice we have received, however, does raise a doubt whether all of them were, in fact, qualified to do so. In these circumstances, it may be - it is not certain - that the validity of the ordinances, or some of the ordinances, passed by the council will be called into question. To place their validity beyond doubt, the bill includes a clause to validate the past or future acts of the council, notwithstanding any defect in the qualifications of a person who has purported to sit or vote as a member of the council or at a meeting of a committee of the council.
The bill provides that the council itself may determine questions respecting the qualifications of members or respecting a vacancy in the council, other than questions of a disputed election or a disputed return in connexion with an election. If the council does not wish to determine the matter itself, it may refer it by resolution to the Supreme Court of the Territory, which will thereupon hear and determine the question.
The provisions of the bill, which 1 have described, correspond very closely with the provisions of an act made by this Parliament last year in respect of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. In view of its earlier agreement to proposals relating to the Northern Territory, I do not anticipate that the Parliament will find any reason for not taking similar action in respect of Papua and New Guinea.
In summary, this bill seeks to clear up and place beyond doubt the question of the qualification of members of the Legislative Council for the Territory; to validate acts of the council which may have been done in good faith in the past, but which may be open to question because of the doubt regarding the qualifications of members; and to provide a means by which questions relating to the qualifications of members may be determined.
Apart from those main purposes of the bill, I should like to direct attention to one other minor provision in the measure. As it was necessary to bring a bill before this Parliament for the purposes which I have described, advantage was taken of the occasion to rectify an omission, apparently as the result of an oversight, from the parent act. Section 73 of the act empowers the Administrator to grant a pardon to an offender other than those sentenced to death, the power to pardon whom rests with the Governor-General. It is proposed to extend this power to pardon for an accomplice who gives evidence leading to the conviction of a principal offender. This provision existed in the Papua Act of 1905 and was continued in the Papua and New Guinea Provisional Administration Act 1945, but, apparently by an oversight, was omitted from the Papua and New Guinea Act of 1949. The Government’s attention was drawn to this omission by its legal advisers, and the Government decided that, although the matter was not related to the central purpose of the bill, advantage should be taken of this occasion to repair the oversight.
I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Ward) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Townley) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Public Service Act 1922-1955, and for other purposes.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is mainly administrative in character, and some of the amendments which it proposes are simply drafting improvements. However, the proposals contain several important changes to the existing provisions of the act. The exigencies of the Service require officers or employees to be located at posts outside the Commonwealth. Some doubt has been expressed as to whether the provisions of the Public Service Act. and Regulations apply to such officers and employees. It is proposed in this bill to erase any doubts that the act does so apply by expressing the act to have extraterritorial operation. The related sections have also been amended where necessary.
Pursuant to its powers under the act the board has prescribed the hours of business for officers and employees, and all officers and employees are required to observe these hours of business unless specifically exempted therefrom. If an officer or employee fails to observe these hours of business no deduction can be made from his salary or wage. The action that may be taken in respect of such a breach of duty under the existing provisions comprises the dispensing of the employee’s services or the presenting of a charge under the disciplinary provisions of the act against an officer. Both these methods are considered too cumbersome for the majority of cases that arise, for example, late attendances and unauthorized absences of infrequent occurrence. It has been determined that the act should be amended to enable deductions to be made from the salary or wage of an officer or employee in respect of the time during which he is not performing duty. That is, the board will have power to determine, by regulation, that an officer or employee shall be paid only in respect of the time that he actually perform-, duty.
The provisions relating to the employment of temporary staff have been reviewed also, and it has been decided to make alterations to these provisions in the light of the employment situation as it exists at present. The act provides that the board may authorize the engagement of a temporary employee for a period not exceeding three months, and if sanctioned by the board, his engagement may be extended for one further period, not exceeding three months. This provision was dispensed with by National Security legislation during the last war, but such legislation was repealed in 1946. Since this time the board has endeavoured to comply with the provisions of the act, but the present employment situation renders this course extremely difficult.
Clause 21 of the bill amends the temporary employment provisions of the act to allow the board to authorize the engagement of temporary employees for initial periods of up to twelve months, and if the board considers necessary, re-engagement for a further period of up to twelve months at each annual review.
Clause 8 effects an amendment to section 29 of the act, which will enable the board to reclassify an office, which is the only one of its designation and classification in the Service, without causing a vacancy in the position, following a general review of salaries.
The monetary penalties that may be imposed on an officer upon the commission of an offence have been increased from 5s. to 10s. as the maximum fine for a minor offence and from £5 to £20 for other than a minor offence. This action will lessen the gap between the monetary penalty that may be imposed and the more drastic punishments of reduction in salary or status or dismissal. The amendment does not affect the right of appeal to the tribunal, on which officers are represented, which may be availed of where a penalty is in excess of £2.
The provisions for the entry of returned soldiers into the Commonwealth Service have been extended so that returned soldiers who have passed a required number of subjects at a public examination, but are not entitled to the award of a State education certificate, may be appointed to the Service. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Mr. Speaker, the object of this bill is to amend the Customs Act 1901-1954 in respect of certain matters concerning customs securities, the boarding of aircraft, the control of persons on wharfs and airports and the enforcement of penalties under the act. A further amendment relates to the period of operation of a customs warrant.
In regard to securities, it is proposed first to modernize section 21 relating to the carriage of goods by railway vehicles. At present the section provides that the principal official of any railway may give security for the custody of customable goods carried on the railway and on the giving of such security all carriages are deemed to be licensed to carry the goods. The position has developed whereby railway authorities in some parts of the Commonwealth now use road vehicles for the carriage of goods in conjunction with rail vehicles. To meet this position it is proposed to amend section 21 so that both classes of vehicles operated by the railway may be deemed to be licensed for the carriage of customable goods. At the same time the specific provisions relating to the giving of security by the railway authority will be omitted from the section. The revenue will be protected by the new provisions proposed in clause 5 of this bill, that is, in the new section 35a of the Customs Act.
The second amendment relating to securities, that is, the new section 35a, will attach to a person who has been entrusted with the possession, custody or control of dutiable goods the responsibility for paying the duty on any goods which are not kept safely or are not accounted for to the satisfaction of the Collector of Customs. Honorable members may recall that in 1952 the Distillation Act and the Excise Act were amended in this manner. Following those enactments, it became unnecessary, except in special circumstances, for many persons having custody, control or possession of excisable goods to furnish securities to the Department of Customs and Excise in respect of duty payable on the goods.
Experience has shown that the new practice has proved to be a great benefit to both the department and the public and at the same time adequate protection to the revenue has been maintained. For these reasons it is considered desirable that a similar amendment be made to the Customs Act to enable many existing securities to be dispensed with. However, the wording of the section is not as originally introduced into this Parliament. Honorable members may be aware that an amendment was carried elsewhere, but it is not acceptable to the Government and, at a later stage, I will move to restore the bill to its original form as introduced in the Senate. I propose at the committee stage to move an amendment for the alteration of the wording of section 35a.
In those cases where a security is mandatory the types which may be accepted by the Department of Customs and Excise are specified in section 43. In some instances it is desirable that some other legal instrument, for example a bond without surety, be accepted in lieu of the types of security authorized by the existing section. The inability of collectors of customs to depart from the requirements of section 43 can cause hardship to the individual giving the security. It is therefore proposed, Mr. Speaker, to widen the provisions of section 43 to give collectors discretion to take such type of security as they consider appropriate, having regard to the circumstances of each case.
The final amendment proposed in regard to securities is to authorize the acceptance of a single security where duties payable under both the Customs Act and Excise Act are involved.
As previously pointed out to honorable members, it is intended to add a new section to the act so that customs securities may be dispensed with in certain instances. However, where security must be taken, experience has shown that it is often in respect of both customs and excise duties. The provisions of each of these acts require a separate security to be given covering goods subject to each respective act. The new provisions will enable the taking of a combined security.
The master of a ship from overseas is required in terms of section 60 (1) of the Customs Act to bring his ship to for boarding at the boarding station appointed under the act for the port at which he enters. Under section 60 (2) the pilot of an aircraft arriving in Australia is required to bring his aircraft for boarding to the airport nearest to the place at which he enters Australia, but there is no provision to require the pilot to bring his aircraft to the boarding station appointed at the airport. It is proposed to insert such a provision and thus bring the position as regards aircraft into line with the requirements relating to ships.
A further aspect is that aircraft operating regular international services to Australia are permitted to by-pass the airport nearest to the point of entry and to land at the Australian airport specified in the itinerary approved by the Department of Civil Aviation. If the provisions of section 60 (2) regarding place of landing were strictly enforced, the airlines concerned would be caused undue hardship and expense without any useful purpose being served. The proposed amendment will bring requirements into line with permitted present-day practice whereby aircraft operating regular services may land at the airport shown on their approved itinerary.
Section 199 of the act provides that a customs warrant in Schedule IV. to the act relative to the entry and search of premises shall remain in operation for a period of six months. Certain officers of the Department of Customs and Excise are required to be in possession of customs warrants for long periods whereas other officers require warrants for short periods to meet particular circumstances. The proposed amendment will authorize the person issuing the warrant to specify the period of its duration in accordancewith appropriate circumstances.
By act 108 of 1952, a new section, 234a, Was inserted in the Customs Act to provide that unauthorized persons may be refused access to any ship, aircraft, wharf or examination place until the baggage of passengers arriving or departing on the ship or aircraft has been examined by customs officers. This action, which enables the number of visitors to be controlled, was taken as a means of protecting the revenue, minimizing smuggling by passengers and visitors and expediting the clearance of passengers’ baggage. Under the terms of the present section persons who have the control or management of a wharf or airport, and their employees in the course of their official duties, could be required to seek permission to be on any wharf or in any examination place at a time when passengers’ baggage was being examined. However, the Department of Customs and Excise has always recognized the right of those persons to enter a wharf or examination place and has administratively exempted them from the provisions of section 234a. The proposed amendment will provide these persons with statutory rights to enter those places at all times in the course of their duties.
Sections 258, 258a and 260 lay down certain procedures which apply in the event of non-payment of penalties imposed for offences against the Customs Act. Section 258 provides that a court may gaol a convicted person until the penalty is paid, may release him upon his giving security for the payment of the penalty or may exercise for the enforcement and recovery of the penalty any power of distress or execution possessed by the court. Section 258a provides that an offender who gives security in accordance with section 258 may be committed to gaol if the penalty is not paid and it is not practicable or desirable to enforce the security. Section 260 specifies the conditions under which a person committed to gaol for non-payment of a penalty shall be released.
The Crown Law Authorities have indicated that these sections have caused difficulties in their application. One of the difficulties is that the courts are prevented from allowing persons, convicted of offences against the act, time to pay penalties or to pay penalties by instalments. Those authorities consider it preferable for the matters covered by the three sections to be left to ordinary powers of enforcement of penalties of the courts under their State legislation. Sections 68 and 79 of the Judiciary Act would provide for the application of State laws if sections 258, 258a and 260 were repealed and this action is proposed. The necessity for the proposed amendments will. I am sure, be readily appreciated by honorable members. I commend the bill to them.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 2nd May (vide page 1027).
Clause 2 (Commencement).
Upon which Mr. Pearce had moved by way of amendment -
That the clause be postponed.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of the bill - by leave - taken as a whole and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 7th May (vide page 1132), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the following paper be printed: -
Defence - Ministerial Statement.
.- During the course of this debate the Government has failed to demonstrate to the Australian people that it has been successful, to even a reasonable degree, in providing an adequate defence for Australia. It has also failed to give any indication that it is impressed with the great cause of peace, or intends to gain world leadership in this great endeavour. There is much to indicate the confusion which exists in this country so far as defence requirements are concerned.
During the debate yesterday, I was impressed by the speeches of members on both sides of the House. I was especially interested in the speech of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock) who, in view of his previous experience in the services, could be described as an authority on certain aspects of defence. Though I do not subscribe to everything that he said, 1 regard his opening remarks as significant and expressing a point of view which the Government would do well to take to heart. The honorable member, who was previously a high-ranking officer in one of the services, said -
I find myself dissatisfied wilh the Government’s concept of and plan for the future defence of this country, ft seems to me that it is a plan formulated in the light of present conditions and that when it is completed in three years’ time - if, indeed, it is completed in three years’ time - will leave us in very much the situation in which we find ourselves to-day. It will be out of date and obsolete.
Surely, the Government will be impressed by the remarks of the honorable member. They are being echoed by many Opposition members, whose case, ever since the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) led the Opposition in this debate a few nights ago, has been presented most effectively.
This Government can hardly be accused of spending insufficient money; but it has squandered what it has spent on defence. The return upon the £1,000,000,000 that it has spent on defence preparations - or, if you like, on preparation for aggression - during the last six years is pitifully poor. It is pathetic, and has fallen far short of requirements. If any government needed to do something about defence, it is this Government. It should be apparent to the most casual observer that the Government’s aggressive, and sometimes impertinent and bombastic, foreign policy is destined in the long run to promote international conflict in which Australia is bound to be a star performer. If one goes round continuously poking out his chin the time is bound to come when some one will be sufficiently provoked to take a swing at it. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the Opposition to caution the Government on its outmoded tendency to employ gunboat diplomacy and sabre rattling, and to bully smaller nations. International larrikinism and bodgie-ism is repugnant to enlightened people everywhere, who will no longer tolerate this technique.
It is now appreciated that military might should be replaced as an arbitrary factor in international affairs by recourse to the facilities offered by the United Nations organization.
The statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on defence, which was delivered to this House on 4th April, conclusively demonstrated that, while the Government professes good intentions so far as defence is concerned, we are as unprepared to-day to participate in a war as we were in 1939. Soon after 1939, it will be remembered, in the most dangerous days of Australia’s history, the anti-Labour government disintegrated, and Labour was called to the government benches to retrieve something from the chaos that existed at that time. Reference has already been made to the Wirraway era, and to the fact that our servicemen were equipped with rifles without butts. Reference has been made to “ the Brisbane line “, and to the state of unpreparedness that prevailed. Justifiably, it can be said that nowhere in this defence statement, or in any statement issued by the government of any other country, has it been shown that there is a practicable defence against thermo-nuclear bombs. The United States of America, I am told, has 35,000 nuclear bombs in its possession. As this circumstance impresses itself on the world we should be renewing our determination to rejuvenate the United Nations organization as the only alternative to war, the only hope for mankind, and the only real defence against the threat of annihilation.
The Australian defence problem is infinitely more difficult of solution than those of Great Britain and a number of other countries that are smaller in area, and that have more concentrated populations. Britain has developed an efficient radar system, and has aimed at the ultimate production of a network of radar stations and missile batteries interlaced to provide a protective ceiling over the entire country. The enormous burden that this sort of defence preparation represents has badly crippled Britain’s economy. The yearly expenditure of £1,500,000,000, which is necessary to finance this programme, has proved to be beyond the financial capacity of Britain, and completely incompatible with her expenditure in more essential fields. Consequently, the Defence Minister, Mr. Duncan Sandys, is currently in the process of slashing expenditure to a more realistic level.
It is doubtful whether any country in the world can afford the luxury of effective defence or even of strategic bases, let alone an extensive area of defence against radar and radio-controlled inter-continental missiles which, in the near future, will be developed to carry atom and hydrogen bombs. After all, if we concede the possibility that, in a surprise or concerted attack, even an occasional bomb might penetrate a defence system, we concede, in effect, the destruction of a city or some important strategic location. In these circumstances, it would appear that there is some prospect of the penetration of a defence system such as our own. The most effective way to prepare for this possibility is to think in terms of the only historical example that is available to us. It will be recalled that on 6th August, 1945, one atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. On 2nd February, 1946, the Supreme Allied Head-quarters in Tokyo announced that final casualty figures for the Hiroshima atomic explosion were as follows: -
Those figures are astounding and horrifying. A total of 129,558 citizens of Hiroshima were killed or injured as a result of the dropping of one atomic bomb.
On 9th August, 1945, a few days after the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima, a second one was dropped on Nagasaki. As honorable members know, the results in that city were just as horrifying as they had been in Hiroshima. I do not like talking about these horrifying things, but it is important that we should do so. If honorable members will listen to these facts they will be appalled at the prospects of a similar bomb being dropped in any other part of the world. Of the first 30,000 babies born in Nagasaki after the atomic bomb attack, 1,044 had degenerated bone structure, muscle or nerve systems, 730 had deformities, 47 had undeveloped brains, 25 were without brains and eight were without eyes and eye sockets. It is appalling even to talk about this, but at last, in Australia, we are starting to think about these things. At the Australian Civil Defence School at Mount Macedon, Victoria, instructors talk with authority of the possibility of bombs being dropped with destructive power 500 times greater than the Hiroshima bomb. Where is there a defence against that kind of attack? It is hardly likely that the Government would claim that Australian cities could be adequately defended against such an attack. Our radar detection equipment is at present deficient in both quantity and quality. Supersonic missiles and sound barrier breaking aircraft are beyond the capabilities of equipment which is generally in service here.
This country, with every other country throughout the world, is vulnerable to the modern techniques of mass murder and destruction, and stands to benefit, with the rest of the world, by the substitution of an effective international court of justice for war and conflict. The Australian Civil Defence School at Mount Macedon takes into account the prospect of a bomb being dropped on the capital cities of Australia. In dealing with the likelihood that a bomb might be dropped on Sydney, it is said at the school -
If a 500-X bomb were dropped on Sydney, say somewhere a few miles west of the Harbour Bridge, in daylight hours, a million people would die almost immediately. Four hundred thousand more would be injured, of whom 40,000 could also be expected to die. If the bomb were dropped at night, the figures would be reversed. Four hundred thousand would die immediately and tens of thousands more would die later. A million would be injured. The centre of the city would be a radio-active crater, a mile or so across, impossible to enter for a long time. Outside it. to a radius 3 miles or so from the centre, buildings would have been flattened, streets would have disappeared, and nobody would be alive, except by the most freakish chance.
An article on this subject states that radioactivity would be extended, as a result of fall-out, throughout the country areas. So, even the adolescent males in country areas, who are being exempted from national service training as a result of the legislation recently introduced, would ultimately be caught up by the dropping of a bomb on Sydney or any of our capital cities. Statistics have been produced in regard to cities other than Sydney. I have had a great deal of correspondence from a variety of churches that are agitating for greater effort to be made to outlaw nuclear weapons.
The Opposition considers that it is time that this Government took into account the representations made on behalf of the churches and other organized sections of the community. I, together with other members of this Parliament, have received a letter from a representative of the Church of St. Jude, Brighton, South Australia. I do not know what denomination controls the church. The letter is typical of those sent to most members of this Parliament. The letter from the Church of St. Jude deals with the prospect of an atomic bomb falling on Adelaide. The writers of the letter say -
In the event of an Atomic attack on the City of Adelaide, the estimated casualties could be as high as or even higher than 50% killed, 40% wounded and sick, which leaves 10% of the remaining survivors to tend to the needs of casualties, restore services and dispose of the dead. It is estimated that with one Doctor, treating 25 casualties, 10,000 Doctors and 20,000 Nurses would be required, far more than the Commonwealth of Australia could supply. All major hospitals would be destroyed and as the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science in the heart of ihe City is responsible for blood grouping, immediate supplies of blood which is of vital necessity for the treatment of Radiation sickness would not be available.
They went on to recommend certain precautionary measures. I commend the letter from the Church of St. Jude, Brighton, to the attention of the Government, lt is appalling to note that last year the sum of £88,000, which was made available for civil defence in the preceding year, was reduced by £18,000 to £70,000. It is difficult to imagine a more ridiculous state of affairs than that which exists when £190,000,000 was spent on defence last year, but only a paltry £70,000 could be raised for civil defence. I suggest to the Government that, if it considers war to be such a distinct possibility, the need to increase expenditure on civil defence is clearly apparent. In any future global war, cities, large towns and civilian concentrations generally would attract hostilities on an unprecedented scale.
Extravagance and waste of money have characterized the Government’s approach to defence. It is clearly both possible and practicable to associate Australia’s developmental programme with defence. Hospitals, roads, bridges, airports and harbour installations would be the order of the day. if proper consideration were afforded to the real defence requirements of Australia. If any kind of conflict developed around the Middle East, we would suffer great difficulty in obtaining supplies of oil, which are necessary for the conduct of commerce and industry. Is it not then a fair and real defence measure to encourage the development of oil from coal, a process which is already operating overseas and one which, if introduced here, would allay the alarming tendency to wholesale unemployment on the coal-fields? In the event of war, Australia’s oil supplies would be dissipated in a matter of weeks, and the oil from coal process would become an urgent consideration.
In the short time left to me, 1 want to refer to matters associated with the Government’s approach to service organizations. Of a large number of service planning blunders, the case of H.M.A.S. “ Hobart “ is the classic. Since 1950, when the Government decided to modernize this cruiser, there has been a constant shifting of attitude on the role she would serve in the Australian fleet. In the intervening period, she has been considered as a cruiser to support the light fleet carrier, a role which is now filled by the Daring class ships. She was then intended to replace H.M.A.S. “ Australia “ as a training cruiser. In 1954, the Naval Board considered that H.M.A.S. “ Hobart “ should be developed as a headquarters ship for the Commanding Officer, Reserve Ships. Then, she was diverted in another developmental direction. This time, she was considered as an engineering training ship, but, by April, 1955, this scheme was also abandoned. By 30th June, 1956, the expenditure on the modernization of H.M.A.S. “ Hobart “ had amounted to £1,430,000, and more than £1,000,000 needs to be spent on conversion and modernization if she is to become a convoy cruiser. She has now been placed in reserve and is likely to remain there until she is scrapped, although a large sum of money has been spent on her.
Let us look at the Daring class destroyers. This is incredible. A recent Commonwealth naval order has been issued in regard to the Daring class destroyers. This appears to me to be the most colossal naval blunder of all time.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. WENTWORTH (Mackellar) [4.151. - It is, of course, true that the world has no hope of survival over the longer term, except by effective measures of international control of nuclear weapons. We should not abate our efforts to get such an effective control. As the House knows, I have been advocating that course for a long time. However, in the meantime, we need a defence policy in order to survive in the new era. When one looks at the defence policy which the Government has now put before the House, one sees that it is some improvement on past policies, but I fear that one must see it also as unrealistic and unsatisfactory for two reasons. Those reasons were mentioned last night by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock). lt is an old-world policy. It is out of date almost before it is initiated. Further, it is a policy which has no sense of proportion in it. Resources are not directed in the most effective way and no sensible priority is used in the application of available resources. It is a policy which pretends that we live in the same kind of world - and, heaven knows, one wishes we did continue to live in it - as that in which we have lived in the past. But the advent of these new weapons has unfortunately changed everything. 1 referred to the speech made last night by the honorable member for Indi. Honorable members should read in parallel wilh that speech the British White Paper on defence which was circulated in the House of Commons only last month. That paper contained the following statement -
It has been clear for some lime thai these scientific advances must fundamentally alter the whole basis of military planning.
The most important of those changes is the atomic or nuclear change. In this world; unfortunately, the nations are divided into the “ haves “ and the “ have nots “. The “ haves “ have atomic weapons and the “ have nots “ do not possess them. For the reasons given by the honorable member for Indi last night, I fear that no nation can rely implicitly on its allies in the final resort. Though the allies may be willing to help in a fringe war. they will not help to the extent of attacking the metropolitan centres of an aggressor, if that aggressor is master of the thermo-nuclear weapon. It would be safer to belong to the “ haves “.
The present proposal of the Government is defective in two related ways. First, it does not advance our capacity to obtain nuclear weapons, which are both the deterrent and the only way to give effective striking power to a tactical force, which must always be small in numbers compared with its potential enemies. Secondly, no account is taken of the unfortunate need for civil defence. Other countries besides Australia are now talking about coming into this atomic race. Last month there was a statement from Germany which was put forward, retracted and, I think, put forward again. To-day, if honorable members look in the press, they will see a statement from Japan. Those are not the only countries. It seems to me that Australia has to be in this race, knowing that the race itself is only a temporary affair, unless it is to end in death, because it is a means of surviving as a nation until there is international control. Indeed, I feel that our participation as a small nation in this race might be not without its advantages on the higher international plane, because the fact that we were participating might help to bring things to a head and make the nations of the world realize where they were going before it was too late. It is important that that realization should come before the commitments become inescapably large. We do not like these atomic facts, but there is no sense in our pretending that they do not exist.
Let me read again from the British White Paper -
It must be frankly recognized that there is ai present no means of providing adequate protection for the people of this country against the consequences of an attack with nuclear weapons.
If that is true for Britain, for technical reasons which I have not time now to analyse, it is far truer for Australia. Do not let us delude ourselves into thinking that anything we can do will protect our cities against an enemy which is armed with thermo-nuclear weapons and which means to attack us. That is true for us; it is true also for other people, and it is in that balance that our temporary safety may lie. because it is in the deterrent that the possibility of safety resides.
Let me quote again from the British White Paper -
This makes it more than ever clear that the over-riding consideration in all military planning must be to prevent war rather than to prepare for it. While comprehensive disarmament remains among the foremost objectives of foreign policy, it is unhappily true that, pending international agreement, the only existing safeguard against major aggression is the power to threaten retaliation with nuclear weapons.
That is unfortunate, but true. That power must, for the reasons given last night by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock), be in our own hands. This view is shared by Great Britain. I read again from the British White Paper -
The free world to-day is mainly dependent for its protection upon the nuclear capacity of the United States. While Britain cannot by comparison make more than a modest contribution, there is a wide measure of agreement that she must possess an appreciable element of nuclear deterrent power of her own.
We need this power both for our own survival and in order to bring to the notice of the world, before it is too late, the necessity to come together in an effective scheme of international nuclear disarmament. Let us ask our allies to put this power in our hands, and let us devote, if necessary, a reasonable proportion of our expenditure on defence towards getting the means of effective defence. That means bombs. It means also the means of delivering them. Both those things are available now overseas. It seems to me remarkable that the plan put before us by the Government does not take account of these possibilities.
– How many would we need?
– That is a very difficult question to answer. As a deterrent, to reduce measurably the chances of an attack against Australia, the possession of only a few would be of great significance. Last night, the honorable member for Indi spoke in terms of ten or twelve. My view is that more than that would be needed, but neither the honorable member for Indi nor I think in terms which would add up to any great number, compared with the tens of thousands possessed now by the United States. I think it is not impossible for us to stand more on our own feet in this regard.
It does not seem to me that the Government can be fully acquainted with the technical details of this matter, because, if it were, it would not have sponsored some of the opinions which have been expressed by responsible spokesmen. Doubtless, an atomic pile is an expensive affair, but if we go over to Britain and look at the Calder Hall type of power plant, which is at present for sale, we shall appreciate that that is a dual-purpose plant which produces both power and nuclear explosive. If we discount the capital cost of the equivalent amount of conventional power, the cost of getting nuclear explosives does not run out as exorbitant. I know very well that that is not the end of the matter. I know thai you need refining plants, fabrication plants, and things of that character, and I know, too, that these cannot be constructed overnight; but the mere expenditure of £15,000,000 or £20,000,000 a year- a small part of the £190,000,000 which it is proposed to expend on defence in the annual budget - would add very much more, in terms of safety and security for the Australian people, than its monetary value in terms of extra power. But we must start now. Either we should obtain the weapons now from overseas or we should start to make them, knowing that it will be some years before our programme can produce results, and knowing all the time that the sooner we start the sooner we will have the deterrent within our command.
Perhaps the means of delivery of the weapons may seem to present greater difficulty. Aeroplanes can be supplemented by air-to-ground missiles of the type, for example, of the American “ Rascal “, or the new ram jets which are just coming into operation. There are other means also, and I wish that I had the time to discuss these technical details more fully. I am not despondent about our capacity to defend ourselves when we turn our minds towards using it properly. But let us remember this: While we are building up this deterrent nuclear power, we are building up also the tactical power of atomic weapons, which alone can make sense of the small numbers that we might have for war of a type that does not involve the use of nuclear weapons on the strategic scale. Even in the defence of the Australian continent, our numbers can do very little now unless we have this kind of weapon. So we shall serve two ends by building up our deterrent nuclear power. A defence plan that is not based on either great numbers - which are not available to us because our population is small - or effective weapons, is unrealistic and almost devoid of effective meaning.
Let me turn now to the other omission from the Government’s plan. I shall not try to traverse the parts of the plan which I believe to be good. I consider that there is merit in the concept of mobile forces, particularly for the purpose of honouring our commitments to our allies in the SouthEast Asian theatre. I shall not discuss that part of the plan, because I agree with it. The other omission to which I refer is the lack of effective reference to civil defence. In this, I believe that the Government has been gravely negligent, and has not treated this House or the country with the frankness to which they are entitled. Honorable members will note that this is not the first time that I have spoken in this strain. Several years ago, and again during the debates on the budgets for the financial years 1956-57 and 1955-56, I said very much what I say now. It is necessary for these things to be said. Here again, let me quote from the British White Paper, which stated -
I have never claimed that civil defence was everything. It is only a part of the plan, but it is an essential part, and should be so regarded. I regret very much that, at this stage, when we may need for home defence and civil defence a disciplined force that could keep order and protect disorganized remnants if we should be attacked, the Government has chosen to dilute and practically to abolish national service training when, for the first time, it might have real meaning in this context.
Civil defence requires more lengthy treatment than I can give it in the short time available to me, but I can point to some of the things that should be done. We need a structural organization, and complete national service training might be the answer to the problem. We need it to teach people to survive and live without the normal facilities of civilization, to teach first aid, and generally to provide organized groups that can see to the survival of the remainder of the people, look after the women and children, and arrange food supplies. All those things are wrapped up in civil defence. We should be stockpiling outside the cities minimum requirements of the commodities essential to survival. I do not know why we are not doing so. I think one of the most important practical needs is to provide radiological instruments, and people trained to use them, in order to avoid the worst effects of radioactive fall-out.
-Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- In many respects, I agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). Having in mind the honorable member’s attitude towards communism, I want to explode here and now the theory that all those who advocate the banning of nuclear weapons are Communists or have Communist sympathies. I want also to emphasize the Government’s attitude towards civil defence. If anything was neglected and completely thrust into the background in the defence statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) it was the Government’s policy on civil defence, if it has one. Perhaps it regards as a policy the view that any one who wants to learn a little about civil defence can ballot for admission to a course at the Civil Defence School at Mount Macedon, in Victoria.
Last Thursday, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) said -
This Government’s policy is that nuclear defence must be maintained by all countries that are in a position to maintain it, unless and until there is an internationally agreed scheme for the limitation of both nuclear and orthodox armaments, accompanied by a rigid and water-tight system of inspection so that, once the scheme has been agreed upon, neither side can depart from it and, in popular parlance, do the dirty on the rest of the world. The most strenuous possible efforts to achieve disarmament have been made, in particular by Great Britain and the United States of America, for a number of years now. I commend those efforts and the many proposals that have been advanced for the attainment of this end to the attention of not only the Leader of the Opposition . but also of Opposition members generally.
It is strange that the Minister did not mention the’ Government’s actions in this regard. The Opposition desires to inform him that the Australian Labour party has never decried the efforts of Great Britain and the United States to achieve an international agreement on nuclear weapons; nor has it ever advocated complete disarmament. Its efforts will always be directed towards achieving control of hydrogen bombs, and even the total banning of such weapons. Opposition members support the statement of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) that high moral gestures are now more than ever necessary to obtain agreement on nuclear weapons.
The greatest concern of Opposition members has been the futile and reckless spending of £1,250,000,000 on outmoded defence measures although the pattern of future warfare was set from the moment that the first atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima. The destruction that took place at Hiroshima, compared with the pattern of destruction that can be caused by present-day atomic weapons, was a mere bagatelle, to put the matter in terms of cold logic. The Opposition asks whether it is worth-while to proceed with a programme calling for the reequipment of our Air Force with new fighter aircraft when missile interceptors are now the order of the day. Is it necessary to maintain a large Army or to equip our Navy with aircraft carriers when, for all practical purposes, it is admitted that conventional means are no defence against atomic warfare?
The Prime Minister stated that it would be the Government’s policy to use our defence forces in localized conflicts. But where are these localized conflicts? I think it reasonable to ask whether the Government has committed Australia to participation in any of the so-called localized conflicts. We are informed also that the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) is to go to America in an attempt to obtain Starfighter jet aircraft or their equivalent, transport planes, and 105 mm. field guns. The Minister will try to secure the American equipment on the best possible terms. If he is unable to do this the only other alternative is for Australia to purchase this expensive equipment outright; yet we learn that this country is so devoid of money that the programme it is entering into is probably more than our financial resources can bear! We learn further that it is probable that America will despatch a highly qualified technical mission to Australia to tie up the defence changes. The Opposition is entitled to ask the reason for this haste - the reason for the abrupt departure of the
Government from its former policy. The Opposition is also entitled to ask whether the visit of the Minister for Defence to America means that Australia is to be tied to the coat-tails of that country. Most of all, the Opposition is entitled to ask what this Government is doing to bring about the abolition of nuclear weapons.
That leads me to say that if ever there was need for extreme concern, it is to be found in the progress of national rivalry for the possession and command of nuclear weapons. The lack of trust between the major powers, and the apparent lack of desire to reach agreement on the banning of further nuclear tests have brought protests from all parts of the universe with the realization by the people of the frightful death-dealing potentiality of atom and hydrogen bombs in peace or war. It is true to say that as America and Great Britain will not trust the word of Russia, Russia retaliates by refusing to trust the word of anybody else. This lack of confidence is further accentuated by the knowledge that nuclear tests have apparently reached the stage where they can be conducted in secret, especially when the test is spread over half a continent. One only has to think of the great open spaces of Russia, of North America, and of Australia to confirm his thoughts in this regard. There are those who advocate the manufacture of more and more weapons of terror. They say, “ Let us show Russia that anything she can do we can do better “. They use this as an excuse to advocate that the value of nuclear weapons lies in their threat, not actually in their use.
I submit that the opinion is general that, further tests or no further tests, the nuclear weapon undeniably is the potential complete destroyer of mankind and civilization - that is, if one can find in this supposedly Christian world, with all this mistrust and conspiracy, the much desired thing called civilization.
– Get your delegates at Peking to tell them that.
– And perhaps they could tell you a few things, too. Has humanity learned no lesson from the blood bath of 1914-18 or the legacy of destruction, misery, disaster and death of 1939-45? The need for all the occupation areas, all the buffer zones and all the satellite countries that were the outcome of the last great conflict, fades into insignificance with the knowledge that the use of the H bomb renders any country on which these weapons of total destruction may fall unfit for occupation for time unlimited, since the effects of radiation do not disappear. The very act of one country or another using nuclear weapons will be tantamount to signing its own death warrant. There can be no benefit to any nation from the use of nuclear weapons.
I ask, therefore: Why should this mad race, with death and destruction as the trophy, be allowed to continue? There is little earthly satisfaction in nominating your own country for doom in order that you may destroy your enemy. I say that if we are actuated by the vindictiveness that was displayed by the interjection a little while ago, and not deterred by the awful threat of atomic warfare and the certainty of retaliation, then the nomination of our own country’s doom is the recompense that can be expected.
The hope that the possession of nuclear weapons can be confined to the powers now possessing them has passed beyond recall. To be assured of this, we have only to consider what appeared in the press yesterday about Formosa. It is reasonable to assume that other powers, such as western Germany, France and Japan, will not be denied forever possession of atomic weapons. And they will not lack ready suppliers. This has already been emphasized in the Middle East in the supply of conventional weapons. Even the remote possibility of other powers obtaining such weapons could be sufficient cause for general hostilities.
Just how short is the step from the old style conventional war to total atom war, new style, was indicated by Russia at the time of the Anglo-French intervention in Suez. Whether the threat of Soviet rockets was merely an empty one, or a gesture to encourage others, matters little. The salient fact emerged that if war is inevitable and if we are to escape total destruction, the continuing need of the nations for conventional arms is obvious.
But let it be remembered that in every conflict of the old conventional style there resides with the Great Powers the plausible excuse for a war with nuclear weapons, with its mass murder and mass suicide of mankind. Consider the position of any country, possessing nuclear weapons, and facing defeat in a conventional war! What would the reaction be? Most certainly the total death-dealing agent would be brought into play. Only the total banning of nuclear weapons can avoid this. Nuclear weapons rely not on their quantity for effect, as has been emphasized more or less by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), but on their potency. Two or three bombs could just as effectively wreck a nation as could many, for it is not the explosive effect alone which has to be feared: it is the contamination by radiation, and we are ignorant of the duration of this contamination.
It was truly said by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) that the New South Wales coast, from Newcastle to Wollongong, offers itself as the perfect atom target. It is also true that the British Isles are a perfect nuclear target. It leaves little to the imagination to realize what would happen if a nuclear bomb fell on either of these places, regardless of the retaliation that might come from one of our allies on the country that was responsible for this destruction. Retaliation, no matter how successful, cannot bring the dead to life, or repair the fabric of a centuries old social and economic civilization. The frightening and alarming fact is that powers of retaliation are of little use after the damage has been done. If the threat of retaliation does not deter, retaliation cannot repair. The only hope for the survival of our civilization is in the total banning of atomic warfare. This is the demand of people all over the world.
The inability to supervise and inspect atomic tests justifies this demand. Whichever way one may argue, the nuclear weapon has but one purpose, and that is attack. It is true to say that Russia has as much right to suspect the Western Democracies as they have to suspect Russia - as much right but not as much justification. But whatever the justification for distrust of Russia by the United States of America and the United Kingdom, it cannot be denied that during the United Nations Disarmament Commission’s meeting of May-June, 1954. Russia, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom, whilst differing on the conditions to be laid down for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, agreed in principle on the proposal. The dreadful uncertainty of the effects of radiation, coupled with the decided certainty of the terrific damage from atomic blasts, and the definite knowledge that there are no civil defence measures to cope with this monstrous scientific invention of destruction, make it imperative for agreements between nations for its total elimination.
I believe we have reached a stage in world history when force has become too dangerous for the good of civilization, and, therefore, every effort should be directed to seeking an alternative to nuclear war. We cannot take the risk of a nuclear war occurring as a result, to use the words of the Prime Minister, of “ sudden passion or miscalculation “. I firmly believe that the intervention of the United Nations in the Suez crisis started a chain of events that could easily become the pattern for the settling of future international disputes. If force is to be eliminated as a means of settling international disputes like that of Israel and Egypt, diplomacy must enter into a new era, and I firmly believe that it has already embarked on that course. Is it not logical to think that if military force has become too dangerous for civilization, then moral and political factors must prevail to produce strong positive inducements for reasonable settlements?
There must be a centre of gravity of all these forces, where stability can be found and equitable adjustments made for all parties. Many so-called carrots can be held out, in the form of economic aid, to encourage reasonable behaviour. The moral factors, and world opinion, can also be tangible, and even decisive. In this regard, as I have said before, I agree with the statement made by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) on a previous occasion, and I think it is up to us to start thinking about ways and means whereby we can have the “ open skies “ system in a reasonable form. I submit that there is one thing that this debate has revealed, and that is the vindication of the Labour party’s attitude on government aircraft factories and munitions establishments. The bungling of the Government in this regard is highlighted by the proposed visit of the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) to America. The attitude of this party has always been that these establishments should be used to their fullest capacity in the manufacture of modern aircraft and modern weapons. Contrary to this, we find that highly trained personnel have been dismissed, or discouraged to such an extent that they have left these plants for employment elsewhere. The sum total of all this bungling is that Australia has to face up to the same set of circumstances, if there is to be a third world war, as it did in 1939 when there was a government in office of the same political flavour as the present one.
In actuality, instead of going forward, we are slipping back. Red tape and top-heavy administration are largely responsible for the chaos. I conclude by repeating that I agree with the attitude of the honorable member for Mackellar. The greatest urgency that exists in this country or any other country with respect to defence is conciliation and agreement on nuclear war. This can only be brought about by moral, political and diplomatic force and the will to give to the not-so-fortunate nations some of the benefits we now enjoy. While animosity exists, and the mad race for nuclear supremacy continues, civilization stands on the threshold of destruction.
.- Most members of the Opposition who have spoken in this debate have dealt with the banning of nuclear weapons tests. I have not heard any one of them adopt the course, either in this debate or previously, of directing his attack to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In my view it would be completely foolish and, as has been said before, suicidal for the democracies to discontinue such tests so long as the Soviet continues to carry out tests of nuclear weapons, as it has been doing. The Minister for Supply and Minister for Defence Production (Mr. Beale) told us recently that in the last few months about twelve such tests had been conducted by the Soviet. Until the Russians are prepared to make a definite gesture as regards cessation of tests I am on the side of the democracies in believing that we should continue to carry on tests of nuclear weapons so that we shall possess the same amount of knowledge on these matters as the Soviet possesses as the result of its tests, and so that we shall also be as ready for the eventuality of nuclear war as the Soviet would be.
To a degree I support the theory advanced by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock) and the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) - but only as a theory. I shall not be one who will pit his knowledge against that of the defence chiefs or the Defence Committee just because some people have made certain statements. The honorable member for Indi said yesterday that nuclear bombs could be bought for £5,000.000 a dozen. To-day the honorable member for Mackellar was asked, during his speech, how many such bombs we would require, and he said he did not know. I have some knowledge of the use of bombs, and I think that we would require, in the first instance, 500 bombs, because stocks of these weapons would have to be held not only in Sydney, or Canberra, but also at various strategic centres, where aircraft could load them and set off on their missions. One problem that faces us is that of the purchase of the requisite aircraft to do the job with such weapons. It is no good our thinking that we would be able to manage with a flight or a squadron of atom bombers. Such a force would be knocked out of the sky before it knew where it was. To-day, as a result of the development of guided missiles that can home on an attacking bomber, unless we had a sizable number of bombers operating we would not achieve very much no matter how many bombs we had.
Arming ourselves for nuclear warfare would be a most expensive business; and if our service chiefs, or the Defence Committee, say our role in a war would be such and such, in my opinion they would not say so without having first consulted their opposite numbers in the forces of our allies. We may have a definite role to play in a future war. I do not know the latest appreciation by the Defence Committee on that matter, so I do not intend to engage in a discussion of it. However, I repeat, I support the theory advanced by the honorable members for Indi and Mackellar.
Now I turn to civil defence, in respect of which there has been some criticism. I realize that the Government should be subject to some criticism in respect of civil defence but I think that, whilst we may be prepared, on the one hand, to accept the advice of our experts in this field, we cannot, on the other hand, tell them that they are wrong and do something off our own bat, unless we sack them. If we keep them, then, implicitly, we are satisfied with them, and must accept their advice. If we cannot accept their advice we should gel rid of them and get new advisers. I am not prepared at the moment to discount the information and the advice that our advisers give us in favour of the views expressed by a few laymen. Personally, 1 think the Army should take complete control of civil defence, but that is another matter, and I shall leave the subject of civil defence there.
One argument advanced on defence by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) to-day, and last night by the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. R. W. Holt), is that we should pay more attention to the building of roads, the unification of rail gauges and our transport system generally. I do not deny that; but 1 want to say to members of the Opposition that last night their Deputy Leader, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), trenchantly criticized the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) for using the same argument in 1939. The words of the Treasurer, who was on that occasion speaking as a private member, which were criticized by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, were as follows: -
Some honorable members have become so proEnglish that they are now anti-Australian, although they do not recognize it. We must give serious consideration to our defence responsibilities, and do everything in our power to reduce expenditure on the defence programme, even though we may be told by our experts that it is essential.
Those words appear in “ Hansard “, Volume No. 159, at page 632, in the report of the proceedings of 23rd May, 1939. Later, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition again quoted the following remarks made by the Treasurer on that occasion: -
Naval and military experts often seek to take advantage of critical times in order to urge expenditure on projects calculated to advance the interests of the professional sailors and soldiers rather than those of the country.
I am not denying those statements, but I want to remind the House that when they were uttered the Parliament was debating the second reading of the Supply and Development Bill 1939, which had been introduced by the present Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). Before the right honorable gentleman had said one hundred words in his second-reading speech on that bill he observed -
We must benefit by experience and lake full advantage of the knowledge that is in our possession in order to ensure that Australia obtains full value for every pound expended, and that a pound is not expended if a shilling will be sufficient.
The whole of the right honorable member’s remarks on that bill could be said to be an appeal for care in the expenditure of money if we were making a survey for the purpose of assessing the proper amount that should be spent on defence and the proper amount on other works. It ill becomes the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to make the charge that he made against the Treasurer - I think he made some other remarks when he did so - in an endeavour to gloss over the comments made by the Prime Minister of the day, Mr. Curtin. It is rather strange to notice that while members of the Opposition to-day allow their Deputy Leader to criticize the present Treasurer for making such comments twenty years ago, they are offering their criticism of the Government’s defence policy on the same grounds. I suggest to them that it might be a good idea if they got together some time - I do not think they have reached the stage in this Parliament that the Labour party in the Queensland Parliament has reached - while there is still a chance, and formulated a common defence policy.
In further criticism of the Government’s intentions in respect of defence, honorable members opposite have dealt with the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in 1950. when he sounded a warning to the nation. Such a warning was given, not only by the Prime Minister of Australia, but also by the Prime Ministers of all the democracies of the world. They warned their peoples that if they did not get a wriggle on and endeavour to become strong within a period of a few years, they might face the danger of a global war. Fortu nately, the democracies did take heed of those warnings by their leaders. Australia’s greatest expenditure was in 1952-53, when £215,000,000 was devoted to defence. But by spending that money we were able to build up our military strength. Nobody, particularly in this country, will deny that the building up of that strength by the Western democracies was the means of averting a global war.
Honorable members opposite want to know what has become of this money and where it has been spent. Have they forgotten that out of this £1,250,000,000, which I have heard honorable members opposite repeatedly mention, Australia’s share of the expenditure on the Korean war was paid? Have they forgotten that part of this sum was used to establish the Woomera Rocket Range, and part to meet the cost of training the armed services? Members of the Opposition are bringing these matters to the forefront on this occasion in their arguments because the Government has seen fit. in view of the fact that the fear of a global war is retreating, to revise its defence policy. I think it was the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) who to-day charged the Government with advising the country that a global war was near at hand. That has never been said recently. It was said five or six years ago, but not in recent times. It has been said repeatedly, not only by the leaders of this country, but also by the leaders of other countries, that the fear of a global war has receded somewhat. In view of that opinion, and also of the forward trend in armaments, it has behoved the Government to make a re-appraisement and a re-alinement of its defence policy. Surely the members of the Opposition and those whom they say support them should realize that if we were faced with either a limited war or a global war, the United Kingdom could not come to our assistance as it has been able to do in the past. They must realize that the United Kingdom would have to fight for its own existence and, therefore, could not spare one ship, one soldier, one sailor or one aircraft or anything else to help us.
– Australia has more troops in Malaya than Great Britain has.
– That is so, but members of the Labour party would not appreciate that fact. They want somebody to do something for them which they are not prepared to do for themselves. It would be absolutely improper to ask the United Kingdom to come to our assistance. Therefore, if we have any real love for this country, and want to justify the confidence that the people have placed in us, we must look in other directions. What have we done? We have looked to the idea of alining our defence policy with that of the United States of America. To-day the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) pointed out that the rifles issued to American servicemen and those that will be issued to Australian servicemen, although not exactly the same, are the same calibre. Therefore, an interchange of ammunition will be possible. That is a great asset. Those who had some experience of hostilities in recent wars will recall the confusion that was caused by the supply of .303, .5 and .30 ammunition to the land forces and air forces. Australia’s defence policy has been re-appraised and re-alined. Thank goodness that, at long last, we have seen fit to aline our policy with the defence strategy of the United States of America. Thank God, too, that the United States of America is prepared to accept our policy and to take us under its wing.
Honorable members opposite have criticized what has been done. Only last night the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. R. W. Holt) - I was somewhat surprised to hear him make such a statement - said that Australia will have a lot of troops, but it will not be able to move them. Obviously the honorable member had not read the Prime Minister’s speech in which he told the Parliament and the people that we would buy aircraft of the C.130 type - great troop carriers that could move troops when the need arose. Honorable members opposite have asked, also, what has become of the £1,250,000,000. Do they think that men can be trained and fed and clothed and quartered for nothing? Apparently honorable members opposite think that all that is required to train men is to put them into camp, march them round the bull ring, and teach them to slope arms, present arms and to keep guard. They seem to ignore the fact that these men need food, clothing, accommodation and pay. Is that the idea of members of the Labour party?
An Opposition Member. - Nonsense!
– Training and accommodation costs money. Furthermore, you cannot buy aircraft carriers, as Australia has done, such as the “ Melbourne “, for nothing. Nor can you buy Gannet or Vampire aircraft for nothing. It costsmoney to manufacture them here; they cannot be built in Australia for nothing. Do honorable members opposite imagine that the Woomera and Maralinga testing: grounds could be developed for nothing?’ Did we get the Jindiviks for nothing? They know full well that all these things cost money, and large amounts of it.
We have done some stockpiling of equipment for the various services, but I will not deal with that because my time is limited. While we have been amassing supplies and training troops, 16,700 airmen have gone through the course of national service training since it was started by this Government. That plan was brought into* being much against the will of the Opposition, who fought the Government tooth and nail on the issue. The Government has developed Maralinga and other defence establishments, but none of these things has been possible without money. During the whole of the time that the Government has been spending that money it has been making an invisible contribution to private industry in this country. All the laboratories that have been used for the various tests and so on have provided an opportunity for private industry to gain some benefit - not directly but indirectly.
In the few minutes that I have left there is one matter about which I wish to speak. I have mentioned it in this Parliament before, but I am forced to mention it again because recently I have noticed in the press a report that a committee of the British Conservative party, known as the Conservative Commonwealth Council, has urged the development of naval bases in the Indian Ocean. They suggest places such as Darwin, Madagascar and Mombasa.
I want once again to express my disappointment that the Prime Minister has not announced plans for the construction of a naval establishment on the western seaboard of this continent. In 1953, the then Minister for Air, the honorable member for Lowe (Mr. McMahon), wrote to me, saying that the Government had had to move its Neptune bombers from the western seaboard because no submarine base existed there to enable squadron training to be carried out. He said that all these facilities were available near Richmond, in New South Wales, and to provide them in Western Australia merely for training purposes would be a costly duplication of existing facilities in the eastern States. A little later he wrote again and said, no doubt as a sort of sop to the people of Western Australia, that naval exercises were shortly to be carried out in the Indian Ocean, off the Western Australian coast.
As my colleague, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) said last night, we have had an occasional visit to Fremantle by a warship, but that is all. Certainly, there is an air base at Pearce, upon which a considerable amount of money has been spent recently, but as the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) said the other night, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has built up a large navy, with many submarines. Why does a country which is self-supporting and self-sufficient need submarines, if not for aggression? One of the main objectives in war is to cut the lifeline of the enemy. The United Kingdom is a wonderful customer for our wool and wheat, and would be even more so in an emergency but enemy submarines could cause real havoc on the shipping lanes and if a ship were hit, it would have to limp all the way back to Whyalla, or return to Sydney, before it could be repaired. I appeal to the Government to wake up and do something for the western seaboard of this continent. Along 4,300 miles of coast there is not a single dock to which a vessel damaged in war or even in peace-time in the Indian Ocean or down towards the Cape, can be taken. It must lrmp all the way to Sydney, or to some other part of the world where dock facilities are available. Honorable members should not forget that the distance from Fremantle to Sydney is akin to that from London to New York. I appeal once more to the Government to make a really good start in its task of ensuring Australia’s security and development by establishing a naval dock on the western seaboard.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. DALY (Grayndler) [5.131. - The honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) usually makes a reasonable contribution to debates, and is full of vim, vigour and vitality in defending the Government’s programme, but to-day even an unobservant member would have noticed that he was uphill from the beginning. He began by endeavouring to explain away the policy of the Liberal party-Australian Country party Government which left this country defenceless in 1939. He went on to attempt to explain away what Sir Frederick Shedden has described as our inadequate defence preparations, and our inability to mobilize even after expending £1,200,000,000 on defence. But no arguments that the honorable member can offer will convince Oppositions members that there has not been tremendous waste of money, incompetence and muddling in the defence programme of the present Administration.
The honorable member quoted a statement that the then Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) made four months before war broke out. The mere fact that that gentleman was, at the time, advocating the curtailment of defence expenditure is proof enough of his incompetence, and explains why Australia was then defenceless. The honorable member also took us back to 1950 and 1951 in order to quote the warnings that the Prime Ministers of this and other countries have given on the possibility of war. Every honorable member knows that this Government, despite all its election promises to the contrary, immediately it was elected, imposed tremendous taxation burdens on the ground that war was getting closer. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) even said that we must be prepared for war not later than 1953. From time to time the former Minister for Defence Production. Sir Eric Harrison, who is now in London, told us that the prospect of war had drifted another year or two further away. Ever since the present Government was re-elected we have had evidence of incompetence and muddling in this great problem of defence, and nothing that the honorable member for Canning or his colleagues may say will alter the fact that the Government has either wasted, or spent unwisely, the money that it has taken from the taxpayers for purposes of defence. If war were to come to-morrow we should find this country as defenceless as it was in 1939. Every honorable member knows that if an enemy aircraft had come over Sydney in those days, our antiaircraft guns would have been out. of ammunition in 30 seconds. That was the situation under a government which was responsible for the defence of this country.
We are frequently told that the late John Curtin, when Prime Minister, conceded that the previous administration had done a good job, but last night the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) quoted exactly what that great Labour war leader said in 1943. Mr. Curtin said -
The inheritance that the Labour Government accepted from its predecessors was a heavy burden. Blind to the dangers in the Pacific, the MenziesFadden Government had left Australia very much unprepared.
I will not go into it further now, but I could quote at length to show how the Liberal party-Australian Country party Government of those days fell down on the job. The reason is quite apparent when one realizes the attitude of the present Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) only a few weeks before war broke out.
The honorable member for Canning told us what had not been done on the western seaboard of Australia, where 4,300 miles of coastline is virtually undefended. This year the Government proposes to call up 12,000 national service trainees, or about one soldier for every mile of our coastline. If we are to defend this country we shall have to arrange with the enemy to land at a certain spot, otherwise there simply will not be enough equipment to go round. This is the situation after £1,200,000,000 has been spent on defence!
In common with other honorable members on this side of the chamber, I believe that if Sir Frederick Shedden, the former secretary of the Department of Defence, had not shocked the nation by telling the Public Accounts Committee that Australia could not mobilize there would have been no change in this Government’s defence policy. In the last three or four years, especially, the Opposition has consistently charged this Government with handling the problem of defence inefficiently. Invariably, the next day the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) would spring to the defence of the Government. The Minister was forever telling us that we were adequately prepared for war.
When the Suez crisis arose, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) said that we could send 2.000, 3,000 or 4,000 men to that area. However, the Minister is regarded as being of so little importance that he is not even a member of the inner Cabinet. That alone is a clear indication of the Government’s casual approach to thisgreat problem. On 9th August, 1956, a most striking commentary on the Government’s defence policy was made by Sir Frederick Shedden. The following report appeared in the official organ of the Liberal party, the “ Daily Telegraph “: -
Australia was not in a position to mobilize for war, Sir Frederick Shedden said to-day. Thereason was lack of money, man-power and resources, he said. Sir Frederick, the Secretary of the Defence Department, was giving evidence before the federal Public Accounts Committee. The Committee is investigating defence spending. Sir Frederick told the Committee that the defence forces had spent £781,200,000 in the last four years. He said that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had directed that the defence forces beready for mobilization by 1953.
Mr. Leslie (CP., W.A.), a member of the Committee: Would you have been ready for mobilization by then?
Sir Frederick: No, sir.
Would you be ready for mobilization now? - No, sir.
In other words, even years after the expenditure of £781,000,000 for defence, Sir Frederick Shedden was prepared to tell thiscommittee that the Government was not prepared to defend this country. That isan indication of the approach that the Government has made to defence. It indicates that it is not adequately using the money that it is getting from the Australian’ taxpayer. The Australian Labour party believes in the adequate defence of this nation. We do not quibble so much over the amount of money allocated, but we complain bitterly about the manner in which that money is being spent. No person; would complain about the allocation of £200,000,000 for defence if it were used for the right purposes.
The honorable member for Canning(Mr. Hamilton), among other things, complained that there was not enough money to purchase equipment, yet a considerableproportion of the defence vote is unexpended in each year. Press reports have indicated that at certain stages there is a hurry-up in defence spending, so that the defence departments can justify their votes. There have been quite a number of reviews of the defence programme. Apparently, the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) does not think that any of them are necessary, because I have a sheaf of newspaper cuttings containing speeches that he has made, every one of which indicates that the nation’s defences are first class. Yet Sir Frederick Shedden has made a statement to the contrary. It was not the Minister for Defence Production (Mr. Beale) or the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) who decided that these reviews of the defence programme should be made. The Government has been forced to make them by criticism from this side of the House and from the press to the effect that its spending has not been in accordance with a necessary policy for the effective defence of this country.
Time does not permit me to deal fully with the Prime Minister’s statement, but it will be seen that every one is affected by the Government’s policy. Members of the Government repudiated Labour’s criticism of the national service training scheme when it was introduced, but they have now had to eat their words. The Army, the Air Force and the Navy have all suffered as a result of the Government’s policy. The Navy has been reduced to a minimum. Even the Air Force is allowing for an intake of only about another 1,000 men.
I agree with the Prime Minister’s statement that too much money is being spent on men and not enough on materials. In other words, the Government has not had the necessary equipment to give to its forces. It has wasted money. Instead of purchasing the equipment necessary for men to protect this country the Government has spent money on the recruitment of manpower for which it has no equipment. That is a glaring indictment of the Government’s approach to this problem, and the matter should be ventilated.
The Minister for Defence Production ought to remember that the Government has destroyed the aircraft industry of Australia. In time of crisis we shall find it necessary to purchase our aircraft abroad. The aircraft industry of this country, which was flourishing when the Labour Government was defeated, is now practically nonexistent because the Government prefers to spend money abroad to purchase aeroplanes and other equipment. That money might well be spent here in the production of aeroplanes, the making of which would give employment to men in an important sphere.
Undoubtedly, the Prime Minister and the Government are alarmed by the criticism that is being levelled at them. People are fearful that in the event of another conflict this country will again be defenceless, as it was in 1939. Every year, the Government says that £200,000,000 is needed for defence. It has never explained why it always wants £200,000,000. Does it guess this figure, or does it think of a number and double it or engage in some other such computation? Is it not remarkable that every year the Government asks for £200,000,000? Why is it never £198,000,000? Each year, the Government asks for £200,000,000, and each year less than the full amount is expended. Yet it has been stated that the Government is not getting enough money to purchase the equipment that is necessary properly to equip the number of men that has been mobilized. It is true that there is practically nothing to show for the Government’s expenditure to-day.
The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes) said that there were more mysteries surrounding defence expenditure at the St. Mary’s project than there were in any mystery novels that he had read for years. He was speaking about an estimated expenditure on defence production of £23,000,000 at St. Mary’s. I suppose that the figure will ultimately be £43,000,000 under this Government’s method of finance. Matters like that, necessary as they may be in the broad scheme of things, show glaring incompetence in the Government’s administration. The Prime Minister announced a change in the defence programme, and the Minister for Defence said that it was not necessary. Then Sir Frederick Shedden said that the changes were desirable. This illustrates the muddled thinking and planning that is occurring in this incompetent administration. It indicates that a change in the number of Ministers in the Cabinet would be desirable in order to speed up our defence programme.
I could make many suggestions for the improvement of the defence programme. When all is said and done, there are too many Ministers handling defence. I think that there could be more co-ordination of the defence departments with advantage to this country. 1 do not mind the Minister for Defence. He is a pleasant fellow except when he is talking, but it seems to me that there is a lot that he lacks in administrative capacity. Instead of constantly rushing into the Parliament and defending actions which cannot be defended, he should take notice of experts such as Sir Frederick Shedden, who have said that the Government is not spending the defence vote in a way that will provide adequate defence for the country.
It is beyond doubt that we have nothing worth while to show for the money that has been voted for defence purposes. All the preparations of which Ministers have spoken will be proved to be ineffective should an enemy strike while our forces still have insufficient equipment. As honorable members know, the defence of this country is a tremendous task for any government. Australia is as large as the United States of America, but has a population of only about 9,000,000 people. It has 12,000 miles of coastline. The late Ben Chifley often said, quite rightly, that as part of our defence programme we should cultivate friendship with our Asian neighbours, and endeavour to gain the friendship of these people. An attack could easily come from the Japanese or some other country of which the Government is not thinking. Therefore, a defence programme which provides a minimum of defence with a maximum of expenditure is something that no people can tolerate, and this Government deserves to be condemned for it. I am not speaking against the defenceof the country. I am saying that the Opposition believes in an adequate defence policy, and that we are not satisfied that the Government is spending the huge amount of money that it takes from the people in the provision of adequate defence for the people.
I hope, if nothing else comes of the Prime Minister’s statement, that the criticism levelled so constructively from this side of the Parliament will be taken to heart by the Government. Surely the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock) is competent to speak on this problem, and [ hope that his opinion will be considered by the Government. Criticism levelled by back-benchers on the Government side of the House, when they are game to talk, shows that the programme of the present Administration needs an overhaul if Australia is to be defended. With those few constructive remarks on this great problem.
I conclude by saying that defence is a responsibility of the Government and a matter of great concern to the Australian people. I hope that the Government will realize before it is too late that a complete review of its planning and administration is necessary, and that the next time this important issue is debated, the Government will have something to show for the £1,200,000,000 that it has spent on defence.
.- The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), contrary to his own opinion, has, like most other Opposition members, made a completely destructive speech. Honorable members opposite have criticized the defence policy of the Government without advancing hardly a single constructive suggestion as to what should be substituted for, it. I suspect that the reason for this is that they have not a defence policy, unless the erosion of our defence effort and a reduction in the money spent on it is considered to be a policy. As one who takes the view that our present defence effort is not great enough, I find the diametrically opposed views expressed by most of the honorable gentlemen opposite most alarming.
This is not a new tactic on the part of Opposition members. It has been their reaction to every defence plan that has been put forward by the present Government since it took office. It was also their reaction, whatever the government of the day may have done, to the question of defence in the crucial years before the outbreak of the last war. Their tactics seldom take the form of advocating outright a reduction in the defence vote, though they have done even that on occasions. More often, their tactics involve revolutionary suggestions in relation to defence, which miraculously have the effect of reducing the monetary level of the defence effort. We are told that, in anuclear age, all defence is useless and that, therefore, we should resign ourselves to the inevitable and make hay while the sun shines. We are told that the defence vote should contribute to a national roads plan or to the construction of railways. We are told that Australia can best play its part by concentrating on the development of its own resources.
All these theories, and others that havebeen advanced by Opposition members, have in common the fact that they capitalize- on the natural yearning of people everywhere to have done with this vast, so-called unproductive expenditure. To advocate such theories is, therefore, I suppose, good politics. These theories have also in common - though it is seldom stated by the Opposition members who put them forward - that they imply that the greater part of the defence of this country is to be left to other people. I am one who believes that, if we are to maintain our national selfrespect and if we are to have our views listened to and respected - in other words, if we are to create the framework within which we will be certain to have the support of powerful friends should war break out - our defence effort should be increased rather than reduced. We cannot ignore such figures as those cited by the honorable members for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes) and St. George (Mr. Graham) and other honorable members on this side of the House relating to the respective defence efforts of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Australia. They speak volumes about the burden being carried in the defence of the free world by individual men and women in the four countries. That is what counts - the individual burden, whether it be in terms of taxes paid or of service in the Defence Forces. 1 sometimes think that, in one of its aspects at least, we forget the very close connexion that exists between foreign policy and defence. Our foreign policy is, or should be, as much as our defence preparations a weapon for ensuring our national survival. Yet, without a level of defence preparations which commands respect, the additional margin of security which comes from a wise foreign policy will not be available to us. Our views, however intrinsically sound they may be, will not be listened to, nor will they be implemented. This is particularly true in these days of superpowers in which anything but collective defence is unthinkable. We are vitally concerned with the peace and security of the Pacific area and we have joined in a number of collective defensive agreements to achieve that purpose. The political and economic policies pursued by the parties to those agreements are at least as important as military measures in ensuring the continued peace and security of the area. Wisdom in these matters is no particular monopoly of the great powers. Indeed, it is probably true to say that we, who are geographically a part of South-East Asia, are better situated than even the United States of America to judge the policies that the free world should pursue in that area. Certainly, because we are small and live there, we are even more vitally concerned with the continued peace of the area.
It is one thing to hold these views about the policies to be pursued in South-East Asia; it is another to have them accepted. The degree to which they will be accepted will depend upon our influence on our partners, particularly on the United States of America. That influence will be in direct proportion to the relative contribution we make to the defence of the free world, and particularly of the Pacific area. Moreover, because our allies are democracies, our defence effort must be framed in terms which ordinary citizens of those countries understand. So far as individuals are concerned, there must be comparable sacrifices. The American boy, who is called up for two years’ service in the defence forces, will not appreciate the reasons, however good they may be, why his Australian equivalent serves for only three months or not at all. Arguments about developing Australia’s resources, however sound they may be, will mean nothing to American taxpayers, who contribute £106 a head for defence. It may be regrettable that individuals think in this way. but they do. I hope that we will remember that, in the United States, democratic control of foreign policy is more advanced and means more than it does in any other country. If we wish to exert our influence in a dangerous world, we must contribute; and, while it remains dangerous, we must contribute in the ways that hurt most.
I should like to give two examples from our own recent past of the point I am trying to make. Honorable members will remember that Australia entered the 1914-18 wai as a dependent portion of the British Empire. At the end of the war, through her tremendous exertions, she took her place at the Peace Conference in Paris as a proud and independent member of the family of nations. Not every one accepted this position without question. The President of the United States, for instance, took the view that the new status of the British Dominions was a kind of Machiavellian- trick by Britain to get five votes at the conference. At one stage during the conference the Austraiian Prime Minister, Mr. Hughes, who was holding out for control over New Guinea as a measure vital to our defence, crossed swords with President Wilson of the United States. The President, in a tone which obviously denied Mr. Hughes the right to open his mouth, said, “ And who do you represent, Mr. Hughes? “. The Australian Prime Minister snapped back, “ I represent 70,000 Australian dead, Mr. President “. Australia’s right to her say was never again queried by the United States or by any other country. The Australian Prime Minister had won his point. These were terms which every one could understand. They involved the right to influence, of which I have been speaking.
My second example, which has already been mentioned in this debate by the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Graham), comes from World War II. Honorable members will remember the campaigns in 1944 and 1945 against the hundreds of thousands of by-passed Japanese troops in the islands between us and the advancing American forces. These campaigns had no conceivable military value in the overall conduct of the war. They did not hasten the end of the war by a single minute. Yet honorable members opposite, who formed the government at that time, insisted on carrying them through, and they were right to resist the suggestions that were then made by our allies that Australia could contribute best, at that stage of the war, by producing food for the advancing American forces. They were right for the sound political reason that Australia’s influence in the post-war world would depend not on calculations by her allies of the number of tons of potatoes she had produced, but on calculations of the fighting she had done. These were terms which could readily be understood. They are the terms in which sacrifice is measured and by which a country is judged.
We are all proud of the magnificent efforts of this country in two world wars, efforts which have brought great benefits to us through enhanced national status. Yet it sometimes seems to me that we have nol learned the lessons of those efforts. If we had, we would not wait until another world war came along in order to demonstrate our determination to play our part. Some of our allies have learned that lesson. Honorable members on this side of the House have learned it, at least better than we did after the first world war, but I fear that most honorable members opposite, to judge by their official policy, have learned it not at all. That lesson - and it has been stated many times - is that if, in peace-time, in concert with your allies you keep your defences at a level that hurts, you may never have to demonstrate what a magnificent contribution you can make in war. To do so may slow down our development and may even slightly reduce our standard of living. But is it not worth it? This, incidentally, I think is the answer to the honorable members for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), East Sydney (Mr. Ward), Parkes (Mr. Haylen), and other honorable members opposite who have said that all the money that has been spent on defence since the present Government came to office has gone down the drain. Such criticisms are not confined to this country. The counterparts of those Opposition members in Great Britain, the United States and Canada have said exactly the same things whenever a reorganization of defence has been undertaken in those countries.
A number of speakers on this side of the House have refuted such allegations most effectively by pointing to the specific installations, forces and equipment which are a legacy of this expenditure, but I am only concerned to point out that the defence preparations in this country, as well as in other countries of the free world, whatever honorable members opposite may think about their efficiency, have been efficient enough to prevent the outbreak of a third world war. Anything that has played its part in achieving that supreme objective cannot really be said to have gone down the drain.
Finally, sir, while congratulating the Government, and particularly the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride), on the new defence scheme which goes further than any of its predecessors to meet modern requirements as we understand them, I must say that I do not think it goes far enough. I do not think that we are yet making a contribution that is comparable with that of our allies in the things that really matter. I believe that this, for the reasons which I have stated, reduces our influence in the political field where we have, I am sure, a valuable contribution to make. I believe that it increases our dependence on the United States and virtually excludes our moral right to press our views. It is for these reasons, Mr. Speaker, that I am sorry that the Government’s proposals do not include the provision of at least one extra brigade group and long-term selective national service to provide the troops for it. It is for these reasons, also, that I regret the omission of any reference to nuclear weapons, whether they be tactical or strategic, and the means of delivering them. I take heart, however, from the hope that this is a beginning and not an end.
.- The imminent suspension of the sitting for dinner will make my speech of a somewhat fragmentary nature, but perhaps that is appropriate in view of the fact that we are considering a fragmentary plan to deal with a very grave defence situation. Some honorable members opposite who have spoken in this debate have demonstrated a rather sycophantic attitude towards the United States, a country for which I have a great regard. Australia has no need to be apologetic about its achievements in the defence of freedom in two world wars. In 1914, and again in 1939, the call of the bugle took a long time to cross the Atlantic. In the 1914-18 and the 1939-45 wars we lost 100,000 men. The United States, with a population approximately twenty times greater than ours, lost about 300,000 men, and some of the other countries to which honorable members opposite often point as examples also have a long way to go before they can point the finger of scorn at us. That applies also to visiting American admirals. Not that I have any objection to them, but let us not, as a general national attitude, be so apologetic about things. However, perhaps we may be apologetic about the defence programme, on which the Government has spent more than £1,000,000,000 in the last six or seven years, and which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has now said will be reorganized. Government supporters have said that it needs re-organizing. I well recall the Army maxim, “ Order, counter-order, and disorder “. That is the state of affairs that now exists.
Neither the general public nor Opposition members, of course, can ignore the fact that defence presents great difficulties today. The Prime Minister has outlined the probabilities. He said that a general war was unlikely. A global war may be unlikely to occur as a result of deliberate planning, but it could occur as a result of sudden passion or miscalculation. A limited war is always possible, and therefore Australia should be prepared to take an active part in a limited war, particularly if called upon to do so by the United Nations.
I should like to mention one other matter before I turn to the tenor of the debate. Opposition members have been criticized for not making more constructive suggestions about the defence programme. But what information have we been given? There are five Ministers concerned with defence, but the Minister for Supply and Minister for Defence Production (Mr. Beale), who is now at the table, is probably the only one of the five who has taken positive action to inform us what happens in the departments under his administration, and I congratulate him on that.
As for the rest, what do honorable members really know about the re-equipment of the Air Force, and about any weapons that may have been developed for use by the Navy or the Army? The Government has a duty to inform the people generally, and all members of both Houses of the Parliament, what is happening in the armed forces and what equipment they have and need. I think that we can answer the criticisms that have been directed at the Opposition by saying that, over the last 50 years, a good deal of Australia’s defence planning has been initiated by Labour governments. I think it is true to say that the Australian Regular Army, the Royal Australian Naval Air Service, and the Woomera Rocket Range, of which the Minister for Supply is so proud, were the result of planning by Labour governments.
We on this side of the House admit the difficulties of the Air Force. We do not know what is the solution, any more than the Government does, and we do not claim to have a solution or to have ready answers to the many questions that arise. We admit the existence of all the problems that are associated with defence finance and development, and the manufacture of aircraft in a modern age. After all, the air is now almost a realm of fantasy, in which aircraft travel at speeds of 2,000 miles an hour, and in which scientists are looking for push-button methods of preventing air attack. However, our own aircraft manufacturing industry has been practically crippled. The government aircraft factories have almost ceased production, and the work force has been dissipated, the workers going into other industries. No matter how hard the Government tries to induce to return to its service workers who were employed in government aircraft factories for eleven or twelve years, and became highly skilled and valuable tradesmen, it will not trap them into returning to the service of a government that is likely to dismiss them at short notice.
The Royal Australian Navy has two aircraft carriers. The great capital cost of naval construction imposes a particularly heavy burden on the Australian nation. What is our position in this respect? According to “ Jane’s Fighting Ships “, the average maximum speeds of even the larger modern aircraft carriers of Britain, and of other countries, are considerably greater than the maximum speed of the Australian aircraft carriers. Among the British vessels, “Ark Royal” is capable of a speed of 31 knots, and “ Eagle “ has a maximum speed of 31.5 knots. “ Saipan “ and “Wright”, two United States aircraft carriers of a class equivalent to the Australian vessels, have a displacement of 14,000 tons, and are capable of a speed of 33 knots. But both the Australian aircraft carriers have a maximum speed of only 24 knots. On the other hand, the fastest Russian submarine can travel at 20 knots. Opposition members do not suggest that it is not difficult to solve these problems, but the Australian people are entitled to expect something better than they have received for an expenditure of more than £1,000,000,000. Our two aircraft carriers are so slow that a really modern submarine could almost outpace them.
We have spent millions of pounds on “ Hobart “, and we have spent approximately £100,000,000 on national service training. Surely the Government does not expect us to believe that we could put into the field an effective fighting force, even with the support of the 170,000 or 180,000 partly trained national service trainees to whom the Prime Minister referred. It takes more than partly trained men, more than mere bodies, and more than money to build up an army. I think it is fair to say that one of the Opposition’s greatest criticisms of the Government’s defence programme is that the Army is inadequately equipped, even when one takes into account the equipment that has been purchased recently. It is also immobile. The Australian transport system could not cope with the transport of the great Centurion tanks that we now have. Top-level policy also has been indecisive. No one in the Army is sure what will happen to it next. Over the years, there has been no long-range plan. No effective fighting unit can be developed without continuity of planning, and an understanding of what will happen next.
The morale of the Army has not been maintained. Traditional features of the Australian Army, such as tan boots, unit colour patches, and the slouch hat, have virtually been cast off by the way-side. Although those are, perhaps, only minor adjuncts, they represent part of the tradition that plays an important part in building up an efficient army. There has been a continual change of emphasis from jungle warfare to open warfare and back again, and consequent alteration of the establishments of army units. This continual switch back and forth, and the indecisiveness of the Government’s policy, have carried their evil influence right into the ranks of those who spend their Sunday afternoons, week-ends and annual holidays, in part-time soldiering, as well as to the ranks of the Regular Army men who make the service a career. These things have undermined their morale and sapped their enthusiasm to serve. I suggest that honorable members on both sides of the House take some note of any Regular Army men they know, and see for themselves how many of those men are resigning from the service, not because they think the pay is inadequate, or the general working conditions are unsatisfactory, but because they are frustrated, and because the system, generally, prevents them from giving their best to the service to which they have dedicated the most worth-while part of their lives. Another criticism that I make with respect to the Army concerns its rather unimaginative approach to the problems of present-day organization. I should like to develop this theme after dinner. Would this be an appropriate time to suspend the sitting, Mr. Speaker?
– The honorable member had better continue. There are still three minutes left before the normal time for suspension.
– I can annihilate a government in three minutes. Let us consider what we have received from the Government’s great expenditure on the Army. We were told, on 9th October of last year, that the Army had 119 Centurion tanks.
– In view of the honorable member’s kindness a few moments ago, Mr. Speaker, I suggest that this might be a convenient time to suspend the sitting.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting we were examining the position of the Army and the purchase by it recently of armoured equipment. Last year, the Minister told us that Australia had purchased 119 Centurion tanks, 33 armoured personnel carriers and 264 ferret scout cars, so many mortars and so many wireless sets. What effect have those purchases had in producing an effective Australian defence system?
One hundred and fifteen tanks is possibly an armoured brigade - not quite. After all, there are 225 vehicles of various descriptions in a modern armoured brigade. What intrigues me is the purchase of 264 ferret scout cars at a time when we are short of tanks and when we have only 33 armoured personnel carriers. Who was the supersalesman who sold those to us? I understand that a ferret scout car is worth about £9,000. It is a beautifully made vehicle with a Rolls-Royce engine, but it only carries a couple of men and it is only a reconnaissance vehicle. Five ferret scout cars equal one tank. Two hundred and sixty-four ferret scout cars equal 50 tanks. The Australian Army, if it is to be an effective army, must train with first-class equipment.
– The same Minister is going to buy other equipment.
– That is right, and I hope the Minister will take somebody with him who is not so susceptible to sales talk. Thirty -three armoured personnel carriers will carry about seven people each, so with a bit of luck a couple of hundred men could be shifted, but where to we do not know. 1 want to refer now to the role of the Citizen Military Forces, which has received scant attention in this debate, and none whatsoever from the Prime Minister. In the last two wars, the Citizen Military Forces had increased tenfold by the time the war ended. The 40,000 in 1914 became 400,000 in 1918. The 78,000 in 1.939 became 800,000 in 1945. At the beginning of each war we had only about 2,000 permanent soldiers. So, the people who will fight any war of the future which is to call upon the resources of the Australian nation to a greater extent than was the case in Korea, are now walking the streets in civilian clothes, and they are the people who must be trained and be attracted to the forces. I suggest that the Minister give consideration to the re-organization of Citizen Military Forces training; that he reorganizes his three infantry divisions, mechanizes them, armours them and gives them first-class equipment. It would not be necessary to purchase equipment for three divisions. If we had one full armoured brigade with 225 armoured vehicles, with tanks at £48,000 each, a total of about £12,000,000 for fighting vehicles, and another £8,000,000 for ancillary equipment, we would have a first-class fighting formation for somewhere in the vicinity of £20,000,000. For this £20,000,000 we could have the equipment and the armour to train people. You cannot tell me that it is necessary to conscript Australian youth or Australian manhood to do this sort of job. The military age is between 18 and 40 years. In Australia at the present time there are more than 1,000,000 men between the ages of 20 and 40. If we want three effective armoured divisions or any other sort of C.M.F. divisions there is something wrong with the system, and with the whole of society, if we cannot get 60,000 men to volunteer. After all, that is a very small proportion. I suggest that the training system be looked at anew and that we abandon some of the concepts we have had. It seems that Saturday afternoon and week-night training is not effective. It cannot be effective. The kind of people we want in these forces are people who have important civic duties, important jobs in civilian life, and they have family responsibilities. They are groups from which will come the leaders and the noncommissioned officers. So, we have to find some system which does not disrupt their job or their home life and does not place too great a strain on their patriotism and sense of duty. I suggest that there be a four-weeks or five-weeks training period, not necessarily every year. Is there any reason why we should base all our systems on the fact that the earth moves around the sun once every 365 days? The way to create an effective force is by a period of training, with good equipment, and for long enough for people to know what they are doing. With good men and good equipment it should bc possible to produce, in four or five weeks, not a fully trained man fit for combatant duty perhaps, but certainly a man fit to go on parade, and to take his place in a force which would be ready for some form of urgent duty in at least two or three months. This should be our objective.
I suggest that instead of a yearly training schedule there be an eighteen months’ schedule. Three divisions with perhaps nine or ten brigades, would require only one set of first-class equipment, and if there is first-class equipment for men to train with, they will be prepared to train. The equipment provided in the last few years has been enough to drive people out of the Army. The training conditions in the camps have been enough to fill soldiers of the Regular Army, members of the Citizen Military Forces, and national servicemen with despair. They have driven people out of the services.
I believe that this nation has an important role to play, and that the Army in the end will probably have to play it. It may not necessarily be a fighting role. At the present moment there are trouble spots all over the world where the United Nations cannot effectively step in. The smaller nations, such as Australia, which have a little less suspicion cast at them by the big countries involved, can offer something. Generally speaking, Australia can step into world affairs without too much stigma of past conquests and colonialism - barring a few incidental happenings in the last few years under this Government. If we were given something to do in Kashmir or Nicaragua or Algiers, what would we have to offer? So far we have nothing to offer. The Minister for Defence has been suggested as a possible offer, but he might be sold too many swift stories. The defence system of the last few years has produced nothing effective.
What will the brigade group, to which the Prime Minister referred, consist of? This is not a battle formation trained to the highest pitch. I suppose it will have our 115 tanks and, as a result, the C.M.F. will have none to train with. These matters have to be given earnest consideration. It is futile to think of maintaining an army to take part in a general war. How effective would the 115 tanks be in a major battle? In the battle of Kursk - one of the greatest tank battles of all time - which took place between the Germans and the Russians during the last war, the Germans had engaged on each kilometre of front - five-eighths of a mile - 4,500 soldiers, 40 to 50 tanks, and 70 to 80 pieces of artillery. It is futile for us to consider taking part in that sort of war. We could not do it. But we should be able to offer something in the form of a unit or units, ready at short notice to carry out the missions to which the United Nations would entrust us. It is not very often that I can agree with the Prime Minister, but I do agree with him that an all-out global war is unlikely. Therefore, I say that the whole concept of our defence has to be based upon a useful role for the Australian forces in a limited war, and an effective one. We have to base most of it on men in civilian clothes, so we must create a citizen military force that has pride in its formations and traditions, and with the history and achievements of the Australian Army behind it. Surely, we can find among 1,000,000 Australian men, 60,000 ready to serve the United Nations cause wherever required.
– We are debating defence, which is, quite simply, the means of Australia being able to ensure its own survival. There is an intimate link between defence and external affairs - a very intimate link indeed - which is reflected in the fact that my friend and colleague the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) and I are in intimate contact all the time, and also in the fact that our respective departments have links at all the various relevant levels. Those links are reflected in the old popular definition of foreign policy which, I expect, most honorable members will recall. That definition is still applicable to any country, and probably is applicable to Australia in particular. The definition, or principle as I should perhaps call it, is that you should do everything humanly possible to avoid war breaking out, but if, in spite of all your efforts, war does break out and you are involved in it, then enter that war with as strong friends as you can. That is a simple definition which reflects the policy this Government has been endeavouring to implement over the last six or seven years.
The first responsibility of the Government, as we assume it, is to strengthen Australia. We have been endeavouring to do so in the last five or six years in all the manifold directions in which a country can be strengthened - by increasing population, by developing our natural resources, and all the rest. In this business of defence, Australia is in a position slightly different from that of most other nations in that we have a country of continental size with a relatively small population of under 10,000,000 people. Those two factors mean that this country is very lightly populated and also that our natural resources are, as yet, inadequately developed. By themselves they impose on us tasks that are considerable and that absorb a great deal of our money and resources, which, in turn, limits our ability to have the defence forces that, in other circumstances, we would certainly have.
Apart from having strengthened Australia to the reasonable limit of our ability, and maintained our defence forces as well as we have been able to, in conjunction with the other obligations upon us we have attempted to link ourselves with strong friends - the second leg of the definition of foreign policy that I gave a few moments ago. These links, which are well known, exist in the Anzus pact and the South-East Asia Treaty Organization, which bind us to the strongest friends we can find. So, on those two scores, I believe we have done our duty, and will continue to do our duty, to the people of Australia.
We come now to this re-organization of our Australian defences which, as we know, entails an appreciable reduction of national service training, which has, over the years, proved itself as having very considerable social value and some military value, although probably not a very great deal by reason of the fact that it creates a pool of only partially trained men. Also, this proposal entails a corresponding increase of our regular forces, properly trained and equipped units, that will provide us with a highly mobile hard-hitting force that can be deployed rapidly at any point within at least several thousand miles of our own shores. Under this proposal we are engaging in a certain degree of standardization of our Australian military and air equipment with that of our strongest friend, the United States of America, with whom in the dread event of another world war - or even of a limited war - we are likely to be in intimate association so far as our armed forces are concerned. That is, in short, what is provided in the proposals before us now.
What is the background of all this? Why should we Australians be concerned about defence? At least 90 per cent, of the reason is that the world is divided into two great camps - the democratic camp and the Communist camp - and that the Communists are dedicated to the communizing of the whole world. That aim has been repeated by them time and time again, and at regular intervals, over the last generation until we, on this side of the House at any rate, believe that there can be no doubt whatsoever about their intentions and aims. I know very well that there are people who deny that that is the aim of the Communists. In spite of all the evidence of the past - very considerable evidence indeed - these people say that the Communists are reasonable people capable of being influenced and persuaded by argument. They say that they are people capable of being persuaded by appeasement and of responding to moral gestures. I believe that that section of public opinion is very small in this country, and possibly in some other countries. We on this side of the House disagree with the opinion of that section. We believe that the available evidence over the last generation contradicts the assumption that the Communists are the kind of people with whom we can deal in that way. We have had warnings, on countless occasions, of the ultimate intent of the Communists, and we believe that we have to be prepared to meet them. That is the main background, and the main reason why we Australians and all other democratic countries are intent on seeking to maintain our integrity and sovereignty and survival in the latter end, if it should come as a result of the exercise of armed force.
The second consideration which is part of the essential background of defence is the complete redistribution of power in the hemisphere in which Australia lies - that is, broadly speaking, from the Mediterranean on the west to the west coast of the Americas on the east. In that hemisphere Australia is the only country, apart from our friend, New Zealand, that has a European-based population in an area that is something like 60 per cent, of the earth’s surface. In that area there has been a tremendous redistribution of power in the last fifteen years. I do not need to detail it to honorable members, because it is common knowledge. There has been a vast potential change in the situation. I do not suppose that any country in the world has had its defence situation, its security situation, its survival situation, so altered as Australia has had as a result of the last great war. I believe that these two simple facts, which are well known, I expect, to all honorable members, are inadequately appreciated in Australia as a whole. I believe that there are too many people in Australia who are looking at the situation of Australia, and the defence of Australia, in the light of a position that existed before the last war.
I know that in these matters there is a lack of appreciation, particularly of changes that are not physically visible, among people who are not intimately dealing with them day after day. As we know, the things I am talking about exist some thousands of miles away from where we are now; but I believe that the points that I am making should be made, and repeated often, so that the average Australian can become aware of them. It is said sometimes that geography is a static factor, and that, of course, is true. A country’s geographical situation has been fixed once and for all, and it does not change. So far as geography has affected Australia, we are, in some ways, fortunate and, in other ways, unfortunate. We are fortunate in that we have no land frontiers with any other country and that, at present, the nearest potential enemy is something like 5,000 miles from our shores. That is, I think, the fortunate side. On the unfortunate side, the fact is that we are something like 10,000 miles from our nearest strong friend, the United States, and something like 13,000 miles - half a world. - away from our mother country, Great Britain.
But, more important even than geography,, in the context in which I am endeavouring: to speak, is what is called geo-politics - that is, the politics of geography. That, I think, is infinitely more important than the geographical situation. The significance of the politics of geography, so far as Australia is concerned, needs no repetition.. We know what has happened as a result, of the last war. We know what has happened in Communist China. We know of the great redistribution of political power in the whole of South and South-East Asia. So, I say that this rather strange word, geo-politics - the politics of geography - has to be seriously taken into account by Australians in any assessment of our defence situation.
Then there is the vast change in weapons,, which has altered the tempo of war. It has introduced a factor into war that we have never had to consider before - the time factor. I am rather surprised that no member of the Opposition has, so far. referred to the time element, which really is the factor, beyond all others, that has brought about this reconsideration of the Australian defence situation. In the past, as we know very well, we had plenty of time to recruit, train, equip and despatch by sea Australian forces of consequence to any theatre of war to which we cared to send them. So, the time factor, in the past, was not important. But we know very well that, in the future, in view of the circumstances I have very briefly mentioned - this geo-politics business and the advent of new weapons, which has introduced the time factor - things are going to bc very different indeed. Whether the next war will be a world-wide war - which God forbid! - or even a local war, in any sort of war we shall have this time factor hammering at our minds all the time. As 1 have said, the most important of the factors that have induced this change in our defence set-up is the time factor. The significance of the altered time-table is. I think, clear, and it is unnecessary to labour it.
The strongest friend with whom we are linked on the Anzus side is the United States of America. The Americans have very substantial forces in our part of the world. If we take a line running from South Korea down through the island chain off the east coast of the Asian continent, it will be found that the Americans have something like 500,000 men under arms, something like 500 vessels of war and something like 2,500 military and naval aircraft. Those figures may not be precisely accurate, but I would expect that the figures are of that order. That represents a very large force indeed. This force is located, not on the American continent, but very close to the Asian continent - from South Korea and through the island chain down towards the north of Australia. It has modern equipment. It is highly mobile. It is a hardhitting striking force right on the spot. It is strategically placed, so that wherever trouble may break out the spearpoint of this force can be directed towards the source of the trouble.
I should not expect that there is an Australian who would be venal enough to wish to have our wars fought for us by somebody else. I do not suppose that any member of any Australian political party would say that. Consequently, we Australians have to prove to the world - in particular, to our strong friends - that we are worthy allies and that we will do all that we possibly can, by ourselves and for ourselves, to be worthy partners in the dread event of war.
These things are not new, but some of them have not been said before in this debate - at least by members of the Opposition. I have heard a good deal of this debate and I have read in “ Hansard “ the speeches that have been made on both sides of the House. I have been rather surprised and somewhat disappointed by the speeches - except for some rather notable exceptions - which have come from the Opposition side. I have not heard my right honorable friend, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) yet. Maybe we shall hear him later, and perhaps he will introduce a new element of reality into the views of the Opposition on this matter.
There are various ways in which the Opposition might have debated this matter. Honorable members opposite might have said that what we are trying to do is too much. I would not agree with that, and I am sure that nobody on this side would agree. But they might have said that, and such a view would have been arguable, politically at least. On the other hand they might have said that the Government was doing too little. But I have heard neither of those suggestions from the Opposition - neither that we are doing too much nor that we are doing too little. I may have missed some remarks of the members of the Opposition, but I do not think so. Such statements would be at least arguable, whether or not one would agree with them.
I believe that there is an inadequate realization on the part of the Opposition of the vulnerability of Australia in the world to-day. I believe that the lag in thinking, which I have mentioned earlier, has been applicable to a great many members of the Opposition. But I believe, also, that there are many people in this country - and possibly a good many members of the Opposition - who are living in a fool’s paradise. They do not realize the extreme vulnerability of Australia. After all, Australia is no more than a link in the worldwide chain of democratic countries. We cannot survive in Australia by the strength of our own right arm alone. We have to make our link as strong as we can. Unless all the links of the chain hold fast the chain may break. If the chain does break, Australia will break with it. So there is a great responsibility, not only on the members of the Government, but also on all members of this Parliament to adopt a realistic and non-party political attitude to defence.
My time has almost run out. I had proposed to say a few things about some of the remarks that have fallen from the lips of quite senior members of the Opposition in this debate - remarks which, I believe, they might live to be ashamed of. I believe that the Australian people, as a whole, have a greater realization of the importance of defence than that which is reflected in the Opposition’s speeches. But still, we can take comfort from the fact that the Opposition is not the Australian people. I suppose the Opposition would claim that their function in this Parliament is to oppose. That is how they interpret their task, but it is different from the way that I would interpret it, because 1 believe that in certain matters of high international importance, party politics should go by the board. I believe that one of these matters is international affairs and that another is defence.
I believe that those who play party politics in respect to defence are not worthy to represent the people in this Parliament.
has referred to the speeches of the Opposition in general terms, but if he really wanted to discuss defence, it would have been much more to the point for him to have referred to the devastating speeches against this defence statement that have been made by honorable members on the Government side. We have listened to those speeches. Although, owing to illness, I have not been present to hear all of the debate, I have kept in close touch with what has been said. Many contributions have been made, from all parts of the House, to the debate on this, the most intricate and most difficult defence problem in the history of Australia - difficult largely because of government delays. One would think from what the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has said that the Government was pressing on with this re-organization as an urgent and necessary reform, but as recently as last October, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said, in answer to a question -
That was at the very time when the cold war was reaching a climax - when there was virtually no difference between the nuclear weapons in the possession of Russia on the one hand, and of the Western Powers on the other. One would have thought that, in view of the universal hope that there should be a peaceful settlement of this tremendous crisis, there would have been some eagerness on the part of the Australian Government to face up to the position, but there has been no real change in our defence potential for many years now. Obviously, nuclear weapons were going to be the most important of all, but what did the Government do? The Prime Minister’s defence statement is a confession that the Government has been mistaken in its approach to the problem of defence.
The Government has spent something like £1,100,000,000 on defence in the last six years. There has been enormous expenditure on the training of personnel. This is now to be drastically reduced by the almost total abandonment of the National Service
Training Scheme. It is quite true, as the Prime Minister has said, that the scheme has been very good in some ways. It has provided physical training, and has been good for the morale of our youth; but it was not inaugurated for that purpose. Whatever may be the true military solution, it is most important that encouragement should be given to the voluntary system of enlistment which prevailed before World War II. Without it we would not have had the devoted men who, having given up their week-ends year after year to military training, played such a crucial part during the war both in Australia and in the Australian Imperial Force overseas. That conception was put on one side. It was a grave error to require that enlistment in the Citizen Military Forces should carry with it an obligation to serve overseas. I think that that aspect must be re-examined.
I have only a short time in which to speak, This is quite proper because many honorable members wish to contribute to the debate; but in the time at my disposal I want to make it clear that the Labour party insists on a proper defence for this country. The views of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), and of many honorable members from both sides of the chamber, have been heard. Will the Government consider them, or is this merely a cut and dried plan? This afternoon I asked the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) whether he was going to the United States to buy defence equipment. I gathered from his answer that he was and, of course, he must do so, but what he selects is of vital importance and should be influenced by this debate.
I have never heard a more absurd speech on the air defence position than was delivered last night by the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne). He spoke of the new weapon that we are to have and said, “ Of course, it is not the best. It is not modern, but it is useful “. That sort of thing was said in 1939, 1940 and 1941 before Labour came to government. The Wirraway was a good machine of its type for training, but it had to be used in combat against the Japanese. When we became a government, at the end of 1941, there was not a single combat fighter plane in Australia. I do not intend to apportion the blame now, but those are the facts. I do not want to repeat the relevant statistics, for my colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has already given them. The late Mr. John Curtin told us in 1943 that in not one type of defence equipment were satisfactory weapons available when Labour came to office. I know the position well because, as soon as Singapore fell, Mr. Curtin dispatched me to Britain and the United States to get the bare equipment which this country needed in order to survive.
– What did Mr. Curtin say?
– I was listening to the broadcast of the honorable member’s speech last night and I know the point that he made. He said that because Mr. Curtin said something a few weeks after he took office one should take no notice of what he said later.
– It was a policy speech later.
– When Mr. Curtin made his earlier remarks he had been in office only a few weeks. No real analysis of the position had then been made. Does the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) dispute for a moment the figures that Mr. Curtin gave in 1943, after he had received reports from the chiefs of staff? Of course, he cannot.
– That was a policy speech.
– It was in the 1943 policy speech, but when I was sent abroad in March, 1942, I had to fight both in Britain and the United States for equipment, especially air equipment, without which our gallant airmen could have done nothing. As the result of that mission, we received just under 100 Spitfires suitable for tropical conditions, and an enormous number of planes from the United States. But they were not here when we came to government, and only a few weeks later war with Japan broke out. That is the sad story of what happened the last time that a Liberal party-Country party government was given the responsibility of providing for the defence of this country. The Minister for Defence has himself introduced this aspect by criticizing Labour governments. I repeat that Labour insists on the best possible defence for this country.
I am not in a position to dispute many of the decisions that have been made. We cannot, as laymen who lack the technical advice which is in the possession of the Government, be dogmatic about these things. The present world situation has recently been stated in the United States magazine “ Newsweek “. There is now virtually no difference between the arms in possession of the two main forces. What is to be done about it? The honorable member for St. George (Mr. Graham) has pointed out that in such an equipoise of force, with each side holding weapons of unparalleled destructive power, there might well be an indefinite stalemate. Is it to be a permanent race to get a little stronger than the other side in certain respects, or is some other approach to be made? As the honorable member for St. George has said, there is always the element of surprise to be considered. Also, it is now suggested that atom bombs should be made available to Nationalist China, but it would be surely dangerous to permit too great a dispersal of these bombs, because they may be used, and thus set off the conflagration.
What are we to do? I believe that the proper course to follow is indicated in the White Paper which was tabled a month ago in the House of Commons by Mr. Sandys, the United Kingdom Minister for Defence, who had just returned from the Bermuda Conference with President Eisenhower. When my colleague, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) referred the other night to the speech made by Mr. Sandys, there were interruptions - almost as though Mr. Sandys had not said it. I think the Government and Parliament of Britain are to be congratulated in stating the principle which should be applied by all governments, including the Australian Government. This is what was said -
It must be frankly recognized that there is at present no means of providing adequate protection for the people of this country against the consequences of an attack with nuclear weapons.
Let honorable members think what that implies. It does not mean that there should not be civil defence. Yet no provision has been made by this Government for civil defence, although the Government has talked about it for years. The Government has been criticized in this regard from both sides of the House, especially by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr.
Wentworth). Is anything to be done about it now? Apparently not. Mr. Sandys went on -
Even if only a dozen enemy bombers got through, they could with megaton bombs inflict widespread devastation.
That is the conclusion that is set out in the White Paper. It is a true conclusion in the face of which this Government has no policy. We have to have armed forces, and we have to do the best we can with our resources. The situation in Australia requires a thorough clean-up.
The Prime Minister, in his statement, indicated a very leisurely approach to the question. He said that he thought there should be a concentration of the chief advisers of the defence departments in Canberra. One would think that those advisers would be brought to Canberra next month, but they will not be brought here for two years. Apparently, they have to be given time to break up the little parties that take place in Melbourne. They will not have to come all the way to Canberra and make their homes here until 1959. What urgency is indicated in a document containing so absurd a statement? When the late John Curtin became Prime Minister, he stopped the business of having Cabinet meetings in Melbourne to suit the convenience of high officials. He made Canberra the centre of the war effort, and from this capital the whole war effort against Japan was directed.
It is in relation to the principle enunciated by Mr. Sandys that the Australian Government has failed. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has now entered into the field of defence policy. This takes us back to his foreign policy, i because the one cannot be considered with- ! out the other. He has said that himself. The principle on which British foreign policy is based is stated in the White Paper as follows: -
This makes it more than ever clear-
The reference is to the certainty of mutual damage of an irreparable character - that the overriding consideration in all military planning must be to prevent war rather than prepare for it.
What is to be done about that? What is the policy of the Government? lt has none. The Prime Minister’s speech, to a large extent, and the speech of the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride), in its entirety, were based on the hopeless and inhuman hypothesis that nothing will be done by this Government to see whether a nuclear war, that terrible disaster to humanity, can be avoided. The Labour party believes that an attempt should be made to avoid such a disaster. It will not be easy, but to adopt a defeatist attitude and to leave the issue to fate is not a suitable policy for a vigorous government. For that reason, the Government’s foreign policy deserves strong criticism.
Let us take one or two illustrations. The Minister for External Affairs, with a new phrase, has tried to divide the world. Will it remain that way? Of course not. Who knows what changes may not take place? I believe that, even now, we are nearer to a peaceful settlement than we were three or four months ago. The situation became very bad last year because of what happened not only in the Middle East, but also in central Europe, and the result has been mutual threats from either side. The Russian leaders have threatened small nations near them by stating what Russia will do if those small countries are used for nuclear warfare. But American generals - never the President, the great political leader - but the generals and admirals have said what they will do. The Australian Minister for Defence, like the Russians, has pinned his faith to the old rule, the simple plan, and his attitude is -
We don’t want to fight,
But by jingo if we do,
We’ve got the guns, we’ve got the men,
We’ve got the money, too!
It is absurd to hear the representatives of great powers talking in that way, but I believe that that state of affairs is coming to an end. I believe that the White Paper of Mr. Sandys outlines the duty of governments. Of course, this Government must have its defence forces.
I hope that there will not be any reliance on aeroplanes which are not absolutely modern and up to date. I hope, and demand, that the aircraft industry, which forms the basis of air defence, will be protected. This industry is necessary, not only for what it can produce directly, but because of the necessity to provide aeroplane parts and to carry out repairs. For these reasons, I hope that the industry will be encouraged. At present, its future is veiled in uncertainty. The threat of nuclear war has encouraged the growth of powerful vested interests that want international tension to continue. If one looks at American magazines such as “ Aeroplane “, one may read of the enormous amounts that are being spent on aerial defence. Aeroplanes are being produced by private concerns that make enormous profits, and this has increased the difficulty of bringing about disarmament. The original policy of the Labour party, although it could not be implemented in the midst of war, was to take the profit out of armament manufacture so as to ensure the elimination of an interest which could prevent international agreement. Between World War I. and World War II. Zaharoff and the armament barons prevented the making of disarmament agreements. No doubt the armament barons are still a power. They do not want agreement. Can the people break through this conspiracy? That is the problem in Russia, that is the problem in the United States, and that is the problem in every country. Can the will of the people be made to prevail? We know that 90 people out of 100 want peace on just terms. It is utter madness to resort to war. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) wrote a brilliant pamphlet dealing with nuclear war. The first period of such a war he calls the period of disaster. After the disaster, when a large proportion of those who are not killed by the bomb are killed by the fall-out, the survivors try to collect themselves and to save something of the country. It is so appalling a prospect that anybody with an ounce of imagination could not want it to happen. I believe that it will not happen. I believe that the leaders of the world, with some guidance, will demand that this horror be stopped, and that not only the testing of nuclear weapons, but also their use in war will be controlled.
The Minister for External Affairs has referred to China, which, so far as we know, has no nuclear weapons. Yet such weapons are to be put into the hands of Chiang Kai-shek, whose only chance of regaining China is a world war. I do not want that to happen. I want to see some attempt by the leaders of Britain and the United States to come together with Russia on these matters. It has to be done. That is the message of the British White Paper. Work for peace. Fight against disappointment and setbacks. No doubt there will be some. Peace will not be gained quickly. It has to be worked for. Never give up the effort to obtain peace, and the world may attain a state of greater happiness.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order! The right honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has not changed in any way the tenor of the debate or the case of the Opposition. I understood that he was to have Jed for his party in this debate, but, unfortunately, he was ill. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) took his place. When I heard that the Leader of the Opposition was to speak to-night, 1 thought that we would hear the Labour party’s policy, but nothing that he has said has changed the statements which have been made. Those statements do not indicate that the Labour party has any defence policy. Significantly, the right honorable gentleman did not mention the United Nations at any time during his speech; and that is extraordinary. Neither the Leader of the Opposition nor any of his colleagues has mentioned the total sum of money proposed to be spent on the scheme of defence announced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies).
I have carefully followed the speeches of honorable members in this debate. Some good suggestions have been made, and I want honorable members who made those suggestions to know that they will be considered by the Ministers whom they affect. However, there have been very few new ideas. I speak, of course, for the Army. In criticizing the Army, some honorable members have asked for two brigade groups, some have asked for a division; others would be satisfied with the brigade group but wanted a bigger Citizen Military Force; some wanted to abolish national service training, some did not; some spoke very vigorously about atomic weapons, saying that they should be used at once, and others suggested that they should be treated in a different way.
The Prime Minister’s statement dealt very effectively with the assessment of the possibility of war - it was necessary for the people to know that - and the probable task this country will be called upon to perform in the probable conditions that might arise. It pointed out, among other things, that our sphere of interest is principally in South-East Asia and that we cannot stand alone in defence or in the matters which concern us in South-East Asia. Therefore, our planning must be with our allies in Seato and in other organizations in which we are interested so that the deterrent to war can be built up. The Prime Minister pointed out that the possibilities of “ global “ war were remote and that most danger existed in the possibility of “ limited “ war or “ cold “ war. The honorable member for Parkes made great play upon building up friendship in South-East Asia and on the elimination of war. The Leader of the Opposition said that the policy of the Labour party was to prevent war. Of course, we agree with that. We want to eliminate war. Why are we doing all the things we are doing to create friendship in SouthEast Asia, if not to eliminate war and to maintain peace? But thai must not blind us to the fact that we must adequately prepare within our capacity so that peace may. be maintained. As has been pointed out in this debate, had it not been for the steps that have been taken, God knows what would have been our position to-day, judging from what has happened in other parts of the world.
The Opposition apparently accepts the idea of the brigade group, but criticizes the C.M.F. and wants to abolish national service training. I remind Opposition members that in 1947, Mr. Dedman, who was then Minister for Defence, introduced a five-year plan for defence and said that the plan envisaged a brigade group with a ceiling of 19,000 in the Regular Army, of which they obtained only 14,700, and a voluntary citizen force of 50,000. The Leader of the Opposition mentioned again to-night his belief in the voluntary system. Of course, the effectiveness of our Army depends still on a voluntary basis. What happened with the Labour party’s plan? It did not want national service training at all and has always opposed it.
– That is not true.
– That is so. Of 50,000, the Labour party, under its scheme, obtained only 13,000 members of the
C.M.F. That was the position when we took office. The honorable member for Parkes made the brilliant suggestion that the Australian Army should become part of the United Nations. In a world of reality, could anything be as pathetic as that? I do not want to deal at any great length with that matter, but it confirms what the Leader of the Opposition has said on many occasions outside this House. He did not mention it to-night, but we know his view on the efficacy of the United Nations organization. We must remember that, when the United Nations organization unsuccessfully ordered Communist powers to cease murdering people in Hungary, we did not hear the Leader of the Opposition raise his voice in protest. Now, the Labour party wants this country to put itself completely under the United Nations. That was the official suggestion made by the honorable member for Parkes. That would be an absurdity!
The Government believes that the minimum size of the Army must be, as we have stated, first - and this is the No. 1 priority - a regular field force ready to act and fully trained, and, as the Prime Minister said, modernly equipped, mobile and hard-hitting; and, secondly, a citizen force which could be mobilized and expanded to provide follow-up forces and home defence. That is the basis of our Army structure. Under present conditions, it is an effective force. I remind the House that for the first time in the history of this country we will have, in peace-time, a field force trained to the minute and ready to act at the drop of a hat. The C.M.F., as we have organized it in the new scheme, will be up to two-thirds strength, with a total of 50,700 men, and will be set up in three divisions. It will form a training ground for officers and non-commissioned officers, and will be available for expansion in time of war.
That leads me to national service training. Unfortunately, time does not permit me to deal with this matter fully. It is essential in our scheme for the C.M.F. that we have at least 12,000 national service trainees. If that number of national service trainees are flowing through each year, the total strength of the C.M.F. will be kept at 50,700. If we do not have that number, we cannot depend upon keeping the C.M.F. at the required strength. Experience has shown that the necessary number of trainees cannot be obtained exclusively under a voluntary system. Therefore, national service trainees are essential. Talk about wiping out national service training is impossible if we are to maintain the framework of a defence structure in the Army.
It has not been pointed out in this debate that, at this stage of the development of Australia, it is very difficult to provide more than £190,000,000 for defence each year. That is why the defence structure is framed within that figure. Some people have suggested that they would be prepared to vote more money for defence. For my part, I should like to see more money spent in that way. But this is a Government decision and I do not cavil at it, because everybody in this country should know what is still required in the way of development. There are matters which are necessary to the development of the country, some of them even related to defence, such as transport, which are essential to our economy and which must be carried on. The Government, therefore, has decided that expenditure on defence shall not exceed £190,000,000. If that is regarded as the top level inhibiting factor, then I defy any one to produce a better scheme for the defence of this country than that which the Prime Minister has put before us.
After all is said and done, we must take our place with our friends and contribute our share to the defence of South-East Asia, and we must meet our commitments under the various treaties into which we have entered. That objective calls for more than we have done already, but our friends understand our position as a relatively young nation, with a population of only 10,000,000, and our great need of development. I do not want any one to think that, so far as the Army is concerned or, for that matter, so far as any of the services is concerned, because I can speak for all of them in this regard, our thinking is static. It certainly is not. Great changes are taking place in the world. We have been criticized by the Opposition for the fact that the Prime Minister announced this complete review, and although it was said that we had no effective defence policy, we are criticized for changing our policy. Every country of the world is changing its defence methods in view of the circumstances that exist to-day. In the United Kingdom and the United States of
America, great changes are taking place, particularly in relation to the Army. Substantial changes are being made in regard to military formations, and this country is looking very closely at these developments. The possibility of land forces being exposed to tactical atomic attack in the field has led to the need for fundamental rethinking regarding the best type of formation to operate in those circumstances. It is obvious that, to guard against the effects of atomic explosion, an army must be dispersed into small groups which can rapidly be concentrated to impose an effective blow on the enemy; but at the same time, each must be capable of operating as a small, self-contained group in a terrain which has been subjected to atomic bombardment. Consequently, in the United States and the United Kingdom, there is much experiment with the form of tactical formation which should be the basis of the Army organization.
In the United States, they have evolved what they call the “ Pentane “ which, briefly, is a division of 12,000 troops organized into five independent and selfcontained regimental combat groups, quite different from the old order of things. Each group has its own infantry, artillery, armour and maintenance units. In the United Kingdom, on the other hand, military thinking is turning more to the brigade group of 4,000 to 5,000 troops as the largest fixed formation in the Army. The Australian Army is watching these developments with close attention. Only recently, I attended an exercise conducted by the Chief of the General Staff at Queenscliff. This is an annual exercise to study this problem, and it was most interesting to see how it worked out. It seems inevitable that there will be a change in the traditional form of Army organization.
The House will see that the United Kingdom and United States formations that I have mentioned are small numerically compared with those of World War II. Greater emphasis must therefore be placed on equipping them in order to give them maximum fire power and mobility. It is on that basis, of course, that we are working. The developing trend in the armies of the world is less towards front-line manpower than towards greater fire power. That is the basis upon which the whole of our defence structure rests at the present time, and that accords with the practice in other countries of the world. This means, of course, that in the future we must give greater attention to equipment. The FN rifle and the 105-mm. gun are the first moves in the plan to increase fire-power.
– Who wrote this speech?
– I wrote it myself. The adoption by the United States of the T.44 rifle, reference to which has been made in this chamber, is in line with our policy, as announced by the Prime Minister, that our troops should be equipped with weapons which are standard or compatible with those of the United States. As honorable members may know, the T.44 rifle fires the same round as the FN rifle.
Overseas, the light aircraft is becoming increasingly an instrument for use by the Army for reconnaissance and communication purposes. This development also is under active consideration, in consultation with the Air Force. Additionally, the armies of the great powers have introduced, or are about to introduce, guided missiles, about which much has been said during the course of this debate. The adoption of these weapons by the Australian Army is being studied in this country, particularly at Woomera, and also by our officers overseas, and our plans for the introduction of guided missiles are well advanced. I just cannot understand why some honorable members contend that we should have guided weapons here in Australia at this stage. I am sure that the House will appreciate that that is impossible, because Australia, unlike the great powers, cannot afford too much for experimental purposes. We are bound to be guided by the experience of our Allies in these matters. I think that the House will see that this plan, which has been placed before the country, is not just a thing of chance. It deals with the question of the most effective type of defence that we can visualize, based on advice regarding conditions in a modern world, and designed within the limits of the money that we can afford to spend on defence.
Before I close. 1 wish to pay a special tribute to the personnel of the Army, both of the Regular Army and the Citizen Military Forces, for the great loyalty, skill and devotion which have helped to build the Army into the organization that exists to-day. Under this new plan, there will, of Course; be revolutionary changes which must affect very much the lives of the men who are serving Australia in the Regular Army. It will disturb also, but perhaps to a less degree, the lives of the men in the C.M.F. lt is a big thing to ask these people to give their services, and I am afraid that the Australian people are not sufficiently aware of the sacrifices that are made voluntarily in the interests of the defence of this country. Too few people realize just what such service means. I know that when the re-organization, as announced by the Prime Minister, is put into effect, many of those serving in the forces will be faced with a great deal of difficulty, but I also know that we will still be able to depend on their loyalty at all times to ensure that this plan works effectively in the interests of Australia. I hope that the people of this country will try to appreciate just what those who are serving in the forces are doing.
I intended to say considerably more, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, and to deal with the question of National Service Training, but perhaps I shall have an opportunity to do that when the national service legislation is again before the House. I am eager to do so, because I want to dissipate the considerable degree of misunderstanding which has become evident on both sides of the House iti relation to the effectiveness of the defence plan which the Prime Minister has put forward. Let it be said without fear of contradiction that this Government is aware of its obligations, and its duty to protect the people of Australia. It will protect them by creating as effective a defence organization as it is possible to have, and, at the same time, developing this country as it should be developed.
Mr. LUCHETTI (Macquarie) [9.101.- If plans and the spending of the taxpayers’ money could achieve a worthwhile defence programme, this Government could claim with every justification that it has an effective plan and that it is capable of defending this country. But plans, especially constantly changing plans, and the spending of large sums of money, are not enough. Much more is required. The most essential requirement is the support of the people for the Government’s programme. It has been shown quite clearly to-day that this Government lacks the support of the Australian people, just as the anti-Labour government of the day lacked the support of the Australian people at the beginning of “World» War II. This Government is merely being tolerated. It is a source of regret to every patriotic Australian that, in these days, when we should be thinking seriously of the defence of our country, we have in office a makeshift government, with makeshift plans, which it changes from week to “week, and from year to year, amid frequent announcements that this will be -altered and that will be changed. We have -witnessed the recent amazing retreat by the Government from a full-scale national service training scheme to its plan :for lotteries to decide which youths shall be called up for training. This change involves a reduction of the intake of trainees from 37,000 a year to 12,000. The intake of 12,000 youths a year will comprise those who are selected according to whether they are lucky or unlucky in a ballot, and those who offer themselves voluntarily in the service of their country.
I am greatly concerned about the defence problem. The staggering problem of defending Australia agitates the minds of all honorable members. We all are aware that this vast island continent, which is so empty and so under-developed, must, at some time, under a government that really believes in defence, come to grips with the problem of development as a means of defence. Despite the assurances of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), nothing definite is taking shape as part of a programme for the development of this country. Many aspects of the problem must be considered. What is the Government doing about our empty north? Is it doing anything to develop it? Is it doing anything to develop the centre of Australia, and to people it with men of the Anzac tradition who will have the spirit and the will to serve and defend their country, and protect their fellow citizens? I see no evidence of it.
The Minister said this evening that defence expenditure must not exceed £190,000,000 a year. If he had been discussing the Government’s capacity to spend the taxpayers’ money, I. would agree, because the spending of £190,000,000 a year by this Government in the manner in which it has regularly expended a like amount every year, is completely unjustified and unwarranted. Let us consider what the Government has achieved. What are the results of its naval programme? It has spent millions of pounds on aircraft carriers, which it has merely put in dock, in mothballs as it were, or used as training vessels. Surely that is an indictment of the Government! Despite the glib remarks of the Minister for the Army and other Government supporters about the FN. 30 rifle, the Government has a sorry record of neglect and delay in preparing for the production of that weapon. It is almost three years since Sir Eric Harrison, the former Minister for Defence Production, said in this chamber that this rifle would be mass-produced immediately. We are now told the sorry tale that it will not be in mass-production before 1960. On top of that, we have recently heard that the United States of America will not adopt the FN rifle. I do not want to criticize, nor do I criticize, the skilled Australian technicians engaged in munitions production. Ultimate responsibility, on the political level, rests with the Minister for Defence Production. If the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization could not come to a speedy decision on this matter, and if our American allies were not prepared to adopt the FN rifle, a definite stand should have been taken long ago to correct this state of affairs.
No one can say what weapons will be used ultimately, and I do not propose to attempt to say what weapons should be used by our services ultimately. But I do say that speed is the watchword. What would happen if a war involving Australia broke out to-morrow? I ask the Minister for the Army to note, if he has not done so already, that, as a result of the transition from one weapon to another, and the long delay in getting the Government to make up its mind to prepare blueprints for the production of new weapons, the Commonwealth Small A rms Factory at Lithgow is incapable of manufacturing a .303 rifle. It could not produce a Vickers machine-gun or a Bren rifle at the present time, and, of course, it could not manufacture the FN 30 rifle, and will not do so until 1960, on the Government’s rosiest promises. This is the situation, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, after the Government has spent £1.200,000,000.
Some time ago, when these matters were under consideration iri this chamber, I advocated the establishment of a defence expenditure committee. In view of what has happened since, there is a greater need than ever for such a committee, first, to watch the spending of defence funds, and secondly, to ensure that the Australian people get value for their money. I want to pay tribute to the Public Accounts Committee. I think that honorable members in the past have expressed their pleasure and gratification at the good work being done by that committee. But it is not good enough for accounts to be examined only after at least twelve months have elapsed since funds were spent or misspent. A defence expenditure committee, akin to the War Expenditure Committee that existed during World War II., is needed. Such a committee should have access to factories, to departments, and to the service chiefs, and should ensure, on behalf of the Parliament, that money voted by the Parliament is spent to the best possible advantage.
The Minister for the Army spoke about the mobility of the Army, and supported the remarks on that subject made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). In view of the condition of our roads and railways, where is there evidence of the mobility about which they spoke? Is there to be mobility only in the air and on the sea, or is there to be mobility on the land also? Those Government supporters who claim that there is mobility on the land should brush up their knowledge of our roads. If they do so, they will find that, despite the Government’s alleged concern about defence, and the vast sums of money that it has spent on defence, not enough has been spent on our roads. Out of the funds provided by the petrol tax in the last three years for expenditure on strategic roads, no less than £692,210 remains unspent. I warn the Government that, in preparing the defences of this country, it should not waste time as it has done. How much time have we left? Do we know? I do not think that we do. All we can hope for is that fate and the gods will be kind to us; that we will have time; that the Almighty in His infinite mercy will bless us and keep us secure, because we will never be kept secure by this Administration which talks about mobility and in a period of three years fails to spend £692,000 which has been voted out of the petrol tax paid in this country. Surely this is an indictment of this Government for its failure to do a job of work.
The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) sits at the table. He, above anybody else, is aware of the great problems facing the Northern Territory, a vast area for which he is personally responsible. That money would be an important contribution towards having the north-south road resealed, or carried further south. But we should not be thinking in terms of spending only £692,000. We should be thinking in terms of spending millions of pounds on the roads of this country so’ that there will be mobility; so that the heaviest types of vehicles will be able to traverse the country; and so that bridges will be strengthened to carry the great vehicles necessary for the security of our country.
With regard to the railways system, I invite the attention of honorable members of this House to the situation in New South Wales, with its great population on the coastline extending from Newcastle in the north, through Sydney, to Wollongong and Port Kembla in the south. In that area there are targets waiting to be shot at by any marauding submarine hundreds of miles out to sea. What of our railway system? Of course, this Government adopts the attitude that it is a State responsibility, but whose responsibility is it in the event of war? It is the people’s responsibility. Rail transport is vital and necessary to the people of Australia. One bomb on the railway bridge over the Hawkesbury River, between Newcastle and Sydney would disrupt completely our railway system between the north and the south. Many years ago a new rail link was planned from Sydney through the Hawkesbury area somewhere along the lines of the strategic road up through Putty linking Singleton. That alternative route would serve the nation in the event of hostilities. Has the Government done anything about it? No, it has not. Has the Government done anything to standardize the railway gauges so that there will be mobility in transportation? No, it has not. All these things cry out for patriots to do something about them, and I commend to honorable members a reading of the speeches made by the late John Curtin in 1936 and thereafter relating to the defence of this country. Mobility was the watchword. Action was taken subsequently by a Labour government to do something about these things, not under the threat of war but in the midst of war. We should not in any circumstances, permit that unhappy state of affairs to exist again. The need for mobility in transport must rank as one of the most important defence matters.
The Minister at the table made reference to the linking of the economic policy with the defence policy. Of course that is allimportant. This land of 3,000,000 square miles has fewer than 10,000,000 people. Of course the economic problem is allimportant, and those honorable members who had the privilege of going to the school at Mount Macedon were given valuable information of what would be required in civil defence. Has this Government taken any steps to deal with that, or with strategic supplies? That would be an expenditure by this Government on an essential matter. If this Government were really concerned about these matters, it would go ahead and build express highways out of the capital cities so that the people could move speedily throughout the country, and so that there would not be traffic bottlenecks such as we see on Sunday afternoons, with motor vehicles bumper to bumper for endless miles. What sort of a state of affairs would there be in the event of war? 1 am concerned about the problem of civil defence, including food storage, blood banks, and decentralization of industry. What is the Government’s contribution towards decentralization of industry? 1 have made pleas in this Parliament in connexion with the production of ammunition for the new FN rifle - pleas that this ammunition should be produced somewhere in the country. I have asked specifically that my own electorate with its great valleys west of the Blue Mountains be considered. It is suitable country in which to establish a factory so necessary to our security. What will the Government do? I do not know. I do not think the Government knows itself what it is going to do about it, but it has ideas, lt is almost certain that this factory will be established either in Sydney or Melbourne, or very close to one of those capital cities. It will be alongside the atomic reactor, alongside the power station, alongside an oil refinery, or something of that kind. The time is long overdue for the members of this chamber to forget on which side of the Speaker they sit, and to think deeply about these questions in an honesttogoodness Australian way. This is a national problem.
I heard the honorable and gallant member for Indi (Mr. Bostock), a former ViceMarshal of the Royal Australian Air Force, speak last night. He made a statement, which had been made also by the late John Curtin. He said that we would have to fight our battles alone. Perhaps we will. We not only had to fight them alone for a considerable period last time, but we had to fight them under the gravest possible difficulties. Whilst we might have to fight our battles alone again, I suggest to honorable members that we have some good neighbours in the world. Above all, to thine own self be true. We have to build up among the people of Australia a national pride and a national patriotism, and the flow of new Australians to this country makes that all the more necessary. f direct honorable members to the words of our great poet, Henry Lawson - words which were echoed in this chamber by the late John Curtin -
And is it our fate to wake too late To the truth that we have been blind,
With a foreign foe at our harbour gate And a blazing drought behind?
Those words are challenging words at the present time, and rather than becoming involved in all the wrangles of the world and committing ourselves in every theatre, we should be concentrating on affairs in this particular region. We should look to our responsibilities here and cultivate to the utmost friendship with our neighbours. We should look to the problems of Indonesia and see if we can possibly get some sort of understanding with those people. Let us give them further aid if need be, make arrangements to buy their oil and other products, and make extended trade deals wit’, them in which credits will be used. Above all, let us try to win the friendship of these and other Asian people. If we can do that, if we can get a screen of islands north of Australia right through from India to New Guinea, then we will have some chance of survival. We should seize that opportunity of making friends, remembering that we will never desert the people who have stood by us.
We are a part of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and we have a very good friend in this part of the world - the United States of America. We have much in common with the Americans, and I think that most of us were overjoyed to know that in the last few days a great aircraft carrier of the American fleet was in our ports. The visit of that warship was a sign of the friendship between us and America which was encouraging and worth while. It is the responsibility of the people of Australia, instead of looking for enemies, to look to our good friends, to cultivate them, and to play their part in ensuring the security of this great land of ours.
– We are discussing now, and have been discussing at considerable length, the defence policy of Australia. I should like to say at the outset of my speech - and 1 say this with great respect to the overwhelming majority of the men who sit on the Australian Country party benches - that I have, perhaps, one special qualification to speak on this subject, inasmuch as I have never had any practical experience in any arm of the fighting services. 1 do not say that disrespectfully, but because, even if it causes me to be ignorant of certain aspects of defence, I think it may enable me to approach the question with a detached mind.
I find, as I look back over the years, that the attitude of my friends who sit in Opposition towards the defence policy of this country has not greatly changed in some respects, if I may take the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) himself as a case in point. On the first occasion on which, as far as I remember, I ever asked a question of a Labour speaker at an election meeting - and the incident to which 1 refer occurred during a federal election nearly 40 years ago - I asked the following question: - “ You are a supporter and an advocate of white Australia? “ He said, “ Yes “. I asked. “ And do 1 understand that you are opposed to compulsory training? “. Again he said, “ Yes “. Then I said, “ Supposing the Japanese decided to come here, how do you suppose to stop them? “. He waved his arm and said, “ Legislate against them “. Well, I must confess that when I listen to some of the arguments put forward by the Leader of the Opposition and some of his supporters on the subject of what is to be the proper defence for Australia, it seems to me that their idea is to link our defence with reliance on the United Nations, plus legislation against potential invaders of Australia. With due respect to those who hold that point of view, I feel no great confidence in legislation against people who are determined to use force against us. We have an every day example of the futility of such an attitude. We have plenty of legislation in this country to control criminals, but it is still necessary for us to have police forces. It is necessary, in certain circumstances, to have reserve militia forces to deal with certain elements in our own community. The world in general is not so advanced, on the average, as the Australian people are. So, in respect of world affairs, we could rely to an even smaller degree on legislation to control criminals in the world sphere. Consequently, we are faced with the necessity to ensure that we have an effective defence policy within the limits of our power.
The Prime Minister’s statement obviously poses a dilemma which is common to every nation that thinks on the subject of defence to-day. We are in a position of great transition and, in addition, Australia has problems arising from its long coastline, its vast area and its responsibilities outside its immediate borders which, in themselves, give governments a great amount of concern. The dilemma with which the Government is faced may be expressed in the following questions: To what degree can we depend upon atomic or thermo-nuclear weapons to be a deterrent against any really large-scale warfare? In what proportion should the use of conventional military forces be combined with the use of atomic and thermo-nuclear weapons? Alternatively, in what degree must we depend on conventional forces? Those questions must concern those who are planning our defence, and must create anxiety in their minds, because, to a large extent, they deal with the realm of the abstract. They deal with the realm of possibilities and certainly, in some cases, of probabilities. So, I can quite understand that when the Prime Minister made his statement on defence there was much that he said that could be open to misconstruction. For instance, his statement might be open to misconstruction when compared with a statement that he made a few months ago to the effect that we had probably never before been as ready for the defence of this country as we were at that stage. But that statement is not inconsistent with the necessity to have a new assessment of new forces and of their impact on our defence.
I know that the business of the Opposition is to engage in a certain amount of constructive criticism. It may be criticism that is justified, or criticism that is purely exploratory. In this kind of debate it is also reasonable that members on the Government side of the House should engage in constructive criticism. In considering such a matter as defence we cannot dissociate ourselves from our experience of World War II., and the lessons of that war. The outstanding lesson of World War II. was that there was, on the side of the Allies opposed to Nazi-ism, Fascism and the eastern policy of the Japanese, a tremendous time lag in realizing the form of warfare we would be forced to meet. Since the war, I, no doubt like many others, have made it my business to read the best works that have been produced on this subject, such as “ The Struggle for Europe “, by Chester Wilmot, the Churchill series which is itself most revealing, “ Festung Europa “, which is the Eisenhower contribution, the translations of the German General Staff records, “The Rommel Papers”, “The Other Side of the Hill”, by Liddell Hart, and the recent book by our own GovernorGeneral. These books, particularly the German approach to the history of the last war, show that we nearly lost the war in its early stages because our thinking was not imaginative enough to envisage the possibility of what became known as “ blitzkrieg “. It is quite true that the blitzkrieg strategy was copied from the famous charge of our own 40,000 horsemen, who swept over the Turkish lines; but the conception was translated into the use of tanks, dive bombers, motor cycle troops, and merciless and ruthless warfare generally. Our people were not ready for that. They had not thought in those terms, and, as a result, we nearly lost the war in the early stages. Later, however, when our people had had time to organize, quite apart from the tremendous industrial power of the United States, there was one fact that emerged, which was that although the unconventional blitzkrieg method of warfare had completely disorganized our defences, and enabled the Germans to overrun whole countries, good staff organization and careful planning on our side, plus adequate equipment, enabled us to overcome the forces arrayed against us. But there is a further lesson that we may learn from this.
The question has been raised of the possible deterrent effect of atomic and nuclear bombs. I listened with the greatest of interest to the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock), and I think that all honorable members were impressed by his approach to the problem, although some of us may have differed from some of his conclusions. However, in this regard there is a lesson that we can learn from World War II. It is quite true up to a point, that poison gas was not used in the last war. but it is not true to say that it was never used. It was used against unfortunate people who had no means of retaliation, and that was the point made by the honorable member for Indi. If the aggressor knows that he will suffer seriously if he lets loose something like that, he will pause to consider. It was not any consideration of mercy that restrained the Fascists and Nazis from letting poison gas loose upon the rest of the world. It was the fear that they would have more than ordinary cause to regret having done so.
I remind honorable members of what was done to the unfortunate Ethiopians by the Fascists under Mussolini - the dreadful plastering of the countryside with mustard gas, when those unfortunate people had no means of retaliation. That is one of the foulest blots on the civilization of the Christian world. The lesson there is plain for us to read. If the Italians had thought that the Ethiopians were armed with mustard gas and could deliver it just as effectively as they could, they would noi have used it. There is one other nation which used gas in a most terrible way. It is said that the German nation did nol use it. It did not use it against those who could retaliate, but what about the millions of unfortunates who went to the gas chambers? A great deal of poison gas was used to destroy those unfortunate people. That was another four blot upon civilization. If Australians value this fair land and cherish their right to retain their homes inviolate and to control their country, they must take these terrible lessons to heart.
In considering this matter, I come to the. conclusion that the things which would piny a very big part in the defence of Australia are, first of all, radar on a scale big enough to provide sufficient warning, as far as it is possible to give it; and next, guided missiles. The guided missile is a defensive weapon that may, with development, become an offensive weapon effective over very long distances, but for our purposes it would be used, probably, as a defensive weapon. Then we would need aircraft of a kind that would enable us to retaliate effectively against those who attacked us. I assume that our scientists and our naval, military and air force planners have thought of these things.
There are one or two other factors which, to me, as a layman, may be of significance. A short time ago, we learned that abnormal sunspot activity had sent the whole radio arrangements of the world haywire. Cosmic disturbances could paralyse radar systems and destroy their effectiveness as a warning of destructive missiles launched by an enemy. We all remember the story of the Spanish fleet that was approaching the English coast centuries ago. More of that fleet was destroyed by a storm than was destroyed by the English Navy. An unpredictable factor such as that, over which, I believe, man will never have any effective control - because there are forces which will always be greater than man - may destroy, in a few minutes, apparently effective means for the defence of a country.
The Government, in its wisdom, has decided that it will modify the national service training scheme. 1 want to say that two things are required to enable that, or any other, system to function effectively. The first is that we must have people who are physically fit. If honorable members examine the financial provision made by the Government for the National Fitness Council, they will find that it has been static, notwithstanding the rise of costs, at the rate of £72,500 per annum for the whole of Australia. 1 recall that, after World War II., the Commonwealth, greatheartedly. appointed two men to go through all the schools of New South Wales and instruct the scholars in what was called physical fitness. That was a truly magnificent gesture, which was withdrawn as soon as the depression hit us. We must have a population that is physically fit, and one of the means which has been conducive to that end has been the national service training scheme. That scheme will be largely discontinued, for reasons at which
I do not propose to cavil, but I wish that some of the money saved by the curtailment of the national service training scheme could be diverted by the Government to the National Fitness Council. I suggest an initial sum of £100,000, in the succeeding year £150,000, and in the following years £200,000. Such financial assistance would enable the national fitness movement to provide a really effective system of young civilian training to be carried on. At the present time, the work is being hampered by lack of essential finance. Judge Adrian Curlewis, the head of the National Fitness Council of New South Wales, has constantly, as have others, brought this matter before the Government.
The other point 1 want to make is that in all these matters it is necessary to have a complete picture of what is required for the proper defence of this country. To-day, the demand is for technologists and trained scientific workers, and for more finance to enable the universities and the senior schools to discharge their responsibilities in the training of those people. I shall not cover those matters to any extent to-night. I simply say that if the population lacks physical fitness, although there may be mental skill and scientific training, its defence will be the poorer and less effective. That is emphasized by the fact that the constant trend, as we know by this change in the defence plans, is towards higher, more extensive and more effective technological training.
.- Periodically the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) makes a statement to this Parliament, and to the country, on defence. We are at present discussing one of those periodical statements. We were told in the press that the Prime Minister would review Australia’s defence system from top to bottom. In fact, his statement was nebulous, and contained more bottom than top. My colleagues have already criticized various aspects of the statement, which was no more than a collection of generalizations. Members of the public were expecting a statement showing that something real and practical was being done about defence. They hoped that they would be able to cast ?side the fears that had been engendered in their minds by the apparent failure of the
Government to face the present disturbed world situation. The statement gave them no such comfort.
The Prime Minister certainly talked about integrating Australian and American forces - a proposal which my colleagues and I support wholeheartedly - but his statement recalled to the minds of many of us the dark days of 1942 when this country faced the greatest crisis in its history. It was the late Mr. John Curtin who appealed to the people of the United States to give us a hand, not merely to preserve Australia as a bastion of the free world or as a springboard for a counter-attack, but to save this land for the Australian people. The people of the United States of America responded generously, just as they would if any future appeal were made to them by an Australian leader. Whilst I realize that the ammunition used for the FN .30 rifle is the same as that used for the T44, if the Prime Minister is so anxious to achieve integration, why has he not pursued that policy to its logical conclusion and decided that we shall manufacture in this country the rifle that the United States forces are to use?
The Labour party is not a war party. It is, perhaps, a pacifist party. It certainly believes in the provision of an adequate defence system for these shores at all times. It is passing strange that whenever this country is faced with danger from without, the people turn to the Labour party for help. Labour has always recognized that one of the prime responsibilities of government is the provision of an effective defence system. That has always been one of our basic principles. We urge, in view of the present situation, that not only the atomic bomb but also the hydrogen bomb should be banned. Already there is danger in various parts of the world from the radio-active fall-out which follows tests of these weapons. Not so very long ago radio-active rain fell in western Queensland, and more recently, in Adelaide. The Prime Minister referred to a proposed anti-aircraft system for Sydney. Every one agrees that, no matter how adequate anti-aircraft defences may be, not every enemy aircraft will be shot down. In other words, if either of the bombs is used in any future war, Sydney will face the dire threat of mass annihilation. Appeals have gone forth from this side of the iron curtain that the use of hydrogen and atomic bombs should be banned. If there is the least shadow of doubt as to the effects of the radio-active fall-out which follows these tests, no further test bombs should be dropped.
As the Prime Minister proceeded with his statement it became obvious that the Government was building its defence force around conventional weapons. The only references that I could find to the possible use of atomic weapons were the proposed plan for the defence of Sydney and the vague statement about the possible future use by the armed forces of nuclear weapons. The Prime Minister might have been prompted to rely on conventional weapons by the realization that the use of atomic or hydrogen bombs would meet with swift retaliation, and that the fear of retaliation might prevent their use by other nations. It is perfectly obvious that this Government’s outlook is similar to that of antiLabour governments in the years before 1939. The defence statement was based on a reliance, in the event of an attack, upon assistance coming from the United States, from Britain or from some other friendly power. What of those first vital days in the event of this country being attacked? That is the question that is being asked by the people who want to know the defence plan of this Government.
Apparently, the Government fails to realize that no longer are there units of the British Navy to the north of us. No longer are there any Dutch forces to the north of us. There are no strong defences at Singapore now, although the United States has bases further north. In other words, the withdrawal of the British forces from the far north and the withdrawal of the Dutch from Indonesia has left a vacuum which is partly filled by the Americans. The Government’s policy is inadequate from the point of view of the defence of the northern portion of Australia. It must be obvious to any one that in the early stages of an attack on this country we will have to fall back on our own resources. The Prime Minister has stated that the examination of our defence position has disclosed some disturbing deficiencies. He said that there were disturbing deficiencies in equipment. There have been disturbing deficiencies right through the whole of the Government’s defence planning over the last eight years, as has been indicated in this debate.
It is quite obvious that any attack on this country will come as it came in the last war. If there is a threat to Australia that threat must come to our shores from the north. I have harped on this question from time to time because it is vital from the point of view of those people who live in those parts of Australia. They are conscious of their position. They are conscious of what might happen and of what could have happened in the last war if it had not been for the fact that the Japanese decided to go towards New Guinea. Those who knew something of the defence requirements of Australia prior to 1939 always maintained that any attack on this country would come from the north and would be made on the north-eastern portion of the coast line.
It is true that the Coral Sea battle resulted in the turning back of considerable forces which intended to land in New Guinea and, ultimately, on the northern shores of Australia. But the Prime Minister’s only reference to the defence of that coast line in his defence statement was to the fact, that a reporting control station will be installed at Darwin. In other words, the Government has the same old SydneyMelbourne complex. It still fails to recognize the danger that lies to the north. It still places greater reliance on the American bases in the far north than it does on our own defence of the northern shores of Australia.
With the passage of time we find that advice was tendered to the Government before the last war as to the direction from which an attack would come. With the passage of time we find also that another type of aircraft has entered into the scheme of things. These aircraft are intercontinental bombers which are capable of carrying enormous loads. They were undreamt of in 1939. These aircraft are capable of circumnavigating the globe as was demonstrated by the inter-continental bombers of the United States Air Force not long ago. It is possible to refuel them in the air. They could wreak terrible havoc on the northern portion of Australia. Cape Melville is only 200 miles from the East Indies and these bombers would have an added advantage of fighter cover.
The Prime Minister has referred to the mobility of the armed forces. But instead of coming to the eastern coast of Australia these bombers will deal with the undeveloped northern portions of Australia which have not received the assistance that they might have received from this Government in the eight years during which it has occupied the treasury bench. Once a landing were made in the northern portion of Australia all the Government’s preparations would go for nought. What then of the mobility of armed forces? What then would be the advantage of using civil aircraft to shift a brigade of 4,000 men in one week? I repeat that it is the early stages of an attack which should concern this Parliament and the people of Australia. I am sure that honorable members must be conscious, as I am, of the threat that was made to these shores at the beginning of the last war and how close the threatened invasion came to being an actuality. We can see what has taken place in more recent times, since the conclusion of World War IT. I am conscious that it is utterly impossible for the Government to defend the whole of the Commonwealth adequately. But what happened to Darwin at the beginning of the last war is an indication of what preparations should be made for defence in that part of Australia. Once a landing is made in those parts of the Commonwealth; fighter cover would be available to the enemy. What chance would we have with an air force which seems to be smaller every time we get a report on it? Yet the Government has announced that it intends to purchase certain aircraft overseas instead of making them in Australia.
I appeal to the Government to give greater consideration to the defence of north Australia. I appeal to the Government to open up aerodromes in that region. From Charters Towers to Cloncurry it is only 600 miles and if a shower of rain falls aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force cannot make a landing at intermediate places. It is a thousand miles from Cloncurry to Darwin. The other day an aeroplane was bogged on the tarmac at the aerodrome at Cloncurry which is under the control of the Department of Civil Aviation. Cloncurry is regarded as vital to Australia’s defence. What has happened to the inland defence road to Darwin? This road was built before the outbreak of war in 1939? Transport trucks lately have been bogged on this road. What would happen sf the roads in the area to which I refer were used by those mobile forces to which ihe Prime Minister referred the other night? As an honorable member said the other night, railways and sea transport are vital to maintain supplies for defence purposes. “What has the Government done in order to standardize railway gauges? Nothing. “What has the Government done to abolish the bottleneck at what was a vital link in the last war at Clapham Junction near Brisbane? Nothing. If it had not been for the fact that General Macarthur was able to foll back the Japanese forces as quickly as :he did, the connexion would have been made between Charleville and Blackall. Rail links I believe, are more essential than roads.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It is father strange to hear members of the tabour party advocating greater defence expenditure. On repeated occasions in this House and on the hustings, they have advocated a severe cut in defence expenditure. They have opposed national service training And recruitment, and have done many things to slow down our defence effort. Now they have changed their guise and come before us as people who advocate a greater ^defence effort. That just does not tie up at all.
The statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has been welcomed by every one. Though the Government has made mistakes -on defence - and I have not agreed with all it has done - it has made a determined effort to put our defences in order. It would be foolish for us to imagine that we could match the defence effort of the United States of America. We are a small nation “with a population of only 10,000,000 people, but we have a huge continent and a long coastline. Great demands are made on our resources and on our means of development. But that does not excuse us from making an effort to put our defences in order. Defence cannot be bought on the cheap. A defence policy demands two things; first, we must make a maximum effort and contribution, and, secondly, we must seek our close friends and allies, get alongside them and obtain their assistance.
What does the defence policy of the United States mean to Australia? lt seems to be related to one problem - countering the threat of Russia. America aims to be so strong that it can keep pressure on the Communists so that they will blow up within. The world could then enjoy a certain amount of peace and get on with disarmament. The American defence effort is tremendous. I have some figures on American expenditure. In J 939. it spent one billion dollars and in 1958 the estimate of expenditure is 43 billion dollars. The number of men in uniform has grown tremendously. The cost of arms, equipment and other expenses connected with defence has jumped from .6 billion dollars in 1939 to an estimated 32 bi lion dollars in 1958. That is the defence effort of the United States and we are enjoying it. But, while Australia is scrambling to get under the defence protection of the American umbrella, do not let us forget what Great Britain is doing in the Pacific a-ea. Great Britain is maintaining a considerable force in Malaya, apart from the Commonwealth division. It has slated quite clearly that it is not reducing i’s striking power. The striking power provided by additional weapons more than compensates for any reduction in man-power. Great Britain is a very active partner in Seato an 1 has troops in Malaya who could become effective immediately to support Seato. If one were to describe Malaya as a large bath, then the United Kingdom forces and the British Commonwealth forces, in which Australia and New Zealand are partners can be described as the plug in tHe ba’h. if that plug is removed from the Malayan bath, the tide of communism will certainly flow to Australia.
Let us look at the Government’s defence proposals. The new defence scheme proposes that the average strength of the Navy will be about 11,500. To-day, the Australian Navy is stretched to the limit. Ships are being paid off because men are not available to man them. The Government proposes that the Navy will have an average strength of 11,500 for the next four years.
– They are not short of admirals!
– There could be a few more. We know that the Army is having great difficulty in maintaining one battalion overseas. It is proposed that, for the next four years, we should maintain a permanent striking force with an average strength of 21,500 men. The strength of the Air Force is to be an average of 13,250 for four years. The Government proposes to buy 33 planes with a performance of 2,000 miles an hour at a cost of £1,000,000 each. These planes are to intercept. I do not know what they are to intercept; the Government has not explained that yet. They cannot intercept guided missiles. Are they to intercept troop-carrying planes? What exactly are these planes for? It seems to me that, if we are to have a force of this nature, the planes should be planes of a support group, which would be much more effective.
The Government has placed much emphasis on equipment, but I should like to know how it proposes to get the men to man these weapons. I directed a question on notice to the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Davidson) to ascertain the wastage in the Navy. What is our man-power position? In 1954-55, the wastage from the service was 1,346. In 1955-56, the wastage was 1,177 and in 1956-57, 2,462. The strength of the force is only 11,000 odd, yet we have this tremendous wastage. The Government is still advocating more weapons and more equipment, but it seems not to have examined properly the great problem of wastage and where it can get the men to man all this equipment. Australia must seek its armed forces from volunteers to the greatest possible extent. Australians show reluctance in peace-time to join the armed forces. We must encourage young men to choose a service career and retain them once they have chosen this career. To attain these objectives, servicemen require some compensation which is more in line with that offered in industry.
Our problem is twofold. On the one hand, we must attract married men to the services and, on the other hand, we must provide benefits for servicemen who have families. There are many advantages for servicemen in Great Britain, and even more for those in America, which are not enjoyed by Australian servicemen. It was once the proud boast of an Australian serving in the forces that he was as well off as servicemen in other countries. That is not so today; we are falling far behind. Admittedly, an attempt has been made to attract and retain servicemen, but it has all been too small, too niggardly and too late. I therefore propose to the Government that it give most earnest consideration to setting up an all-party committee, armed with proper authority to examine and report to Parliament how the drift from the services can be arrested and how men can be encouraged to join the services as a career. This committee could be similar to the Committee of Armed Services in the United States, which was commissioned to examine and report on problems of this kind. The United States committee was responsible for the Career Incentive Act of 1955, which was passed by the United States legislature as the result of a presidential message to the House of Representatives. What are the great advantages of an all-party committee? One advantage would be that honorable members from both sides of the House would be kept informed of defence problems, which I believe is necessary. In addition, the committee would be a steppingstone towards a bi-partisan policy on defence.
The defence of Australia should be treated on national lines, because it is something that affects every man, woman and child in this country. It affects not only the present generation, but also generations yet to come. That being so, our defence policy should receive the closest attention of the Parliament and should have the keenest support of all members of the Parliament, on a non-party basis. Perhaps one of the most important problems that this parliamentary standing committee might examine is that of housing for servicemen. Undoubtedly, housing is one of the main factors in a serviceman’s life. It is obvious that unless he is properly housed he will not be happy and, consequently, will not discharge his duties as effectively as he should. We all know of numerous instances of servicemen and their families living under most unsatisfactory conditions. I turn again to the Navy to illustrate my point. Recently, I asked the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Davidson) whether he could tell me the number of houses that had been built or purchased by the Royal Australian Navy for naval personnel during the last three years. He replied that, in 1954-55, the number was 217, in 1955-56, it was 52, and in 1956-57 it was six, with three homes under construction. Those figures indicate the need to do something about this vital problem.
Rehabilitation of ex-servicemen is another matter to which the committee might turn its attention, because when a serviceman leaves the forces to start out in the world he should be properly equipped to do so. He must be given the opportunity to learn skills which will help him to make his way in his future life. Another matter which the committee might consider is the question of insurance for servicemen. At present, the dependants of Fleet Air Arm personnel, for instance, who are killed in the course of their duty, receive very little compensation for the simple reason that the members of that service are not able to insure their lives adequately. Because of the risks they are required to take, the insurance premiums are prohibitive. The Government should provide generous insurance for men who are engaged on hazardous tasks in the services, such as those who serve in submarines and in the Fleet Air Arm.
– And in the Air Force itself!
– Yes, the Air Force could be included, too.
The committee that I have suggested also could consider the advisability of paying a re-engagement bonus to those who re-enlist in the services. The Royal Navy has adopted this practice, and the Australian Navy has been thinking and talking about it for some time, but nothing has been done. In the United Kingdom, the payment of a’ re-engagement bonus has proved of real value as an incentive to exservicemen to re-enlist. In addition, the committee could turn its attentions to the kind of family benefits that are required. Apart from the provision of homes for exservicemen and their families, rental assistance should be given when high rents have to be paid. We know that, in many instances, servicemen must travel long distances to take up duty. There should be travel concessions for the families of servicemen in such cases. There are numerous other benefits that could be given to servicemen, and the committee could examine their nature and make recommendations to the Government accordingly. The Government should not use the excuse that the provision of such benefits would cost too much money. The cost of the benefits to which I have referred should be assessed, and if that were done I think it would be found to be manageable. What is the alternative? I suggest that, unless some incentives are given, the Government will find that it has plenty of equipment for defence but nobody to use it. I urge the Government to give serious consideration to the appointment of this committee.
I turn briefly to national service training. I support the view of the honorable members for St. George (Mr. Graham), Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes), Angas (Mr. Downer), and many other Government supporters, that national service training should not be drastically curtailed. The benefits of such training have been clearly stated by those honorable members and I do not propose to reiterate them. The Government should take great pride in the scheme and also great credit for having introduced it. However, it is now proposed to reduce the annual intake of trainees from 33,000 to 12,000. Those 12,000 trainees presumably are to be used to prop up the Citizen Military Forces; but surely a great deal more attention should be paid to increasing the number of volunteers, now that the national service training scheme is being so drastically reduced! Perhaps it is the long-term aim, as it is in Great Britain, ultimately to replace national service trainees by volunteers, but it must be appreciated that the restrictions associated with national service training have been one of the principal obstacles in the way of recruiting for the C.M.F. It may be possible, in the future, to keep certain units of the C.M.F. completely on a voluntary basis and to build them up to full strength with volunteers. There is no doubt that the falling-off in the volunteer component of the C.M.F. has been due very largely to the national service dilution.
There is, however, another very important factor in relation to training in the C.M.F. That is, that in order to encourage volunteers to enlist, the C.M.F. must be given modern weapons and an opportunity to train with them. If a man is interested he will enlist and remain in the force. The lack of modern weapons probably was one of the main reasons for the wastage that occurred in the days before the national service training scheme was introduced. I am of the opinion that the public should see more of the C.M.F. There should bc more parades and marches with regimental bands. The members of the forces should be made to feel that they are a part of the community, and the public should have reason to be proud of them.
I wish now to say something about reserve training. As national service training is to be cut so severely by the Government, I believe that it is essential that the reserves of the armed services should be encouraged and augmented. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) made the excellent suggestion, which I hope will be considered by the Government, that there should be a tax concession in respect of reserve pay. I wish to pay a tribute to the men and officers of the reserve forces who have given their time voluntarily in the national effort, often at great financial loss and personal inconvenience. It is regrettable that the statement made by the Prime Minister contained no reference to the splendid work that they have done.
Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Duthie) adjourned.
Devonport Aerodrome - Department of Supply Auction Sale at Mildura - Communism.
Motion (by Mr. Osborne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr. DUTHIE (Wilmot) 110.30].- 1 wish to raise an important matter concerning the Devonport aerodrome. Last Thursday officers of the Department of Civil Aviation inspected the aerodrome, which has now been in service for nearly seven years, and made the amazing announcement that no more regular landings by Viscount aircraft would be allowed. This decision vitally affects Trans-Australia Airlines services to north-western Tasmania. The report of the official announcement in the Tasmanians press on Friday last mentioned Convair aircraft also. This announcement was madejust after Trans- Australia Airlines had announced a new daily service from Devonport to Hobart by modern, fast Viscount’, aircraft. The officers of the Department of Civil Aviation stated that the aerodrome runways would not stand the high pressureimposed by the tires of Viscount aircraft.
The Devonport aerodrome is 5 milesinside the western boundary of the Wilmot electorate. The honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Luck) also is keenly interested in this matter, because the aerodrome servesa large part of the eastern area of the Braddon electorate. I propose to give the House a brief history of the aerodrome in order to bring the facts up to date for honorable members. It came into being as a direct result of representations made by Dame Enid Lyons and myself. We both pestered the Labour government of the day, through Mr. A. S. Drakeford, who was at the time Minister for Civil Aviation, and eventually we obtained a decision to have the aerodrome constructed. It had been talked about for several years, during which time we constantly made representations to Mr. Drakeford. On that occasion, a Liberal and a Labour member combined to win over a Labour Minister. Our representations were supported by the Devonport Municipal Council, the council of the Latrobe municipality in which the aerodrome is situated near the coast, and the Devonport Chamber of Commerce, which supplied us with facts and helped in other ways. Mr. Drakeford eventually said that he was prepared to examine the proposed site.
We wanted a quick decision at the time because the Department of Civil Aviation was just completing the Wynyard aerodrome, and it intended to take all the equipment that it had there more than 230 miles distant to begin work on the proposed Llanherne aerodrome to serve Hobart. We pointed out that, if that were done, the construction of the Pardoe aerodrome, as the Devonport aerodrome is otherwise known, would probably not be put in hand for another five or six years. We suggested that, as the necessary equipment was already in the north of Tasmania, construction of the Pardoe aerodrome should be finished before work on the Llanherne aerodrome was started. Mr. Drakeford inspected the proposed site in company with representatives of the three organzations that I have mentioned. On his return to the mainland, he submitted the proposal to the Cabinet, which agreed that work on the Pardoe or Devonport aerodrome should begin immediately the Wynyard aerodrome was completed. The work was begun in 1947, and finished in late 1950. Some of the best equipment that has ever been brought together for aerodrome work in Tasmania was used.
The aerodrome was opened on 4th November, 1950. I think I can safely say that this was five years earlier than would have been the case if the Department of Civil Aviation had moved the equipment to the south and constructed the Llanherne aerodrome first. A total of £254,000 was spent on the construction of the mile-long east-west runway, which comes to within several chains of the sand dunes on the coast. The situation is delightful, and practically fog-free, and the aerodrome has been used by Viscount and Convair aircraft operated by T.A.A., and by other kinds of aircraft operated by Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, as an alternative landing ground to Western Junction airport at Launceston, for several years. A.N.A. and T.A.A. have found it wholly -suitable and completely reliable for their aircraft all that time. It was constructed to -standards adequate for any of the aircraft in service at the time.
The earth works involved the moving and compaction of 75,000 cubic yards of material, and the pavements of 65,000 cubic yards. A 5,000-ft. interception drain was laid down, and 6,700 feet of concrete pipes, ranging in size from 9 inches to 36 inches in diameter, were laid for drainage purposes, together with 13,000 feet of open, unlined drains. As I have said, the heavy construction equipment used was the best ever congregated at one site for this kind of work in Tasmania. Its total value was £131,000. It included four caterpillar graders, two excavators, one Tournapull, with scraper, to carry 15 cubic yards of material, four W6 tractors, four D7 tractors, one D8 tractor, and all the water carts needed to supply the water used in keeping the surface wet, together with a mobile workshop and several heavy spiked compactors. The work was completed ahead of schedule. A new kind of construction involving the use of shingle and sand from the beach was adopted. Ample supplies of shingle and sand were available near at hand, and this material was loaded by front-end loaders onto trucks, which had to cart it only about half a mile to the site. Mr. A. Hepburn, who was Director of Airports, at the time, said -
The yardstick o£ the provisional International Convention on Aviation Operation Standards had been applied to Pardoe and it met with the requirements of the biggest airlines in Australia.
That is powerful evidence that the Pardoe aerodrome was constructed to first-class standards.
I now ask a number of questions. Where does the trouble lie? Why has this decision suddenly been made? Why has doubt about the capabilities of the aerodrome for the handling of Viscount and Convair aircraft suddenly arisen? Why has an outofdate decision been made out of the blue to prevent T.A.A. Viscount aircraft from using this aerodrome, when both Viscount and Convair aircraft have been using it for years as an alternative to Western Junction airport, with complete satisfaction? Is the decision the result of pressure brought to bear by rival airline companies in order to prevent T.A.A. from operating Viscounts from Pardoe? It is very significant that the ban on the Viscount aircraft used by T.A.A. has suddenly been introduced just after that company announced a daily service intrastate, between Devonport and Hobart, by these fast, modern aircraft. The whole of north-western Tasmania is up in arms against this amazing and inexplicable decision, which will prevent the people of the area from enjoying a fast, modern service to Hobart and return daily. As a result of the decision, T.A.A. has been forced to cancel the arrangements for the new service and resort to the use of DC3 aircraft, which are at a disadvantage against A.N.A.’s larger aircraft, for which the field is now wide open.
The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) has made inquiries, as I have done, and, this evening, he received a reply from the Department of Civil Aviation, which he read to me in his office about half an hour ago. He is not satisfied with it. I certainly am not satisfied with the explanation that has been given, and no
Tasmanian representative would be. The department states that the tire pressure of the Viscount aircraft is 110 per cent ratio in tire coverage, whereas 85 per cent, is the permissible limit. Therefore, Viscount aircraft have been prevented from using the aerodrome. The tire pressure of Convair aircraft has been reduced to comply with the limit set. The department states also that it would cost £35,000,000 to bring all the aerodromes in Australia to the standard required for Viscount aircraft. We are not asking for that. There are 600 aerodromes in Australia and only fifteen are capable of taking the modern Viscount aircraft. That is a tragic statement from any department in this modern age, and we need to bring many more aerodromes, including Pardoe, up to Viscount standard.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish at this stage to support the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), who has brought forward the question of aircraft using the Devonport aerodrome. This aerodrome was designed in 1947 and completed in 1950. The material used in its construction was submitted to the Department of Works in Melbourne and the work was carried out by the Department of Works, using day labour. There is no doubt that had the material been of an unsatisfactory nature when it was submitted to the Department of Works, it would have been rejected, but apparently it was at least accepted as satisfactory. Then, at a later period during the construction of this aerodrome, a mobile laboratory, with testing officers and checking officers from the department, together with a technical staff of engineers, was on the spot during the whole time that work was in progress. Nearly £300,000 of Commonwealth money has been spent in this construction and if there has been an error in computation or if the material used was unsatisfactory there should be a very early inquiry into such a waste of public money.
I was closely associated with the establishment of this aerodrome. I was chairman of the committee of the municipality and the chamber of commerce, which worked for the early construction of the aerodrome. I became associated with it about 1945 and I know quite a lot about it. It is to me rather staggering that at this stage, within six or seven years of its construction, this aerodrome is not now approved to carry either Convairs, Viscounts, or DC6’s. If the material used was unsatisfactory it should have been discovered at the time; but that may not be the whole trouble. It has been stated locally - and I do not know whether this is correct or not - that the sealing of the surface of the aerodrome was not properly carried out and that this allowed water to seep underneath, causing the understructure to deteriorate, lt has also been stated that the drainage was inadequate. New drainage work has been done. Fifteen thousand pounds has been spent in the last couple of years in an effort to make this aerodrome satisfactory and able to carry these modern aircraft.
I believe that the whole matter should be inquired into and that further construction work should be done to bring the aerodrome up to the standard necessary for it to carry the planes now on the Tasmanian run. On many occasions throughout the year the aerodromes at Launceston and Hobart, and in fact most aerodromes in Tasmania, are closed because of bad weather conditions. It is not reasonable that planes should have to turn round and go back to the mainland. We have at the present time on the north-west coast two aerodromes which have a capacity loading for landings of 30,000 lb. to the square foot. The Wynyard aerodrome was constructed at approximately the same time as the Devonport aerodrome, but it has no night landing facilities. The Devonport aerodrome has been provided with nightlanding facilities, and this indicates to me that that aerodrome was intended as an alternate aerodrome and was intended to carry any of the planes that normally operate to Tasmania.
It is staggering that so few aerodromes, in Australia are able to carry Viscounts. There will have to be much closer cooperation between the Department of Civil Aviation, the Department of Works, and airline operators in the ordering of planes abroad for use in the Australian service, otherwise we may have to find considerable sums of money to make it possible for an aerodrome to handle aircraft foisted on us by a manufacturer who says, “ That is the only one we can possibly supply you with “.
I have some most interesting figures in my possession, supplied by the Department of Civil Aviation, and I would say that at this stage the Wynyard aerodrome is an alternative to Devonport and that the departmen should take early action to see that the lighting work is done. It should take early action to find out what is really wrong with the surface of the Devonport aerodrome and how it can be improved. It should then effect the necessary improvements so that the services that normally operate to Tasmania can use the aerodrome. Almost £300,000 has been spent. I do not think all the figures are to hand. Some of the drainage work was completed only a few months ago. The total up to date is £269,000 for an aerodrome which will only carry DC3 aircraft. An ordinary grass strip would do that. If that is all these aerodromes were intended to take, there was no need for that huge expenditure.
I hope the Government will examine this matter, and I hope that the Minister for Civil Aviation and the Minister for Works, who are associated in the maintenance of the aerodrome at Devonport, will at an early stage have an earnest look at this problem and see if they can overcome it.
.- I wish to submit a case to-night regarding an auction that took place at Mildura on behalf of the Department of Supply. I have discussed this matter with the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) and he believes as I do, that it needs some airing so as to straighten it out. It appears from a statement in the “Sunraysia Daily” of May 3rd, 1957, that the people of Mildura are dissatisfied with the way the auction was conducted. I hops that the Minister will be able to make an explanation satisfactory to all concerned. The article in the “ Sunraysia Daily “, which is a most reliable newspaper, reads -
OFFICIALS BOOED WHEN AUCTION BUYERS CLASH.
There were angry scenes at yesterday’s auction sale at Mildura Migrant Centre when local and interstate buyers clashed.
Department of Supply officials’ were booed and jeered by Sunraysia housewives and their husbands and there were loud demands that the sale be boycotted.
Selling was suspended while explanations were made and peace restored.
Trouble began when 8,152 grey blankets were offered, in lots of 10.
Bidding reached 27s. each for the first lot, but no one wanted blankets at that price, except the bidder.
The second lot of 10 also brought 27s., again only the one lot being sold.
The remaining 8,132 blankets were then offered with the stipulation that the highest bidder have first preference on the number taken.
Bidding stopped at £1 a blanket, wilh the small buyers content to wait and buy their requirements at that price.
A Sydney buyer, who had bid the closing price, said he would take the entire 8,132 at that price, which left none for the smaller buyers.
Uproar followed, with private buyers demanding they be allowed to share in the purchase.
Many condemned Department of Supply officials for looking after the interests of the “ professional “ buyers, . at the expense of the householder.
The bulk of the 1000 who attended the sale were husbands and housewives who had hoped to pick up bargains in small lots for their homes.
The Department of Supply had sold a quantity of these blankets to the Mildura Shire Council at about 10s. each, I understand for pensioners and needy people. That was a commendable action. The newspaper report continues -
A notice on every page of the auction catalogue said that when practicable, all lots would be sold in quantities to meet requirements of individual buyers.
The phrase “ requirement for individual buyers “ applied as much to interstate buyers, whose profession it was to follow such sales all over the country, as it did to small buyers. “ We try to suit everyone - big buyers and small - but we also have to look after the interests of the Department of Supply,” Mr. Ryan said.
The report also stated -
Local buyers travelled to the sale ‘ in cars, trucks, taxis and in a number of cases, bicycles.
Most interstate buyers reached Mildura by air, including three Sydney men who hired a private plane for £100.
There are a few questions I want to ask the Minister. It is stated in this newspaper that in every case small lots were sold first. Anybody who has any knowledge of the auctioneering business - and I claim to have a slight knowledge of it - knows that you always sell the big lots first, because a buyer may not want to buy a small lot. as he may have to carry his purchases a long way, say to Sydney, and would not buy ten, twenty or 30 blankets, but would be interested in buying perhaps 5,000 blankets. The first two lots offered in this case numbered ten blankets each, and the price received for them was 27s. a blanket. 7 should like the Minister to find out who bought those lots, because it is stated in this report that the Department of Supply claimed that the people of Mildura held back, hoping to buy blankets at 10s. each, the price at which they had been sold to the shire council, for the needy. If they held back in order to buy blankets for 10s. each, why did they pay 27s. each for them? Is it possible that the interstate buyers operated so as to run the price of these blankets up to 27s. each in the two lots, and waited for the big lots to be put up later, when there would be fewer bids and the prices would be lower? Why were only two lots of ten blankets each submitted to auction? Why did not those in charge of the auction continue to submit the blankets in lots of ten, and receive a price of 27s. or a shade less each for them? When the big lots were offered they realized a maximum of only £1 each.
The sale did not last very long, because almost everything was sold in big lots. It is very significant that as the sale went on, the small lots in every instance that I can find mentioned in this report realized higher prices than the big lots. If the blankets had been sold in small lots of ten at 27s. or even less each, the return to the Government would have been much greater. The excuse given was that only people who made bids of up to 27s. each for blankets wanted them. Does anybody in this country, or in that area, know anything about auctioneering? It is only natural that when blankets have been knocked down to buyers at 27s. each, other people will wait in the hope that they will get them at a cheaper price. It is very significant that the second lot also made 27s. each. If the next lot submitted had been a similarly small lot the price received might have been 22s. each or even 25s. each. It appears to me that if the sale had been conducted on the lines of selling about 1,000 blankets for a start in one lot. and then working the number in each lot down, instead of up, there would have been more competition; because most of the 1,000 or so local people who attended wanted blankets, and attended the sale in order to get blankets. There would also have been competition among the big buyers.
Mr. Ryan of the Department of Supply has made some explanation of what happened. I do not know Mr. Ryan, and I have nothing against him. He was in charge of the auction, and the front page of the newspaper from which I have been quoting extracts has a picture of the sale in progress which shows the auctioneer and, beside him, the representative of the Department of Supply. There is no doubt that that representative was instructing the auctioneer how to conduct the sale. Another page of the newspaper has a picture of the interstate buyers. When you come to look at the interstate buyers-
– They look pleased with themselves.
– They look remarkably pleased and, of course, they should be, because they bought for less than that price blankets which had made 27s. each when submitted in small lots. It is said that it is the law in auctions that the buyer has the right to take any amount of the number submitted. But why submit more than 8,000 blankets in one lot? Why not submit 1,000, or 500, in one lot, and work the number down? I cannot see any excuse at all for not doing so.
I believe that on this matter the Minister for Supply will be able to give us some explanation to which I shall listen with great interest. It is the responsibility of honorable members to raise in the House matterslike this which affect their constituents and the Government, irrespective of whether they are members of the Opposition or Government supporters. It is a pity that. Labour supporters did not adopt that principle when the Labour government wasselling great quantities of goods at disposals sales after the war. We know that interstate buyers snapped up great bargains a/ such sales.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order! There are toomany interjections.
– We know also that the Labour government was well acquainted with the tactics used by buyersat these auctions, and that Labour supporters did not have the courage to bring the scandal to the light of day. All over Australia thousands of pounds, perhaps hundreds of thousands of pounds, were made by people who bought huge quantities of goods at bargain prices at disposalsauctions.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I listened with great interest to the statements of the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). He was kind enough to mention to me earlier in the day that he would raise this matter. I want to commend him for doing so.
– Oh! A Dorothy Dixer!
– This is not, of course, an answer to a question without notice. I want to commend the honorable member for Mallee for having notified me that he intended to raise the matter. I want to say to honorable members on both sides of the House that it is a pity that that procedure is not followed more frequently, because it gives Ministers an opportunity to make sure that they are in the House when the matter is raised and to be in a position to answer the points put by honorable members. I would suggest that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) consider adopting that method, because he would thereby gain more information when he raises matters during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House.
– What are you paid for? You should be here anyway.
– Anyhow, I am here; and I am here to answer this matter. It is true that this sale took place. It is true that, as the honorable member for Mallee has said, after certain blankets were offered in two small lots, blankets were offered again in one lot with the stipulation that the highest bidder have first preference on the number taken, but one buyer took the lot. Something like 400 or 500 lots were being offered at Mildura in a one-day sale. It has to be a one-day sale for convenience, because people come long distances and cannot hang around for too long.
– There are not enough good pubs in Mildura.
– On behalf of Mildura I repudiate that suggestion. I know that there are some admirable public houses in Mildura. The proceeds of the sale amounted to about £20,000. It was quite a substantial sale. I appreciate the observations of the honorable member for Mallee who, because of his profession, is very knowledgable in these matters. As everybody knows, he is an experienced and skilled auctioneer.
– Why did he not get the job?
– It is a pity that he did not. I think he should have got it. What he says about the methods of dealing with this matter is entitled to be treated with great respect. But when I have outlined what happened I am sure that the honorable member for Mallee will be the first to agree that there was certainly no bad faith in this transaction. What was done by the auctioneers was done with the best of intentions, and I think quite fairly.
The real trouble arose because the Department of Supply endeavoured to do a kind and reasonable thing for local organizations. It was asked to supply a certain number of blankets to pensioners and to the local councils at a very much reduced price, and it agreed to do so. Prior to the sale, the local shire council requested the sale to it, by private treaty, of certain items of equipment, including blankets, which it desired to obtain on behalf of nine different organizations, including one providing homes for the aged, the Returned Servicemen’s League, churches, Legacy, welfare centres and other charitable organizations in need of assistance. Included in the items sold to the shire council were 1,500 blankets, which it offered to purchase at 10s. each. That was far below their value.
– I referred to that.
– I know, and I agree with what the honorable member said. This was done because the policy of the department is to help that sort of organization. Of course, the word got about and, naturally, the good citizens of Mildura smacked their lips, rubbed their hands and went tr> the sale, thinking that they would get some blankets for 10s. each. Everything else went off well - the furniture and the machinery. There were no complaints about the rest of the sale, and good prices, were paid. The citizens of Mildura went to the sale, as citizens always go to auctions sales expecting roaring bargains.
– Did anybody put a ticket on the Minister?
– I do not reckon that I would reach the reserve price at any time. No objection was raised about any of the other items. There were no particularly good bargains. In fact, the taxpayers of Australia did well. Coming to the blankets, 8,000 of them were offered at the sale, which was conducted by local auctioneers, under instructions. They offered lots in quantities which would meet the requirements of small buyers, as the honorable member for Mallee has said. But that can be done only within limits. You cannot offer 8,000 blankets one at a time, so they were offered in lots of ten. The first lot of ten blankets brought something like 27s. each.
– Who bought those?
– I do not know, but I will try to find out and let the honorable member know privately. I do not have that information now. Another lot was offered, and the highest price was 25s. each. The enthusiasm was beginning to cool. In both cases, only one bidder appeared to be interested. The auctioneer warned the public that after that the blankets would be offered with an option to the highest bidder to take the lot if he wished. Nevertheless, the only bids obtained were, first, 27s. and, secondly, 25s. each. Next, following the warning that was given, the blankets were put up in a lot of ten, and there was a bid of £1 each, but then the stipulation operated. I do not know where the buyer came from, but the next thing that happened was that he bought the whole of the remainder of the blankets, whereupon there was a great cry from the hearts of the citizens of Mildura, who, no doubt, thought they would get blankets cheaply. Well, they did not get them.
We followed the invariable procedure of offering first in small lots and, after a warning, offering in a small lot with an option to the buyer to take them all. We would have been there for a week or two if we had kept on offering them in the small lots.
I have examined this matter. I do not suggest that the sale could not have been conducted in some other way. I am not prepared to say that the way in which it was conducted was the best way. I think it was a fair way, and I am quite satisfied, from my examination of the matter, that the sale was conducted completely in good faith. I am sure that that is really what the honorable member for Mallee wants to know. As to who bought the blankets, I will let the honorable member know when I find out.
.- Five years ago, a plan designed to destroy the Australian Labour party as a democratic party was entered upon in this country.
– What has this to do with blankets?
– I shall not be at all surprised if what I have to say this evening is greeted with murmurs of complaint, but the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) is complaining too soon, because he has not been hurt, yet. Many people, at that time, thought that the plan was most unreal and saw no hope for it. However, the plan reached a notable stage of accomplishment some two or three weeks ago when the Premier of the State of Queensland was expelled from the Australian Labour party. At first blush, many people would say that the expulsion of the Premier of Queensland from the Australian Labour party is not the concern of this Parliament. Many people would say, also, that the fact that many of the Government’s supporters in Queensland have stood by the Premier and joined him in isolation from their former party is of no great national importance.
I want to say at once that I reject both views. In 1952, members of the Australian Communist party made it perfectly clear that one of their urgent and vital tasks was to isolate and destroy what they styled the reactionary elements in the Australian Labour party. Since 1952, they have to their credit a number of notable accomplishments. Recently, in Queensland, they advanced the plan to a most impressive stage of accomplishment. I want to read to the House a few of the statements made by some of the leading members of the Australian Communist party since 1952 so that honorable members will be able to examine for themselves the substance of the contention I have just made. In the “ Communist
Review”, of July, 1952, Mr. Sharkey wrote -
It is a question for us of setting out consciously to foster a left wing in the Labour party, to encourage all the incipient revolts expressing themselves in the Labour party.
In the “ Communist Review “, of September. 1952, Mr. Aarons, secretary of the New South Wales State Committee of the Austraiian Communist party, wrote -
It is the task of the Communists to assist and to lead the left wing in the A.L.P. This is a most important task, as our leader, Comrade Sharkey, has pointed out. In his farseeing mind, he sees the long-range aim of political unity of the working class - that is, one party of the working class, based on the defeat and exclusion of the right wing from the A.L.P. and amalgamation of the two parties on the basis of Marxism-Leninism.
In the “ Communist Review “, of April, 1953, Mr. Sharkey wrote -
Our party leadership in all States must study the developments within the Labour party, the divisions, the moves among the rank and file, and develop the united front tactics to seize every such situation. By the tactics of the united front, we aim to wrest the masses of the working class from the grip of the treacherous Labour party leaders.
In the “ Communist Review “, published this month, Mr. Thornton wrote as follows: -
Australian conditions demand in the development of united action not unity between Communists and just anybody else but primarily between workers who support the Communist party and workers who support the Labour party.
I want to make it abundantly clear that the legislative behaviour of the Queensland Premier will wring no admiration from me. Similarly, I want to make it clear that I stand four-square behind the maintenance of constitutional government. What has happened in Queensland is simply part and parcel of a process that has been going on in this country for five years, and has now moved to this notable and most important stage. The device is simply to isolate the right wing, the moderate-thinking people in the Labour party, to surface them, and destroy them. Then another issue is devised and that is applied to those who are left. The reactionaries are brought to the surface, and once again are destroyed. The process is continued until such time as what remains of the Labour party is so utterly indistinguishable from the Communist party that it does not matter. Of course, at some time or other, this Government will be voted out. What is to be voted in? It will not be the Labour party of old, but a party that has been processed by the vanguard of the Communist party.
True it is that there are many people on the Opposition benches who have not supported communism, but it is equally true that there are many people on the Opposition benches who have not fought it. I propose now to divulge this to the House: At the meeting of the central committee of the Communist party in Sydney, in March of this year, Mr. Dixon, the federal president, reported on the party’s activities in Queensland. I do not propose to name my informer. I will leave it to the Communist party to conduct its own heresy hunt. Here are some of the points that Mr. Dixon made -
I vaguely suspect that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) may find some place in that category. Further points made by Mr. Dixon were -
This is the Queensland commissar - is not important. We trust Bukowski as much as we trust Gair. We support Bukowski because Gair represents the right wing of the Australian Labour party and our first task is to smash the right wing.
And this is of singular importance - that we are exerting our influence in the Queensland Central Executive through our trade unions.
People who represent our unions in the Queensland Central Executive are not members of our party - and you know well that they must not be. They are the people who sympathize with our ideas or who consider our ideas opportune for their own personal careers.
I believe that the position is quite clear to all people who value constitutional government in this country. It has been savagely attacked in Queensland by a band of opportunists who have been steered and processed by individuals whose first loyalty is to a foreign power. The basic aim of the Communist party in this country is to capture and prostitute the Labour party. I submit that that aim has been religiously adhered -to. It has been advanced to a dangerous degree. It has been advanced to a stage where it warrants the appraisement of every person who believes that democratic government should be maintained. What has happened in this country, and is still happening, is similar to what has happened in three other Communist-dominated countries.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– We have heard another example of the capacity of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) for emulating the late Senator McCarthy. Although that senator has passed away we shall have here his faithful ghost while the honorable member remains in this Parliament and seeks to carry on in this enlightened country the kind of smear campaign that made McCarthyism infamous all over the world. The honorable member knows perfectly well that all the things he has said to-night are utter rubbish. All that he is doing is what all other members of the Liberal party do - attempting to smear the Labour party with accusations that they know to be false. This can be proved by even a cursory examination of the facts.
The honorable member stated that in 1952, five years ago, the Communist party set in train a move to destroy the Labour party. All I can say is that if that is true the best allies that the Communist party had in its efforts to destroy Labour were the members of the Liberal party. If that is the aim of the Communist party - and I happen to know that it is - the Liberal party is entitled to whatever satisfaction it can get from the part that it has played in assisting the Communist party to destroy Labour. The party that the Communists are afraid of is not the Liberal party but the Australian Labour party. The more successful we are in ridding ourselves of the pro-Liberal elements that permeated the Labour party some years ago the more the Communist party will fear us. It is true that there was a time when the Communist party’s fear of the Labour party had begun to wane. That was the time when the Liberal elements who had sought to capture control of the party, so as to prevent it from acting as a true working class party, had up to a point succeeded. The person who spearheaded the attack on the Labour party in order to sap the fibre of the movement and prevent it from being a true alternative to the Liberal party, thus removing the only barrier against communism, was a gentleman by the name of Santamaria who, I have no doubt, briefed the honorable member for Moreton on the speech that he made to-night.
There is no question at all that Santamaria, whose seven apostles in Victoria were defeated at the last elections, has apostles on the other side of the chamber, not the least of whom is the honorable member for Moreton. Let me tell him that if he thinks he can continue this game of following the Santamaria line, and still hold his seat as a Liberal party representative in Queensland, he has another think coming. When the people of Queensland learn of his true character, political thought, and affiliations they will reject him as the completely unsuitable person whom they will have every right to believe him to be.
As evidence of the smear campaign that this apostle of McCarthyism has pursued to-night, let us examine the records of some of the men that he has branded as Communists. The honorable member accused Mr. Duggan of being a Communist. There is no greater fighter against the Communists than the present leader of the official Labour party in Queensland, John Duggan. Will the honorable member for Moreton, or anybody from Queensland, seriously suggest that the deputy leader of the official Labour party in Queensland, Dr. Felix Dittmer, is a Communist? Even the honorable member for Moreton himself is not prepared to claim that that is so. Will anybody suggest that Mr. Bukowski is a Communist? Even the Communists, on the admission of the document that the honorable member has read, have stated that they do not trust Mr. Bukowski. If Mr. Bukowski were the Communist that the honorable member has tried to smear him as being, the Communist party would not have stated in its review and would not have used the words which he has just used, that the Communists trusted Bukowski no more than they trusted Gair. If he were a Communist, they would trust him much more than the Communists trust Gair.
Mr. Schmella has spent his whole life fighting communism. He did that in the days when it was not popular to fight the Communists. In the days during the siege of Stalingrad when people on the opposite side of the fence were joining with Churchill in praising the Russian heroes at Stalingrad, Jack Schmella was fighting the Communists. Nobody would suggest that Mr. Frank Forde, another member of the official Labour party in Queensland, who has remained true to it, is a Communist. He was a member of the Privy Council and a former Prime Minister of Australia and everybody knows that he is no more a Communist than is the honorable member for Moreton himself.
The honorable member has quoted a statement by Mr. Sharkey. I say that the statement made by Mr. Sharkey that there is to be a coalition between the Communist party and the left wing elements of the Labour party is absolutely untrue. It is the left wing elements of the Labour party that the Communists fear and not the right wing elements, because the left wing constitutes the real threat and the real opposition to the Communist party in every part of the world. The honorable member for Moreton knows that very well, or would the honorable member prefer to believe the word of the Communist Sharkey against mine? If he does, he is entitled to that preference.
I want to refer now to constitutional government. The honorable member for Moreton has the cheek to get up and speak of the events in Queensland as a threat to constitutional government when the Queensland central executive has ordered the Gair Government to give effect to a pledge that it gave at the last election in Queensland when it promised the people of Queensland that, if elected after the Mackay conference, it would bring in three weeks’ annual leave. The Gair Government had every right to introduce three weeks’ annual leave because the people of Queensland knew, when they voted for the Gair Government, that part of the policy of the Labour party was the introduction of three weeks’ leave. Incidentally, it is important to remember that the three weeks’ leave that this renegade Gair refuses to give to the workers of Queensland had been given by the Liberal Premier of South Australia to State employees for the past three years. If the Liberal Premier of South Australia can afford to give three weeks’ leave to State employees, is it not a shocking thing that a so-called Labour government in Queensland has claimed that it cannot afford to do so? Is it any wonder that the Queensland central executive, which represents the working class, saw fit to reject and expel this renegade who claimed to be a Labour man and used the Labour banner to get into office?
All this talk of constitutional government and the threat to it! Will any member oi the Liberal party who benefits from its slush fund get up in this Parliament and say that this Government is not at present controlled by outside influences who pay into the party’s campaign fund? Will anybody in this Parliament rise and say that ;i Liberal party is not actuated by outside control insofar as its proposed banking legislation is concerned, or in connexion with the sale of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission? The majority of the deals that this Government has transacted are crooked deals as a result of pressure from outside influences through money that those outside influences have paid into the campaign funds of the Liberal party.
I say that the position in Queensland is that there you have a corrupt government. The Gair Government has been as corrupt as it is possible to be. There is the incident that has never been denied. A sum of £800 was paid by an oil company to Bill Power, the Attorney-General of Queensland. Either Power has kept the £800 for himself - which would not surprise me - or Power has paid the money to Gair, in which case Gair is telling lies when he says that he knows nothing about it.
– Why did not the honorable member say all this before?
– Well, we did not know about it before. This is only starting to come out. There is something else we did not know before. When Gair made an agreement with Josephson to set up the new company, we did not know that the same Josephson then approached the oil companies in Sydney and Melbourne, rang them on the telephone an ‘ offered to have the bill controlling the onebrand petrol stations withdrawn on condition that the petrol companies concerned paid them £75,000.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to E.ke a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member for Moreton claim that he has been misrepresented?
– I do. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) said that I had implied that Mr. Duggan, Dr. Felix Dittmer and Mr. Forde were Communists. I did not mention their names. The whole tenor of my remarks was simply that the Queensland central executive had fallen for this process of being swung to the left and that that suited Communist activities. I make it perfectly clear that I have never attacked Mr. Duggan, Dr. Dittmer or any other member of the Queensland Parliament, styling them as Communists. I greatly regret that the honorable member for Hindmarsh should have been so bereft of propriety as to make such an accusation.
.- I should have preferred that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) had reserved his personal explanation until I had finished; it would have saved time. Honorable members who happen to know the honorable member for Moreton could not but agree with the description of him that has been given by the “ Century “ newspaper in New South Wales, which described him as the greatest bore of all time in the Parliament.
– That is not an authoritative newspaper.
– No. but it is an antiCommunist journal. You cannot claim it to be Communist. I agree with the excellent case that has been put forward by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), who has debunked everything that the honorable member for Moreton had to say. Unintentionally, the honorable member for Moreton has done a great service to the Australian Labour party. Although we have suspected that there was close liaison between the Gair breakaway party in Queensland and the Liberal party, we did not previously have any evidence of it, but it is quite obvious that the honorable member for Moreton rose in his place to-night after having been briefed by the breakaway Gair section in Queensland, to state its case against the Labour party in this Parliament.
In taking up the brief for Gair, the honorable member went back to 1952. Would Gair be completely unaware of the things that the honorable member for Moreton has mentioned to-night and which he has advanced in support of Gair? This little gentleman from Moreton - and he is a little man in all respects - has spoken on many occasions in this House implying that members of the Labour party have a close liaison with the Communist party. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has spoken truly. The only political force in Australia that the Communists fear is the left wing or militant section of the Australian Labour party. There is no doubt in the world about that.
But what happens to this gentleman from Moreton? I have heard him on a number of occasions twitting members of the Australian Labour party. He has said, “ I have fought for so many years against communism during the war “. He wanted to direct attention to the fact that he had been an ex-serviceman.
– What is wrong with that?
– There is nothing wrong with that, but he must have lost any courage he had because recently, when everybody was denouncing what was happening in Hungary, and none louder than the Labour Opposition, what happened? The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) made a suggestion. Honorable members will recollect that the government in Hungary at the time would not permit United Nations observers to enter the country and observe and report on what was happening. The honorable member for Mackellar made a brilliant suggestion. He said, in effect, “ The United Nations representatives ought to line up on the Hungarian boundary and, unarmed, walk into the country, defying the Soviet and challenging it to take some action against them “. In order to prove he was not advocating something that he himself would not support, he said, “ I will lead them “.
– Did the honorable member for East Sydney volunteer, too?
– The honorable member for Moreton volunteered. I waited with great interest to see what was going to happen in respect of this heroic march into Hungary to liberate the Hungarians from Soviet control.
– What happened?
– The honorable members for Mackellar and Moreton set out for Hungary, but they did not get beyond the civil defence school at Mount Macedon in Victoria. That was the nearest they got to Hungary. I believe this little gentleman is an exhibitionist. He likes publicity, and he will do anything to obtain it. Therefore, I think one can say that he should be cut back to size. It is probably not the right term to use in respect of the honorable member for Moreton. When he arrived here he rather interested me. I was not able to make my mind up whether he was a miniature Hitler or a filleted prawn, but I decided that he did look, in many respects, like a miniature Hitler.
Reference has been made to pressure groups. Do honorable members opposite think that this Government is free from what they term pressure groups? What have the private banks been doing for some time in Canberra and elsewhere? They have been canvassing and lobbying members of the Government.
– The shipping companies, too, have been similarly engaged.
– Yes, representatives of the shipping companies were amongst those who visited members of the Government. The Executive of the Liberal party actually had the audacity, not only to come to Canberra to meet members of the Government, but to meet them in the Cabinet room of all places. As a matter of fact, the members of the Executive summoned the leaders of the Government to meet them because they had to submit to Ministers certain demands that had been made by pressure groups in this country. Everybody knows that there is not an honorable member sitting on the Government side who is free to act and vote as his conscience determines. Each Government supporter has to vote as the private bankers tell him. He is controlled by the monopolies who demand that he shall vote in a certain way. How often have honorable members opposite put on a sham fight, and threatened to make a certain move against the Government! Then the Government has adjourned the debate, and Ministers go away, and have a little talk with, and threaten, these people with withdrawal of their endorsement at the next election unless they come into line. All these revolts that occur from time to time on the Government benches suddenly fizzle out because the pressure groups get to work on the members concerned. There is not a member on the other side of the House who does not owe his position in this Parliament to the approval given to his endorsement by private banks, shipping companies and the monopolies generally in this country. The only party in the Commonwealth Parliament to-day that is able to determine its own policy and to act in the Parliament independently of these great monopoly interests outside is the Australian Labour party. I conclude by thanking the honorable member for Moreton for giving the opportunity to my colleague, the honorable member for Hindmarsh, and myself to state the case for Labour.
– The House will agree with me, having heard the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), that the timber wolf of the Labour party is getting a little mangy in his old age. I think we have to recognize with all seriousness the way in which certain members of the Opposition, when the very true charge of association between communism and Labour is brought to light, revert to character assassination, make personal remarks for which there is no justification whatever, and endeavour, by raising side issues, to draw the attention of the House away from the main issues.
The association between the Communist party and a certain element in the Labour party is clear and obvious. I believe that the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) have convicted themselves of bad faith in the House to-night. Everybody knows that what they were saying was untrue and I believe they must have known it themselves. The association between the two groups is set out by the Labour party itself in a book entitled, “ The Future of Labour “ authorized by the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour party only a few days before the Communists succeeded in getting anti-Communist elements purged from that branch in the manner to which the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) has drawn the attention of the House. I quote from what the Labour party wrote about itself -
We appeal to them to consider another grave issue. All over the world the Communist party is following a “ popular front “ policy. It hopes that Socialists will forget the bitter lessons of previous “ popular fronts “ and again fall prey to Communist infiltration and betrayal.
We do not suggest that the Federal Executive or Federal Conference would wish to do the work of the Communist party. But they are being urged to carry out the exact step that the Communist party has long proclaimed as its objective - the extrusion from the A.L.P. of all actively antiCommunist elements - so that the way is clear for “ merging “ with, i.e. taking over, the A.L.P.
That is the Labour party’s view, and the view of the executive of the New South Wales branch of the party just before it submitted to purging, and just before the Federal Labour party did to it what it had described as “ following the Communist policy “. So, I have a witness to what I said, the direct printed witness of the Labour party itself. Let the Labour party laugh that off if it can!
There is not the slightest doubt that in Queensland the Communist party is supporting the so-called Queensland central executive. Evidence of that is to be found in the last issue of the “ Tribune “ published on 1st May. Let me read a couple of extracts. The Communist party’s statement is as follows: -
Gair has consistently defied the Convention and Executive of the A.L.P. and flouted the letter and spirit of the Constitution and Rules.
His expulsion was inevitable and there was no excuse for those who followed him.
The “ Tribune “ also says -
The Communists have no intention of interfering in the A.L.P.’s domestic affairs, but will assist all those working in the A.L.P. to solve their difficulties in the interests of the working class.
That is the Communist statement which I put parallel to the Labour party’s statement. The two parties say that this association exists. How can the honorable membersfor Hindmarsh and East Sydney expect to be believed in this House when they say they are fighting the Communists and when they know that their party is working with the Communists on unity tickets throughout the trade union movement, and that the Labour party is actively helping the Communists to take over the trade unions? The fact is that they endeavour to hoodwink the House by saying things that are manifestly untrue. Everybody knows that these unity tickets are being endorsed by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), the Leader of the Opposition in thisHouse.
– That is a low, downright lie.
-Order! The honorable member for Darebin will withdraw that remark.
– Owing to force of circumstances, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw it.
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw unequivocally.
– 1 withdraw the remark.
– Certain reasons have been put forward for the peculiar fact that, in the past, the Labour party in Queensland, which has been uniformly unsuccessful in the federal sphere, has been, successful in the State sphere. The first reason that has been suggested for this state of affairs is one to which 1 would not subscribe, namely, that Mr. Gair was a good Premier. I gather that the Opposition would not subscribe to that reason to-day. The second reason is one on which I would not be an authority; but it is widely alleged in Queensland by people in authority that the ballots have been cooked and that the rolls have been rigged. 1 don’t know. But the third reason is the important one. It is that many people in Queensland have thought that Mr. Gair was an antiCommunist and could be safely supported, whereas they knew that the Federal Labour party in this House, which is at present allied with the Queensland executive council faction, was, in essence, a pro-Communist party, and they voted accordingly.
– I rise to order. The statement that this Opposition is a proCommunist party is offensive to me, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
-Order! I consider it fair comment.
– The Queensland executive council of the Labour party has endeavoured to interfere in the proper constitutional processes of government. Not only has it interfered but it has also interfered in a way which is the Soviet method. This is what Lenin counselled should be done to the Labour party. If anybody wants to see, writ clear, the pattern of what the Communists are trying to do in Queensland and for which they are using the Labour party, let them read Lenin’s works, particularly “ LeftWing Communism “, in which this plan is set out clearly and definitely and has been followed by the Communist party.
– I rise to order. I have heard an interjection from the other side of the House that the honorable member for Mackellar is a lunatic. I do not know whether that is correct.
– I have never said that all honorable members on the other side of the House know what they are doing; I have never said that they all know the way in which the Communist party is using them and their party for its own ends, although, heaven knows, they all should know by this time. The honorable member for Moreton has set out the pattern quite clearly. One uses the doubtful “ middle-of-the-roaders “ to expel the right wing. Then the “ middleoftheroaders “ become the right wing, and one uses the next group to expel them. I warn people like the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), who sat on the fence for a long time wondering which way he was going to go and finally betrayed his former principles, that he is one of the people who is marked out.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I remember quite a lot of the history of this country. I remember that right down through the years every member of the Labour party has been reviled by the present members of the Government and those who were in the Liberal party and the Australian Country party. I know that members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party organized and fomented splits within the Labour party down through the years. The case of the Premiers plan was an instance. When honorable members opposite wanted to destroy the Labour government in this country, they bought Mr. Lyons, then member for a Tasmanian electorate. He joined their party and they gave him the prize of leadership. There was even a case in which, in order to destroy the Labour party, they gave to Mr. Hughes the leadership of their party. In South Australia, there was the occasion on which, in order to destroy a Labour government, the Federal Liberal Government of this country gave Jack Gunn £5,000 a year to be chairman of the Migration and Development Commission.
To-night, we hear members who have engaged in these tactics in order to divide and destroy Labour pretending, because they cannot do otherwise than pretend, that there is something wrong in the destruction of the Labour party. It is a horrible thing for them to contemplate that the Labour party is being divided to-day. The real objective of the Communist party is the division and destruction of the Labour party. The objective of the present Government and its supporters is also the division and annihilation of the Labour party. In other words, both the Communist party and the Government supporters have exactly the same objective. Opposition members who fight to preserve the Labour party and the democratic ideals upon which it is built have to fight, on the one hand, the reactionaries who seek to destroy it and, on the other hand, the so-called radicals but who, too, are reactionaries and seek to destroy it.
What has been the story of communism in this country? Has it always opposed the right-wing members of the Labour party? No. In the former electorate of Burke the Communist party opposed Mr. Maurice Blackburn and Mr. Frank Anstey. Why did they oppose them? Because they said those men believed in the constitutional improvement of the conditions of the working class. To quote the words of Lenin, they were representative of palliative and of reform. The Communists want the Labour party wiped out in order that unbridled capitalism can destroy the conditions of the working class and bring about what the Communists term a “ revolutionary situation “. In that situation they would take advantage of a direct fight between what they term the “ expropriated members of the working class and the representatives of monopoly capitalism “. It is the Labour party that stands for reforms and improvement of the conditions of the people to put off the revolutionary situation; it delays the arrival of the position that is desired by Communists throughout the world. It was Trotsky who said, “ Russia first, and then Spain “. Why? Because in Russia there was an expropriated proletariat and a few wealthy magnates. And so the revolutionary situation existed. In Spain, there was a similar position, and he said -
These are the countries that fall prey to Communist philosophy.
But in those countries where the economic conditions of the vast masses of the people are protected by a strong Labour party from the manipulation of monopoly capitalism, there the menace of communism vanishes and we achieve for the aged and the infirm, as we achieve for the workers and the rest of the community of Australia, conditions that are adequate. Then the people do not fall a prey to the philosophy of communism. They stand for the evolutionary improvement of conditions. This is my answer to the humbug of those who seek the destruction of the Labour party and, when they see that destruction occurring, shed crocodile tears and pretend that there were at some time some members of the Labour party for whom they had some admiration and respect.
Mr. PEARCE (Capricornia) 111.511.- This occasion is unique in that I find myself in complete agreement with the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). For many years now - in fact, since I entered this Parliament- I have been trying to convince the people that the Queensland Government is corrupt, and all the other things that the honorable member for Hindmarsh has said about it to-night. On each occasion when I raised my voice on that subject in this place, I was howled down. The howls were led by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, who now has seen the light and has condemned and criticized the Gair Government for what it is. I shed no tears for Gair, because I realize that he went into the trap with his eyes open. There is no doubt in my mind that at the last Queensland election, after the Mackay conference, when Gair accepted the support of Bukowski and bowed down to him on this three weeks’ leave business, Gair knew as well as those members of the Opposition sitting here now who were in the Labour Cabinet of 1942 that Beasley presented a report to that Cabinet on Bukowski, showing that Bukowski was at that time a member of the Mackay branch of the Australian Communist party. Gair knew about that last March at the Mackay convention. It was known to the members of the Cabinet of the Labour Government that was in office in 1942. Yet Gair-
– I do not believe it.
– It does not matter whether you believe it or not. It is a fact. Gair lay himself down beside the tiger, Bukowski, because he knew that he needed the support that Bukowski could marshal to win last year’s election. He knew full well what he was doing. Now that the tiger has turned and is clawing at him, he is crying for mercy. Let this be a lesson to those members of the Opposition here who think that they can go along on a unity ticket with the Communists and survive. Eventually the Communists will turn on them and claw them down as they have done to Gair, Walsh, Power and all the other members of the Queensland Parliament who have stuck by Gair. That is the real threat to parliamentary government and democracy in the State of Queensland. If honorable members opposite take the unity ticket, if they accept Communist support, if they take Communist money, as it has been alleged in this place that the party which sits opposite has done in the past, then, sooner or later they will be called upon to pay the price.
– What do you mean by your reference to us?
– Order! I ask the honorable member for East Sydney to refrain from interjecting. He has already spoken, and I have previously warned him.
– I forgot that I had spoken.
– They will either pay the price for it by obeying in this chamber the dictates of the Communist party or they will be expelled from their party. The fact that the Queensland central executive is attempting to pull down members of the Labour party in that State is a warning to the honorable members who sit opposite.
Where does the support come from? It comes from behind the Queensland central executive at the moment. Gair knew when he entered the place in which the Mackay convention was held that he could not beat Bukowski at that convention, because Bukowski had the support of Communistcontrolled or essentially Communistdominated trade unions. There is nobody here who will deny that the Building Workers Industrial Union - a pseudo union in Queensland - is Communist controlled. It exerted a powerful influence at the Mackay convention. The organizations of the waterside workers, the boilermakers, the transport workers, the sheet metal workers, as well as the Australian Railways Union, in the State of Queensland all have some measure of Communist control. Then there are the painters, plumbers and meat workers organizations. They followed the line and dominated the scene in Mackay. Gair bowed down to them in the hope that he would get support in the election campaign. Then he promised the people of Queensland that he would introduce legislation providing for three weeks’ leave on full pay for the workers.
The man who stood out against three weeks’ leave right through the piece is none other than the great hero of the honorable member for Hindmarsh - Jack Duggan. He persuaded more members of the Gair party, as it is called to-day, to stand firmly against the three weeks’ leave proposal than did Gair himself. The greatest ratting that has ever taken place in political history has been performed by Jack Duggan, for whom I had respect, and from whom I expected more. So the issue in Queensland, when it comes to an election, will not be whether support should be given to one of two factions of the Labour party fighting for supremacy. The issue will be whether Parliament is to be supreme or whether it is to be subject to Communist control and Communist dictation. lt is all very well for honorable members opposite to laugh. What the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) has said is true, and I ask honorable members opposite to mark his words. The tactics of the Communist party are to float some of the reactionaries inside the Labour movement to the top, and then to claw them down and destroy them. We have seen Labour members of this Parliament purged because they stood on principle. What is the next purge going to be? The Communists and the left wing of the Labour party make no secret about the next purge. The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart), the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin), the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue), the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor), the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts), and the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) must go at the next election. I do not expect honorable gentlemen opposite to believe that now, but I ask them to take note of what I have said. The honorable members I have mentioned will be in the next lot. We will see, as time unfolds itself, that that is the way it will be. They will go. Then another rising will occur and honorable members sitting opposite me now will be pushed out. Because of their principles, they will be compelled to leave the Labour party, which is becoming more and more Communist as the days go on.
It will be interesting to see what happens to Cosgrove in Tasmania in the next twelve months, as the Communists, after their victory in Queensland, turn to Tasmania. It will be interesting to see what happens here, because it is realized that the unpopularity of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) is so great that he cannot lead his party to victory. When the guns are turned on to him, as they will be in the comparatively near future,and he is destroyed, pulled down and removed from the Parliament, we shall see the left wing bubbling up until there is nothing to distinguish the Labour party on these benches from the Communist party, which dictates to it.
The issue in Queensland at the moment is an issue to which the people of Australia should direct their complete attention. The question is whether democratic government and the parliamentary system will survive, or whether Queensland will be dictated to. controlled and run by a Communistcontrolled executive, which backs the aim of the Soviet for world-wide conquest. I urge honorable members opposite to take heed of the warning that has been given to them to-night. What has happened to Gair because he accepted Communist support and then refused to pay the price will happen to a great many other people. At the next elections, it is bound to happen to those whom I named in the earlier part of my remarks.
.- It would appear that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) has taken the number one position as reactionary speaker of the Government from our old friend, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who looks under his bed every night to see whether there is a Communist there. By a strange coincidence, I believe that that is where Jim Healy keeps the Illawarra cup. We have been accused of being allied with the Communist party. Let us examine the way in which we ally ourselves with the Communist party. At the last federal election, thirteen members of this House were opposed by Communists in New South Wales. One of them was our old friend, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the remainder were sitting members of the Labour party. That is the way in which they co-operate with us. Let us examine also how they co-operated with the Labour party at the last election for the Senate.
– Who was given their No, 2 preferences?
– I am coming to that now. Senator McCallum, a Liberal, was elected on preferences from Mr. Jim Healy, who was the No. 1 Communist candidate. Mr. Jim Healy had 112,000 votes to be distributed as preferences. Of them, Senator McCallum obtained 82,000, which was not a bad number of Communist preferences to be gained by a candidate of the Liberal party which claims that it does not cooperate with the Communists. I know that all this talk is only Red baiting. I am sure the honorable member for Moreton will fight Communists until he dies, but we believe in fighting them with action, not with words. I fought them a long time before the honorable member for Moreton fought them, but he has probably never fought one outside in his life.
I suggest to honorable members opposite that instead of being so concerned about purges in the Labour party they should see how many leaders of the Liberal party in New South Wales have been purged in the last twelve months. They should also see how the Country party co-operates with the Liberal party in New South Wales. At the last election, they opposed each other in country seats. Our friends in the Country party here should also be careful. If by some mischance there was a landslide in favour of the Liberal party and it won a majority of seats in the next Parliament, it would be good-night to the Country party in the Cabinet. That happened in Victoria when the Bolte Government took office. Country party members are hanging by a slender thread. With this Government, whatever the boss says is right. The Ministers praise the boss, because it is a one-man band; they dare not get off-side. When Mr. Bolte was elected at the last state election in Victoria, he discovered that he had a working majority without the assistance of the Country party, so the Country party was dumped. Yet these people are concerned about what is hapening to us! They should go to the electorate of Wentworth and see what happened there, despite the fact that their leader went there to support the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury). If they go to the electorate of Barker, they will see what happened there. They should put their own house in order before they worry about what is happening in the Labour party.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.3 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Royal Australian Navy.
e asked the Minister for the
Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
In addition, over the same period discharges due to sickness, compassionate reasons and reversions to the Royal Navy and other miscellaneous causes the following numbers have also terminated their service in the Royal Australian Navy: - 1954-55, 1,078; 1955-56, 633; 1956-57, 624.
(including 100 naval artificer apprentices).
Note. - Figures for 1956-57 are complete until 31st March, 1957.
Excess is due to the large increase in R.A.F.R. numbers over the last two to three years and is a direct result of the number of discharges from the Permanent Naval Forces over a similar period.
z asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
No. 5 Airfield Construction Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force is constructing a new air strip at Darwin. At the request of Territory Rice Limited, a company engaged in a large-scale pilot project for growing rice in the Darwin area, the construction unit, with the approval of the Department of Air, hired the services of part of its earth-moving equipment to Territory Rice Limited to assist in the construction of a dam, a light plane airfield, levee banks and some smaller works. The equipment hired was not needed at that time for the construction of the Darwin airstrip. In fixing the hiring fees charged, regard was had to the scale of charges of the Department of Works for the hire of equipment to private contractors.
d asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
e asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The amounts which have been collected in wireless listeners’ licence-fees in the last financial years have been as follows: -
The revenue received from the issue of wireless listeners’ licence-fees is paid direct into Consolidated Revenue.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 May 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1957/19570508_reps_22_hor15/>.