22nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question follows upon one I asked the other day concerning the bush fire menace in New South Wales. Have any arrangements yet been made to make available a section of the defence forces to meet emergencies? If so, can the Prime Minister or some other Minister, such as the Minister for Defence, indicate what those arrangements are?
– As I said in answer to a question asked earlier in the week, when bush fires, floods and other disasters occur from time to time, service personnel are made available to assist if a request for their services is received. That practice will .continue.
– In view of reports that Dutch nationals may have to leave Indonesia in an emergency, can the Minister for External Affairs indicate whether Australia is prepared to receive such persons?
– I sincerely hope that the question raised by the honorable member is a hypothetical one, and that an eventuality such as he has mentioned will not arise. If such an unfortunate situation did come about, the Australian Government would, of course, consider most sympathetically the question of receiving as many Dutch nationals as possible, on a temporary basis, as a humanitarian measure, and also because the Dutch people and our own are on completely friendly and even intimate terms. I have, of course, been in touch with my colleague, the Minister for Immigration, with regard to this matter. It has also been raised in the Cabinet. No formal request has been put to us by the Netherlands Government, but the eventuality that the honorable member has mentioned is, of course, one that springs to people’s minds, and one to which attention and study has been given. As I have said, I very much hope that the situation envisaged is a hypothetical one, but if it does actually arise the Government will give sympathetic consideration to receiving as many Dutch persons as possible on a temporary basis.
– I apologize, Mr. Speaker, for asking this supplementary question, but I must do so because I did not receive an answer from the Minister for Defence to my previous question. I did not ask him what the Government had done previously in cases of disaster. I asked whether the Government had made any arrangements, in the existing emergency period, to prepare defence personnel for early arrival at the scene of bush fires, so that they could prevent the spread of those fires. That was my question. Arrangements have or have not been made. What is the answer?
– I do not quite understand the import of the right honorable gentleman’s question.
– Is there any organization within the defence forces, which can come in early and prevent the spread of fires such as those which have recently done so much damage?
– There is no organization in existence for the purpose of preventing fires or any other such disasters, but the fact is that when they occur and a request is made for assistance, defence personnel are provided whenever possible.
– I ask the
Treasurer: Is it correct that the State rural banks, especially the Rural Finance Corporation of Victoria, could not carry out the functions of the proposed Development Bank because their security requirements are too strict? Are their security requirements almost as rigid as those of the trading banks? Is it correct that the proposed Development Bank would have fulfilled a valuable function beyond the capacity and authority of any existing institution?
– I am aware that special State agencies go somewhat further than the trading banks in providing finance for desirable development purposes. However, the Government is of the opinion - and I am sure most honorable members agree - that there is scope for additional facilities in this field. We feel that the proposed, and desired, Development Bank would go a long way towards meeting this need.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that a Mr. Matsumoto, a prominent Japanese socialist and a former vice-president of the Japanese Diet recently visited Canberra? Is it also a fact that his presence in the National Capital was completely ignored by the Government? Was the failure of the Government to extend any courtesies to Mr. Matsumoto due to the fact that he is a socialist and, therefore, opposed to the present reactionary controllers of his country?
– It is a novel idea to me that this Government refrains or does not refrain from extending courtesies to people because of their political views. After all, I have been unfailingly courteous to the honorable member for East Sydney. As to the gentleman to whom he refers, I shall look into the facts to find out what they are.
– I preface my question to the Treasurer by saying that no doubt he is aware of the oft-expressed, but somewhat doubtful, concern of the Opposition about the housing position in this country. In view of that, has the Treasurer been able to ascertain over the past week or so the reason for the Opposition’s rejection of the Government’s proposed banking legislation which provided, in part, for the provision of money at a very low rate of interest to people desirous of building their own homes?
– The basis of the question asked by the honorable member is whether I know why the Opposition rejected the proposed banking legislation. I do not know, and the Opposition does not know, either, because honorable members opposite have not yet had a real look at the proposed legislation.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. Is it a fact that Russian scientists are at Mirny, situated in the Australian Antarctic Territory, at the invitation of the Australian Government, and that they are firing rockets from Australian territory?
– There is a large Russian scientific establishment at Mirny, which is in the centre of the Australian sector.
– Do the Russians and the Australians talk to each other?
– Indeed; you would be surprised. The Russian scientists are at Mirny, of course, in connexion with the International Geophysical Year. Australia, in common with all other countries with claims in the Antarctic, just before the year began, issued an open invitation to any country that desired to establish temporary scientific centres for the period of the International Geophysical Year. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics accepted that invitation and established not only a post at Mirny but also several other posts, mostly inland from the Antarctic coastline. It has been reported publicly that the Russians have fired rockets for meteorological research purposes from Mirny. We have done that ourselves. The Americans have done that. I should expect that all countries with scientific posts in the Antarctic for the International Geophysical Year have done that. There is no significance in it. It is part of the scientific process of probing meteorogical problems in the interests of mankind.
– Is the Minister for Health aware that many babies are allergic to milk and to patent foods containing milk? Is the Minister aware that there is an imported food called Nutramigen, which is the means of saving the lives of many babies in this category? One tin of Nutramigen, which, taken in weak quantities, lasts for four days, costs 26s. 6d. and is subject to 100 per cent. duty. Can the Minister inform me whether there is any possibility of this duty being reduced, especially as cosmetics, which are not life saving, come under reduced duty?
– I am not familiar with the product mentioned by the honorable gentleman, but the fact that it carries such a high rate of duty rather suggests that an equivalent Australian product is obtainable at a lesser price. However, I will have investigations made and, if it seems necessary, I will take the matter up with my colleague, the Minister for Customs and Excise. I am glad to tell the honorable gentleman that cosmetics are not a responsibility of the Department of Health.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the recent announcement regarding Commonwealth assistance to families affected by the disastrous bush fires in New South Wales applies to all those affected during the last three months or only to those in the Blue Mountains area. In particular, I ask whether Commonwealth aid is to be rendered to the twelve families in the Greys Point area of the Hughes electorate for whom I sought assistance some weeks ago. Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that assistance will be given to all families affected by this great disaster? If assistance is to be confined to the Blue Mountains area, will the Prime Minister explain why?
– It should be once more made clear that what happens in these unfortunate matters is that the State Government, deciding that the disaster is such that it should apply to the Commonwealth for assistance, does so. When it does, it indicates that it proposes to establish a fund itself and asks the Commonwealth to match that on a £l-for-£l basis. The fund is used to relieve cases of personal hardship and distress. All the details of this matter are dealt with by the States, the prime function of the Commonwealth being to supply the matching grant.
– Does the Treasurer consider that the proposed Commonwealth Development Bank will assist to develop and expand all branches of industry, both primary and secondary? Is the right honorable gentleman of opinion that further efforts to make the proposed legislation effective should receive better attention than has been given to them to date?
– I am sure that if the Opposition seriously considered the legislation that was rejected out of hand it would appreciate that benefits from the legislation would accrue to Australia generally, and particularly to people who are unable to avail themselves of the orthodox banking facilities. The Opposition should grasp with both hands the proposal to establish a Development Bank, which in its operation would fill a gap that has existed for a long time in the financial arrangements of this country and in the facilities available to worthwhile citizens.
– Will the Treasurer put aside the obvious urge, shared by himself and his supporters, to save face on the banking legislation and answer simply this question: What is to prevent the Commonwealth Bank, at the present time, from lending adequate funds for housing and development at low rates of interest? If the right honorable gentleman says that there are objections to that being done, will he explain why they would not also apply to a new Development Bank?
– It is obvious that the honorable gentleman does not understand the functions of the Commonwealth Trading Bank. If he did, he would know that that bank and the Commonwealth Savings Bank have been the main sources of finance for the solution of the housing problem. Those banks have found the bulk of the money required for housing, and they have also contributed, by orthodox banking methods, to the requirements of rural and secondary development.
Acoustics in the Chamber.
– My question, which is directed to you, Mr. Speaker, concerns the difficulty which is apparent in this chamber, particularly in this corner, in hearing what many honorable members have to say. Of course, as I am reminded by a colleague, we have no difficulty in hearing certain people. The difficulty in hearing has been increased by the enlargement of the House from 75 members to 124, and I ask whether the advice of acoustic experts will be obtained during the forthcoming recess, so that this disability will not be apparent during the remainder of the session.
– The honorable member for Perth asked a similar question, which is being considered domestically. Any improvement that is possible will be made. I- point out, however, that all honorable members could play a helpful part in enabling speakers to be heard if they complied rigidly with the Standing Orders.
– The Minister for External Affairs will recollect that, on Tuesday night last, when the House passed the Geneva Conventions Bill, he explained that its purpose was to enable the Cabinet to ratify the Geneva conventions, that being the customary procedure in such matters. I ask the Minister whether, when the Government has ratified the Geneva conventions, with its reservations, the Parliament will be informed of the exact nature of the obligations which we have undertaken.
– The answer, quite simply, is “ Yes “.
– Will the Minister for Immigration give the House information on the progress of the “ Bring out a Briton “ campaign? Is the campaign proving successful? Can the Minister suggest ways in which Australians could, co-operate further with, the Department of Immigration in facilitating, the passage of their kinsmen to- this country?
– It is somewhat difficult to answer a question such as this without notice, because I cannot recall the precise figures. To the best of my recollection, the latest figures; which I was given about ten days ago, indicated that 120 families, totalling about SOO persons, had come out under the “Bring out a Briton” scheme. All of the breadwinners in those families are in employment, and the majority of the families have private accommodation. Another benefit of the scheme has been the big increase in the number of personal nominations under the ordinary scheme for the nomination of British immigrants. The publicity given to the “ Bring out a Briton “ scheme has turned the thoughts of many people to> assisting to bring British immigrants to Australia.
In reply to the last part of the question: Obviously, the best way in which people can help is to co-operate with the Department of Immigration by notifying it of jobs and accommodation that are available. If people do that, we will bring out British families^ to such jobs and accommodation. The important thing is for sponsors to keep in touch with the department.
– I ask the Minister for Health a question concerning the report, which he recently tabled, on the valuable research work carried out last year under the auspices of the National Health and Medical Research Council. As the honorable gentleman knows, this is the first report since 1947 to be tabled under the terms of the Medical Research Endowment Act, which requires the Minister to table each year a report on the council’s activities. I now ask the Minister why this statutory obligation was ignored for ten years, and what steps he has taken to see that such default does not recur.
– I will have investigations made, and will let the honorable gentleman have an answer.
– I address a question to the Minister for Health. Will the Minister inform the House whether the present supply of Salk poliomyelitis vaccine is sufficient to allow the full continuation of the present vaccination programme? When is it. expected that the campaign can be extended generally to. cover adults?
– The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories at present hold sufficient supplies of Salk vaccine to continue the present campaign until the end of February. It is expected that, by the time these supplies are exhausted, we shall have sufficient vaccine for another six months at the current rate of usage. I should point out that, although we have every reason to expect that we shall have ample supplies, it is always possible, in a matter that involves the complicated processes of testing a vaccine such as this, that unexpected hold-ups will occur. However, we have no” reason to expect that such will be the case. The question of the extension of the campaign to the immunization of adults- will be considered this month by the National Health and Medical Research Council. There are some difficulties - partly administrative, and partly technical. When I have received a report from the council, we will proceed with arrangements for the extension of the campaign.
– I should like to preface a question to the Treasurer by referring to the spontaneous and generous response by the people of New South Wales and Australia to appeals launched by the mayor of the City of the Blue Mountains, and by the heads of other local authorities throughout Australia, for the provision, of aid, succour, and relief, for the victims of the recent disastrous bushfires. I now ask the. Treasurer whether he will give an assurance that donations made for the relief of the victims of those terrible fires will be deductible from income for taxation purposes.
– I will look into the. matter and see whether there are any implications that would prevent my acceding- to the honorable member’s request. I shall- give it. very serious consideration..
– I preface a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service by reminding him that, in answer to a question that I asked last week, the right honorable gentleman warned’ the nation of the grave economic consequences that the continued stoppage on the waterfront would have on the nation, the watersiders and their families: I now- ask the Minister: What are the prospects- of a speedy solution of this dispute?
– I indicated to the House yesterday that, arising out of discussions which had- taken place’ before the- presidential commissioner exercising jurisdiction over this- industry, B had hopes that certain proposals would result in a resumption’ of work. I understand that at the stop-work meeting of members of the Waterside Workers Federation this morning it was decided to resume work- to-morrow morning.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration. If it is a fact that British subjects residing in British dominions and dependencies who decide to emigrate to Australia are not given the financial assistance that is granted- to emigrants from Great Britain itself, will” the Minister consider making the policy in this respect uniform for all British countries?
– If I were to reply to the honorable member now my answer would be very long and very involved”. Therefore, if the honorable gentleman will allow me, L shall let him have a written reply to the question, which involves all sorts of technical matters.
– I desire to ask the Minister for the Interior, who, I understand, is in charge of air raid precautions and civil defence against atomic attack, whether he knows of the experience of New South Wales during the late 1930’s, when it was decided in that State to provide a service to meet the threat of air-raids in the event of a war. Has the honorable gentleman’s attention’ been drawn to the fact that it was found that, in practice, the establishment of a national emergency service to deal with fire, flood, or any other national disaster, made possible the maintenance of an’ organization at & standard of strength and training, for use in civil’ defence, which was not practicable otherwise? Will the Minister look into the matter with a view to ascertaining whether this is partly the answer, not only to the threat of atomic attack, but also to questions- raised by the Leader of the Opposition?
– This is a rather broad question. I had some experience as chief warden of national emergency services in Newcastle for a period of twelve months, and, I may say,- sat out the first’ raid: on the: coast. Bur this is rather a difficult question; because it goes beyond the field of civil defence- into the- field of preparations for civil, emergency. New South Wales at present has a civil defence, organization in being, but most of its functions, I am bound to say, have been concerned - and concerned very well - with civil emergency. However, the matter that the honorable gentleman has raised is most important. I think it is very difficult to maintain an organization in being if there is nothing for it to do. That was one of our greatest difficulties during the early war period. It is equally true that if an organization has work of a civil emergency character to look after there is great opportunity for keeping the wardens interested and busy and keeping training up to a reasonable level. In the course of our discussions on civil defence preparations we will give the honorable gentleman’s suggestions very great weight.
– I ask a question of the Treasurer concerning the rate of interest charged by all the banks for loans for housing. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he will direct the trading banks, Commonwealth and private, to reduce their interest rates on overdraft loans for housing to the figure at which they stood in March last year, when the Prime Minister, in his financial statement known as the little budget statement, directed them to increase their rate of interest on loans for housing and other purposes. Still better, will the right honorable gentleman direct the banks to reduce their overdraft rates for housing loans to the figure at which they stood before the previous increase was directed in 1952? Also, will he direct the savings banks, both private and Commonwealth, to reduce their interest rates on loans - to individuals and to building societies - to the figure at which they stood before the increase was directed in March last year? Better still, will the right honorable gentleman direct them to reduce interest rates on those loans to the figure at which they stood before the increase in 1952?
– The question is obviously one of policy, but I should like to put the honorable gentleman right in one aspect of his long catalogue of directions. The Prime Minister did not direct the trading banks to increase their rates of interest.
.- On behalf of the committee, I bring up the following report: -
Thirty-fifth Report - Interim Report on the Northern Territory Administration, and move -
That the paper be printed.
The committee regrets that it has not been able to bring up its final report on this matter, but the reason is that the committee has so many other matters to deal with. Since the House assembled in August, the committee has not merely presented the report on the Canberra Abattoir and the report on the Supplementary Estimates, but it has also dealt with trust funds, and now it has submitted this report on the Northern Territory.
The Northern Territory is one of the really major investigations undertaken by the committee. The committee has taken over 1,000 pages of evidence, and has had presented to it by departments and others more than 70 documents. That is one reason why this report has not been presented earlier.
Members have been told that the committee will go into recess during the Christmas vacation. I can assure the House that the committee will be working overtime during the Christmas recess, and in January, in order to prepare its final report on the Northern Territory. To apply an arithmetical calculation to the situation, if one person takes one week to write a report, how long will ten persons take? The answer is not one-tenth of one week, but ten weeks. That is why it takes so long for the committee’s reports to be prepared. The reports are unanimous reports, because all members of the committee have their views accepted or else a compromise is reached. The committee hopes to have its final report ready when the House meets again in the new year.
.- If I heard the honorable member for Warringah correctly, he was speaking of the work that the committee proposed to undertake, the work it had been engaged upon, and the length of time these reports took to prepare. I want to ask the chairman of the committee when the committee proposes to carry out its obligation under the existing act to inquire into the allegations relating to the St. Mary’s ammunition factory?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).I have received a letter from the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) proposing that a definite matter of urgent public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely -
The failure of the Commonwealth Government to provide necessary and reasonable subsidies on the transport of wheat in order to deal with the crisis in the wheat industry and prevent the price of bread and other wheaten foods being increased.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
.- The Opposition has brought forward this matter to-day as a matter of urgency, in the only way it can do so, because members on this side feel that the Government has not been frank or reasonable concerning the wheat crisis which has come upon this country but has left this House and the nation completely in the dark in regard to the wheat position generally. At the present time, as everybody knows, there is a crisis in the wheat industry. The current Australian wheat harvest is 70,000,000 bushels. Last years’ harvest was 130,000,000 bushels. The average annual harvest is about 150,000,000 bushels. In New South Wales, the State hardest hit by the drought, the harvest this year is down to between 5,000,000 and 6,000,000 bushels, against an average annual harvest of 50,000,000 to 60,000,000 bushels. The authorities for these statistics are Mr. Perrett, the general manager of the Wheat Board, some occasional sermons from Sir John Teasedale, the chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, some obiter dicta from the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon), who is away at the moment, and nothing at all from the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride), who is acting for him. I sympathize with the Minister for Defence in this matter because it has been left on his plate. He is a sort of “ catcher in the rye “ in this debate, and I intend to treat him as such when dealing with the facts, which disclose a most urgent situation.
If the position is as I have stated - and I have quoted the cold statistics from the authorities - have we not been badly misled in this country as to our wheat reserves, evidence of which has been the frantic efforts by New South Wales to get wheat from other States? What sort of an atmosphere was created which allowed this to happen? Everybody in this country knows that this wide brown land is subject to devastating droughts, bush fires and periods of flood. We know that we experience these cycles, but have been led into an atmosphere completely wrong, in the light of the facts, in at least two instances. The first was in regard to wheat. I refer to wheat reserves the extent of which we do not know. The Minister might be able to tell us what they are. From my very serious reading there could be between 20,000,000 and 30,000,000 bushels in reserve wheat in all States. There is very little in New South Wales.
But how does it come about that we have reached this position? It is because we have been lulled into a false attitude of security. The No. 1 figure in this situation is the chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, Sir John Teasdale, who, as recently as four months ago, told the people of the farming communities, in essence, that they ought to get out of wheat and try to do something about mixed farming because there was a world-wide glut of wheat and the prospects of selling Australian wheat were by no means good. This statement was referred to by a practical wheat farmer in this House, the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) who said, at the time, that it was an unfortunate remark. Similar statements made earlier by Sir John Teasdale had been challenged and repudiated by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). However, the result was that we lived in an atmosphere of glut psychology which has proved to be utterly and dangerously wrong. Those words should never have been uttered, and certainly they should have been repudiated.
Secondly, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) forced the Japanese Trade Agreement down the throats of this Parliament and of the Australian people telling them with anguished urgency, that if we did not sell our soft wheats to the Middle East and the countries of Asia we would be in trouble in regard to the orderly marketing of our wheat for many years to come. One of the reasons given as to why we should let our textile industry go perilously close to .extinction, why our toys should be made in Japan this year instead of by permanently incapacitated and other ex-servicemen, was that there was an imperative need to sell our wheat. In spite of Sir John Teasdale’s bad guess that we had plenty of wheat in reserve and that a lot of farmers ought to get out of wheat production, and in spite of the urgent dynamic statements of the Minister for Trade that the Government wished to ensure a market for Australian wheat in Japan, we now have no wheat in reserve worth a tinker’s damn, and none to sell to Japan. That is the dangerous background to this situation for which the Government should be censured. Surely the farmers and the people who will pay these increased costs need some guidance and valid leadership in regard to a great product such as wheat which is one of the most highly controversial subjects in all parliamentary discussion.
The Australian Country party supports the Liberal party for the sake of five portfolios in a coalition government; but the Australian Country party has not uttered one protest in this Parliament about wheat, although its leader in the New South Wales Parliament, Colonel Bruxner, and his associate, are solidly behind the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Cahill, in asking that since a crisis exists in New South Wales, the Commonwealth Government should, for the sake of wheat stabilization, provide some of the additional cost of £5,000,000- £4,000,000 for freight and £1,000,000 for distribution costs.
Because of bad planning, the Dismal Jimmy howlings of the Minister for Trade, and the prophesies of the chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, Australia - particularly New South Wales - was not prepared for this blow. It is a serious blow to the mother State. What has happened as a result? New South Wales has to get wheat from Western Australia. Wheat from that State has a low protein content which has to be fortified.
The Minister for Primary Industry informed me before he left this country that we were importing 2,000,000 bushels of No. 3 Manitoba wheat in order to get the necessary protein content into our pinched, drought wheat. F.a.q. wheat from Western Australia is of that nature. This has presented a nutritional problem. In addition to the people having a bad loaf, they now have a dearer one.
Surely there should be stability in the wheat market internally as well as externally. This bad management and political jiggerypook is related to the Wagga byelection. Wagga is in a great wheat area. An .attempt has been made to bring pressure to bear on the Government of New South Wales to make it pay money out of a budget which was determined for it by the Australian Loan Council and the pay-outs from Canberra ‘under the uniform taxation system. The New South Wales Government is being squeezed between the propositions of having a cheap loaf and of balancing its budget. Wheat is 18s. 4id. a bushel and the price of flour has risen by £10 10s. a ton. Yet nobody bothers about the flourmillers who fix their fees to suit themselves! Flour milling is a towering and scandalous racket. The flourmillers are holding the country up to ransom. There is not one ordinary flour mill that is not knocking out £10,000 or £12,000 a week in profit. While the Government pares the wheatfarmers down and allow prices to be increased to the consumer, it lets the middle man get away with cold-blooded murder in a time of crisis and shortage. Because the price of flour -has gone up, the cost of bread is rising by 2d. a loaf.
According to to-day’s issue of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, the price of eggs has been increased by 6d. a dozen and the price of bacon has risen by 6d. per lb. The price of poultry feed offals and poultry pellets has risen out of the reach of the poultryfarmer. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) and the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) know that only too well, as do other honorable members with poultryfarmers among their constituents. The price of all wheaten breakfast foods has gone up. What will happen to the basic wage, and the boasted long-range and tenuous plans of the Government to keep inflation in its place?
This situation will result in a complete negation of all the alleged planning for the future.
When the drought became so severe and so permanent, what had to be done? The New South Wales Government had to arrange for 18,500.000 bushels of wheat to be brought from Western Australia over a period of twelve months. The freight charges, as I have said, amount, with distribution and delivery charges, to £5,000,000. The Premier of New South Wales addressed a letter to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) about this matter, but he was refused assistance. Just prior to that time - and I do not seek to make invidious comparisons when I say this - we talked in this House of providing £32,000,000 for universities and higher education. Money has been forthcoming for the relief of hardship caused by bush fires, which have constituted another tragedy in New South Wales. If there is any sense in all our wheat stabilization schemes, surely it must be apparent that we should make available to New South Wales the amount of £5,000,000 that will be required for transporting wheat from Western Australia. If we do not provide this money, the New South Wales Government’s budget will be shattered, and its basic wage controls will be broken. Prices are being fixed by practically every organization in this country, except the governments of the country. A cowardly attitude has been shown by the Commonwealth Government, which adopts a laissez faire outlook and likes to give full rein to free enterprise, but in New South Wales the Government has fixed the price of wheat and the price of bread. It asks that the Australian community consider the problem in a national way, not just to allow the situation to drift along.
One of the replies that I am likely to get from the Government is that in the matter of internal markets, when wheat and other primary products are affected by drought, the States should look after themselves, that they should be able to provide for themselves in a temporary emergency. The reply to that argument is contained in a statement made when a similar situation arose in 1947. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has returned from overseas to-day and could handle this matter much more efficiently than I can.
As a matter of fact, this debate would not have been allowed to proceed without him except for the fact that the sessional period will conclude to-night, and this matter must be debated as a matter of urgency. On the question of whether the State is liable to pay these freight charges or whether the Commonwealth should come to its aid, let me refer the House to what was said bv the honorable member for Lalor in 1947-
The principles adopted in affording assistance for primary producers are well established. Assistance to primary producers is a function of the States and is not one in which the Commonwealth normally intervenes. But in cases, however, where the assistance necessary is beyond the financial capacity of the State, and where widespread distress has been occasioned by the drought or any other visitation, the Commonwealth should come to the assistance of the State.
We found our case on two points made by the honorable member for Lalor. The first is that it is beyond the capacity of the State at this moment to find the money required. Its budget has been prepared. Secondly, there is a state of emergency in New South Wales. Those two matters are established. Why has the Prime Minister so coldly refused assistance when there is unanimity on the question between the various parties in the New South Wales Parliament? The Liberal party in that State has given rather niggardly approval to the proposition that something should be done and the Country party in New South Wales has given full approval, but on the Government side of the Commonwealth Parliament there has been not only neglect of the situation, but also complete silence with regard to it.
In the limited period of fifteen minutes a case of this kind cannot be put as strongly and deliberately as it could if more time was available. I have only two minutes left in which to conclude my arguments. I suggest to the Minister that he follow the precedent set by a former great Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, the honorable member for Lalor, and consider this matter, not from the narrow viewpoint of its effects on a forthcoming by-election, or of some decision that has been made, because the two Government parties are not of the same persuasion with regard to this problem. Do not leave the Australian people, particularly the people of New South Wales, with the impression that this is a kind of political squeeze. In the aggregate, £5,000,000 is not a great deal of money, particularly when we realize that it will be expended over a period of twelve months.
I know the difficulties involved in keeping our markets overseas, but I say that the charge against the Government is twofold. First, it has ignored the request of the Premier of New South Wales. It has not invited him or his Minister to come here and discuss the matter. It has merely wiped the subject off the agenda as if it were of no importance. This is wrong, and the matter must be adjusted. I hope that we will do something about it to-day. There is a formula under which the money can be provided, as the honorable member for Lalor has pointed out. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “, with some amusement, and a certain amount of contempt, referred to this matter in an article headed “ The Price of Dignity Versus the Price of Bread “, in which it directed attention to the fact that there is a little political hatred between the two groups in control. We should forget political hatreds and see that the State of New South Wales, since it has to bear the brunt of this terrific drought, will receive some justice.
– The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has put forward, from his point of view, a reasoned and rather unemotional case, which is quite exceptional for him. If I draw any conclusion from what he has said, it is that he is mainly concerned with the effect on the consumers of this extra freight charge on the wheat to be imported into New South Wales. I put it to the House that the greatest losers in this matter are the growers, and there is no suggestion that any assistance should be tendered to them in this rather catastrophic, or at least severe, drought. I suggest to the honorable member that droughts have occurred before in Australia, and that they will occur again. This is not something unusual. It is quite obvious that when droughts do occur fewer primary products are grown. This applies in the present case to wheat. But I can assure honorable members opposite that there is no question about the needs of New South Wales and Queensland for wheat being met. The honorable member expressed some concern with regard to
Australia’s capacity to provide wheat for the people of New South Wales and the rest of Australia. The fact is that at present there is about 42,000,000 bushels of wheat in Australia. It is estimated that the coming crop - it is only an estimate - will yield between 70,000,000 and 75,000,000 bushels. Consequently there is no real shortage, in an overall sense, of wheat for our own needs.
– Does the Minister mean that we have 40,000,000 bushels in reserve?
– There is a carry-over of 42,000,000 bushels at the moment. That was the last figure I was able to obtain. About 70,000,000 or 75,000,000 will be reaped in the coming harvest and delivered to the Australian Wheat Board.
There has been much argument as to who is responsible for the present position. As I have pointed out, the position is not so bad from the point of view of supplies available. There is no fear of our being short of wheat or bread. [Quorum formed.] I was pointing out that the bad season is the main cause of this deficiency. Everything that can be done to retain wheat in Australia has been done, and sufficient wheat is now available to meet our requirements, although it is possible in the light of the particular needs of the States that consideration may be given to the importation of some wheat. However, the Government feels that the wheat is in Australia and can be shifted to wherever it is required. The honorable member for Parkes speaks about planning and prescience. As late as August of this year the then New South Wales Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Graham, forecast a 39,000,000 bushel crop for that State. Yet, the honorable member complains about the lack of planning on the part of somebody else.
With regard to the complaint that the Commonwealth has a responsibility in this matter, it is perfectly clear - and it has been accepted by all governments over the years - that the primary responsibility for any assistance in connexion with matters of this kind rests on the States. It is no use suggesting that the States should ignore entirely their responsibility in this matter, and it is absolutely futile to say that the States have no resources; because it is well known that reimbursement grants are decided on the basis of providing for all foreseeable needs of the States, and perhaps some contingencies, for the coming year. The Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Cahill, wants to place the whole of the responsibility for this subsidy on the Commonwealth Government, but his Government has made no effort whatever to give, or suggest, any assistance. In order to get the record straight, I shall read a letter from the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to the Premier of New South Wales dealing with this very question -
Your telegram of 13th November, 1957, sought reconsideration of your request for the Commonwealth to meet the freight, handling and distribution charges for wheat brought into New South Wales. My Government has looked carefully at your further request, which does not supply any material information in addition to that contained in your original approach- which was simply for assistance - nor does it indicate any disposition on the part of your Government to make a contribution towards meeting these increased freight, handling and distribution charges. In these circumstances, the Commonwealth must re-affirm its earlier advice that as the responsibility for action within New South Wales is a matter for the State Government, the Commonwealth cannot agree to accept responsibility for the increased charges involved in the importation of wheat.
In effect, the Premier of New South Wales has said to the Commonwealth, “ This is the problem. You are asked to undertake the whole of the responsibility for it “. In those circumstances, as pointed out by the Prime Minister, the Commonwealth is not going to assume responsibility for these extra charges.
– Would that be the attitude of the Government if there were a drought in South Australia?
– That would be the attitude of the Government in respect of drought in any State. Late last year, or early this year, Queensland had to import some 2,000,000 bushels of wheat, but no call was made on the Commonwealth Government to assist in meeting the freight, handling and distribution charges on that wheat. Honorable members opposite arc very much more concerned and very much more sympathetic to the problems of these people when in Opposition than they are when in government. They now say they would provide largesse for all and sundry, but when they are in government and have the power to do so they ignore such problems completely.
The people of Australia may rest assured that their requirements will be met. I am hopeful that this will be done with the wheat at present being harvested. I can assure honorable members that this matter is receiving very close attention by officers of the Department of Primary Industry. As soon as the position becomes clearer, they will formulate plans to meet the needs of not only New South Wales or Queensland but also the rest of Australia. I am hopeful also that Australia will be able to meet the needs of some of our customers for wheat. lt is very important that they be supplied, if possible. A surplus for export is expected, and those customers who are most valuable to Australia will be supplied in order that we will not lose contact entirely with them. To make the position quite clear, however, it is impossible in circumstances such as these to fulfil the requirement’s of all our customers, and it is simply ludicrous to suggest that can be done. The matter of exports of flour is also receiving close attention because Australia has a two-fold duty, first, to provide our overseas customers with flour; and, secondly, to provide the various subsidiary industries in New South Wales with the offal upon which those industries have been built up. I assure the House that those matters are constantly under observation and that when the position becomes clearer the best interests of the wheatgrowers as well as those of the Australian people generally will be served.
– The crisis that exists in New South Wales as a result of the failure of the wheat crop has been made clear by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). The Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) has laid stress on the financial relationship between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales in this matter. This Parliament controls the purse-strings of the nation, and it must provide financial assistance to any State in which a crisis of this kind occurs, because the allocation of finance to the States is tailored to measure a year ahead and no provision is made for the States to meet catastrophes such as drought, flood and fire. New South Wales is now being ravaged by a drought. The State Government is forced to import wheat, the transportation and distribution of which will cost £5,100,000 in the next twelve months. Funds to meet that contingency, however, have not been allocated to the State by the Commonwealth. As the controller of Australia’s finances, this Government has a responsibility to see that financial relief is given to New South Wales just as it has a responsibility to provide financial relief to any other State which suffers a similar disaster.
The relationship between the Commonwealth and the States is the most weakening factor in Australian political life at the present time. Badgering of the States by the Commonwealth with its attitude of “ no responsibility “ must be looked at in its proper perspective. This is the national Parliament; it is not a bullamakanka organization. And as this Government controls Australia’s finances, it must disburse funds to meet the needs of the people as a whole. The people of New South Wales look to this Government to make funds available to meet the emergency which now confronts them.
The failure of the New South Wales wheat crop is due to drought conditions. It is a national disaster and should be treated as such by all. governments. The fact that a. by-election will be held at Wagga in a few weeks should not intrude itself in the mind of the Government in juggling and fiddling around with this problem. The New South Wales Premier made a proper approach to this Government, but his request was refused. His approach was supported in principle by the Liberal leader, Mr. Morton, and by the Country party leader; Mr. Bruxner. We have a unanimous request from the politi-cai forces of New South Wales, but this Government has sat back in the britcher and refused to come up to the collar; it will not do anything positive. All we have is a belated statement from the Minister a few minutes ago that the position is being watched closely.
It is also being, watched, closely by the workers. They are the1 hardest hit. Tears have been shed for- the wheatgrowers. It is- true that they are losing, but they are not the greatest sufferers, The greatest sufferers are the housewives of New South Wales who are faced with rapidly rising prices for essential commodities. Standing behind them, crucified on. this issue, is the pensioner. Do we- find’ this Government making, any effort: to supplement its social service grants to the people in New South Wales who- are on fixed incomes so that they can buy the very necessities of life? Those people have an abnormally low standard of living at present, quite apart from the fact that they are now faced with exorbitant rises in the price of goods. The price of bread has been increased by 2d., eggs by 6d.,. and breakfast foods are jumping forward by 25 per cent, to 33i per cent. Most people will be driven against the wall and in thousands of homes in New South Wales there will be empty tables at many meals.
This situation arises- from the economic pressure being applied basically because this Government has failed to rise to the occasion, to face its responsibilities and to see that something positive is done and and done fast.. There is- no point in sitting back. This Government has ample money at its disposal and recently introduced a budget covering- the record amount of £1,300,000,000. The Government has salted, away in various funds anything, from £300,000000 to £400,000;000. That money has been loaned to the States” and interest has been charged on it. Why not make a free grant of some of. that money now? After, all; £5,000,000 is only chicken feed! Members of the. Australian Country party interject, but they should realize their responsibilities to the farming, community in New South Wales. The wheatfarmer is not the only one Hit; the poultryfarmer is facing annihilation and” the dairyfarmer is in the throes of complete financial embarrassment. The money owed to one milk co-operative on the south- coast of New South Wales by its own milk contributors amounts to £500,000. Those farmers are in the toils to that extent already and they are. faced with the- need to buy concentrates and other foods for their cattle during the coming, winter. They will be called upon to find more money, but where will they get it? They cannot get money to-day because of th& credit squeeze imposed” by this Government against them. The farmer is in the grip -of debt: because’ of the adverse financial policies- of. this Government. The drought: will’ aggravate the unfortunate position- of all” farmers;, particularly dairy: farmers and those in the small farming communities1. They will be’ unable to carry on economically, and: that is- a challenge to this Government.
The Government has a definite precedent for providing finance in response to the request of the New South Wales Premier. It is unworthy of the Government to hide behind the skirt of Commonwealth-State financial relations. As the honorable member for Parkes said, in 1947 the Labour Government established a precedent which would enable money to be advanced in cases of drought and disaster. Money has been advanced to meet such a situation. I refer honorable members to- the statement of the honorable member for- Lalor (Mr. Pollard) when he was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. That statement is contained in volume 192, page 2925 of “ Hansard “, and any honorable member interested in this important subject should read that statement for his edification. Last Monday on the south coast of- New South Wales, a conference was held; and it was attended by twelve women’s organizations, trade unions, and. representatives of the Australian Labour party. Those who attended were workers who depend for their livelihood on their wages and on prices remaining at a reasonable level. Their money has been stretched to the utmost limit. They are concerned about the present situation; the mothers of children are concerned and the pensioners are fearful of the immediate future. The worker can see what will happen, but. this Government has been too shy to face the. true position. According to. experts on these matters, the basic wage in New South Wales will, rise by 10s. a week as a direct- result of the price increases. An increase of 3d. in the price of eggs- causes the basic, wage in. New South Wales to rise by ls. 3d., and. the increased price of other items is superim-posed, on such an increase.. These, price increases will cause, a national economic disaster and. the. Government’s alleged, concern to dampen down the inflationary spiral is. foolish when? it is used as an: excuse to refuse the request of the New South Wales Premier. After all, the New South Wales Premier, sought only a comparatively, small sum!.
Look at the point: of view of the housewife. The1 price of bread- has increased by 2d., the price of first-grade eggs- has increased by 6d. to 6s. a dozen- and the price of smaller eggs to 4s; 6d. a. dozen. The price of breakfast foods; has risen by 25 per cent to 33i per cent, and the price of all commodities based on flour, such as biscuits and. cereals, will rise. The situation is fantastic in this land of plenty. The Minister talks about ample wheat being available if properly distributed, but all the wheat in Western Australia- is not worth twopence unless- it is made available at a controlled and proper price. The Government’s refusal to provide £5,000,000 at the request of the New South Wales Government to meet this crisis will cause inflation. The Government has failed to- meet its responsibilities to the people- in- regard, to- finance. It should bring about a proper, correction of this situation by providing assistance immediately.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I should like, at the- outset, to correct certain remarks that have been- made by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). First, we must understand that- the electorate of. Parkes is in the Sydney metropolitan area and must not be confused with the town, of Parkes in. a pastoral and agricultural area of New South Wales. In- speaking on this subject, the honorable member for Parkes tried initially to fallow the ground, as we term it, for his subsequent remarks. He delivered a tirade against the chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, Sir John Teasdale. He also referred to what he termed the disregard of- the Government- for storages,. and then spoke of many things that really do not. apply to- this debate. He was trying to lay. the foundation for subsequent remarks.
Let us- look at one or two of the honorable member’s statements. Sir John Teasdale said that it may be in the best interests of the* Australian economy if less wheat were grown. I have not the slightest doubt that when- he made’ that statement he was thinking of the economics of Australia and of the future price of wheat overseas. At that stage there was a big surplus of wheat in Australia. If we wanted to provide against the ravages of drought depleting our stocks* then with the storages we had! we could’ hold large quantities of wheat for that purpose. What has chiefly caused less wheat to be grown? Perhaps I should say. less wheatgrower to be- in production; because, after all, the fall in the quantity grown has not been so very great. Was it Sir John Teasdale’s statement? I say, no, it certainly was not. The honorable member for Parkes said that that statement should have been rebutted immediately. Of course it was, and by such prominent authorities as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), certain wheat-growing organizations, the former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) and the present Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon). I said that I did not agree with Sir John Teasdale. Surely Sir John is entitled to make a statement if he thinks he should do so! If we do not agree with him, we should not think any the less of him for having made it. Certainly, the fact that he has commented in a certain way does not detract from his standing as a world authority on wheat. The remarks of the honorable member for Parkes fall on very barren ground. There is no substance in them at all.
Only recently, the Federal Government made available £3,500,000 for wheat storages, not as a gift to wheagrowers but as a loan that has to be paid back. Who pays for wheat storage? As we should know, the men who grow the wheat pay for such storages. We have heard the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Kearney), deliver a tirade on the needs of the pensioners and others simply because, I believe, the Government of New South Wales is loth to advance money that will enable the cost of living to be kept down. What is the history of wheatgrowing in New South Wales? Wheatgrowing has been discouraged in that State because of the tremendously high freights that are charged for the transport of this vital product. It is fantastic to speak so heatedly of a statement made by Sir John Teasdale, when we know that the action of the New South Wales Government, in continually raising freight rates for the cartage of wheat, has had a great effect on the position. Less wheat is now being grown in New South Wales. In this great, free State of which the honorable member for Parkes spoke, the wheatgrowers and the people who own land are under the shadow of the acquisition of their land at any time at 1942 rates, plus 15 per cent, if they are lucky. The honorable member for Parkes pointed in scorn to the record of this Government, but I ask: What was the record of the previous Labor government in relation to wheat? I have referred in this House on other occasions to what happened to a wheatgrower at Sea Lake, in Victoria, during the regime of that Government. This man had 400 acres of wheat, which he had sown, and 50 acres which were selfsown. He asked whether he could strip the self-sown wheat, which would yield about eight bags to the acre. The representative of the Labor government of the day replied that he could do so provided that he left 50 acres of the 400 acres that he had sown, the yield from which would be twelve bags to the acre. What a generous decision that was! In the very next year, the Labor government had to import wheat because of its great blunders. The wheatgrower to-day is still suffering from the importation of that wheat because it brought with it many noxious weeds which had been unknown previously in this country.
The Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride), who is acting for the Minister for Primary Industry, has stated that the estimated deliveries of the coming crop of wheat will total 71,000,000 bushels. That figure makes allowance for seed wheat to be kept on the farms. At the present time, there are 42,000,000 bushels of wheat in storage, making a total of 113,000,000 bushels. The overall Australian home consumption accounts for 60,000,000 bushels, so that it does not need the services of a mathematical genius to work out that, after allowing for home consumption, there will be 53,000,000 bushels left. It has been said that there is a possibility that we shall be able to export 30,000,000 bushels. I suggest that we shall need to watch this matter very carefully. It is well known to people who have some experience of the wheat industry, and also to pastoralists, that the history of this country shows that when there is a year such as that which we have just experienced, with a fairly dry autumn and spring and almost drought conditions later, in the next year there may be a severe drought. If this debate does no other good - and I do not think it will - it gives me the opportunity to say that the wheat authorities of Australia must be very careful about the quantity of wheat that they export. We need to keep a certain amount of wheat in this country for the reason that we do not know what lies ahead next year. I commend Sir John Teasdale, however, for the statement that he made recently to the effect that we should import wheat from Canada if, by so doing, we could preserve our markets for wheat in the countries which are our traditional buyers.
There are many ways in which the wheat industry can be managed if it is to function properly, but none of them is known to the honorable members for Parkes and Cunningham. It has been said, in effect, that the consumers of wheat should be subsidized, but what happened to the wheatgrowers last year when great floods devastated their crops’? In many instances in the Wimmera, when conditions became a little dry late in the season, farmers had to sow their crops again. Did honorable members opposite then come into this House and ask the Federal Government to subsidize the wheatgrowers for the replanting of their crops? No! The farmers had to stand the cost themselves.
– Why did not the honorable member speak for them?
– Because I thought it was fair that the farmers should bear the cost of sowing their crops again, and I think it is fair that the State of New South Wales should stand up to its obligations now. I do not bring to this House frivolous cases and ask the Commonwealth Government to supply subsidies, as does the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) every few days. The honorable member never tells us how the money is to be obtained. When the farmers had to sow their crops again last year, I did not raise the matter in this House because I thought that, since they had had some good seasons, they should be able to stand the cost.
Reference has been made to the wonderful advantages that the stabilization scheme gives to wheatgrowers. It is claimed that, since wheatgrowers have a stabilization scheme, if cartage of wheat is necessary, the Government should subsidize the cost to the consumers. Does the honorable member for Parkes think that the stabilization scheme provides subsidies to the wheat growers in all circumstances? Does the honorable member think that if a wheat grower’s crop fails completely, he can get one brass farthing from stabilization? Of course he cannot! Stabilization payments to the grower do not exist if there is no crop to market. Stabilization only operates when the farmer has plenty of wheat to market and when the overseas price has fallen below the cost of production.
It appears to me that all of these arguments that have been put up rest on very shaky ground. I believe that they have been raised here with the idea of influencing the outcome of a by-election which is to take place shortly at Wagga. Of course, the honorable member for Parkes had the audacity to say that that was the basis of the action of this Government.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired. (Several honorable members rising in their places) -
Motion (by Sir Philip McBride) put -
That the business of the day be called on.
The House divided. (Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker - Mr. W. R. Lawrence.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Loan (War Service Land Settlement) Bill 1957.
Pay-roll Tax Assessment Bill 1957.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1953, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report, namely: - Erection of a steam power station at Darwin.
The proposal provides for the construction of a steam power station on Commonwealthowned land at Stokes Hill, Darwin. The power station is required to meet the demand for electricity during and after the year 1963. It will consist of two 7,500 kilowatt steam-driven generating sets, oilfired boilers, and electrical equipment, and it is estimated to cost £1,850,000.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - Any review of the international situation has to deal with the relationship between the democracies and the Communist countries, whatever the geographical area involved. The most important single aspect of this relationship concerns the discussions that have gone on for many years in an effort to achieve some reasonable and balanced limitation of armaments, principally as between the major powers. On the success or failure of these efforts probably depends the fate of large sections of mankind. After more than ten years of discussion by the United Nations Disarmament Commission, and its sub-committee, the outlook is not hopeful. The proposals of the Western
Powers are clear-cut and well known. The attitude of Soviet Russia is much less clear.
So far as this complex situation can be described shortly, it is this: The Western Powers are convinced that agreed limitations must be put simultaneously on both nuclear weapons and conventional weapons and forces. Limitations on one of these, without limitations on the other, would give substantial advantage to one side or the other. The West also believes that no mutually acceptable arms limitation agreement is possible without both air and ground international inspection of agreed areas. We do not ask the Russians to accept our word, and we do not accept their word without the right to check. There has been some degree of acceptance by Russia of this proposition, but the areas the Russians suggest would tell them much more about the Western defence system than we would know about theirs.
On the other hand, the West has offered a wide variety of choices of areas to be opened for inspection. It has offered -
First, to open up the whole North American continent to inspection in exchange for inspection of all Soviet territory.
Secondly, as an alternative, the West has proposed inspection in the polar regions through which a surprise attack launched by Russia or America against the other would inevitably come.
Thirdly, if Russia will accept either of the foregoing, the West offers inspection of continental European North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries in exchange for inspection of the Eastern European satellites.
Fourthly, and as a further alternative, the West will discuss a more limited zone provided it includes significant parts of Soviet Russia and its satellites.
Fifthly, and finally, the United States of America has offered, subject to the consent of the countries concerned, inspection of all overseas American bases.
All of this means that Soviet Russia could have inspection in all the areas from which it professes to fear attack. This disposes, I believe, of criticism we have lately heard of the good faith of the American proposals.
I will not go into the complex detail of the discussions on the other aspects of armaments limitation - the suspension of nuclear tests, the control of the production of fissionable material, the stopping of further production of nuclear weapons and the reduction of existing stocks. On none of these matters is there anything that could be called agreement between the West and Soviet Russia. It is evident that Russia hopes to force the Western world into agreeing to disarmament on its terms. To do so would be disastrous for the democracies. The true path to disarmaments - the unpiling of both nuclear and conventional arms subject to effective inspection and control - has already been mapped out by the Western. Powers with the approval of an overwhelming proportion of the United Nations General Assembly. There is no reason why we should now be stampeded into departing from it..
The current Soviet and Western proposals were discussed at the present session of the General’. Assembly and the Assembly, by a very large majority, adopted a resolution endorsing the principles behind the Western proposals. The Assembly also rejected by an impressive majority suggestions from Soviet Russia-, India and Japan for settling the nuclear tests question independently of other disarmament measures. The vote in the United: Nations in favour of the Western approach to disarmament was 56 countries in support, fifteen abstentions and only the Communist bloc voting against. The Assembly’s action represents very heartening approval for the years of patient work which- the Western Powers have put into the disarmament talks.
Soviet Russia has also criticized the composition and size of the Disarmament Commission, proposing that it should consist of all the 82 members of the United Nations. This would clearly make it a hopelessly unwieldy body, as a body for discussion, but as a compromise it was decided to increase its size from eleven, as at present, to 25, by adding another fourteen members. However,. Soviet Russia has said that it refuses to- take part in the work of the expanded commission. It is to be hoped that the Soviet Government will take account of the desire of the great majority of the peoples of the world and return, to the: disarmament talks.. I may say that
Australia, which was due to finish its term on the Disarmament Commission at the end of 1957, was elected to membership for another twelve months.
From time to time it is proposed that a high-level conference between the great Powers would be fruitful. Mr. Khrushchev has recently proposed such a meeting; but before this is agreed to the Western Powers are entitled to evidence that any such meeting would be something more than a political manoeuvre. The failure of the last summit conference, two years ago, was serious enough. It is now known that Russia entered this last high-level conference two years ago determined to allow it to produce no result of consequence. Another such failure would stratify positions still more firmly and might well bring nearer the possibility of conflict.
Mr. Khrushchev proposes that at his suggested high-level meeting the agenda should include the banning of war as a means of solving international problems. But are not all countries already committed to this under the United Nations Charter? What added security would there be in another form of words of an undertaking to- which ali civilized nations are committed. Secondly Mr. Khrushchev calls for an end to the armaments race and the cold war. It is contrary to common sense to believe that disarmament could possibly come about as a result of such a few days’ meeting - because that is all a summit conference would, be - when the Disarmament Commission, on- which Russia has been represented, has- failed to get even the beginnings of agreement after over ten years- of almost constant discussion. If there was the slightest chance of a summit conference having even modest prospects of reaching agreement on the- basic issues which divide the world no man in his senses and no country could disagree with it being held. But the simple and gloomy fact is that there is no evidence whatsoever that such a> conference at the present time would do more good than harm.
Now let me say something- about the cold war, which. Mr.. Khrushchev has suggested should be included in the agenda of a high level conference. The cold war has been. an. important Russian weapon for many years.. It can. be fairly- described’ as saying one: tiling, and’ doing another;. The
Russians speak constantly of peaceful co-existence and of not interfering in the internal affairs of other States, whilst at the same time inciting the peoples of other countries to revolt against their lawful governments. One of the most callous examples of this took place in October last when I was in New York. Mr. Gromyko, the Russian Foreign Minister, introduced a resolution in the United Nations to adopt a declaration on the principles of peaceful co-existence and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, while at the same time Moscow Radio was bombarding the non-Communist States of the Middle East urging the peoples to rise against their lawful government. These inflammatory broadcasts were beamed in the local languages, to individual countries of the Middle East, frequently mentioning by name the local leaders against whom the wrath of the populations should be directed.
There are many other examples. The Communist terrorism that has existed for something like ten years in Malaya, Burma, Laos and the Philippines has undoubtedly been with the connivance and support of the major Communist governments. The terrible example of Hungary a year ago reflects the anomaly of peaceful co-existence as a theory compared with the practice of violence and terrorism against a helpless and unarmed population. It is reasonable, on the evidence of the past, to say that the Communist objectives in the cold war are only two - the attempt to get the free world and the uncommitted countries to lower their guard by repeated professions of peaceful co-existence; and, at the same time, the extension of Communist influence and eventual widespread domination of the free world by all means short of nuclear war. Other means towards this end are the promotion of tension, constant and violent radio propaganda directed to the democratic countries, the penetration of uncommitted countries by military and economic aid, the employment of technicians as subversionary agents, and the use of the popular front and joint election tickets in democratic countries.
The Russians started the cold war shortly after the end of the last war in 1945. It has been, on the whole, a successful campaign from their point of view. There is no hint or sign of their abandoning it. We have to realize that it continues relentlessly. It would be suicidal for us to ignore it - to deceive ourselves into the belief that a danger ignored is a danger avoided. No conciliation, no getting-together, no discussions at however high a level are likely to make the Communists abandon it. There is no more dangerous term than “ conciliation” when we are grappling with the Communist threat of expansion and the aim of the Communists - subjugation of the whole non-Communist world.
The democratic world would be foolish in the extreme to believe that we are dealing with other than an implacable enemy dedicated to our destruction.
The launching by the Soviet of the two earth satellites shows that Russia’s scientific, technological and engineering progress has been much greater than had been supposed. The research work undertaken in the Russian satellite programme obviously must have a bearing on progress towards the military goal of an operational intercontinental ballistic missile. The satellite launchings clearly have a significance in the field of defence. Obviously the Soviet Union has developed advanced techniques in rocket engineering which have a relevance in the weapons field. However, assuming that the Soviet claim to have an intercontinental ballistic missile is true, that does not necessarily mean that Russia has solved the extremely difficult problems of re-entry of these missiles into the atmosphere, and accurate steering to the target.
If the United States is now behind the Soviet Union in the development of intercontinental missiles, we can be reasonably confident that this is only a temporary state of affairs, and that the tremendous resources of the United States - which are far greater than those of Russia - are being devoted to the task of catching up and getting ahead again.
The inter-continental missile could not, under present conditions, be an absolute weapon for Russia, by reason of the fact that Russia is vulnerable to the various means of powerful counter attack which the West possesses, launched from a network of Western strategic bases. Mr. Khrushchev, for propaganda purposes, has suggested that the manned bomber is obsolete. Yet the massive striking force of the American Strategic Air Command, held in readiness around the clock in a great many places around Russia and China, is still the spearhead of the Western deterrent and is likely to remain so for many years ahead.
No one offensive weapon, however powerful, is likely to be completely decisive. It can be taken as fact that in many other directions of high importance from the point of view of offence and defence, the United States is well ahead of Russia.
The Russian objective is not merely superiority of weapons. They have the undeviating objective of getting the Americans out of overseas bases - whether by negotiation or by playing upon local emotions and stimulating local objections. Fortunately for the free world they have had little success. But the effort continues and it is necessary to keep well in mind that continued American access to such bases is not merely essential to defence in war; but is the greatest contribution to peace. The American presence in these bases is one of the great deterrents to the launching of war in the Pacific, Europe, or the Middle East.
It is beyond dispute that the armed strength of the United States and the United Kingdom - and indeed of the other democracies of the world - is defensive, deterrent strength, and will never be used for aggressive purposes.
In the world as it is, a matter of the very highest importance is the relationship between the British and the Americans. This is a truism amongst thinking people, yet there are those who seek by their critical utterances to foment bad feeling against the United States - the bulwark of the democratic world’s defence against the terrible threat that hangs over us all. Those who seek to denigrate the United States are, unwittingly or not, playing the Communists’ game.
This is not to say that we should, publicly or privately, accept and applaud every statement or action of the United States. There can be honest differences of judgment, which can, and maybe should, be the subject of constructive criticism.
The Bermuda and the Washington talks between Mr. Macmillan and President Eisenhower have put an end to the strains created by the events of a year ago in the Middle East. The United Kingdom and the United States are now pledged to a high measure of co-operation in all fields.
The stage is set for a strengthening of Nato by closer co-operation amongst the Western allies, and by American aid to Europe in important defence directions. The Heads-of-States meeting of the Nato Council in Paris in December will carry this process forward.
The Government appreciates fully the importance for Australia of closer cooperation among Nato countries in the defence of the northern hemisphere against international communism. We in Australia are, however, more directly involved with the defences of the free world in our own hemisphere.
While welcoming this process of consolidation between Europe and North America, the Government would like to feel that the Nato partners will not lose sight of the bearing which events in Asia can have on global security and on the effectiveness of their own capacity to maintain a barrier to Communist expansion in Europe. Communist strength and the Communist threat are world wide. Success by Nato in deterring Russian aggression by no means disposes of the threat of Communist expansion. We must expect that everywhere - perhaps particularly in areas far removed from Europe - the Communist powers will probe the possibilities of gaining ground without involving themselves in a nuclear war which they cannot hope to win. They have opportunities for fomenting insurrection, using subversion, guerrilla forces, and similar tactics. It is a global and not a regional interest to frustrate these tactics. We need the maintenance of armed strength, and, possibly even more important, the elimination of any differences in political attitudes towards situations in the Pacific and South-East Asia and the Middle East. We need full and continuing consultations on all these problems.
It is with these considerations in mind that the Government looks with satisfaction to the undertaking in the EisenhowerMacmillan declaration that the ideas of the declaration will be discussed with all the security partners of the United States and the United Kingdom. The references in the Eisenhower-Macmillan declaration to Seato and the Baghdad pact will be welcomed in Australia.
The growing strength of Soviet Russia emphasizes the importance of the movement towards European integration. The movement has “lately gained new impetus with the decision to create a European common market. The objective of ;the architects of the common market is avowedly political. It is to lay an economic foundation for a subsequent political union which, in -the opinion of the western European powers, is the only sure way of resolving the conflict of European nationalisms and of developing Europe as a political force in world affairs. To the extent that a politically and economically integrated Europe should be a major contribution to the strength of the free world, Australia welcomes the common market conception. To the extent that the common market succeeds in raising European living standards and levels of consumption, Australia may expect to benefit economically. We have, however, to see that our trade does not suffer through restriction of our access to the European consumer, and the Government is working actively to this end.
The Middle East to-day is seldom free of tension. It is an area of recurring crises. Many of these situations would, if left unchecked, seriously threaten world peace. An early end to this situation is not at present in sight. No more hopeful conclusion is possible when we examine the basic causes of the unrest and tension in the Middle East.
Much of this situation springs from disputes among Middle East countries themselves, but the immediate responsibility for the present tension can fairly be attributed to Russia. It is now evident that two years ago the Soviet rulers embarked on a comprehensive policy designed to establish Middle East regimes responsive to, if not controlled by, Soviet influence, and hostile to Western economic and defence interests.
Various means have been employed by Russia. Arms have been supplied to Egypt, Syria and the Yemen. Subversion and propaganda have been developed against governments and elements alert to the Soviet menace. Russia is posing as the only true friend of the Arab nationalists in their struggle against Israel and so-called Western imperialism. Russia is fabricating crises in order to promote Arab hostility to the Western Powers.
There was the recent attempt to manufacture a crisis out of the defensive mea sures which Turkey took inside her own borders. Syria, with Soviet support, took a complaint to the ‘United Nations that Turkey, incited by the United States, planned to .attack Syria. There can be no better example of Soviet mischief-making in the region. The situation was fabricated to suit Russian .purposes and then suddenly allowed to subside. The crisis subsided in the face of unexpected developments such as King Saud’s constructive offer to mediate, which did not suit Soviet plans, and the lukewarm hearing which the Syrian allegations received in the United Nations General Assembly. No resolution was adopted by the assembly. For Syria, a State allegedly subject to an imminent threat of aggression, to allow the debate in the assembly to fizzle out in this way demonstrates how artificial was the whole affair.
The fact remains that Soviet penetration into Syria is a gain for communism and a setback to the prospects of stability in the Middle East. Soviet influence has been established on Turkey’s southern frontier. The oil pipelines through Syria from Iraq and Saudi Arabia to the Mediterranean are now under the control of a government hostile to the West and capable of doing harm to the non-Communist governments of Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Syria is otherwise well placed to undermine, by subversion and other means, those governments of the Middle East which resist the spread of communism.
In the face of Soviet activity in the Middle East, the Western Powers have tried to follow a policy of giving the countries of the area encouragement and aid to resist this threat to their independence. The Baghdad pact has been strengthened, and its unity is reassuring in a region otherwise divided. The United States has enunciated the ‘Eisenhower Doctrine, which is simply an offer by the United States to help when asked, and I emphasize the words - “ when asked “ - in the defence of any country in the region threatened by international communism’. Despite criticism of the Eisenhower Doctrine, it has been, and continues to be, valuable in combating the spread of Soviet influence in the Middle East. The trouble is that, in competing with Soviet Russia for popular sympathy and understanding, the Western Powers are subject to a severe handicap. There are self-imposed limits to the means which the West can employ to achieve its purpose, whereas Soviet Russia operates without inhibitions of scruple, principle or consistency. An illustration lies in Russia’s championship of Arab nationalist feelings against Israel and against the West. This Russian policy seems to coincide in point of time with the decision to launch her .campaign to capture ground in the Arab world. Previously Russia has shown little interest in the Palestine question.
The Soviet’s calculated use of the ArabIsrael dispute for its own ends is one of many reasons why a comprehensive settlement of this Middle East problem needs to be found. On 2nd April - eight months, or so, ago - I gave the House what I regard as the ingredients of any solution of the ArabIsrael problem. They are: Nonbelligerency by both sides; demilitarized zones on Israel’s border policed by United Nations forces; recognition of Israel’s right to exist; recognition of Israel’s right to free passage through the Gulf of Akaba and the Suez Canal; and resettlement of the Palestine refugees. I then urged the need for a cooling-off period between Israel and the Arab States. Since then, we have had a breathing space in Arab-Israel relations, thanks to the restraint shown by both sides and thanks to the presence of United Nations forces in Gaza and at the mouth of the Gulf of Akaba. If this quiet is maintained, we may well now be approaching the time for the United Nations to initiate an attempt to settle the Arab-Israel dispute once and for all, perhaps by the establishment in the first instance of a suitably composed conciliation commission. This conception was developed by the Prime Minister in a series of propositions which he made in a speech on 21st October. These proposals do not, of course, begin and end with the Palestine question, but deal also with the .other fundamental questions which must be resolved if there is to be stability in .-the Middle East. These are the problems of prevailing upon Soviet Russia to renounce her campaign of disruption and subversion in the Middle East, of raising the living standards of the Arab peoples through aid and trade, and of guaranteeing the supply of oil to the Western world on a basis fair to both producer .and consumer. The dangers to world peace in the Middle East call for a comprehensive approach of this kind.
Another area of immediate geographical interest to Australia is South-East Asia. The past six months have seen a number of important developments in South-East Asia, including the emergence of an independent Federation of Malaya, a coup d’etat in Thailand, the re-unification of Laos and the intensification of the Indonesian campaign to secure Netherlands New Guinea. These happenings introduce new elements into the complexity of the political situation in this most important neighbouring area. The smooth transfer of authority from the United Kingdom to the independent Federation of Malaya at the end of August was one of the most important events in South-East Asia since the war. Malaya’s independence was achieved in spite of the dislocation produced by the fight against Communist terrorism.
Australia’s association with Malaya during the past decade has been close and advantageous to both parties. This Government warmly welcomes the emergence of the independent Federation of Malaya as well as its decision to remain within the Commonwealth of Nations. Australia is ready to offer to the new government, and to its distinguished leader, Tengku Abdul Rahman, whatever assistance lies within our power in the major tasks of consolidating Malaya’s security and building up the living standards of its people.
The defence agreement between the United Kingdom and the Federation of Malaya provides for the maintenance in Malaya of a Commonwealth Strategic Reserve, of which the Australian forces in Malaya form a part. Letters recording the application to these forces of appropriate provisions of the agreement are expected to be exchanged shortly. In introducing the proposed agreement to the Malayan Legislature, -the Prime Minister, Tengku Abdul Rahman, expressed his appreciation of the goodwill which Australia and New Zealand had shown in respect of the .defence arrangements. This defence agreement between Britain and Malaya was approved .without amendment and without a dissenting vote by the popularly elected Legislature in Malaya.
The Colony of Singapore will receive a new constitution in 1958 under which the local government will have complete autonomy in internal affairs, while the United Kingdom will remain responsible for foreign affairs and defence. The present Singapore Government, led by its Chief Minister, Mr. Lim Yew Hock, is preparing with courage and confidence to take over the additional responsibilities involved.
A South-East Asian country which the Communists, for some years, have been trying to subvert and control is the small Kingdom of Laos. Since the Geneva Agreements of 1954, Laos has, in effect, been divided, with the Communistdominated Pathet Lao controlling part of two northern Laos provinces. During the last three years, there have been intermittent negotiations between the Royal Laotian Government and the Pathet Lao, with a view to reintegrating the two northern provinces into the rest of the country, as a result of considerable understandable public sentiment for the restoration of national unity. As recently as 19th November, a couple of weeks ago, a Government of National Union, in which the Pathet Lao was given two portfolios, was established following an agreement between the Laotian Prime Minister and the Pathet Lao leader for reunification of the country. The agreement also provides for the integration of the Pathet Lao armed forces and administrative personnel into the Laotian community, and for the restoration of the royal authority in the two Pathet Lao provinces. We can sympathize with the desire of the Laotian people to reunite their country, but it will be a tragedy for them, and for the rest of the area, if, in their eagerness to achieve reunification, they have accepted a settlement which affords the Communists the opportunity to bring the country into the orbit of Communist domination. The geographical position of Laos is such that Communist penetration of that country would threaten the security of the whole of South-East Asia.
As a result of my recent series of visits to practically all of the countries of SouthEast Asia, some observations occur to me that I believe are worth making. Australia is in good repute in all the free countries of South-East Asia. We are regarded as friendly and interested neighbours, and their relationships with us are completely free of any inhibitions or belief that we in
Australia have any axe to grind. Our help is appreciated, as well as our interest in their affairs. It is realised that our fate and theirs are joined. It is true to say that Australia is important to the South-East Asian countries, just as they are important to us.
As regards development, the countries of South-East Asia tend to look to Australia for advice and guidance even more than they do to some of the great powers. The scale of things in Australia is more understandable to Asian governments than the vast scale of things in some of the larger and more highly industrialized countries. The scale of our Australian activities is more comparable with their own tasks. We are not so frighteningly big. In Australia we are inclined to think of South-East Asia as a self-contained area which can be considered as a whole. Actually it is a series of self-contained independent countries, each with its own distinct characteristics - language, race and traditional attitudes of mind. I am in no doubt at all that both Seato and the Colombo plan are essential, in their own spheres, for the security and advancement of the free countries of South-East Asia. Seato is a most necessary deterrent to aggression - and even to subversion, and if is most valuable to the morale of the countries of South-East Asia - even to the neutralist countries, which are by no means unconscious of the protection that it affords. The Colombo plan is a most necessary aid on the economic, social and political sides of every free Asian country, whose situation would be appreciably less good than it is if the Colombo plan did not exist - and this equally applies to the future. I would hope and believe that the Colombo plan will be a continuing instrumentality. The need for it in the future is as great as it has been in the past.
Australia attaches the greatest importance to the maintenance of good relations with our nearest neighbour, Indonesia. Each of us has a lot to gain from friendly co-operation. It would be tragic if this co-operation were lost sight of in the dispute over the future status of West New Guinea. I have stated frequently in the past, in this Parliament and in the United Nations, Australia’s attitude towards Indonesia’s claims that
Netherlands New Guinea is part of Indonesia - a claim for which Indonesia has, in recent years, been making increasing efforts to secure endorsement from the United Nations General Assembly. However, I do not propose to argue the Australian attitude on this matter again at any length. I believe it is well known to all honorable members.
Nevertheless, it is necessary for me to say something about the joint AustralianDutch statement which was recently issued. This was designed to put on record the continued intention of the Governments of Australia and of the Netherlands to place first emphasis on the interests of the native inhabitants on both parts of New Guinea until the people are in a position to determine their own future.
The joint declaration recognizes the ethnological and other affinities between the peoples of all parts of New Guinea. The declaration does not represent a decision that New Guinea will necessarily become a single political unit at some time in the future. That is a question for the future and will be primarily for the inhabitants of New Guinea themselves. But, in the view of the Dutch and Australian Governments, we should not conduct our respective administrations in New Guinea in a manner which will rule out the possibility of such a choice later on. The choices that we hope will be open to the inhabitants of New Guinea will be many. A single political unit for the whole island is one of them. But there will also be other possibilities.
The Indonesian Foreign Minister, in the course of the United Nations debate on West New Guinea, suggested that the joint statement had military implications. This is not the case, and was denied in the United Nations by our Australian representative, Dr. Walker. I may say that there are no military implications or secret military clauses. There have also been suggestions in Indonesia that Australian forces have been sent to Merauke. This is completely untrue. There are no Australian forces in Dutch New Guinea.
There was another rather disturbing feature of this year’s discussion on West New Guinea in the United Nations. That was the introduction by the Indonesian delegation of the suggestion - and rather more than a suggestion - that there was a threat to peace involved in the dispute. Any such unfortunate eventuality could only possibly come about by reason of action from the Indonesian side, and I can hardly believe in the reality of this, except as a means of influencing the minds of other member states of the United Nations. I do not believe that it was proper that a party should come to the United Nations and claim that there was a danger to peace because that party itself would cause violence if it did not get what it sought.
Australia, I need hardly say, has no aggressive or unfriendly intentions towards Indonesia. Concrete evidence of Australia’s desire to be on the most friendly terms with Indonesia is easily found. At the same time neither we, nor the Indonesian Government, can be unmindful of the acrimony in public discussion that has lately developed during the heat of the United Nations debate and the demonstration of Indonesian attitudes inside Indonesia.
Both the Australian Government and the Indonesian Government have said repeatedly in the past that the question of Dutch New Guinea is the only serious difference between Australia and Indonesia. There is much that we can do together. I believe that we can do more together. Certainly Australia is ready to co-operate with Indonesia in measures for our mutual welfare and common security. It may be that Indonesian assumptions about the nature of the external threat to their independence and to Australia’s differ from ours. Given a responsible effort on both sides, in which the prosperity, security and freedom from Communist domination of the two countries is accepted as the supreme objective, practical opportunities for co-operation will develop.
Indonesia is not, however, improving the atmosphere for co-operation with other countries, nor is it strengthening the economic and political basis on which cooperation can be built, when it takes farreaching and widespread action against Dutch enterprises inside Indonesia. The Netherlands has much that it can contribute towards building Indonesia and it is damaging to Indonesia’s economy and to her standing in the world to lash out at Dutchmen who have been conducting pursuits in Indonesia to the benefit of Indonesia no less than of themselves. I hope that the Indonesian Government may reconsider measures against Dutch interests there, which are creating a most unfortunate impression in other countries.
I recently attended the annual meeting at Saigon of the 21 member countries of the Colombo plan. It is a tribute to the young Republic of Viet Nam that it should have been the host country. Next year the conference will be held in the United States - by far the greatest donor country under the Colombo plan.
The main purpose behind the Colombo plan is to help promote the economic development of the countries of South and SouthEast Asia and so to raise their standards of living. This purpose is as necessary now as it was nearly seven years ago when the plan was born. By far the greater part of the money and’ effort put into economic development in the countries of South and South-East Asia is provided by the Asian countries themselves, but the external assistance which they are receiving under the Colombo plan is recognized by them as a friendly and sincere attempt, with no strings attached, to give an added impetus to their economic development.
Australia has been an active contributor. We have spent almost £24,000,000 on providing economic aid and technical assistance under the Colombo plan. Over 2,000 Asian students have been trained in Australia under the Colombo plan and nearly 250 Australian experts have been sent to Asian countries. At the same time ours is a modest contribution, compared with the value of the total external assistance provided so far under the Colombo plan, which totals about 3,500 million dollars. Nevertheless in the field of technical assistance, Australia’s contribution is a significant one by any standards, and it is recognized as such- by our neighbours in Asia. One in every five of the Asian men and. women who have left their country for special training abroad under the Colombo plan has come- to Australia. Nearly 1,300 of them have- now returned home. Many occupy important positions. At present we plan to maintain about 850’ Colombo plan trainees in Australia, at any one time. Economic development is a slow process and even after six. years,, it is too soon to look for spectacular results. It is. no mean achievement, however;, that. in. the past two years, the national income of member countries in South and South-East Asia appears to have risen at a rate slightly in excess of the annual population increase.
We are at a stage of world history where the centrally directed Communist bloc appears to have a number of advantages over the free world. We know what tensions are built up in Communist satellite countries by this tight control from the centre and we have an example in Hungary of how an oppressed people can risk all in an attempt to shake off this control by an alien nation. Nevertheless we cannot ignore the general effectiveness of this tight central control of the Communist world and the implications it has for the free world which is threatened by it. Communist policy is set by a relatively small group of men whose decisions govern a completely conformist world-wide apparatus equipped to explain and justify the “ line “ adopted by Moscow and Peking. In the free world, decisions are arrived at by a process of consultation, with governments responsible to legislatures and public opinion, and it is most important to preserve this as the very basis of democratic political freedom.
I think another problem we face is that we instinctively recoil from adopting attitudes reflecting a sense of emergency. There is still a widespread feeling throughout the free world that we ought to be able to turn our minds primarily to the pursuits of peace without paying too much heed to rumours of war. It is an unfortunate fact that the great Communist nations, whatever their protestations of peaceful intentions, maintain- a sense of emergency among their people’. For their part, they claim that we of the West are continually plotting and planning aggression against- them. Nothing could, of course, be further from the truth. It is a well-known device in propaganda to accuse another of what you yourself are contemplating.
The belief in the particular kind of freedom for which we fought in recent years - the freedom of belief, and opinion - of individual choice rather than imposed mass attitudes^ - is in- itself. not conducive to our banding: rapidly together to meet a common threat on a) gloBal’ scale.- On our side, the process’ of reasoned discussion, deliberation and- persuasion, continues’. The great powers of the democratic world do not seek’ to coerce or regiment their allies or to exert unscrupulous pressure on those countries which regard themselves as uncommitted. The sovereignty of individual nations is respected. They have freedom to express their views and make policy decisions of their own. This freedom is the precious legacy of our previous sacrifices to prevent totalitarian control of the whole world.
Sitting suspended from 12.48 to 2.15 p.m.
– In a recent statement in this House the Leader of the Opposition threw doubt on the authenticity of the claim of some countries to belong to the free world. I would not suggest that all free world governments are perfect, even those in what might be regarded as the more advanced countries, but what I would say is that it is better for these governments, whatever their imperfections, not to be integrated into the tight and remorseless Communist system of control which makes a mockery of all forms of democracy. If the right honorable gentleman sees fit to sneer at this country’s friends, or some of them, in the free world, let him also contemplate the system of regimentation and terror which the Communists dignify with the name of peoples’ democracy.
However, to return to the main line of my argument, it is clearly necessary for us all at this time to examine where we stand. The responsible leaders of the free world must seek ways and means of increasing confidence among the nations outside the Communist orbit. Plans should be made for dealing with the political and military threat of communism on a global scale. It is not enough for the countries in Nato to direct their thoughts primarily to the frontiers of free Europe, nor is it enough for the members of Seato to look only at the southern border of China, or for the members of the Baghdad pact to show anxiety only about what the Communists do in the Middle East. There is a common identity of interest and there must be a global sense of responsibility. For us in this part of the world it is important that our friends in Europe should be aware of the threat which is presented by Communist China and that we for our part should appreciate the particular preoccupations of Western Europe and how our interests interlock in the vital area of the Middle East. 1 have spoken of the need to increase our sense of emergency, or perhaps rather of urgency. By this I do not mean in any way to be alarmist. To the best of our belief, the Communists see more advantage in maintaining an uneasy status quo than they could ever hope to enjoy by direct aggression. The retaliation which aggression would bring would be swift and sure and it is this deterrent, which is primarily vested in our great allies, the United States and United Kingdom, which is the surest guarantee of our Australian security. For the deterrent to remain effective, there must not only continue to be a clear understanding on the other side that aggressive actions, on whatever scale, will bring appropriate retaliation, but also there must be a clear understanding on our side of the circumstances in which the major weapons available in the free world will be used. We on this side of the House believe that this is a most important question. It must be clear to potential aggressors that piecemeal aggression, designed to erode away the free world’s positions of strength, will not pay. It must also be clearly understood amongst us where we all stand on these matters, so that a potential enemy cannot profit by divided counsels amongst the democracies if and when a situation arises requiring us to act in concert.
In spite of the uncertain outlook in so many directions that I have found myself obliged to record at this time, I find it impossible to believe that the present situation is a permanent one. The present atmosphere of frustration and cold war conflict seems to me to be a wholly artificial one. The attitude of the governments of the democratic countries reflects the attitude of mind of their peoples. The attitude of the Communist governments can, for the present at least, ignore the attitude of mind of their peoples. But this will not always be the case. I believe that the will and mind of the people will express itself in due course even in the countries that are now under Communist domination.
Tyranny has always been relatively shortlived. It has maintained an apparently monolithic front until it suddenly crumbles. In spite of the Communist slogan that democracy contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction, this is probably more true of communism than it is of democracy, which has weathered many storms over a long period of time. Meantime we have to preserve our courage and our unity and a common resistance to the Communist menace in its various forms. If we do this, I believe there is no doubt that there is a vastly more hopeful and constructive future for mankind than now appears to be in sight.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
International Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 5th December, 1957. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) speaking for a period not exceeding 40 minutes.
– No more important series of questions can be debated than those referred to by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). I was hopeful that something constructive would emerge from his speech, especially in relation to the proposal to have a conference of the leaders of the opposing forces in the cold war, but the right honorable gentleman has taken a rather severe view of that. I shall refer in a moment to what he says, but, in effect, he throws cold water over the suggestion and says we cannot expect anything to come out of it. If he had a vote to-day, he would vote against it.
During a debate on the adjournment the other evening, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) almost welcomed the suggestion of summit talks. It is very difficult to understand why responsible statesmen, accepting as true what is said against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and its satellites, have no constructive proposals to put forward to end the cold war on terms which do not amount to appeasement, but which are just. The right honorable gentleman is the responsible Minister, and with regard to the proposed summit conference, which I thought was not rejected by any other leaders throughout the world, although they were hesitant about it, he said -
If there was the slightest chance of a summit conference having even modest prospects of reaching agreement on the basic issues which divide the world - then no man in his senses and no country could disagree with it being held. But the simple and gloomy fact is that there is no evidence whatsoever that such a conference would do more good than harm.
The whole basis of the United Nations procedures is the meeting together, through the process of conference and conciliation, of the representatives of the nations. Disputes occur every month, and the procedure is that the representatives of the nations meet to see if they can reach agreement. When the matter is of a more serious nature, all the more reason exists for endeavouring to have these meetings. Practically no meetings have been held of the leaders of the nations since the Potsdam conference in 1945, and another conference in 1955, which was not an important meeting, although it dealt with certain problems at the summit level. There have been no others. Little credit is reflected upon the leaders of the nations by the fact that although Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin and others met during the war, and Truman, Churchill, Attlee and the Russian leaders met at Potsdam, practically no meetings at all have been held during the cold war. For that, responsible governments deserve censure. It does not follow that if leaders of the nations fail to meet, the situation will be improved; it must deteriorate if that point of view is accepted. However, the Minister rejects the need for summit talks.
In dealing with this procedure, he used the word “ gloomy “. Why does he use that word? Could the leaders not agree on some points in dispute? It is impossible to answer that question in advance, but surely this is the appropriate time in which to hold a conference. We are at present participating in the International Geophysical Year and Russia has created an earth satellite which was successful from the scientific point of view and, according to American scientific magazines, that was an achievement of tremendous scientific significance. Indeed the United States of America and Union of Soviet Socialist Republics agreed they would endeavour to make the project successful, which they did. No doubt the American experiment also will be successful. The launching of the Russian satellite was surely an occasion that should have appealed to the imagination of everybody who wanted to co-operate on a basis which excluded military activity. 1 expected - and I think the Prime Minister also expected on the night he spoke - that that success would be followed by some attempt on the part of the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. to meet on a scientific level to discuss the international position.
This morning, the Minister, in answer to a question, pointed out that in the Antarctic, where Russian and other scientists, especially Australians, were carrying out experiments in connexion with the International Geophysical Year, the representatives of all countries met together and co-operated. One would have thought the same approach would have been applied to a conference but, instead of an attempt being made to remove differences, the scientific achievement of the U.S.S.R. has been followed by greater rearmament so that any future negotiations can proceed on the basis of greater strength.
I think that is a mistake, but I think it will be recognized. Debates of this kind afford an opportunity to consider these questions: What are the real reasons against a meeting? There is none! What are the real reasons against an attempt at conciliation? There is really none. If one fails, he is in no worse position than when he started; and if he does fail, he will probably find subsequently that the cause of the failure can be removed. I can never understand why the procedures of conciliation in industrial disputes are not followed. There is no difference so far as international disputes are concerned. The first job is for the parties to come together to see if the area of disagreement can be reduced.
I shall now refer to the disarmament negotiations. I do not think the right honorable gentleman, in dismissing discussion on this subject, really does himself justice. He made no attempt to examine the proposals actually put before the conference in London after Mr. Dulles arrived from the U.S.A. Up to that time there had been concentration on limitations of prohibitions in relation to nuclear weapons, but later - -and this was sponsored by Mr. Dulles - there were what have been appropriately called “ package “ proposals covering a much wider field. Those proposals were set forth in the issue of the Boston “ Christian Science Monitor “ of 29th August.
The right honorable gentleman said, of those proposals, “ No, they cannot be looked at from the point of view of criticism; they are there. The nations agreed to them, and therefore we cannot look beyond them “. But we must look beyond them, and I shall give one or two illustrations of how that can be done.
I refer to agreement covering what are called conventional weapons, those that cause limited destruction and suffering, such as the blockbuster which was developed during the last war; and they include great armies. These were the package proposals advanced by the United States, British, French and Canadian group in London. This was to be the new armed strength under the package proposals-
– What date was that?
– I am reading from a newspaper of 29th August. That was the month in which the proceedings were held in London. France was to have 750,000 men, the United Kingdom 750,000, the Soviet Union 2,500,000, and the United States 2,500,000. If those figures are added according to groups, we find that the strength of the Soviet Union in conventional arms was to be 2,500,000.
– What about the satellite countries?
– The Soviet satellites are not included, nor are the satellites of the other powers. These are the great powers; these are the only people making an agreement. If the right honorable gentleman has been aware of the facts I am now giving, he should have informed the House of them because they are startling facts. The combination of the Western powers would have a conventional army of 1,500,000 more than the Russian Army. I do not say that that would not be all right, if we could get an agreement to that effect accepted, but the attitude should not be adopted that because the other side will not accept that clause in an agreement, it is acting irrationally.
– What about China?
– The right honorable gentleman is completely ignorant of his own portfolio and quite unacquainted with th« subject we are discussing.
I point out to the House that, considering those armies alone, instead of the West lacking equality of strength, as has been put, it would have more than equality of strength; it would have an advantage. That may be a reasonable settlement, but there is no reason for saying that the other people have to agree to it and that, if they do not agree, therefore they are acting irrationally. In trying to reach an agreement, it is no use saying, “ Take it or leave it “; that is not an attempt to reach an agreement.
Another important subject is that relating to areas of inspection. The Minister for External Affairs referred to this matter. As he said, certain areas of inspection were marked. But the area open to inspection by Russia did not include places to the south of Russia which are close to it, such as portions of Turkey, of the Aegean and of Syria. If an attack were made on Russia, it could be expected to come from that area; but Russia was to have no right of inspection there. Again I say that it was not unreasonable to try to have that provision included in an agreement, but Russia’s refusal to accept it was no reason why the discussions should not have been continued.
– They could have inspected American bases.
– That is true only if they were American bases, but in many instances they were controlled by a Nato power. That is a very important feature. The point I make is that an agreement must be considered as a whole and, in making an agreement, one side should consider how the other side may reasonably be expected to view it. Therefore, instead of negotiations for a disarmament agreement being stopped, they should have been continued.
It was also provided that no further nuclear weapons were to be produced. That, of course, would be an excellent provision as part of a general plan, but there was to be no destruction of weapons already in existence. Undoubtedly, Russia must be a long way, numerically, behind the United States in the production of nuclear weapons. These are all points that must have appeared to be of tremendous importance to the nations concerned. Therefore, Russia’s refusal to accept the agreement as a whole - with all its faults from Russia’s point of view - is not a reason why disarmament discussions should not have been continued.
– We are not proposing that disarmament discussions should cease; we want them to continue.
– I know you do, but according to your own argument you want them to continue in the same way. Russia is criticized for not agreeing to all these points. Any one attending a disarmament conference must have a genuine desire to see what can be achieved. Very much the same statement was made by Mr. Walter Lippmann. It was published in the “ Age “ on 13th August. He said, in substance, that an arrangement was made between West Germany and the United States - I think Mr. Dulles acted for the United States. Mr. Lippmann made this comment -
The recently published declaration of Berlin is part of this pulling and hauling.
He is referring to both sides -
For all practical purposes, it is a commitment on America’s part not to try to negotiate a significant treaty on armaments.
For this declaration gives Dr. Adenauer the power of veto until the Soviet Union agrees to German reunification on terms which amount to unconditional surrender.
At present, to put it midly, the unconditional surrender of the Soviet Union is not in sight.
This declaration will no doubt be useful to Dr. Adenauer is his election campaign. But it amounts to an extraordinary concession for a great Power-
He is referring to the United States - to make, to give to another nation-
That is, Germany - such a privilege and such a preference in dominating the conduct of its own foreign policy.
Let us hope we do not learn to regret it.
What does that mean? It means that the chances of Adenauer succeeding at an election were threatened and would have been enormously reduced had there been a disarmament agreement. Such an agreement would have been welcomed by the people of Germany, but Adenauer extracted a promise from the United States Government that no agreement would be reached unless and until West and East Germany was, by political arrangement, re-united. Therefore, the package agreement was put forward under circumstances which lead to the irresistible inference that it was not expected to be accepted, because that would have been directly contrary to the arrangement with Adenauer. That is the view, not of some obscure writer but of probably the greatest international authority in the United States to-day. He said that directly and courageously and, as far as I know, his assertions have never been contradicted. I mention those points to show that, though it is said that Russia did not mean business about disarmament, it is reasonably clear that when the package agreement, with all its conditions, was proposed, an arrangement had been made with Germany that there would not be an agreement on disarmament except after a change of international boundaries. That makes it perfectly clear that at that time it was not intended that an effective disarmament agreement should be signed. That is clearly Mr. Lippmann’s view. He gives reasons for it; I have accepted them because I have never seen any answer to them and I think they are probably correct.
I turn now to the cold war. The statements made by the Minister on this subject are simply amazing. He said -
The cold war has been an important Russian weapon for many years. It can be described as saying one thing and doing another.
If it can be described in that way, then anything can be described in any way. The cold war is a state of tension between the United States, particularly, and Russia. It is a situation short of actual combat but it involves opposition to practically every point in the international field. It is called “ cold “ for that very reason. There is opposition and tension in almost every part of the world. I suggest that there is hardly any dispute of an international character in the world to-day that is not held up by the existence of the cold war. Normally, there would be no trouble in settling the Cyprus dispute. The United Nations Charter provides for the right of self-government, and there is no question that the people of Cyprus would be enttiled to self-government. But the dispute is mixed up with the cold war because of the strategic importance of Cyprus to the Western Powers. That is an illustration of the fact that the existence of the cold war makes it almost impossible to settle other disputes unless the supreme dispute - the cold war - also is settled. Similarly, the dispute between Pakistan and India in relation to Kashmir could be settled if it were not for the cold war. Everybody knows of the way in which Mr. Nehru, who is probably the greatest conciliator in the world, has been attacked over that matter. I think that the Kashmir dispute would be easy of practical solution, but there has been no settlement of it because the powers tend to take one side as against the other. Similarly, although the problem in Algeria presents difficulties, it is easily susceptible of solution according to the principles of the United Nations.
In practically every case of a dispute of an international character, a solution has not been forthcoming simply because the great powers line up, some on one side and some on the other, and ask themselves, “ Well, how would these disputing countries shape if there were a world war? “ Of course, assistance comes from the West, and also from Russia, for some of these nations, which are all trying to strengthen their position in the event of the cold war becoming a hot war, or a third world war. There is a good deal of authoritative writing about the cold war, such as Kenneth Ingram’s work, “ History of the Cold War “, in which there is certainly no bias against the West. The author is very critical of Russia. He comes to the following conclusion: -
There is but one conclusion to be drawn when we face up to these grim realities: a vast military rearmament programme offers no solution of the world problem. That problem will be solved only if the mutual fears of East and West can be removed. We have indicated the direction which Western policy must take if an attempt is to be made to remove Soviet fears.
Kenneth Ingram gives a balanced view, and comes to the conclusion that what is wanted is, not appeasement, but an attempt at a co-operative and conciliatory policy. He states -
Obviously no permanent settlement can be reached until the Communist States are willing to respond amicably to any endeavours to build up friendly relations and to remove existing fears. Their response may be slow and hesitant. The poison of distrust has infected the hearts of both East and West too deeply to be susceptible to any rapid cure. Real peace is likely to be attained only by a gradual process. But real peace is worth a great price - certainly the price of patience. It is only by tireless effort, by a willingness to understand each other’s standpoint, and by mutual recognition that the blame for the cold war is not to be attributed entirely to the faults of one side, that the nations will learn how to lay the foundations of a saner world. There is no other way.
Is not that a sensible conclusion?
– Who started the cold war?
– I am quite willing to admit that Russian intransigence contributed greatly to it, but it is generally accepted by writers that one of the contributing factors was the speech delivered by Churchill at Fulton, Missouri, in 1946. That speech is generally regarded, from the point of view of time, as marking the beginning of the cold war. I do not say that Churchill was responsible for the cold war. In fact, he was not in the government then, but was in opposition. That speech, however, certainly indicated what the issues were. Speeches of a similar character were made by Russian leaders. It does not matter when the cold war started. The important question is: When are we going to end it? It has gone on for eleven years.
– How does the right honorable gentleman suggest it should be ended?
– If the Minister had listened, he would now have an idea. It certainly will not be ended by saying, as he has said, that summit talks are of no use and should never be tried. The authority to which I have already referred says, in effect: “ At least try. Never give up the attempt. You will never get results in any matter of importance unless you are determined to try.”
The ending of the cold war is simply a matter of people really trying to minimize the area of dispute and of never giving up the attempt to settle it. The policy of the Minister, as revealed in his speech, is a hopeless one. It will not be accepted by the people of this country because they, like the people of all the world, want peace. They want their children to be brought up in a world from which the scourge of modern war, with all its horrors, will be gradually removed.
– The right honorable gentleman wants us to give in and to let the other side win.
– The right honorable gentleman’s interjections are of no relevance, and would not influence the mind of a schoolboy. I think, with all respect, that the Government could not accept the Ministers’ speech as a statement of policy. I do not believe that it will be approved either by the Cabinet or by the Government. At this stage, to throw cold water on the idea that an attempt should be made to settle the cold war is intolerable. The United Nations Charter provides that we should at all times be ready to negotiate in all matters. In that respect, the charter is directed as much at the Minister as it is at any other person.
Labour’s policy on summit conferences has been laid down for three years. We think such conferences should be held because people who write with authority, such as historians like Hugh Hester, have pointed out that the only way in which we can really get results is by meetings of the leaders of the nations. Hugh Hester, in a recent article, stated -
Clearly, it is not enough merely to record the obvious bankrupt features of the cold war, such as its vast alliance system and military aid. It is still necessary to establish trust among nations, as stated by Secretary Stimson, in his memorandum to President Truman. . . .
Stimson’s idea, with regard to the atom bomb, was that it should be made available to Russia. That was his proposal. He said there was no other way to handle the matter, and he believed that to do so would create good relationships. According to this writer, President Rosevelt was the only world leader with the prestige, understanding and imagination needed to break through the straight-jacket of political thinking imposed by the outmoded balance of power theory of world politics. Hester points out that President Roosevelt, in his last message to humanity, which was never delivered as a speech because the President died before the San Francisco conference was held, said -
If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relations - the ability of all people of all kinds to live together, in (he same world, at peace.
Those words were spoken after many disappointments and frustrations, and strong objections on his part to the tactics of the Russians. Hugh Hester stated that that would necessitate a long and perhaps tedious process involving the two sides, a process which should be begun promptly. There should be, he said -
First, the establishment of “ summit “ meetings on a frequent and regular basis, and second, the normalization of international relations throughout the two blocs. The frequent meetings of the “ top “ leaders of all the great powers would make it more difficult for the propagandists to maintain the black-and-white or God-and-Devil theory of international politics. Such meetings would, also, permit constant consideration of the principal problems dividing the world, and often permit corrective action before the crisis became acute. The Suez Canal crisis of 1956-
With which the Minister for External Affairs was so closely concerned - is an example of the kind of preventive action envisioned here. Frequent meetings of Messrs. Bulganin, Eisenhower, Eden, Mollet, and Nehru, would certainly have anticipated and almost certainly have prevented this catastrophe. It is difficult to believe that war would actually have been made on Egypt by the leaders of England and France had they known in advance of the positions crf Bulganin, Eisenhower and Nehru. The current Syrian situation might, likewise, have been avoided, or at least kept under control.
This is the conclusion -
It is an historical fact that great wars have not occurred when the “ top “ leaders of the great powers were willing to and actually did consult about their differences.
It is the consultation that makes the agreement possible. One cannot, in advance, be dogmatic as to the extent of their agreement, but the first agreement may lay the foundation for regular meetings and subsequent agreement. I believe that, in that, lies the essence of the need for Australia to give active support, and not merely, as the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) does, actively to oppose. Of course, it is difficult for one nation to make the first move. I sincerely hope that after the forthcoming meeting of representatives of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization powers, Australia will advocate summit talks in which the leaders of the great powers can meet to discuss these questions.
The Minister twitted me for my comment about the use of the phrase “ the free world “. I am quite willing to debate the matter with him. The use of that phrase is becoming completely absurd. In the United States Congress, Mr. Curtis, a republican from Missouri, said -
I had the Legislative Reference Service of the Library of Congress collect some data for me about the countries abroad from which I derived the following conclusions. There are 71 countries outside the Iron Curtain which we erroneously refer to as the “ free world “. Of these 71 nations, 49 of them are outwardly or actually dictatorships or close oligarchies and the majority of them cannot even pass under the term benevolent dictatorships.
In a press conference in the United States of America, the other day, Mr. Aneurin Bevan said -
I am getting tired of the slogan “ a free world “. What is a free world? Is it Spain? Is it Siam?
He took just two illustrations. In the United States, criticism is becoming very clear. For instance, Mr. Sulzberger, of the “ New York Times “, who is quite an authority on the subject, said -
Many Africans and Asians are unsuited fteither our politics or economics.
He dealt with the American system, and then stated - . . we sponsor it in lands where it might wreck the beneficiaries. And, with no sense of contradiction, we ally ourselves with Franco, Salazar, Batista, Field Marshal Sarit and the slave-owning King Saud.
Why does such an untrue phrase appear in every speech made on this subject by the Minister? “ Quaker Search for an Alternative “, a brilliantly written pamphlet prepared by the Quakers, points out, in making this criticism, that one of the wicked things about the cold war is the McCarthyism that comes through the democratic nations as the internal method by which governments take part in the cold war, and prevent criticism from within their countries. That is what is taking place. This Quaker criticism is a tremendous indictment of what is taking place in the United States, and particularly of anonymous denunciations. It states - . . many Americans have acquiesced in measures that have generally been considered central characteristics of totalitarianism; spying on fellow citizens; . . . restrictions on freedom of movement, speech, and press; . . . and the growing confusion of our thought and language until we no longer feel any astonishment at the use of a phrase like “ the free world “ to include alt nations,, however dictatorial, and colonies, however exploited, that are not under Soviet control.
The term “ the free world “ is simply a collective term for the countries that are against Russia. I would agree with the Minister that the Soviet is dictatorial, but i* does not call its group “ the free world ‘’, because that would be the subject of laughter. Why should we refer to our group of nations in a way that brings us into contempt with all thinking people? The Minister used the phrase ten times in his speech.
I have made my position clear. My criticism is sound. The Americans are themselves becoming disgusted with the use of this term, as must anybody who values the meaning of words. Therefore, it does not add anything to colour one’s argument, and beg the question all through, by using such phrases.
I have referred to what President Roosevelt said in his last message to the United Nations. With the cold war, with the United States looking at the whole question of the international field from the stand-point of a possible future war, and with Russia doing the same, one finds similar actions on both sides. The United States intervened in the Suez dispute because it did not want any interference with its established position in the Middle East at the time of that dispute. Similarly, Russia intervened in Hungary, for exactly the same reasons as America had intervened in the Suez dispute. Russia does not want any interference with the balance of power that would give it support from Hungary in the event of a war. As a consequence, all these subsidiary results flow from the failure to try to solve the problem of the cold war. The only hope for small nations like Hungary is a settlement of the cold war problem in which they will be entitled to have their rights declared in accordance with the United Nations Charter.
Before I conclude, I want to deal with the observations made by the Minister about Dutch New Guinea, and to point out that, under an agreement between Indonesia and Holland, all the sovereignty of Indonesian territory was vested in Indonesia, but the question of the sovereignty of Dutch New Guinea was still to be determined.
– - I must protest against that alleged statement of the facts.
– That is set out in a clause in the agreement reached in the United Nations Security Council.
– That is not the wording of it.
– What does the Minister mean when he says that that is not the wording of it?
– He has never heard of it.
– Evidently, he has never heard of it, and he has probably never read it. The Australian Government of the time played a part in some of those proceedings. The matter was not settled in favour of Indonesia by any means. But neither was it conclusively settled. I suggest, as I have done before in this House, that the Aus tralian Labour party’s approach to this matter is sound. Australia cannot afford to become unfriendly with either Indonesia or Holland. Both are neighbours of Australia. We desire friendship with both, and the Opposition would propose an agreement with them, of both an economic and a security character, covering the whole area of New Guinea, and Indonesia as well. Of course, that does not settle the precise question of sovereignty, but people who raise the precise question of sovereignty, which is purely a legal question, will not get any nearer to a conciliatory settlement, I think, unless some such step is taken.
I should like to read to the House one other quotation in connexion with the cold war. It comes from a speech made by General Douglas MacArthur, who, of course, is well known in Australia. He dealt with the problem of the cold war so eloquently and convincingly that his words should be attended to by the Government, and by all honorable members. General MacArthur said -
The agony of the cold war is kept alive by two great illusions. The one a complete belief on the part of the Soviet world that the capitalist countries are preparing to attack them. . . . And the other a complete belief on the part of the capitalist countries that the Soviets are preparing to attack us. . . . Both are wrong. Each side, so far as the masses are concerned, is equally desirous of peace. For either side war with the other would mean nothing but disaster. Both equally dread it. But the constant acceleration of preparation may well . . . ultimately produce a spontaneous combustion. . . .
The general concluded -
When will some great figure in power have sufficient imagination and moral courage to translate this universal wish for peace - which is rapidly becoming a necessity - into actuality? It is the leaders who are the laggards. The disease of power seems to confuse and bewilder them. Never do they dare to state the bald truth that the next great advance in the evolution of civilisation cannot take place until war is abolished.
This idea has always been dismissed as impossible by every cynic, pessimist, and swashbuckler, in history. But that was before the science of the past decade made mass destruction a reality. The argument was that human character has never reached a theoretical development which would permit the application of pure idealism. In the last two thousand years its rate of change has been deplorably slow compared to that of the arts and sciences.
But now the tremendous and present evolution of nuclear and other potentials of destruction has suddenly taken the problem away from its primary consideration as a moral and spiritual question, and brought it abreast of scientific realism. It is no longer an ethical equation to be pondered solely by learned philosophers and ecclesiastics, but a hard core one for the decision of the masses whose survival is the issue.
That is MacArthur speaking - the great soldier, the man who, by his generalship, helped enormously to save this country. He says, from his experience, that there is no way of dealing with the cold war except to settle it. And how are we going to settle it and take the advice of so great a man if we have little men all round the world so terrified to deal with the situation that they are not even game to meet the other side; who do not want to meet the other side? Perhaps somebody would be rude to them if they did, or say things that they would not like. Our view is that you must continue to try to conciliate in this dispute. The cold war is not some simple attribute of Russia or America. It is an existing state of tension, and that is the course that the Government should take.
– Order! The right honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- To-day we were privileged to listen to a most balanced statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). Over the period that this right honorable gentleman has occupied his present office he has brought a great deal of credit to Australia. It is as a result of his experience and his actions in office that Australia to-day holds a higher place in world esteem than it has ever held previously. Our views are respected abroad, and we are growing to nationhood in international affairs. To a great degree that is due to the calibre of our Minister for External Affairs, and I think Australia has much to be thankful for because of the cool, calculated, way in which this right honorable gentleman has put our case at all international conferences and meetings that we have been privileged to attend.
I want to contrast the balanced and most informative statement made by the Minister with that made this afternoon by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), who devoted about half of his speech to criticism of our allies, and particularly of our friends, Great Britain and America, whilst at the same time he excluded entirely from his utterances any criticism of Russia and the Communists.
Now let us turn our minds to this proposed summit meeting on which the Leader of the Opposition made such play, and about which he became so hysterical at the end of his speech. His behaviour shows either lack of adherence to the facts or lack of knowledge of them. Does the right honorable gentleman remember that in 1955 a conference was held in Geneva for the very purpose for which he now proposes that a summit meeting should be held? In his criticism of the earlier summit talks the right honorable gentleman did not give the full facts. He did not say that there was no faith on the part of the Russians in those talks. The statement of the Minister for External Affairs shows conclusively that the Russians connived at making the conference a failure and, in fact, had made up their minds prior to attending the summit conference that it would be a failure. This is shown in the light of experience. At the Geneva conference in 1955 the Western Powers had hopes that Russia would, as it were, come to the party. At that meeting the Geneva spirit, as it was known, was beginning to permeate the Foreign Ministers and other representatives of the nations. Western optimism was high. But Molotov, at the meeting of Foreign Ministers, came out with an emphatic “ No “ to every proposal put forward. Do the Russians want a summit conference in good faith? The Leader of the Opposition asks why we do not talk to the reds on disarmament. Who walked out of the Disarmament Commission? Russia did! The commission had twelve members, and Russia said that it was not representative enough. Obviously the reason was that Russia could not wield enough influence among the other eleven members to obtain majority support. So the commission has now been enlarged to 25 members, but Russia says that it is still too small. Will Russia attend the Disarmament Commission talks? If not, will that be a result of our refusal to talk to Russia on disarmament? Of course not! The ball is in Russia’s court, but Russia will not attend the Disarmament Commission. These are the facts as I know them.
I should like now to refer to another factor in the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition. He talked about the number of men under arms, and he quoted what the “ Christian Science Monitor “ had to say about certain American proposals. One would think that the right honorable gentleman would not rely on a newspaper report in relation to matters of such great importance to the nations. He pointed out that under America’s proposal Russia was to have 2,500,000 men under arms, excluding the armed forces of her satellites. But the right honorable gentleman made no reference to the fact that red China has regular armed forces numbering 2,200,000 men, para-military forces of about 500,000 men, and militia forces numbering between 6,000,000 and 10,000,000, available to be put under arms at any moment. The important point in regard to the number of men available for service is that although the United States has 2,500,000 men under arms, it has only 1,500,000 available in Europe, while Russia herself has 2,500,000 under arms. So, the right honorable gentleman ignored entirely the fact that the balance of power in men under arms would weigh against the Allies and in Russia’s favour.
Unfortunately, it seems that the Leader of the Opposition finds himself defending the Communists and the Russians at all stages. In no circumstances does he ever see any good in what the allies propose. This is not new, because we remember that when he talked about the number of troops in Europe some little time ago he was naive enough to suggest that all foreign forces be withdrawn from Europe. We can imagine at what a disadvantage we would be if that were done.
The Leader of the Opposition’s support for Cyprus against Great Britain is another instance of the right honorable gentleman’s attitude, in the light of the fact that Russia is spreading communism in the Middle East. One can well imagine the boost that would *–e given to Russia and her satellites if Britain were to withdraw from Cyprus. That island is an essential military base, and is part of the allied defence system. Great Britain has safeguarded, and will continue to safeguard, her own property and the property of the other free nations in this area against aggression. This base has served in this way during nationalist, political and military upheavals in the Middle East in the last few years, behind which the red hand of Russia is ever present to add coals to the fire.
The latest Russian move is in Syria, which has come under Communist domination. Yet the Leader of the Opposition proposes that Cyprus be allowed to determine whether British bases are needed on the island! The question may well be asked: “ Where would Britain stand under such an arrangement? “ The right honorable member for Barton has highsounding sentiments, but has he any real interest in the protection of British interests in our somewhat shrunken British. Commonwealth and for withstanding the advance of international communism? It is alarming to find a man who aspires to be Prime Minister of a predominantly British country describing Archbishop Makarios, of Cyprus, “ an able, frank, and direct gentleman “; and then, in the next breath, making an attack on our friend, Mr. Dulles. The right honorable gentleman stated that Mr. Dulles never intended the disarmament talks to succeed. That is a scathing statement to make about a man who is doing so much for the free world.
Soon after making that statement, the right honorable gentleman attacked the Eisenhower-Macmillan agreement as a retrograde step. He said, “ It is a step backward; not forward”. The British Prime Minister, a man whose opinion I feel more disposed to accept, said in the House of Commons -
I say without hesitation and without excuse that this is a turning point in history. Never has the threat of Soviet Communism been so great, or the need for countries to organise themselves against it.
I feel sure that all loyal citizens of Australia will agree with these sentiments, and that we must organize to meet the threat to our democratic way of life before it is too late. The Americans have now realized that they cannot do all that they desire to do against Communism without the aid of their allies. The talks between Mr. Macmillan and Mr. Eisenhower, and their declaration of a common purpose, are an indication of the feelings of both countries, and the amity with which they are now working together.
The Leader of the Opposition described this declaration as a backward step, but I believe that it will consolidate the goodwill established at Bermuda, and will signify the re-establishment of the already close association and co-operation between
Britain and America. This pact may be expected to lead to a re-invigoration of Nato and was, in fact, a curtain-raiser for the summit meeting due to be held in Paris this month. It has underlined the importance of the pooling of resources, and foreshadows close co-operation in the field of weapons research, production and supply. The declaration stresses the interdependence in the field of security, and points out that collective security efforts must be supported and reinforced by cooperative economic action. It points out that the material and moral assets of the free world are still greater than those of the Communist bloc. The declaration states that there should be greater realization of the free world’s total capabilities, in being or in prospect, in the field of security. Yet we find in this Parliament the Leader of the Opposition stating that this agreement, which the Prime Minister of Great Britain describes as a turning point in British history, is a step backwards. It is a step backwards as far as the Communists are concerned because it shows the resoluteness of Britain and America in their determination to remove this threat to the free world. If the purpose of these talks is to reinforce the free world against communism, why is it regarded as a step backwards? Is it because it will drive a further nail in the coffin of Communist advancement?
I turn now to Indonesia. I spoke recently in the House on this matter, and the Leader of the Opposition has referred to a regional pact as the solution to the Indonesian problem. I shall refer to that shortly, but I should like to say that it is a matter for deep regret to all Australians that Indonesia has adopted her present attitude since the vote in the United Nations went against her. Australia has always been on good terms with Indonesia, and it is hoped that we shall remain so, but by the same token I feel that the actions of our near neighbour in relation to the Dutch since the vote was taken in the United Nations has done nothing to commend her, or to cement the good relations that exist between us. It is a matter for regret that reprisals of the type that are being taken against the Dutch are increasing. Whilst the army in Indonesia still exerts a big influence for good in that area, we find that, owing to the internal situation, the Communists are now exploiting the position. The Communists are quick to exploit any situation, such as the high cost of living in Indonesia, which has increased by 36 per cent, in the last six months, making a total of 96 per cent, since 1953. Rice is dearer than it has ever been in the last 30 years. There is political unrest and instability because moves are afoot to get rid of Dr. Soekarno. We must hope that the Government of Indonesia will bring some common sense to bear on the problem, and will endeavour speedily to resolve it. We also hope that the Communists will not be allowed to strengthen the hold that they have in Indonesia. It is important to Australia not to countenance the growth of communism in any country. If we are to remain on good terms with Indonesia, the government of that country must give some evidence of stability, some evidence of endeavouring to get to grips with this Dutch New Guinea problem in a way different from the method it is following now.
The Leader of the Opposition, speaking in this House on the 14th November this year, outlined the policy of the Australian Labour party with regard to Dutch New Guinea. He said that the party had agreed upon the following settlement: -
A mutual regional pact for security and welfare should be negotiated between Australia, Holland and Indonesia. The pact should aim at promoting the security of the entire areas of Indonesia and New Guinea, lt should also aim at improving the standard of life for all the peoples throughout this area - so vital to Australia.
There cannot be any great objection to that. In substance, it is a reasonable proposition, but it is not a practical one. Like the muddled foreign policy of the Leader of Opposition, and those who sit behind him, it is out of date. There needs to be some rethinking with regard to our foreign policy. Australia needs a foreign policy, and some unity in foreign policy. Muddled and outmoded thinking is not in the best interests of Australia. I think that a regional pact between the Netherlands, Australia and Indonesia is not objectionable if it were possible. It would end the Dutch New Guinea dispute, which is most desirable. However, it is simply not a realistic conception, in view of the basic Indonesian policy, which rejects such reciprocal arrangements as aggressive pacts - that is what the Indonesians call them. The
Indonesian line on this is strictly neutralist. In relation to Dutch New Guinea specifically, the Indonesian claim is that the territory is Indonesian. We know that there cannot be any just claim by Indonesia to that area on geographical, cultural, or ethnological grounds. The Indonesians refuse to acknowledge Dutch sovereignty over west New Guinea. It is quite unrealistic to think that they might enter into an arrangement which would, ipso facto, recognize Dutch sovereignty. Their policy is strictly neutralist in regard to international affairs, and they are opposed to colonialism.
Since the Leader of the Opposition spoke in this House recently, the idea of a regional pact has been specifically rejected by Dr. Hardi, the Indonesian Vice-Premier, on the ground that Indonesia could not enter into an agreement with a colonial power. That, in itself, makes absolutely impracticable any idea of a regional pact such as the Leader of the Opposition has proposed.
Australia is a young, vigorous, and expanding country. Our voice in Asian affairs, and in the Pacific, is being heard with increasing respect. We are a friendly nation, a nation that is predominantly British, and that enjoys a democratic way of life. This is a heritage which we cherish and which we will not allow to be taken away from us easily. It is the duty of each and every Australian to consider the inroads that communism is making into the way of life of many other countries who, through their apathy and lack of interest in what is happening around them and in world affairs generally, have allowed the Communists to make the strides that they have in the last few years.
It behoves all of us to see that we do not, wittingly or unwittingly, espouse the cause of Russia whether it be in international affairs or in any other sphere. We should at all times be willing to negotiate provided that negotiations are based on acts of good faith and that it is not a matter of one-way traffic. We should be ready to show, as has been done at summit talks and at the Geneva conference of 1955 that we are anxious for peace and goodwill among the nations. The Western powers attended the Geneva conference with high hopes that some ultimate gain for the good of humanity would result.
But some of the countries that were represented were so imbued with the desire for power-
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I could not follow the arguments or reconcile the statements of the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) with his final statement on the basis of general principles. He said that we should be ready and willing at all times to negotiate, yet he disagreed with the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) that we should negotiate for a settlement of the West Irian, or Dutch New Guinea, dispute.
– Indonesia has rejected an offer of negotiation.
– Because it was made on terms to which it could not agree. Yet, according to the honorable member, all further negotiations with Indonesia must therefore be wiped. If we refuse to negotiate with parties because we cannot negotiate on our own terms, we should remember that on that basis there would have been no settlement of the dispute over Indo-China. But the Labour party insisted that that dispute must be settled by negotiation; and after two years of warfare it was eventually settled by negotiation. That is proof of the value of negotiation.
The honorable member alleged that the Leader of the Opposition said that Mr. Dulles never intended that the disarmament talks should succeed. In fairness to the right honorable gentleman whom the honorable member misquotes, I point out that the Leader of the Opposition was referring to the deal handed out by Mr. Dulles in August of this year. I wish to quote a statement from the “ Christian Science Monitor “ which I find is much more authoritative on foreign affairs than are most newspapers. Referring to a European zone agreement, and the forthcoming German elections, this newspaper, on 6th August last reported -
Agreement before would hurt the chances of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, and, should the Social Democrats win, any agreement would have to be re-negotiated. So, so far as Mr. Dulles is concerned, the European zone idea is out until after the German elections.
That is all that the Leader of the Opposition said - that, as far as Mr. Dulles was concerned, that particular plan was “ out “ until after the German elections. The other matter at issue at the disarmament conference was the reunification of Germany. It was felt that any agreement on disarmament would, in effect, be recognition of the present division of Germany as being permanent; and that was contrary to what Adenauer desired, purely for election purposes. We find, therefore, that the statements made by honorable members on the Government side in regard to foreign policy just do not measure up to the standards demanded by the Labour party and expressed by the Leader of the Opposition.
The honorable member for Phillip and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) referred to the trouble in Indonesia, the trouble in the Middle East and the dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. The only question I ask on this matter is: What assistance has this Government given to these countries in order to keep them out of the Russian orbit? What assistance has Australia given to India? India, with its experiment in democratic socialism, badly needs help. Her five-year plan threatens to be bogged down because India has not enough money for that purpose. If we do not assist India along the road to freedom, we know very well that, in the cold war that is going on, Russia will come to her aid and thus another country may pass out of the orbit of the so-called free nations. We are not doing anything like sufficient to keep India free.
The Colombo Plan, excellent as is its conception, is only a drop in the bucket and therefore cannot be regarded as being effective in alleviating in any way the difficulties in India. The same applies to our attitude to Indonesia. What real assistance has Australia given President Soekarno and the Indonesian Republic since its inception, to maintain stability? Of course, when a colonizing power goes out of a country, a terrific vacuum is left and into that vacuum will be drawn the very reactionary forces that we want to resist. Therefore, we should assist the people of those countries to assert democratic ideals in the form of government by themselves rather than invite, through our inactivity, intervention from outside sources which are totally alien and hostile to the goal we seek.
The Minister referred to a summit conference. I believe that a summit conference is necessary and desirable now, but perhaps it would have been far more desirable when the Leader of the Opposition and members on this side of the House asked for such a conference last July or August. That was prior to the stage when the disarmament sub-committee reached a climax. Had our request been met then and had this Government seen fit to use its good offices to seek a summit conference at that time, a much greater measure of success would have been written into that sub-committee and subsequently into the considerations of the United Nations General Assembly. And agreement on first-step disarmament would have justified a summit conference.
The Minister made very little reference in his speech to the pactomania from which the Government is suffering. Earlier, he outlined a plan for the Middle East and asked for co-operation in solving Middle East difficulties. He referred to the Baghdad pact, and urged greater regard for the South-East Asia Treaty Organization powers. This very mixture of pacts, of which the Baghdad Pact from our point of view is perhaps one of the worst, affects the whole tenor of our foreign policy and indeed sabotages that policy. Consider the effect of Pakistan’s participation in the Baghdad Pact on that country’s relations with India particularly in relation to the Kashmir dispute? All that India can see is the United States of America and other nations, under a western security pact, building up Pakistani arms. This is creating tensions between the two countries, and the possibility of a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir problem become more and more remote.
The Minister for External Affairs pleaded for unity. He asked that we should not criticize Mr. Dulles or our other friends. He said that by criticizing our friends’ faults we were playing into the hands of the Communists; we were being pro-Communist. ‘Nothing could be further from the truth. If we are not going to criticize honestly, if we are not going to seek the truth, then the people will never know the true assessment of the situation and they will not be able to reach a balanced decision. If we suppress truth because it may play into the hands of our enemies - so called - we shall deny the very means whereby an honest and truthful assessment of a problem can be made.
If the Minister is asking the Opposition to stifle itself, and not to criticize his policy or that of Mr. Dulles, because that would be playing into the hands of the Communist nations, he is doing the nations of The world a disservice. He is not reflecting credit upon himself if he thinks that that is democratic. It is the very denial and complete antithesis of democracy. It is in the clash of two extremes of ideas that the compromise is worked out and the final solution embodying the best of both sides is evolved.
In making a plea for unity, the Minister has asked us not to criticize Mr. Dulles or President Eisenhower. The main criticizm of Mr. Dulles is coming from his own people in America. It is good to see that self-criticizm is the basis upon which America’s problem will be worked out. We are now witnessing in America a changeover from McCarthy sentiments and practices. In the Jenks case and various decisions of the Supreme Court of America we see a widening of the vision of the American people and less of the proscribing ignorance that builds a wall around progress. The fact that Russia has launched two earth satellites before America has launched any is indicative of the results of the repressive McCarthyist practices that existed before.
A struggle has been going on between the the army and the navy in America. The army has been limited to a missile range of only 200 miles and the navy has been limited to the inter-continental missile. That conflict has allowed Russia to gain a technological advantage. From that position, Russia will not desire to negotiate with us. particularly in regard to disarmament. When the American and British entend held superiority in atomic arms those countries were not anxious or willing to negotiate disarmament agreements because they felt that any such agreements would deprive them of their advantage. Now we can expect Russia to be willing to negotiate only on certain lines because it has the advantage. So the whole thing will see-saw until, as suggested by the Leader of the
Opposition (Dr. Evatt), common sense and good faith prevail at conference tables, particularly the United Nations conference table. Then, and then only, will we have the desirable atmosphere in which we can negotiate.
It is true that the Leader of the Opposition referred to the withdrawal of troops from Europe as being one satisfactory remedy for the situation there. But it is not true that his proposal was as bald as that. He was merely stating the policy approved by the British Labour party at its last conference at Brighton. This will become British policy within the next two years when the British Labour party is elected to office. The Leader of the Opposition was merely enunciating that policy which declared that all foreign troops should be withdrawn from Europe; that neutral States should be set up with the power of full inspection - open skies and the rest; and that we should negotiate a new European agreement, throwing the responsibility fully on all nations, regardless of whether they are Nato or Warsaw pact powers.
That policy was agreed to at the last conference of the British Labour party and, as I have said, with the advent of a Labour Government in Great Britain after the next election, that will be British policy. The Leader of the Opposition was quite right in voicing the statement that he made, but he did not merely make the bald assertion which the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) attributed to him. An offer has been made by Russia to withdraw all troops from foreign bases. That merely begs the question and puts off the day for negotiating some settlement.
The cold war was written down by the Minister for External Affairs in the statement that he made this morning. He did no refer to the terrific need for a positive approach to aid for backward countries. Some time ago, he stated that aid without strings was the Liberal party’s new policy - it is a very old policy of the Labour party - but we did not hear the same stress being laid on that point in his speech this morning. This Government has been lamentably lacking in its support for economic aid for underdeveloped countries - assistance without arms. The Opposition wants economic aid to be given to these countries. We know that, of the finance available for world credit expansion last year, the greatest amount went to Canada and Latin America. In other words, the flow of investment capital was in favour of America, not in favour of the underdeveloped countries. The United States Ambassador to Pakistan, Mr. Horace A. Hildreth, said that the ten countries between Egypt and Japan which had signed mutual security and defence agreements with the United States of America had received twelve times as much economic aid as was given to the eleven countries which had not signed defence agreements. In other words, food, clothing, housing and education are tied up with arms, ammunition and tanks. Until we sever that association of guns and butter with economic aid, and try to carry out in good faith our professed policy of rendering assistance without strings to backward countries, we will never win the cold war.
In 1954 Russia commenced to use these tactics very effectively in the Middle East, an area in which Russia had not previously been so interested. To-day we are in the sorry position of competing in the shipment of arms to the Middle East. Russia is shipping arms in large quantities to Syria, Yemen and neighbouring countries. The United Kingdom is pursuing a similar practice, as is the United States of America. All we are succeeding in doing is fashioning a bomb that will explode and bring to naught all the good work that has been done.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lawrence). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– It appears to me that in a debate on international affairs it is very difficult for honorable members to deal with the wide range of thought that is placed before them, and to do justice to the importance of the subject-matters of the debate. Because the world is a vast place, populated by many different races, problems of international affairs cover a wide range of subjects. In considering all these subjects it is difficult to prevent our thinking from becoming confused, and it is correspondingly difficult to say anything of importance upon a particular one of those subjects.
It is clear that as far as we in Australia are concerned, leaving aside our close and historical association with Great Britain and our alliance with the United States of America, the area which is of the greatest importance to us in an immediate sense is that which is commonly known as SouthEast Asia, together with the New Guinea area, with which many thorny problems are associated.
Having listened to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), I cannot help feeling that in his endeavour to lay the blame for failure in regard to certain matters at the door of the Government, he lost sight of some of the most important aspects of the subject which we should all keep in mind. In this connexion I refer particularly to his remarks concerning the cleavage between what is called the free world and what is known as the Communist world. The practice of classifying various countries in these two categories in a broad way can be attacked - as it was attacked by the Leader of the Opposition - because the political structures of various countries included in the “ free world “ differ widely. The free world is composed of many nations, which are at different stages of mental, moral and material development. If one adopts a narrow view, one may say of a particular country, “ Here is a nation which is a pure democracy, which gives its people the maximum of law and justice, and therefore may be associated in our classification only with nations enjoying similar advantages “. If, on the other hand, we admit as belonging to the so-called free world nations with systems of government which are sometimes hard to distinguish from those operating in the Communist world, then we create a false impression when we use the term “ free world “.
We should not adopt too narrow an approach to these problems. There are some nations which associate themselves with the great western democracies, and which, although they may not have achieved the full degree of development that we should like to see them achieve, at least believe that they should try to develop along those lines. The very fact that they have associated themselves with the more highly developed democratic nations at least gives cause to hope that they will develop in a democratic way, as those nations will not develop which adopt, deliberately and with a purpose, completely different philosophies.
The tragedy of mankind is that its scientific and material development has completely outstripped its moral and spiritual growth and its capacity to use wisely the knowledge acquired. Mankind has acquired much knowledge, but it has not acquired very much wisdom. A great deal of knowledge has been gained, but we have not sufficient wisdom to use that knowledge as it should be used.
The Leader of the Opposition has rightly stressed the need for meetings at what he calls the summit. I say without the slightest hesitation that nothing is more obvious than that the heads of the great powers should try to use all their resources for the purpose of stabilizing peace. They should use those resources to counsel, to influence, and, if necessary to restrain countries not so well developed which would destroy the peace of the world. When we look back over the lessons of the past and think, for instance, of the Roman Empire, which for 1,000 years controlled what was the greater part of the world in those times, we ask ourselves why in these days it is impossible for the nations which have risen, like our own, to continue for even a small portion of that period and impose, as we did, the pax Britannica upon the world. We have to-day abandoned the idea of imperialism and are experimenting with the theory that if the strong will help the weak we will gradually build a world of nations which may approximate to something like Switzerland, where people of different race, language and religion combine in a common-sense control of their affairs and their relationships with others. That is the underlying principle and idea in the experiment going on in the world to-day.
I read with great interest the most moving appeal by Mr. Nehru, Prime Minister of India, when he said that the greatest thing the world needed to-day was a turning from the tremendous concentration on the production of engines of war and destruction and all those things associated with that thinking - material waste on one side, suspicion and hatred on the other side - into the paths of peaceful development and the use of the arts of peace. At this season of goodwill many millions of people are crying out for some relief from the pressures placed upon them, the miseries, the tyrannies and the interference with their even moderate capacity to obtain a living. They are asking that this tremendous force, which the world has used twice in my lifetime to destroy on an immense scale, should be diverted before it is too late into channels where it can be used for man’s good. The question may be asked: What is there at the present time to prevent this from being done? Why is it that in spite of the apparent sincerity on the part of our own leaders, the leaders of the Western world, every attempt which has been made has failed? It is a pity that honorable members opposite and their leader are constantly trying to throw responsibility for that failure upon the leaders and the people of the Western world.
I shall place the plain square facts before the House and in doing so shall answer my own question: Why has it been found impossible year after year, conference after conference, to achieve any degree of success? The Leader of the Opposition quoted a statement by a very distinguished American. I direct his attention to the remarks of another distinguished American who was for two years the United States Ambassador to Russia, and who stated in a most interesting book which he wrote -
I found again and again that the Russians adopted in all their conferences the same tactics. They met you with overwhelming bonhomie and goodwill. It looked at the first meeting that nothing was impossible in the way of settlement. You went away in great hopes that you were going to get a rational approach to the problems which you had upon the agenda, and the next day when you came you found sullen and lowering faces; you found instead of courtesy, rudeness; you found everything possible obstructive of that which you wanted to do.
This distinguished American drew attention to the tactics that were adopted, say, five years ago. They were the tactics of overwhelming bonhomie at the initial meeting; every courtesy followed by the most boarish, crude and rude behaviour, and complete refusal to consider anything at all. Later, there was a slightly improved attitude. The Ambassador came to the conclusion that that was a deliberate tactic used to upset and destroy the balance of those attempting any compromise with them. They misled the representatives of the nations by indicating that they were going to be reasonable and that the atmosphere was friendly. Having completely reversed their approach, they returned to a half-suspicious, half-friendly attitude. If those were the only occasions upon which those tactics had been adopted, I would not mind, but they have been adopted on every occasion on which there has been a meeting.
Going back to the 1930’s, was there any lack of goodwill on the part of the Allies seeking agreement with Hitler? They even sacrificed vital principles and, in the earlier stages, some of the smaller nations in an endeavour to maintain peace. Why could not peace be obtained? Because time and again the people with whom the Allies were dealing gave their word and then deliberately broke it. They gave their solemn undertaking that they had no further designs upon the world, and having got that far, proceeded to the point where they thought they could win the final round and so made the fatal cast of war.
I believe with my whole heart that nothing could be better for this world than for the four or five big nations to agree to bring about the position which only they possess the power to do. I believe also that one of the greatest of those nations deliberately adopts the tactics time after time which Hitler and his jackal Mussolini used to destroy the peace of the world. Therefore, I believe that the best intentions of the Minister for External Affairs and other Foreign Ministers of the Western world will fail. One can do one’s best, but often one has to cast pearls before swine. I hope that in the course of time those nations that stand on the opposite side will acquire that good faith without which no peace will last, no truce will be observed and no armistice will continue to its successful conclusion.
.- The remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), relating to the statement made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), were a thoughtful contribution to this debate, and should not be passed over lightly. The remarks of the Leader of the Opposition were a reiteration of a decision made by the Australian Labour party, which was, of course, sponsored by our leader, regarding the breaking of the impasse of the cold war. The only way to do that logically appears to be to get down to a basis where there can be an exchange of views at the highest possible level. I think we all agree with that statement, and it does not need any reiteration.
The second point, which is a very important one, is that we should stop talking nonsense to each other. Such cliches as the “ cold war “ and the “ free world “ are just so many slogans out of the galaxy of John Foster Dulles’s public relations office, and they do not mean anything. What is a solid definition of a “ free world “ ? There is only one free world, and it is not on this earth; it is somewhere else. Is not a reference to a “ cold war “ only the public relations man’s definition of a peaceful existence between wars when two sides of comparable power hate each other and are prepared to have another go at each other? There is nothing particularly new in that sort of phrase, except that it is decorated and put in Hollywood language. If, as the Minister suggests, we do want to exchange views - and I realize the difficulties on both sides - we ought to examine our conscience in relation to this matter from the point of view of members of democracies and of members of the Communist bloc, if that is possible. At least, we can do it on our side.
I hold a strong objection to the way in which propaganda is accepted. I refer to propaganda of any kind, political propaganda and propaganda which is of necessity exaggerated. One of the reasons I sought permission from my Whip to speak this afternoon was to answer two exaggerated propaganda statements relating to the cold war made at the conclusion of the last sessional period by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). At that time, I was preparing for a trip to China as leader of a delegation which included my colleagues, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths) and Senator Arnold. To-day, if we are discussing a cold war and the propaganda that can be used on both sides, to reach any solution - perhaps a platform in space should be created where we could eventually reach a solution - we must be honest in our analysis of the facts and not hurl mass accusations at each other. We must see how many of these accusations stand up to fact and to investigation.
The honorable member for Moreton referred to a report prepared by the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations and the Director-General of the International Labour Office about the number of slave labourers in China. He said that his information was that about 25,000,000 people were slave labourers. He asked us whether, in our trip into China, we would be able to investigate this matter. Before we talk about the number of slave labourers, we must understand what the Chinese Government, or any other Communist government, believes to be slave labour and what the democracies consider to be slave labour. In considering any vast propaganda line about numbers, we must remember that China is inhabitated by 600,000,000 people. In a country with a population of just under 10,000,000, such as we have, those figures are astounding and astronomical. Whether the figures are true or not cannot be proved, but perhaps I can suggest a line which could be developed. However, I do say that we can condition our minds.
Since the Marco Polo bridge incident in Peking twenty years or more ago, 50,000,000 Chinese have been killed in various ways - not entirely by Communists, not entirely by the forces of Chiang Kaishek, not entirely by the Japanese, but by the forces of a great war that took so many different approaches and developed in so many different ways. So, 50,000,000 Chinese men, women and children died by act of war. by starvation, by pestilence and by floods. In the circumstances, the immensity of the loss of life in China must be measured against those figures.
The honorable member for Moreton quoted freely from the report he mentioned. I am reading from “ Hansard “. An honorable member asked by way of interjection where he obtained his figures, and he was able to establish the source. He said he thought the period for which the figures on slave labour were given extended over a period of ten years. Mistakenly, he said that he thought that the end of Chiang Kai-shek in China was 1945. It was much later than that. If there were 25,000,000 slave labourers in China, the figures must have covered more than ten years. 1 am surprised to find that organizations such as the United Nations and the I.L.O., when making an external investigation of slave labour in China, could be so specific in good round numbers. It smells a little of the lamp of research and very little of the light of truth, so far as I could see during my journey into China. The honorable member is a fierce protagonist for his side of the argument. He was asked what constituted the breakdown of the 25,000,000 slave labourers in Japan. Then we find a curiously mixed up set of circumstances.
– Do you mean China or Japan.
– I am sorry, I mean China.
– lt was quite a significant slip.
– It may be that, with your friend in the territory at the moment, I naturally thought of Japan rather than of China. The honorable member for Moreton alleged with great fierceness that there were 25,000,000 slave labourers in China. His concept of slave labour was huge camps from which people were driven out in the morning and into which they were driven al night, and that the prisoners did the work that the Chinese peasants and labourers would not do. They were held for political reasons or for civil offences. This is the break-down of the figure of 25,000,000 given by the honorable member: -
There were clean-up campaigns in China, known as the Woo Fan and the San Fan campaigns, which were almost exclusively concentrated on removing from the Chinese scene those who were dissident and would not conform, not in the way of public resistance or armed resistance to the Communists and their associates in the common front, but those who by sabotage, either by reason of persistent capitalism against the State or persistent sabotage in regard to the old Chinese squeeze and such things, came within that category. I should say that the people who were confined to prison in the main came from the “ Three Anti “ campaign and the “ Five Anti “ campaign and not, as this report suggests, from various wars. Those figures would be dissipated in the things that had happened to China both by the presence there of the Chiang Kai-shek forces and by the presence somewhere else of the Mao Tse-tung forces. There is no proper way to get a sharp, clearly defined and properly etched picture in relation to these people. Then, when I go further to see how the external investigators were striving to get some truth into their statistics, I find this statement -
People who became slave-labourers as a result of other campaigns 8,000,000
Who in the name of goodness would accept that? The statement refers to other unspecified campaigns! Yet these people expect an ordinary investigator to believe that 8,000,000 persons have become slave labourers during unspecified and un-named campaigns. That statement immediately breaks down the validity of the figures and makes the source suspect. The statement that 1,500,000 were sent abroad can be dismissed, unless it is meant that they were sent in an interchange of prisoners between China and Russia. Of course, this allegation is completely absurd, as is the statement, made in relation to the Hungarian situation, that slave labour was sent from Hungary to China. The obsession of China is to feed its 600,000,000 people. The Government of China does not want slave labour, because its problem is to bring the country out of feudalism and to make it a great industrial nation. In the circumstances, numbers are not the obsession with the Chinese that they are with us.
When responsible members of this House speak of the transporting of thousands of Hungarians to labour as slaves in China, it is utterly fantastic. Such ideas belong to the days of fable, and do not represent a proper analysis of the position. Yet we have this very vague and disappointing statement about slave labour by responsible authorities of the United Nations. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), who is at the table, and who represents a rural constituency, knows that at poultry shows there is a category known as “ any other variety “. When it is not possible to classify a fowl as a leghorn or a buff orpington, it is put into that category. That is what has been done in this instance. 1 suggest that 7,000,000 or 8,000,000 of the people referred to as slave labourers could not possibly be so classified with validity.
Then we come to the category “ Civilians committed to forced labour, 8,000,000.” Of the total, in respect of 15,000,000 there does not appear to be any real proof on investigation. The International Labour Organization and the United Nations have fallen into the error into which so many people have fallen because of the difficulties of getting facts out of China. When they cannot get the facts, they write something that they think could be right, and leave it for the people to work out for themselves. The figures that have been referred to could be right, but my view, as one who has visited China - and this is the view of other members of the delegation, who will speak for themselves on this matter - is that the figures are exaggerated, and that the collation of them has been very careless. I say with regret that they have been compiled for the purpose of deriving enormous propaganda value from them. These are some of the effects of the cold war. Statements that cannot be checked and all kinds of asseverations are made, and statistics compiled, about a situation in respect of which nothing can be proved. I suggest that if we want to dissipate the cold war atmosphere, there must be understanding between the countries of the world. Now. it is either a matter of co-existence or no existence. Our flaming hatreds can be quenched by the kind of common sense that informed the speech of the Leader of the Opposition.
The members of the delegation that went to China were in no position, because of the shortness of the trip and the difficulties of the terrain, to cover the whole of China, but the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), and other honorable members in this House who participated in the trip with me, will acknowledge that we did not see what one would associate with slave labour camps, such as a great army of guards and a great army of workers. Let me put it this way: Six hundred million Chinese became dedicated slaves of their own volition to pull themselves out of the feudal slime of four centuries of oppression under the tyrannies of the emperors, the dictators, the squeeze merchants and the white capitalists.
– Many people in Germany would never believe that Dachau, Buchenwald, and other such places, existed.
– I am telling the House what I saw. We are not saying that such camps do not exist, but they certainly do not exist to the fantastic degree that the John Foster Dulles bureau of propaganda would have us believe, for the purpose of defaming China in the cold war. 1 do not believe that the topography and geography of China are such that these vast numbers in camps could be hidden. In Sechuan and Shansi, in the far north-west and in the far south-west, areas are booming with new enterprises. Something like the development that is occurring in our own Northern Territory is taking place there. The presence of slave labourers in vast numbers would be detected, because aircraft fly over those areas every day. Later, I shall tell honorable members of the prisons we did visit, and I shall give the answer to this question of reform through education and reform through labour. Reference is made in the report to a city called Soo Chow. There are two Soo Chows in China. One is a small town with an airport. We landed there, and found nothing more than some pomegranate trees, some rice fields and a few blue mountains. The other Soo Chow is the Venice of China, at which the people and workers of China spend their holiday periods. Definitely, there are no prisoners of war or slave labourers in that town. So that, so far as we could find out, they may exist, but we did not see them. That is what I want to report, in honesty, to this House.
Do these slave labour camps exist? If they do, I suggest that they exist in a different way altogether from the way that honorable members opposite seem to think. There are, I believe, many people in prison who are going through a process of reform, by means of labour and education, a process at which we rather scoff, although I do not think we are entitled to scoff at it. I read yesterday in a newspaper from the capital city of the State from which the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr.
Mackinnon) and some other honorable members opposite come, that the authorities are trying reform through the knout. It has been suggested in Victoria that a certain prisoner should have solitary confinement and a whipping. I remember discussion in this place yesterday, during the presence in the chamber of the Prime Minister of Japan, and, prior to that, a very brilliant speech by the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm). The method of reform through labour in Burma was not a pretty thing. Was the insistence that a man should not allow himself to be made a prisoner of war better than the concept that allowed the enemy to make him a plate-layer and starve him to death? That kind of thing is not confined to the Chinese or the Russians. It is one of the things that lie at the heart of man’s universal wickedness.
As we went through China we saw amazing things that could change much of the thinking of honorable members opposite if they could see them. I have before me a report published in the “ Christian Science Monitor”, which is a fairly reasonable newspaper. I suggest that it is free of any bias, and is fair reporting. The report states that members of an American youth delegation came to a camp at Wuhan, in China. We went to a camp some hundreds of miles away from there, but the same considerations would apply. These people said that there were two American prisoners at the camp and that they were allowed to see them, after some negotiation. The prisoners reported frankly that they had been members of the Central Intelligence Agency, and were serving a sentence for espionage. They were sun-bronzed and healthy. They admitted that, in the early stages, they were in solitary confinement, but that they were then working out their sentences and had no complaints. They spoke of the literature they read. One of them, Mr. Fecteau, said that he read “ Sports Illustrated “, the “ New Yorker “, and works of Engels, Marx, Stalin, Lenin, Mao Tse-tung, Cervantes, Dickens, Thomas Mann, and Zane Grey. I suggest that that is about the average reading of a member of this House, with perhaps, more of an emphasis on Zane Grey than on Lenin, Stalin, Cervantes, Dickens or Thomas Mann. Mr. Fecteau also said that he had read some “ foolish “ books and “ westerns “. Mr. Downey, the other prisoner, said that he was at present reading Carl Sandburg’s four-volume “ Life of Lincoln “, and that he had read a text-book on dialectical materialism. These men, who were in a slave labour camp - if honorable members prefer the term of the honorable member for Moreton - said that one of them had had a six-weeks’ holiday tour of northern cities of China, and that the other had had a three-weeks’ holiday tour of certain parts of Peking, provided by the administration of the prison. Mr. Downey said - i was terribly impressed with all the new developments taking place. For the first time i realised the importance of land reform and the significance of collective farms.
It is true that in every way there is pressure upon the prisoner, whether he is a political prisoner or a civilian who has broken the law, to get him to conform to the general concept, but so far as I could see, patience rather than force was used. That was the idea, even to the point of taking prisoners on a tour. Are not these conditions better than those that used to exist in China? The question, “Why do you criticize this regime? “ is part of the technique. I suggest that nothing like 25,000,000 men are living in misery.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I join in the congratulations accorded to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) on his very comprehensive summarized survey of some of the outstanding problems of the world to-day. I agree with the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston), who said that the Minister has made a very great contribution to the high standing which Australia holds in the world to-day. I personally rate Australia’s standing as high, whatever rating may be given to it by others.
Not long ago, Australians were inclined to be disinterested in international affairs, because they did not have to bother about them. I remember, I think it was in 1935, in my home town, trying for about a year to interest people in what I felt were the difficulties and dangers that we faced at that time in the Pacific. Nobody was interested then, but since World War II., the situation has changed. We now find ourselves almost an Asian power, and certainly an adjunct to the Asian nations, isolated in the South-West Pacific from other Western races. By force of circumstances and events, we have had to take an interest in what goes on about us. I think that, as a small nation, particularly under the direction of the present Minister, we have very successfully discharged most of our obligations in international affairs. At the same time, I respectfully suggest to the Minister - and I should like the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), who is now at the table, to take a note of this, as I do not expect for a moment that the Minister for External Affairs is listening in his office-
– I am not only listening, but also interested.
– I respectfully ask the Scots Minister at the table, if he can understand a Welshman’s talk, to convey to the Minister for External Affairs the suggestion, and I am sure that every honorable member will agree, that the Government should make important statements on foreign affairs in the Parliament, and not outside it. The Parliament is the proper place for them to be made. I request, respectfully but firmly, that debates on such statements should take place when the statements are made. It is not merely a question of myself or any other honorable member wanting to expound our own ideas or to hold discussions at the time, but the fact that debates on foreign affairs in the Parliament would uphold the dignity of this great institution. The discussion of those statements at the time would bring them to the forefront of public interest. If this is not done, I do not know how the Australian people will be able to take an intelligent interest in international affairs. It is very difficult for the people to consider them intelligently without the knowledge gained by debates in this House.
I think that all honorable members will agree, also, that once our people realize what is expected of them, they very seldom fail to rise to the occasion. The recent Olympic Games, held in Melbourne, are the most recent proof of this. Just a year ago, the Australian people rose to the occasion, and created an atmosphere of goodwill and friendship, which did a great deal for Australia at a time when we most needed favorable regard, because of the considerable international tension caused by Middle East events. Therefore, 1 ask the Minister for Social Services to take note of these two suggestions, and to convey them to the Minister for External Affairs, because I believe they are of real importance.
I remind the House that the Minister for External Affairs has often had to fight almost a lone battle. Generally, he has been proved right. The loneliness of the battle has been accentuated on some occasions, because attempts have been made by some people to silence his supporters. The Minister was right, in January and February, 1955, when, on behalf of the Government, he supported the SinoAmerican Treaty, at a time when the United Kingdom Labour party, and I think some of the members of its counterpart in Australia, were inclined to say, “ What do we care about the Republic of China in Formosa? Give it away “. Some other people of importance thought similarly, but it was not long afterwards - I think it was in April of the same year - that the principle for which the Minister had been fighting was enunciated in this House by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) as definite government policy. In Middle East affairs also, the Minister for External Affairs has been right, but it has taken a little longer for the correctness of his views to sink into certain minds. It is not easy to do the job that he is doing, but it is very easy to criticize somebody who, by the nature of his duties, perforce must travel about the world for a good deal of his time. This extensive travelling is a gastronomic effort, in the first place, and a tiring effort, in the second place. The Minister has always upheld the view - and I will always support him, and any one else who upholds the same view - that the more we have interchanges of people in positions such as that occupied by the Minister, of members of parliaments, and of amateur sportsmen, too, may I say, the better we shall begin to understand one another, and the better will be our relations with our neighbours.
To-day, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) made, on international affairs, one of the most moderate speeches that he has made for a long time, and I congratulate him on it. I do not want to enter into any argument about the cor rectness of the figure of 25,000,000, which is always given as the number of slave labourers in “China, but it is strange that the honorable member always questions reports of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and of the DirectorGeneral of the International Labour Organization. However, 1 leave that for the moment. The thing that really distresses me is that the Australian Labour party, irrespective of whether one agrees or disagrees with the views expressed by the members of that party, is always outspokenly critical of nearly all those people who are supposed to be our friends, and nearly always supports those who are on the Communist side. I hoped that, when the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) came back from overseas, and participated in the debate on the situation in Hungary, his remarks would reveal that he had been convinced by his Labour colleagues on the other side of the world of the error of his views. But to-day, again, we heard snide interjections about McCarthyism when the Minister for External Affairs was addressing the House. When he referred to relations between the United States of America and the United Kingdom, we heard more interjections smearing - to get away from this Communist term “ smearing “, I prefer to say “ criticizing “ - the United States, and jumping to conclusions about the attitude of that country. The Leader of the Opposition put up an idealized proposition that we ought to have summit conferences, and an exchange of views at the very highest level. I think that the honorable member for Parkes also proposed such exchanges of views. Yet members of the Australian Labour party will not even join with Government supporters in the Foreign Affairs Committee of this Parliament for an exchange of views.
– We would, if we could remove a couple of members from the committee.
There we are: Somebody else would go to the summit talks if one or two prospective delegates were prevented from’ participating! It may sound silly to compare something very big with something very small in that way, but the honorable member’s approach to the matter indicates an attitude of mind that cannot succeed in either the greater or the smaller field. It is of no use for Opposition members to preach at us in support of a summit conference, when they will not even exchange views with Government supporters as members of the Foreign Affairs Committee. I have no desire to see that committee, so long as I am chairman of it, detract in any way from the powers of the executive to determine policy, because I do not think that it would be wise or proper for it to do so, regardless of the political complexion of the Government. At the same time, we could perhaps, as a result of exchange of views, get much nearer to a united foreign policy in Australia - something along the same lines as they have in England. Of course, you will not get unanimity on everything.
– But we would still be smeared from that side of the chamber.
– I suppose there would still be political attacks and political differences, but 1 think if we could only get an exchange of views with Labour on foreign policy it would be better for everybody.
– It would not matter what we did, we would still be called proCommunist.
– At any rate, I hope we will not be accused of going out of our way to criticize those who are endeavouring to assist the progress of freedom as against those who at present are in, if not the depths, at least very deep water in regard to slavery.
There is one aspect of Government policy that I cannot understand, and that is that, in spite of all the goodwill that has been achieved, for some reason or other the Republic of China is still on the outer. We have had an Ambassador of the Republic of China here for a long time. We may agree or disagree with what Chiang Kaishek did, but he was one of the main people who gave Australia enough time, during the war, to get assistance from our allies. I think that those who have been to Taiwan will know that whatever else has happened, Chiang Kai-shek has done a practical job there. The Chiang Kai-shek Government represents approximately the same number of people as in Australia, and 14,000.000 overseas Chinese. I ask the Government to give that matter some further consideration. The other day I heard from a friend in Taiwan that the secretary of our Department of External Affairs had, for the first time, visited Taiwan. I hope that that visit is a move towards filling what I believe to be a very big gap in our foreign policy. We appoint people to represent us all over the world, but the two best posts in the Far East - Hong Kong and Taipeh - are left entirely empty as far as Australia is concerned.
– What about Peking?
– Well, I said the other day that I am prepared to judge people on their actions of to-day and not of yesterday, but do not let us forget what has happened as a result of Great Britain’s recognition of Communist China. Britain has not yet got an ambassador in Communist China because Peking will not appoint an ambassador to England except on its own terms. So Britain still has only a charge d’affaires. British assets in China, to the tune of £300,000,000, have been confiscated by the Communist Chinese, and she has been kicked from pillar to post so far as diplomatic recognition is concerned. Britain has been under a disadvantage all the time and has been losing face in the Far East.
So far as Australia is concerned, I am not prepared even to consider diplomatic recognition of a country which is still declared an aggressor by the United Nations. We are still technically at war with Red China. There is only an armistice in Korea, and its terms are not being carried out by the Chinese. The terms of the armistice in Indo-China are not being carried out. Red China took Tibet by force, and is still trying to stir up trouble among the “ Huks “ in the Philippines, and also in Malaya and Burma. The Prime Minister of Burma, who has had much closer experience of the red Chinese than we have had, said, I think only about three months ago, “ It is very difficult to deal with those people who have the mug of water and firebrand policy; who bring peace in the one hand and war in the other “.
While these things are going on it is very difficult to deal with any country the promises of which you cannot trust and which has built up, as Chou En-lai has admitted, a united front organization through trade and through legations in other countries whereby, under the guise of accepting nationalization in those countries, action is being taken to undermine them and set up Communist cells. This has been quite freely confessed. Therefore, it is a different matter altogether when you come to a question of the recognition of red China. The mere fact that there are so many facets to this problem is why I would like a debate on each particular aspect of foreign policy so that we could deal with each thoroughly rather than skate over all the aspects hurriedly. In any case, whether it be red China or Indonesia, we want to avoid, by every possible means, inflaming passions that exist or exciting new ones. At the same time I do not think that any member of this House - and I will be surprised if the Labour party in its heart differs from me in this - wants to bow down before bluff and blackmail. This is one of the greatest difficulties in the cold war to-day. The Communists, knowing that we and our allies, who are much more powerful than us, want to avoid war at all costs, are prepared to play the international poker game to the limit and even when they have only a pair of deuces in their hand they hold the cards very close to their chest and play for high stakes.
– And they have a gun under the table.
– Every one has a gun under the table in this game. But the Communists know that the United States, the United Kingdom and their allies want peace, so this game of international poker is very different from what it used to be.
I suppose that to-day Indonesia is one of the three prongs of the Communist cold war attack. On only one of the Dutch buildings in Djakarta taken over this week has the Indonesian flag been raised. Why is the red flag raised on other buildings which have been taken over by mobocracy in Djakarta? The voice of the Indonesian Government is not even heard. I know that these problems are very difficult. I also, like the Minister, hope that we will be able to find a solution to them. But I hope also that that solution will not consist in giving way to blackmail over Dutch New Guinea in order to allow it to be populated by red Chinese.
The Melanesians have a right to nationhood in the future- I know that there are some Australians who will not agree with me when I say that it is our job, as well as the job of every one else in the United Nations, to see that the future of the Melanesians is protected. The Indonesians have a big job in their own country and I hope we can still maintain our friendship with them. For that reason I think the less said about Indonesia at the moment the better, because we do not want to exacerbate any feelings. But it is a very difficult matter when a nation like Indonesia refers something to the United Nations and says that if it does not get what it wants it will take the matter into its own hands and take action against the Dutch, and, I suppose, other Europeans.
This brings us to another question which we should not have to face. We want an alternative air route from Australia to South-East Asia because it is quite possible that under the present conditions of mobocracy in Indonesia the air strip at Djakarta and other air strips in Indonesia will not be available to us. We do not seek a new route because we want to attack Indonesia. Nobody is going to attack it. But we have to think of our defence because, however much we want peace, there are certain things which we are not prepared to give away. We do not want to become like the tribe in northern India that believes in Krishna. The juggernaut god comes rolling down the street and, in a frenzy of devotion, the faithful throw themselves under its wheels and die. Mr. Krishna has no relation to Mr. Menon. That is a different attitude altogether. We believe that certain things are fundamental and we shall go on upholding them and, I hope, improving them. But at the same time it is more difficult to do so when excited frenzy takes the place of reasoned judgment.
.- I agree with a good deal of what the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) has said. Those aspects of his speech with which I do not agree I shall deal with in the course of my contribution to this debate. It is very difficult to handle a subject of this sort, when we are roving from one end of the world to another and dealing with conflicts that separate nations. Four significant features have emerged from this debate. The Government begins with a one-sided assumption that the sole responsibility for international tension lies with the Communist powers. The second point is that there are significant conflicts and inconsistencies in the Government’s foreign policy. The third point is that there is an almost complete underestimation of the significance of Asian and Arab nationalism. The fourth point is that the Government is adopting certain restrictive practices that inhibit discussion on foreign policy particularly.
With regard to the first point, the Government lays the sole responsibility for conflict at the door of the Communist powers. This became apparent during the course of the speech by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). He discussed the various plans for aerial inspection, and said -
All of this means that Soviet Russia could have inspection in all the areas from which it professes to fear attack.
I have a photostat copy of the three proposals put forward by the Western powers, as published in a weekly supplement to the New York “ Times “. An examination of these proposals reveals that they leave out the most important areas of western Europe and some of eastern Europe. They leave out, for instance, the whole of Iceland and, most certainly, the whole of Turkey. I find it difficult to reconcile that with the Minister’s clear statement that all areas from which Russia professes to fear attack would be exposed to inspection. It just does not add up. The Minister’s statement indicates to me some carelessness or some anxiety on his part to attribute to our opponents too much of the blame for what happened.
– I stated facts from official sources.
– The Minister will have an opportunity to reply later on. On 7th November, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that he attributed the whole responsibility for the Middle East tension and crisis to Soviet influence. He did not say the immediate influence, as did the Minister for External Affairs, but the Prime Minister took the whole historical view. All honorable members know that the Middle East has been the centre of tensions and crises for generations. We know, if we accept the statements of the Minister, that the present situation is contributed to very largely by racial antipathy between the Arabs and the Jews in the Middle East, to take only one example, and that is vastly over-simplifying the position.
In his statement, the Minister suggested that there was no hope of success from a summit conference. He said -
If there was the slightest chance of a summit conference having even modest prospects of reaching agreement . . . But the simple and gloomy fact is that there is no evidence whatsoever that such a conference would do more good than harm.
Later, the Minister said -
The democratic world would be foolish in the extreme to believe that we are dealing with other than an implacable enemy dedicated to our destruction.
– Do you deny that?
– Yes. The Minister said that it would be stupid to consider a conference or discussion. I do not think this is true.
– Why is it not true?
– I shall tell the honorable member why. The Minister said -
Yet the massive striking force of the American Strategic Air Command, held in readiness around the clock in a great many places around Russia and China is still the spearhead of the western deterrent and is likely to remain so for many years ahead.
When the massive striking force of the American Strategic Air Command completely encircles the Communist countries, how can we genuinely say that all the contributions to tension are on the one side? The Government can try to justify that encirclement if it wishes. It can say that it is necessary to have those bombers ready with nuclear bombs 24 hours a day if it wishes, but it cannot say, in the face of that, that the contributions to the cold war and the tensions of to-day are completely onesided. It is not a question, as the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) pointed out, of who started the cold war. It is a question of how we are to stop it. I suggest that both sides have contributed to the present situation, and in their own minds both sides believe that they were justified. The Minister further stated -
In the face of Soviet activity in the Middle East, the western powers have tried to follow a policy of giving the countries of the area encouragement and aid.
The Minister then went on to speak about the Baghdad pact. The implication is that our policy is the result of something that the other side has done. If our policy of giving aid, both military and economic, is merely based on something that the Soviet does, then we are remiss. If we only follow up something that the Soviet does, it means that we leave the initiative to them, and anybody with a knowledge of recent history knows that the Baghdad pact and assistance to Jordan was contemporaneous with the move of the Communist powers in these areas. If they were not contemporaneous then, by its own standards, the Government’s policy would be condemned.
In relation to the second point that I mentioned, I suggest that there are some serious inconsistencies underlying the Government’s position. In his speech, the Minister made four statements. The first one was -
It is evident that Russia hopes to force the Western world into agreeing to disarmament on their terms.
The second statement is -
If there was the slightest chance of a summit conference having even modest prospects of reaching agreement on the basic issues which divide the world . . . But the simple and gloomy fact is that there is no evidence whatsoever that such a conference would do more good than harm.
The third statement is -
No conciliation, no getting-together, no discussions at however high a level are likely to make the Communists abandon it. There is no more dangerous term than “ conciliation “. “ Conciliation “ has now joined “ peace “ as a dangerous word when we are grappling with the Communist threat. The fourth statement is -
The democratic world would be foolish in the extreme to believe that we are dealing with other than an implacable enemy dedicated to our destruction.
If that represents the Government’s view, then there is no possibility of any conference, any discussion, or any agreement between the contending powers of the world. If that is so, why does the Minister conclude with the statement that there is a possibility of agreement? He says -
In spite of the uncertain outlook in so many directions that I have found myself obliged to record at this time, I find it impossible to believe that the present situation is a permanent one.
The Minister either believes that we are faced with an implacable enemy who will make no concessions whatever, or he believes that there is a possibility of the situation not being permanent, and that we can reach some understanding through conference and discussion. If these four points that I have mentioned show there is no chance of agreement, then let the Minister give up what would then be a pretence of being a man of conciliation and one who emphasizes at all times the value of discussion and agreement.
No one has any doubt that the Minister for External Affairs is a man of good intentions. The only doubt we can have is whether he has enough drive and concern to put those good intentions into operation in the face of people in the Cabinet who do not agree with him. I wish to refer to the position of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). We know that he made a famous speech outside this House on 21st October. I have referred to it previously in this chamber. He made an examination of one of the proposals put forward by the Russian leader, Khrushchev. Our Prime Minister said -
It is an interesting disclosure of an attitude of mind and, properly considered, once we’ve got past all its superficial absurdities and falsities, which I’ll say something about it in a moment - it may lead us, if there’s a grain of genuineness behind it, to a re-thinking on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
If we are faced with an implacable enemy, there is no possibility of any rethinking on both sides of the Iron Curtain. The Prime Minister went on to examine the situation a little more carefully. He said -
It’s rather suggestive.
That is, the speech of Khrushchev, the Russian leader, which he then quoted as follows: -
Proceeding from the premise that there has been a certain rapprochement between the points of view held by the British Labour party and the Soviet Communist party on a number of most important questions dealing with the preservation of peace and international security, the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist party considers that the joint efforts of our parties could contribute to the preservation of peace in the Near and Middle East.
And it would follow elsewhere, as well. The Prime Minister said, “ Yes, there is a possibility in this “. What are we to do? Are we to continue to hold the view that we are faced with an implacable enemy with whom there is no possibility of any kind of agreement or discussion, or are we to listen to speeches such as this one of the Prime Minister in which he says there is such a possibility? The Prime Minister is saying that if we can get that kind of rapprochement - and it is not a very big one - between the policies of the two sides which is consistent with that of the British Labour party, then there is a possibility of reaching agreement with the Communist powers.
But the Prime Minister did not long remain in that position. Two days later he made another speech in Melbourne at the Lord Mayor’s dinner. Perhaps, the circumstances were slightly different; perhaps, also, the Prime Minister is notable for his after-dinner speeches. But his speech on this occasion was very different from the speech he had made to the Liberal party conference in Melbourne. He said -
If our friend Mr. Khruschev urges us to come to the conference table to discuss international peace, I know what we must say to him.
He may tell us he has contributed greatly to the advancement of mankind by launching the satellites, but we can then say to him, “ Have you launched free the people of Hungary, East Poland and East Germany? “
Two days earlier, the Prime Minister was proposing or supporting a suggestion of a summit conference through the United Nations without any conditions. Now he made a statement that the Russians would have to free - whatever that means - the peoples of Hungary, East Poland and East Germany, before that conference could take place. What is the explanation of that sudden change within less than 48 hours? Is not that a striking inconsistency underlying the attitude of the leaders of this country towards foreign policy? With these striking inconsistencies, how can we expect any constructive progress with such an attitude? The Prime Minister went on, in his Melbourne speech, to say -
Sputniks I and II were designed to strike some form of terror into people’s minds … the cold war attitude had not changed and people should not be beguiled into believing that it had.
Two days before this he said that he saw a chance of reaching agreement with the Communist powers. I suggest that the second point I am making, that there is a striking inconsistency underlying the foreign policy of this Government, is only too clear.
The next point I wish to make is Australia’s under-estimation of the national drive in other countries. The Minister for External Affairs has made this only too clear. We under-estimated, completely, the national drive in Laos. That kind of situation has now come about in that country which, up to the present, we had refused to accept. We have under-estimated the national drive in Indonesia. The Minister for External Affairs dealt with the Indonesian situation in his speech this morning in these words -
At the same time neither we, nor the Indonesian Government, can be unmindful of the acrimony in public discussion that has lately developed during the heat of the United Nations debate and the demonstration of Indonesian attitudes inside Indonesia.
Indonesia is not. however, improving the atmosphere for co-operation with other countries, nor is it strengthening the economic and political basis on which co-operation can be built, when it takes far-reaching and widespread action against Dutch enterprises.
The Minister appears to think that the only thing wrong with the Indonesians is that they are not acting as gentlemen. Underlying the present Indonesian position is a most powerful and explosive national force which, if it is not gratified in the directions in which it is driving, will sweep aside the Soekarno Government and everybody in Indonesia who stands in its way. This ought to be recognized. It is useless for the Minister to come into this House and indulge in silly platitudes without in any way coming to grips with the situation we are now facing. It is quite impossible for Holland to remain very long in charge of West New Guinea. Something will have to be done to get away from that. But the Australian Government takes an entirely negative attitude and aligns itself in an unconstructive way with one side instead of trying to solve the problem and get some kind of situation in New Guinea which will not endanger the security of the area.
– What would you do?
– I would seek, through the United Nations, a discussion and put forward to the Indonesians a proposal for a United Nations mandate in New Guinea, controlled by a special United
Nations body, of which there has been none so far, or by a country which the Indonesians would accept. They will not accept Holland. Certainly, the first would be an innovation.
The last point I want to make is about the restrictions on the discussion on foreign policy that have been practised in this country. Whenever a foreign policy statement is made which conflicts with that of the Government, we have anger from the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer), who rebukes us in his cold calm tones; the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) nervously taps his fingers on the back of the seat behind him; and the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) sits in a front or a back seat acting like an inquisitor. I have been present in the House of Commons and have heard people express the same kind of views as I have expressed to-day, but they were not met with such reactions, even from the most hoary tories of the House of Commons. We need a little more freedom in this country and a little more tolerance to listen to argument which is constructive. Britain is endeavouring to solve the very kind of trouble that this Government, in recent years, has made such a mess of trying to solve. I believe that the Australian Government’s attitude produces a negative situation. The reason for this is the policy of this Government, which I have been talking about. It does not contribute anything to foreign policy or to defence or security.
The statements of the leaders of this Government are made mainly for local political consumption. This Government has to have a policy which continues a condition of tension. It must have that tension because it has profited from it and from this form of anti-communism with which it is associating with the so-called Australian Democratic Labour party. The Government is capitalizing on this and intends to live on it. But for the sake of its political future, the Government will have to consider how far it will push its present policy and how much it will become involved in its association with that party, because it may find it most difficult to escape from the results of that policy within the next five years.
Lastly, I consider that the Government’s failure is a failure of personalities. The Minister for External Affairs is a man capable of negotiation and conciliation, but the Prime Minister has not those qualities. He is not capable of any kind of concession. No Prime Minister in a democratic country to-day has so much personal power as has the Prime Minister of Australia. Throughout all his political career he has followed this urge for power. His attitude is quite irreconcilable with that required in the conduct of foreign affairs. It is entirely different from that shown by Mr. Nehru, or by the leader of the Australian Labour party, a man who has shown himself in international affairs to be psychologically qualified and intellectually equipped to negotiate and conciliate. The contrast between the figures that I mentioned is only too clear if we think about them for a moment. Therefore I suggest that the Government is not equipped to pronounce a constructive foreign policy and, in view of its present leadership, it is not psychologically equipped to put that policy into operation.
.- It would seem that the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) has some queer ideas as to what constitutes freedom of discussion. Any attempt by honorable members on this side to point out honestly the truth of the direction in which Labour argument is leading is met with smears and personal attacks of the most virulent and a nasty character. The honorable member for Yarra will scarcely dare to deny the close personal connexion that he has had in the past with various Communist bodies. It may be by accident or it may be by design but honorable members opposite shape their foreign policy to coincide with the real interests of the Communists and to make it more difficult for us to conduct successful negotiations in this critical phase of world history.
I do not say that they are doing it on their own. What they are doing is part of a propaganda campaign which is being launched throughout the world in many places and which has seriously weakened our power to negotiate successfully. It is putting us, I think deliberately, at a disadvantage in negotiation. The honorable member for Yarra was wrong when he spoke of the areas offered in the inspection plan. He does not realize, of course, that the original plan, as put forward by President Eisenhower, was for world-wide inspection, nor does he realize - or perhaps he does realize - that the quotation that he made from the “ New York Times “ significantly omitted the last proposal put forward. It was referred to by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), who said that the United States of America had offered, subject to the consent of the countries concerned - and that is a necessary consent - inspection of all its own overseas bases. That is the significant thing which was omitted, perhaps because it was not germane to the article in the “ New York Times “, but which is contained, rightly and properly, in the Minister’s speech. I do not think it is reasonable that that kind of tendentious omission should be introduced into the debate.
The honorable member for Yarra said, furthermore, that we must not consider the Russians to be our implacable enemies. No one wants to consider the Russian people as our implacable enemies, but we know that the Russian Communist system is, on its own statement, and by its own constitution, the implacable foe of democracy and the implacable foe of everything that we think is good. The hope of reconciliation and negotiation lies in this: We must find a way of waking up the Russian people and allowing them effectively to impose their will on their Communist masters. The freeing of the Russian people is an indispensable preliminary to world peace on a permanent scale. It is here that the possibility of agreement lies.
I found it rather ungenerous for the honorable member for Yarra to sneer at the United States and say that the cause of tension had not been one-sided because the wicked Americans had their bombs ready to drop. But these bombs are ready not for aggression but as a deterrent to aggression against us. That is what is saving the skin of the honorable member for Yarra at the moment. Let him remember it.
I now turn to the views expressed by the right honorable member for Barton earlier in this debate. Apparently, his naive view is that all we have to do in order to solve international problems is to call a summit conference. But, after all, is not the possi bility of a summit conference always present? Is not the United Nations a perpetual forum for exactly this purpose? What can a summit conference provide that is not provided in the United Nations if only people will go to the United Nations with goodwill. It is unfortunate that the Russians have used United Nations negotiations, not in order to reach any conclusion, but as a means of delay and timewasting generally, as a means of preparing a propaganda position.
How would a summit conference differ? I suppose that it would differ in that it would allow the Russians a bigger propaganda point because they can appeal to our people but we cannot appeal equally to their people because of Russian censorship. We cannot speak to the Russian people because the means of communication through press and radio are not open to us. For that reason, a summit conference could enable the Russians to approach such conferences with ill will to gain an advantage over the democracies because the democracies would not obtain a countervailing effect on Russia. With an organization such as the Labour party, echoing, in a snide, moderate way, the Russian protestations about democratic ill will, a summit conference could be very useful to the Russians.
I am not saying that we should not hold a summit conference. I am saying that I can see reasons why the Russians would like one to be held. A summit conference cannot solve problems unless there is a will to solve them. Why is a perpetual summit conference not occurring at this moment between the right honorable member for Barton and Senator Cole, who leads the other wing of the Labour party? If the right honorable member for Barton is so keen on summit conferences why is he not holding a summit conference in his own sphere? The interjection that I made when the Leader of the Opposition was speaking that the Australian Labour party could not truly claim to be a free Labour party was not entirely frivolous.
I found offensive and rather silly the attacks which have been levelled by the right honorable member for Barton and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) against the concept of the free world. Of course, I do not claim for one moment that everything is perfect in the free world. I do not even say that everything in the free world is good. But there is this difference between the free world and the Communist world: Whereas the free world is increasing its freedom - it may be inadequate but it is increasing - the Communist world is increasing its slavery. The Communist world is like a cancer. It is malignant. It grows by the force of its own disease and malignancy in the politic body of the entire globe. Consequently, those people who try to excuse communism by pointing out the very manifest defects in our own system are doing a disservice to people as a whole. Of course there are defects in our system - plenty of them. But we, with goodwill, are trying to overcome those defects.
We are trying - slowly and inadequately, perhaps - and to some extent succeeding in our endeavour to extend the area of freedom inside our own organization. The free world is free, as opposed to the slave world, because it is moving in the opposite direction from the slave world in relation to freedom. Honorable members of the Opposition have done no service to our side by using the defects which manifestly exist in the free world for the purpose of excusing the slavery that exists on the other side, and as a means of preventing us from curing the world cancer. The right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) may call himself a great industrialist, but I say that in relation to this issue he can at best be considered the leading citizen of Laodicea
– I refer the honorable member to the Acts of the Apostles, if he does not recognize the allusion.
One very serious question before us is that of disarmament, which was mentioned by the Minister in his opening remarks. This is a vital subject for us and for the whole world. I do not for one moment wish to underrate the necessity to reach a solution of this problem, because unless we do reach a solution of it the world as we know it cannot continue. Therefore I submit the question is not whether we should negotiate or not, because negotiations must take place. They are spragged, unfortunately, at the moment by the refusal of Russia to assist the work of the Disarmament Commission of the United Nations. The real problem before us is how best to bring Russia back into those negotiations, and how best we can make them successful. If we give way to Russia when that nation is being intransigent and refusing to negotiate, the only result will be that Russia will become less inclined to negotiate in the future. It is only from a position of strength that we can bring Russia into conference, because she has refused to participate in a conference. She has walked out from the Disarmament Commission of the United Nations. I have not heard any very eloquent reproof falling from the lips of the right honorable member for Barton.
We need some practical proposals. The first thing we need to do is strengthen our own ranks and our own alliance. I should like to see an organization created inside the United Nations, in complete conformity with the charter of that body, to which any nation would be free to belong - not an exclusive club by any means. The rules of the organization would provide that those who belonged to it would be prepared, in relation to disputes between one another, to accept unconditionally the findings of the International Court of Justice or whatever appropriate juridical body might be established. This is a practical suggestion. It could be done unilaterally. It does not require the consent of nations that do not wish to belong to the organization. A body of this character could be created inside the United Nations, as I have said, in complete conformity with the United Nations Charter, lt would weld the free world into a more coherent group in which the rule of law would be accepted in international affairs. This seems to me a preliminary to persuading Russia to agree once more to participate in disarmament negotiations.
Inspection is vital. World-wide and watertight inspection provisions are needed before there can be any security. By itself, of course, inspection is not sufficient. Other provisions are necessary as well, but the right of inspection is an indispensable preliminary to any effective action, and it is, therefore, the first provision that we should make. I believe that we should set out some clear and permanent offer of inspection, not a limited one in any way, but of such a kind as would follow from President Eisenhower’s pronouncement some years ago regarding the necessity for inspection.
Let us provide something to this effect: Each country that joins the new organization shall have open to inspection a certain proportion of its area. Let the particular country determine the proportion itself. Then let that proportion be increased every year in accordance with a set formula, so that the proportion of the country open to inspection will increase to 100 per cent, within a set and measurable time. Some provision along those lines which would leave the various countries permanently open to inspection after a certain period would provide a better moral basis for our future negotiations. 1 believe that we have fallen down in allowing the Russians, in negotiation, to confuse the issue in the minds of our own people. This has been the result of poor propaganda on our part, although our intentions have been honorable, and although what we are trying to do was entirely right. The position has not been properly presented to our own people. We have allowed the Russian propagandists, aided, to some extent, by woolly minded people in our own country, to confuse the issue in the minds of our people. Let us make the position simple, clear and beyond misunderstanding. If we can do so, we will be helping to prevent Russia from making further ideological headway by exploiting confusion and negotiating in bad faith. We all know what happened in the years from 1946 onwards with regard to the Atomic Energy Disarmament Commission. Russia pretended to negotiate with the object of gaining time until she herself could be as strongly armed as America was. In retrospect, this is now transparently clear. Russia was able to succeed because she confused the issue with phoney peace campaigns, which were not really directed towards peace but only towards confusing our people and obtaining an amount of stalling time until she herself had the bomb. Are we glad now that this issue of world disarmament was postponed until the present time, when we are faced with a malevolent enemy, evil and armed?
.- The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has abetted the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) in his aim to create that sense of tension which the Minister feels to be of advantage to the
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in the cold war. If one takes the view that the world must inevitably continue the cold war or, in fact, any other form of war or contest until either the Russians and their team or the Americans and their team prevail, then maybe something is to be said for the attitude of the Minister and the honorable member for Mackellar. Nevertheless, the honorable member does less than justice to other representatives of the people in this place, and in other legislatures of the western world, when he thinks that the only people who can feel warmly or passionately about the welfare or future of mankind must necessarily be those who see that welfare in the light of the destruction of people in other countries. It is just possible that the welfare and the future of mankind lie just as much in mankind in different countries learning to live with each other.
I agree with the honorable member that the western world has the edge in enlightenment and mutual forbearance within the boundaries of each individual country. We must not overlook, however, and should do nothing to discourage, that slight increase of enlightenment to be found in eastern European countries such as Poland and, I believe, in Russia itself in recent years. It may be that in China, to take the most populous country in the world, a degree of enlightenment is now appearing which was non-existent under any previous regime in all the millenia of its recorded history.
Anybody who has traced the increase in literacy and the very marked achievements in the sciences and the arts which have been attained by some countries which we regard as politically backward, and which the honorable member categorizes as politically malevolent and bent on our destruction, cannot despair of the future of mankind. It is unfortunate to a large extent that the world is dominated by two colossi, one of which, before the Second World War, chose isolation, and the other of which had isolation thrust upon it. Those nations now, in material resources and in the numbers of trained population, dominate the world. It is our task, surely, to see that in their rivalry they do not destroy each other and those who adhere to either of them.
Australia has very great cultural, historical and ethnological ties with the United States of America - still more with the United Kingdom - as well as considerable ties with France and other countries in the western world. Through our immigration policy we are probably forming other ties with countries of western and southern Europe. We have the advantage, therefore, of being able to urge upon our Western partners arguments which should appeal to the unattached countries in the world, and which will appeal also to the bar of public and world opinion in the United Nations. It is because we are failing to do that and because this Government is failing to exercise its good offices in that way, that the Opposition expresses disagreement with the Government.
If we presume to quote extracts from the English weekly papers or from the New York “ Times “, which the Melbourne “ Herald “ now prints each week, or from Walter Lippmann in the “ Herald Tribune “, whose articles are often reprinted in the “ Age “ and “ Sydney Morning Herald “, we are accused of being Laodicean, neutral and neither hot nor cold. Nothing that has been said in this House this afternoon by members of Her Majesty’s Opposition would be out of character in any of those journals to which I have referred. In neither the United Kingdom Parliament nor the Canadian Parliament does this denigration, abuse of opponents and belittling of their motives, take place. If the western world and Australia - which has a proud heritage politically - lose the capacity to tolerate the opinions of other people, we will lose the one advantage we enjoy and upon which we can pride ourselves as compared with the countries of eastern Europe or Central Asia.
I do not propose to deal with the world picture nor to settle the affairs of the Middle East to which the honorable member for Mackellar seemed to refer in mentioning Laodicea. or Latakia, to use its modern form. I propose to deal with our relations with Indonesia which are a matter of urgency, a matter of relevance and a matter in which Australia can, and should, do something to alleviate tension. First, I shall refer to the attitude of the Minister for External Affairs. He, personally, has very great gifts of diplomatic finesse and can purvey the idea of sincerity and goodwill to an extent which very few men in politics can convey. As a matter of fact, the impression of goodwill he sometimes gives exceeds, I think, the actual goodwill he feels.
I must say, however, that in the exercise of his talents he has overlooked the importance of our relations with Indonesia. Two days ago he answered a question I had put on the notice-paper regarding his itinerary in the six and a half years he has been Minister. In that time he has made fifteen trips overseas. On only three of those trips has he called at Indonesia - in July, 1951, April, 1952 and November, 1955. On six other occasions when he spent time in Singapore he must have flown over or into Indonesia, but he did not stay over there. On three other occasions he went to the United Kingdom directly by way of Indonesia. On only three occasions on his overseas trips has he not landed in Indonesia, but on only three of the fifteen trips he has made has he spared any time in that country. Nor have we been adequately represented in Indonesia by accredited representatives. We have now recognized Indonesia for eight years, but between 26th February, 1952, and 7th April, 1955, we were without an ambassador or a Minister to that country. For two years of that time we had a charge d’affaires with the personal status of Minister. It was surely a tactless and irritating oversight to leave our neighbour for three years without a properly accredited representative.
What impression does the Minister’s conduct give our nearest neighbour, the most populous country in the Southern Hemisphere, of the goodwill which we feel towards it and the importance which we attach to its feelings towards us? The measure of our failure to convey our point of view to Indonesia or to understand Indonesia’s point of view centres on the question of West New Guinea. I realize that whenever anybody refers to West New Guinea, as I am about to do, and suggests there may be some invalidity in the arguments which we advance, or some strength in the arguments which Indonesia advances, that person lays himself open to the charge that he is overlooking the interests of his own country. But I hope to put as calmly as possible, in this somewhat excitable assembly, some points which must be of importance to us. In three sessions of the United Nations
General Assembly - in 1954, 1955 and November, 1957 - votes were taken on this question and the nations stood up and declared themselves as being either on Indonesia’s side or on the Dutch and Australian side. We are not making any headway in the voting which has always been against our official view.
The voting on earlier occasions was given by the Minister for External Affairs in answer to a question I asked on 4th April last. In the reference I am about to make, I will compare the voting in 1954 with the voting in this last month. In those three years, the nations which support our Government are not increasing in numbers, as are those which take a different view. In those three years, fifteen new members of the United Nations have espoused the Indonesian attitude on this question and five new members have espoused our point of view.. What countries in the three years have changed their point of view? Those that have changed from the Indonesian point of view to our Government’s point of view are Argentina, Cuba and Honduras. Countries that used to espouse the Indonesian point of view but now abstain from expressing any point of view are Ecuador, Liberia, Paraguay and Uruguay. Those who used to espouse our point of view and now abstain are Panama and Turkey. Those who used to abstain but now espouse the Indonesian point of view are Guatemala and Haiti. The net result is that our Government is down about ten votes, never securing more than 30 votes, while Indonesia always secures more than 40 votes.
Let me analyse the voting amongst those who are closest to our point of view and who have the best opportunity of knowing our point of view. I refer first to those in Seato. Pakistan, Thailand and the Philippines, who are our allies in Seato, support Indonesia. Laos, which is protected by Seato, supports Indonesia. Cambodia is also protected by Seato, but it abstains. I shall refer now to Nato. The strongest partner there, the United States of America, has always abstained - in 1954, in 1955 and on the three votes this year. I have already stated the position of Pakistan and Turkey which are members of Meto as well as Seato and Nato respectively.
Let us look at the Commonwealth countries. It is true that the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and, for what it is worth in world opinion, South Africa support our Government, but every other member of the Commonwealth supports the Indonesian point of view - Pakistan, India, Burma, Ceylon, Ghana and Malaya, and two countries which were within the British orbit for half a century or more, Sudan and Nepal. I have mentioned the position of America, which the Government claims, has always abstained from voting but discreetly supports our side. The figures show, for those who care to analyse them, that the Americas are pretty evenly divided between those who support Indonesia, those who support the Netherlands and those who abstain. I have not mentioned one country in our area - one of the most powerful countries in the world and a member of the Security Council. It is Japan, which also supports Indonesia.
What is it that brings about this catastrophic lack of support for Australia amongst all the members of the Commonwealth and particularly amongst the people in our own area? lt may be that the Minister fails to put our point of view. I do not believe that that is so. I believe it is that we have constantly put forward wrong points of view or support wrong points of view. The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) in his philippic this afternoon referred to geographical, ethnological and cultural faults in the Indonesian claim. The Indonesians do not base their claim on these factors. The Indonesian claim merely is that before independence the Netherlands ruled the whole of the archipelago, including West New Guinea, and that as the successor State they should also rule the whole of the archipelago, including West New Guinea. The Dutch position is comparable to what would have been the position if Britain had retained Kashmir or America had retained Mindanao. In each case, there are religious, racial and cultural differences between the rest of India and Pakistan in the first instance, and the rest of the Philippines in the other instance. The Indonesians do not base their claim on a geographical, ethnological or cultural link with West New Guinea.
We rely on the Dutch maintaining the attitude that their Government at present espouses, but we have to face the fact that the Dutch Labour party, one of the coalition government parties, has expressed doubts on it.
Dutch trade unions have expressed doubts on it and Dutch businessmen in Indonesia have expressed doubts on it. One such man, the head of a firm which has been in Djakarta since the Napoleonic wars, was fully reported on this subject in the Australian papers yesterday.
A month ago the Dutch Foreign Minister and Australia’s Acting Minister for External Affairs made a statement concerning New Guinea. As to their aspirations for the area, it was a thoroughly reasonable statement, but it overlooked the fact that it prejudged a matter then before the United Nations, and was an affront to the Indonesians as excluding them from any say in the control of this territory to which they say they should succeed, and gave them no hope of having any participation in the future of one of their neighbours. To understand the Indonesian attitude towards the Dutch, we need only remember that more Indonesians lost their lives at the hands of the Dutch in the late 1940’s than at the hands of the Japanese in the early 1940’s, and that the Dutch failed to train Indonesian technicians and administrators.
Our argument is said to be a strategic one. Let me point out, as I have before, that the islands between West New Guinea and Australia are in Indonesian hands and during the last war were used as Japanese bases. I believe that the security of every nation, particularly of Australia, depends upon the international recognition of the principle that the indigenous inhabitants of every viable region should be able to decide the composition of their population and of their government. Australia’s security will 6e best served if the people of New Guinea - West New Guinea and all New Guinea - are allowed to decide who will rule them, whether it is the Dutch, the Indonesians, the Australians or people of their own race. If we are to win any argument with Indonesia in the United Nations we must abandon the pursuit of legalistic arguments which are never raised by the Indonesians and which have failed on five occasions in three years to win the support of the United Nations. We should now advance arguments to show that we are concerned in West New Guinea, as we are in our trusteeship over New Britain and north-east New Guinea and our government of south-east New Guinea, with the interests and the wishes of the people of those territories. The United Nations, which says that the people of New Britain and north-east New Guinea are not yet fit to govern themselves, must admit that the people of West New Guinea are not yet fit to govern themselves. We should advocate a trusteeship over West New Guinea to see that, as rapidly as possible under the aegis of world opinion, the people of that area are given the opportunity to decide who will live there and who will rule there.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
.- Fortunately, Mr. Speaker one clear fact so far has emerged during the course of this debate on international affairs, and that is that every member of this House who has spoken has agreed on the need first to secure peace, and then to maintain it. It is true that many differing points of view have been expressed concerning, first, the means of securing peace, and, secondly, how to maintain it. I trust that no one will be unduly disturbed when I use the phrase “ to secure peace “. Let me interpolate a thought to explain what I have in mind. I believe that one of our first tasks to-day is to secure peace. We have not peace in the world at the moment. Instead, we have what is euphemistically described as “ cold war “, involving, as it does, a great deal of controversy and misunderstanding concerning its precise meaning. We have isolated instances of what is oddly described as peripheral war, or what the Americans describe as brush-fire war. I believe that our immediate task is to secure peace, and then to maintain it.
Having said that by way of preamble, I move on to what has clearly taken place during the course of this debate to-day. I refer to the expression of differing points of view by the honorable gentlemen who have spoken. I turn at once to the remarkable speech of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), and I trust that it will not be regarded as unctuous flattery when I say to him that I believe that his was one of the finest and most realistic speeches on international affairs ever delivered in this Parliament. After the right honorable and gallant gentleman came the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). I do not want to arouse unduly the members of Her Majesty’s Opposition this evening, but I say to them that, in sharp and dramatic contrast to the speech delivered by the Minister for External Affairs, the speech of the Leader of the Opposition was one of his most pathetic. True it is that the right honorable gentleman turned with great force and great purpose to the need and the desire to secure peace and to maintain it- That, as I have said, is the immediate task and, quite plainly, it is the main consideration that is bearing down on every member of this Parliament and, I suppose, in a sense, every member of every democratic parliament throughout the world.
I do not want, this evening, to engage in any tendentious argument concerning Indonesia and the relationship of the Indonesian authorities vis-a-vis the Dutch authorities. I do not want to be involved in the contentions concerning Cyprus, nor do I want to be involved in a discussion of what should take place in South-East Asia, or of the purpose and functioning of various regional authorities. Instead, I want to turn to this crucial and central problem of peace: How to secure it and how to maintain it. I was greatly interested this afternoon to hear my friend, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), say that it was high time that people, when discussing foreign affairs, stopped talking nonsense to one another. I could not agree with him more. That is one of the main reasons that have prompted me to participate in this debate. I am one of the youngest members of this Parliament. When I first had the honour to sit in this House I stated, in what I thought were precise and plain terms, my attitude of mind regarding the issue of co-existence. I stated quite unequivocally that I believed that the whole concept of co-existence was, in the first instance, repugnant, but that it had to be faced realistically. In characteristic terms, my political opponents have taken hold of that argument, have vulgarised it and distorted it, and have completely ignored the main purpose of what I said in this House some two years ago. I return to the subject this evening in the hope that I will not be misunderstood. When I say that I do not accept the argument of co-existence, I make it plain that I am not thinking in terms of refusing to accept the argument of co-existence with people. I am refusing to accept the argument of co-existence with a philosophy, with an ideology, that is sworn and dedicated to the securing of world domination.
This afternoon, various speakers referred to the need for disarmament throughout the world. At the risk of being misunderstood, may I say that disarmament conferences, and the whole fabric of the Disarmament Commission of the United Nations, represent one of the greatest shams, one of the greatest farces, that the world has known. I submit, Sir, with respect, that that is the case. That is my contention, and I do not apologize for having stated it. I believe that the procedure is farcical for the simple reason that, no matter what is achieved in the way of disarmament, unless we solve the underlying problem of disarmament, the rest of it does not seem to make sense at all. What is the underlying question? What is the dominant and crucial question of this whole issue? One comes back to what I have described to this House before - and I so describe it again this evening - as the political question. Until such time as the free world - an expression which, I trust, will not give unnecessary offence - and the Soviet world can solve the political question, it is futile and nonsensical to embark on long-winded discussions concerning disarmament. Surely we have not lost command of our wits entirely and have dismissed and let go unnoticed the fact that the Soviet Union to-day is still bound, by virtue of its Marxist-Leninist ideas, to the concept of world domination! If people will not accept that fact, then I simply say to them that they do not know the time of day.
In 1853, a little more than a century ago, Karl Marx wrote -
In all essential points Russia has steadily, one after another, gained her ends, thanks to the ignorance, dullness, and consequent inconsistency and cowardice of the Western Governments.
Those words, I presume to suggest to the House, have just the same measure and ring of truth to-day that they had 104 years ago. Just recently - and here I am dealing with contemporary events - at the 20th congress of the Communist party of the Soviet Union, Mr. Khrushchev, declared -
Fidelity to Leninism is the source of our party’s successes.
Those words should be embossed on the minds and hearts of every person who is genuinely interested in securing and maintaining peace.
At the special congress of the Communist party, when Mr. Khrushchev embarked on his denigration of Stalin, he had this to say -
Comrades! The 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union has manifested with a new strength the unshakable unity of our party, its cohesiveness around the Central Committee, its resolute will to accomplish the great task of building communism.
There then occurs in the report the interpolation “Tumultuous applause”. The speech continued -
And the fact that we present in all their ramifications the basic problems of overcoming the cult of the individual which is alien to Marxism-Leninism, as well as the problem of liquidating its burdensome consequences, is an evidence of the great moral and political strength of our party.
And again, there was prolonged applause. This was his peroration -
We are absolutely certain that our party, armed with the historical resolutions of the twentieth congress, will lead the Soviet people along the Leninist path to new successes, to new victories.
Long live the victorious banner of our party - Leninism!
At the same conference, the same gentleman said, also -
Revolutionary theory is not a collection of petrified dogmas and formulas, but a militant guide to action in transforming the world, in building communism. Marxism-Leninism teaches us that a theory isolated from practice is dead, and practice which is not illumined by revolutionary theory is blind.
Under the banner of Marxism-Leninism, which is transforming the world, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union will lead the Soviet people to the complete triumph of communism.
This is the point that I want to make this evening: What is involved in the complete triumph of communism? I submit that, according to the doctrine of Karl Marx, according to the interpretation placed upon that doctrine by Lenin, and according to every text-book ever issued under the imprimatur of the Communist party, the complete triumph of communism is achieved only when there is a complete world Communist state. Since 1939, the Soviet Union has taken over in the name of peace - that should be borne in mind - the following countries: Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Albania, Eastern Germany, Poland - and in the Far East - the Sakhalin Islands, North Korea, China, Tibet, Mongolia, and half of IndoChina. The task of achieving the complete triumph of communism is half completed. Yet we have heard some people say to-day, “ We must embark upon discussions with the leaders of the Communist world “. I say, Mr. Speaker: By all means let us enter into discussions with the leaders of the Communist world, but let us do so with something definite in mind. What I suggest that we should have in mind is to say to them, “ How are we to solve the political conflict that exists between your people, your ideology, your philosophy, and our own? “ The problems that we have to face are immense, but they must be faced. If they are not faced, the world will be destroyed.
What are the political problems? These, I suggest, are some that are involved. The first is the need for the complete abandonment of the doctrine of Karl Marx, and a repudiation of the whole concept of domination postulated by Communist theory. We are not the aggressors. No matter what may be said about the Australian and the British people, or about the American people, we are not the aggressors. History has made it abundantly clear that the Soviet Union is the aggressor. Some hundreds of millions of people are living in virtual serfdom to-day because of the ambition of the leaders of the Kremlin to consummate the theory of Karl Marx and Lenin, and to establish the world Communist state.
The second political problem, I believe, is involved in the proposition that there is need for the withdrawal of all Soviet forces from all satellite countries, in order to allow the people of those countries to elect freely their own governments. I put it to you, Mr. Speaker, with your vast knowledge of international affairs, and your studious approach to these problems, that we need think only momentarily of the feelings of the people of Latvia and Lithuania. Think, Sir, of those who are living in the small town of Czerverne, in Lithuania. That town was almost wiped out, and some 6,000 people lost their lives, because of the urge to complete the triumph of the complete victory of communism. Think, Sir, of the planned starvation of the people in Latvia. What of their feelings? One hesitates to try to establish precisely what their feelings must be, but one can presume that their feelings about the ambitions of the rulers of the Soviet Union to establish world dictatorship are feelings of utter revulsion. They want to retrace their steps, go back to the recognition of the law of nature, and re-establish democracy and liberty in their country. The third political problem is that of the reunification of Germany, and the conduct of free elections there.
I move on somewhat hurriedly, Mr. Speaker, because I have little time. The fourth political problem is that of freeing from enslavement all those who are now bent to the will of the Soviet Union because they have disagreed with it. Here, I interpolate rather hurriedly a reference to the remarks made this afternoon by the honorable member for Parkes about forced labour in China. In all charity, but, nevertheless, with all force, I say to the honorable member that his answer to my arguments about the continuing imprisonment of 25,000,000 people in China was most unsatisfactory. I hope that the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), who, I understand, proposes to participate in the debate later, will give a more satisfactory answer than was given by the honorable member for Parkes this afternoon. I have in my hand a report published by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Director-General of the International Labour Office, which sets out in plain - and I believe categorical - terms the fact that 25,000,000 people are being kept as slave labourers in China to-day. There may be some people who would take the view that that is no cause for concern, and that it need not give rise to a disturbance in any one’s mind. I take the opposite view, Mr. Speaker. I believe that any person who has a skerrick of Christian responsibility must look upon this report as being one of the most damning indictments ever made of any country that purports to be described as civilized.
So, I suggest to the House, and to the country, in all sincerity and with all humility, that one of the immediate tasks of the world - and I include the whole world, because, after all, in the great words of St. Paul, we are members one of another - is to work for the appointment of a political commission to work ahead of the United Nations Disarmament Commission. I see no purpose in having the Disarmament Commission working. I see no purpose in having long-drawn-out arguments, and counter-arguments, as to whether a country should reduce its air force by 10,000 planes, or its army by 200 divisions. Quite plainly, Sir, what is required is the obliteration of the causes that give rise to the need for armament.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I say that, if the weapons of modern war are used in war, it is highly probable that the history of the conflict will never be written, for no one will be alive to write it. No man who has any affection for humanity can contemplate the prospect of global war with thermo-nuclear weapons, and no man who has been nurtured in the traditions of liberty will set aside those traditions. The resolution of free men is not to be weakened by fear or despair. I believe that our task, and our duty, is to find a way to ensure the survival of mankind. I submit that that can be done only by facing up promptly and realistically to the supreme question, to the basic issue - the question of how to solve the problem of the establishment of a political commission.
I conclude, Mr. Speaker, by putting to the Minister for External Affairs the following proposition: Cannot something be done to establish a political commission to work ahead of the United Nations Disarmament Commission, to erase from men’s minds for ever and a day the fear of war, and to instil into men the hope that they can face the future with firmness and resolution?
– Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that I cannot agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), and I think that by the time I have finished dealing with them briefly I will have satisfied members on the other side of the House, who smiled so approvingly when the honorable member sarcastically referred to your proven knowledge of international affairs, that you have a far better knowledge of international affairs than he has. I say that the very fact that the honorable member was prepared to stand up here and seriously suggest that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) made a magnificent and fine address this afternoon is the first, and should be sufficient, indication that he himself is probably by far the worst endowed member of Parliament so far as knowledge of foreign affairs goes.
I turn now to the statement made by the honorable gentleman that he is very much in favour of peace. I can recall the time when this honorable gentleman would come into this Parliament and would describe anybody who wanted peace as being a Communist stooge or an agent for Russia. Now, in order to satisfy his conscience - we can see how he has changed from favour of war to support of peace - he attempts to excuse his past utterances by an admission that when he talked about the impossibility of co-existence two years ago he did not mean what he said. Anybody who says we cannot have co-existence except on our terms - that is to say, that we will not allow any other country to exist unless it accepts the politics we consider to be the best - is guilty of war-mongering in the very extreme. Yet, that is the attitude of the Government, and that is why the honorable member for Moreton congratulated the Minister for External Affairs, because the speech the Minister made to-day was the speech of a warmonger and sabre-rattling crank. He wants to plunge the world into another world war, and that is the reason the people on the other side of the House are so enthusiastically supporting the warmongering policy of this Government. (Government supporters interjecting) -
– Order! I ask the honorable member to resume his seat for a moment. I also ask the honorable member to restrain himself. Honorable members will cease interjecting. The honorable member for Barker will remain silent. I shall not draw his attention to his conduct again.
– I wish to take a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it proper for the honorable member for Hindmarsh to make the serious allegation against the Minister for External Affairs that he is a warmonger? To me that is a very serious misstatement.
– There is no point of order. The term is not unparliamentary and the honorable member is making his own speech.
– The tragedy is that the alternative to peace - the thing that will flow from the kind of policy being followed by the United States and the other people who are dictating the policy of this Government - is the complete annihilation of the human race. There is no other alternative, so let us face up to the fact. Let us stop rattling the sabres and start talking a bit of common sense. Whether you like it or not you have to accept coexistence, because the only alternative to co-existence is non-existence.
The honorable member for Moreton, indicating how very little he knows about foreign affairs, started to tell us what Karl Marx said about Russia in 1853, completely overlooking the fact that the Communists did not rule Russia in 1853. and, therefore, that the statement of Karl Marx, apropos Russia in 1853 could have no bearing whatever on the Russia of to-day. The cold hard facts are that Russia, in 1853, was ruled by the Czar, and that it was misery and poverty due to the greed, corruption and tyranny of the antiCommunist Government of Russia in 1853. that bred the communism of 1953. Those are facts which cannot be disregarded or denied. The Minister for External Affairs said to-day -
From time to time it is proposed that a highlevel conference between the great Powers would be fruitful. Mr. Khrushchev has recently proposed such a meeting. . . .
That is the policy of the Labour party! We say that there ought to be a meeting at the very highest level in order that world leaders may talk a bit of common sense. That has long been the policy of the Labour party. But here we have a Minister who point-blank refuses to attend a conference and point-blank refuses to support the proposal now made for a conference. His own Prime Minister only a fortnight ago came into this Parliament and said that the time had arrived when the peoples of the world had to learn to live in friendship together. The Prime Minister was congratulated by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), who said he was pleased to note that the right honorable gentleman had been statesmanlike enough to admit that the peoples of the world have to learn to live in peace. For that reason alone, said the honorable member for Chisholm, he was prepared to excuse the Prime Minister for extending the hand of friendship to the Japanese Prime Minister. When I asked the Prime Minister, by way of interjection, whether this new policy meant that the Government wanted Australia to live in friendship with all countries, the right honorable gentleman replied without hesitation, “ Yes, all countries in the world “. If the Prime Minister meant what he said, and if he is, in fact, the person who fashions the foreign policy of this country to-day rather than the Minister for External Affairs - one often wonders just who does fashion our foreign policy - then the Prime Minister at least ought not to be opposed to my statement to-night that the sooner we can get a top-level conference on matters of international dispute the better it will be for the world.
The Minister for External Affairs said that the reason why we cannot have a toplevel conference with the Communists and other people is that we cannot trust them. He said that all civilized countries are already committed to a policy of avoiding war as a means of settling international disputes. But that is not true. If it is true that the Russians are not in favour of the peaceful settlement of international disputes, it is equally true that we are not in favour of it, as the Suez dispute clearly illustrated. The United Kingdom, while giving lip service to the United Nations’ policy of opposing the settlement of international disputes by force of arms, itself used force of arms to settle its dispute with Egypt, and the Prime Minister of this country supported the United Kingdom to the very hilt.
The whole trouble with the world to-day is that the people who are fashioning the foreign policy of the United States - and they are the ones who, virtually, fashion the foreign policy of Australia as well - are people whose interests are predominantly concerned with keeping private manufacturing industries at a prosperous level. They know very well that unless they can maintain the cold war, or follow a policy of “ brinkmanship “, the armament industries of America will not continue to flourish as they are flourishing at present. As soon as there is a general outbreak of peace, the armament industries of America will close down and go bankrupt overnight, and that is what these people are prepared to avoid at all costs. The trouble is that in America too many private individuals have too much to gain from the manufacture of armaments. If the manufacture of arms was carried out nationally, without profit, there would not be the same incentive to keep the armament industries going.
Let us examine once again the excuses offered by the Minister for not having a top-level international conference. Walter Lippmann has said that it is a waste of time to have a top-level talk on disarmament so long as America is pledged to the secret policy of keeping disarmament in the air until there, is a reunification of Germany on terms acceptable to West Germany, which means the complete surrender of East Germany. There is no doubt that this is the policy, because not one Minister, not one officer of the American State Department, has contradicted the assertion by Walter Lippmann that there is a secret undertaking by America not to agree to German reunification until East Germany is forced to agree to terms acceptable to West Germany and the Western Powers. That is the position, and if it can be denied let it be denied; let the proof be brought forward.
The Minister says that the Russians speak constantly of peaceful co-existence and of not interfering in the internal affairs of other States, whilst at the same time inciting the peoples of other countries to revolt against their lawful governments. What is the record of the United States with regard to these matters? What is our own record? What is the record of the United States with regard to Guatemala and Tunisia? What is our record with regard to Cyprus, Malaya and Aden? What is the record of the United States with regard to the Middle East, where she has been bolstering corrupt Arabian kingdoms in order to keep for herself a firm grip on Middle East oil? We should be the last people to point the finger of scorn at Russia for interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. We should be the last people to point the finger of scorn at other people for interfering in their right to govern themselves. Who are we to talk so much about not interfering in the internal affairs of other countries when Cyprus has been struggling to gain independence, struggling for so many years under the iron heel of a military ,dictatorship? It is sheer hypocrisy to talk about what other countries should do when we are not prepared to do it ourselves.
If we are going to talk about peaceful co-existence and our desire that other countries should trust us, then we must set the example. Let us prove to the other countries that when we pretend to favour the independence of every country, that when we pretend to be opposed to interference in the internal affairs of other countries, we are not preaching one thing and practising something entirely different. I am satisfied that the argument of the Western powers in the United Nations and before the peoples of the world would be much more convincing if they were not guilty themselves of the very things of which they accuse their enemies.
I turn now to the actual state of power politics in the world to-day. We can no longer win a war by means of hydrogen or atomic weapons. No country can win such a war. It would mean the virtual annihilation of the whole of the human race - men, women and children. The whole of Europe and Asia would be turned into a cemetery of human beings. The alternative is a war of conventional weapons. If a war of conventional weapons is fought between the world powers, we will have no hope of winning. Our only safe alternative is to win the battle of ideals, to win the world by penetrating the minds of men and getting them to accept our ideals before they accept the ideals of communism. If we were fighting Russia we would not be fighting just a country called Russia. We would be fighting something quite different from anything we had ever fought before. We would be fighting an ideal called communism, which offers to the down-trodden people of Asia something that we have never given them, and until we are prepared to satisfy the people of Asia that we are willing to give them the things that communism promises, until we are able to satisfy them that there is a better alternative to communism than monopoly capitalism, then the people of Asia will continue to turn a deaf ear to our plea.
The Russians have gained a tremendous propaganda advantage from the launching of the two earth satellites, to say nothing of the defence advantage. Why were they able to beat us in this regard? For no other reason than that the Mccarthyites so browbeat the scientists of America that no scientist was prepared to put forward any idea that represented a departure from the orthodox for fear of being branded a Communist. That was Oppenheimer’s fate. The reason why the scientists of America were not capable of beating the Russians in the race to establish an earth satellite is because they were too fearful of carrying on an experiment: If they failed they would be accused of working for Russia and being secret agents of the Communists. That is the trouble in the world to-day. We are maintaining a state of McCarthyism, propped up by a lot of lying propaganda. No doubt, the American senator was correct when he said recently that we could not go on beating the Russians by propagandizing ourselves into believing that we were ahead of them when, in fact, they were ahead of us. In the February, 1955, issue of a magazine called “ Cavalier “ there was an accurate account of the proposed launching of a satellite. The article stated that the Russians were going to launch a satellite, and they were able to nominate the height above the earth’s surface that the Sputnik would travel, its approximate speed, and the approximate time it would remain in orbit. Yet nothing was done about it. All the claims that were put forward were regarded as Communist propaganda, and were disregarded.
Let Sputnik be a warning that no longer can we dismiss as mere propaganda Russian claims to have made scientific advances. It is of no use saying that anything they can do, we can do better. Never mind saying that their statements about scientific advances are unimportant. Let us, instead, give some real aid to our own scientists so that they may beat the Russians, not by means of propaganda and idle words, but by real achievements, something that will give us real strength in the world of politics to-day.
We are not being completely honest with ourselves in regard to these matters. We say that we are not prepared to talk to the Russians until the Russians are prepared to withdraw from their satellite countries. But is that not exactly what Khrushchev says? He says that if we withdraw from our foreign bases he will withdraw from his. We say that we do not want that. But now that she has the inter-continental ballistic missile Russia says that she does not care about being hemmed in by foreign bases, because the inter-continental ballistic missile can soar over the foreign bases and can be landed on American soil at any time the Russians choose- Too many people are wiping that off as propaganda. Too many people tend to regard that as a little more Russian bluff. It might be Russian bluff and propaganda, but it might be true. That is a risk we cannot afford to take, and we cannot beat Russia with her intercontinental ballistic missile by sitting in this Parliament making flowery speeches, and saying that we have nothing to fear. Our job, and the job of the Western world, is to learn to understand the Russian point of view. I do not use the expression “ free world “ because it is a myth; there is no freedom in some of the 71 countries that constitute what we are pleased to call the free world. The so-called free world includes Spain and Portugal and the corrupt Middle East states. Some honorable members on the opposite side of the House have asked who are the leaders of the Opposition in Russia and Communist China. I invite Government supporters to give me the names of the Leader of the Opposition in Spain or the Leader of the Opposition in Saudi Arabia. It will be found that, once again, we are preaching one thing and practising something different. That is why we are losing in the world to-day. That is why we will continue to lose in the world, because until we demonstrate to the peoples of the world that we have a more positive ideal to offer them in order to alleviate their misery and poverty, we will not satisfy them that they have anything to lose by going towards communism.
When we speak about subversion, let us not forget that every year the American Congress sets aside 100,000,000 dollars for the express purpose of overseas subversion. Each year 100,000,000 dollars is voted by the American Congress for the very thing that we have the hypocrisy to condemn other people for doing.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– In the limited time available to me I shall not try to follow through in detail the remarkable speech we have just heard from the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). It was expressed with sound and fury, but I, for one, would not claim that it signified nothing- I believe that it signified a great deal. The honorable member for Hindmarsh is one of the senior members of the Opposition, a front bench member, a member of the Executive of the Australian Labour party. What he has said to-night in his speech has been very revealing. It indicates the foreign policy attitude of the dominant and, indeed, very significant section of the Australian Labour party at this time. It is a speech that we might well analyze with more leisure and consideration during the coming recess than we are able to give it here to-night.
The honorable member made one point in his speech which I am very happy to take up. He expressed a challenge not only to us on this side of the House but, indeed, to all who think and believe as we do in the objectives and ideals of a free people living under a system of parliamentary government in what we are pleased to call, even if the honorable member is not, a free world. He challenged us to give an example of peaceful co-existence. He said, “If you are going to think and talk about peaceful co-existence, set an example to the rest of the world “. That is precisely what I had in mind when I came into this House to-night. I am hoping to lead honorable members, for a few moments, to an examination of an aspect of our external relations which very rarely comes under the scrutiny of this Parliament or, in deed, to my regret, of other parts of the Commonwealth of Nations. The aspect I turn to is our relationship with our fellow members of the Commonwealth of Nations. There could hardly be a more appropriate time for this phase to be discussed because, as we are meeting in this Parliament here, in one of the leading dominions of the Commonwealth, at New Delhi, India, at this very time, 102 delegates representing more than 50 parliaments of our Commonwealth of Nations are meeting. Little publicity is given to this meeting. Little is known about it. It does not attract the attention of the press. But it is a happy occasion. There is nothing of a sensational nature arising out of its discussions, but they are most important and significant and it is a most important and significant meeting. Here, for the purpose of better understanding and mutual co-operation, are assembled the representatives of 50 free parliaments in the great family of nations that we are proud to call our Commonwealth.
That is a practical illustration of peaceful co-existence. There, are people of great diversity, colour, class, creed, tradition, background, climate and all manner of characteristics that differentiate one section of mankind from another. Yet they are there, united in friendly collaboration. The Prime Minister of India, Mr. Nehru, when opening this conference, said -
What strikes me so much about the Commonwealth is not its points of likeness but its points of difference which have not been allowed to come in the way of our meeting, consulting and cooperation.
If that is good for the Commonwealth, it should be good also for other countries.
There is a practical demonstration of peaceful co-existence based on free parliamentary democracies in which people are able, freely, to elect representatives who will guarantee their freedom by the laws they make on their behalf. If we could encourage throughout the world the spread of free parliamentary democracy, much of the international friction which darkens our days would disappear. 1 want to tell the House and, indeed, the country, something of the origins of this remarkable organization and the processes which it has been going through in recent years because more of this is known inside the House than outside it. Another significant point which I stress before I pass to the historical detail is that the conference now taking place in New Delhi is not merely by invitation of the Indian Parliament and Government. United as joint hosts for this conference are three countries which do not always see eye to eye on domestic matters or on foreign policy. They are Asian dominions in our Commonwealth family - India, Pakistan and Ceylon. To-day, their differences are submerged in this great fellowship which has been established and which they are determined to promote. 1 had the great fortune of attending all of the post-war conferences of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association with the exception of that which is now being held. The first, of 1948, which was the beginning of a new phase of the work of this association, was held in the United Kingdom. That of 1950 was held at Wellington in New Zealand, that of 1952 at Ottawa in Canada, and that of 1954, at which a number of British parliaments on the continent of Africa joined together as hosts was held in Nairobi in the colony of Kenya. And now the present one of 1957 is being held in New Delhi in India with the three dominions I have mentioned joining as hosts for the occasion. At the 1954 conference 1 expressed the hope that the next conference of the association would be held in one of the Asian dominions with other neighbouring dominions joining together as hosts. That wish has been fulfilled. At the same time, I expressed the hope that if this could be done we might find Australia as the venue and the Australian Parliament and Government joining as hosts for the occasion of the next conference of this great Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in 1959. I gives me particular pleasure, therefore, to be able to tell this House that the Leader of our branch of the association has, on behalf of our branch and with the authority of our members and with the support of the Government, conveyed to the general council of that association an invitation to hold the next conference, scheduled to be held towards the end of 1959, here in Canberra, with the Government and this Parliament acting as joint hosts.
It is inspiring to consider that in the short time ahead of us the representatives of more than 50 parliaments will be meeting here. The number is growing year by year as more and more areas of our Commonwealth come into the relation of selfgovernment; and by the time they will be assembling here more will be joining them.
– Would the Minister agree that to-day Mr. Nehru is the chief apostle of neutralism in the world?
– I do not want the right honorable gentleman to get me to follow a red herring. I have my own speech to make. The House gave the right honorable gentleman the courtesy of 40 minutes, but I am claiming only twenty minutes and 1 should be indebted to him if he would allow me to proceed in my own way. If the fact has not already come to the notice of honorable members I think they will find particular interest in the fact that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association was formed in 1911, on the occasion of the coronation celebrations of His Majesty King George V. At that time, only about one person in ten of the 450,000,000 who then comprised what was known as the British Empire could claim to be self-governed. So swift has been the constitutional evolution under the wise and encouraging administration of the United Kingdom Government from time to time that to-day, since the coronation of George V, the one in ten of the 450,000,000 has now become nine in ten self-governing people of the more than 600,000,000 people who now live in our great Commonwealth of Nations.
There, I believe, is an object lesson for the world - not merely what we call the free world, but the whole world. This is an example of how tolerant, wise and statesmanlike leadership functions through freely elected parliamentary governments and is able to confer the great boon of selfgovernment and all that flows from it over vast areas of mankind, differing so widely in characteristics. I would hope, on some occasion, to find time to go into details of the way in which I believe this family relationship of ours can be strengthened. It seems to me to be a really unfortunate thing that so rarely in the parliaments of our Commonwealth do we pause in our discussions of either domestic or foreign affairs to consider our relationships one with the other. Yet what, at base, could be more important?
Comprised within this family relationship are resources so vast, that, properly utilized, we need bow the knee to no power in the world. Together, we have within our jurisdiction as a Commonwealth onequarter of the population of the world, and all that that implies. We have within our jurisdiction one-fifth of the total land mass of the world, with all its potentialities. Yet how little have we been doing in this century to develop and exploit together those vast potentialities within our reach? 1 should like to see very much more attention devoted by our parliaments to these affairs.
We have, from time to time, a meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers, but that touches a very narrow circle. We have conferences of delegates from the various parliaments, generally speaking, every two years. But again, what is discussed and debated there touches a small fraction ot the parliamentary members of the Commonwealth. Just as we set aside, in the course of our parliamentary year, days foi the discussion of foreign affairs, I would like to see days set aside to discuss British Commonwealth affairs. We should seek more knowledge and a better understanding of those other countries which are linked so closely with us, in common interest, with the United Kingdom at the heart of the Commonwealth, sharing so much of the responsibility of world leadership at this time, but weakened by geographical circumstances, bled white in two world wars and unable to develop as thoroughly as I am sure its governments, irrespective of their politics, would wish, the resources of the outlying parts of the Commonwealth.
I believe that an opportunity for this is arising at this very time because of the circumstances which are before us. So important does the Labour party of the United Kingdom regard the gathering of parliamentary delegates, that the leader of the Labour party delegation to the current conference will be no less than the leader of the Labour party in the House of Commons, Mr. Hugh Gaitskell, the prospective Prime Minister of the alternative government in the United Kingdom. I would certainly hope that, arising out of this experience, his view of the Commonwealth will be broadened and his awareness of its potentialities increased. Australia, New Zealand and many other countries of the Commonwealth will soon have an historic first visit from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Harold Macmillan. I hope that Mr. Macmillan, as he moves around the Commonwealth, will see what a contribution we could make to each other’s problems if we were only prepared to devise together some practical plan of
Commonwealth production and development, sharing our resources to the best of our mutual capacity.
We have this curious contradiction that at the heart of our Commonwealth, in 94,000 square miles, there is an aggregation of more than 50,000,000 people of British stock. In other parts, we are unable to develop our resources because we have so few people of British stock. In Australia, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and other parts of the Commonwealth, are vast areas with tremendous potentialities, only awaiting the applied skill of men, and capital to strengthen our joint interests. While this concentration of people in the United Kingdom continues, the vulnerability of our Commonwealth is very much greater.
Modern warfare has made the heart of the British world tremendously vulnerable. In that area more than 50,000,000 people must import half the foodstuffs that they consume and must pay for them by the sale of manufactured products which are largely made from imported raw materials. This is keeping the United Kingdom in a chronic state of economic weakness. Yet, around our Commonwealth are most of the resources that are needed and a better and more effective distribution should be made of them. We have achieved miracles in periods of war in maintaining our general security and well-being. Must we await a major crisis of peace before we show the imagination, courage and enterprise, not merely to develop a vision of Commonwealth, but to do something effective about the great inheritance which has come to us?
I feel that I have taken up the time of the House on matters which do not normally engage our attention. But I hope that I have said enough to suggest that here is an area of our external relationships - I shall not say “ foreign “ relationships because we do not entertain the principle of being foreign to one another - which I believe demands very much more attention than we have ever given to it in the past. We are all concerned at the events of recent years which have signified a weakening of British influence throughout the world. The possession of world leadership which has been justly earned by skilled statesmanship, tolerance and a sense of fair play has been lost to us largely in recent times because of our economic, material and military weakness. I have indicated the potential which is within our grasp. May I conclude by modifying Shakespeare for this purpose? Men, at some time, are masters of their fate; the fault, fellow Britons, lies not in our stars but in ourselves, that we are underlings.
.- We have just heard a remarkable speech from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt). At least we can say that he has eased the tension of the debate. Strangely enough, I listened as he related how the British parliamentary delegation flitted from one point to another around the world until I thought that it was a recapitulation of Mike Todd’s “Around the World in 80 Days”. Does he believe that he will combat communism merely by relating the events that lead up to the holding of these various parliamentary conferences attended by the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations? What promise is the Minister holding out? Judging by all the advantages that he said are enjoyed by members of the British Commonwealth, and by his statement that those members are following the right road to co-existence, it appears that he is trying to induce other nations to join the British Commonwealth. Is that his solution of world problems? Why did he not, instead of hoisting the white flag, answer the excellent speech made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron)? He started by saying that time would not permit him to answer the honorable member’s speech, and he completely dismissed it by making no further reference to it whatsoever. I regard the speech of the honorable member for Hindmarsh as an excellent one, as will the people of this country.
This is rather a remarkable debate. I have been puzzled as to why, on the last day of this sessional period, when the Parliament has so many immediately urgent domestic problems to which it could turn its attention, the Government has cleared the decks, as it were, so that we can have a debate on international affairs. Question time to-day was cut down to half an hour, because the Government thought it would be rather embarrassing to have to answer certain questions that it knew were going to be asked by members of the Opposition.
Let us consider Australia’s role in international affairs. To hear the sword rattles from the other side of the House one would imagine that we were a great and powerful military power, and that any nation that did not heed our voice was in for real trouble. What is the situation? The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) sought to interject from the front bench. At the time there was quite a lot of noise, and I could not quite hear what the Minister for the Army was saying. I understood, however, that he was threatening to use all of our 900 troops if people in other parts of the world did not heed the warning that was being given to them by Government supporters.
What role can Australia play in international affairs? When we send our representatives to international conferences we can, it is perfectly true, raise our voice and express our opinion. We can join with other small nations in trying to influence the decisions of the conferences. But let us not get the idea that we are a great military power. In my opinion, if the Government wants to secure the safety of Australia and its people it will not do so by trailing its coat in the way that the supporters of the Government have been doing. In actual fact, Australia can only express an opinion. It cannot do anything beyond that. I recollect an incident that was related to me which seems to illustrate my point. Sir Percy Spender, who has now been promoted to the International Court, was a representative of Australia at a United Nations conference. Sir Percy Spender was noted for his ranting speeches in this Parliament. He had a mania about communism.
– On a point of order, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, the gentleman to whom the honorable member is referring is now a member of the International Court at The Hague.
– Not until January!
– Is it in order for the honorable member to reflect in this way on a fellow-Australian occupying a judicial position?
– If the gentleman is occupying a judicial position, the honorable member for East Sydney is out of order.
– I am referring to this gentleman in his capacity as a delegate representing this country at the United Nations, and I think I am entitled to criticize him in that capacity, not in his capacity as a member of the International Court. I merely made reference to the fact that he had been promoted to membership of the International Court. At the conference to which I was referring, this gentleman made an attack upon the great Soviet power. In returning to his seat he had to pass the seats occupied by the Soviet delegates, and Vishinsky, who at that time represented the Soviet at the conference, said, as Sir Percy Spender walked past his seat, “ Get back to your kennel, puppy “. That remark seems to sum up the situation fairly accurately.
The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) gave some unsolicited advice to the Labour party. Do you know what he said to us, in effect? He said, “ Labour should not point out the defects in our system, because that does no service to our side “. So we must not, according to the honorable member for Mackellar, talk in this Parliament about the way our aborigines are ill-treated, or the way in which we are failing to do justice to the people whom we control in our external territories. We must not direct attention to the defects of capitalism which create poverty, misery and degradation in our own country, because that does no service to our side - using the honorable member’s words. The facts are that the Government parties claim that they want world peace, but they want it on the condition that capitalism must be preserved. As a result, they prop up and support every reactionary regime in any part of the world. They will not accept the fact that great changes are occurring in the economies of the various nations, and that the people will not be satisfied with a continuance of monopoly capitalism. When we criticized the Government’s attitude in always following the line determined by Wall-street, as represented by Mr. John Foster Dulles, Government members said, “ You are antiAmerican “. Nothing of the kind! Government supporters would probably contend that if an Australian who travelled overseas was opposed to the Menzies Government - as the great .majority of Australians would be - and had the audacity to criticize that Government, he would be anti-Australian. Those contentions are a lot of rubbish.
The American people are just as divided in opinion regarding their present administration as the people of this country are with regard to our Australian administration. [Quorum formed.] The present administration in the United States of America is under the control and domination of the great cartels and monopolies of the world. The position in that country is very adequately and fairly set out in an editorial which appeared in the Sydney “Daily Mirror”, on 1st July, 1957, in which the following comments appeared: -
For a long time now, U.S. foreign and trade policy has been dictated by U.S. big business which has consistently sought a one-way ticket to further its interests.
There is good reason to believe that American oil interests, the vast monopoly that so heavily subsidizes the Republican Party, have dictated the wobbly United States policy in the Middle East.
There are sinister stories that the same interests have fomented much of the anti-French trouble in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. There is in fact more than a suspicion that behind the gaudy facade of American criticism of “ colonialism “ and “ imperialism “ stalks a greedy plot by big business to move in when the so-called imperialists move out.
The sad truth is that United States policy has to be viewed in the light of Washington pressure politics.
For Washington, the city of pinks, minks and stinks, the city of lobbyists and grafters, is about the most corrupt capital in the world.
That is not a Communist newspaper: that is the “ Daily Mirror “ describing the situation in America to-day. In my opinion there is ample room for improvement in the United States of America and I hope that the American people are fortunate enough to have a change of administration very soon, the same as we urgently need and desire in Australia.
What is the situation from the Government’s viewpoint? It divides the world into two sections. It places Russia and Communist China and other Communist countries on one side, and what it describes as the nations comprising the free world on the other side. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has shown how ridiculous this continual reference to the free world is, when, in fact, there is very little freedom existing in many of the nations included in what is regarded as the free world.
As an Australian, I am anxious to keep this country out of any entanglement that may lead to war, because I recognize the fact that the workers can never win in a war. They may secure victory and yet lose; because I recollect that the Government parties during the last war, when they wanted to obtain the loyal co-operation and support of the trade unions and working class in Australia, promised that when the war was over there would be great economic reforms - a new order. However, to-day if any honorable member advocates great economic reforms, he automatically becomes a Communist in the eyes of the Government. The late William Morris Hughes described the first world war as a sordid trade war.
The Government is aiming to create feelings of hate and fear because they are necessary to build up the correct war atmosphere. So, we have the honorable member for Mackellar and other honorable members talking about the Soviet being our implacable enemy. In my opinion that is rather a peculiar way of endeavouring to obtain a settlement by peaceful means of the difficulties which exist in the world to-day. The suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition is the only way of achieving any agreement. It is no use sending the small men in any government to these world conferences hoping that we will get some settlement of the difficulties. Can honorable members imagine sending the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) to a conference with representatives of other nations, and expecting anything worthwhile to come out of it? There must be summit talks, a conference of the big men of the great nations of the world.
The honorable member for Mackellar spoke about the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics walking out of the disarmament conference. He said - and this is quite a change of front for him which, I think, dates from pre-Sputnik days - “We must find ways of bringing Russia back “. It is not so long ago, when he believed that the Western powers had a great preponderance in armaments, he wanted a preventive war against Russia. That was his solution of the world’s difficulties. He said, “Let us set a deadline and if the Russians, or anybody else, do not toe the line by that date, let us annihilate them; let us drop our bombs upon their cities and their populace “. He has changed his tune to-day. He no longer talks about preventive wars because he realizes, as many other people in the world to-day realize, that the Western Powers have been going down the slide. In many respects they are decadent nations. The Russians, who have concentrated upon the training of scientists, now have a preponderance of scientists who can give the U.S.S.R. pre-eminence in this partacular field of activity.
What is the situation to-day? Recently a Sydney newspaper displayed the headline, “ Mr. K. can wipe out the U.S. “. However, that does not apply only to the Soviet Union. I believe that the Western Powers likewise can wipe out the Soviet Union or, to put it another way, each has the power to wipe out the other. They should, therefore, come to accept a state of coexistence. Are we endeavouring to get agreement to create peace? I am rather doubtful about that. I have in my hand part of a message which was transmitted through the General Post Office, Sydney, from Washington. It was passed out to me by one of the employees of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. I regret 1 have not got the complete message, but the contents of the portion I have are rather alarming. It is available for all, who wish to do so, to examine it. I shall read it to honorable members. It is as follows: -
John Foster Dulles pleaded for a greater effort from the American people until Russia was destroyed, and warned that Americans might have to give up some individual freedoms. Addressing the conference of National Defence Executive Reserve Dulles said effort was needed until the forces of freedom prevail and destroy this great monolithic structure which opposes and threatens us. Soviet Union had considerable reserves and was under extremely able direction and it was the Russian rulers’ ambition to concentrate their effort into channels which they believe would enable them to dominate the world. Russia could not succeed if the American people were willing to sacrifice as much fredom as the Russians and if the totalitarian regimented garrison state of Russia was confronted with comparable state.
This message would seem to indicate that the official policy now being advocated in America by certain interests is the destruction of Russia and not an attempt to get agreement so that world peace can be preserved. The message continues -
But the question is whether the United States can surpass Russia while still retaining essentials of freedom-
And the United States has always been quoted as the home of freedom - we may have to give up some small marginal freedoms if we want to meet the Soviet Union’s military and scientific challenges.
That indicates that, in the view of Mr. Dulles and those he represents, America may have to introduce totalitarian methods to match those employed in Russia.
– Would you have an inquiry into that?
– I would welcome an inquiry into that, because I am amazed that this particular statement which has passed through the General Post Office, Sydney, and was handed to me has not appeared in the daily press of this country; at least if it has appeared, I have not seen it. In my opinion, Australia and the other nations of the world have to show a genuine desire to secure world peace.
I turn now to the security of Australia. From what centre does Australia expect to be attacked in the future? If Australia is attacked in the future, it is most likely the attack will come from our former enemy, Japan. Is it likely to come from continental China or from the Soviet, which have great expanses of territory and great resources to develop? I am not going to say with any certainty that it could not come from that quarter; but it is most likely that for very many years those two great powers will have enough internal and domestic problems to keep them busy. Japan on the other hand, which has the pressure of a great and increasing population, growing unemployment, and a paucity of food supplies, is in a critical position. If Japan had the opportunity to-morrow it would move south again to occupy this country as it attempted to do in the second world war.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKEROrder! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- In the decade before the second world war the widely held belief among the people of Australia was that there was very little difference in the foreign policy of the two main political parties then in existence. The people believed that the foreign policy of Australia would remain approximately the same irrespective of which party occupied the government benches. If honorable members had any lingering doubts along those lines they would have been completely dispelled by the speeches delivered to-day by the Opposition. From the speech we heard first from the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) until this most remarkable address that we have just heard from the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), one finds that the policy, the philosophy and the basic thought of the two political parties in Australia are now completely different.
Though I shall direct my remarks to certain sections of the statement given to us to-day by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), I wish to answer certain criticisms that have been made by members of the Opposition. I do not wish to canvass in detail a great deal of what was said by the honorable member for East Sydney, but it is necessary to direct the attention of the House to the common factor in quite a number of speeches that have been delivered by members of the Opposition. Several months ago, the directors of the Communist propaganda machine decided to launch a personal attack on the Secretary of State for the United States of America. This attack was echoed in the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition and of a number of Opposition members, including, once again, the honorable member for East Sydney. I think it is well for the House to know some of the background from which the honorable member for East Sydney speaks.
I do not know how many honorable members now present in the House remember the late Mr. Evans. He was a gentleman who was very active within the Australian Labour party machine, and was one of the co-leaders of the Hughes-Evans group - the left-wing section of the Australian Labour party at that time. Prior to his death, he was quite publicly the organizer for the Communist party in the northern part of New South Wales. He lived at Wamberal, not very far from where I lived, so I had the opportunity to be told some of his pronouncements. One of the more interesting assertions of the late Mr. Evans was that the Communist party had to have quite a number of what he termed contact men to represent it in various walks of life. In some instances, they were publicly recognized representatives; in other instances, they were camouflaged and sometimes, to complete the camouflage, the party attacked them. The point I want to make is that the late Mr. Evans stated that, as far as he was concerned as the northern organizer of the Communist party, his contact member in Canberra was the honorable member for East Sydney. That was an interesting admission by the late Mr. Evans, because it provides a background for speeches of the type that we have just heard from the honorable member.
I also want to take up some of the remarks that were made during this debate by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). Honorable members may recall that the honorable member for Yarra made cetain criticisms of the Western proposals for inspection areas in connexion with the disarmament commission. He based these criticisms on an article and maps that appeared in the New York “ Times “, dated Sunday, 4th August last. I presume that most honorable members have seen the article and maps. The honorable member for Yarra made great play of the fact that the map of the European zone proposed by the United States showed the arc of a circle which, the honorable member said, excluded Iceland and the greater part of Turkey. In making his point, the honorable member said that these were areas from which attacks on the Soviet Union might be launched.
One of the main themes running through the speeches of Opposition members during this debate has been the promotion of the Soviet idea and criticism of Western proposals. When I heard this criticism, it struck me as being completely contrary to my own beliefs, and I went to some trouble to have research made into it. I have been provided with information relevant to the criticism launched by the honorable member for Yarra on the proposed European zone of inspection. [Quorum formed.] I referred to the criticism launched by the honorable member for Yarra, and I am glad to see that he has returned to the House, because I wish to answer it. I directed attention to the fact that the honorable member criticized the Western proposals for an area of inspection in Europe to guard against surprise attack. The honorable member based his criticism on an article and maps which appeared in the New York “ Times “. The
European zone is bounded in the south by latitude 40 degrees north, in the west by 10 degrees west longitude and in the east by 60 degrees east longitude. This area, which covers virtually all of Europe, is given in these terms for convenience.
– What about Turkey?
– Here is the answer to the honorable gentleman. It is correct that not all of Turkey is included. The honorable member mentioned that fact. The arc of the circle takes in the outer portion of Turkey, but, if the honorable member will wait for about 30 seconds, I will give the rest of the answer. It is correct that not all of Turkey is included, as parallel 40 degrees north runs through the top section of that country. The proposal included that area, but, as the honorable member said, the rest of the country is excluded. It is also correct that Iceland is not included in the area, as the western parallel of 10 degrees west longitude corresponds roughly with the coast of Iceland. However, the point that I wish to make is that the suggested area is not inflexible and, naturally, could be extended to include the whole of Turkey and Iceland. Actually, both areas are already covered by the further United States offer to permit inspection of all overseas United States bases, provided that the governments of the countries in which these bases are located give their consent. Turkey and Iceland, as members of Nato, have supported the Western proposals and naturally would not object to having all their territories inspected. I hope that that answers the criticism made by the honorable member for Yarra this afternoon.
I think it was the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) who pointed out this afternoon, that, in citing the “ New York Times “ report, the honorable member for Yarra omitted to include in his remarks reference to the offer by the United States to permit inspection of all its overseas bases, with the consent of the countries concerned. I think I am correct in saying that the honorable gentleman, in making his comments and criticisms, omitted to refer to that matter and therefore gave an interpretation which was not factually accurate.
When the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) addressed the House a little while ago, he directed attention to the fact that, at the present time, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is meeting in New Delhi. The right honorable gentleman rightly told the House of the importance of that occasion, particularly to Australia. I think we are all very glad to know that Australia is to be the host nation to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association for its next meeting.
There have been several developments in South-East Asia which have been not only interesting in themselves, but also of interest to us in our relations with a number of the countries of the area. Almost twelve months ago to the day, the first Australian parliamentary delegation to SouthEast Asia landed at Djakarta, having previously attended the 45th conference of the International Parliamentary Union, which was held at Bangkok. That was the first time an Australian parliamentary delegation had attended such a conference. As guests of the Government of Viet Nam, the members of the delegation then spent approximately one week in that country, followed by a week in Singapore and Malaya. As I have just informed the House, the tour concluded with a visit to Indonesia.
Since then, we have had certain return visits. We have had a visit from the Foreign Minister of Viet Nam, His Excellency Vu Van Mau. We had a most successful visit from the Head of State of Viet Nam, His Excellency Ngo Dinh Diem, and this week, we have had a successful visit also from the Prime Minister of Japan. Since the Bangkok conference, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has visited a number of South-East Asian countries. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) visited Japan and called on several other countries en route. We have had a visit by a parliamentary delegation from Viet Nam, which was in this country for approximately two weeks. As honorable members know, arrangements have already been made for a parliamentry delegation to go from Australia to Japan early next year, and we hope that suitable arrangements can be made in the middle of the year for a reciprocal visit to this country of members of the Japanese Diet. All these things, I believe, are very good, because of the basic importance of personal relationships, of getting to know one another, of being able to appreciate the background and to absorb the culture of the countries visited, short though the visits may be. Such visits enable one to get a better idea of the problems of the countries visited. I believe that the future of Australia is becoming more and more closely bound to the future of SouthEast Asia.
I invite the attention of the Government to the fact that, on 31st August last, we received into the British Commonwealth of Nations the new Federation of Malaya. I hope that it will be possible for us to receive a delegation from the Parliament of Malaya very soon. I hope, too, that these visits of the Heads of State of countries which are so close to us, and which have so many interests in common with us, will be continued. Having started this series of visits, let us continue it. I think it is most necessary that, having made our personal contacts, those contacts should be maintained and, to the best of our ability, enlarged.
I do not wish to initiate in this debate a discussion on trade, but I think it is only right and proper, in discussing these matters, briefly to mention the importance of increasing our trade with the countries of South-East Asia. Two days ago, the Commonwealth Statistician released certain figures which show that our trade with a number of these countries in South-East Asia, and with Japan, has increased rapidly, especially during the last twelve months. As we know, trade between Australia and quite a number of those countries is out of balance. Therefore, in respect of the aid which we are giving to them under the Colombo plan, I should like to see financial arrangements which would enable such countries to establish suitable industries, so that we could have the opportunity for a greater measure of reciprocal trade with them.
I have, so far, been able to make only a very brief investigation of the position regarding their primary products, but I hope to do more in this respect in the future. However, let me refer, as an example, to the fishing industry. I have found that Australia has been consuming far more fish, per head of population, in the years since the war than it consumed before the war. That is due. no doubt, to the settlement in this country of a number of nationals of other countries.
When one looks at the primary production of certain of the South-East Asian countries it is obvious that, although such production is at present only of a domestic nature, the fishing industry is one of the larger primary industries. If we could provide them with certain technical and financial assistance, so that they could establish processing plants, it might be possible for us to help to bring about more balanced trade between us. These countries have, of course, products that we want, a prime example being rubber, which a number of them produce.
In the time that 1 have left, I renew my plea for the continuance and extension of the personal contacts which, under the guidance of the Minister for External Affairs, we have been making with these countries during recent years.
.- I regret that the Government should have seen fit to leave the discussion of such an important subject until the last hours of the sessional period. It seems to me that that fails to do justice both to the importance of the matters that arise for consideration under the heading of international affairs, and to their possible consequences for Australia. I am of the opinion that there should be regular debates of this character, and that we should have greater opportunity for discussion of international affairs than is afforded by the Government. I hope that, in the future, the Government will make it possible for honorable members to be more fully informed on many of these matters of international concern, and that it will provide opportunities for debate, so that we may indicate the true views of the Australian electorate in relation to the situations that arise from time to time.
A striking feature of this debate has been the way in which certain Government supporters seem to have greatly changed their outlook upon the international situation since the last debate on international affairs. Members of the Government, and their supporters, have run away from the arguments presented by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) in an objective statement this afternoon. They have not attempted to answer those arguments, or to make any constructive comments upon them. I venture to say, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the speech made this afternoon by the Leader of the Opposition was one of the finest statements on international affairs that has ever been heard in this Parliament, and that, as time passes, it will come to be regarded as a very fine appreciation of the present critical situation. Furthermore, the thinking of this great man on the problems of international understanding will come to be accepted by many others, who will learn from experience the wisdom of the course that he has suggested. I am sure that his views will be accepted by the Australian community, for they truly reflect the attitude of the people.
There is much concern in the world to-day over what is known as the cold war. Ever since the termination of World War II., relations in world affairs have been most unfortunate. I am sure that all men and women pray that the world may enjoy peace, and that the benefits that are at present denied to mankind may be conferred upon it by an era of peace. By pleading the cause of peace, we are doing something to advance the real interests of public wellbeing and understanding between nations. The negative attitude adopted by this Government will not solve any problems for anybody. I earnestly hope that it will realize that it is not acting in accordance with the heartfelt wishes of the Australian people. The horrors caused by the holocaust of war are manifested in several ways. One has only to visit any of the repatriation hospitals in Australia to realize how great a tragedy war is, and to resolve with even greater determination to end the present world disagreements. Unless we find some more civilized approach to the settlement of differences of opinion between nations, we may have another war in which the horrors that are emphasized by a visit to a repatriation hospital will be intensified. The burden of the war effort in any future conflict will be overwhelming, and the consequences of war will threaten the standard of living that we enjoy in our civilization. In the light of these considerations, the time allowed to honorable members for the consideration of international affairs is all too brief. Their importance justifies more earnest consideration for a greater time.
It is time that sanity manifested itself in world affairs. The people of the world are plagued by fear of the future, when they should be enjoying years of peace, grace, progress and plenty - years of universal well-being. This situation cannot be allowed to continue. The problem of improving international relations greatly disturbs the minds of all who have the welfare of mankind at heart. This afternoon, the Leader of the Opposition made a very helpful suggestion, which he has made before. He has consistently proposed a meeting of those who determine the great policies of nations, in order that they may discuss questions of great concern on which there are differences between nations. By this means, we can hope to achieve at least some understanding, if not a solution of the problems involved. Unfortunately, the Government just dismisses the idea as being unworthy of consideration, and no Government spokesman has been prepared to demolish the proposal, or to offer anything constructive in its place.
The policies of this Government, and those of the United States administration, do not find universal favour by any means. Mr. C. L. Sulzberger, the principal foreign writer of the “ New York Times “, is reported in this evening’s Melbourne “ Herald “ as having said that there has been too much improvization, and too little foresight, in the policies that have been adopted by the United States, and, furthermore, that there has been a refusal to accept the facts of a changing world, or even to admit their existence. Mr. Sulzberger is not alone in making this kind of comment. Dr. Sidney Smith, the Canadian Minister for External Affairs, has said that he is distressed and disturbed by Washington’s out-of-hand rejection of the Soviet proposals for high-level discussions, and that Canada does not think that the answer should always be, “ No “.
We cannot ignore opinions of the kind I have quoted, because they express a very widespread desire among the western nations that the world should find some answer to the problems that face it to-day and the hope that we shall endeavour to provide a better basis of living than we have had up to the present.
I know that honorable gentlemen opposite may feel that there is some doubt about the success of international gatherings of the kind we are speaking of. In answer to that doubt I shall recount an experience I myself had when representing this country at the United Nations, and when I was privileged to be the Chairman of the Security Council. It was at the first meeting in the City of London in 1946. One of the subjects brought before the Security Council on that occasion was a motion seeking the early withdrawal of British troops from Greece. For two days the eleven members of the Security Council canvassed that subject in an effort to find some answer to the charges made against Britain of intruding itself into the affairs of Greece in that way. It seemed almost as if we had come to an impasse and were incapable of finding the answer. After further consideration of the matter I indicated that I thought there might be an adjournment, only to find that there was an unwillingness to adjourn at that juncture. However, Mr. Ernest Bevan, who was the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary at that time, retired from the council chamber to the office occupied by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Trygve Lie. He then summoned me to a consultation. He was very disturbed about the inability of the council to resolve the position. I then told him that I felt there was a need for direct consultation between him and the leader of the Soviet delegation, with a view to securing some better understanding of the problem and finding an answer to it. At first he was somewhat unwilling to accept my advice, but ultimately he came round to the idea of having a consultation with the leader of the Soviet delegation. After two hours of consultation between the two leaders it did not seem that much progress had been made towards resolving the position. But the following morning, when the council met again, within an hour we had secured the answer to that problem because, when the council assembled I, as chairman, proposed certain ideas which I trusted would have the unanimous support of the council members. I found that Mr. Vishinsky was opposed to my ideas, but upon being requested to give his ideas of how a unanimous view might be reached on the point at issue he started to make a statement at the conclusion of which Mr. Bevin, who had been greatly agitated about the whole matter, and who was under fire because of the presence of British troops in Greece, got to his feet and said -
Mr. President, I think I can accept that statement that has just been made by the leader of the delegation from the Soviet Union. It now does not contain the charges that it made formerly against Britain in regard to the presence of British troops, nor does it immediately demand their withdrawal. In view of those circumstances, after a perusal of the manuscript, Sir, I want to say that the Mother Country wishes to promote peace and goodwill amongst the nations, and in that respect I accept the statement and propose that we should proceed to the next business.
There was unanimity among the members of the council, and I believe that the consultations on the previous evening between the two leaders were largely responsible for the solution that was reached. I feel that, in the same way, discussion at the summit, as proposed by the Leader of the Opposition, is the sane and sensible approach to the present problems.
I know that some honorable gentlemen opposite feel that there should be no place in the world for people who differ from them in their views - that those who have views opposed to the ideologies that honorable members opposite espouse should not be permitted to live as they may wish. But all the rights are not on one side, nor are all the wrongs on the other. There are rights and wrongs on both sides which require to be canvassed and earnestly considered with a view to finding the answer to the problems. It is a remarkable thing that co-existence can be achieved in war.
.- In the dying stages of this sessional period of the Twenty-second Parliament it would be correct to say that most of the people not connected with this House would have very little thought about the foreign policy of Australia or any other country. Perhaps at this stage of the year their thoughts are turned to the things to which people’s thoughts usually turn during December; to the Christmas season and to that thing about Christmas which appeals to so many of us, particularly, I believe, to the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) - peace on earth and goodwill to men. I believe the correct quotation differs slightly from that, and is, in fact, “ Peace on earth to all men of goodwill “.
This debate has brought out one salient fact. The world to-day needs many more men of goodwill if we are ever to establish the type of peace we dream about. Regardless of what Opposition members say about the summit talks, and their accusation that the Government believes that summit talks have no chance of success, I honestly believe that if on the other side of the iron curtain more men of extreme goodwill were in power, summit talks would have some chance of success and the world would have some chance of living in peace.
It is quite foolish to accuse the Western Powers of having no desire for peace. It is just as foolish to say that the Western Powers should stop their preparation for war in the hope that war will not come. However much we might believe in peace. I think that the majority of Australians believe that there are worse things than the type of peace we could have - peace at the price of slavery to the people of this and other free nations. I believe that most people of the Western world would, if given a choice, prefer annihilation to the type of life that is inflicted upon many millions of people behind the iron curtain, under the control of Soviet Russia. Therefore, when we talk of foreign affairs we should not get any airy-fairy notions that, because somebody in this House expresses a desire for a summit talk, it will solve a problem that has never been solved in the whole history of civilization.
Some tribute should be paid in this House to the work of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). He has been criticized for what are called his constant trips around the world. As many honorable members are aware, these trips would do nothing more than sap the life-strength from him. There can be no enjoyment in such trips. They are not Cook’s tours. The Minister, who is giving his health and strength in the service of this nation, should be commended for what he is doing, rather than criticized in his attempt to place Australia in her rightful place in the world. I congratulate the Minister on his address to the House to-day. Anybody who has to give a 40-minute summary of world conditions as they affect this nation is facing a mammoth task, but I believe that when the history of the 1940’s or I950’s is written, the name of the Minister for
External Affairs will register prominently not only in the annals of Australia, but in the annals of many of the nations with which he has come in contact.
It is well to remember that many of the things said by members of the Opposition in the course of this debate were obviously said with very little attention to the statements made by the Minister. This question of summit talks has been hammered ceaselessly. The subject of disarmament has been prominent in most of the speeches. The Minister stated that the Western proposal for disarmament was agreed to in the United Nations by fifty-six of the nations participating. Fifteen nations abstained from voting, and the only countries to oppose the proposals were those in the Communist bloc. The Leader of the Opposition stated that we should be prepared to accept the result of these summit talks, that we should be prepared to accept the conditions laid down by our enemies. The honorable member for Bonython says that the wrong is not all on one side. Perhaps he is right, but I believe that the ordinary Australian citizen is sufficiently intelligent to see that the fundamental wrong lies at the door of the Soviet republic; that the western democracies have no desire to influence those nations that are able to govern themselves; that the democracies have no desire to extend their territories; and that the Soviet republic has one aim in mind - world domination. To talk about the friendly attitude of the Soviet is so much airy-fairy nonsense. I was intrigued by the reply to an interjection made by the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) during the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, who was stating that under the terms of the disarmament proposal of the western powers, the balance of manpower would lie with the Western countries. The Minister for Defence asked, “ Are you including in your calculations the satellite countries? “ The reply of the Leader of the Opposition was, “ We are discussing Soviet Russia and the western world “.
In to-night’s press is the statement by Chou En-lai, the leader of the Chinese Communist Republic, that red China is backing Indonesia in her claim to West New Guinea. It is most surprising if Communist China has any interest at all in the problem of West New Guinea.
On several occasions 1 have heard Opposition members say that we on this side of the House believe in the old principle of gun-boat diplomacy. Surely this threat from Communist China about a claim to a part of the world that is miles from her and is of no interest to her is a magnified form of this very same gun-boat diplomacy. Small as we are as a nation, I believe that the time will never come when we will submit to a decision through fear of what might happen if we do what we believe h right. That spirit, which has been the basis of western democracy throughout history, is. I believe, just as strong in the people of Australia, the United States and Great Britain to-day as it has ever been before.
One thing we find in a debate of this kind is that we are prepared, even though we think some mistake may have been made, to support our forebears - the people of Great Britain. I do not think that we have anything of which to be ashamed if we stand four-square behind Great Britain’s decisions and declare ourselves to be entirely on her side if it is a matter of deciding whether we support people from whom we sprung or those of an alien nation.
I have noticed, on the same question of disarmament, that the Soviet refuses to take part in a disarmament commission the membership of which was increased from eleven nations to 25 nations. Surely if these people, who, we are told, should be called to a summit conference, were sincere in their attempts to settle the world’s problems, they would agree to an enlarged commission to discuss disarmament. But I very much fear that the United Nations will quickly fall into the position to which the League of Nations fell if it becomes a place where issues are decided on what is good for the big powers without regard to the effect on the small powers of the world. History is full of records of attempts to achieve some system of disarmament or of outlawing war. If one refers to the days of the Roman Empire it will be found that from that time onwards every such attempt met with failure. The effort to limit armaments has sometimes proved to be more to the advantage of the nation at which the limitation was directed in the first place. Most honorable members would agree that the limitation of armaments between World War I. and World
War II. was of express advantage to Germany, as was so clearly proved in the period between 1939 and 1945. i notice that the Minister for External Affairs paid a tribute to Russian scientists for their development of the satellite. He then mentioned that as they had perfected the inter-continental ballistic missile, perhaps they had the means of delivering an atomic warhead to any part of the world, but they had not yet solved two most important problems. One was that of bringing the inter-continental ballistic missile from the outer atmosphere back into the atmosphere because of the very high friction that would be produced, with the result that the thing would be destroyed. Secondly, if they overcome that problem - as, perhaps, they have - they still have to overcome the problem of steering the thing, in its final stages, on to a selected target. 1 believe that the greatest advantage in possessing the inter-continental ballistic missile does not lie in the fact that it can be delivered on to target A, but in its panic value and the fact that over the whole of the continent nobody would be quite certain where it would fall. But if the Russians do possess it, as many believe they do, the only way in which we can protect ourselves against future destruction is to possess it also ourselves. 1 believe that over the last four or five years, the factor that has maintained peace in the world and has prevented a global war, is not that the United Nations have deliberated proposals or that the Security Council has decided whether or not a nation can do something, but that America has been in possession of the strategic air command and that the British Air Force has been ready with its bomber command. It is obvious that if a possible hostile nation moves from the conventional type of weapon to the inter-continental ballistic missile, our means of survival and of maintaining peace in the world is to remain level with the nation which might threaten us at any time.
The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) quoted from sources which he said had to be believed because of their reputation in the community and of their nation of origin. I will follow that line also and, on the question of disarmament, quote from an authority who I am certain could be accepted among members of this House as knowing something about the subject of which he is speaking. I refer to Hans J. Morgenthau and his book “ Politics Among Nations “. He deals with the problem of peace in our time. As I said earlier this is not a new problem; it is as old as civilization. I quote the following passage: -
Two world wars within a generation and the potentialities of atomic warfare have made the establishment of international order and the preservation of international peace the paramount concern of Western civilization. War has always Seen abhorred as a scourge. As the rise of the territorial state transformed the Holy Roman Empire from the actual political organization of Christendom into an empty shell and a legal fiction, writers and statesmen reflected more and more on substitutes for the lost political unity of the Western world. Erasmus in the sixteenth century, Sully, Eméric Crucé, Hugo Grotius and William Penn in the seventeenth, the Abb de Saint-Pierre, Rousseau, Bentham and Kant in the eighteenth were the great intellectual forerunners of the practical attempts undertaken in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to solve the problems of international order and peace.
We followed on with the League of Nations. In 1922, an honest attempt was made by the major powers to bring some form of disarmament to the world’s forces. Honorable members will remember something 1 have said in this House before. The 1921 Washington Naval Treaty limited the size of the navies of the world and we had the shocking spectacle, looking back over history, of an Australian warship being sunk off Sydney Heads under the terms of that agreement. The limitation of arms was doing only one thing, because there was not a total abolition of arms. Because you do not remove the causes of war, you find that the countries most anxious in their desire for peace are the sufferers when a nation decides that the time is ripe to annihilate its enemies. It was only by the grace of God and the bravery of millions of people of the British Commonwealth of Nations and the United States of America that we, to-day, enjoy the life we do.
I want to make one point at this stage. It arose last Thursday night during the debate on the motion for the adjournment. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) made a speech on what Australia owed to Russia and the need for co-existence. If we take the example of World War II. in deciding whether we could co-exist with Russia, the answer would definitely be that we have not a possible hope of doing so. I challenge the statement of the honorable member that these were the people who were fighting on our side. These were not the people who were fighting against the Japanese at the same time that we were fighting against them. If anybody, including the honorable member for Hindmarsh, cares to read a very good factual account of the conduct of World War II. in the European theatre, which has just been published from the memoirs of the Chief of the General Staff, he will find that although the Russians fought gallantly at Stalingrad and gallantly against the Germans in many places, they were a source of embarrassment to the British command. Let us not forget that the world was plunged into war in 1939, following a non-aggression treaty that was signed between Russia and Germany. The Russians did not fight against the Japanese until the dying stages when they realized that the war in the Pacific was practically over.
I do not want to detract from the efforts of the Russians in the European war or to forget that they held large numbers of German forces immobilized by their action in the western zone.
– How many did they lose, killed?
– I do not think that comes into it. As the right honorable member has just entered the chamber, he would not know what I said when I started to make this point. Coming back to the question of disarmament, it seems to me that we have to listen to statements to the effect that if the Western world is prepared to lay down its arms, abandon all its defences and accept the ideas of the other side, we shall have peace. I do not think that anything could be further from the truth. I believe, and it is obvious to most people of this nation, that once again the world is lined up according to two ideologies. Perhaps the fear of atomic weapons and of annihilation will keep the nations from waging war, but at least we should not be so foolish as to believe that we are in a position to offer the hand of friendship, or hold out the olive branch, to a possible opponent who cannot be trusted to keep an agreement and who is not prepared to accept a logical proposal for the limitation of armaments or cannot understand why people should live the way of life they want to live. However bright the aspirations of the United Nations may have been, the world, since 1945-
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Freeth). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The debate which is taking place on foreign affairs is an exceedingly important debate. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), when he made his speech this afternoon, covered every point on international relations and he raised some very important questions for consideration by this House. My great regret is that a statement of that length and containing all the information that it contained was not available to honorable members some time earlier so that they would have been able to give it very careful consideration and reach conclusions on it. I echo the suggestion made by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) that a statement on foreign affairs should be made in the early part of a session and ample opportunity given to debate it.
It is an important subject because it concerns the capacity and ability of individual nations to work together towards peace. For ages, mankind has striven to find some way of overcoming wars and the threat of wars. That was very amply demonstrated after World War I. when the nations of the world endeavoured, by means of the League of Nations, to achieve some form of organization that would enable them collectively to speak upon the problems of their relationships with one another. The League of Nations, unfortunately, was not global and did not have sufficient power to prevent the disturbances that took place both in Asia and Europe between World War I. and World War II.
The desire to have some action by all nations to secure peace became stronger than ever as a consequence of the misery, the suffering and the tragedy which mankind endured as a result of World War II. Even before that war ended, the President of the United States of America took the necessary steps to bring the nations of the world together in conference for the purpose of forming a new international body, based upon democratic principles, in the hope that it would be able to give to the world better machinery to deal with the inevitable disputes that arise among nations from time to time.
In speaking of the United Nations, I want to pay tribute to the work done by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) at the conference in San Francisco in 1945. He played an important and leading part in drafting the charter and the constitution of the United Nations - work which was recognized by the United Nations subsequently by making him President of the General Assembly. Labour has a definite policy on international affairs. The very foundations of Labour’s international policy are expressed in the first paragraph of the Labour party’s platform, which reads as follows: -
Steady and unwavering support for the United Nations and for the purposes and principles declared in the United Nations Charter.
If all political parties were prepared to give the same adherence to that principle as the Australian Labour party is prepared to give to it, the urge of the countries of the western world to utilise to the fullest possible extent the machinery provided by the United Nations would, I believe, bring about a better result in international affairs than is apparent at the present moment. No doubt many honorable members look upon the United Nations as an organization with head-quarters in New York, in which certain committees function, and from which spectacular statements are made from time to time. Although that is a very important part of the work of the United Nations organization, it does another type of work which is bringing it right into the hearts and homes of hundreds of millions of people who, because of illiteracy, are never able to read the debates that take place in the United Nations.
I refer particularly to subsidiary organizations such as the International Labour Organization, which is endeavouring to assist the formation of cooperatives to improve the hours of labour and the conditions of employment in the backward countries of the world. I refer also to the World Health Organization, which is taking its specialists, medical men and nurses into the disease-stricken parts of the world and bringing to those areas better hygiene and better health standards than they had previously. I refer also to the magnificent work of the United Nations
International Emergency Children’s Fund which is giving relief to children and curing them of diseases which have affected children for centuries past. I refer also to the work of the Food and Agricutural Organization, which is giving to those who use primitive methods of farming in the backward countries of the world a new conception of how to till their soil, and how to produce two grains of wheat or rice where previously only one grain was grown.
The essential thing that I want to point out in respect of these organizations is that they are going to the parts of the world where the people cannot read about the United Nations. Through the efforts of these organizations, millions of people are learning that there is a United Nations organization. It is an organization of nations banded together, not only for the purpose of promoting peace but also to bring to backward peoples the advances of science and medicine.
I believe that the United Nations is steadily gaining in influence and that as more and more nations are attracted to it, its strength will grow and its authority will become more secure.
I appreciate that very great problems confront the world at the present time. It is true that there is a cold war. The nations of the world are divided into two groups. One group is generally referred to as the “ Soviet bloc”. The other group consists of those who, more or less, are allied with the Western nations. Because there is disttrust and suspicion of the Western nations on the part of the Soviet bloc and distrust and suspicion of the Soviet group on the part of the western nations, the cold war becomes more intense as time goes on.
The question we have to ask ourselves is this: Have we, in the eleven years since the United Nations commenced to function, done all that we possibly can in order to break down the hostility and suspicion between the two groups of nations? To ask ourselves that question is not to be critical. It is merely a sane, common-sense question to ask when, after eleven years, we still find hostility and suspicion growing greater and greater. We have to ask ourselves whether we understand the psychology of the people of central Europe and of Asia, and whether they understand our psychology.
I heard the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) talk this afternoon about the difficulties that were experienced in negotiations with the representatives of Russia. That is nothing new. When the Australian Council of Trades Unions was affiliated with the World Federation of Trade Unions, we in the trade union movement, who were constantly meeting the representatives of Russia in conference, found that the Russian people had a psychology of their own. Even in the trade union movement, where workers were bound together by the fraternal relationships of trade unionism, every proposal put up by the unions representing Britain, Canada, or the United States of America, was received with suspicion and mistrust. There was no desire to discuss it immediately. The representatives of Russia desired to take the particular proposition, study it carefully and, perhaps, let weeks go by before they gave a decision.
Similarly, the conception of time of the people in the East is entirely different from our conception of time. To them, if a matter rests for consideration for weeks or months, the delay is of no consequence. A decision can be made some time. They believe in reflection, meditation, and consideration, and time is of no consequence, whereas we of the Western world are used, as it were, to the time clock. We want things done quickly. If we meet in conference, we want a decision reached in 24 hours or a week. If it goes over a week, we think that people are humbugging. The result is that, in our methods of negotiation, we try to force the pace. The people of other parts of the world, because of natural inclinations and traditions, have a tendency to delay.
These are matters that we have to take into consideration when we are dealing with problems respecting international relationships. When we begin to understand these things and make allowances for the differences of opinion, we are well on the road to being able to understand the viewpoint of other people.
I believe the proposal in respect of a summit conference is a good one. The mere fact that in eleven years we have not accomplished all the things we want to do is no reason why we should not continue our efforts. I was one of the representatives from this House who, with the present Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall) attended the 1954 session of the United Nations organization. I can remember that at that session the representative of Russia, the late Mr. Vishinsky, arose in the assembly and made an announcement that at the time seemed to indicate a possibility of understanding being reached between the Western world and the Soviet bloc. He said that he was prepared to participate, on behalf of his country, in a discussion on disarmament in No. 1 committee, based upon ideas originally put forward at the United Nations by France in 1952, and by France and Britain in 1953. In 1954 Russia said that she was prepared to consider the matter. It was considered by the No. 1 committee. Unfortunately, no agreement was reached, but we had advanced to the stage where Russia was prepared to consider the question. So we have to carry on our efforts, having conferences wherever we can have them, in order that our viewpoint may be put forward and that eventually some basis of discussion will be reached and something to relieve the tension will gradually be evolved, and a better chance of understanding will exist.
In the brief time now at my disposal I want to refer to one matter raised by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). He referred to the slave labour camps in China. He disagreed with my friend the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) in respect of the existence of those camps and the number of persons in them. When the delegation from this side of the Parliament, consisting of the honorable member for Parkes, the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths), Senator Arnold, and I went to China, we endeavoured to ascertain, as far as we possibly could, the position with respect of these alleged slave labour camps. We were unable to find any of them. Our travels were extensive. We travelled over 10,000 miles by aeroplane, train and car. We went from Canton in the south to Changsha in the north. We had extensive views of the countryside, and nowhere between the seaboard and the midland mountains of China could we find evidence of the existence of large camps which would hold millions of people. Shanghai is a pretty big place, but it holds only 8,000,000 poeple. If you are to have millions of people in a camp, you require a mighty big place to hold them.
But we did inspect in Changsha a political prison, wherein we found some 800 persons who had been sentenced for political offences. It was a new prison. We found that every one of the persons sentenced to imprisonment - reform by labour - was being taught a trade. The prison had started a factory for the manufacture of lathes. 1 disagree with the figures that were given by the International Labour Organization. They are conjecture figures, and the I.L.O, in its report, gives an expression of opinion as to how many people were taken from this province, that province and the other province, but there was nothing authentic in respect of inquiries. I am not saying that slave labour camps do not exist. All I am saying is that we did not see them, and what we did see indicated that in regard to the reform of political prisoners steps were being taken to teach them trades.
I conclude on this note: If we have international hostilities and international antagonisms, we build up international tensions. Once we build up international tensions and they continue, inevitably we have war. Neither this country, nor any other country, in my opinion, desires war, and we as a community have to use all our efforts and whatever pressure we possibly can to ensure that the United Nations organization functions and that the nations of the world have an opportunity to discuss their grievances and settle their differences by negotiation and conciliation as laid down in the charter. If we can do that, we shall be playing our part to ensure that this generation and generations still to come are freed of the fear and the scourge of war.
.- I rise to speak on a subject about which I know very little, but, having listened to some honorable members expressing their views on international affairs, I have come to the conclusion that perhaps a lot of other people do not know much more about the matter than I do. Honorable members on both sides of the House - I am not criticizing any particular section - have dealt with many extraneous matters, probably because it is party policy to do so. They should, perhaps, have dealt with matters that are more important to Australia, such as the problem of Dutch New Guinea, about which I wish to say a few words. lt is all very well to talk about the problems of the Middle East, about Nato or about Russia. Fortunately for us, there are many other nations which are interested in those matters. There are Great Britain, the United States of America and the European bloc of nations to concern themselves with those problems, but the problem of Dutch New Guinea is our own problem, and we should be giving it more attention.
I now wish to refer to the efforts of Indonesia, at the plenary meetings of the General Assembly and meetings of the Political Committee of the United Nations, to promote a debate on the question of Dutch New Guinea. To succeed in doing so, Indonesia must gain a two-thirds majority in favour of its motion in the General Assembly. In 1954 the matter was brought before the Assembly, and Indonesia failed to secure the necessary twothirds majority. There were 34 nations in favour of the motion, 23 against, and 3 abstaining. The 34 nations that voted in favour included all the Asian countries represented, which were India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Thailand.
– How did we vote?
– We voted against the motion. In 1956, at the Eleventh Meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations, 40 voted in favour of Indonesia’s motion, 25 voted against, and 13 abstained. Indonesia again failed to promote a debate on the matter, but it is noteworthy that of the new countries that had joined the United Nations, the only one in the Asian area was Japan, and that country voted in favour of the motion. In 1 957 Indonesia again moved that the question of Dutch New Guinea be debated. The necessary two-thirds majority was still not forthcoming, but there were 43 in favour, 30 against, and 1 1 abstainers. The one Asiatic country that had joined the United Nations since the previous vote was taken was Malaya. That country also voted in favour of the motion that a debate should take place. It is also noteworthy that one of the eleven nations that abstained from voting was the United States of America. That nation wanted to sit on the fence. It felt that the issue was a hot potato - as it probably is.
We still have no fears of an immediate United Nations debate of this matter, and perhaps there will not be one for a long time, but what will happen during the period that elapses before a debate takes place? There will be further discontent in Indonesia, and while that discontent exists, there is a possibility that the Communists will take over control of the country. Whether Dr. Soekarno is a Communist or not I do not know. I do not say that he is. and I do not say that he has leanings towards communism. I do say, however, that he will find it very difficult to maintain what little control he has at present over the country while mob unrule exists there. I believe our greatest fear is that Indonesia, with a population of, probably. 80,000,000, will turn towards the Communist bloc.
The only reason why we have not had a United Nations debate on Dutch New Guinea is that the Dutch still say that they wish to maintain their control of that country. How long they will continue to do so I could not say. At present in Indonesia Dutch industries and airlines are being taken over. Moreover, there are 50,000 Dutch people there whose lives are in peril. The Dutch do not stand to lose to anything like the same extent in Dutch New Guinea, and perhaps a time will come when they will say, “ We do not want Dutch New Guinea. We would rather keep our industries and save the lives of our people in Indonesia.” If the Dutch did adopt that attitude, a debate would take place in the United Nations as to what was to happen to Dutch New Guinea. The United Nations might say that because the area was a colonial outpost of the Dutch empire it should be given to Indonesia. On the other hand, it might be decided to establish a trusteeship. With this in mind, it might be expedient for us to get in first and make some approaches before the United Nations arrived at a decision.
I believe that, with reservations, this Government could, perhaps not openly, approach the Indonesian Government and try to come to a mutual arrangement with regard to a trusteeship. Perhaps the area could be controlled under the joint trusteeship of Indonesia and Australia. This would leave the Dutch in their present position and give Dr. Soekarno a chance to achieve some sort of co-ordination and organization in Indonesia. At present mob unrule exists, and I believe it is being stimulated by the Communists. We have read that certain persons took over a Dutch enterprise and hoisted the flag of Russia on the building concerned. That demonstration, however, lasted for only a day, and order was then resumed. This showed that the Soekarno Government retained a little bit of control. While the Indonesians enjoy a degree of public sympathy with their claim that they have a right to Dutch New Guinea - I do not say that they have such a right, and in fact my own opinion is that they have not - the position is not favorable from our point of view. We certainly have not any sympathy among the Asiatic countries. That big group of nations to the north of us seems to be favouring Indonesia and will favour it even more as we remain obstinate.
I should like to think that we could use a little common sense and perhaps endeavour to avert a war or prevent the Communists from taking over control of Indonesia. That country, together with New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, could provide a natural barrier for us. I should hate to think that the 80,000,000 people in Indonesia had turned towards the Communist bloc. If that happened, it would constitute a terrible worry for Australians.
Although we have fought against the suggestion that the Dutch New Guinea question should be debated in the United Nations, I suggest that we might look a little further ahead. We might be able to stave off Indonesia in the United Nations for a while, but that country is winning sympathy from all the Asiatic countries. Our support comes from a few South American countries and a few European countries. What help would they be to us in the event of a war?
– What help would our Government be?
– I remind the honorable member that we join in these debates to express opinions that might be helpful to our country. These are my views. At present we are trying to achieve amicable relations with Indonesia. Under the Colombo plan we are educating Indonesian nationals. We have agreed to train their military personnel. But all the good that we might do by these means will be wiped away if the general feeling in Indonesia turns against us simply because we maintain a pig-headed attitude with regard to this problem of Dutch New Guinea. I do not say that we should give the area to Indonesia. I do not say that for one moment. Perhaps, however, we could arrange some kind of mutual trusteeship. I have not heard of such an arrangement before, but perhaps it could be done. lt might be asked, “ What right have we to Dutch New Guinea? “ We could reply that we have the wealth and the knowledge necessary to develop the country. On the other hand, Indonesia could say that it has the population necessary for the development of the area, and that it needs extra land. If the decision is left to the other countries of the world, whom will they favour? I do not know. The decision could go with us or against us; but the big problem in the meantime is that the whole of Indonesia is turning Communist because of this unrest. I do not know which way President Soekarno is going. Let us hope that he prefers to keep his own government, that he does not want to go to the Communist bloc, that he wants to remain neutral, for while he is neutral he is much better from our point of view than an enemy.
We must look at this problem of West New Guinea with all the common sense at our command. When I have learned a little more about the subject I might change my attitude, but at the moment the views I have expressed appear to me to be based upon common sense.
.- The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has made one intelligent contribution to this debate. He has admitted that he does not know what the answers are. If the other 124 honorable members who sit in this chamber made the same admission and took the same attitude, it would be much better for our parliamentary system. I know that the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), who is interjecting, is trying to shout me down, but I shall shout him down if necessary. I know that it will not be necessary, Mr. Speaker, because you will maintain order.
The true position is that we do not know the answers to these problems and honorable members are devoting the whole of their time trying to devise a firm set of principles and base their speeches upon them. I have listened carefully all day to honorable members on the Government side and, with one or two exceptions, we have been treated to either a travelogue or diatribe. They have made very little contribution, if any, to the development of a national consciousness of the great problems confronting us in international affairs.
I am the last speaker in this, the last debate in 1957.
Government Supporters. - Hear, hear!
– I am glad to hear those cries of “ Hear, hear! “ Honorable members opposite may look upon me as the icing on the cake, or the salt in the wound, depending on their point of view, but I am bound to say that 1 feel that it is a poor show, Mr. Speaker, that on the last day of this session we should be discussing this important matter. Unfortunately, there have been very few honorable members in the chamber during the day and I merely want to register my protest, a protest similar to the one I registered when I came to this House at the beginning of last year, at the continual delay in the discussion of important problems relating to national and international matters and the continual denial to honorable members on both sides of the House of the opportunity to make any intelligent and effective contribution to a discussion on international affairs.
Another important point is that this procedure is a disgrace to the parliamentary institution. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) is very proud of the parliamentary institution and what he calls the high principles on which our parliamentary institution has been built. In fact, he made a great speech about those principles to-night. I only wish that he would apply those principles in the Cabinet room to the attitude of this Government to a discussion of international affairs. I only wish that he would bring those principles to bear within this Parliament and so encourage parliamentary democracy here.
In the opinion of the Labour party, the principles to be discussed in connexion with international affairs are four in number. We believe absolutely in national sovereignty based upon national boundaries and the general principles of nationality. We believe implicitly in freedom for the individual and freedom for all people, the type of freedom about which honorable members on both sides of the House have spoken to-day but which, unfortunately, they are not inclined to give to other people. We also believe that Australia should develop an independent policy. Australia has a contribution to make, not only because of its geographical position, but because of its history and national structure. We believe that in international affairs better results will be achieved by working on a basis of friendly influence rather than on a basis of power.
After all, we are speaking about the 3,000,000,000 individuals who inhabit this planet. According to statistics, only about one-eighth of that number live within the boundaries of the two nations who are principally involved in all these discussions. Do not let anybody imagine that we do not know the facts of life, as it were, in connexion with international affairs. It is only ten or eleven years ago when the present Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), who was then Minister for External Affairs, was being attacked consistently by those honorable members who now constitute the Government for attempting to bring a spirit of independence to international affairs and for putting up resistance to the demands of Russia to exercise the veto.
Here I should like to quote a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in connexion with the veto which has been one of the sore points of international diplomacy in the United Nations. At the time about which I speak, the present Leader of the Opposition was attacking the veto, and the present Prime Minister was in fact upholding the power of veto. This is what he said, as reported in “ Hansard “ for 1945, at page 2324 -
We come now to the second matter, the power of veto, to which somewhat similar considerations apply. The question has arisen as to how far certain matters ought to be within the veto of the great powers. Surely a sense of realism will indicate to us that the conference cannot succeed, nor can any effective world organization be created unless the great powers among the United Nations are willing and whole-hearted participants.
Those long and studied phrases meant that he approved of the power of veto which now enables the Communists to hold up discussions in the United Nations, that he approved of the very thing which has placed the power to stultify the discussion on international affairs in the hands of the Russians. At the time the present Leader of the Opposition was under constant attack for his consistent attitude in relation to the matter.
– What attitude?
– The right honorable gentleman’s attitude of independence which he brought to international affairs in the United Nations. That is why honorable members on the Government side, the Prime Minister in particular, have been notably astray in their discussion of international problems.
The Minister for Labour and’ National Service made a great play about the development of the spirit of parliamentary government and the large number of parliaments represented at our recent parliamentary conference, but in 1947 the Prime Minister when discussing international affairs said -
The third important matter which I desire to discuss is India. When I read in my newspaper that on the 20th February last the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Attlee, had made his dramatic and historic statement about India, my first feeling was one almost of shock.
But one of the greatest and most generous decisions of a government in history - the granting of freedom and independence to India, one of the great nations of the world, one of the nations which I believe to be a great influence for good and peace in the world at the present time - gave the Prime Minister a great sense of shock. He also said -
We do not greatly serve a people when we throw them into a state of self-government before the majority of them have become fit to undertake this extraordinarily delicate and difficult task.
The Prime Minister, in discussing these problems, would never find the people of India capable of governing themselves. This Government has unfortunately brought this colonial semi-imperialistic attitude to the consideration of international affairs, and it is time it stopped.
We on this side believe that the first principle to apply to any human being is his right to govern himself. This applies whether we be discussing Cyprus, Algeria, Morocco or Formosa. That is the simple principle that we should apply.
I want to refer briefly now to some of the points raised by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) in his speech. From the point of view of sentence construction and phrasing, it was a good speech. From the point of view of a contribution to our knowledge of international affairs, it was not as good as honorable members on the Government side would have us believe. It was a simple statement and report. I do not find anything in it that would in any way supply us with answers to the problems of international affairs. First of all, he said -
The outlook is not hopeful.
He was referring to the discussions of the Disarmament Commission and the outlook generally in connexion with future war, yet the Prime Minister told us not so long ago that we now have no fear of a global war. He has made it quite clear that he does not believe that there is any chance whatsoever of a rapprochement with Russia.
It is contrary to common sense to believe that disarmament could possibly come about as a result of such a few days’ meeting, when the Disarmament Commission, on which Russia has been represented, has failed to get even the beginnings of agreement after over ten years of almost constant discussion. If there was the slightest chance of a summit conference having even modest prospects of reaching agreement on the basic issues which divide the world - then no man in his senses and no country could disagree with it being held. But the simple and gloomy fact is that there is no evidence whatsoever that such a conference would do more good than harm.
That is a dreadfully dispirited and despairing kind of statement. The use of the term “ co-existence or no existence “ may become something of a cliche with its constant use, but the simple facts are that we have cut ourselves off from the great proportion of the world’s inhabitants by refusing to acknowledge that we can get around to discussing things with them.
As has been pointed out by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) everybody knows the difficulties we have had in discussions with Russia on trade union affairs. We know the history and traditions of our relations with Russia have been difficult, and we know also that in two great conflicts, during my lifetime, the Russians have been on our side. Those are points that should not be overlooked. At least on some occasions we can stress some of the points which we have in common with the Russians and perhaps overlook the constant stress that we place upon enmity towards the Russians, an enmity which I think is destined to pass with the present generation. After all, the people who make the decisions at every level are human beings, and they will bring their own feelings to bear on discussions on international affairs as they do on discussions on the domestic and personal fronts.
One could not do much better in this context than adopt the principle enunciated by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) when he spoke yesterday at the reception to Mr. Kishi, the Prime Minister of Japan, and said -
It is better to sometimes hope than always to remember.
Yet, the Minister for External Affairs, one of our leading Australians, has brought to the discussion on international affairs the feeling that there is no hope whatsoever of any sort of rapprochement.
– That is not right.
– It is right; that is implied in his speech. He also said that we could not have friendly relations with the. Russians. That is nonsense. It is only twelve months since the Olympic Games were held in Melbourne and we stood and cheered, waved and clapped our hands as the Russian or American athletes competed.
– I even saw some Liberals clap.
– As the honorable member has said, no doubt some honorable members opposite also clapped; and I think the Prime Minister, noted sportsman as he is, probably cheered the Russians.
We on this side of the House believe, as the honorable member for Yarra pointed out this afternoon, that it is time to bring a new organization into being to deal with the problem of West New Guinea. For this purpose, an international mandate should be entrusted to independent countries acceptable to the Indonesians and, if honorable members wish, acceptable to the Dutch. We realize that problems confront the world, but I am inclined to agree with the Prime Minister that the question mark representing the greatest danger to us all, namely, global war, is probably less significant than it was.
There are other problems. What about the Cypriots, who are descended from one of the greatest civilizations in the world?1 Immigrants come from Cyprus and after three years qualify to vote at elections and. if they stand, can possibly become members of this Parliament. But Cypriots do not enjoy that privilege in their own country; that is nonsensical. The unfortunate people of Cyprus geographically would be placed in a bad position in the event of a global war. They are just as much entitled to national sovereignty as is any other country. What are the problems of tiny Israel, the creation of the United Nations? What have we done to guarantee its borders against trespassers? What have we done to set upsome form of protection for Israel? We have done nothing. As far as I know, Australia has taken no steps whatsoever to bring this problem to a successful conclusion in the United Nations. As toFormosa, if the Formosans do not want tobe a part of continental China, I would be one of the first to support them in their attitude. In all probability they do not want to be a part of continental China, and’ they have as much right to be independent and free as has any other nation. 1’ remember an earlier debate in this Houseon Hungary. On that occasion, honorablemembers opposite asked, “ Do you mean that all troops should withdraw within their own boundaries? “ That is what we meant The historic words of Pitt with regard toAmerican independence apply with equal’ force to Formosa and Cyprus. These principles should be brought to bear on international problems and should be espoused’ by this Government at the United Nations.
For those reasons it is with some disappointment I accept the statement of theMinister on this matter. I believe he has surrendered to power politics in the United Nations; he has accepted the background of history and of ideological conflict of man against man in such a way that he is unableany longer to make a useful contribution toa consideration of international affairs. I believe that he and honorable membersopposite generally have done great harm by saying that anyone who attacks American policy supports the Communist line That point has been well taken by honorable members on this side of the House. Surely when we speak of liberty we mean liberty of speech. I hope that the Government’s policies will not be worked out much longer in the abstract, but that the Christmas spirit will be carried into their dealings with all peoples of the world, whether they be Russians or members of the Liberal party.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Beale) adjourned.
– As Chairman, I present the third report of the Printing Committee.
Report read by the Clerk.
Motion (by Mr. Dean) - by leave - proposed -
That the report be adopted.
.- A month ago when the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean) last presented a similar report, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) took the opportunity to refer to the fact that many reports made to the Parliament under statute and by leave by Ministers are neither ordered by the House to be printed nor recommended to be printed by the Printing Committee, and then ordered by the House to be printed. I then asked you, Mr. Speaker, whether it was possible to ascertain how many reports have been presented to the House during the currency of this Parliament, which of them have been ordered by the House to be printed or recommended by the printing committee to be printed and then ordered by the House to be printed. You tabled a reply on 12th November and circulated it to honorable members. We found that 133 reports in this year and last have not been and will not be printed as parliamentary papers. I would reiterate the point I made earlier that it should be possible for the public to ascertain from the parliamentary papers how acts are administered when those acts, which are available to the public, require an annual report to be made. I wish to indicate very briefly that there are such reports as those of the Commonwealth Grants Commission which are never printed by order of the House or recommended to be printed by the printing committee. I can think of no administrative reports in Australia which are so informative to the public or so useful to students of our federal system.
– The honorable member can always get a copy.
– I agree, but we are not the only persons who are entitled to receive a copy. I never regard remarks by the honorable member for Forrest as being out of place even when he makes them from another seat than his own. There are a great number of other reports, in particular those dealing with the Commonwealth’s business enterprises and marketing boards, which are not available to the general public. On the other hand all 56 of the Tariff Board’s reports have been ordered to be printed. With all diffidence, I would suggest to the Printing Committee that it should refer to the report which you have circulated, Mr. Speaker, and not be deterred by any considerations of precedents or expense in this matter. We should not be deterred from printing, as a parliamentary paper, an annual report just because earlier reports were not printed, and we should not be deterred from printing it because that course might cost a little extra. Nor should we be deterred because we, as members of the Parliament, have access to these documents. It is important that every report to this Parliament should be as readily available to the general public as our statutes, regulations and debates.
.- in reply - I shall reply briefly to the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam). I do not intend to say again what I mentioned in the discussion on this matter some three weeks ago, but it might be useful for the honorable member if I said to him that there has been greater interest over the past year in the work of the Printing Committee. As a result I, as Chairman, suggested to the committee at its last meeting, that a general business meeting of the Printing Committee should be held before the next parliamentary session. I mention our proposals only in headline form at present for the information of the House since the subject has been raised by the honorable member for Werriwa. The sort of thing we have in mind is to investigate the type of paper that should be printed, the standardization of printing, the size of parliamentary papers, uniform production and the availability of parliamentary papers throughout the Commonwealth. I mention that particularly in connexion with the statements that have been made by the honorable member for Werriwa.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without amendment -
Geneva Conventions Bill 1957.
Christmas Island (Request and Consent) Bill 1957.
National Health Bill 1957.
Superannuation Bill 1957.
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill 1957.
Stevedoring Industry Bill 1957.
Diesel Fuel Tax (Administration) Bill 1957.
Without requests -
Diesel Fuel Tax (No. 1) Bill 1957.
Diesel Fuel Tax (No. 2) Bill 1957.
Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Bill 1957.
Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1957.
Excise Tariff Validation Bill 1957.
.- I move-
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
I can only indicate at this stage that the probable date of resumption of the Parliament appears to be 25th February. That will be the week in which the Queen Mother will be in Canberra. On the Thursday of that week, 27th February, a function has been arranged in the parliamentary precincts, and it is anticipated that the Queen Mother will attend. Honorable members might like to know those dates to assist them in making their arrangements.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
.- I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I do not propose at this hour to inflict any lengthy remarks on the House, but I think we should not adjourn without recalling the fact that we are approaching Christmas. Therefore, I take the opportunity of offering good wishes for Christmas and the New Year to honorable members and to a variety of other people. I should like to say, Mr. Speaker, that you have our very good wishes. We think that you have occupied your great office with great dignity, and all honorable members appreciate that.
– And with friendliness.
– We also offer good wishes to the Chairman and Temporary Chairmen of Committees who have managed, somehow or other, to keep the peace at all times, even when it appeared momentarily to be a little fragile. I should like to convey to the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and those with him our good wishes for Christmas and the New Year. The Parliament does not work satisfactorily without both Government and Opposition. As a former occupant of the post that the right honorable gentleman occupies, I have a full understanding of the singular labours that attach to it.
– The right honorable gentleman has a good memory.
– I have an excellent memory. I will say that we are all grateful to the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) who, between them, have organized the business so that we have been able to dispose of it with considerable despatch and are able to end the session at a really reasonable date and time.
Perhaps it is entirely unnecessary for me to refer in particular to the Whips, but the Whips have a great task to discharge. Sometimes it is more difficult than others, but they have done it to the satisfaction, I am sure, of all honorable members. The Clerks at the table, the officers of the House, the attendants, the staff of the Parliamentary Library under the Librarian, the refreshment rooms staff, with whom honorable members have had a sketchy acquaintance, and perhaps above all, the writers of “ Hansard “, have our good wishes. I must say that the “ Hansard “ writers continue to conduct their corrective exercises with great skill. To all these people we would like to express our thanks and our good wishes.
I never care to forget the work done for the House and for the Parliament by the Parliamentary draftsmen. They have a very difficult task. First, they must get instructions from Ministers and, if I may confess, that is not always easy. Then, they must meet all the shifts and changes that occur before a bill is produced, and, finally, they must be ready at short notice to assist Ministers and honorable members in the drafting of amendments. I do not underestimate the immense skill that is required in the drafting of legislation that comes before this House, and I am sure that all honorable members feel immeasurably indebted to the draftsmen for their work.
I should like to express our good wishes - we do not always feel them in our black moments but we always come back to them - to the gentlemen of the press and to those who live like subdued goldfish in the glass bowl in the corner of the chamber.
– Did you know that Warwick Fairfax is in the House?
– No, I did not know. Finally, I should like to say, for myself in particular, to all honorable members both on my own side of the House and on the other side of the House that I am extremely conscious of the great courtesy and consideration that they have always shown to me, and T convey to them my very best wishes.
– I join with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in his reference to you, Mr. Speaker. This has been a strenuous session, but the strain has been lessened by the good feeling that you have shown - sometimes very good feeling in the circumstances. We feel that, whatever may at times have given rise to objection from us, we know that you carry out your duties with an intense desire to be fair to all sections of the House. Goodwill in this place is of tremendous importance.
I thank the Prime Minister for his references to honorable members on this side of the House. I expressly associate myself with his references to the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) and to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). They confer very frequently. My distinguished colleague, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), refers to their meetings when they take place behind the Speaker’s chair as the “ Summit conference “. After all, that is not a bad analogy because the honorable gentlemen usually agree at the end; if they do not agree, they certainly meet again very quickly.
I would refer quickly - not because it is unimportant - to the help we all get from the attendants in and about the chamber, to the officers of the Parliament, to the Clerk and his associates, to the “ Hansard “ staff, to the dining-room staff - not least important - to the officers engaged in broadcasting the proceedings, and to the working press men, because I understand that there are some in this chamber.
I wish to make one special reference. I understand that we are losing the services of the Serjeant-at-Arms, Dr. Gordon Reid, who is to take an important post as senior lecturer in comparative government and government administration at the University of Adelaide. He had a very distinguished record as a Pathfinder navigator. He is expert in the type of problem that is now coming before this chamber, notably in relation to the new procedure dealing with the Advance to the Treasurer.
I have probably overlooked some who should not be overlooked. I thank all members of the House, especially my colleagues who have worked so hard during a most difficult session.
.- I desire to be extremely careful that I shall not cast a discordant note into this obviously harmonious discussion. Therefore, I think it preferable that I should not make any reference to my impressions of the Government up to this date, but rather that I should express my hopes for the future. I hope that, when the Government comes back early in the new year, it will not be with us very long.
My purpose in rising at this hour is to ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in his new year resolutions, to decide to be less contemptuous of this Parliament an-J of the rights of members of the Opposition. In my hand I have the replies to a number of questions that I put on the notice-paper. The questions to which I refer concern the St. Mary’s filling factory. I have received fourteen replies to-day. In the past, we have been told that, if we want detailed information, we should not ask a question without notice, but should put the question on the notice-paper. That gives the Minister an opportunity to give a detailed reply. Being a very co-operative chap, I put all these questions on the notice-paper. Strangely enough, although no two of them are similar, the answers are all the same, and to me that is amazing. I hope that, in his leisure, the Prime Minister will have another look through these questions. Then he will probably agree with me that the answers given are not adequate.
I shall not weary the House by reading all the questions, because there are quite a few of them. However, I shall mention one or two to indicate that the answer given is hardly adequate. Typical of the answers given to these fourteen questions is the following: -
I refer the honorable member to statements made by me to the House on 1st October, 1957, and 15th October, 1957. I have nothing further to add to what I said on those occasions.
Although it was self-inflicted punishment, 1 went to the trouble of again reading through those statements, believing that by some means I may have missed the answer, but I cannot find anything in the statements which would answer the questions that I have asked. I shall read a few of the questions. In one, I asked the Prime Minister -
The answer referred me to the statements delivered on 1st October and 15th October and stated that the Prime Minister had nothing further to add. The next question was -
That is quite a reasonable question and one seeking information. Again, I was referred to two statements, this time those made on 15th October and 23rd October, 1957. The answer again concluded by saying, “ I have nothing further to add to what I said on those occasions “. The next question was -
In fairness to the Prime Minister, this question was addressed, not to him, but to the Minister for Defence production. But they must have conferred, because although the questions are quite different, the answers are the same. To put all joking aside, I think that that is a contemptuous attitude to adopt towards the Parliament and, in particular, toward members of the Opposition. These are very pertinent questions that we desire to have answered.
I propose to repeat these questions when the House meets again. I am giving the Prime Minister and the other Ministers notice so that in the meantime they may think of more intelligent answers to the questions that I have directed to them. As to questions generally, I hope that Ministers will speed up a little and will let us have answers much more quickly than has been the case in the past. Many questions have been on the notice-paper for months, and in some cases we are still awaiting replies.
I do not wish to repeat what the Leader of the Opposition has said, but, before I conclude, let me say, without going into much detail, that you, Mr. Speaker, have been a great improvement on Speakers of the past.
.- I wish to say at this stage of the year when there is so much talk about Russian satellites, one of which has already gone beyond recall, that, if within the next few days something flies from the heavens and hits the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) on the “ scone “, I am quite certain it will not be the star of Bethlehem.
– I wish to associate myself with the felicitations of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). I, too, offer my praise to the officers of the Parliament and others who are responsible for making the Parliament work. Earlier to-night, there was a debate in this chamber on international affairs. If there is hope for humanity, I believe that it will be through our parliamentary system of government. With Christmas so close, I feel that we should pay tribute to those who are playing their part in making the Parliament work. I refer, not to the elected representatives, but to the Clerk and his assistants, to the Serjeant-at-Arms, members of the “ Hansard “ staff, members of the press, and the attendants, all of whom play a very important part in this institution. To all concerned, I extend the season’s greetings.
While we are thinking about Christmas greetings and good cheer, I am reminded of the unemployed in my electorate. I have addressed questions on this subject to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) and have directed his attention to the plight of the needy in my constituency. I sincerely trust that before the Christmas season passes these people, many of whom have been unemployed for at least twelve months, will be provided with employment.
To-night, the House will rise for the Christmas recess and honorable members will return to their electorates and homes with thoughts of the festive season. But before we rise, I should like to refer to the havoc that has been wrought by the disastrous bush-fires that have ravaged an extensive part of my electorate, leaving behind them a trail of desolation and tragedy. I feel that honorable members will extend their respects to those who have been bereaved. We all have been moved by the great tragedy that has been caused by the fires that have destroyed at least one or two towns in my electorate. One may have thought in other days that this sort of thing could not occur; but. with fires developing in the rain forests and the deep valleys of the Blue Mountains, fed by winds of phenomenal strength and a furnace of timber, and aided by escaping gases, great buildings in the heart of important towns and cities have been laid waste. I know that honorable members join with me in these comments, because I have already had tangible expression of their feelings in this regard.
I pay a well-deserved tribute to the heroic fire-fighters who fought courageously to protect the lives and homes of the people. To whom in particular should we pay our respects? We should pay our respects, first, to the local people, the volunteers in the district who were organized by the local councils, to members of the fire brigades that were organized by the New South Wales Government, to members of Commonwealth instrumentalities, to members of the various services - the Royal Australian Air Force and the Army - and others who played their part courageously and magnificently in attempting to save the homes of the people and many lives. I congratulate those people upon the great part that they played. I know that the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) appreciates to the fullest possible degree the service that was rendered by members of the Air Force throughout the Blue Mountains area.
I also express my admiration of the magnificent response of people everywhere to the appeal for funds to alleviate distress. One outstanding example of sacrifice and true Christian charity that I feel I ought to report to the House is the decision of the Katoomba pensioners to forgo their annual dinner and to donate whatever it would have cost to the fund that was launched by the mayor of the City of the Blue Mountains to assist to rehabilitate those who lost their homes and their all. I ask honorable members to pause and to contemplate a situation in which a family could see all its treasures and possessions, the things that it holds very dear, quite unexpectedly consumed in a conflagration in a respectable street of a country town or city removed from all obvious points of disaster. I do not know what it will cost to repair all this damage. No one will ever be able to repair it, but I offer my congratulations to those who are attempting in some way to overcome the effects of this great disaster, to make people feel at home and see that their loss has been understood.
I make a plea for a new approach to, and a co-ordination of, fire-fighting organizations. I believe there is need for an early conference of Commonwealth, State and local authorities with a view to forging a genuine and workable civil defence organization to meet the challenge of a nation ablaze. Nothing short of an organization in which the armed forces of the Commonwealth, the fire-fighting services of the States, and local organizations can play a part will suffice. What has happened in the Blue Mountains area may be repeated in other places. The country is tinder dry and our forest areas face an ominous threat. I believe that, once a fire is detected, there is a responsibility on all concerned to extinguish it immediately. The fact that a fire is in a forest, in the bush, or in some hill-billy country, docs not mean for a moment that it should be allowed to burn. A responsibility rests upon all concerned to deal with the problem immediately. The coordination of man-power and essential services is vitally necessary. Each service should make a contribution according to its capacity, and the use of the services should be available when the first sparks of fire appear. We should not permit the tragedy of Leura and Wentworth Falls to be repeated.
On the local front, each local authority must .work out a positive and effective policy, and in this the Australian Government must play an adequate role. A State ablaze is Australia ablaze. The fact that the disaster occurs in New South Wales, Victoria, or some other State, is beside the point. Bush fires are an Australian problem. The waste, destruction and loss must be faced by this National Parliament, by the State Parliaments and by local authorities as well. To solve this problem, there must be co-ordination. Let us, then, extol the virtue of those who have gone forward to fight the fires. Let us praise those who have given in a most generous way to help to rehabilitate the people who are suffering at the present time.
I believe, Mr. Speaker, that the institution of an effective plan and a suitable organization to prevent a repetition of this great tragedy is a challenge to this Parliament. I pay my respects to those who have played their part, and’ I congratulate those who have organized the appeal. I thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) for coming readily to the aid of the appeal by stating that a subsidy on the basis of £1 for £1 will be granted. I sincerely hope that we shall not overlook what has occurred in recent weeks, and that we will see to it that this nation, in the throes of a drought, will not be destroyed because of our indolence and lack of desire to develop a plan and a campaign to meet a challenge which faces the whole nation.
– I hesitate to take up the time of the House at this late hour, but I wish to request the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) to give urgent and serious consideration to a monstrous allegation made in the House during the day by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). The honorable member referred to the fact that an officer in the communications branch of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in Sydney had passed over to him the contents of a cable sent from some person in America-
– Order! I think that the honorable member is getting out of order. He is referring to a debate that took place earlier to-day.
– If that is the case, Sir, I bow to your ruling.
– I suggest that the honorable member do not persevere with that matter.
– I shall not do so. Since I am out of order, I simply express the hope that, in the new year, the honorable member for East Sydney will return to this Parliament resolved to be a little more responsible.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Has the honorable member been misrepresented?
– Yes. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) wrongly quoted what I had said. I did not say that I had obtained the cable from a member of the telecommunications branch at the General Post Office. What I said, as the “ Hansard “ record will disclose, was that it was handed to me by an employee of the Postmaster-General’s Department. It is not the same. If attention is pinpointed to a particular section, it may draw suspicion on a limited number of men. I say quite definitely that the document from which I quoted in my speech this evening did not come from a man in that particular section of the General Post Office. It was handed to me by an employee of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).I should like to the thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and other honorable members for their kindly references to me. Their references to the officers and staffs of the House will receive the general support of honorable members. Without our staff, it would be impossible for the House to function in the efficient way to which we have become accustomed.
To the Chairman of Committees, and to the Temporary Chairman, I express my grateful appreciation of their assistance in deputizing for me in the chair on many occasions. The work of the Chair has been greatly assisted by the co-operation which I have received from the Whips, and I am much indebted to them. I am grateful to all honorable members for the consideration which they have shown me during the year, and I convey to them my personal thanks for their friendly help.
One cannot forget the valuable work and assistance of the staff of other departments of the Parliament - of the Government Printer, the broadcasting section, and the Post Office, to mention but a few - and I am sure that the House would wish me to express its thanks to all of them. To all honorable members and to the officers generally, I wish a happy Christmas and a prosperous new year. I hope that all honorable members will return in the new year refreshed from the break and enjoying the best of health.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.46 p.m. to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker.
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: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has furnished the following reply:-
This question is based on a misconception of the relevant facts. Newstan, Newcom and the New South Wales Mining Company are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Joint Coal Board. The board has decided to dispose of these assets. By public advertisement it has invited tenders for the purchase of Newstan and Newcom; the invitation for tenders closes on 17th December. As regards the New South Wales Mining Company, the board has been negotiating with Clutha Development Limited, which operates the New South Wales Mining Company’s Foybrook opencut under contract, for the purchase by the Clutha Company of Foybrook and of the New South Wales Mining Company’s washing plant. I understand that these negotiations have been concluded and the implementation of this sale awaits only the approval of the New South Wales Government to the assignment of the relevant leases.
When this transaction is finalized it is understood that the Joint Coal Board will take action to dispose of the remaining assets of the New South Wales Mining Company.
son asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has furnished the following replies: -
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has furnished the following replies: -
z asked the Minister acting for the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister acting for the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
ser asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Yes. The comparable average daily consumption figures per head of population are - Melbourne 75 gallons, Canberra 177 gallons. The main reasons for the difference between the two cities are -
Repatriation General Hospital, Heidelberg.
n. - On 28th November, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) asked the following question, without notice: -
Is the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation aware that I was provided with a written answer to a question about the Repatriation General Hospital at Heidelberg and the state of the food there which indicated that only good quality food was being used, that no change had taken place, and that the recent inquiries made of patients and the staff showed there were no complaints?
I now ask the Minister to inform the Minister for Repatriation that the food supply was changed in October, that the quality is very bad and that a considerable quantity of food in each ward is thrown out. Will he also inform the Minister for Repatriation that the inquiries were made only of persons responsible for this change, that among the patients and members of the staff there exists a considerable fear of victimisation, and that I have received four letters in the last ten days confirming the position? Will he convey this information to the Minister and see that a full report and proper inquiry is made?
I have been informed by the Minister for Repatriation that he has had further inquiries made at Repatriation General Hospital, Heidelberg, by senior officers of his department, and that both patients and staff were interviewed by these officers. The reports by these officers are that the food supplied to patients and staff is generally of good quality, that the preparation of food is satisfactory, that complaints from patients are few in volume and minor in character, and that with the exception of these complaints, the opinion of patients is that the food is entirely satisfactory.
A large proportion of such complaints as do arise stems from the nature of the diets prescribed necessarily containing a substantial component of one or more foods necessary for treatment which tends to become tiresome to some patients. Others stem from minor imperfections occurring from time to time as the result of bulk provisioning and food preparation. Administrative action is taken to adjust these as they occur. I am satisfied that having regard to problems inherent in large scale catering that the standard of food at Repatriation General Hospital Heidelberg is high and this is borne out by the replies by patients in discussion with officers having no immediate concern with the administration of the institution.
n. - On the 14th November, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) asked the following question, without notice: -
I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, which I preface by saying that ex-members of the services who are entitled to the 100 per cent, rate pension but are in receipt of a part pension from the British Ministry of Pensions receive 100 per cent., less this amount. They are not, however, entitled to treatment in repatriation hospitals for other disabilities as are others who are in receipt of 100 per cent, rate pensions. Could some consideration be given to correcting this anomaly?
I am informed by the Minister for Repatriation that regulation 66 of the Repatriation Regulations is .in the final stages of being amended to cover cases of the nature referred to by the honorable member, and early gazettal can be expected.
t asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has now furnished the following answer to the honorable member’s question: -
The number of thermos and similar vacuum flasks, metal cylindrical cases and glass inner containers for such flasks are not recorded for statistical purposes. However, the value and country of origin of such flasks and parts thereof imported into Australia during the year 1956-5 are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
Will he furnish for the information of honorable members a statement setting out the differences which have existed for some time between Mr. A. Date, a member of the Tariff Board, and other members of that board?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Although differences have existed between Mr. A. Date and other members of the Tariff Board regarding the convening of meetings, the keeping of minutes, and access to such minutes, legal advice supports the view that it is within the competence of the Tariff Board to decide what procedures it should adopt in these matters. I have informed both the Chairman of the Tariff Board and Mr. Date that my view on this matter conforms to the advice tendered to me referred to above.
Tariff Board Reports.
n. - On 27th November, the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) asked a question relating to Tariff Board inquiries and reports, not yet released.
I am now in a position to advise that there are ten subjects on which the board has completed its public inquiries but has not yet submitted its reports. Inquiries are currently being held on a further thirteen subjects. There are only three reports received from the board which have not yet been tabled in the Parliament.
d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has furnished the following reply: - 1 and 2. It is known that the United States Navy has submarines in operation using steam turbines powered by nuclear reactors and have other naval vessels of this type under construction. Russia has nearing completion a nuclearpowered ice-breaker and the United Kingdom, the United States, Norway and Japan are conducting investigations into the practicability of using nuclear power for merchant ships including super tankers. No investigations are being currently made in Australia although developments in other parts of the world are being studied. At the present time the high cost of construction of nuclear-powered vessels would make them uneconomic for the Australian trade although the rapid development taking place could change this position in the next few years. Estimates of the cost of a cargo/passenger nuclear-powered ship with a capacity for 9,000 tons of cargo and 60 passengers to be built in the United States of America is 42,000,000 dollars while a 65,000-ton tanker if built in the United Kingdom would cost in the vicinity of £stg. 11,500,000.
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has furnished the following replies: -
Electronic Ground Unit.
s. - On 3rd December, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) asked the following question: -
I ask the Prime Minister a question which concerns the ground-to-air guided weapons unit which, in his April statement on defence, he promised would be installed in the Sydney area. The right honorable gentleman will remember telling me, in answer to a question without notice on 1st October, that he would find out the correct date for the completion of this installation. I now ask whether the right honorable gentleman is in a position to let me know the extent and the cause of the delay in installing this modern equipment.
On further examination I find that it is not possible at present to give a firm date for the completion of the ground to air Guided Weapons Unit in the Sydney area. A comprehensive survey is still in progress to ensure that we have the most modern type of surface to air guided missile and when this survey is completed the question of procurement of a suitable unit will be considered.
r asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: - 1 and 2. Some judges have on occasions remarked on the apparent ineffectiveness of the conventional methods of punishment for such offences. Treatment of such offenders is something upon which the States are much better placed than is the Commonwealth to initiate action. But in the present condition of medical knowledge I doubt that any government would be justified in setting up an institution of the type referred to. The problem is common to most countries, however, and various organizations of the United Nations are doing work on the treatment of sexual offenders. It is likely that the matter will be placed on the agenda of the next Congress on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders, and Australia will almost certainly be represented.
s. - On 12th November, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) asked me whether I would have prepared, for the information of the House, a schedule showing the number of undergraduates who entered, and the number of persons who graduated in, each faculty in each of the Australian universities in each year since 1945.
Three schedules are set out below giving the information for the years 1946 to 1956. Figures available for 1957 are so far only provisional, and have not been included in the schedules. What is being provided is not precisely what was sought, for the reasons given below. Schedule I. sets out the numbers of new students enrolled in first bachelor degree courses at Australian universities for the years 1950 to 1956. “ New students “ are defined as students new to the university, irrespective of the year of course, but by and large they indicate the new students entering the first year of the course. Persons repeating first year are therefore not included. Prior to 1950 numbers of new students were made available by universities only for isolated years, and a consistent compilation is not immediately possible. For this reason Schedule II. has been included, setting out the numbers of first bachelor degree enrolments - that is in all years of the courses - for the years 1946 to 1950. The latter year has been included for comparison with the new enrolments for 1950 given in Schedule I. Schedule III. contains the numbers of first bachelor degrees awarded at Australian universities for the years 1946 to 1950. Because two degrees are sometimes conferred on the one person, these figures will be slightly higher than the numbers of persons who received degrees.
s. - The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) recently asked the following question, upon notice: -
As I promised the honorable member I have had the necessary inquiries made and the information which he seeks is contained in the attached table -
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
What time was spent at sea by each of the ships of the Royal Australian Navy in each of the last three years?
n. - The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: - follows: -
d asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
467 pastoral leases, one pastoral homestead lease. The pastoral leases are held by - Alcoota Pastoral Co., Andado Pastoral Co., A. Anderson, G. W. and A. Anderson, O. C. Andrews, C. R. Ware, A. R. Arkon and N. Cartwright, S. Armstrong, Australian Grazing and Pastoral Co., R. C. Barker and Q. K. and B. B. Webb, Estate of H. M. Bathen, P. Beebe, W. J., F. J. and T. A. Bird, L. M. and H. J. Bloomfield, Bokhara Pastoral Co., Bovril Australian Estates, B. Bowman, B. and H. N. Bowman, W. W. Braiding, E. W. N. Brassingthwaighte and C. A. Paine, W. M. and W. B. Bright, B. D. Brown, J. R. Brown, W. S. Brown, W. L. Buckland, A. E. Bullen, Burnside and Marraktai Limited, G. W. Butcher, W. S. and L. J. Byrne, W. A., J. S. and S. W. Camp, S. L. Calder, B. D. Miller and M. Willick, E. S. Camp and E. D. Mcintosh, James Carter, A. W. Cavanagh, C. O. Chalmers, D. A. Chalmers, S. J., A. F. and C. J. Chambers, Estate of R. M. Chisholm, M. A., R. L. and J. K. Clough, E. J. Connellan, M. K. Collings, E. J. Collins, A. G. and E. H. Colson, Connor Doherty and D. Durack, R. L. Coulthard, W. J. and C. W. Crowson, G. J. Darcy, R. C. Darken and Q. N., K. N. and B. B. Webb, J. Davey, H. P. Davis, B. D. Miller and M. Willick, J. E. Dixon, J. R. Dowler, F. A. Driver, J. H. Driver, R. W. Durack, G. A., H. A. and R. N. Easey, H. J. Edwards, Estate of H. A. Elliott, Elsey Station Limited, Farquharson Pastoral Company, H. W., O. M. and F. H. Farrer, E. J. and D. G. Fogarty, G. F. Fordham, C. A Goodman, J. H. A. Gorey, I. E. and G. W. Gorey, Gulf Cattle Company Limited, N. T. Hall, I. T. Hall and N. C. Izod, K. N. Hall and J. Wickham, F. A. Harris, Hastings Deering Proprietary Limited, E. and A. J. Hayes, E. Hayes, Snr., Jnr., and A. J. Hayes, F. Hayes, A. F. Hayward, W. J. and C. A. Heffernan, Estate of F. A. Hence, Mrs. J. A. Holt, T. A. Holt, E. A. and G. Isaacson and D. W. Jordan, (Catherine Meat and Ice Supply Proprietary Limited, L. J. Kenna, A. Kerr, H. W. Knowles, E. Kunoth, R. H. and B. D. Lee, H. N. Leonard, A. and M. Liddle, P. T. Liddy, T. Liddy, E. H. Lines and A. G. and F. N. Golson, Mona E. Low, James Francis Mathew, J. L. and P. Macfarlane, F. M. Marten, Maryvale Pastoral Company, Mataranka Pastoral Company, M. Willick and S. M. Calder, R. D. Miller, R. Milnes, R. H. Purvis and H. J. Mortimer, J. R. M. Morrison, Maud M. Morrison, Mount Denison Proprietary Limited, J. J., J. F., N. J., L. F. and L. J. Murphy, N. and P. J. Morton, D. D. McEwen, E. D. M. Mcintosh, A. H. McLeod, A. McPherson, Estate of T. Naughton, J. N. Nelson, J. N. and M. C. Nelson, Newcastle Waters Limited, North Australian Pastoral Company, N.T. Pastoral Company, V. C. Oldfield and R. H. Jenkins, R., B. R. G. M. and N. L. Oldfield, Ord River Limited, J. Parkinson, J. and E. L. Parkinson, Peel River Land and Mineral Company, A. Perrett and H. C. Burcher, W. Petrick, D. W. Pye, Qld. National Pastoral Company, G. F. Richards, Rocklands Proprietary Limited, G. S. Ross and
n. - On 10th October, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) asked the following question: -
I ask the Minister for Trade whether it is the practice to grant import licences for mechanical or other equipment required in Australia in cases in which no call is made on Australia’s overseas financial reserves. If approval is not given in all such cases, will the Minister state the departmental reason for rejection of such applicants?
In view of the misunderstandings which seem to be prevalent in this matter, I undertook to provide the honorable member with a considered reply to what I accepted as a quite important question. In dealing with requests for licences on a “ no exchange “ basis the Department of Trade is mainly conducting an exchange control operation, in conformity with general principles as defined by Cabinet. Stated briefly, the main principle is that applications for licences involving “ no exchange imports “ must be considered in the same manner as if the imports were being paid for in the normal way by an Australian resident. To understand the reason for this, it must be understood that it is virtually impossible in practice to verify the nature and source of funds held abroad against which these no exchange imports might be proposed. Thus, although an import may allegedly cost Australia no foreign exchange, very seldom can evidence be submitted that this is a true statement of fact. As an example, there are means by which an Australian resident could establish funds to his credit in an oversea country - he could arrange for exports to be under-invoiced or he could arrange to send money overseas ostensibly for advertising in the country. Whatever means or subterfuges the person uses to get those credits overseas, there is usually no profit to him in acting contrary to the Exchange Control Regulations unless he is allowed to import goods which are in short supply because of import restrictions. The first important point in considering these no-exchange licensing principles, therefore, is that their purpose is to stop contraventions of the Exchange Control Regulations. Quite often both I and my department receive requests to grant licences outside normal licensing criteria on the grounds that the imports do not in fact cost us exchange. These applications may be classified into three main groups. In the first group come those who get money overseas by one of the devious methods to which I have briefly referred and then allege that the goods are not costing any money. The purpose behind the refusal of licences in such cases will be clear. The second group cover those Australian residents who can arrange for goods to be imported without immediate payment. For example, it will be realized that it would be quite easy for arrangements to be made with an oversea company to send goods in short supply to an Australian trader but for payment to be deferred - this is a particularly easy matter to arrange between an oversea company and its subsidiary in Australia. The ultimate result would be, however, that at some stage in the future Australia’s oversea currency reserves would be drawn against to meet this payment, but the immediate advantage which the importer would secure over his competitors - who will not or cannot resort to these devices - is obvious. In administering a control such as import licensing the question of maintaining equity between one business and another is very important.
There are, of course, some cases where there is a reasonable safeguard against the building up of large short-term liabilities. These cases mainly involve what are commonly referred to as capital contribution goods where the value of the goods is to be taken into the capital structure of the Australian firm by the issue to the oversea investor of debentures acceptable to Exchange Control or of shares. The goods must, however, be of a type which would be licensed in the normal way with the result that they become genuine investments in Australian development, closely akin to investments of cash.
Another example is the case of imports being made and paid for by the use of funds inherited overseas. The fact that this money is an inheritance can quite easily be verified, but if goods are allowed to be imported against money received in this manner outside the normal criteria, the equity as between individual importers is broken down.
The third group is made up of nonresidents of Australia who hold funds in the countries in which they reside. Such applicants seek to use those funds to obtain licences on a “ no exchange “ basis, to import goods into Australia. Granting import licences on this basis would give a competitive advantage over Australian residents. The Australian resident is subject to Australian commercial controls whereas non-residents are not. For example a resident is required to declare his holdings of dollar currency to the Exchange Control authorities and the use to which he puts these funds must meet Exchange Control requirements. The non-resident is not subject to those regulations and it will be apparent that this situation could confer a considerable commercial advantage on the non-resident. In fairness to Australian residents, therefore, a principle has been adopted that licences are not issued to nonresidents. This principle operates in conjunction with the policy on no-exchange licences and is aimed at ensuring the fair operation of that policy.
Briefly stated, therefore, no-exchange licensing policy is designed with two main ends in view. In the first place, it acts in conjunction with the Exchange Control authorities in preventing transgressions of the Exchange Control Regulations. In the second place, it aims at maintaining equity as between one importer and another.
To sum up, whenever it is apparent that a proposed no-exchange import has no influence on the level of our reserves, that it will not result in inequity, that the goods are of a type which would be licensed in the normal way and that, if they are of a capital nature, their value is invested in the way I earlier mentioned, there is no hesitation in approving import licences. Unless these conditions are met, however, approval of applications for no-exchange licences would involve a drain on oversea reserves, or inequitable treatment compared with other importers, or both.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 December 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1957/19571205_reps_22_hor17/>.