22nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. MAKIN presented a petition from 10,746 electors of Australia praying that the House take immediate action to ensure that sufficient funds are made available to each State of the Commonwealth to provide adequate public education facilities for its children and people.
Petition received and read.
Petitions in similar terms were presented as follows: -
By Mr. KEARNEY from 11,220 electors of the Commonwealth.
By Mr. COUTTS from 10,850 electors of the Commonwealth.
– Last week, the Minister for External Affairs, in answer to a question that I asked, told us of the situation at the Geneva conference on the law of the sea, which considered the proposed limits of territorial waters and other matters. Will the right honorable gentleman inform the House of the present position and of the results or provisional results obtained at the conference? What is to be done about continuing its work?
– The conference on the law of the sea, which was a very large one and which lasted for almost two months, ended early last Monday morning at Geneva. The conference was of very much greater importance than is reflected by the attention given to it in this country. No doubt that is because of more immediately urgent international events. As I am sure the right honorable gentleman realizes, the matters considered by the conference have a considerable long-range strategic and commercial importance to every maritime country, not excluding Australia No decision was reached on the principal matter discussed - that is, the limits of territorial waters. That matter was the subject of many resolutions, none of which received the necessary two-thirds majority; so that matter is left completely undecided. Another matter of importance to Australia was a resolution on the continental shelf. This resolution commanded the necessary majority, and will give a country sovereignty over its continental shelf to a depth of, roughly, 100 fathoms. It will be enshrined in a separate convention, which will be open for signature and adherence very shortly at the United Nations. It still, of course, has to receive the necessary number of signatures which, I think, is about 22, before it can be said to become international law. From Australia’s point of view, that is a very satisfactory beginning. Our sources of pearlshell occur on the continental shelf as now defined.
Another point that was agreed upon was what is known as the right of innocent passage through straits that have normally been used by international shipping- That is a good thing. However, the main issue, which is the extent of territorial waters, remains completely unresolved. It was the subject of a declaration by Great Britain, the United States, France and maybe other countries that I do not recollect at the moment, to the effect that they proposed to adhere still to the 3-miles limit to territorial waters. As honorable members will realize, unless these matters are bilateral or multi-lateral, they have in them the potential of, if I may so describe it, difficulty.
The right honorable gentleman asked me recently whether the conference would end, be postponed or be adjourned. The conference actually ended. Efforts were made to postpone or adjourn it, but failed. However, a resolution moved by Cuba, inviting the next United Nations Assembly to convene another conference on the law of the sea to deal with unresolved matters, was carried at the end of the conference. One hopes and prays that no incident will occur involving considerations of territorial waters between now and the time when the United Nations convenes another conference on the law of the sea, which presumably will not be until after the meeting of the United Nations Assembly, which will be perilously close to six months from now.
– Can the Minister for Primary Industry inform the House whether the Western Australian Government has submitted any plan for a civilian land settlement scheme to be brought into operation on the completion of the war service land settlement scheme?
– To the best of my knowledge, no.
– Last week, I asked the Prime Minister whether the Government had considered the granting of furlough to public servants, on a pro rata basis, in respect of service beyond 40 years. The Prime Minister said that he would examine the proposal and discuss it with the Public Service Board. I now ask the right honorable gentleman whether this matter has been considered and whether he can report any progress.
– For some time I had a paper relating to this matter awaiting Cabinet decision. I indicated to the honorable member, I think yesterday, that 1 expected to have the question decided soon. It was, in fact, dealt with last night, and we will in due course introduce legislation
– And it should be called the Costa Bill.
– To give effect to the proposition that the maximum entitlement of twelve months’ leave, which is provided under the present system, shall be increased so that all service will count for furlough, not a maximum of 40 years’ service.
– I address a question to the Minister for Defence. I refer to representations, with which the Minister is, I think, familiar, made by a distinguished retired soldier, who is the civil defence controller in the Municipality of Kuringai. If passive civil defence is considered worthwhile at all, does the Minister agree that the Civil Defence School at Mount Macedon, in Victoria, excellent though it is, does not have the physical capacity to train even a minimum cadre of personnel to meet the need? Would he, therefore, give thought to a more extensive system of training, for the Sydney-Newcastle-Wollongong-
Port Kembla area in particular, using a staff of itinerant instructors conducting courses in the various municipalities? Would he agree that, if State governments do not make resources available for this purpose, civil defence ought to be regarded as a primary function - at least as far as finance is concerned - of this Parliament? Would he further agree that preparations ought to be undertaken before excessive international tensions arise, when any such step would probably be too late, and in any event would tend to accentuate panic?
– The matters raised by the honorable member for Bradfield are largely within the jurisdiction of the States. But, as I advised the honorable member for Mackellar yesterday, the question of civil defence is now receiving careful study, and I hope that at the conclusion of this examination a conference with the States will be convened at which we can go into the relative responsibilities of the States and the Commonwealth in this important field.
– In view of the number of petitions that have been presented, praying for adequate financial assistance in the field of education, will the Prime Minister indicate whether he intends to take action to meet the wishes of the petitioners?
– These petitions, in so far as they break new ground, are, of course, related to a problem of policy, and it would not be in accordance with practice to deal with such matters in answer to a question without notice. I direct the honorable member’s attention to the fact that the assumption that the Commonwealth does not take a hand in educational responsibility is unsound.
– Except in relation to tertiary education.
– No. The honorable member for Werriwa - not for the first time - is wrong. In the case of tertiary education we have, of course, made most extensive contributions. We have, indeed, by our recent announcements, opened up a new era to the universities. The honorable member for Stirling forgets that in the case of other fields of education, which are, of course, also within the sole responsibility of the States, since the Commonwealth has no power over them, the Commonwealth in fact finds many millions of pounds for the States. In point of fact, of the very many millions of pounds that the Commonwealth finds for the States, the States undoubtedly spend a considerable proportion on education, which is one of the very big items in their own budgetary expenditure. Therefore, the Commonwealth is at present contributing funds to the States with which the States carry out their own educational responsibilities. That being understood, it should be also clearly understood that what the petitioners desire, as I understand it, is not that the Commonwealth should find part of the cost of State primary and secondary education, but all of it. That, it is agreed, is the object of the exercise; that the Commonwealth, having no power over this matter, should find the whole cost of maintaining primary and secondary education for the States. In other words, honorable members are asking the Government to adopt a system under which primary and secondary education shall be within the control of the States for all purposes, but shall be financed exclusively by the Commonwealth, so that the Commonwealth will have all responsibility and no power, and the States will have all power and no responsibility. That is not a practice T would lend myself to extending.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services a question. Representations have been made for assistance in various forms to those unfortunate people classified as paraplegics. Will the Minister indicate the present basis of social services contributions for paraplegics, and also advise the House whether the rehabilitation scheme provides for any helpful concessions with respect to the purchase of motor vehicles?
– Paraplegics over the age of sixteen years who, on medical evidence, have a disability of 85 per cent, or more, are eligible for an invalid pension, and paraplegics between the ages of fourteen and sixteen years, who are likely to qualify for an invalid pension on medical evidence of a disability of 85 per cent, or higher, are eligible for admission to rehabilitation centres for rehabilitation purposes; that is, assuming that there is a medical and physical prospect of their rehabilitation.
Apart from that, there are no exclusive services for paraplegics within the Department of Social Services. They are treated in precisely <the same way, to the limit of the department’s resources, as other invalid pensioners.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. 1 desire to know the reason for the Government’s decision to contribute only £5,000 towards the cost of sending an Australian team to the forthcoming Empire Games. Is the economic situation of the nation so grave that £5,000 is all that the Government can afford to contribute? If this is the case, and having regard to the tremendous value to Australia of such overseas visits by Australians who are world champions in their particular sports, will the Prime Minister take steps to reduce this year the number of visits overseas by Ministers and high-ranking public servants and their wives, since many such visits are obviously of no value whatever to Australia? Will the Prime Minister apply the money so saved to increasing substantially the Commonwealth contribution towards sending our team to the Empire Games, and thus enable Australia to send a full team?
– -So far as I followed this piece of propaganda, the answer is, “ No “.
– My question, addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry, concerns the very valuable dollar-earning exports of crayfish tails. I know that the Minister takes a keen interest in this industry because it earns for Australia approximately 5.000.000 dollars a year, of which the proportion earned by Western Australia is about 75 per cent. I ask him whether, owing to present conditions in the United States of America, the market there is somewhat precarious. Can the Minister give honorable members any information about that market? Is he aware that the export of midgets and small tails is having an adverse effect on the market in the United States of America? Has an approach been made by the department to the State governments with a view to taking some action, such as controlling the size of the catch, in order to protect both the market and the future of the industry?
– The honorable member’s question involves four matters. First of all, I think he has accurately stated the facts. The Western Australian catch does predominate in Australian sales in the international market. In reply to the second question, I point out that the market is a highly competitive one. I am glad to say that recently the prices for quality Australian crayfish tails have increased by something like 10 per cent. On the third point, we have been advised that if there is an excess of midgets and smalls among the quality tails, there is a tendency for the price to drop substantially. As to the last part of the question, this matter has already been taken up by the Commonwealth with the West Australian Government and, when agreement is reached, action will be taken under the export regulations to prevent the over-supply of midgets and smalls.
– I ask the Minister for Air whether an inquiry has been held into the recent Wirraway aircraft accident. Is a report now available? Will the Minister make available to honorable members the subject-matter contained in the report?
– Order! As that matter is the subject of a question appearing on the notice-paper, it is out of order.
Mir; FORBES; - My question to the Treasurer relates to recent proposals to establish a British Commonwealth Development Bank. This is a project which, for many years, has been the dream of those who believe in a stronger British Commonwealth. Can the Treasurer say how far plans are advanced for the establishment of such a bank, and what is the attitude of the Government to this proposal?
– The question is a very interesting one. Proposals’ of this kind have- been put forward, in a general’ way, from time to time. Until the Government receives some specific proposition it would be premature to discuss the merits of such a. proposal.
– Last week, I asked the Minister for Primary Industry a question in respect to flour exports. I now ask him whether he has been able to make further inquiries as to the quantity of flour exported, particularly from South Australia. I am informed by the general president of the mill employees organization that conditions have worsened considerably, and that the mill-owners, although they have endeavoured to keep men on as long as possible, have now been compelled to cut down further. Many employees are being put off and the trade is becoming almost a local one in South Australia. I ask the Minister whether he has considered, as a matter of urgency, the question that I put to him last week. If not, will he do so, and will he take up with the Australian Wheat Board the need for stronger endeavours to have a larger proportion of wheat exported from Australia in the form of flour?
– I did say to the honorable gentleman, when he asked me a question last week, that there was no restriction on the quantity of wheat being supplied to millers for export flour. That statement still applies, and I have been informed by the Australian Wheat Board that there is no present intention of reducing the supply. A difficulty arises in connexion with the sale of flour overseas because of the balance of payments problems of some of our traditional markets; secondly, because of the fact that we are meeting very strong competition from subsidized flour from other countries; and thirdly, because in the case of one country in particular, it is; difficult for the time being to get confirmed letters of credit. The Wheat. Board, I can assure the honorable gentleman, is anxious to sell as much wheat and flour as it possibly can. I have, in recent days; discussed this with my own officers who, in turn, have discussed it with the board, but I shall make sure that the honorable gentlemans representations are put to the Wheat Board again.
Mr- ANDERSON. - I ask the Minister for Trade whether the decision by the United Kingdom Government, announced in its- Budget last, week. to- remove the purchase tax orr woollen dot.Er will have practical implications for Australian wooL
– I am glad to be able to answer in the affirmative. I remember that the United Kingdom Government imposed a purchase tax upon woollen goods of 10 per cent. - the equivalent of our sales tax - for the purpose of stimulating the use and consumption in that country of cotton and artificial silk goods, as against wool, because there was a depression in those textile industries. The honorable member for Hume, who represents a very important woolgrowing area, put it to me that the Government ought to make representations to the United Kingdom Government that this would be adverse to our interests. I did make those representations directly and immediately to the United Kingdom and I took up the matter again during the negotiation of the United Kingdom-Australia trade agreement. The United Kingdom Government, in its recent Budget, removed the 10 per cent, imposition upon woollen goods except in the case of woollen material less than 12 inches in width on which a purchase tax of only 5 per cent, remains. This will result in a very considerable improvement in British bidding in our wool market, I am sure, because of the amount of wool bought by the United Kingdom. I recall that the honorable member for Hume informed me that 75 per cent, of the United Kingdom’s woollen cloth production is consumed in the United Kingdom. So the removal of any local tax in the United Kingdom must have its repercussions in our auction rooms.
– What action, if any, does the Minister for Primary Industry propose to take in order to ensure economic prices to producers of butter and, at the same time, make this product available at a fair price to- Australian consumers? In. view of the falling rate of consumption of butter in Australia, caused in the main by the price, will the Minister recommend to the Treasurer that the Government fulfil its election promise by increasing the subsidy on butter in order that such an important commodity may be provided at a price within the means of all wage earners and people dependent on social services?
– A complete answer to the question of the honorable gentleman would be virtually a second-reading speech. F am sure the honorable gentleman will be glad to know that, as a help to the consumer in Australia, £13,500,000 is now allotted by the Government for the payment of subsidy to butter producers. The subsidy is largely a consumer subsidy and, to that extent, the honorable member’s question is answered; the consumers are substantially helped. But to-day our interest is primarily in the producers themselves, particularly producers of dairy products. Shortly I will be submitting to the Government certain proposals regarding research and promotion activities, and I am very hopeful that when those proposals are considered by the Government, we may be able to make a major contribution to the welfare of that industry.
– In view of the very heavy apple crop in southern Tasmania, will the Minister for Primary Industry use his utmost efforts, in conjunction with the Minister for Shipping, and Transport, to determine whether it is humanly possible to increase the number of ships to load fruit for export in the first half, of May? Otherwise, about 500,000 cases of exportable fruit may have to go to the processing factories at a time when United Kingdom prices are the highest on record. The provision of additional early shipping would also avoid any overloading of the United Kingdom market at the end of the season, with a probable drop in prices.
– The difficulties in this matter arise from the fact that there has been a bumper crop of apples in Tasmania. About 4,120,000 bushel cases are available for export. The price obtainable for the apples is also very good, amounting to something like 27s. a bushel case, which is 4s. a case higher than the prices obtained last, year. The Minister for Shipping and Transport is doing all in his power to ensure that sufficient shipping is made available. I know that he has been actively engaged in this matter, and it is thought that some of the larger ships now in Melbourne may be able to take a proportion of the crop. The Minister for Shipping and Transport is endeavouring to make arrangements with the shipping agents to see whether the balance of the crop also can be lifted. I can give the honorable member my assurance that the Government is actively attempting to find the shipping space, and . already something quite substantial has been, done to help the growers.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether it is not a fact that the Commonwealth Government lacks direct powers over all forms of education, since the Constitution does not mention the word? Is it not also a fact that the Commonwealth could ear-mark grants to the States for co-ordinating and fostering technical and secondary and even primary education in the same way as it has, since World War. II., ear-marked rapidly increasing grants to the States for universities whose principal source of revenue is now Commonwealth grants?
– Yes, of course, the legal proposition involved in what the honorable member has said is elementary, but I am grateful to him for emphasizing the point. The point is that what we are being asked for is not to do anything else but make grants to the States. If we make grants under Section 96, of course we can ear-mark them for particular purposes and attach to them any conditions the Parliament may think fit. That is very well known. But the point I made was that if we are asked to make grants for this purpose, it is clear, from what has been said in propaganda, that we are being asked to take over the cost of State education. The thing that the honorable member must consider as a student of the Constitution and, as I hope, a supporter of the federal system, is whether he is doing any good service to that structure by setting up another case in which all the responsibility financially is placed on one government and all the authority in relation to the subject is reposed in another. That is a thoroughly unsound system.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been drawn to a statement made last week by the New South Wales Minister for Local Government to the effect that the Government of that State had no objection to the publication of the Ebasco report on the costs of power in Australia and the various components of those costs? I understand that this report was commissioned by the Federal and New South Wales Governments jointly. I am not quite clear - perhaps the right honorable gentleman will enlighten me - whether the
Victorian Government participated. la view of the statement of the New South Wales Minister, will the Commonwealth Government take all steps within its power for the production of this report for the information of honorable members?
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is this not identical with question No. 42 appearing on the notice-paper?
– So far as this question does not impinge upon that question, it will be in order.
– The honorable member mentioned this matter in the House the other day. I then did not know sufficient about it to answer his question. The Ebasco report to which he referred was in fact a report covering [the co-ordinated use of Snowy Mountains power in the State power systems, and it was commissioned at the joint request of the Snowy Mountains Authority, the Electricity Commission of New South Wales, and the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, so that three governments are concerned in the matter.
– Is this a “Dorothy Dix “ question?
– If a “Dorothy Dix” question can include a matter that was raised at least a week ago in this House, and which I said I would look into, the answer is, “ Yes “. Of course that interjection will deprive the honorable member for East Sydney of an opportunity to ask another question, because he cannot have two on the one day.
To resume, Sir, the Ebasco report, of course, as the honorable member for Mackellar will realize, covers very complex technical matters and the investigations are, of necessity, based on certain assumptions. Those assumptions may change from time to time in accordance with circumstances. I mention that, merely because it is the kind of report from which somebody not expert in the overall problem might pick a bit out here or there and get a rather wrong conclusion. That is a cautionary note about the report. But subject to making that cautionary observation, there is, from the Commonwealth point of view, no objection whatever to the tabling and making public of the report. We are conveying that view to the other two governments concerned and will obtain their views on the publication. We have no objection whatever.
– The question which the honorable member asked this morning was positively identical with the question appearing on the notice-paper.
– Is the Minister for Social Services aware that pensioner patients attending public hospitals are often required to wait for periods of up to five hours for medical attention, despite the fact that they attend by appointment? Will the Minister agree to investigate this complaint and remedy the position, especially as it is contended that sick and ailing pensioners are delayed and humiliated while other patients receive priority attention?
– If the honorable member for Hughes had given this matter the consideration that is its due, he would have addressed this question to the Minister for Health. The pensioner medical service is administered by the Commonwealth Department of Health. Whatever part my department plays in it is purely administrative and for the purposes of assisting the Department of Health.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. Does the Minister know whether the Egyptian Government’s intention to compensate shareholders of the Suez Canal Company means that the Anzac memorial in Egypt which, I believe, was situated on land held by the Suez Canal authorities, will also be the subject of such compensation? Does it mean that the Egyptian Government will either make good, or compensate the Australian Government for, the extensive damage that the Egyptians inflicted some time ago on that memorial? If that is not the case, does the Government propose to make full representations again to the Egyptian Government about making good the damage done?
– That is an aspect of the matter that, I admit, had not occurred to me. It may be worth pursuing. We have made what I think I can call repeated requests to the Egyptian Government in respect of the damage to the war memorial, but have had no reply. We have got a fair way in respect of the matter of the desequestration, as it is called, of Australian property in Egypt but again, even that has not been brought to a conclusion. I will look into the suggestion inherent in the honorable member’s question. It may have certain possibilities, although I would not think that the two matters are directly related.
– Does not the Prime Minister agree that in his answer to the honorable member for Werriwa on the subject of education to-day he showed much greater concern about maintaining the federal system than about maintaining the Australian primary and secondary education systems? I ask the right honorable gentleman: If he had the choice between making inroads on the federal system or allowing the continuance of the obvious inadequacy of the education systems in the States, would he choose the first or the second?
– It seems to me that question time is becoming an argument session rather than a time for questions. Subject to that observation, I point out to the honorable member that his question, as usual, proceeds from the assumption that the States are being starved of funds for educational purposes. That assumption I entirely deny.
– My question to the Minister for Primary Industry is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Grayndler. The Minister, in his reply to that question, mentioned the idea of having a research and promotion campaign designed to tackle the butter problem by improving the local market for all dairy products. Will the Government consider legislation authorizing the Australian Dairy Produce Board to collect money, by levy, to provide funds for this purpose?
– The problem mentioned by the honorable gentleman has been under my close consideration for some time, and I hope shortly to put to the Government, for consideration, a submission on the problem.
– L ask the Prime Minister, in the absence of the Minister for Health, whether he is aware that the neurosis ward at the Dawes Road Repatriation General Hospital in South Australia accommodates 36 patients in an old, temporary prefabricated building, and that the dining room facilities for these patients are as overcrowded as the ward; also that these patients have to queue up for showers because only three showers are available for their use. Will the Prime Minister confer with the Minister for Repatriation and point out to him the need for speeding up the construction of a new ward for the treatment of neurosis at that hospital, thus giving those patients - and their doctors, who are doing magnificent work - facilities in keeping with those in other sections of the hospital?
– It is perfectly obvious that, of course, I do not know about that particular situation. The question should be directed to the appropriate Minister.
– Can the Minister for Trade say why the world prices for base metals, particularly lead and zinc, have fallen so sharply in recent months?
– I think there is a variety of reasons for the price fall, including an increase in the total world production of non-ferrous metals and some recession in demand, particularly in North America. This is of great concern to Australia, because the sale of lead and zinc overseas constitutes one of our very important export earnings as well as being a big factor in the Australian economy. I should think that at the present time there is some danger that the value of lead and zinc internationally will be further depressed as a result of a proposal by the United States Tariff Commission for a substantial increase in the United States tariff on lead, zinc and ores. Half of the commission. T understand, proposes, in addition to a sub stantial tariff increase, the imposition of a quota. That would, of course, have specially serious implications for Australia. Lead and zinc constitute our second biggest dollar earner. One third of our lead and zinc have customarily gone to the United States. For that reason the Government has been active in making representations to the United States authorities to the effect that, in the interests of the economies of countries friendly to the United States, this action ought not to be taken. I hope that, both from the point of view of the economies of friendly countries and from the point of view of the preservation of political stability in some countries whose economies are affected by the world wide trend of the reduction of commodity values, which are grossly out of relation to the value of industrial products, it will become a matter of international concern and that appropriate action will be taken.
Report of Australian Capital Territory Committee
– On behalf of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, I bring up the committee’s report relating to the question of trading hours in Canberra, which was referred to the committee by the Minister for the Interior on 26th September last. On some of the questions referred to it for consideration the committee reached unanimous decisions, on others, majority decisions. Four of the nine members of the committee have signed a dissent from the decision of the committee recommending the retention of Saturday morning trading, and this is attached to the main report. T bring up also the minutes of evidence taken by the committee in connexion with the report and move -
That the report be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Harold Holt) adjourned.
Parliamentary Privilege - Legislative Council for the Northern Territory - Permanent Forces - Unemployment and Sickness Benefits - Tasmanian Timber Industry - Sales Tax - Plight of Pensioners.
Motion proposed -
That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair.
.- Recently, in answer to a question which I asked him about parliamentary privilege, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that he had not yet dealt with that matter- I think that after the Bankstown “ Observer “ case in 1955, when there was a clamour for some reform, he did say that he was willing to confer with the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) in that connexion. But nothing seems to have been done. It is not generally known, because it is not referred to in the report of the committee of privilege, that at the time of that particular case I made certain submissions to the committee, the first of which was that it place before the House a recommendation that the principles of parliamentary privilege be laid down and declared so that every one would know his rights and obliga- tions in that regard. Another submission suggested the tabling of a certain report of the War Expenditure Committee which would have made clear to every one what the case was all about. The committee, in its wisdom, did not deal with these aspects, as, in its view, they lay outside the scope of that particular inquiry.
The full evidence given before the committee at that inquiry was not tabled. The evidence tabled was only that which the committee considered relevant to its findings. In the House of Commons it is usual, I understand, to table the whole of the evidence either in the House or in the Library in order to enable the House and, in some cases, the public to comprehend the full implications of a matter. It is still competent for that to be done in the Bankstown case. No doubt, such action would have cleared up many misconceptions in the minds of some people as to what it was all about and whether any injustice was done to any one. In the light of subsequent events, I consider that this course should have been adopted.
I do not wish to dwell on that case here, although I would not be at all surprised if it flared up again, in view of the actions of some people who are not prepared to let sleeping dogs lie. I am concerned at this stage with the larger issues involved and the need for some reform. I merely make passing reference to the Bankstown case. The article complained of contained a challenge to hold an inquiry and suggested that my colleagues in the House might take a dim view of my alleged conduct. I accepted the challenge, but I had to use the tools that were available to me to deal with the matter adequately and expeditiously. I was concerned only with vindication; I was not looking for any punishment. Punishment was not within my province, and in fact I did not vote on the matter when it came before the House for decision. However, I realized after the inquiry commenced that the procedures relating to parliamentary privilege were somewhat outmoded, particularly on the question of penalty. It appeared that there were only two alternatives - imprisonment or an innocuous reprimand at which any culprit could snap his fingers. The penalty of a fine seemed to have fallen into disuse. Certainly the validity of it seemed to be extremely doubtful. If a fine had been imposed, the High Court might have set aside the whole decision.
The term “ parliamentary privilege “ is largely misunderstood. It is confused with the amenities and perks of office. It certainly came as a surprise to some people to learn what it was all about. Parliamentary privilege is governed by traditional rights and obligations, and precedents ranging over many centuries; it is not governed by statute law. It emanates from the struggle between Parliament and absolute monarchy in days gone by. It enables the representatives of the people to speak on their behalf without fear or favour. It also places obligations on those representatives not to abuse such privileges. In effect, parliamentary privilege works both ways. Accordingly, I agree with the critics that these rights and obligations should be codified so that all will understand their rights and obligations.
Australia, unlike Great Britain, is governed through a written constitution. This anticipated that a law as to parliamentary privilege would ultimately be passed. That is laid down in section 49 of the Constitution which provides that, for the time being, the procedures of the House of Commons and the laws and customs in regard to parliamentary privilege shall apply until such time as the Parliament had declared parliamentary privilege. Nearly 58 years have gone by and the problem has not yet been dealt with, although various attempts have been made to do so. For instance, the royal commission of 1908, presided over by Sir John Quick, made certain recommendations for a bill to deal with parliamentary privilege and to lay down the procedure for the future- Similarly, a draft bill was drawn up, I believe, by the then AttorneyGeneral, Sir John Latham, and submitted to the Parliament of 1932-34, but it was not proceeded with. In some other countries of the British Commonwealth, such as Ceylon and South Africa, parliamentary privilege has been declared. I understand that the draft bill prepared by Sir John Latham was used as a guide in Ceylon.
It would seem that the Parliament has been reluctant to give up its control of parliamentary privilege. Both the royal commission and the draft bill, to which I have referred, stipulated that any new procedure would be with derogation of Parliament’s existing powers and privileges, thus reserving to it the full power in all cases where it would be fitting that Parliament should exercise its power. I quite agree with this reservation, but many minor incidents would be more fittingly dealt with by an independent tribunal. Parliament, of course, must reserve the right to deal with proper cases, such as disorder within the precincts of the Parliament calling for prompt action or cases of national emergency where the security of the nation is involved.
This especially applies to-day in the light of world events over the last half century, which have been more intensified of late. Forces have arisen, dedicated to sweeping away all democratic institutions, and they would do so overnight if the opportunity presented itself. They have succeeded in doing so in many countries, with the result that one-third of the world’s population today is not only inarticulate but is also deprived of any direct say in the choice of government. For them, government of the people, by the people, for the people, has indeed vanished from the earth. That should be kept well in mind when considering the question of parliamentary privilege, especially as forces to-day are conspiring and working relentlessly to bring about a similar state of affairs here. They are dedicated to instituting a totalitarian form of government, more tyrannical and despotic than that of any absolute monarchy. Like their counterpart overseas, they are willing to use any methods, adopt any corrupt and ruthless measures, and even to line up with gangster elements to achieve their purpose. For them, the end justifies the means.
Whether the challenge comes from ‘the right or the left, the pattern is the same. We have only to consider the fate of the Reichstag which was abolished by Hitler, and the Duma, which was abolished by Lenin. We have seen signs of these forces already operating in this country. I have encountered them in my own political experience over the years, and have seen evidence of their methods at first hand.
Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- I desire to take the opportunity this morning of discussing the resignation of the elected members of the Northern Territory Legislative Council. I had felt that this was such an important matter that it should have been the subject of a full debate in this House and not merely the subject of debate on “ Grievance Day “. However, I am grateful for the opportunity to put my views. I make a plea to the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) to do all that he can to grant the people of the Northern Territory a greater measure of self-government and autonomy. We are pleased to see the Minister back with us. He has been to the Northern Territory and has returned unscathed. I am sure that in many ways he is better informed on the problem than I am, because he has been there and has heard the opinions of people on the spot. I am also glad to see the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse), who is the Parliamentary Secretary for Territories, back with us again.
The trouble in the Northern Territory is not something that has blown up over night, caused by the heat of the climate or other factors. It is a deep-seated unrest. I am sure that any honorable member who has visited the Territory, who has friends there or has followed the problem, will realize that it is a problem that the people there have felt very deeply for many years. They are continually being told that they are moving forward, that they are progressing. It seems to me that they are a little bit like a frog in the bottom of a deep well.
They move forward all the time, and they make great progress, but they never get any closer to escaping from the well.
If one looks at the record one finds that 50 years ago, when the Northern Territory was a very unimportant part of South Australia, its residents elected members who had a vote in parliament. To-day, they do not. I do not know whether honorable members have yet had an opportunity of making a detailed study of the report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Northern Territory Administration. Those of us who have had time to study it have found that many matters mentioned in the report support the feeling that the people of the Territory are not moving any closer towards self-government. They are just as much under the control of Canberra as they ever were, and in some instances control from Canberra is increasing. There are references to “ Canberra re-asserting control “ and “ an apparent unwillingness to trust the local authorities to manage their own affairs.” On page 35 of that report we find that one of the nominated members of the Legislative Council - not an elected member - was asked by one of the committee members to give his views on this question, and he said -
There seems to be at present a return to what used to be the rule many years ago - that there should be a greater degree of control exercised in Canberra.
As a result of this tendency, I believe that the people of the Territory have become fed up with promises and with being told that the Territory may become a new State in time, that it is moving towards statehood, but that they cannot expect the Territory to become a new State immediately. The people are asking not for words but for action.
What is the cause of this frustration? I think the first reason for it is that the elected members of the Legislative Council are in a minority as compared with the nominated members. One of the elected members was reported in “ Hansard “ the other day as saying that Territorians have less control over their affairs than natives in some of the meanest colonies of the British Commonwealth. In fact there are many very small British colonies in which, despite all the problems of race, creed and colour, the Legislative Council has a majority of elected members. Even in such small and rather insignificant places as the Falkland Islands, Hong Kong, Mauritius, Malta, Cyprus, British Honduras - one could cite many other places - there is a majority of elected members and a minority of nominated members in the various parliaments. In the Northern Territory, on the other hand, the people elect representatives to the Legislative Council, knowing that they will be quite powerless. They elect a member to represent them in this Parliament, knowing that he will not have a vote. Some one said to me recently that the only way to deprive oneself of a vote in this country is either to be certified as insane, to be convicted of treason or to move into the Northern Territory. This is not a state of affairs that we can feel happy about.
I have given what I believe is the major cause of the trouble, but there are, of course, others. One complaint is that the Administrator is not given very much power, and that a great number of matters have to come to Canberra for decision. For example, at page 36 of this excellent report of the Public Accounts Committee, the Crown Law Officer said, in reply to a question as to how licences for oil prospecting were issued -
In the Petroleum Prospecting and Mining Ordinance … the provision relating to the issue of permits gives the Administrator the power to issue a permit, but requires that he shall first of all get a report from the local Petroleum Advisory Board. Following that, he has to get a report from the Oil Advisory Committee, which is a committee constituted in Canberra. Following that, he has to get the approval of the Minister.
It is not very much use for him to have this power if it is circumscribed in this way. We find also on the same page of the report that Mr. Ward - not our Mr. Ward, of course, but Mr. Ward of the Northern Territory - spoke of delays arising from the need to refer certain land matters to Canberra, and that he told the committee that sometimes, because the delay is so protracted, the proposed transaction is abandoned.
The people of the Territory also want some say - and I believe they have some right to it - in the spending of taxes raised in the Northern Territory. They claim that they pay £2,500,000 in taxes and that they have a right to say how it should be spent. They realize that for a long time the Commonwealth Government will spend much more money in the Territory than is being raised locally, and that naturally the Commonwealth Government should be able to say how that extra money will be spent. They believe, however, that they have some right to determine the way in which the money that they contribute in taxes should be spent.
We come, then, to the question: What are the people of the Territory asking for, and is their request unreasonable? They are asking for a majority of elected members on the Legislative Council, with the nominated members in the minority. Is that unreasonable? It was not considered unreasonable by us when we were in Opposition ten years ago. If we considered it reasonable then to support an amendment by Mr. Blain proposing that the number of elected members should be increased from six to ten, why is it that after eight and a half years in office we have done nothing in this regard? Is it that we vote one way when in Opposition and another way when in government?
The Territory is also asking for greater power for the Administrator, and I cannot help feeling that we should be particularly careful in the choice of a Northern Territory Administrator. It is one of the most important posts that we have to fill in this country, and I do not believe that we should fill it merely by promoting a public servant. I believe we should try to get the most capable man in the country, a man skilled in pastoral and business affairs, and possibly with some knowledge of politics. We should try to appoint a man like the honorable member for Wakefield (Sir Philip McBride), if I may hold him up as an example of a person who has had a great deal of experience in pastoral dealings, and also in business and administrative affairs. I am sorry that he is not here to accept the compliment.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I should like to support the remarks made by the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn). He seems to have some sense of history in this matter. The point that depresses me is that apparently we have to fight the battle of 1840 all over again in relation to the Northern Territory. The people of the Territory are singularly fortunate in having a representative capable of fighting the battle. They are fortunate too, I think, in having a little support from honorable members on the other side of the House.
The principal matter that I wish to bring to the notice of the House to-day concerns the pay and conditions and general grievances of a very important section of the community, the members of which, because of the jobs that they have elected to do, are restricted in putting their case before the Government. I refer to the permanent members of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. There are some 47,000 of them in all. In October last there were 11,305 persons serving in the Navy, 20,800 in the Army, and 14,989 in the Air Force, making a total of 47,094 servicemen., I bring this matter forward to-day - and at this first opportunity - because it has been said that very shortly the report of the Allison committee on the pay and conditions of people in the services will be brought before this House, and I want to stimulate some thinking on the matter by other honorable members. These people are voiceless, in effect, because of their employment in the services. The general structure of the system that governs thenpay and conditions is such that they are unable to present their case in the way other public servants can, and because of the nature of their duties they suffer serious disabilities. From my personal knowledge of the matter I can say that many permanent servicemen, who are good citizens and good soldiers, are discontented. I hope that all honorable members will give some constructive thought to the problem when the report is finally tabled. Sir John Allison was given the job in October last, and the report should be tabled before very long.
The points about which the average serviceman is browned off, to use an army expression, come under a number of heads. First there is the matter of salaries themselves. There is also the responsibility involved in their duties. The constant moving of Army personnel is another matter. I am not as conversant with conditions in the other services, but I know that Army personnel are frequently moved at short notice. Their superannuation and pensions scheme is quite inadequate. There is lack of purpose in the job they are doing, stemming from the failure by the Government to have an organized defence policy. There is a serious lack of opportunities for promotion, particularly for men in the lower ranks. I am speaking mainly about noncommissioned officers, warrant officers, and men in the Regular Army. A warrant officer, Class I., with sixteen years Army service, including war service, has many responsibilities, but at present is probably drawing only between £20 and £22 a week. His pension scheme, which is in no way comparable to the superannuation scheme available to other public servants, might give him, upon retirement after twenty-odd years, £5 10s. a week. Promotions available to him are becoming increasingly rare. At the present moment, there are very few opportunities for warrant officers to rise to commissioned rank. This situation has a serious effect on morale and the desire to soldier-on. Over a period of two or three years, only five or six men might rise from the ranks to be commissioned officers, and this situation is contrary to the spirit within the community. Opportunities for promotion to higher rank should be open to all who serve, no matter under what conditions they serve.
There are other matters that very seriously reflect on the services and that make it difficult to get men to soldier-on. 1958 will be a key year. In 1952, there was a great response to the recruiting campaign, and people who signed on for six years will complete their service this year. From reports I have heard, and from private conversations with members of the services, it is apparent that many of these men will not re-engage. The only way that Australia can build up a body of permanent soldiers dedicated to their calling is for honorable members to face the situation and show the servicemen that Parliament and the people are behind them.
Take the case of a man serving in a country Army unit. He probably lives near his work. He is probably involved five nights a week in work in the drill hall with his troops, or working on the maintenance of equipment, and so on. He will probably spend three week-ends a month on his duties - I have been told this by the men themselves. So he is on deck day and night, week in, week out, yet he could probably earn much more money if he was in a civilian occupation, particularly if he was a technical man. Honorable members should remember that the Regular Army is placing great demands on technical people and calling for more and more of them to join up, people who, if they were employed in the manufacture or maintenance of television sets, would probably be earning £7 or £8 a week more than the Army pays them. The Army is inclined to be mean in the interpretation of the conditions under which men serve. A man living near his drill hall does not get tea money if he has to work at night because the Army says that he can go home for his tea. In this way the Army, which spends £70,000,000 or £80,000,000 per annum, saves 7s. or 8s., but in doing so it destroys the soldier’s morale and his desire to serve. There are some compensatory features in a soldier’s leave entitlement, but they do not make up for the great amount of his own time that is given up to the Army.
Another serious matter is the constant moving of Army personnel from posting to posting. On the average, a man in the lower ranks can expect to be moved once every two and a half or three years. This is ridiculous! The Auditor-General, in his last report, made a strong reference to the difficulty the Army experienced in maintaining proper supervision over stores because of -this constant moving of personnel. The final result is that the soldier has no home life. On an average, he moves after two and a half years. He then has to reestablish himself in a new home, and in most cases he can expect to be parted from his family for as long as six months. We all know the value to this country of stable family life. The soldier, apart from his removal expenses, gets £20 displacement allowance, which is intended to help him to provide new blinds and curtains in his new home. This sum is, of course, quite inadequate.
The only way that these 47,000 men in the services, and their families, will get any amelioration of their lot is by honorable members turning their attention to this problem. After all, the serviceman to-day is a public servant in a specialized job. We shall probably have to give some consideration to providing them with security of employment after their service, perhaps by finding some avenue of employment in the Public Service itself. Membership of one of the services is not a career. To advertise in the newspapers that a career is open to men when, perhaps, it is open only for twenty years at the most is to disregard the fact that the men will have to work perhaps 40-odd years, and perhaps maintain families for 30 years all told. Therefore, we must give very serious consideration to the conditions under which these men work. Unfortunately, they are unable to put their case before boards, tribunals, or the Arbitration Court in the way that other people can.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I should like to support very strongly the remarks made by the honorable member for Farrar (Mr. Fairbairn) with regard to the Northern Territory. Looking at the history of the Northern Territory since the war, its progress has been disappointing. Apart from the bonanzas of Tennant Creek and Rum Jungle, the progress made on other fronts has not been satisfactory, and is not something of which we can really be proud. We are not making the best of our opportunities in the Northern Territory. One of the reasons for this is the undoubted feeling of frustration that is current in the Northern Territory, but that has been contributed to by the fact that the Territory is not getting the increasing measure of local autonomy, of self-government, that is its due. No one thinks that at present the Territory is entitled to become a full State. What one does think, however, is that it is entitled to be helped towards the position where it can, in the not too distant future, take up the full status of a State.
People in the Territory feel, perhaps with justice, that the governments - I use the word in the plural and not in the singular because I think that the remarks apply to both the Labour administration and the present administration - in Canberra, have not been entirely sincere. They have talked always about greater independence for the Northern Territory, but there has been altogether too much paternalism about their attitude. They have not given a consistent impetus to greater -self-government. They have failed, for example, to do such elementary things as remove the Department of Works in the Territory from Canberra control and place it under local control. That is something which has been crying out for many years to be done and nobody can give any good reason against it being done. Yet nobody seems to be able to get round to doing it. People in the Territory may feel that their aspirations for self-government are not taken seriously. I mention what may be regarded as a small matter. One finds that the ordinance which is the constitution of the Territory has not been consolidated, and one has to look through three or four acts to find what its constitutional position is. That kind of thing should not be allowed to happen.
This report from the select committee of the Legislative Council should have been treated with far greater seriousness. The Minister has given, with a generous confession of some error on his part in this matter, a history of what is happening. Surely, when that report came in, the first thing that should have been done was to print it quickly and distribute it as a paper as soon as possible for the information of honorable members when the House first met after the Christmas recess. There should have been a debate on that report before any attempt was made to formulate a set and rigid policy. I believe that every recommendation in that report is worthy of the very closest scrutiny.
It is not reasonable to consider the present Legislative Council of the Northern Territory as anything more than a sham. It is controlled by a majority of appointed members. Not only that - those members act in conformity with a ministerial directive. Perhaps, that is the wrong word, but it was used in the House a little time ago. At any rate, they act in conformity with ministerial advice which makes them vote as a bloc. Last week I was unable to follow entirely what the Minister was saying about the voting in that council. I have looked through the official records - the “ Hansard “ report of the Legislative Council proceedings for the whole of 1957 and I find that there were eleven divisions. In every one of those divisions the voting was seven to six. The seven appointed members always out-voted the six nominated members. I have not looked through the record for the current year, but I feel that that type of procedure evidences a certain lack of sincerity and a sort of undue paternalism.
– But there were scores of cases in which votes were carried without division and with the support of the nominated members.
– I cannot question that, because how those votes were taken is not recorded. I simply say that every time a division was taken there was a solid administrative bloc vote against the elected representatives. That does not seem to me to be either a reasonable or proper state of affairs at all.
I feel that I should endeavour to be constructive in this regard. I should not like to trespass in any way upon the report of the select committee, but I believe that it is due for study and appraisal. But surely, we can have, immediately, an elective majority in that council. Surely, we can have a position in which the nominated members are not mere pawns of the department in Canberra. Is it necessary that a nominated member should be a civil servant? It is perhaps reasonable to expect that some, but not all of them, should be other than employees of the department. Further, if the Administrator vetoes an ordinance of the Legislative Council - and under present conditions I believe that he still retains the right of veto - that veto should be reported immediately in some form to this House so that it can receive public attention, if, indeed, there is any substantial injustice done. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland) would know very well that one of the troubles is that Canberra is a long way from the Northern Territory. News from there takes a long time to filter through and it is not always possible here to appraise it quickly. We have to get some better means of communication with the Northern Territory until the Territory can assume what it is not yet ready for, that is, the full responsibility of a State. It is to be helped towards the position where it can assume such full responsibility.
It might be a good thing to have in this Parliament, as we have for the Australian Capital Territory, a standing or select committee which would review continuously matters which affect the Northern Territory. lt would keep us in closer touch with the Northern Territorians and help us to understand their problems a little bit more clearly. As a result of that understanding we could give them more sympathetic consideration. But in the long run, sympathy is no substitute for a reasonable measure of independence. We have to relax this undue paternalism, perhaps not all at once, but at any rate progressively, so that we can give to these people a measure of local government and local autonomy which is necessary if they are to have a sense of responsibility which will help them in driving forward to a more progressive, less frustrated and much higher development of the Northern Territory.
– I regret that the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) is not in the chamber, because I wanted to bring before him a matter of very great concern to many of my electors and also other electors. It relates to unemployment relief payments and sickness benefits. At present, there is a great deal of unemployment throughout Australia. The Government’s advisers estimate that 70,000 are out of work. If the real figure is 70,000, 40,000 or 50,000 of these unemployed are in New South Wales. Workers from Queensland and South Australia who have become unemployed because Liberal governments are in office in those States, are flocking to New SouthWales because it is best able to provide for their needs. But apart from that fact, in New South Wales any worker outside thePublic Service who loses his employment and applies to the captains of industry for a job is told that his services are not required’ if he has turned 65 years of age. The same treatment is given to women workers whohave reached the age of 60 years and to widows who are 50 years of age.
When such persons apply for unemployment relief they are again asked their age,, and if they are men of 65 years or women of 60 years, they are told to apply for the age pension. They are refused unemployment relief which they would be given if they were younger. They then apply for the age pension, but they are stood down for possibly four or five weeks, and in some, cases, ten weeks or three months.
How is the individual who has beenworking on a low salary to live for ten weeks or three months while awaiting a pension?’ Should not the Minister for Social Servicesmake some arrangement with his officersso that the man who is out of work shall get unemployment benefit until he has satisfied the age pension officers that he iseligible for the age pension? For ten or twelve weeks that man may have to live on nothing at all. He may go to the State
Government of New South Wales, which we have heard condemned so frequently. The amount of money with which the State Government subsidizes the pensioners is practically as much as the Federal Government’s pension of £4 7s. 6d. a week. Men and women who have been refused unemployment benefit or sickness benefit have to depend on a social services payment from the State Government. They are between the devil and the deep sea. They may be hungry for three months. Yet the Minister is doing nothing about it!
I have had to make application, on behalf of these people, for assistance from the welfare fund of the State Government, but they are not given assistance in cash from that fund. They get groceries or other goods to carry them over. Is that the proper way in which to treat these aged people? The New South Wales Government has to supply groceries and clothing for many aged people all through the year It is only from the State Government that aged people can obtain clothing if they have not the money to buy it for themselves. In addition, it is only from the State Government also that they can obtain hearing aids, ambulance services, and spectacles. Finally - and this is not of much concern to the pensioner - the State Government has to bury them, because this Government gives only a paltry £10 towards the cost of a funeral. Yet Government supporters claim that their social services are the best in the world!
I hope and trust that the Treasurer will open his heart before he leaves this Parliament and ask for forgiveness for all the times that he did not give a rise to pensioners. I hope that, before he leaves this House, he will give them a rise of £1 59. a week, because I feel that, outside of Parliament, the same right honorable gentleman would give them that amount. At least, he should give them a rise which would rectify all the wrongs that he has done them over the last nine years.
It is only in election year that the pensioners are given any consideration. In the years following elections they have had no pension increases. I ask the Treasurer to do something for those who are out of work and who have to wait two or three months for an age pension. They should not be allowed to be beggars to their State Government. They should be given the unemployment benefit until they get the age pension and then an appropriate deduction could be made from the amount of money that is due to them when their pension is sanctioned.
Housing and employment are two matters with which the Menzies Government has failed to deal and it is too late, in the last six months of this Parliament, to expect anything to be done. But the people of Australia, at the next general election, can help to house the people of this country by electing a Labour government, and they will do that.
There is another matter which is similar to the dispute concerning the Northern Territory. The people of Lord Howe Island have sent me to this House to represent them. Although the Menzies Government collects income tax, pay-roll tax, and other taxes from them it has failed to do anything for this island, which is 450 miles to the east of Sydney. It is served by a seaplane that was used in the first world war, and apparently there is not another aircraft to take its place. The plane leaves Double Bay at 2 o’clock in the morning.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKEROrder! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– 1 intervene in the debate simply to comment on references made to events in the Northern Territory by the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) and the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). I hope that honorable members will believe that I am quite sincere when I say I am glad to see that matters affecting the Northern Territory are being debated in this chamber. I think that the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) will agree with me when I add the words, “ at last “. There are many opportunities for members of this Parliament to take an interest in the Northern Territory, and it has been the endeavour of the Government to try to induce them to do so, for example, by arranging delegations to that Territory.
It is an experience which has been just as disappointing to me as it has been, I am sure, to the honorable member for the Northern Territory that members of this House have customarily not taken a very great interest in the Northern Territory. There have been oportunities on estimatesdebates, address-in-reply debates, and occasionally when special matters have come up, for a debate to take place but, with one or two signal exceptions, we have not had that attention to Territory affairs for which we had hoped and which we would have welcomed. So the House itself, when attacking this subject, should examine its own conscience on whether it has discharged the duty it has had and on whether it has met the opportunities that it has -had, at all times, to give attention to these matters. .Concerning the particular matters referred to by the ‘honorable members for farrer and Mackellar, I would remind the House that every ordinance of the Northern Territory lis tabled in this chamber. At any time, it is open, under the procedures of this House, :for either a member or .a section .of the House to examine -these ordinances and to raise .any matter on them which they think appropriate to raise.
– We never see the ordinances.
– The honorable member for “Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) and other honorable members, so far as 1 know, have never bothered to read the ordinances. They can obtain them at any time. They have been tabled in this “House.
– But we do not see the ordinances which are reserved for the Governor-General’s assent.
– When assented to and tabled in this -House, .these .ordinances .are available to every , honor.able -member. Has the honorable member for Werriwa ever applied to -the officers of the House to let him examine the ordinances? I do not ask that by way of reflection but just to take away from the debate which has suddenly emerged a little of its sting. This is a responsibility which we all share - both the Government and the Parliament - and it is all very well on some occasions, for our own spiritual unction or for the possibility of attracting a little -more attention .to ourselves, to start jumping on a band wagon; tout more respect would be due to honorable members if they rode consistently on the wagon instead of jumping on and off it.
Having said that, I want to support a statement that was made by the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn), who has been an exception in this House in the consistent attention he has given to Northern Territory matters. That remark of his was that this is a long-standing problem. It is not something which has emerged over recent months or even over recent years. It is a long-standing problem which has been on the minds of the people of the Northern Territory and people who have taken a close interest in the Northern Territory for very many years, both before World War II. and since. That point is brought -out very clearly in Part I. of the report of the Joint Committee on Public Accounts which was presented by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. -Bland1) yesterday.
I -think the value of Part I. of the report, if I may presume to say so at this stage -when it is not itself under debate, is the way it sets the historical perspective for the whole Of this problem. Although the chairman and members of that committee can speak for themselves in due course, I think “they will agree with me when I suggest that their report will be misread if members hunt through it trying to find a point of criticism here and there; and that the report will be properly used if .honorable members will go through Part I. of -the report -trying to gain the historical perspective of the whole of this problem, and trying to use it as a setting for a discussion of matters which will come up later in the report of the Public Accounts Committee in Part II. I think that is a fair statement of the analysis of Part I. of the report.
Itf one reads /Part I. carefully, one does mot find the committee itself drawing conclusions. One finds (the ‘committee, iia a>n attempt .to set the stage, .quoting opinions that .are held, statements which were made to it, observations which were presented by this or that witness and statements made by some other witnesses who took a slightly different view or a totally different view. One has to balance the -report in that way. I suggest, as I said before, that the report will be misread - as I think it has been misread in the way it has been reported in the public press - as, in itself, a critical commentary on the present state of affairs in the Northern Territory.
The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) made some “reference to what he termed .the disappointing progress in the Northern Territory. No one who has worked as the officers of the Department of Territories and the officers of the Administration have worked, and as I myself have tried to work, for the development of the Northern Territory would fail to be ready to agree that the progress is disappointing. None of us is satisfied that all that might have been done has been done, or that all that could be done has been done. We look forward to greater measures than we have yet been able to achieve. But part of the fundamental problem that cannot be escaped is, first of all, that the Northern Territory is a difficult country. It is not an easy country. It is a country which has enormous problems peculiar to itself and enormous problems that must be overcome. If any honorable member talks too glibly about doing this or that for the Northern Territory without realizing the inherent difficulties, the inevitable difficulties, set up by the nature of the country itself, by its isolation, its geographical features, its climate, historical circumstances and lack of basic facilities, he will simply be underestimating the problem.
The significant thing is - and I say this without trying to make any party capital out of it - that until recent years, the Northern Territory has been a neglected part of the Commonwealth. When my predecessor took up the post-war job of administration - that is the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. H. V. Johnson) - and when my predecessors in the present Government tackled it, and when I myself tackled it, each one of us was conscious from the start, I am sure, of the absence from the Northern Territory of many of those basic facilities and services which are necessary if progress is to be made. My endeavour, and the endeavour of the officers associated with me, has been to try to put into the Northern Territory solid foundations for further progress and development. We have been disappointed. We have not been able always to achieve what we wanted to achieve, but I will say that we have achieved a great deal more than had been achieved before.
In the Northern Territory to-day, we do have a better administrative structure than the Territory has had before. We have more technical experts and more efficient public servants. We have a better organization and structure of government than the
Territory has ever had before. In addition to that we have been able, in the physical form of buildings, services, water supply, electricity, housing, roads and stock routes and all that sort of thing, to build up foundations on which further progress can be made. I submit to the House that it would have been useless to supply the decorations, as you might say, before we had done that fundamental work.
Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- I have listened with a great deal of interest to the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) who has just resumed his seat. I believe it can be said in fairness that much of what he has said is completely true; but it might be said also in fairness that much of what has been said by other honorable members on the Government side this morning is also true. There is a great deal of discontent in the Northern Territory, particularly on matters that have been raised by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). The Minister might have given some reason to this House for the extraordinary action of the elected members of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory in resigning in a body. He has not explained the reason why those elected members saw fit to resign from the Legislative Council, nor has he indicated to the House when that explanation will be given.
The point that was made by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) this morning was a very valid one indeed. If honorable members study the “ Hansard “ reports of proceedings of the Legislative Council, they will find that elected representatives have consistently cast their votes in opposition to members who were appointed by the Minister himself. Whilst the Minister might indicate that some matters have been passed by the Legislative Council on the voices, I want to make it quite clear that important matters which have been referred to it always go to a division. I suggest to the Minister that in very few cases, if any, would he be able to point to one division in which the elected members did not vote against the nominated members.
It is true that, in recent times, some alteration has been made which, in effect, has given some authority to the people of the
Northern Territory so far as municipal matters are concerned. That is a step in the right direction, because the people of Darwin are displaying now a greater interest in public affairs than they have been able to show in the past. If that is applicable to municipal matters, surely it could be applicaable to the Territory as a whole. The case presented by the honorable member for the Northern Territory should be answered by the Minister at the first available opportunity. I regret that I have not the time to enlarge upon this point, as I want to turn to another matter that concerns me greatly.
I refer to the state of the Tasmanian timber industry, a subject that has been raised by myself and other members during the last eighteen months. The conditions in Tasmania may apply generally throughout the Commonwealth. I raised this subject as a matter of urgency during the last parliamentary session, when I pointed out that all over the Commonwealth the timber industry had deteriorated, that in every State mills were being compelled to cease production, and that men were being thrown on to the employment market, because of the unsympathetic approach of the Government to this great Australian industry.
I pointed out also that towards the end of last June, 21 Tasmanian saw-mills had been compelled to cease production, that seventeen others were on reduced production, and that more than 700 employees had been forced to seek employment in other avenues of industry. A great number of those people are still unemployed to-day, because they have been compelled to live and establish their homes in remote communities where it is not possible to obtain alternative employment. During 1957, Tasmanian timber production declined by 31,000,000 superficial feet. Stockpiling, of course, could no longer be regarded as economically sound because 80,000,000 superficial feet of timber was then at grass in Tasmania. During the early part of this year some of the saw-mills which had closed resumed production, but only to replenish the stocks that had dwindled in the intervening period. To-day, they are again facing extreme difficulties.
I believe that the difficulties that now face the industry are the direct responsibility of the Government. In Tasmania, they are largely due to the importation of timber, particularly from Malaya and Borneo. The position has deteriorated because of imports from those countries, despite the assurances given by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and other responsible members of the Government during the past eighteen months, not only to myself and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), who also has consistently represented these matters in the Parliament, but also to the Tasmanian timber industry, which has repeatedly put its case before the Minister and officers of the Department of Trade. Despite the Minister’s assurance that he would have a good look at the question of imports - those were the words that he used to the Tasmanian Timber Association when its representatives met him in Canberra - timber brought from Malaya and Borneo this year constitutes an all-time record. For the six months ended December, 1954, imports of timber from Malaya and Borneo amounted to 13,300,000 superficial feet. By December, 1956, for a similar period, they had risen to 21,300,000 superficial feet, and by December, 1957, to 25,500,000 superficial feet. So, despite the assurance that the Minister gave, he had no intention whatever of reducing the imports from those countries.
I want to refer now to a statement made by the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz), the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Trade, who is now leading a delegation to South-East Asia. He told the Chamber of Commerce at Kuala Lumpur that Australia wanted more timbers from Malaya and Borneo and that it intended to have them. So, on the one hand, there is an assurance from the Minister that action will be taken to restrict these imports which are causing unemployment in the timber industry, and on the other hand there is a statement in Malaya by his deputy that Australia wants more of those imports. His deputy also told the Kuala Lumpur Chamber of Commerce that Australia would have to become more competitive in its prices. I remind this Parliament, as I pointed out on the last occasion I raised the matter, that the daily rate of pay in the Australian timber industry is in excess of £3, but in Malaya the daily rate is less than £1. Yet the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister says that we shall have tq be more competitive! I suggest that he take, the. opportunity to investigate the. mills in. Malaya and see the conditions und.er which their employees work, in order tq determine whether Australian timber will, be. able> to compete in, price with timber from Malaya and Borneo.
I know that the reason for the great difficulty in Tasmania now is that much of the timber from those two countries is used for exactly the same purposes for which Tasmanian timbers have been used in the- past. We cannot expect Tasmani’an production to be reduced by approximately 21,000j000 superficial feet a year without experiencing; severe economic difficulties. This- is a situation that might well be repeated in every State. I ask the Minister for Trade to give immediate consideration to the representations made to his department byrne Tasmanian timber industry for emergency tariff’ regulations. The Minister promised that, he would’ institute an emergency Tariff Board inquiry. The matter was referred to the Tariff Board in May, 1957. The board concluded, its hearings in July, 1957, but the report is not yet available to this Parliament.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Let me say at the outset that it is. not customary for a member of the Public Accounts Committee to engage in debate on the. contents of the reports submitted by the committee, to the House, because those reports usually convey the opinions of committee members. But. in connexion with the report on the administration of the Northern Territory, I should like to put to the House a point of view which I suggest it should consider. The report deals with two aspects. One is the administration of the Territory - whether Bill Jones is doing what Bill Jones is supposed to do as one of the administrative staff of the Territory. The other is the- more serious question to which the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) referred. He said that the committee had covered the whole history of the Territory and its status, and considered whether the machinery provided is sufficient to meet its need’s.
As T see the position,, the status of the Territory is not a question for one govern ment - this or any other - to. decide. It is a national question, lt is not the prerogative of the Public, Accounts Committee to suggest to this House or to the people what should or should not be done in connexion With the status of the Territory. The most that the committee had in its power to do was to traverse, as it has done, the field of history. I submit that the present situation provides food, for thought for honorable members and for the people of the Commonwealth generally. God forbid that the question of the status of this or any other territory of the Commonwealth should enter the field of filthy party polities. I say that deliberately, because 1 should hate to see it happen. What is to happen to any part of the Commonwealth and its. people should, not be decided on purely party lines. This, is a national question which transcends, party politics. That, is the. only aspect I want to put to the House. The other aspect of administration- whether the. job is being; done by those who; have- been entrusted with it in the way that we expect of them - is another matter entirely.. That may be discussed along party lines but- this, question,, which involves, the future- of the Territory, which involves- the souls, of the peoples, almost, should; not be- brought, into the party political field-.
I support the Minister’s statement that every honorable member should examine his conscience and ask himself whether he has sufficiently interested himself in this broad question to be able to give the people a lead on the way the problem should be handled. That is a matter for the people as a whole, and not just for any parliament. I appeal to the House to, deal with the question of the status of the Territory on the broadest possible lines, in a way which would’ indicate, to, the people that, as individual’s, we have a. real sense of our responsibility
There, are two- aspects in the report which, must be considered, separately if necessary. The status of the Territory is tied up with the question of administration. It has an impact on whether the Administration can, or cannot, work effectively. That is a matter which should be discussed on the broadest possible basis. I do not want to. engage in a debate on whether what has happened, in the Territory is right or wrong. I shall do my thinking’ on that, like other honorable members, and’ interpret all’ the relevant information available to me. I shall then express. my opinion on a number of matters, on broad lines, not necessarily as a member of this Parliament but as an individual who has a conscious regard for the welL-being of his fellow men wherever they may be.
I turn now to the matter about which I rose to speak. Some considerable time ago, I spoke on the injustice involved in the method of assessing sales tax. Several years ago, I submitted a case to the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) on this matter, and I am satisfied that as a result of my submission he was so convinced of the justice of the cause that he submitted my case to the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation for investigation. My case concerned the method of assessing sales tax on wholesale prices, including freight charges. This method of assessment of sales tax inflicts a very grave injustice on the people of Western Australia. It is a discriminatory tax against West Australians.
Sales tax is reckoned on the wholesale prices of goods. A large component of the wholesale prices of goods consists of freight, insurance and handling charges. When a wholesaler invoices his goods out his selling price includes these additional charges and his profit. Sales tax is reckoned on that inclusive figure. This means that Western Australia, and some of the other States, are penalized because freight, insurance and handling charges are always a large component of the wholesale prices of goods sold there.
Last year, Western Australia imported £90,000,000 worth of goods from the eastern States. The element represented by freight, insurance and handling in that volume of trade must be very substantia], because the goods have to be carried to Western Australia by rail, air or sea. It would probably be impossible to get actual figures regarding these additional charges that are included in the total of £90,000,000. I have tried to do so, and have found that I cannot get a satisfactory dissection of the total figure. However, I got as far as finding an indication that, as a result of the inclusion of the additional charges in the figure on which sales tax is based, the consumers of Western Australia have paid several million pounds in sales tax which is not similarly charged to the consumers of similar goods in the eastern States, where the goods are produced.
I go so far as to say that the figures I have been able to follow through indicate that the amount of sales tax paid on those additional charges, because of the system of reckoning, is sufficient to negative the benefits that Western Australia receives under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement. In fact, the amount Western Australia receives under that agreement is less than that State’s total annual contribution to Commonwealth revenue in extra sales tax resulting from the present method of reckoning the tax on the final wholesale prices. The committee that examined the proposal T submitted to the Treasurer stated in paragraph 6 of its report on reference No. 44-
From its examination of the subject matter the Committee is satisfied that theoretical equity is virtually unobtainable. It is fundamental that sales tax should be simple enough in form to be collected economically, and to this end a small measure of equity must be sacrificed. In the opinion of the Committee the present basis of the tax is a reasonable compromise.
That is a shocking thing for any committee to say. Here we have a State which is suffering to the extent of millions of pounds, and a committee suggests that that is only a theoretical disadvantage, a theoretical discrimination, a mere theoretical inequality, and that we have to put up with it for the sake of simplicity of procedure in the collection of the tax. I appeal to the Treasurer to do something about this.
Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I desire, in the seven minutes left for this debate, to direct the attention of the House to a pamphlet, a copy of which I think all honorable members have received, entitled “ 100,000 depressed pensioners “. The pamphlet has a footnote reading, “ How £7,000,000 relieves their plight “. I suggest that £7,000,000 from a national income of £4,000,000,000 is a drop in the ocean.
This pamphlet was prepared by the Brotherhood of St. Laurence, an agency of the Church of England in Victoria. It is a layman’s society, which believes in the brotherhood of man. It proves its sincerity and the practicality of the brotherhood of man by its charitable work all over Victoria. It concentrates its efforts on the poor. I should say that no organization is better qualified to appeal to the Government for the alleviation of the distress brought to our notice in the pamphlet.
When an honorable member from Victoria recently asked the Minister for Social Services (Mr- Roberton) whether he had read the pamphlet, the Minister replied that he had read it and that it was very interesting. Apparently that was all there was to it as far as the Minister was concerned. I believe that the Minister showed the pamphlet very scant respect. Instead of saying merely that the pamphlet interested him, he should have announced that he would do something to remedy the position disclosed in it, not only by helping the 100,000 depressed pensioners mentioned in the pamphlet, but by helping the 470,000 pensioners in the age and invalid pension group. All pensioners are entitled to an increase of pension because, in these inflationary times, the value that the pension formerly had has run out of it. That value should be restored. The Brotherhood, which visits the poor at their places of living and deals with the humanities of life so close to them, reported on many features that it discovered. On the rent problem, it said -
A pensioner who has no other source of income than his pension and who must pay 17s. 6d. or more for rent, immediately comes into the depressed class for the simple reason that, after paying rent, what remains of his pension is not sufficient to meet his other needs of food, clothing, heating, items of personal hygiene, etc. There are thousands of pensioners in this position. In to-day’s conditions £2 10s. is regarded as the minimum required each week for food. Thus the weekly budget of these pensioners is -
The figure given for rent relates to the average rent; in many instances it would be higher. The amount of the pension is most inadequate, and I hope that the Minister for Social Services will give close attention to this pamphlet. He owes it to the charitable organizations that work in the interests of pensioners generally to look into it. He should make it his business when the next Budget is prepared to see that the rate of pension is increased so that it will have a value equivalent to that of the pension when the Labour party went out of office.
Other groups of pensioners are equally depressed and deserve a better fate. I refer to those affected by the means test because they own property. Many pensioners long ago made preparations for their old age by acquiring property. Some bought their homes and, perhaps, another property so that they would have some income in their old age. But, due to inflationary pressures, these people are now worse off than the 100,000 depressed pensioners mentioned in the pamphlet to which I referred. I have met pensioners in this group in my electorate. They own, perhaps, a shop with a residence attached and under present-day conditions are receiving only £3 or £4 a week in rent for those premises. The limit on property in the means test is £1,750 for a single person and £3,500 for a married couple. If the value of their property exceeds those amounts, they do not receive the pension. Out of their income of £3 or £4 from the rent of the property, they must pay heavy council and water rates and maintenance costs. They are worse off than the 100,000 pensioners referred to in the excellent pamphlet that has been presented to the Minister.
The property allowance in the means test should be closely examined by the Government and should be raised. In many instances, the value of property should not be considered, because the income from the property is so small that these people do not receive enough money to live on and their circumstances are most distressing. I know of a widow who is in such a situation. She is selling her furniture piece by piece in order to meet the rates, insurance and maintenance costs on the property.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order 291.
Question resolved in the negative. Sitting suspended from 12.46 to 2.15 p.m.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message):
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the Judges’ Pensions Act 1948-1956.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Menzies and Mr. McMahon do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Menzies, and read a first time.
– I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to amend the Judges’ Pensions Act 1948-1956 so as to increase the rates of pension payable to members of the federal judiciary. Honorable members will recall that in 1948 the provisions in various statutes dealing with the subject of federal judges’ pensions were replaced by the present Judges’ Pensions Act, which now contains standard provisions on the subject.
The provision which the present bill proposes to make for federal judges and their widows is, I think honorable members will agree, proper. I am sure that I need not remind honorable members of the importance of maintaining not only the high status but also the independence of the judiciary. In a Commonwealth such as ours the judges, and in particular the justices of the High Court, interpret the Constitution. The judiciary is created by the same constitutional instrument as the Parliament and the executive. Therefore, the responsibilities of the judiciary are not only very great but are also fundamental in the federal system. This means - and everybody has agreed with this from time to time as events have moved on - that the judiciary should be put in a position of financial independence. This involves not only a completely adequate salary while they are doing their work - and we attended to that matter in this House some time ago - but it means also that there should be a proper and adequate provision for pensions on retirement and for some provision for a judge’s widow.
A reasonable provision for the widow has been properly regarded in the past as being one-half the pension normally paid to the judge himself on retirement. It may interest honorable members if I point out one matter which is quite important. The High Court of Australia, with which I will deal for the purpose of the point I wish to make, is not only the authority which determines the validity or invalidity of law; it is also, subject to certain rare exceptions, the ultimate court of appeal in this country. Its position could not be more important. It is essential that we should be able to attract to the High Court people of the first rank in the law. Very fortunately for this country we have had, over a long period of years, most distinguished lawyers willing to abandon the much more lucrative pursuits of the bar in order to go on to the High Court bench.
Under the Constitution of Australia, a High Court judge, or any other federal judge, is appointed for life. It is most undesirable, in these circumstances, that there should be an inadequate provision for pension. If there is such inadequate provision, any feeling that a judge may have on the matter will be against retirement, because he will know that his pension will not be adequate to sustain him properly for the rest of his life in a position of financial independence. This position does not obtain in the State sphere.I think I am right in saying, although I speak subject to correction, that in every State there is a retiring age for judges. There certainly is in New South Wales. Honorable members will be interested, in these circumstances, if I make just one comparison showing the situation that now exists. The Supreme Court of New South Wales is, of course, as compared with the High Court, a subordinate court. It is a superior court of record, but it is subject to appeal to the High Court of Australia. In New South Wales the pension of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is at present fixed at £3,510 a year. The pension of the Chief Justice of the High Court is £3,200. In the case of a puisne judge, being a judge short of the rank of Chief Justice, in New South Wales the pension is £3,000 a year, being 60 per cent, of the salary. In the case of the High Court of Australia it is £2,600.
I am perfectly certain that all honorable members will agree that this is a most anomalous position, having regard to the position which the High Court occupies. I am speaking now only of the High Court, but other federal courts are in a similar position. It is rather anomalous that the greatest court in Australia - and a very great court it is, with a fine reputation in all parts of the world - should have pension provissions for its judges inferior to those of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. For this reason the Government has thought it right to alter the situation. We are not proposing to deal with salaries, because we dealt with those in a very specific way, with the approval of Parliament, some time ago. We are proposing by this bill that the maximum pension payable to a judge shall be increased from 40 per cent, of his salary to 50 per cent. In the case of the New South Wales Supreme Court the pension will still be 60 per cent, of the salary, but we think that 50 per cent, will provide, intrinsically, a suitable pension for a justice of the High Court of Australia. Pursuing a rule long since established, we propose that the widows’ pension shall be increased from 20 per cent, to 25 per cent, of the judge’s salary. In other words, it will be one-half of the judge’s pension. It is further proposed by this bill to give a judge the right to receive the maximum pension on retirement after reaching the age of 60 years and serving as a judge for not less than ten years. Under the existing provisions, a judge meeting these requirements receives, on retiring, 27i per cent, of his salary, with an additional 2i per cent, of his salary for each completed year of service in excess of ten years. To receive the maximum pension of 40 per cent, of his salary on retirement, therefore, a judge must have completed fifteen years of service. It is proposed to make the fifteen years ten years.
A judge who retires owing to permanent disability or infirmity - and this is another case that may conceivably arise, and has indeed arisen in another jurisdiction - before he has fulfilled the requirements I have just referred to will receive a pension at the rate of 14 per cent, of his salary if he retires during the first or second years of his service. I am referring to a retirement on the grounds of infirmity about which the AttorneyGeneral is satisfied. A judge receives at present 1 5 per cent, of his salary if he retires during the first or second years. The bill provides that if he retires subsequently he will receive an additional 4 per cent, of his salary for each completed year of service other than the first year, the maximum rate again being 50 per cent, of his salary.
Rates of pensions for widows of judges are retained, as under the present act, at half the amount of the judge’s pension, and therefore they will not be increased proportionately, although they will be increased in actual intrinsic terms.
– Will they be 7 per cent, for the first two years and then increasing?
– Is the honorable member now talking about judges who retire because of infirmity?
– No, 1 am talking about widows.
– The rate of pension for a widow is half the amount of the judge’s pension, so that the pension that the judge is getting at the time of his death is divided by two, and that is the pension that the widow will get.
– Whatever period the judge serves?
– Whatever may be the pension for the judge. The bill does not affect the rates of pensions that are at present being received by retired federal judges and widows. Honorable members will probably know that since the passing of the 1948 act, existing pensions have on occasions been supplemented by administrative action and by subsequent parliamentary appropriation. The Government feels in this case that existing pensions for those persons should be increased by 25 per cent., which represents the percentage increase in the other cases I have referred to, as from the time when these amendments come into operation. The increase will be effected by administrative action and by appropriation, as in the past. I mention that because it will be seen in the last clause of the bill that it does not, as a bill, apply to those persons already retired, or to the widows of persons who have retired, but we propose to do what has been done in the past - I think by common consent. In the past, pensions of judges already retired have been proportionately increased when a general salary increase has occurred. That has been done administratively in the first instance, and then provision for the increase has been included in the annual Appropriation Bill passed by Parliament.
In effect, the result of this legislation will be to effect an increase - not an extravagant one - in the pensions of judges and of their -widows. I commend the bill to the House, because I believe that one thing that is outstandingly important in Australia is that the status of the High Court and the other federal courts should be maintained, and that the financial independence of those who sit on them should not be put in peril.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Evatt) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Downer) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to immigration, deportation and emigration.
Motion (by Mr. Roberton) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Overseas Telecommunications Act 1946-1952.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Honorable members will appreciate that I am deputizing for my honorable and gallant friend, the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) who, as Minister for the Navy, is discharging his ministerial duties elsewhere. The purpose of this bill is to effect a number of changes in the Overseas Telecommunications Act 1946-1952. They relate exclusively to sections which provide for its domestic administration within Australia, as distinct from those which provide for inter-governmental machinery in accordance with the Commonwealth Telegraphs Agreement to which Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, India, Ceylon and the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland are parties.
As honorable members will know, the Overseas Telecommunications Act 1946 gave effect in Australia to the recommendations of the British Commonwealth Telecommunications Conference held in London in. 1945, with the overall objective of promoting and co-ordinating the efficiency and development of the external telecommunications services of the British Commonwealth and Empire.
That act authorized the execution, on behalf of the Australian Government, of an inter-governmental agreement embodying the proposals of the 1945 London conference, and did all that was necessary to enable those proposals to be implemented insofar as Australia was and is concerned.
That act also established the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia) as the national body to take over and operate the international radio and cable services operated in this country, and defined the status, powers and functions of the commission.
In 1952, after both the intergovernmental and domestic machinery provided for in the 1946 act had operated, through stages of progressive implementation, for several years, amending legislation was passed to effect changes which experience had shown to be desirable. The changes made in the inter-governmental machinery had been agreed to by all the partner governments, and the 1952 legislation placed the Australian Government’s approval of them on a statutory basis. The remainder of its provisions related to the domestic administration of the 1946 act, being concerned almost entirely with conditions of employment in the commission.
This bill, after a further five years of operation by the commission within the framework of the Commonwealth Telegraphs Agreement, represents, in effect, a revision of some of the provisions of the present act to bring them into Une on the one hand with those of more recent legislation in respect of statutory authorities in Australia and, on the other hand, with certain legislative provisions relating specifically to telecommunications services made in other countries. The fact that the bill is confined to these matters reflects the success with which both the British Commonwealth partnership in telecommunications and the Australian national body, the Overseas Telecommunications Commission, have operated. The British Commonwealth partnership has enabled the charges made to citizens of British countries for public overseas communications services to remain substantially below those imposed in foreign countries and, at the same time, has enabled great strides to be taken in the technical development and expansion of the telecommunications services operated by the partners.
The Australian national body, which plays an active and sometimes a leading part in the partnership affairs, has operated profitably while effecting substantial expansion and improvement of Australia’s telecommunications with the rest of the world. The extent of this improvement was demonstrated on the historic occasion of the Olympic Games in Melbourne late in 1956 when world press requirements for international telegraph message capacity, leased channel time, telephone and phototelegraph service aggregated several times the total normal outward traffic from Australia. The commission, with the assistance of the integrated cable and radio facilities of the British Commonwealth system, met these abnormal demands fully and effectively while maintaining all normal, commercial and private communications with other countries.
All except two of the amendments proposed in the bill before the House are designed to bring the provisions of the act into line with comparable provisions in recent legislation for statutory bodies or for the Commonwealth Public Service. The exceptions are the amendments proposed in clauses 10 and 14, and I propose to deal with these first as a matter of convenience and as a reflection of their importance. Clause 10 proposes to insert in the act a section to impose a severe penalty for a breach of secrecy of the contents of a telecommunication committed by an officer of the commission. The proposed new section is desirable to fulfil the obligation which the International Telecommunication Convention imposes upon the signatories thereto, including Australia, to take all requisite measures with a view to ensuring the secrecy of communications. Penalty provisions for breaches of secrecy are already included in the Post and Telegraph Act which, as honorable members know, governs Australia’s internal telecommunications. The penalties proposed in clause 10 conform with those provided for breaches of secrecy by income tax officers under section 16 of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act.
Section 29 of the Overseas Telecommunications Act permits the commission to dismiss an officer for misconduct; but it is considered that, in certain circumstances, this penalty may not sufficiently meet a case where serious results follow a breach of secrecy. The circumstances, specified in sub-section (2.) of the proposed new section, in which the prohibition of divulgence of contents of telecommunications does not apply, are consistent with the requirements of the International Telecommunication Convention.
Clause 14 proposes to insert in the act a new section to protect the commission and its staff from liability for loss or damage arising from any default, delay, error, omission or loss, whether negligent or otherwise, in the transmission, reception or delivery of a telecommunication. In telecommunications services, with their combination of intricate technical equipment, extensive ramifications and the human element, errors do occur occasionally despite the close and continuous effortsmade by operating authorities throughout the world to prevent them. Therefore, the principle is laid down in the International Telecommunication Convention, to which all major countries, including Australia, are parties, that member countries accept no responsibility towards users of their telecommunications services for loss or damage caused by errors or failures in service. Most overseas countries make provision for the authorities operating their international telecommunications services to be freed from liability of this kind and, in the case of Australia’s internal communications services, the Commonwealth is absolved from liability under section 158 of the Post and Telegraph Act. The object of the proposed amendment is to afford the commission the same protection from liability.
These are the only additions proposed to the act. The remainder of the amendments, as I have already mentioned, revise existing provisions in the act and, in the majority of cases, are purely formal. Clause 3 provides for the re-definition of “ Acting Commissioner “ to bring the definition into strict accord with sub-section (1.) of section 13 of the act under which acting commissioners are appointed. This is a purely formal amendment. Clause 4 deals with the remuneration of commissioners. Section 1 1 of the act prescribes the remuneration of the members of the commission, other than the chairman, at rates which have remained unchanged since 1946. The rate for the chairman is determined by the Governor-General in Council. In the interim, of course, substantial changes have occurred in money values and also in relation to responsibilities undertaken by commissioners. This problem has arisen in the case of other statutory authorities, and has been met in respect of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the Australian Broadcasting Commission by providing in the Broadcasting and Television Act for the remuneration of members of both bodies to be determined by the GovernorGeneral. Clause 4 seeks to incorporate the same provision in the Overseas Telecommunications Act. Clauses 5 and 6 are consequential.
Clause 7 re-states the provisions contained in sections 14 and 15 of the act concerning commissioners’ leave, dismissal and vacation of office. The only change in substance is the transfer from the GovernorGeneral to the Minister of the power to grant leave of absence, the proposed provision being identical with the provisions on the same subject made already in the Broadcasting and Television Act and the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act. Clause 8 seeks to amend section 18 of the act to provide that the rate of salary of an officer, apart from a member of the commission, shall be subject to the approval of the Minister if it exceeds £2,500, instead of £1,500 as at present. This would bring section 18 into line with similar provisions in the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act and the Broadcasting and Television Act.
Clause 9 of the bill proposes the inclusion of a new sub-section (4.) in section 19 of the act, in order to give to the commission a similar power to that recently given to the Public Service Board by revision of section 29 (4.) of the Public Service Act. The proposed amendment would authorize the commission to give a notice, for the purpose of preventing a reclassified position in its service from falling vacant, where all positions having the same designation and classification are reclassified, or where a position which is the only office having the particular designation and classification is reclassified. The object of this amendment is to avoid unnecessary and time-absorbing administrative machinery.
That probably sounds a bit involved. In simple terms, it means that where a class of positions is reclassified the occupants of the old positions will automatically occupy the new positions without having to go through the complicated procedural stages associated with promotions made in the normal way.
Section 38 of the principal act provides that the commission shall not, without the approval of the Minister, acquire by purchase any land exceeding £5,000 in value; dispose of any property, right or privilege valued at over £5,000; or enter into any contract for the supply, either directly or indirectly, from places outside Australia, of equipment or materials of a value greater than £5,000. In view of the marked alteration of currency values since these provisions were made in 1946, the bill proposes to raise the amount stipulated in each instance to £20,000, the financial limit which was imposed in similar provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Act.
Clause 12 of the bill proposes the complete revision of Part II., division 4, of the act, which deals with the finances of the commission. The proposed amendments parallel recent legislation for other statutory bodies and, with one exception, make no change in principle or substance to the existing provisions of the act. I propose, therefore, to deal only with that exception, which is the amendment proposed to section 50.
The original 1946 act contained the provision, which still stands in section 50 of the present act, that the income, property and operations of the commission shall not be subject to any rates, taxes or charges, under any law of the Commonwealth or a State, to which the Commonwealth is not subject. Later thinking on the subject has been that, where a statutory corporation is conducting a commercial undertaking, the full true cost of its activities should be reflected in the accounts, and that it should meet the same business charges as would have to be met if the undertaking were conducted by private enterprise.
As opportunity has arisen, this general principle has been written into the law governing the operation of Commonwealth business corporations, and clause 12 of the bill includes provision for its application to the Overseas Telecommunications Commission.
The proposed provision is that the commission shall be subject to taxation, other than taxes on income, under the laws of the Commonwealth, but shall not be subject to taxation under a law of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth to which the Commonwealth is not subject. The Government feels that the payment of these taxes by the commission is fully justified seeing that it is a business undertaking which should pay those Commonwealth taxes that are properly regarded as working costs.
– Can the Minister indicate what those taxes would be? If they are not taxes to which the Commonwealth is subject what taxes are envisaged?
– I would say, in reply to the honorable member, that they are the normal commercial taxes such as sales tax and wages tax.
– What about municipal rates?
– They are specifically excluded. If the honorable member had been good enough to pay particular attention he would have heard me say that the proposed provision is that the commission shall be subject to taxation, other than taxes on income, under the laws of the Commonwealth, but shall not be subject to taxation under a law of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth to which the Commonwealth is not subject.
– That means that it will not pay municipal rates?
– I hope that that is now clear to the honorable member. Clause 13 of the bill merely revises the terms of section 53 of the act concerning the commission’s annual reports to bring them into alinement with the comparable provisions relating to other statutory corporations.
This completes my summary of the changes covered by the bill. As I mentioned at the outset, its main purpose is to bring the legislation governing the Overseas Telecommunications Commission into as close alinement as is appropriate with that covering .other statutory corporations and to clarify and facilitate the administration of the act. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 30th April (vide page 1324), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the following paper: -
International Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 15th April, 1958 - be printed.
.- This debate on international affairs was initiated by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) on 15th April. I regret that such an interval of time should elapse since the Minister presented his statement to the House. Many changes occur over such a period, and, in those circumstances honorable members cannot give connected and constructive expression to opinions regarding matters that have been raised by the Minister. The Minister’s statement was unsatisfying. He avoided dealing with the more serious dangers that threaten world peace - matters which are global in character and are of special importance at this time. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has sought constantly by persistent questioning to bring such matters to the attention of the Minister. My leader has tried to promote an opportunity for Australia to serve the world and to use its good offices towards establishing better understanding and more friendly international relationships. He has made a valuable contribution towards endeavours for world peace. Those of us who realize the dangers involved in the issues that now face the world must appreciate the right honorable gentleman’s desire that Australia should use its influence among the nations.
I firmly agree with the Leader of the Opposition that Australia should be active in applying its good offices to relieve tensions and to resolve differences which arise because of rival claims and, more frequently, from fear of some act df aggression by a neighbouring country. Unfortunately, a tendency has developed among the middle-class nations and the smaller countries to leave the greater issues to the four major powers. Surely, we have some view to declare and some action to initiate through the United Nations! At least we should insist that the proper body to convene summit talks is the United Nations. Such discussions, no matter at what level, should be under the supervision and in the sight of that world authority.
The people of every race and nationality, in both the East and the West, desire release from the overshadowing threats of another world war. The young people want to be left free from the challenges and contentions that many world leaders seek to visit upon them. What challenges our way of life to-day? It is the power to rule and the power to possess. It is evident that major nations are willing to have discussions only providing that they possess an advantage in nuclear or military power. How can we expect freedom from suspicion and mistrust when the parties will come to the table only with firearms fully loaded? I am sure that I speak for thousands of men and women in Australia when I say that this is the wrong approach .to a situation that calls for mutual trust.
One requisite for world agreement is inescapable. As we all must live together in the same world, it is essential that we evolve some basis for co-existence. British public feeling fully acknowledges that fact, and the people of the United States of America and of the Soviet Union have no desire to inflict harm upon one another. I fear that many of those who claim to be national leaders are resisting this peaceful approach. I wish to refer to an article that has been contributed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Dag Hammarskjold, to the publication “Vital Speeches of the Day “. In the issue of 15th March, 1958, the Secretary-General stated -
The task of peacemaking in our times differs in important respects from the task of past centuries.
There is, first, the greater urgency of the need for peacemaking and the fact that this urgency makes itself felt on a universal basis. This results from the rapidly increasing destructiveness of modern weapons and -the growing interdependence of all parts of the world, an interdependence which makes .every “ local “ war a potential world war.
That brings >us face to face with the great issue that .what may appear to be a regional upset between countries could ultimately lead to ; the tragedy ,of global war. Therefore, I commend all the more the .efforts of the Leader of the ^Opposition to have the agencies and good offices of this country used for ,-the purpose of conciliation in so many of those situations that can bring the world to ‘tragedy and disaster.
Summit talks have been proposed to provide an opportunity for world leaders to discuss, if only in the most preliminary way, world understanding and peace. The way to the summit, in present circumstances, will prove to be long and tedious, but I adjure all at this time to possess patience. That is the cardinal ingredient in all of these discussions. In all the approaches that are to be made by all the agencies that are to be used there must be this great element of patience and willingness to try to understand the other man’s point of view. I feel that is one way in which the nations fail. When I was president of the Security Council, one of the leading delegates from a major nation kept urging me to obtain majority resolutions of that body. I reminded the honorable gentleman that that was not the way to effect settlements, because it would leave members who were dissatisfied possibly unwilling to accept the decisions. I stated that unanimity of agreement was essential in many of those discussions. Four extremely important issues were resolved on that occasion. I found that if the representatives w.ere given an opportunity of full discussion, if patience was exercised in an effort to resolve problems, unanimity was finally achieved. It is in that spirit that the world should approach the present situation. Although we may not immediately accomplish all that is desired, including freedom from the threat of war, we must bear ourselves with faith and seek to achieve understanding.
There is a great opportunity for those engaged in news gathering and commentaries at the present time. Public journals can play their part in this work. Let public statements be more factual and less speculative. The world is poorly served by these mediums that claim to speak on the world’s behalf. Crime and disaster seem to be their constant theme, while words of understanding likely to lead to an improvement in human relations have an obscure place on the back sheets. I am afraid that we can gain very little hope from that attitude. The press spreads its eagle-like wings of influence in a way that obstructs progress towards .a peaceful world.
In the present efforts to secure negotiations between contending nations, it is quite evident that ideologies provide a basic reason for disagreement. The Western nations have built their structure of life on capitalism, while the Eastern nations, including Soviet Russia, practise communism. No doubt each side has some thought of final liquidation of the other. I heard one honorable member say, “ If only we could get behind the iron curtain and show the people there something of our way of life “. It may be confidently believed that the Soviet sees no merit in western ways and that it wishes to propagate its system, lt would seem that neither side provides the answer to the real problems that face the world. The world is ill-served by doctrines of extremism and denial of common humanities. That goes for both communism and capitalism. Democracy exists where people are the masters of their own destinies and can engage in the pursuit of human happiness. That conception comes not from profit or tyranny, but from goodwill and understanding.
I earnestly suggest that honorable members re-acquaint themselves with the objectives set out in the charter of the United Nations. We need effective collective measures for the removal of threats to peace and the suppression of acts of aggression, in an effort to bring about, by peaceful means, the settlement of international disputes. My suggestion - and it is the considered and authorized view of the Australian Labour party - is that we should demand an observance of basic human rights and the self-determination by peoples of their way of government. We must insist on the right to be free from the fear of want and to enjoy peaceful co-existence with all other peoples of the world. It might still be only an ideal, but it is one worth declaring and taking action to obtain. Only when we attain a Christian civilization will we enjoy the fruits of permanent peace. In the meantime, we must strive for understanding and secure agreement whenever and wherever possible.
– I preface my remarks on the statement made some weeks ago by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) by paying him a tribute which he is seldom paid in his own country. Nobody has brought greater prestige or distinction to the name of Australia abroad than he has. Despite the sometimes veiled sneers coming from certain sections of the press, there can be no doubt in the minds of people who know that his presence overseas at many conferences has kept Australia’s viewpoint before the people of the world.
I listened with great interest to the remarks of the previous speaker, the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin). There would be few members in this House who would not be completely in agreement with him on the very large matter that he raised. I think that every man of good will would be fully appreciative of any opportunity the seizing of which would lead to better understanding, and a better form of co-existence, in this troubled world. Unless some modicum of sanity can be produced in the minds of the people of the world, particularly on a high level, it is quite obvious where the present situation will lead.
There were two particular features in the arguments of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) with which I propose to deal in some detail. The first, which he mentioned in his reply to the Minister, and which he has mentioned on several other occasions in this place and outside, concerns the advisability of Australia’s making an attempt to bring about a settlement in Indonesia, either by direct intervention or by asking the United Nations to take some action in the matter. It does not take any great amount of common sense to realize what happens to a well-meaning but misguided individual, one lacking in common sense, who intervenes in a family squabble. The result generally is that the person who has the temerity to intervene in a struggle of that sort ends up with both sides united against him. I remind the House that on almost every occasion on which a domestic issue of this kind has come before the United Nations it has been, wisely I believe, decided tha* intervention was beyond the province of the United Nations, because the matter was purely a domestic issue. To carry that line of thought a little further, I have only to point out that there are certain instances with which we, as a Commonwealth of nations, are concerned, in respect of which we might find ourselves in an extremely embarrassing situation if we encouraged the view that the United Nations should intervene in domestic issues.
The second point on which the Leader of the Opposition has focused attention many times is the proposition that summit talks should be held at the earliest possible time in an effort to relieve world tension.
– Does not the honorable member agree with that?
– If the honorable member for Wilmot will possess himself in patience 1 shall acquaint him with my thoughts on the subject. World attention, at least outside the iron curtain, has for quite a considerable time, and particularly during the last four or five months, been attracted by wide publicity to the possibility of arranging top-level talks which would be designed to bring about an easing of the tension in the so-called cold war, and which, by discovering some common ground between the East and the West, might lead towards disarmament in either nuclear or conventional arms. I think that there are very few people of genuine goodwill who would not be attracted by these propositions, and who would not support the intention of arriving at, or getting closer to, a solution of the difficulties which face the world in attempting to achieve peaceful co-existence everywhere. The very simplicity and clarity of the suggestion that a meeting of world leaders should be held in order to bring about a lessening of tension makes the requests for summit talks almost undeniable. Yet we have had, for some time, an informed section of world opinion regarding the suggestion with barely-veiled suspicion and attempting to surround it with so many safeguards as would make the ultimate meeting almost impossible.
It would appear that it is, in connexion with this question of preparation on a diplomatic and political level, that the attitude expressed by certain Western powers is most misunderstood by many well-meaning people. The question requires rather more than its brief dismissal as a piece of official mumbo-jumbo. One must examine closely the background against which any international talk on a high level is held to-day, and analyse to what extent the genuine objects of the conferences are being subordinated to the desire for spreading political propaganda. How often have we all heard in recent years the platitudes about the struggle for the mind of mankind, how the influences of the West, or for want of a better description, of the East - the terms so often used by Toynbee in his recent historical analyses, are being devoted to persuasion, first, of the uncommitted peoples of the world, and sub sequently, particularly by iron curtain propagandists, of the sensitive section of the population of the Western powers. It would be no exaggeration to say that in recent years there has hardly been a conference of world significance at which attempts have not been made to influence thought on political theory towards one or other of the modern theories of government or of economic systems. lt might well be asked what have the nations of the West to fear from any exposure of their political, economic or social systems to the influence of Communist critical propaganda. After all, with a sense of apprehensive heartiness, we console ourselves with the old cliche, “ Truth will out “. The good points of our system will be made obvious to the peoples of the world, and such inherent weaknesses as exist will be pointed out and possible methods of correction can be explained.
However, recent history has shown that the means and opportunities for disseminating truth, or near-truth, are more than equalled by the means for their suppression, particularly in those countries where it could be hoped they might have the most effect - the countries behind the iron curtain. It is this situation that makes the present flow from the world propaganda machine so much a one-way traffic, although there were indications that the events of 1956 in Hungary did arouse an uneasy feeling, and did awaken a guilty conscience, in a section of the Russian community.
Certain left-wing political elements in the community, including the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), and supported, I am afraid, by a section of the Christian Church in Australia, have been making the most unqualified demands for summit talks without definition or restriction. The Leader of the Opposition has been inclined to take the view, as I think most people will agree who read his references to the visit of Mr. Macmillan, the British Prime Minister, to Australia, that any attempt on the part of the big powers to approach summit talks on the basis of diplomatic preparation is a direct attempt at sabotage. It was interesting to me to see the way the Leader of the Opposition leapt onto the bandwagon of summit talks immediately he appreciated the propaganda value, and the possible political, advantage he might score amongst a certain section of the community.
As I mentioned earlier, the popular appeal of the proposition that several world figures should get together - what a misleading phrase! - and thrash out solutions to problems that would relieve the peoples of the world of the fear of obliteration by nuclear or thermo-nuclear explosions is frankly, quite inescapable, and no person of common sense or good faith could normally offer the least objection to such a meeting. Moreover, it could be said with equal force that any attempt to sabotage such talks by imposing conditions of a restrictive nature would be an act of bad faith.
Unfortunately, many people have a mistaken conception of the meaning of summit talks. They believe that summit talks now would be like the old high-level war-time talks between Mr. Churchill, President Roosevelt and the Russian leader, Stalin. Their recollection of those talks, in which the three leaders decided on a common front against a common enemy, has induced in the minds of many people the idea that similar productive results could be achieved by summit talks to-day. Whether we judge those summit talks in the war period as successful or not, at least they appealed to the public mind as something that helped to get the world temporarily out of a very difficult situation. Unfortunately, in our midst there are too many people- who have either neglected to read the lessons of the past or who, through the genuineness of their motives, are inclined to over-estimate the present allocation of international good faith, at least on the highest level. So, it is well to reflect on some of the events that led to the present position of world unease.
On the eve of the determination of the final struggle against Hitler’s Germany in 1 945, Sir Winston Churchill wrote to President Stalin a personal letter in which he expressed this thought -
There is not much comfort in looking into a future where you and the countries you dominate plus the Communist parties in many other states are all drawn up on one side, and those rallied to the English-speaking nations and their associates or dominions are on the other. It is quite obvious their quarrel would tear the world to pieces and all of us leading men on either side, who had anything to do with that, would be shamed before history. Even embarking on a long period of suspicion, of abuse and counter-abuse, and of opposing policies would be- a disaster hampering the great development of- world prosperity for the masses which is attainable only by our trinity.
With a deeply conscious knowledge of the power of co-operation then existing, Sir Winston Churchill said that world prosperity was attainable only through the common front of the three nations concerned in that trinity. The situation that Sir Winston so clearly feared in the future is now, unfortunately, a recognized fact and the dangers inherent have been greatly increased by unfortunate scientific advances towards mutual destruction, including development in the conquest of space and the- possibilities that are opened by these experiments.
However, in dealing with the possibility of negotiation in the present atmosphere with the object of achieving peaceful coexistence, the incidents of the past cannot be ignored or treated lightly. As the result of hard bargaining on the top or summit level, mainly at the conference at Yalta of the three powers mainly concerned with the successful conclusion of World War II., the United States of America and the British Commonwealth obtained no territorial expansion, but the Soviet Union, apart from the areas absorbed directly, acquired a vast satellite empire in Europe, over which it still exerts a considerable degree of control. In one of the post-war publications of Stalin - I refer to the papers, “The Party before and after the seizure of Power “ - he wrote that it was the duty of members of the Communist party -
This, in effect, has come to mean that the existing forms of government were to be overcome and the Moscow-dominated Communist regime substituted. That would, as we now understand it, replace the so-called capitalist imperialism with a highly developed and controlled system of Moscow-directed colonialism.
I should like to refer to a passage in that really great book on the events of World War II., written by probably one of the greatest writers on contemporary history Australia has produced - the late Chester Wilmot. In his book “The Struggle for Europe “, published in 1952, he arrived at these conclusions - I quote from page 716-
The two most serious miscalculations of the Second World War both concerned the Soviet Union: Hitler’s miscalculation of Russia’s military strength, and Roosevelt’s miscalculation of Russia’s political ambition. It was these two errors of judgment which gave Stalin the opportunity of establishing the Soviet Union as the dominant power in Europe. It is clear now that the Western democracies cannot afford to make another miscalculation about Russia’s military power or political intentions. A third mistake might well be fatal to Western civilization. It is equally clear that, even though Stalin may have no intention of precipitating another world war, there is not likely to be any lessening of the tension in Europe or Asia.
Nevertheless, the course of the wartime negotiations with the Soviet Union - whether conducted by the United States and Britain or by Germany - shows plainly that the present Russian rulers, while relentless in pursuit of what they believe to be Soviet interests, are respecters of strength. Concessions made as gestures of goodwill were invariably interpreted by Stalin and Molotov as evidence of weakness, and served only to encourage them to drive a harder bargain - witness the development of Stalin’s demands during the discussions about his entry into the war against Japan, and his handling of the Polish problem. Over the last decade and more the only policy that has proved effective in dealing with the Kremlin has been firmness in diplomacy backed by military strength: a combination of patience and power. This, it seems, must be the policy of the countries now associated in the North Atlantic Alliance.
I believe that the conditions which influenced Chester Wilmot’s ideas on the question of negotiation with the Soviet apply equally to-day, and I believe further that we would be well advised to absorb some of the lessons of the past and apply them to the conditions of the present, with the hope that we will not regret the results in the future.
In passing, I am somewhat confused by the insistence of the Leader of the Opposition on summit talks, with or without preparation, at any price and without delay. Could it be that he personally, who has been active on the political and legal level, is prepared to ignore the one-way propaganda advantage achieved by the Soviet under these circumstances? Does he believe that a summit conference with agenda not confirmed is a good thing for peaceful coexistence, with one party demanding discussion, for instance, on the influence of the
Red Army in eastern Europe and this being rejected or not discussed by the other party which wants, say, a discussion on the presence of the United States of America forces in West Germany? No; as I see it - I have often heard the Leader of the Opposition say it - we should aim at bringing out the points on which agreement can be achieved, no matter how trivial they may be, and we. all would hope and believe that, by overcoming suspicion and distrust in small things, we may later achieve agreement on great things. It is just this objective that in common sense demands the preparation of an agenda of subjects to be discussed.
In answer to a query of the honorable member for Wilmot may I inform him, with your permission, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, that I believe in summit talks. I believe that there is a desire on both sides to try to arrive at common ground and agreement. We can, step by step, arrive at some common ground, and, if we can reach further common ground, we will be doing a great service to the world as a whole. But, to go into the situation where the ground has not been prepared and where the whole forum is to be used as a medium for political and economic propaganda, would be futile, particularly for the free world.
Finally, we would be guilty of a complete betrayal of our trust if, in the desire for peace at any price, we ignored the many references available for study in Communist literature of their ultimate aim to impose their theories by force or guile on the rest of the world.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. R. W. HOLT (Darebin) 13.331. - I was surprised at and most disappointed in the reasons given by the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) as to why a summit conference should not take place, without alleged adequate preparation, as he said. He criticized the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) for his request that the Government intervene in Indonesia. The honorable member, if I heard him correctly, said that such action would be outside the scope of the United Nations. On the contrary, the whole purpose of the charter of the United Nations is to provide for events such as those happening now in Indonesia.
A similar situation existed in Indo-China, and in the early days of conflict there supporters of the Labour party insisted on intervention to prevent a threat to the peace of the world. Eventually, after much fighting occurred and much blood was shed, the matter was settled by direct intervention and by the good offices of members of the United Nations.
The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) made the amazing charge that the summit conference so earnestly sought by all members on this side of the House would be purely a propaganda stunt and, therefore, the conference should not be agreed to unless adequate preparations were made. He says, in effect, that because the Soviet can exploit such a conference for propaganda purposes far better than the Western powers can, we should not have such a conference. If my understanding is correct, the honorable member for Mackellar last night expressed his desire for a summit conference because we were losing the propaganda battle. To-day, we hear the honorable member for Corangamite saying, “ Do not have a summit conference because the Russians will beat us in the propaganda battle “. This division of opinion, this speaking with two voices, is characteristic of honorable members on the Government side of the House.
The honorable member for Corangamite says he wants an adequate time to be spent on working out an agenda. Look at the time that was spent in working out an agenda by the disarmament sub-committee under the able leadership - as far as we were concerned - of Mr. Stassen! Look at the time taken in trying to devise a basis for agreement! And what happened? Mr. Dulles went along and, with typical cynicism, threw in a packet demand which completely ruined all the preparations. If that is what the honorable member wants, and if that is what the Government prefers to the sincere suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), then the less truck that I, speaking as a typical Australian, have with members of the Government and their supporters, the happier I will be, and I think that goes for all true Australians.
The most significant fact arising from the world situation in recent times is one which emerged during the Hungarian dispute and the Suez crisis in 1956-57. I submit that the blood that was shed in Hungary disclosed the impossibility of the position that Russia is seeking to maintain along the Danube and in the so-called buffer states. Russia’s difficulty is to extricate herself from central Europe without loss of face and security. At the same time the Egyptian crisis disclosed the complete impossibility of the tenure of the Western powers, notably Britain, in the Middle East. Because of increased Russian intervention in the Middle East we found that oil supplies were being threatened and, in the opinion of the British and French governments, a resort to force was necessary. The so-called allies now realize the impossibility of their position in the Middle East, and their task is to find a face-saving device, so that they can withdraw from the position of having to maintain their oil supplies by force, and at the same time introduce some guarantee from the Warsaw and Nato pact countries which will ensure economic stability and the supply of those things that are necessary for the common welfare of the people of the world.
The position is adequately explained, I believe, in the theories and suggestions put forward by Mr. Kennan of the United Nations, in the policy advocated by him of disengagement and the substitution of neutral zones in both the Middle East and the Central East, with adequate guarantees within the framework of the Charter of the United Nations. It is one thing to say that we believe in upholding the United Nations on all occasions. Perhaps that is an easy way out. But what principles are we going to follow in our deliberations inside the United Nations? This summit conference, we assume, will, if it is to be successful, be conducted according to the principles of the Charter of Human Rights and the Charter of the United Nations.
Rather than confuse cause and effect, and so that we can look at the problems created by Soviet exploitation of the weaknesses and lack of unity in Western policy, let us consider the point that the honorable member for Corangamite and his colleagues have completely ignored, that communism is an effect rather than a cause. It arises from conditions which the honorable member, and those who uphold his views, in the past have been mainly responsible for creating.
– Does the honorable member really believe that?
– I have no alternative but to believe that communism arises from conditions created by people like the honorable member who has just interjected. I make that statement advisedly, because the curse of materialism, coming from either the left or the right, emerges from the very conditions that the honorable member and his colleagues have helped to create. We can catch up rocket for rocket or sputnik for sputnik with Russia, but is that going to make any great contribution to the world’s peace? If a flock of geese can raise a reflection on a radar screen and automatically send atomic bombers into the air in readiness for conflict, can we say that we have devised something that will contribute greatly to the world’s peace? Is Russia greatly to blame for the 3,500,000 people in Egypt who are blind through a diet deficiency? Were the sufferings of those people caused by Russian intervention in the Middle East, having in mind the continued occupation of Egypt by the Western powers? The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) cannot say with any certainty or honesty that these conditions were created by Russian communism. He cannot blame communism for everything that is wrong and for all economic injustices.
– So what Britain does is wrong and what Russia does is right!
– I am saying nothing of the kind. I am saying that nations which ignore the common welfare of the world - and, strangely enough, those nations that have conservative governments, whether of the right or of the left, are the ones most at fault in ignoring the common welfare - are the ones that create conditions which give rise to communism.
I come now to deal with sentiments often voiced by Government supporters; first, that we must maintain the rule of law, and, secondly, that we must maintain that rule in order to preserve the common welfare. I submit that the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) during the Suez crisis, that we must protect our aggressive sovereignty in the Middle East, is a complete denial of the rule of law. The resort to force which all nations, with the exception of a few small ones, claim to be necessary only in the very last resort, is contrary to the charter of the United Nations, which those nations have signed, and it is completely contrary to the very principle of the rule of law. It seems, therefore, that honorable members on the Government side of the House who claim to uphold the rule of law locally, inside the country, deny that very thing outside on an international plane. You cannot have it both ways. If the rule of law prevails inside the country, based on justice or the common welfare of the people of the nation, then it must prevail outside, internationally, on the same basis.
Then we come to this principle of the common welfare which the Government and honorable members sitting behind it have, in parrot fashion, all claimed to stand for. Does the cold acceptance of the plight of half the world’s population show in any way an adherence to the common welfare principle? Let us look at the last statement issued by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. United Nations experts agree that not one person in 100 will ever have what Australians regard as a square meal. Two-thirds of the world’s population live on less food than is considered a bare minimum, and half of the remaining one-third merely get by. Passive acceptance of such conditions in the world to-day is a complete confirmation of the sheer hypocrisy of those who say: “ We believe in the rule of law and the maintenance of the common welfare. We believe in adherence to the principles of the United Nations and the Charter of Human Rights “. The instances I have given are a denial of the very things we believe in, and they are a most pointed expression of the sheer hypocrisy with which members opposite criticize the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt).
I believe that we should reverse the order of the summit conference. I disagree with what honorable members opposite have said. They said that a length of time, which we know from experience will be an abnormal length of time, should be spent negotiating at a lower level before having a summit conference. But to do that would be to run the risk of never having a summit conference at all. The summit conference held at Geneva relieved world tension. President Eisenhower has said that he is in favour of a summit conference, which would relieve world tension. But Mr. Dulles, who really speaks for the American Government to-day, says that easing of world tension is not good enough. We must have a solution. I submit that if he reversed the order of ‘the summit conference, not only would he ease world tension, but he would also obtain a solution to the problem of world tension if he followed the lines I am about :to suggest. After the last summit conference world tensions were eased. They were eased considerably, and a very favorable situation was created for further negotiations. The Opposition suggests that a summit conference should be held straight away .and, with the easing of tensions that such a conference would cause, we could begin to negotiate from a position of strength. In other words, we could negotiate for the removal of the real causes of war to-day.
I believe wholeheartedly and sincerely - and one does not need to be an idealist to feel this way - that two things must be done to carry out the charter of the United Nations. One is the .renunciation of war. Unless we renounce war as a last resort, other than within the authority of the United Nations, we must surely perish, and no solution of world problems will be forthcoming. We should reverse the order of procedure. Have your summit conference, and follow it up with effective negotiations at all levels along the lines I am about to indicate. Tensions .could be removed by the creation of neutral zones in the Middle East and in central Europe, with adequate guarantees regarding the Warsaw and Nato pacts, ;and by inspections that both sides at some -stage or other have agreed upon. If such steps were taken after a summit conference, then I believe that, with the favorable conditions created by that conference, there would be every reason to think that success would be achieved.
I .also believe that the future peace of the .world will be written, as the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) has so consistently and expertly .advocated in this House, in Unesco, in the economic conferences that will remove the injustices that are .causing starvation among great masses of humanity. The cause of disarmament will be served far better, not by any disarmament conference, not by any summit talks on their own, not by any agreements with regard to further hydrogen bomb tests, but at Unesco. I think it was Mussolini who said that when a man is faced with the choice .of .death ‘by starvation or war, toe chooses -war. I -agree with that. Until we go .to the root cause of war these other things can only be palliatives.
The “Christian Science Monitor”, of 24th February, 1958, states why Mr. Macmillan, the British Prime “Minister, thinks that Britain should continue hydrogen bomb tests. I quote the following from a report, published in that paper, of a statement by Mr. Macmillan: - “ I hope I can imagine no situation in which we could use it-
That is, the hydrogen bomb - at all,” replied Mr. Macmillan. >But he added that in his view the fact that Britain was in a position to use the H-bomb had a .great influence on United States policy and made Americans pay greater regard to the British point of view.
That is what the Conservative leader of a Conservative government said. ,He differs from Liberal leaders in this country only in that he is a .little .more -honest than they are. He says that one of the main reasons why Britain must have .her own hydrogen bomb is so that America, one OI her allies, will take more notice of what Britain has to say internationally. If any .honorable member wishes to refute that statement, well, I have the newspaper here. The controversy raging to-day in Britain over the location of bases in ‘Britain has brought this admission from Mr. Macmillan. True, America will maintain hydrogen bombs without warheads at the bases in Britain, and they will be under American trusteeship or control.
This situation shows how absurd, how insincere and hypocritical, are the statements made by honorable members opposite that lengthy negotiations must take place before having a summit conference. This again stresses the fact, as honorable members on this -side of the House have said, that we must have a summit conference ;and then use -the easing. of tensions created by .that summit conference for negotiating at all levels in order to bring some justice back into the world on the basis of the common welfare of all people. The only interpretation that I can place on the continued opposition of Government supporters to an immediate conference is that they have, a complete misunderstanding
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKEROrder! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I do not like rising to my feet and castigating an Opposition member immediately after he has spoken, but I feel that I must correct something that the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. R. W. Holt) has said. He made a rather foolish statement. He said that communism was bred in poverty only. He also said that communism was the direct result of conservative government. I do not know what intelligent people think of that statement, but if the honorable member thinks that way, then he is not qualified to speak in this House about international affairs. Let me take some of the countries that have turned towards communism. Was Czechoslovakia a country of poverty and ignorance? Czechoslovakia was a highly developed country. Was East Germany a country of poverty and ignorance? Was Hungary? These countries are all Communist now. Was Poland poverty stricken? The honorable member for Darebin says that he is qualified to speak on international affairs. His views are not much different from those of his leader.
The Leader of the Opposition talked about conciliation in Australia, but the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) answered him in simple and homely fashion. The latter pointed out that any one who interferes with some one else’s domestic troubles sticks his neck out. That may be a vernacular expression but it expresses the truth very plainly. The Leader of the Opposition is constantly advocating interfering in other people’s private problems, although his own party is stricken with its own troubles. Would he suggest that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) should offer his good offices in an attempt to conciliate in the question of tenant eviction in Labour circles in New South Wales? How foolish that would be. If any one wants to draw hatred upon himself, the quickest way to do so is to interfere in other people’s problems.
One of the chief arms of the Communists is their cunning propaganda. Time and again in this House I have said that the Communists always attack the things they want to bring about themselves. Whenever a Communist says a thing is white, it is sure to be black. Communism is based on an atheistic creed; Communists have no commitments whatever to truth or principles. Colonialism has always been a subject of their attack, but is it so bad? Most colonies were originally established to provide markets and to improve the standard of living of the people. After that better forms of colonization were introduced. People who keep on saying that colonialism is bad should look at the history of the old African colonies before either the British, or even the Germans, went to Africa. They were witchcraft-ridden countries and the people lived under terrible conditions. The current position of the Mau Mau people in Kenya is similar to the former experience of the Kikuyu people before the British came to their territory. Whenever any one criticizes colonialism he needs to be careful what he says. Obviously, the time will come when people such as the Mau Mau will get self-government; but in some cases self-government can be granted too soon. There are examples in which the British erred in the face of pressure by granting self-government too soon. Modern colonial policy is to develop nations until they reach the stage at which they can govern themselves on decent, democratic lines. Colonial powers also provide protection from foreign invasion.
Why is colonialism attacked so strongly? The objective of Russia is world domination. It seeks areas which are undeveloped or in the early process of development where the native people are insufficiently trained for self-government and it converts them to the foul and filthy creed of communism. That is the purpose of Russian colonialism. Let me give a simple illustration. We should be all awake to the planning of the Communists in Australia. They have a long-range plan to gain control of Indonesia. As honorable members know, Indonesia was part of the Dutch territory. During World War II. I was made aware of the Netherlands Government’s policy for Indonesia because the vice-Minister for Education in Indonesia was an officer on my -staff. We were also prisoners of war together. The Dutch were seeking to develop Indonesia to the stage at which, within a few years, that ‘country could be controlled by the Indonesians themselves. But the Communists so arranged their plans that they got the Dutch out before that could happen. That was done by following a foreign policy of the type advocated by the Leader of the Opposition. As a result of Communist action in Australia, the Dutch were driven out of Indonesia too soon, and that country is now in danger of being taken over by the Communists. They have a long-range plan for Australia, and that is one of the reasons why the Communist party should be banned in this country. Kenya is another illustration of colonialism; but it will be a long time before it will be safe to allow Kenya to have self government. How do honorable members opposite regard the Russian colonies in Europe, such as Hungary and Poland? Are these not colonies? Yet, Russia condemns colonialism!
The Leader of the Opposition criticized the South-East Asia Treaty Organization pact. Seato was originally formed for the defence of Australia. The right honorable gentleman says that it is a shocking thing to spend £3,000,000 on such a warlike organization. He wants Seato to be a conciliator. Does he want to destroy the defence of Australia? Is Australia to be denied her right under the United Nations Charter to enter into regional defence pacts? Is that the desire of the Labour party? If ir is, the members of the Labour party should inform the people of that fact. The truth is that Seato is a military organization created for the defence of Australia. Why should it be used for the purposes of conciliation? Are we not allowed to have such an organization? Is only Russia to be allowed to have agreements, such as the Warsaw pact? As the honorable member for Corangamite pointed out, a weakening of the Seato pact would mean a weakening of the defence of Australia.
The Leader of the Opposition devoted part of his speech to the adulation of Mr. Nehru. Nehru is a world figure, but he is not the great conciliator that the Leader of the Opposition would have us believe. Mr. Nehru has trouble with Pakistan on his hands. A very high proportion - too high a proportion - of Pakistani and Indian revenue is being spent on defence as a result of the dispute between those two countries over Kashmir. Here are two great Commonwealth countries engaged in a bitter dispute. Why does not the right honorable gentleman offer his good offices to mediate in that matter. The honorable member for Darebin (Mr. R. W. Holt) talked about the depression and squalor and misery of the underfed people in India. But this country is spending a large proportion of its income on defence because it cannot come to terms with Pakistan about Kashmir.
The Leader of the Opposition raised the question of the recognition of Communist China. Everybody knows that a de facto government is in power in Communist China, and to say anything to the contrary would be stupid. But is there any need to recognize that government? We can trade with Communist China without extending political recognition. The Leader of the Opposition asked why we do not follow the example of Great Britain. He said -
Do others follow Great Britain? No! What do they follow in these matters? They just follow some wild, capricious view and will not listen to the facts.
No honorable member in this House is more British than I am, but I feel ashamed to know that the British charge d’affaires in Communist China - not an ambassador - is running up and down the corridors of the Foreign Affairs Department at the Communist China’s Government headquarters waiting for its beck and call to try to gain an interview. That is the recognition which Communist China is giving to Great Britain. Does the Leader of the Opposition want to debase Australia in the eyes of the Asiatic countries by following a similar practice? Those with any knowledge at all of Eastern countries know how dangerous it is to lose face with Asiatic people.
In reply to the question of the Leader of the Opposition as to why we do not recognize Communist China, I remind him that history contains records of some of the greatest killers in the world. In the tenth century the Empress Lady Wu, killed millions of people. Then came Genghis Khan; he was followed by the greatest killer of all time until then, Stalin, who killed off some 15,000,000 people. But to-day Mao Tse-tung has beaten them all. He is reputed to have killed over 23,000,000 people and there is current evidence that at the present time 25,000,000 people are in slave camps in red China. Yet, the Leader of the Opposition wants Australia to recognize the de facto government of that country.
At present, Communist China is carrying on a monstrous war with Tibet - a country which has had an independent rule for centuries and enjoyed a culture of its own. In 1950, the Chinese Communists conducted a full-scale war against Korea, and it also fought with Indo-China. Yet, the Leader of the Opposition strongly contends that Communist China should be admitted to the United Nations organization and be officially recognized by the free world. That is a subject on which this Government differs entirely from the Opposition.
Outside of China, scattered throughout the near eastern countries are millions of Chinese who are exercising an important influence on the communities in which they are living, in commerce and finance. If these uncommitted Chinese find that Communist China is recognized by the free world, they will all go the way of Communist China. So I think that time may be allowed to pass, yet, before we recognize China.
The Leader of the Opposition professed concern about Communist infiltration and referred to what happened in Indo-China. He said that, from the Labour point of view, those events should never have occurred. He said that Indo-China should have received self-government through negotiation. The right honorable gentleman said that the fighting in Indo-China had cost many thousands of lives, and he asked us to compare that position with the granting of independence to nations within the British Commonwealth. He asked us, with a certain amount of smugness, to remember the circumstances under which the British Labour Government, supported by the Labour Government of New Zealand and the Labour Government of Australia, had given self-government to India. He said that the British Commonwealth of Nations had set an example to the world. That is all very nice, but everybody knows that a conservative government in the United Kingdom would have done the same thing. It was only a question of timing- The right honorable gentleman was satisfied with that process, but what did it cost? It cost at least 1,000,000 lives. Indeed, some people believe that that hasty action cost nearer 2,000,000 lives. But that is nothing to the socialist! A socialist regards human people as ciphers. It is only the beastly capitalists who give human dignity to man. The socialists do not. Am I right or am I wrong? Was not the partition of India gained at a cost of 2,000,000 lives? The Leader of the Opposition is satisfied with the magnificent action of the British Labour party which cost 2,000,000 lives! To a socialist 2,000,000 lives are nothing.
The Leader of the Opposition asked what was the difference between the Eisenhower doctrine and the Khrushchev statement concerning Hungary. What did Khrushchev say in Hungary? He said -
The capitalists may live quietly so long as the workers in their own country permit them to do so. But we advise the capitalists not to poke their noses - or, as we say, the pig snouts - into our socialist garden.
He added -
That is how we interpret peaceful co-existence.
Apparently, that is the view also of the honorable member for Darebin. What is the Eisenhower doctrine? First of all President Eisenhower proposed to authorize the United States to co-operate with and assist any nation or group of nations in the general area of the Middle East in the development of economic strength, dedicated to the maintenance of national independence. That is, the United States would help any nation to maintain its independence by economic help. In the second place, he proposed to authorize the executive to undertake in the Middle East region, programmes of military assistance and cooperation with any nation or group of nations which desired such aid. In the third place, he proposed to authorize that such assistance and co-operation should include the employment of the armed forces of the United States to secure and protect the territorial integrity and political independence of nations requesting aid against overt armed aggression by any nation controlled by international communism.
There is a simple statement of policy. Compare it with the policy of Mr. Khrushchev. Is there any similarity? The Eisenhower policy called for armed intervention only if a nation asked for help. Mr. Khrushchev stated, in effect, that Russia would destroy any rising within a satellite country that was designed to achieve the independence of that country. Such confused thinking would be the policy which would be supported if the Labour party came to office in Australia.
Two things have happened in the last two years which require investigation and which have affected Russian thinking a great deal. One was the statement by Mr. Dulles that three times America had been on the brink of war. People laughed at Mr. Dulles over that, but it created a profound change in Russian thinking on foreign policy. The next incident which affected Russian thinking concerned the Suez Canal. At the time of the Suez Canal crisis conditions existed which made possible a global war. Israel had invaded Egyptian territory as a defensive measure. All the Arab nations were about to go into war against Israel. The whole Middle East was inflamed. Britain and France intervened and there was no global war. That is the point to remember.
I should now like to say something about the proposal for a summit conference. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) said that he believed in the principle of a summit conference but that such a conference must have proper preparation. A summit conference is needed, but Russia’s call for such a conference originally was intended for propaganda purposes. It was intended to divide the democracies, this being the whole purpose of Russian policy and propaganda. To show how true this is, I remind the House that the honorable member for Darebin himself said that he would not associate with people on this side of the House if we were not prepared to support a summit conference. So Russia’s proposal is actually dividing the people of this country. Of course a summit conference is needed but if all the countries that desire peace go to a summit conference and find that the Russians will not come to an agreement, what will be the position? An abortive conference could be a terrible thing for the world because that could lead to very grave trouble.
Another thing that I would like to speak about is the atomic deterrent. I believe that there is only one way, ultimately, that the world can make peace. If we have armed conflict we shall have a global war which would mean the destruction of mankind. But it must be recognized that we cannot negotiate with Russian communism. It has to be destroyed from within. That is the only possible way. I believe that we should aim our policies at some means whereby Russian communists will destroy themselves. I suggest that after a summit conference, one of the things that could be considered is the withdrawal of our troops from Europe, a condition being of course that Russian troops would be withdrawn from the satellite countries. Then, any intervention from either side would cause global war. I am convinced that if Russian troops were to be removed from countries such as Poland, East Germany, and Hungary, the people of those countries would rise against this violent filthy creed of Communism. Then, once the crack started in the communist facade it would extend throughout Russia as well.
– If ever the Opposition needed a good and sufficient reason for having nothing to do with the Foreign Affairs Committee it would have it after listening to the speech delivered by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), who gets steadily worse the longer he remains on that committee. I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I am now informed that he is not on the Foreign Affairs Committee. That is fortunate, because if the example that I have seen set by the members of that committee is typical, I would say that the honorable member for Hume ought never to allow himself to be nominated because he would be almost impossible to listen to if he became any worse than he is now. If it were possible for him to get worse he would certainly get worse if he joined the Foreign Affairs Committee.
I noticed that to-day the honorable gentleman allowed his speech to consist mainly of a reading of disjointed statements from documents prepared by other people. That, of course, is in keeping with the practice of members of the Government generally in regard to foreign affairs - the reading of statements prepared for them by other people. Most of the statements read by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) conform strictly to the statements of Mr. John Foster Dulles on American foreign policy. The Minister for External Affairs or this Government would no- more think of deviating from the policy laid down by Mr. John Foster Dulles for the- United States of America than the Minister would think of flying to- the moon.
Let us examine some of the statements that were made by the honorable member for Hume who has just concluded his speech. The honorable member said that -everything would be well if we could only get the Russians to move their troops from the satellite countries under their control. He said there would then be revolt from within and, with no fear of the RussianHungarian episode being repeated, the whole of those countries would be liberated. The peculiar fact - and this is one of those things that this Government has never been able to explain satisfactorily to me - is that time and time again Mr. Khrushchev has offered to withdraw Russian troops from the satellite countries conditionally on the United States of America and England withdrawing their troops from other European countries that do not belong to them. The United States Government has replied that it is not prepared to withdraw American troops from European countries that they occupy.
The Americans wonder then why the Russians say, “Well, in that case, we will not withdraw our troops from the countries we occupy “. If the honorable member for Hume wants to put forward seriously the proposition that Russia should be made to withdraw her troops, he should be prepared at the same time to tell the Americans that they must withdraw their troops too. Otherwise, there is as much hope of getting the Russians to withdraw their troops from the satellite countries as there is - I shall repeat the statement because it fits - of anyone flying to the moon. The honorable gentleman went on to say that the Suez conflict was a marvellous thing.
– So it was.
– The honorable member for Gippsland has said, “ So it was “. Just how wonderful was it? The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) knows very well that had it not been for the blunder in Suez, the Russians would never have dared to carry out the onslaught upon the Hungarian people because the hard, cold fact is this: Soviet troops were moving out of Hungary - they were forced to move out at the time and were doing so - and it was only when the British and French moved into Suez that the Russians knew they had the strength to go back into Hungary and carry out the assault against the Hungarians. There is not a shadow of doubt that had it not been for the Suez blunder, the Soviet troops would never have dared to go back to Hungary, and the Hungarian people would have been free.
But, of course, the blunder in Suez represented the one occasion when this Government was not listening to Mr. John Foster Dulles. It will listen to Mr. Dulles when he is wrong, but ignore him when he is right. That has been the attitude of this Government right through. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) talked Mr. Anthony Eden, who was then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, into attacking Egypt and thus into doing precisely the same thing against the Egyptians that Government supporters condemn the Russians for doing against other nations. While everybody agrees that it is entirely wrong to do that - nobody can justify the actions of the Russians in the countries of Europe that they have occupied - the last people who should condemn the Russians are those who praise the British and French for doing just what the Russians are doing. I merely want the Government and its supporters to be consistent. Before they attack somebody else, they should make sure that their own hands are clean.
Much has been said about selfgovernment for India. The honorable member for Hume said that the Attlee Government was wrong when it gave self-government to India because he claimed it had done so years before India was ready for self-government. He said that, as a result, 1,000,000 - and then he doubled it and said 2,000,000- lives were lost. On the question of the number of persons killed, his figures might not be reliable. The honorable member said earlier that the number of people killed by the Communists in China was 21,000,000, but I remember the honorable member for Mackellar saying the number was 8,000,000 and a few months ago the same honorable member said the figure was 25,000,000. I would like them to get together and make up their minds just how many people were killed before they start picking figures out of the air and glibly quoting them as being official estimates of -the number of people killed. But it does not matter whether the figure is 25,000,000 or only 25; the killing cannot be justified whether those who do the killing are Communists or anti-Communists.
Honorable members should not forget, when they condemn the Communists for killing people, that the Communist governments of the world are not the only ones who have ruthlessly killed those who disagree with the dictates of the ruling classes. The great event in the post-war era was the decision of the Attlee Government to give self-government to India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma. Otherwise, the whole of the continent of Asia would have been under the domination of the Communist powers to-day. It was only the foresight of the socialist government in the United Kingdom in giving self-government to those countries that saved the whole of that portion of Asia from being thrown into the Communist camp. Instead of criticizing the Attlee Government, the honorable member for Hume should have shown the same common sense and reality displayed on rare occasions by the Minister for External Affairs as, for instance, when he admitted that one of the great burning questions in Asia to-day is the right of self-government. Nationalism is the question that is tearing Asia apart and throwing it into the camp of the Soviet Union.
It is stupid for the honorable member for Hume to say that we cannot recognize red China. The honorable gentleman seems to forget that, while he refuses to recognize red China because of the number of people the Communists have killed there, he is quite ready to recognize Japan although the Japanese killed hundreds of thousands of our own men. It is all right, in his view, to recognize Japan which killed Australian troops, but a bad thing to recognize Communist China because it killed other people. If the honorable member is going to make that the test - that no country can ever be recognized if it has to its discredit the killing of other people - we might as well stop recognizing Germany and France; indeed, we should stop recognizing every country whose representatives live along Mugga Way and send them home because every one of those nations has killed at some time in its history.
So much for the stupid arguments of the honorable member for Hume. The plain cold fact is that 600,000,000 people in continental China are being governed by a
Communist government just as in Russia about 200,000,000 people are ruled by the Soviet Government. But has this Government ever said that we should not recognize the Soviet Union because it has a Communist government? That is the excuse it gives for not recognizing red China. Every other country outside American domination has recognized red China. They are merely recognizing an established fact without supporting the Government of China. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) was perfectly correct when he said that the test to be applied was not whether we approved of the government of the country concerned but whether, in fact, the government was the dc facto government of that country. The right honorable gentleman was consistent when he applied that test to all countries, including Spain, which at that time was not admitted to the United Nations.
The important fact is that the Leader of the Opposition is always years ahead of what this Government eventually agrees is right. After going through the process of condemning the right honorable gentleman for being a Communist, this Government and every other government eventually comes to his point of view, but only after the damage of which he warned them if they did not act, has been done. If the right honorable gentleman’s words at the Hobart conference had been heeded, the terrible tragedy of Indo-China would not have occurred and that part of Indo-China which is now under the Communist wing would never have gone that way.
The same thing will happen in Siam. Wherever there is violent exploitation, you have the same causes of internal discontent. The people of Siam are being exploited by a corrupt military administration and eventually Siam will go to the Communist camp because the people will not tolerate corruption and injustice that flows from that sort of government. If you want to defeat communism, you should forget trying to defeat it by force of arms. You cannot win such a war. The honorable member for Hume was correct when he said that the battle must be continued from within. But how did he suggest this battle of ideas should be carried on? Obviously, we have to put forward ideas which are better than those of the Communists. If we fail to put forward ideas which are more acceptable to the people than are the Communist ideas, we will lose the fight. There is only one way of fighting communism, and that is on the ideological battlefront. We cannot fight the Communists with hydrogen bombs now without killing ourselves as well. There is only one way of preserving against communism what is left of this world for future generations and that is by an ideological approach.
– By socialism!
– By socialism. The honorable member is perfectly right. An extension of democratic socialism is the only way of fighting communism, because that is the only thing that will remove the causes of communism - poverty, distress and unemployment. The honorable member is fond of referring to Communist countries such as Hungary, Poland, Rumania, and Bulgaria. He forgets to say that the people of those countries who chose communism merely shifted from one form of totalitarianism to another form. Every one of the countries that he has referred to was controlled formerly by a fascist military dictatorship, and the people therefore lost little by changing from a fascist military dictatorship to a Communist military dictatorship.
Let me now ask the honorable gentleman to turn his mind to Italy, the greatest Christian country in the world. Indeed, as the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) said many years ago, it is the cradle of Christianity. Yet in that country to-day we have the strongest Communist party outside the Soviet Union! That is not because the people are not Christian. In spite of the fact that the people of Italy are Christian, they have turned to communism, for the same reason as the people of Asia will turn to communism unless something is done to arrest the trend that is now developing there. They turned for the good and sufficient reason that when people are starving by the millions and cannot get work or are employed only on a part-time basis, in sheer desperation they adopt the attitude that nothing could be worse so they will give communism a try. The Communists of Italy promised land reform and all kinds of other things. The people of Italy want land reform even more than they want bread. Is it any wonder that the Communists are beating the anti-Communist forces in Italy?
That is why the anti-Communist forces are being defeated everywhere. The ruling classes are not prepared willingly to give up their power to exploit the great masses of the people. So long as any country has a ruling class that is firmly entrenched and exploiting the people, do not be surprised if it turns to communism in sheer desperation. What is the good of saying to the starving millions of Asia, “ Do not accept communism because it will take away your liberty. Stick to us and we will give you liberty “. The people of Asia say, “ We want bread more than we want liberty. Bread is our immediate need. If the Communists will give us bread we do not care whether they take away our liberty or refuse to give it back “. That is what the people of Asia say. They want bread more than they want liberty. It is of no use to tell people that communism is no good because it takes away liberty, when their great need is bread which we do not give them. Countries like Thailand have neither bread nor liberty. What have they to lose by going Communist? No matter how bad the Communists are, the people could not be any worse off. Those countries cling to the faint hope that Communist promises may one day be carried out. Those are facts which honorable members opposite are not prepared to stand up to.
The honorable member for Hume talks about self-government. Why do honorable members opposite not practise what they preach and advocate giving to the people of Malaya the right to govern themselves? They will not do it, because if the people of Malaya were given the right to govern themselves and allowed to hold the free and democratic elections which honorable members opposite are so fond of talking about, the people might elect the wrong government - a Communist government. Therefore, they are given a limited constitution which will never give them the right to govern themselves fully. A military force is given power to see that the right people win and are protected. To make doubly certain, people who are thought to be likely to support certain activities are refused the right to vote at all. Not everybody in Malaya is given the right to vote and the right to self-determination.. Honorable members opposite pretend to believe in selfdetermination. That is all humbug and nonsense. Why do they not seek to have that principle applied in spheres over which they have some influence? Why is it not applied in Cyprus, the people of which have been clamouring for years for the right to govern themselves? Why not apply it to the people of Aden? Why do the Western nations not get out of all the territories they occupy which belong to other people, before demanding that Russia get out of the territories that it occupies? Government supporters are the last people who ought to talk about the right of selfdetermination. At least we of the Australian Labour party are consistent in that respect. Not only do we demand that the Russians get out of the countries that they occupy; we demand also that everybody else gets out of all the countries they occupy as well. We hear constantly about Russia interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and I mention these matters merely to show the inconsistency of these arguments.
– The hypocrisy.
– I cannot use that word. Hands are held up in holy horror at what the Russians are doing in other countries. But what are the United States of America, Britain and France doing in the Middle East under the Baghdad pact? America has gone to the extent of declaring openly that she will come to the military aid of any country in the Middle East that requests her aid as a result of some Communist subversion in that country. What does “ Communist subversion “ mean? It means that if in any country the Communists win the ideological battle against the rulers, and look like winning control of a democratically elected parliament, the Americans will come to the aid of the people dispossessed or likely to be dispossessed and support them by military might. Can anybody say that the Middle East country of Saudi-Arabia is anything else but a breeding ground of communism?
– It is a wealthy State.
– Is it any wonder that there is unrest in this State which is wealthy, as the right honorable gentleman says, and is ruled by a corrupt king who keeps nearly the whole of the oil royalties to himself and his immediate family, giving very little to the people of Saudi-Arabia?
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Timson). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I am both pleased and alarmed to follow the honorable member, for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). He is just on the point of leaving the chamber, but nevertheless it is worth saying that the people of Australia who- heard his speech must wonder when they know, as I know, that he regards himself as the future Minister for External Affairs, at the ranting and oversimplification contained in the speech he has just made on international affairs. I am not one who says this sort of thing lightly, but nothing could be said that would be more pleasing to the Communists and the Communist line than the remarks made by the honorable gentleman.
I shall take an example of what I mean; He talked of the withdrawal of Russian troops from, the satellite countries of Eastern Europe. He said that the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) had suggested that that should be done to show good faith. The honorable memfor Hindmarsh actually suggested that the American troops stationed in Nato countries of Europe were in the same category as the Russian troops in the satellite countries. I just cannot imagine a greater distortion of the facts. On the one hand are troops belonging to a country that has a complete stranglehold over every part of the affairs of the country where they are stationed without leave or any sort of invitation from the people. On the other hand, we have the American troops in the countries of western Europe, who are there as a result of contractual obligations faithfully entered into by the democratically elected governments of those countries. The suggestion that there is any real parallel between the two situations is absolutely absurd. The alarming thing is that the honorable member for Hindmarsh knows that it is absurd. He made the statements purely for political propaganda purposes. It is interesting that exactly the same line of argument as he used is being used by Russia and the Communists in this country.
One- further statement made by the. honorable gentleman, which has, been made over and over by honorable gentlemen opposite, particularly the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt;, concerns the part played by the socialist Attlee Government of Great Britain in the conferring of dominion status, as it was then called, on India and Pakistan. I do not agree with, the statement of the honorable member for Hume that the Attlee Government gave self-government to India, and Pakistan before they were ripe for it, or a year or two before, they were- right for it. However,, I do agree with his, statement that for. the socialists, to claim credit for that particular, act is a gross over-simplification, and a. distortion, of the. true state of affairs. The eventual fate; and- the selfgoverningstatus of the’ sub-continent of India, were fixed in the Government of India Act of 1.935, passed when a conservative government was in office in the United Kingdom-. From. 1935 onward there was. no possible; shadow of doubt about, what the eventual fate- of the Indian sub-continent would, be - and by. “ eventual “ was. meant “ five or six years-“, because- the act was quiteexplicit on that point. The decision- to give the Indian- sub-continent dominion statuswas not made; by- the. socialists - it was made by, a conservative government-.
Now,, the. Opposition, and people of a similar mind, in alL parts, of. the world, have based their arguments on the fact that there were, certain, people, in Great Britain and elsewhere who. knew the Indian subcontinent well and opposed the transfer of power taking place at. exactLy the. time, it took place in. exactly the way it took, place. One of those people was Sir. Winston. Churchill. He. is a man of deep humanitarian instincts. Unlike our socialist friends, who preach, humanitarianism, he was rather revolted’ by the thought that that act on the part of the United Kingdom Government would, lead- to a minimum of 2,000,000 casualities on the sub-continent. That appalled, him. So he- suggested that another way should be found, even if it involved waiting fiar an additional sixmonths or a year. The socialists always preach humanitarianism-, but- when it comes to- doing’ something called for by their own dogma- they, arc like- their Communist friends - they- are as- ruthless- as they can be.
The fact that the Minister confined his, statement to. Asia and South-East Asia is, an expression of the. Government’s recognition-, of the. importance, which attaches to our diplomatic relations, with that part of the world.. I should, like to add my voice to. those, of. other honorable- members on. this, side who have, congratulated the Minister on the part he has played in bringing about the very favorable attitude towards Australia that exists to-day over practically the whole of Asia and South-East Asia. The attitude to us of the Asian and South-East. Asian countries has improved, enormously since honorable gentlemen opposite left office, despite the. fact that it is they who purport, to champion the cause of the peoples in. that part of the world.
The Leader- of the Opposition mentioned Mr. Nehru, the distinguished’ Prime Minister of India, no fewer than five times in his speech. The right honorable gentleman took as his excuse for doing so the fact that* quite rightly, the Minister for External Affairs had praised Mr. Nehru in hisstatement. I agree with the right honorablegentleman that Mr. Nehru has done a wonderful job. He has one. of the biggest jobs, in the world’ to-day, and I think he. needs, the full support of this country and of everybody who can give him support. But. I do not approve of the way in which the Leader of the Opposition used the statement made by the Minister for- External: Affairs- The fact that one regards a person as a great man does not mean that one approves of all his policies. But the Leader of the Opposition spoke as if the Minister’s, praise of Mr. Nehru signified his approval of Mr. Nehru’s- policies.
The Leader of the Opposition’s argument seemed- to- be:- Because the Prime Minister of India does not approve of the SouthEast Asia Treaty Organization, and because the Minister- for External Affairs said that Mr. Nehru is a- great man and is doing a great job, Australia has sufficient cause to take another look at- its membership of Seato; It is possible to admire a personimmensely without having- automatically to agree with every policy he puts forward. Any one who reads carefully the speechmade by the Leader of the Opposition would- find that the Australian. Labour party has taken- over the- Indian attitude to. inter-national affairs, which is now accepted by what are known as the “ Bandung “ countries. It has taken that attitude over in its entirety, whether or not it is related to our experience or to our position in the world- That is the so-called policy of neutralism, which I have no need to explain to honorable members. I believe that there is some excuse for India and countries in Asia and South-East Asia taking the line that they have taken. I can understand their doing so, although I do not agree with them. But I cannot understand why the members of the Labour party - Her Majesty’s Opposition in this Parliament - should take the same view because, after all, the members of the Opposition are Australians. There is no excuse for their taking the same view as the other countries I have mentioned. It is on our experience that our present policies generally are based; and the experience of honorable members opposite has been the same as the experience of every other Australian. Not the experience of India, not the reactions of India! The experience of Australia has been quite different.
What has been this experience to which I refer? Honorable members will recall that after World War I. - our first exposure, as it were, to the hard, rugged world of international politics - we and every other country in the western world that fought on the allied side in the war, turned away from it. They were anxious to get back to their own internal affairs, which had been neglected in the slaughter of World War I. - and for understandable reasons. We in this country, in the United States of America and in Great Britain turned our backs on foreign politics and the experience that we should have acquired as a result of the four years of fighting that had taken place. The result was that, in the early 1930’s when a dictator arose in Europe, the Western countries were undefended. They had no policy to protect the ideals in which they jointly believed, and the Nazi aggressor was able to pick off the democracies in Europe one by one - first by marching into the Rhineland, then Austria, Czechoslovakia and finally Poland. I have no doubt that the failure of the Western countries to organize in time and to keep their armaments at a high level against the possibility of Nazi or other aggression was one of the factors that led Hitler to go ahead, and certainly was one of the factors that led to World War II.
After World War II., the Western countries did something that few countries had seldom done in the history of the world. They learnt the lessons of their experience. We often hear of individuals learning the lessons of their experience, but one regrettable fact is that countries never, or very seldom, learn the lessons of their experience. When, after World War II. an even more dangerous totalitarian aggressor in the shape of militant communism arose in Europe, the Western democracies came together and built their co-operative defensive organizations - probably in the nick of time, but they did it. In doing so, they learnt the lessons of the experience that they had acquired in the hard years of the war and in the inter-war years.
When an industrialized and militant Communist China arose, the powers in South-East Asia and Asia reacted in the same way. That has been the lesson of our experience. The experience of India, Pakistan, and other countries that think like them has been different. While our eyes were turned outwards, while we were acquiring hard experience in the world of international politics in the years between the wars and while we were learning by our mistakes, their experience was quite different. They were not looking outwards; they were looking inwards. They were completely preoccupied with their struggle for independence. All their energies and all their efforts were directed to that end.
It is not surprising, therefore, that they should look at the threat of militant communism in a different way, but that does not mean that we should agree with them. We can understand why they do it. We hope that they will not have to learn their lesson in the hard school of experience in the shape of a third world war. However, if they do not have to learn their lesson in that way, it will not be because of the policies that they have adopted but because the great western democracies have come together in organizations such as Nato and Seato as a result of learning the lessons of their experience. They have formed themselves into co-operative defensive organizations and have kept their armaments at a high level. That is what will prevent a third world war; that is what will prevent these countries in Asia and SouthEast Asia from having to learn their lesson in the same way as we did. That is why we give our full support to Seato. Our experience tells us that that is the only way in the face of a determined aggressor. The Opposition has deliberately turned its eyes away from the experience that they should have had as Australians in the period about which 1 am talking, and has accepted the absolutely irrelevant and quite different experience of India and the other countries about which I am speaking.
This problem has been made more pressing for Australia in the post-war years because of the vacuum that has been created in Asia and South-East Asia. As we all know, this has been caused by the retirement of the colonial powers from that area. That would have taken place anyway, but it was speeded up by the war and the attempt of the Japanese to fill the vacuum.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Timson). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The position outlined in the constructive part of the speech of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), that the western world has profited from the experience of the 1930’s and has adopted a different policy by relying on organizations such as Nato and Seato and on the nuclear bomb, is a substantial description of what has happened. However, my purpose is to endeavour to analyse what has happened to see whether it is working and how it can be improved, if it is not working. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) dealt mainly with South-East Asia. He confined himself largely to a detailed examination of certain aspects of South-East Asia, but the fact that this debate has moved almost exclusively into the field of the cold war shows, in one respect, how inadequate was the analysis of the Minister. It is quite clear that the conditions of the cold war, dealt with in the course of this debate, are absolutely fundamental to all problems, including those discussed by the Minister in relation to South-East Asia.
It is my purpose to endeavour to analyse the problems of the cold war. I should like to do so along the lines of the discussion by Mr. George Kennan in the Reith memorial lectures delivered in England recently. Mr.
Kennan was an American Minister in Moscow and was one of the architects of the containment or containment-plus policy, which is the kind of policy outlined by the honorable member for Barker a few moments ago. Mr. Kennan has now taken quite a different view, but the honorable member for Barker still adheres to the policy which Mr. George Kennan states is now not. suitable. It is interesting to note that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who is not exactly a dove of peace, was prepared to admit last night that that policy had failed. But substantially people like the honorable member for Barker, who repeat the party line, are still doing the same kind of thinking. Mr. Kennan pointed out that western policy from 1947 to 1957 depended on the assumption of the superiority of American power. It was believed that it was quite possible to contain the Communist world behind the iron curtain if we had superior power, and that it was possible to prevent, or to deal with, a situation such as that which arose in Hungary if the Western nations had such a preponderance of power that they could say to the Communist world, “ If you move another inch we will attack; we will stop you from moving “. The Western world was not able to adopt this line at critical points, because it did not have a preponderance of power. It well knew that if it took such action it would be subject to retaliation by the Communist world, which would end in mutual destruction. The Western nations have been in this position, as Mr. Kennan shows at page 2 of his book, because of a complete underestimation of the capacity of the Soviet Union to develop its power.
One honorable member opposite - I think the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) - quoted a statement of Chester Wilmot. He pointed out that we cannot afford to make another mistake about the Soviet Union, and that we have already made two. Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, we made a third mistake in underestimating the speed with which the Soviet Union could develop nuclear weapons. Mr. Kennan points this out when he says -
The recent launching of the earth satellite has been only a dramatization, misleading in some respects, but perhaps revealing in others, of their impressive economic success.
Because of this impressive economic success, which has many disadvantages for the
Russian people, but nevertheless is real enough, Mr. Kennan says that the 1947 basis of Western power, the supremacy of the United States has gone. But then he says that we are now concerned, and must be concerned, as he sees it, with Soviet power. Many people, he says, concern themselves with the military aspects of Soviet economic progress and say, “ Do they not spell for us the deepest and most terrible sort of danger? “ This is still a fundamental .question. In dealing with the question, Mr. Kennan says -
One is moved to wonder, sometimes, how long it will .be before people can bring themselves to realize that the ability to wreak terrible destruction on other peoples ‘now rests in a fairly large number of hands in this world, and that the danger is already so (great -that variations .in degree do not have much .meaning. I am .not particularly concerned to learn whether our Soviet friends could, if they wished, destroy us seven times over or only four times; nor do I think that the answer to -this .danger lies in the indefinite multiplication of our own ability to do .fearful injury to them.
He goes on ito .argue .that the problem :of Soviet .power - rand he starts off with .a recognition of it - cannot be dealt with by an .endless -industrial and scientific race, and that it cannot be dealt with by such a concentration of military measures as we now :have. He .points out very vividly the situation that has grown up in the course -of (depending on military supremacy. He says, at page 54: -
But beyond this, what sort of a life is it -to which these devotees of the weapons race would see us condemned? The technological realities of this competition are constantly changing from month to month and from year to year. Are we -to flee like haunted creatures from one defensive device to another, each more costly and humiliating than the one before, cowering underground one day, breaking up our cities the next, attempting to surround ourselves with elaborate electronic shields on the third, concerned only to prolong the length of our lives while sacrificing all the values for which it -might be .worth while to live at all?
I think that is a fairly vivid picture of the - situation ‘that this reliance upon a competitive arms race and a competitive economic race has produced. If this is the position that has now arisen, and if we can no longer rely upon a preponderance of power, as we did between 1947 and 1957, as the basis
Of our policy, what should be done?
Mr. Kennan says that, first, we should preserve and cultivate our deterrent capacity. But he does not believe it necessary to go one developing more powerful bombs, because we have already developed bombs sufficiently powerful to destroy civilization, and, therefore, to speak of more powerful weapons that would destroy -civilization four times over .or seven .times over is ludicrous. He does believe, however, that we should preserve and cultivate our deterrent capacity. He says that we are making several mistakes. The first is that we are too much concerned with matters which are purely military - what he calls “ .over-militarization “. He points out very clearly, at page 17, that the question that we are dealing with - Soviet power - is not exclusively a military question. He says that it has .been reasoned - and it has been reasoned in this House, particularly by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), who read Marxist literature superficially-
– And you are an authority on these matters?
– 1 have been employed by the University of Melbourne to study ‘this, and many other subjects, for ten years, my friend. Mr. Kennan suggests that “ the rationale for this posture on the part of the Soviet Government” has led to a superficial view of .the Soviet .position, .and to a belief that .Russia is aiming to over-run Western Europe in .particular, by force of arms, as soon as military conditions -prove favorable. Mr. Kennan says that he has never accepted that assumption, and -that is a wrong assumption to start with, but .that the -Western nations,. as a result of accepting this assumption, have concentrated almost exclusively “upon .a military answer. Assuming that there is a military threat, they have produced a .military answer. He says -that we have failed largely because of this.
The necessity has not been to provide only a military answer. Take the situation of France in North Africa. France .put the military answer into effect, destroying thousands of people in North Africa, and turning the whole of the Arab world against the Western powers. Senator Humphries of the ‘United States of America, after a visit to the Middle East not so very long ago, in the course of a lengthy analysis of the situation, summed up by saying -
We (that is, the U.S.A.) are too much concerned with kings and oil, and not enough with people and ‘water.
That remark gives an indication of the kind of approach that the Western powers must adopt, not only in the Middle East and in Europe but also in Asia. They must get away from what Mr. Kennan calls the overmilitarization of our attitude to foreign policy. In this respect I think the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), although I would be loath to quote him, is a good example of a person who looks at everything from an over-militarized point of view. He has, in fact, been conducting a cold war in the House this afternoon.
The third point made by Mr. Kennan is that we have made an error in the assumption that great changes can be made, or made suddenly, or that they are desirable. He says at page 19 of his book that we take this view -
If we could lay to rest the Soviet suspicions about our motives, this whole situation could be suddenly cleared up - an entirely new outlook could suddenly be induced in the Soviet mind - and the cold war would be terminated at a stroke. And as the culmination of this happy process, people usually envisaged some sort of a summit meeting, at which the last misunderstandings would be removed and agreements would be arrived at for a peaceful collaboration in the future.
Mr. Kennan says that these beliefs are quite unfounded, and that we are wrong in assuming that these things could be done. He points out that what can be achieved at a summit conference, or a conference at any other level, are simply minor changes which do not disturb the balance of world power. He says that once you try to make a move to disturb the balance of world power, you will get nothing but resistance. What are the kinds of things that he thinks could in fact be achieved? There is, firstly, the ending of nuclear tests. Then there is the setting up of a system of radar observation which would make unnecessary the extremely dangerous and difficult flights of the U.S. Strategic Air Command in various parts of the world. A third possible result would be the taking of steps to prevent any new countries obtaining nuclear weapons, because he says that if that happened, every small problem would automatically become a large problem.
This, in fact, is an attempt to reduce tension in international affairs. What are the attitudes of the various powers to the small steps towards reducing tension? In an article in the Melbourne “ Age “ on 29th
April, 1958 - only a few days ago - Mr. Walter Lippmann said this - and it ties in with what the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) said earlier -
It has been made abundantly clear in Washington that the American Government is opposed to a meeting of which the real and only purpose is to reduce tension.
President Eisenhower himself, might, if left to follow his own impulses, he induced to participate in that kind of meeting, but Mr. Dulles is opposed, and he has the able and vehement support of Mr. Truman and Mr. Acheson, acting as spokesmen of the Democratic party.
In this debate honorable members opposite have taken the view that the West is completely right and that Russia is completely wrong. Our problems will not be solved if we persist in that view. It would be sensible to realize where our own negotiators and our own policies are at fault. In order to carry a little more weight with honorable members on the Government side of the House I have quoted Mr. Kennan, who is a good deal more conservative than most of the supporters of the Government. I have also quoted Mr. Lippmann. These two men suggest that there can be something wrong in the American attitude to this question, and that it is possible that a different attitude might get different results. If Mr. Kennan is right, and if the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) was right when he said that from 1947 to 1957 there was a record of failure in the policies and practices of the Western powers, then is it not time we had a change? Is it not time to look to somebody else to do our negotiating? Is it not time to look elsewhere for the formulation of a policy? If the policy that the Government has been supporting has had this record of failure, is there not something in what the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has said?
This is the position that is rapidly developing. Mr. Kennan, to revert to some one who might have some influence on the minds of Government supporters, does not believe that the only alternative is a Europe subject to foreign occupation. He suggests that something more can be done, but that it cannot be done overnight; that it is wrong to do this kind of thing quickly and so disturb the balance of world power. At page 36 of his lectures he says -
Only when the troops are gone will there be possibilities for the evolution of these nations toward institutions and social systems most suited to their needs; and what these institutions and systems might then be is something about which 1 think we in the West can afford to be very relaxed. If socialism is what these people want and need, so be it; but let it by all means be their own choice.
This means two things, lt means the West facing up to the possibility that, given an effective choice by those countries of Western Europe, in an existing situation, the choice might be socialism. This is another shock that supporters of the Government must get over, because I believe that in certain parts of the world what can be called socialism is the only possible answer for those countries. That applies very much in Europe, as it applies in other places. How is this situation to be achieved? If it is necessary to get the troops out of Europe - and it seems to me that that applies to both sides - and I direct the attention of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) to this - the question of how and why they are there does not arise. That has nothing to do with it. What does matter is that in order that the people, whatever institutions they may have, may have a real choice, the troops must be removed. Mr. Kennan goes on at page 36 to say -
Now it is plain that there can be no Soviet military withdrawal from Eastern Europe unless this entire area can in some way be removed as an object in the military rivalry of the Great Powers.
He is suggesting that as long as you try to fit these areas of Europe into the power blocs in order to make them part of one side or the other, you cannot effect this removal of troops. I think it is ridiculous to suggest that you can remove these troops if you are going to adhere to a situation afterwards when one side or the other will bring the territories concerned into their orbit and disturb the balance in the cold war contest. The suggestion is that if the troops are removed those countries cannot be given complete freedom to decide what they will do, that there must be, in effect, an area of neutrality, an area of nonparticipation in the cold war, secured, if possible, and if necessary, by the decision of the countries that are primarily concerned. Get the troops out certainly, but take all steps to make sure that those countries do not fit into the pattern of the cold war afterwards. Only in those circumstances, it would seem, according to this view, which I think has much to support it, is it possible to reach any kind of agreement.
If this be the case, then to sum up what can be drawn from this experience, the policy of containment based on an assumption of a preponderance of Western military power between 1947 and 1957 has failed, and we have been over-concerned with militarization. We must be concerned with the economic and social problems and with the real living conditions of the people concerned and not just a matter of ideologies - cold-war words. If we are to improve the world situation, the first thing we must do is reduce tension brought about by the cold war, because the conditions of the cold war are relative to, and are influencing and determining, every small and every large problem on the face of the earth. So the cold war has to be ended. But, according to this view, it will be ended by small steps.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER.(Mr. Bowden). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) certainly continues to conduct what was started by other speakers, namely, a wonderful academic exercise into what should or should not be the attitude of the West. That, surely, is the basic contrast between the statement made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) and a good deal of this debate. The Minister’s statement very properly was confined to those matters over which Australia’s foreign policy could have some decisive or, at least, some substantial influence. These continual exchanges in which we indulge in talk about summit conferences are no doubt fascinating to those who think about them, but they do not get us very far in a consideration of the major problems that confront this Government to-day. The honorable member read from Mr. Kennan’s book, which a number of honorable members look forward to reading, and no doubt his remarks will cause an increase in the sales of that book.
There seems to be an assumption that a summit conference would be a sort of political panacea, something that would ease world tension and bring about a major change in the current balance of forces. The fact is that the disarmament work of the United Nations, and numerous other conferences, has been quite open, and if Russia had been anxious for the cause of disarmament to succeed, she had no need to walk out and dump the proceedings. There is no doubt that if, in fact, we get our leading world statesmen at a summit conference to deal with world problems off the cuff, in casual conversation, particularly with the spotlight of television and movie cameras on them, all kinds of misleading consequences could follow and such a conference could be extremely damaging. The basic value of top-level interchanges is to settle points of difference which emerge after the issues have been sifted by the experts concerned. When the experts fail to agree, as they often do, particular points of difference can be narrowed down and satisfactorily settled by those at the summit. But, short of proper preparatory work, a summit conference could be a snare and a delusion and its failure could leave the world a lot worse than it is at present.
I wish to turn, particularly, to South and South-East Asia, not because I have to offer any particular solution of the serious problems there, but simply to consider what some of those problems are. One, which has been rightly pointed out by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), is the present fall in commodity prices and the economic dislocation which may well follow that fact in many of these countries whose political life is already on very shaky foundations. Our influence with the great powers could probably be much better used in getting suitable commodity marketing arrangements, particularly for those things on which the more backward countries depend, than it would be in offering our theories about summit conferences and balances of power.
The basic trouble in our handling of Asian and South-East Asian problems which, perhaps, do not attach quite to the same extent to Australia as to other Western countries, is the fact that they have only just thrown off what they regard as the Western yoke. Whatever contribution Western rule may have made to some of these countries, they naturally resented it, and they continue to resent the memory of foreign domination. But coupled with this is the growing realization, even among the humblest folk in these countries, of the enormous disparity between the way they live and the way we live. That, together with the domination previously exercised by the West, easily leads the simple-minded to regard one as being the cause of the other.
The real, long-term danger that we suffer from is the contrast between their hideously low standard of living and ours and the ease with which thinkers and people responsible in those countries can fall for simple solutions. The fact is that to lift the standard of living in a country involves entire re-education and entire changes in the outlook and habits of the population, and slow investment of capital over the years. There is no short-cut but, in fact, the one short cut which does appear plausible to large numbers of them is the Communist solution.
The Communist method of dragooning populations to enforce necessary savings for investment and also to force the pace of education, particularly technical education, does, of course, produce certain kinds of results in some directions. It produces good results in some directions but only at vast expense, both in human misery and in withdrawing human activity from other things which, in the long run, are equally important. But our great danger is the natural appeal of communism to people who feel that they have to make a big jump in a hurry and raise their standard of living within a very few years.
The solution, as far as Australia is concerned, has been to play our part in the Colombo plan. This, of course, in economic terms, is a very tiny contribution to the problem. But at least it does set thinking running along the right channels. It does hold out to the rulers and officials of many of these countries a feeling that we are with them. But, at the same time, there is a certain danger that we may get an exaggerated idea of what Australia itself can do. If we followed the enthusiasts wholeheartedly in that direction we could easily spend very much more than our economy can afford. The waste in Pakistan, to which some publicity has recently been given, should not, of course, mislead us. Some waste is inevitable in these schemes. They are being run by governments; and we need not go outside Australia to see how resources and equipment are wasted by people who are free of the discipline of profit and loss accounts. When we put the same kind of operations in the hands of people who have had far less experience and not nearly as much time to build up official machinery, we must expect instances of this kind to arise. But even if this occurs, it should not mislead us and we should not be deterred from pursuing the main line of our programme.
I suggest that our contribution could be much better directed towards providing technical aid, the training of personnel and bringing home, particularly to the broad numbers of people who are engaged in comparatively simple activities in these countries, our superior knowledge and way of doing things. In fact, the most important ingredient in economic progress is not even capital itself; it is the skill, ability and training of those engaged in economic development. One aspect which we should consider is that of putting our contribution into human beings rather than simply pouring capital into those countries. This is shown by recent events in Indonesia. In that country, the present government, carried away no doubt by extreme nationalism and other radical policies about which we hear something from time to time from honorable members opposite, has, in fact, wreaked tremendous damage to an economy, already none too strong, by taking over all Dutch interests, hampering the operations of shipping lines and generally doing everything possible to damage and wreck the confidence which foreign investors might have had in the country. Anything that we could give to Indonesia in the way of capital could become engulfed in similar happenings. On the other hand, if we gave the Indonesians training, skill and knowledge, they would never go wrong. I suggest, therefore, that when we are thinking about the Colombo plan in future, we should think less and less in terms of direct economic aid by the shipping of goods and put more and more of our efforts into training individuals.
This brings me to one of the things which first caused me to speak to-day. That is the quite appalling statement of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) in this debate. He started by quoting the statement of Khrushchev that if there were any interference with the government of Hungary, which is Communist, Russia would go in to shoot down the insurgents. He said that Khrushchev had made the statement in particularly foul and brutal terms - quite terrible terms from the point of view of ordinary people. So far, we all agree with the Leader of the Opposition. The statement by Khrushchev was shocking. Presumably one of the basic reasons why the Leader of the Opposition quoted it was that it was so well known and was undeniable. But the Leader of the Opposition went on to say this -
Yet what is the difference between that and saying to countries that are about to form a government of the Left, a socialist government, a democratic socialist government if you like, or even a semi-Communist government, as the United States has indicated on more than one occasion,-
The occasions, of course were not mentioned - “ If you form that government we shall intervene by force to prevent that government coming into existence “.
That was held up as the conduct of the United States of America - as a practice in which the United States regularly indulges. That is an absolutely shocking statement. The whole of the United States tradition is completely against it. Throughout its history, the United States has been anti-imperialist and anti-colonial, perhaps in a very naive way, but certainly it has been against colonial power exercised either by itself or other nations. The United States people have subscribed quite freely to the economic reconstruction of the world on a scale quite unknown before in history. At the height of the economic programme, about 12 per cent, of the annual budget of the U.S.A. was going to foreign aid. This would be the equivalent of spending £100,000,000 a year from our federal budget.
The U.S.A., no doubt, has been induced to do this, in part, by enlightened selfinterest. But let nobody overlook the basic generosity of the American people which was behind this aid. Never let us overlook that the entire American tradition is diametrically opposed to everything that the Leader of the Opposition suggested about it. Perhaps we may disagree with what Mr. Dulles or some other leading American statesman does on occasions, but to suggest that the people and rulers of the United
States of America are no better than the rulers of Russia who invaded Hungary is a very foul allegation.
Perhaps that would not be so serious if it were just one isolated statement, but it is part of a consistent line and theme of finding everything wrong in the United States and the United Kingdom, although the United Kingdom comes in less for the scourge since it is relatively weaker. But these allies upoi whom our security is utterly dependent come in for abuse and misrepresentation. Everything possible is done to tone down the actions of the Russians and when the Russians take barbarious action, as they do from time to time, an endeavour is made to throw action by western countries into the same light. This policy is pursued, da” by day, quite openly. It is not hidden. It is apparent to everybody. Imagine what our relations will be with our main allies, upon whom we depend, if people who think like this come to power in Australia at some future election!
– In December.
– It is nice to hear an optimist. The Australian people have to realize that the actual conduct of foreign policy is essentially in the hands of a few. The foreign policies of the last Government and perhaps of this one have been known to only two or three members of the Cabinet. The implications of what is being done, which may be of the most far-reaching character, never come out in the light of day. Imagine the condition that our affairs would get into if ever a ghastly mistake were made!
If the philosophy to which I have referred were held by only a few members of the Labour party, that could be understood, But the fact that many members of the Labour party are commonsense people should not be allowed to obscure the fact that there are, at the very heart, and in control of the Labour movement, people who are much closer in philosophy and outlook to militant international communism than to Australian traditions.
.- First of all, I repudiate the suggestion of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) that the Labour party is more closely associated with militant communism than with the ideals of the Western world. I think that the honorable member might well have left that unsaid. One of the great advantages of a discussion on foreign affairs, such as we are having at the present time, is that it gives us the opportunity to express our views on international affairs generally in the hope of finding some solution for the international tensions which are besetting the world to-day.
I suggest that when the House is earnestly striving to deal with international questions from that stand-point, to make charges of almost enthusiastic support for militant communism does not help us. Our main problem, of course, is that of finding a means of relieving the international tensions which have been so evident and so pressing since the conclusion of World War II. It seems to me that our thoughts should be directed more to finding points on which we can agree - points upon which we can approach other nations with a view to easing the tension, securing better understanding and, as a result, bring international relations onto a much higher plane than they are at the present time.
Unfortunately, in this debate, the points upon which we cannot co-operate have sometimes been stressed rather than the points on which we can co-operate. Yesterday, the Secretary-General of the United Nations intervened in the disarmament conference by suggesting to the representatives of the nations present - to the disgust of some of the nations, I believe - that a stage had been reached at which the nations of the world should have a little more trust in one another and a little less suspicion. If we could get that line of thought and action into international affairs, we would make more progress than we are making at present.
The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) made a remark to which I wish to refer. He is quite entitled to make such a statement, and I did not find in it any cause for saying that he should be censured; but he did state, among other things, that China should not be recognized because it had done quite a number of things since 1949 which were not acceptable to the nations of the west. It is true that China, particularly in the days immediately following the end of the civil war in that country, did things with which we in the western world would strongly disagree, but if we are going to adopt the attitude that actions of nations in the past, or even in the present, are to be a bar to understanding with those nations, we will create greater and greater international tensions in the future instead of easing them. 1 could cite a number of nations in the Middle East and elsewhere which are guilty to-day of practices which the western world must condemn. Nevertheless, the western world is quite prepared to work hand in hand with those nations in order to achieve better understanding. For instance, the attitude of the Arab nations in the Middle East towards Israeli is notorious. The Arabs break the terms of the truce there constantly. The western world must reject conditions that exist in Saudi Arabia and other places. We cannot subscribe to their conduct we must condemn it. Nevertheless, we have our associations with them. So far as possible, we endeavour to improve the conditions of the people of those countries and try to get them to act along more democratic lines. That is the correct attitude to be adopted by the nations of the world. We should not find the points on which we disagree and harp upon them. Rather, we should find the points on which we can agree and, on that basis, try to build up better relations so that the world generally will be a better place.
One section of the speech that was made by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) was very interesting and gives some clue to troubled conditions everywhere. The honorable member referred to economic conditions that cause deterioration in the welfare and standards of the people. His remarks reminded me of a conference of the International Labour Organization at Philadelphia in 1944 at which representatives of employers, employees and governments, in war-time endeavoured to lay down the pattern for the world which we felt should be built by the democratic nations when victory had been achieved. The problem to which the honorable member referred was stressed at that conference. It was implied in a declaration made by Mr. Franklin Roosevelt in his speech to the United States Congress in 1940 outlining the four freedoms, and it was the principle embodied in the Atlantic Charter - that was the right of the small nations to build up an economy by having security in their industrial pursuits.
I remember a delegate from one country saying, in effect, “ You ask us to try to improve the conditions of our people. Indeed, one of the principles on which the l.L.O. was founded was that universal peace could be achieved only if it were based upon justice. How can we give our people social justice when we produce grain, cotton, wool, metals, and minerals and sell them to the big manufacturing nations, but because supplies are plentiful the price comes down and the only people who are able to obtain anything like a reasonable standard of living are those who are fortunate enough to have supplies of raw materials when raw materials are short? The result is that we never have a secure, constant price for the goods we produce, and we are unable to build up an economy to enable us to give our people social justice and the conditions which the manufacturing nations feel our people are entitled to.”
On the other hand, the manufacturing nations complained that they could not get a sufficient price for their manufactured goods to enable them to have continuity of manufacture. It was obvious from the discussions at that conference that one of the fundamental causes of the variations in living standards which cause people to seek an easy way out of their problems by accepting an ideology which promises them everything, is that in the exchange of commodities between countries we are never able to arrive at a system which assures the producer of raw material of a regular income. If that producer of raw material were assured of a regular income, there would be a more certain and safe market for the manufactured goods that the world requires.
When the United Nations was formed, that great problem of the differences in living conditions, forms of government, and treatment of peoples, arising from varying living standards, was appreciated and considered. It was felt that in the world trade organization there was some hope for reaching understanding and agreements that would give the smaller nations the security which they were seeking. In pursuance of the policies strongly advocated at that time, agreements were made between the United Kingdom and Australia in respect of the sale of our primary products. The whole idea behind those agreements was to give to our primary producers, for a fixed period ahead, a market with satisfactory prices that would enable them to get rid of the fear of insecurity and want. That programme was essentially successful.
I hope that in these debates we are noi to be prevented from criticizing the action of nations which we call friendly nations and with which we live. I hope that we are not to be regarded as being disloyal if we make such criticism. I say frankly that One of the problems facing the world trade organization to-day has arisen because the United States Government has not adhered completely to the decisions of the organization. Let us hope that in these discussions we shall never be placed in a position of being unable to criticize freely friend and foe alike if we believe that criticism is necessary for better understanding.
These are matters that might well be considered at summit and other conferences. How can we overcome the problem of insecurity which is constantly facing the peoples of the world? In Australia the prices of all of our basic primary products are falling, with insecurity beginning to threaten those engaged in mining, fishing, and all phases of agriculture. What faces this country also faces every other country. The people producing cotton and tobacco and everything else which the world wants are suffering from the same difficulty. We ought to be using our influence and power as far as possible, through the United Nations and all the other subsidiary organizations, to try to cure this position so as to bring a feeling of security to all people. What is the result of our not having reached a solution? The conditions of the masses of people in many countries are debased to a most remarkable extent.
At the conference to which I have referred, we drew up a document which came to be known as the Charter of Philadelphia. We tried to deal not only with the world’s trading problems but also with the conditions which should be given to the masses of people in countries regarded as being under-developed and sub-standard. That document contained a number of principles, of which I shall quote four, which I think might well be considered by the House. The first was that labour was not a commodity. Behind that statement was a recognition of the human values in volved in labour and the belief that labour should not be treated as cost of production, and that employees should be treated as human beings engaged in transforming one article to another for human use, at all times carrying on great work for the benefit of mankind. The second principle was that freedom of association and expression was essential to continued progress. If all the nations gave freedom of association and expression to their peoples, progress would be made. The people could ventilate their grievances and express their views in a manner which would tend to bring about peace in the world.
The third principle was simple, but it seems that many countries have yet to learn the importance of it. lt was that poverty anywhere constituted a danger to prosperity everywhere. Wherever there are pockets of poverty, as in countries of Europe, South America, the Middle East, Asian, including South-east Asia, and Africa, there are always difficulty, trouble, and international tension, because people with low standards of living who are not getting the good things out of life become dissatisfied. They are people who can easily be used by the demagogue in a way that produces great disturbances of the peace and a good deal of suffering.
The fourth principle was one with which this country and, I believe, all other countries, agree. It was that the fight against want and disease must be carried on with unrelenting vigour within the boundaries of each nation.
Those four points were laid down at this international gathering of governments, employers, and workers. They were accepted unanimously as expressing the goal to which all countries might well strive in order to bring about better international relations and a general improvement in the standards of living of all people. I appreciate what the honorable member for Wentworth said about assistance being given by various countries to under-developed1 countries. That is one of the ways in which we can express to other countries our understanding, good will, and tolerance, and try to make those conditions better. The more that the developed nations can do that, the better it will be for mankind. In the same way we can show that we appreciate the difficulties of other countries and desire to help them.
I say in conclusion that the way to peace and better international relations is through understanding, good will and tolerance. In the end, these must triumph over suspicion, hatred and intolerance. The peoples of the world want peace and freedom from fear and insecurity. I feel sure that the Australian people desire that we as a nation should pursue a policy of understanding, good will and tolerance, in our relations with all other countries.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Ian Allan) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.52 to 8 p.m.
Bill presented by Mr. Downer, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to consolidate and amend Australia’s immigration statutes. It has nothing to do with the Government’s current immigration policy; its primary concern is with the mechanism by which national policy is implemented. As honorable members will perceive, it is a technical document arranged in four parts, containing 67 clauses. The more material portions are those dealing with immigration, deportation, and the emigration of children and aborigines. Some of the drafting is inescapably complicated, but in an effort to illuminate each clause explanatory notes are being circulated which, I hope, will guide the House towards a clearer understanding of the reasons for, and implications of, this legislation.
These proposals are the fruit of long deliberation by the Government, my officers, and the Immigration Advisory Council. Every aspect of the immigration law has been carefully examined in the light of over half a century of experience. We have delved into the statutes of other countries, particularly those of the British Commonwealth, as well as into the ancillary provisions of our own laws. In the result this bill repeals nineteen existing enactments. It omits 24 sections of the present act which have become unnecessary or outmoded; it retains those parts of the existing law which we feel should be preserved; and it advances much that is new. Nor is it the Government’s last word on this range of subjects. Later in the year, .1 shall be introducing amendments to the Nationality and Citizenship Act, designed to place naturalized Australians on the same footing as Australian-born people in relation to loss of citizenship. In view of some agitation for this reform I say this now so as to forestall any possible misunderstanding as the debate proceeds.
Control of immigration has deep roots in Australian history. So far back as 1855, the Victorian Parliament imposed restrictions on the entry of Chinese, an example which was followed within the ensuing twenty years by New South Wales and Queensland. Subsequently, all the Australian colonies, as they then were, passed fairly comprehensive immigration laws, the most notable of which, for our purposes here, were those of New South Wales, Western Australia, and Tasmania in 1897, incorporating the dictation test. This ingenious, but contentious, device had been first applied in the colony of Natal earlier in the same year and, if my researches are correct, originated in the mind of that inspired liberal imperialist, Joseph Chamberlain, who was then the Colonial Secretary in Lord Salisbury’s British Government. As the House will recall, the first Commonwealth Parliament seized upon this precedent, and the dictation test was enshrined in 1901 in section 3 of the Immigration Act, where it still remains.
In recent years, the need for a thorough overhaul of our immigration legislation has become increasingly apparent. The dictation test, however subtle and convenient it may have seemed 60 years ago, must surely appear to-day as an archaic, heavyhanded piece of machinery, in the category of those singularly ugly museum pieces of the Victorian age, and quite out of keeping with the ideas of the second half of the 20th century. It has been used to prevent the entry to Australia of both Europeans and Asians, and also as a means of deporting people within five years of their arrival, even though they were legally admitted to settle permanently. Its clumsy, creaking operation has evoked much resentment outside Australia, and has tarnished our good name in the eyes of the world. The Government, therefore, proposes to abolish it, and to substitute in its stead the neat, simple expedient of an entry permit.
Clause 6 provides that any one who enters Australia without being granted an entry permit at the time of arrival will be a prohibited immigrant. The new procedure will work in this way: When passengers on a ship or aircraft pass before an immigration officer, and he finds one or more of them not eligible to enter, under policy or instructions approved by the Minister, such passengers will not be humiliated and bedazed by a dictation test, but will quietly be told they are not qualified to land, and that if they go ashore they will become prohibited immigrants, liable to arrest and deportation. The master, owners, and agent of the ship or aircraft will be liable to a maximum penalty of £500 if they fail to keep such people on board.
I cannot emphasize too strongly that these new arrangements will not add to existing formalities. British subjects who now enter without vises or prior authority will have entry permits stamped in their passports in exactly the same way as before, to show date and place of arrival; nor will they be refused entry permits except on my express authority. Aliens who have had vises inserted in their passports by our overseas posts, showing that they have been approved for entry without immigration restrictions will also receive entry permits, by way of stamps in their passports, without delay on arrival. The customary international exemptions are made in favour of members of the armed forces of the Crown entering in the course of duty; diplomatists and consuls; crews of ships and aircraft while on leave; and the personnel of armed vessels and aircraft of governments recognized by Australia, also for purposes of leave.
The existing law provides a means for the Department of Immigration to admit people temporarily, while retaining a ready means of enforcing departure if necessary. This is achieved by issuing certificates of exemption: for specified periods. When one of these certificates expires or is cancelled by the Minister the holder becomes a prohibited immigrant, and may be deported. These certificates, therefore, are, in effect, “ temporary entry permits “, and will be known by this more definite title under the new legislation.
The bill will also remove certain legal difficulties associated with the present cer tificates of exemption. I need mention only one of these now - the lack of any provision for a person who is a prohibited immigrant by reason of past bad character or health to be admitted for permanent residence. As honorable members will be aware, it occasionally happens that young people who have settled in Australia seek, quite naturally, to bring their parents here, and it is found that the father has had a conviction recorded against him many years before. If he was sentenced to imprisonment for a year or longer he is a prohibited immigrant. As such he can only be admitted to Australia under a certificate of exemption, and the certificate cannot be made good for permanent stay. It is sometimes justified on humanitarian grounds that the aged father should be admitted permanently, and the bill provides means for this to be done by the issue of special entry permits.
I now pass to another aspect of the bill. It is the practice of all nations, especially those of the new world seeking to build-up their populations, to arm themselves with mandatory powers of deportation. For this purpose, great authority is vested in the particular Minister, and his is the solemn responsibility to wield it in a manner which, whilst preserving the security of his country, is at the same time humane and just to the individuals concerned. We must never forget that this department, perhaps above all others, is one that first and last is dealing with human beings, and their future welfare. Consequently, as human values change, so the law must change. Since the existing legislation originated, there has been a great advance in social thinking throughout the world. Certain practices which were generally accepted 50 years ago are now questioned, and regarded as matters for reform. So it is with this measure. Whilst preserving and clarifying necessary powers for the Minister to act swiftly and successfully whenever, in his judgment, the national interest demands, it imposes important checks on his authority in order to ensure a further degree of justice for the individual. Let me give honorable members some examples.
The power given to the Minister by the present act to deport any one within five years of entry by use of the dictation test is extremely arbitrary. It is capable of the gravest abuse. It could be used to deport persons entirely innocent of any crime or irregularity, and guilty of no offence except to have displeased the Minister of the day. The bill remedies this by incorporating in clause 14 the provisions of the Aliens Deportation Act 1948, and expanding them to cover immigrants within five years of their entering Australia. The effect of this clause will be that an immigrant admitted regularly for permanent residence, who has not been guilty of a crime or received into an institution, can only be deported by the Minister on the recommendation of an independent commissioner. The commissioner himself must be a serving or retired judge of a Federal or State supreme court, or a barrister or solicitor of five years’ standing of the High Court or a supreme court.
My second example relates to the arrest of suspected prohibited immigrants. Section 14a of the present act empowers an officer without warrant to arrest any person reasonably supposed to be a prohibited immigrant offending against this act. A moment’s thought will show the latent dangers here. Accordingly, clause 38 of the bill provides for a person so arrested to be brought within 48 hours, or as soon as practicable afterwards, before a prescribed authority, who must inquire into whether there are reasonable grounds for supposing the person to be a prohibited immigrant. If the authority finds such grounds, he will order continued detention for a maximum period of seven days pending the Minister’s decision as to deportation.
A similar liberalization of the law is made concerning the arrest of persons reasonably supposed to be those against whom deportation orders have been issued. To-day’s section 14c of the Immigration Act authorizes an officer unqualifiedly to arrest such persons. Such a power, naked and uninhibited, could cause great injustice. The bill inserts elaborate safeguards against this. Clause 39 provides that individuals so arrested shall be given particulars of the deportation order. Should they claim mistaken identity they can immediately make a statutory declaration to that effect and be taken before an independent authority within 48 hours or as soon as practicable thereafter. If, on inquiry, the prescribed authority is not satisfied that reasonable grounds for the arrest exist, those appre hended are discharged. On the other hand, if the authority considers that there are reasonable grounds for arrest, he must declare this in writing, and the suspected deportees are then to be taken into custody. The High Court or a State supreme court will retain their present overriding power of ordering a person’s release from custody if the court finds that the deportation order is invalid. The prescribed authorities will generally be magistrates if the State governments agree.
Yet another safeguard is provided by clause 41 of the bill. It may be that a person arrested as a deportee will not dispute the question of identity, but will contest the validity of the deportation order. In these circumstances legal questions are involved, and should be decided by a superior court. Such a hearing can, of course, already be secured by writ of habeas corpus or by injunction. The bill, however, goes further. It ensures that persons arrested must be given all reasonable facilities for obtaining legal advice and taking legal proceedings.
A fifth example of the ‘humanistic quality of this legislation is the requirement set out in clause 37 that an officer must hold a search warrant in order to search buildings, premises or vehicles for a prohibited immigrant or a deportee, or for documents relating to circumstances in which people would become prohibited immigrants. This is in contrast with section 14b of the existing law whereby an officer can do all these things without a warrant.
Before asking honorable members to consider another part of the proposals, I wish to announce a departure from present practice concerning custody of those awaiting deportation. Clause 39, sub-clause 6, re-enacts in substance section 8c of the Immigration Act. This provides that a person against whom a deportation order is in force - defined in the bill as a deportee - may be kept in such custody as the Minister directs pending deportation. The usual class of cases falling within this category are seamen deserting from ships, though obviously it includes many others as well. Whenever it has been thought necessary to keep these people in custody, it has always been the practice to cast them into the most convenient gaol, and to hold them there until arrangements for their embarkation are concluded. Such a procedure is undesirable. Very often the deportee has a blameless record; his only offence is a statutory one against our immigration laws. Once in gaol he must sometimes wait several weeks before he can be shipped from Australia. During this period he intermingles with hardened criminals, and as likely as not becomes contaminated by them. By the time he leaves gaol he may be blemished for the rest of his life, and sent upon a downward path.
The situation is otherwise, of course, for men possessing criminal records ‘in the accepted sense. Gaol is no novelty for them, and with their lot I am not here concerned. But there is a compelling case for reform in the treatment of those whom one might call statutory offenders. I have given much thought to their plight, for along with four other members of this Parliament I found myself in a comparable situation during our incarceration by the Japanese for several years of the last war. Gaols, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, are depressing places, especially when you are not in any true sense an offender. Accordingly, I am happy to say that arrangements are now being made for non-criminal deportees to be accommodated in detention centres, instead of prisons, whilst awaiting shipment. The details have yet to be finalized, but there will be at least two, one in New South Wales, one in Western Australia, and possibly a third in another State. I am sure that nothing but good will come of this innovation which, together with other ameliorating effects of this legislation, will place Australia in advance of any other country in the world.
I now wish to refer briefly to the obligations imposed by the bill on shipping and aircraft companies. The present act has revealed serious defects. Thus, if a shop’s master allows a person in the category of a prohibited immigrant to land, in breach of the law, and the immigrant happens to be stateless, and therefore inadmissible to any overseas country, the Government is powerless to enforce his departure, because under section 13a (1) the shipping company is obliged only to provide a passage for the immigrant “ back to the place whence he came “. Furthermore, even if an immigrant can be re-admitted to the land of his origin, the shipping company can still refuse to move him with impunity because there is no penalty in the act for such refusal. Again, even though a company is required to provide a passage at the Commonwealth’s expense for any one against whom a deportation order is issued, whether he came to Australia in one of the company’s vessels or not, no penalty exists for refusal to do so.
We, therefore, propose to correct these ommissions in three ways. First, when a person enters wrongfully, for example, a passenger without an entry permit, or a seaman deserting his ship, the company will be obliged to remove him from Australia, whether he can enter any other country or not. It is compelled to take the person back on board one of its ships or aircraft. Secondly, when an immigrant enters according to law, and later has to be deported, the company which brought him here must continue, as now, to provide a free passage to the place he came from, or else pay a reasonable sum towards the cost of a passage to some other place. For infringement of either of these requirements which are set out in clause 21, a fairly stiff maximum penalty of £500 is laid down. Thirdly clause 22 provides that failure by a company to transport a deportee at the Commonwealth’s expense will render such company liable to a maximum fine of £200.
In these respects the bill strengthens the existing law, and, I hope closes the loopholes. On the other hand, clause 21 lessens its severity in cases where deportees originally came to Australia as assisted migrants or even as full-fare migrants, providing they have experienced the same thorough screening as those with assisted passages. This relaxation was agreed to, in principle, in 1949 during the distinguished term of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) as Minister for Immigration. We have extended this reasoning to full-fare migrants. Honorable members may be interested to know that other great immigration nations have also granted this concession to transport companies. After all, it seems only just that for those for whom my department prescribes such elaborate pre-embarkation formalities, the cost of any subsequent deportation should fall upon our shoulders.
A short portion of the bill revises the law governing immigration agents. The position now is that any one wishing to act as an immigration agent must first be registered with the department; and persons who are registered have to be issued with certificates of registration. My officers would prefer not to issue such documents which can be displayed as evidence of some special standing with the department, and can be so used to impress migrants unduly. Needless to say, careful inquiries are made about all applicants for registration; but it is still possible for unscrupulous people to be registered and to engage in undesirable activities without the department’s knowledge, particularly because settlers in a strange country are more easily duped by plausible agents, and are less ready to report them to the authorities. The bill retains all the existing powers of supervision of agents without, however, continuing the issue of credentials in the shape of certificates of registration. It also prohibits agents from advertising themselves as approved by the department in any way.
The last phase of this measure to which I direct the attention of the House is Part III. This deals with the emigration of children and aborigines. “ Child “ is defined as a person under seventeen years of age. Existing State laws are preserved, and what is put forward in clauses 61, 62 and 63 is advanced solely with the object of supplementing serious deficiencies which have become manifest from time to time. The Commonwealth has no desire to encroach upon State jurisdiction; merely to supplement it. Honorable members may recall the two recent cases of Doering and Imler, where children of American fathers and Australian mothers were suddenly flown out of Australia by the fathers without the mothers’ consent. My department was powerless to prevent the departure of these children, because there was no infringement of the Emigration Act of 1910. We propose in this bill to make such action more difficult in future. Clause 63 provides that a parent who has the custody of a child by order of a court, or who is seeking such an order, may notify shipping or aircraft companies not to afford a passage to such a child; and the company, thereupon, is obliged not to grant a passage without that parent’s consent, or the consent of the court. Furthermore, a person other than the parent having custody of the child or instituting proceedings, who knows of the order or proceedings, and who takes the child away, shall also be guilty of an offence. The present Emigration Act is repealed, because it is felt that its provisions can be easily evaded, are based on racial considerations, and are impractical in their application.
The bill is also concerned with the emigration of aborigines. A defect in the present act is that in prohibiting the emigration of aborigines without permits, it fails to distinguish between those who have been freed of all disabilities, and those who have not. Clause 64 makes this distinction, enabling the untrammelled emigration of aboriginals who are not subject to disabilities. Power is also given to the Minister to free, in his discretion, any other aboriginal from the need to apply for an emigration permit. This again is an attempt to revise our law in accord with the changing attitude towards this difficult problem.
Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, time will not allow me in the course of my speech to deal with every facet of so lengthy and complex a measure. Honorable members will now have an opportunity to study its many clauses. Subsequently during the committee stage I shall be only too willing to amplify any matters I have touched on, or omitted, to-day. But this I am sure of: The bill represents a valuable consolidation and amendment of the existing law. It introduces order where there is now confusion; it strengthens the hand of the Government where it is now ineffectual; it imparts justice, tolerance, and humanity in accord with liberal principles in their truest sense; in many respects it gives Australia the finest immigration charter that the world has yet seen. I hope honorable members will ponder deeply on these things, and give this legislation the support it deserves.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Clarey) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 1396).
.- I was very pleased to hear the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) refer in his speech the other evening to the economic plight of the countries of South-East Asia. I am sure that the economic plight of these countries will become even more serious as time goes by. There is an alarming potential danger in the economic situation of South-East Asian countries.
When speaking of the economic position of these countries, the Minister did not refer to the rapidly changing population pattern in those areas. Nor did he, I believe, place any emphasis on the magnitude and rapidity of the fall in prices of the export commodities of those countries. As he pointed out, most of the countries in this area are dependent for export earnings mainly on one or two commodities. In 1956, for instance, 76 per cent, of Burma’s export earnings came from rice; 89 per cent, of Ceylon’s earnings came from tea, rubber and coco-nuts; 69 per cent, of Pakistan’s export income was derived from jute and cotton; 66 per cent, of Malaya’s export earnings were derived from rubber and tin. I would add that Austrafia is no exception to this general rule of dependence for export income on one or two principal commodities. Over two-thirds of our export earnings come from wool and cereals.
The fall in world prices in recent years has had an alarming effect upon the economies of all the South-East Asian countries. The extent of this effect can be gauged from a perusal of fluctuations in prices between January of last year and January this year. As we know only too well, wool 64’s fell from 159d. per lb. in January, 1957, at Australian centres, to 117d. in January, 1958. This represented a fall of 26 per cent, in twelve months. Wheat prices fell by 19 per cent. New Zealand lamb prices fell by 12 per cent., sugar by 45 per cent., butter by 5 per cent., tea - which is Ceylon’s mainstay - by 35 per cent., rubber by 17 per cent, and jute by 6 per cent. The base metals have shown an even steeper decline. During the twelve months copper prices fell by 39 per cent, at the London Metal Exchange, lead by 38 per cent, and zinc by 41 per cent.
We can understand, I believe, from these figures, how the under-developed countries of South-East Asia have been affected by this drop in world prices. On the other hand, we find that the South-East Asian countries have been receiving foreign aid to the extent of about £1,000,000,000, but this also I regard as being potentially dangerous.
Having referred to those three aspects of the problem - the fall in prices, the rapid rate of population increase, and the way in which we are administering foreign aid - I should now like to direct the attention of the House to the fact that the foreign aid we give to these countries is poured into the laps of whatever governments happen to be in power at a given time. A government may be a popular one or an unpopular one; it may be a good government or a bad one; but it gets the money just the same, and in getting the money it is reinforced in its position. Very often, as we know from unhappy experience in the Middle East, the government that gets the aid is an unpopular one or is antagonistic to the Western powers, in which case, as soon as the flow of money into the country is temporarily cut off or decreased, the government swings against the West. By giving aid in this way we are in fact making necessary extensive bureaucracies in the various countries to administer the scheme. This creates an ideal set-up for a socialist form of government, and I regard it as a distinct danger, because any government on the fringe of the Communist empire that goes socialist is very soon drawn within the Communist orbit.
In providing aid as we have been doing - or, rather, as the United States of America has been doing, because that country has been most generous since the war - we are doing harm to those who desire to encourage free enterprise in the South-East Asian countries. In many cases we are building up an antagonism to us among the people of those countries because of our paternal attitude, and we are building up a framework for a socialist type of government. I do not regard this as being in the best interests of Australia and its security. The South-East Asian countries are in a region that I regard as potentially the most dangerous area in the world. I think the British have a different viewpoint, and perhaps the Americans also, but when we consider the rate at which the population of these countries is expanding, I think it must be conceded that the tensions that are building up in there are tending towards instability. Wherever there is a large area of instability of that kind, then we can expect political trouble, and perhaps insurrections and wars.
At the recent meeting in Saigon of the Secretariat of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, a committee was formed to study population trends. Mr. Narasimham, secretary of Ecafe, gave some details of the results of the studies undertaken. It was estimated that the population of the Colombo plan countries, excluding Japan, would probably reach 971,000,000 by 1975, an increase of about 50 per cent, over their 1955 population of approximately 654,000,000. It was estimated that by the year 2,000 the population of these countries would exceed 1,700,000,000, an increase to approximately 260 per cent. That is the extent of the population increase in these countries to our north. I believe that it is quite impracticable for the United States, even with its enormous resources and wealth, to keep up a flow of foreign aid to South-East Asian countries on a scale sufficient to allow them to build up their own resources in order to match their rate of population increase. That being the case, we must expect for many years to come a great measure of inequality and poverty in the countries that lie to the north of Australia. We must face that fact, and appreciate the significance of it. It is no good dodging it and talking about social justice, as the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) did earlier in this debate. I should like to know how the honorable member defines social justice. It is one of those airy-fairy combinations of words that we hear so often from honorable members on the Opposition side of the House. It means nothing at all, and it means less than nothing when it is applied to this real problem in South-East Asia.
– You are in conflict with many authorities when you say that.
– No doubt, I am. I have heard many authorities on the Opposition side of the House, and I would remind them that book learning is not enough. If we want to strengthen the countries to our north, build up their political stability, and lead them towards the kind of civilization that we enjoy, we must guide them towards a free enterprise system. Honorable members on the Opposition side of the House scorn a free enterprise system, but T remind them that it was free enterprise that made this country, just as it made Europe and America. We can thank our free enterprise system for our present high standard of living and our security. If we want to help our friends to the north we must find ways of encouraging them to develop free enterprise systems in their own countries. We must get away from this idea of giving them aid and building up a bureaucracy. We must allow them to help themselves. By helping themselves they will increase their own self-respect. They will be enabled to put their nationalist feelings, which I admire greatly, to good purpose. A free enterprise system will enable them more quickly to raise their living standards than would be the case under any other system.
To encourage these countries to develop a free enterprise system, we have an obligation to see that world prices for the raw materials they produce are maintained at a proper level. I urge the Government to give serious and earnest consideration to this matter, and to use its energies in the councils of the world to see that, above all, America appreciates this problem, that she understands the dangers inherent in her foreign aid programme, and that she understands that if she wants to preserve her sources of raw materials, then it is in her interests to see that these underdeveloped countries are tied fast to the free enterprise system and encouraged to trade. I think America should be reminded that she depends on the rest of the world for certain raw materials. Twenty-four out of 26 of the most important metals are imported into the United States to-day.
I know that her foreign aid programme is only one consideration with America to-day. We know from the generous attitudes that she adopted during and after the last war that she has a tremendous fund of idealism on which to draw. But she must be practical in this case, and realize that in order to secure her own sources of raw materials, to prevent them falling within the Communist orbit, she must bolster the sagging prices that we have witnessed over the last few years. And I include wool and wheat when I say that. I direct these remarks towards America because American participation in any international commodity agreement is absolutely necessary. Without America an international commodity agreement would be scarcely worth while. With her participation, such an agreement would be a piece of paper that would do more to ensure the peace and security of the world than any military defence treaty that was ever concocted.
I am sure that the Government is well aware of the nature of the problem facing Australia in the countries to our north. I urge the Government to attack this problem in a realistic manner, to get away from the United Nations idealistic rubbish that we have had dished up for so many years, and get down to something practical. Let us have some international commodity agreements that will provide real, hard cash for the farmers and the producers in all the South-East Asian countries, strengthen our trade links, our bonds of friendship, with these countries, and so secure the peace not of this region only, but of all the free countries of the world.
.- The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) mentioned that we should get down to some practical suggestions for aid to under-developed countries. His closing remarks were entirely at variance with the remarks that he made at the opening of his speech.
– It is true. He said, at the opening of his speech, that aid to these countries only represented aid to socialist governments. In other words, he condemned the Colombo plan of which this Government is a supporter. He asked, “ What are we going to do about it? “ He chided the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) on his remarks about social justice. As one who concluded, at the end of last year, a tour of India, I want to ask the honorable member whether he would consider that social justice is responsible for the great contrasts that may be seen in India - the contrasts of wealth and poverty; the contrast between those people who live in marble palaces, as it were, and the millions who sleep in the streets. It is true to say that in India to-day millions are conceived in the streets, born in the streets, eat in the streets when they have something to eat. sleep, live and die in the streets without knowing what it is to have a roof over their heads or a decent rag to their backs. Is that social justice?
– Have you any practical suggestions to make?
– Perhaps the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) could send some of his wheat to feed these starving people. That is a practical suggestion. I agree with some of the remarks made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). I agree that it is not necessary to stress the importance of Asia to Australia and I am pleased to see that the conditions in the country in which he sojourned for some time did make a great impression on him. He said -
This opportunity of living and working in a densely populated Asian area in which i was responsible for the well-being of 65,000,000 people has left with me a sympathy for and, i believe, some understanding of the people of Asia and their problems.
I was in India for five weeks and came away with a great deal of sympathy for those people. I feel a great deal of understanding for the people of Asia and their problems.
The honorable member for Gwydir also suggested that one should instil into these under-developed countries of the world the principle of free enterprise. Can we deny that free enterprise has brought Indonesia into the conflict that it is in to-day? Can we deny that the starving millions of India have been brought to the condition that they are in to-day by free enterprise?
– There is no nonsense about it. More wealth has been taken out of India by free enterprise than the people of India realize. That fact is mentioned in a statement which Mr. Nehru made in the Parliament of India.
It was reported in the “ Canberra Times “ to-day that Pandit Nehru may retire as Premier of India. The same paper also published a photograph of a huge Communist rally in Amritsar, the holy city of the militant Sikh community in the Punjab. The caption to the photograph states -
Led by the Communist Chief Minister of Kerala, E. M. S. Nambudiripad, they chanted their new slogan, “ Nehru Ke Baadh. Nambudiripad “ (“ After Nehru, Nambudiripad “).
This illustrates the conditions which exist in India. Yet during this debate I have not heard one member on the Government side say anything about trying to help the starving millions of India by sending them, from this country, some of the food which the members of the Australian Country party profess to grow for that purpose. Let Country party members get to their feet and say that they are willing to give some of their produce to these people. Then I shall believe that they have some thought of social justice and Christianity - a religion which believes in sharing with others. Instead of uttering pious platitudes let us look at something which is authentic and which is open for perusal to anybody. I refer to a report which reads as follows:-
FOOD SHORT IN BENGAL.
It is reported that the State of Bengal is facing its worst food shortage since 1943, when 3,000,000 (one-third of Australia’s population) died of starvation. The Government is helping to supply rice.
I suggest to those who talk of communism and what is going on in the underdeveloped nations that here is a chance to help to put down communism because it is from poverty that communism rises. One of the papers that I brought back from India states that the spectre of famine is stalking the land. It contains an article headed, “ Serious Food Scarcity in Next Six Months Feared All through India, evidence of food scarcity can be seen. Evidence can be seen of the failure of the five-year plan. Even those papers that support the government admit that the first five-year plan has failed and that starvation will be the lot of millions of people in India. One of the members of the Congress party in India made this statement: -
In the considered opinion of the Food Grains Inquiry Committee, “ the food problem is likely to remain with us for a long time to come “. The population increases roughly at the rate of 2 per cent, each year . . . Yet this general statement about the food shortage gives little insight into the anatomy of hunger which is the lot of millions in the country.
It will be the lot of millions in that country for years to come if the Western Powers, including Australia, continue to spend millions of pounds on atomic and nuclear warfare, sending millions of pounds into the air in smoke instead of trying to do something to give these people, not cash but foodstuffs to help them survive. That is their only necessity. The tractors of the Colombo plan are not a necessity. I agree with Mr. Cunningham that tractors are lying all over these countries, rusting and not being used. I agree that the Colombo plan is a fine gesture but it is only a gesture at the present moment. What the backward countries want are soil experts, sewerage engineers, water engineers, and others who can help to provide all those things which we, in this country, accept as amenities of a civilized race. Let Government supporters who take the Opposition to task and say that we are advocates of communism read the remarks of a man who went through India with me and who is one of the leading lights in the Liberal Government of South Australia. The following is a report in the Melbourne “Herald” of 26th December, 1957, of a statement by Mr. H. H. Shannon, M.P.
The results of partition in India, ten years after the event, were still one of the saddest things in his life . . .
The tide of humanity which crossed between the two countries after partition in 1947 had resulted in a staggering degree of poverty . . .
It had been estimated that between 18 and 20 millions of people were uprooted on social or religious grounds.
To-day, as never before, tens of thousands of these people and their whole families huddled with their few possessions on footpaths, vacant blocks, and anywhere they could put up a shelter of sorts.
There were alway beggars in the old India, but never a problem like this.
Mr. Shannon found the political scene in Pakistan anything but satisfactory.
Government supporters seem to want to perpetuate those dreadful conditions under which the Indian people live.
– They are of their own choosing.
– Whether or not it has been their own choosing that, for 400 years, the people of India have lived under those conditions, we, as civilized people, have never attempted to do anything about it.
Let me read to the House now an extract from an article written by Mr. T. C. Bray, editor-in-chief of the Brisbane “ CourierMail”, who cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be said to be a Labour supporter. In this article, Mr. Bray reports on a trip that he and other newspaper men made through India. He writes -
What -did I see in India and whom did I meet?
I saw the greatest contrasts the world has ever offered: -
An atomic power reactor . . .
A tool factory and a telephone factory . . .
A dam that, when finished to 700 ft., will be the .highest in the world; . . .
Within walking distance of these marvels I -saw the other end of the Indian scale -
Shrivelled men ploughing fields with a bullockdrawn wooden plough;-
So much for the Colombo plan -
Women plastering cow dung on the floor of a hut to give a smooth surface;
Oxen plodding around the village well to draw water to women, filling water pots on their heads and gliding off through rice fields.
Women everywhere on the move, driving cows, carrying bundles of fuel on their heads and children on their hips; tiny girls of six and seven, holding up infants, begging, begging, begging, all over the land.
Masses of people on railway stations, some of them just squatting, nothing to do, nowhere to go, scrounging a living from travellers and performing their natural functions on the stations.
In relation to the Colombo plan, I should like to quote some of the views of Mr. Nehru, the Prime Minister of India. The Indian journal, “ Statesman “, of 30th November, 1957, reports some views expressed by Mr. Nehru, who is considered to be one of the greatest statesmen in the world, as follows: -
It was alright to talk of latest techniques but the extent to which they affected the millions in the country was of greater importance.
In other words, Mr. Nehru does not think that India is ready for intensive industrialization, in spite of what the honorable member for Gwydir has said. Mr. Nehru’s belief is that the intensive modernization of industry in India can only cause greater starvation and relegate millions more to the already swollen ranks of the millions of unemployed throughout the world.
– He runs the country. What is he doing about it?
– What are the honorable member and this Government doing about it? They have done nothing but talk about it over the years. It is about time this Government did something. Its failure to act is an indication of the strength of the Christian spirit in its supporters.
– India is Mr. Nehru’s country.
– Mr. Nehru took over a legacy that was left to him when the British retired from India, The “ Statesman “ further reported Mr. Nehru’s views in the following terms: -
Referring to the lack of trained personnel in the country, the Prime Minister revealed that whereas they had a total of only 70,000 engineers, Russia was producing 80,000 engineers every year.
As I have said, India needs sewerage engineers, water engineers, and soil experts. The erosion of the land and siltation of the rivers there have to be seen to be believed. What is wrong with our trying to help India to train as many engineers as Russia is training? That is one of the practical things that we could do for the people of these underdeveloped countries.
The Minister’s denial of Mr. Cunningham’s criticisms of the Colombo plan is contradicted by Rohan Rivett, who certainly cannot be said to be a Labour supporter. He writes -
In any of a hundred construction projects, the American sees thousands of coolies, scooping up and carrying pitiful baskets of a few pounds of earth on their heads for perhaps a hundred yards from A. to B. Endlessly, painfully, slowly, they repeat the process. He wants to put in two men wilh two bulldozers and do the day’s work of the thousand coolies in a couple of hours.
What the American-
And the Australian, let me say - doesn’t work out is what happens to the 998 coolies thus unemployed?
They go into the ranks of the millions in India who are starving already.
Mr. Rivett continues ;
It is difficult for the Westerner to appreciate that India’s one abiding wealth is her colossal manpower. So it is hard for him to realise why the Indian government as a principle prefers to have 1,000 men working without mechanisation and with (to Americans) appalling inefficiency, rather than have two mechanised efficient operators and 998 men on the dole. “ On the dole “, he writes, but there is no dole. There is only starvation in the streets. That is an answer to those people who talk about providing tractors and mechanizing industries under the Colombo plan. Anything of that sort only adds to the already heavy burden of tragedy borne by the people of India.
– Why does the honorable member not give Australia a pat on the back occasionally for what it is doing?
– We shall give Australia a pat on the back if it is earned, and the honorable member should be prepared to help Australia to earn it.
Let us turn now to education. Government supporters suggest that free enterprise can do what is needed in these underdeveloped countries. According to the census, 16.6’ per cent, of the people of India are literate. Almost 85 per cent, are illiterate! The Indian Constitution provides that children from the age of six to fourteen years shall receive free education. The masses of India are not interested in education. They are interested only in survival. Indeed, their primary interest is in food. What does it matter to them that we talk about communism infiltrating into India, as undoubtedly it is doing? In the State of Kerala, in southern India, there is a huge Communist majority in the State administration, and there are 40 Communist members of the Indian National Parliament. Of what concern is it to the people of India who rules them, provided that their rulers give them half a loaf of bread where they get none to-day? If ever there was a fitting subject for summit talks it is events in India and Pakistan, where, in spite of all this poverty, degradation, and starvation, governments are spending 75 per cent, of their total revenue on defence. Is it not time that the people of the civilized world joined together to help the people of these countries out of their degradation?
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- One ls sorely tempted, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, to follow a somewhat luxurious line of argument, and to pursue in their rather labyrinthine detail the arguments presented by Opposition members in this debate. But, in the main, Sir, I resist that temptation, except to say to the House that I am rather intrigued by the argument used by not only the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor), but also the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. R. W. Holt), who spoke earlier this evening, and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), who spoke this afternoon - the argument that capitalism is essentially the cause of communism. It is a curious, fascinating and intriguing argument. I just want to dismiss it to its proper place by simply reminding this trio that Friedrich Engels. the co-author of the Communist Manifesto, was one of the wealthiest cotton mill owners in England. This gentleman, in collaboration with Karl Marx who, amongst other things, suffered from carbuncles, produced that document. Yet we have been assured by various Opposition members that the whole course of communism during the last century or so is attributable to one thing and one thing alone - the harsh materialism of Western capitalism. That indeed is drivel in refined form.
During the course of this debate I interjected, with characteristic courtesy, when the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) said that it was about time that the world - and this country - recognized continental China, red China or Communist China - call it what you will. I asked, “ And who will speak for the 25,000,000 slave labourers? “ The right honorable gentleman, with that benign, fatherly look of warm approval that he sometimes gives me, said, “ I understand that you have made that charge on one or two occasions, and my friend the honorable member for Parkes has repudiated it “.
A number of conclusions may be drawn from that slight exchange. The first is that I was responsible for the charge that there were 25,000,000 slave labourers in a country now controlled by the Communists, namely, Communist China. The second is that the charge was of no account. First, I did not make the charge. Perhaps I may presume to say that I identified it before this Parliament. Some considerable time ago now, I produced here a report by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Director-General of the International Labour Office on forced labour. It was not my report, but the report of two senior executives of organizations which, if I may indulge in an aside, have attracted the fawning adulation of members of the Opposition since I have been in this Parliament. I have heard the Leader of the Opposition say from time to time, in effect, that everything the United Nations does is right, and everything that any one outside does is wrong. I have seen the International Labour Office held up as the exemplar of all that is fine and decent in human conduct. The report charges Communist China with the most monstrous behaviour in human history. It declares that 25,000,000 people are held by it as slave labourers. On one or two occasions I have referred to the enfeebled efforts of my friend the honorable member for Parkes - who, I understand, has for some mysterious reason been absent from these precincts for a considerable time - to deny the fact that that number have been held in the slave camps of Communist China. A charge so grave should surely prompt the whole conscience of mankind to rise up and demand an answer, but no answer has been forthcoming.
At the risk of wearying the House I shall cite, once again, Article 26 of red China’s regulations governing “ Reform Through Labour and Education” -
By the continuance and systematic use of such methods as collective instruction, private conversations, study documents and organized discussion, the prisoners shall be trained to confess their guilt. . . .
Whether the report that 25,000,000 people are held as slave labourers is correct or false, the charge that the prisoners of red China are trained to confess their guilt should surely come as a challenge to every person who has even a nodding acquaintance with the history of British common law. The Leader of the Opposition said to me, “ If you want to prove the charge, call red China before the United Nations organization”. That was a most interesting observation. The right honorable gentleman is not unlearned in jurisprudence. He was at one time a judge of the High Court of this country.
– And a good one.
– I am interested to have the honorable gentleman’s corroboration on this point. Would his leader have accepted as an appellant before his court a member of that court? In substance, that is what is suggested. If Communist China were to be recognized and admitted to the United Nations, it would be one of the judges in this matter. I have said that the conduct charged against red China is monstrous. I believe that, essentially, it is just that. I challenge honorable members to turn back through the record of mankind and find a comparable charge. It points to conduct which can only be described as high evil. It is a charge that, if the public conscience has not withered beyond recall, demands an answer. Surely there is a natural law - a moral law if you like - which transcends the sovereignty of nations; a law which dwarfs humble political viewpoints, no matter how dogmatically presented, and which must be allowed to function. That is why I say to this Parliament that, neither by my voice, nor by my vote, will I recognize Communist China until this charge of monstrous conduct has been wiped from the record. We ourselves have a responsibility in the matter. The charge has remained on the record now for nearly two years. What have we done about it? I only hope that we may find it within our power, and our imagination, to extirpate the crime which rests so solidly on our own shoulders. 1 turn now to matters which are, in a sense, closer to home. I refer to the current Indonesian dispute. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), displaying an exemplary degree of restraint, did not, in discussing that dispute, say anything to which one could take exception. However, if I may presume to say so, he is not - situated as he is - at liberty to state what is essentially the truth of the matter. I do not say that lightheartedly or in any derogatory way. Twelve months ago there came to my office in Brisbane a gentleman by the name of Yaroslov Stetzko. I do not suppose the name means very much to the great majority of people in this country. But Yaroslov Stetzko was one time Prime Minister of the Ukraine, a nation of 25,000,000 people. He is now the president of the European bloc of anti-bolshevik countries and resides in Munich. Mr. Stetzko said to me through his interpreter, “ I hope, Mr. Killen, that the people of your country realize what is hanging over them “. I asked him what he meant by that. Mr. Stetzko had been in Indonesia soon after Marshal Voroshilov had been in Indonesia. Mr. Stetzko had found that the purpose of Voroshilov’s visit to Indonesia was to facilitate the supply of arms and materials for a struggle which the Communists knew was coming.
The essence of the Indonesian dispute, as far as the majority of Australians is concerned, can be put in the form of a question. Is Indonesia going Communist? The Minister for External Affairs, during the course of his speech, referred to the disposition and balance of legislative power throughout Indonesia. He said it would be quite wrong to regard the present civil war as essentially a dispute between Communists on the one hand and antiCommunists on the other. That is perfectly true, but it is equally true to say that the Indonesian dispute is a struggle between those who recognize the directives of Moscow as wrong and those who regard the directives of Moscow as not quite so wrong. My fear is that many of us have thought things but have not had the moral courage to say them. If the rebels in Indonesia are wiped out, and the present regime in Indonesia continues, there is every likelihood that the Communists, having been appeased in that country for so long, will gain control. When that happens, the claim for Dutch New Guinea - West Irian - will move from the circle of legalism and will assume a blunter and more aggressive role.
One hesitates to make charges against a country with which we have diplomatic relations, a country that we realize as one that has pursued a policy of appeasement. I would prefer not to say the things I feel I should say. When Dr. Soekarno went to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, he declared that Indonesia wanted the whole world to be free from capitalism, yet in the very same year in which he made that statement Indonesia received 200,000,000 dollars in direct aid from capitalist America, and 100,000,000 dollars from the Imports and Exports Bank. Dr. Soekarno also declared that the Soviet Union was a country that had always fought for freedom and was still fighting for justice. What disturbs me greatly is that very few people in Australia seem to realize that there is one point of the Indonesian Republic that is only 250 miles from Australia.
We have seen for five to ten years a policy adopted by Indonesia that, I believe, should be identified as a policy of disastrous appeasement of Communists in Indonesia. Surely we have lived long enough to realize one thing if we realize nothing else, and that is that you cannot appease those who subscribe to the doctrine of MarxistLeninism. Honorable gentlemen might ask me what further evidence I have that Communists have been appeased in Indonesia. Well, my mind goes back to 1946 when a gentleman by the name of Iwa Kusumasumantri, who was trained in Moscow and to my knowledge, whose family is still residing in Moscow, was jailed for sedition and treasonable activities, yet in 1955 he was released from gaol and appointed Minister for Defence. In the same year, Mohamed Yamin, who, also, in 1946, was gaoled for sedition and treasonable activity was appointed Minister for Education.
The whole history of events in Indonesia points conclusively to the fact that there has been a policy of disastrous appeasement. I believe that we are at liberty to say to responsible authorities in Indonesia that we in Australia look upon that policy of appeasement with great concern and that if they do not desist from it then we can only fear for the future.
I wish to make one more reference to Indonesia. If that country should fall to the Communists, Australia will be exposed to great peril. That is why I make the suggestion to the House this evening, and to the Government, that every consideration should be given by this country to the purchase of Dutch New Guinea. If Dutch New Guinea is controlled by the Communist party - and it will assuredly be controlled by the Communist party if the policy of appeasement is persisted with in Indonesia - the whole of New Guinea and Papua is going to be controlled by the Communists. If that territory should happen to be controlled by the Communists, not one of us will be at liberty to rest in his bed at night with ease. Indonesians declare that their claim to West New Guinea - West Irian - has great validity. I challenge that claim on a number of grounds. Ethnically the people of Indonesia and the people of West New Guinea are miles apart. The people of Indonesia belong to the Xanthoderm or Mongoloid group. The people of West Irian or Dutch New Guinea belong to the Melanesian group both in religion and culture. The difference is complete and distinctive. This is a matter which I believe is of great consequence, not only to those of us who sit in this Parliament now, but also to those people who are likely to follow us in this Parliament, and to those people who will support and populate this country in years to come.
I ask the Minister for External Affairs to give urgent consideration to my suggestion that the Australian Government should endeavour to purchase Dutch New Guinea from the Dutch authorities. The people of Australian New Guinea and Dutch New Guinea have so much in common whereas the people of Dutch New Guinea have nothing in common with the Indonesian people. These are challenging times, but I do not believe that any one of us has anything to gain by denying that challenge. I believe we have everything to gain by accepting it.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKEROrder! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- If ever a debate has gone off the rails it is this one. Most of what has been said by members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party is like the flowers that bloomed last spring which have nothing to do with the case.
– We heard that in your last speech.
– No, you did not. I must make a very deep impression on the honorable gentleman because he always remembers or thinks he remembers what I say. All I am sorry for is that although his powers of perception may be great, his powers of comprehension are very weak.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) who spoke at some length on international affairs on 15th April last said, in his opening remarks - i propose to confine what 1 have to say this evening to events in Asia.
I have listened to much of the debate that has taken place, and I find that most Government supporters have not bothered to read what the Minister said. They - or some of them - heard him speak, but they have not dealt with the contribution that he made. He said - i will deal with other matters of more global significance on another occasion.
All his followers who have spoken anticipated him. They dealt with everything of global significance and with practically nothing about Asia.
The Minister’s speech was, in my view, quite a commendable one. It was factual. He told the story from his point of view. While I say something in his favour, I do not necessarily endorse all that he said. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), who followed the Minister, dealt with the position on an equally high level and made some very sapient remarks and offered some constructive criticism. Those two gentlemen were followed by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), whose contribution, for once, was an extremely valuable one. I do not think that I have ever heard the honorable member for Mackellar make a better speech.
– It was almost lucid.
– He certainly did not rant, as he often does on the question of communism. He put his view very succinctly and very powerfully. He said that there must be a summit meeting at the earliest possible opportunity, and that we must rob the Russians of the value of the propaganda they have been putting over in the press of the world and by all other means that the Western Powers do not want disarmament. I remember the concluding words of the honorable member for Mackellar last night. He said, “ Let us have a summit meeting on only one condition, and that is, that there shall be no conditions “. That is precisely the position taken up all through by the Leader of the Opposition and members of the Opposition generally. The world is perilously perched at the present moment and while we have the leaders of the powers discussing matters in dispute, we are to that extent obviating the danger of immediate war. But it remained until to-day for the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) and the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) to try-
– You were not in the House when I spoke.
– I was not. That is right. But I am supplied, by courtesy of Mr. Speaker, with a receiving set in my room, and I heard what the honorable member for Gwydir had to say. I took down some of it, and I propose to answer him. The honorable member will remember saying, in criticism of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), that social justice means nothing at all. That is just the sort of reactionary statement one would expect from a reactionary party like the Australian Country party. If social justice does not mean anything at all, we can fold our arms and await the arrival of communism. It is because the democratic world fights for social justice against monopoly capitalism that we can give a lead to the under-developed and uncommitted countries of Asia in order to save them from falling victims to Communist propaganda.
The honorable member for Gwydir asserted that socialism is the road to communism and the honorable member for Hume added his support to that hoary theme. I am sorry to see the young and impressionable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), for whom I do predict some future in this Parliament, supporting that sort of nonsensical talk.
– But it is true.
– I would expect the Minister for the Army to say that it is true, because I have never yet known him to be right on anything. Democratic socialism is the only force that can ultimately defeat communism. If monopoly capitalism was the only thing that communism had to encounter, the world would be Communist very soon. The Socialist International is the hope of the world. It is the forces of the organized workers, Asian and European - under the leadership of this International - and pledged to the policy of democratic socialism, which comprehends economic democracy, social democracy, and political democracy, that will lead the workers to a better life than communism can ever guarantee them. The lives of millions of Asians to-day are particularly miserable and disastrous.
– What is the difference?
– Between democratic socialism and communism?
– The difference is that democratic socialism, as the term connotes, is democratic, and communism is not. The evil philosophy of communism means the domination of the many in the interests of the few. Democracy, according to the definition in Webster or any other dictionary, means the government of the nation by the majority of the people. In other words it means majority rule, freedom of expression of thought, and freedom of elections.
– Just as we have now.
– What we have now is a perversion of the thing that we ought to have. What we ought to have is not something that seeks to perpetuate monopoly capitalism. It is the unequal distribution of the wealth that is the cause of the unrest in the world to-day in every nation and between nations.
– You want us to be equal in poverty.
– Oh, there is a new arrival! I have driven two Ministers out of the House already, and I suppose that this honorable gentleman can put up with the truth for at least five minutes. The upper 10 per cent, of the people of the United States own 60 per cent, of the wealth. Americans have to democratize the United States as we have to democratize this country, because 20 per cent, of the people in Australia own 80 per cent, of the wealth, and 80 per cent, of the people therefore are in economic servitude to the other 20 per cent.
– I do believe it, because the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures prove it. The honorable member for Hume asked about democratic socialism. Democratic socialism was the force that made Winston Churchill Prime Minister of Great Britain to fight Nazi Germany, that other form of totalitarianism.
– That was national socialism.
– We fought national socialism. The honorable member does not know the difference between Hitler and” a democrat. Was Hitler not the leader of the National Socialist forces of Germany? Anyhow, I suppose it is not profitable to cast my pearls before members of the Australian Country party.
If honorable members opposite want to know what the people of Asia are thinking, let them read what prominent Indians and Indonesians and other Asians are saying about the poverty in their countries - poverty which will lead to communism unless we and other free peoples help to alleviate it by taxing ourselves even more to give them the food they need.
– What about the poverty in southern Italy? There is no communism in southern Italy.
– All things in life are relative. There may not be as much communism in southern Italy as there is in northern Italy, but tragically for Western democracy, on the occasion of the last elections in Italy, 33 per cent, of the people of Italy voted Communist. In Australia we have only 1 per cent, voting for Communist party candidates. Finland, right alongside Russia, had Communists, but to-day it has none. The explanation for the difference between conditions in Italy, on the one hand, and conditions in Finland and Australia, on the other hand, is that economically Italy is a poverty-stricken country; a lot of people are suffering undeserved misery and they vote Communist. In Finland and in Australia where conditions are so much better, the Communists have not the field for their propaganda.
Order! There are too many interjections. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is capable of making his own speech.
– Thank you, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker. I have always been under that impression myself. What did Mr. Nehru have to say, recently, about the people of his own country? Honorable members on the Government side do not like Mr. Nehru. He leads his country on a neutral course, but they think that he ought to be tied up with one or other of the power blocs, and preferably with our own. Mr. Nehru said -
This generation of Indians is sentenced to hard labour.
He went on to say that India is squeezing herself to breaking point in order that she might become industrialized. She has nothing to thank the imperialist powers of the past for the fact that she finds herself in her present condition. She has had to cut back her food subsidies by £50,000,000 a year in a country where nobody goes to bed at night having had more than one full meal a day - and they may have been lucky to have had even that. India has cut back her food subsidies by £50,000,000 annually in order to get electric power and expand her industries in an effort to put an end to India’s age-old poverty. The obscurantists of the Australian Country party cannot realize what is happening in the world to-day. They imagine that they have only to make speeches in a country where everybody, even the poorest, is not really hungry, in order to convince the Asians that communism ought to be rejected.
We occidentals, we of the West, cannot comprehend the oriental mind. The Asians are seeing through us although we think we are fooling them. They want help from us. They want food, because in Asia food is politics and politics is food. It is no use sending them implements of war or giving them foreign aid which is four-fifths per cent, military equipment, as America is doing, and then hope that we can withstand the tide of communism. The Communists are able to show, to-day, in their propaganda that they have lifted their country out of a more or less middle seventeenth century condition to the status of a world power. All Asia looks to the Russian example and says, “ If they attained that in their country, we might be able to do something in our country “.
– But at what a price to the individuals.
– What does that mean to people in Asia who have no security of life, whose average age at death is about 36 years whereas, in the Western world the expectation of life is twice as long? It is no use looking at this position through our eyes. The people of Asia are suffering from age-old poverty, as Mr. Nehru has so often remarked. We have to try to help them out of their poverty, but we will not do it by threatening them with war or power blocs. A distinguished Indian, Mr. Minoo R. Masani, recently wrote -
Fired by a growing knowledge of better developed countries, the leaders thrown up by these people-
That is, the Indian and Asian peoples - are expressing an increasingly insistent desire for speedy economic growth and a fuller life. The people are no longer content with the status of “ the man with the hoe “ and are not prepared lo accept for themselves and their children a permanently inferior place in world society.
The world is waking up. In these Asian countries are 2,000,000,000 people who are within 24 hours’ flying time of Australia, and we cannot afford to allow their destitution to continue if we can help them out of their difficulties. There is virtue in the Colombo plan, but it is still not good enough. lt is not good enough to parade Seato fleets around the Pacific and imagine that that performance will make the Asian world more respectful of us or feel better about the state of world affairs. Honorable members on the Government side are prone to sneer at the United Nations organization. They find little of value in it.
– The honorable member for McMillan, a Liberal, says “ Nonsense “, but the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) nods his head approvingly of what I said, These honorable members can reconcile their differences on that issue at the next joint meeting of the Government parties. If the United Nations organization fails then western civilization fails. We have to maintain the United Nations organization, imperfect though it may be. Its imperfections are only a reflection of the imperfections of the countries which constitute its membership. The Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration of the United Nations organization has written a very interesting report in which it points out -
The world per capita income distribution is very unequal.
That report shows that in 1949 the United States per capita income was 1,453 dollars whereas in Indonesia in that year it was 25 dollars per capita. The report further states-
While income distribution is levelling up within the advanced countries of the west, the difference in per capita incomes between relatively rich and poorer countries is widening.
We recall the depression years and the growth of communism in Australia during that period when 32 per cent, of the people of Australia were out of work. They had to try to exist without work because they were not able to sell their labour in a country which at that time had great riches.
– What government was in power then?
– The Lyons Government was then in office; but it was the Bruce-Page Government which caused the depression, no matter what honorable members on the Government side may say on that score. One would imagine, while listening to the speeches of Government members, that everything in Australia is an example to the rest of the world - that income is fairly distributed, that all people have equal opportunities, and all that sort of thing. But in Australia to-day there is a class struggle. There are people in the pensioner classes who are trying to exist on insufficient means of sustenance, while others, particularly in recent years, have grown rich beyond the dreams of avarice because of what they have been able to do under a capitalist government which has encouraged the hire-purchase system of finance. There are many people also who are richer than they ought to be.
The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) spoke about red China and the attitude which we should adopt towards that country. If there is any country in the world which can be regarded as violently anti-Communist on religious grounds, surely it is Ireland. It is interesting, therefore, to read the speech delivered at the last meeting of the United Nations in New York, in September, 1957, of the Minister for External Affairs of Ireland, Mr. Frank Aiken. He voted in favour of the amendment proposed by the delegation from India to list the question of Communist China’s admission to the United Nations for discussion. He said -
Our aims should be to win acceptance for the principles of the Charter in China and to secure self-determination for the people of Korea.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Ward) negatived -
That the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) be granted an extension of time.
.- When the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) made his statement, which dealt mainly with Asian affairs, he implied that, in the fairly near future, he would be making statements on matters pertaining to other aspects of global affairs. I am certain that the House is looking forward to further statements on foreign affairs by the Minister. Tt is important that the House should have frequent statements on the subject, but it is equally important that those statements be debated as soon as possible after they have been made. In the recent past, we have had statements on Poland, Hungary and the Suez crisis. Almost invariably, the debates on such subjects have taken place at a considerable length of time after the events with which they have dealt have occurred.
Too often has the Government given me the impression that it has been adopting a “ Father knows best “ attitude, and that it has rather feared that some indiscreet statements would be made by members of the Parliament. I think that that is a fine conceit, because I do not believe that an indiscreet statement made by a member of this House would have tremendous repercussions in international affairs. In my opinion, it is far more important that honorable members should have the right to express their opinions on current affairs at the time, or as close as possible to the time, that those affairs are taking place, than that we should worry about whether a diplomat somewhere or other will have his feelings ruffled. I hope that, in future, such statements will be debated as soon as possible after they have been delivered.
The Minister spoke of the endeavour that bad been made by Australia to provide economic and technical aid to our neighbours in South and South-East Asia, under the Colombo plan particularly. A lot of personal credit must go to the right honorable gentleman himself, not only in building up good relations with these neighbours of ours, but also for the hard work that he has done in implementing the Colombo plan. A good job undoubtedly has been done by him in that respect.
I should like to make particular mention of one form of assistance which has not been operating for very long but which, I feel, is one of the most important, or will be one of the most important, forms of assistance that we Australians are giving to our Asian neighbours. The external studies department of the Queensland University has made it possible for students from some of our neighbouring Asian countries to avail themselves of the facilities of the university. There is a continually increasing number of Asian students studying at the university. This idea of enabling them to study externally from their homelands will do much, I think, not only to improve our relationships with those countries, but also to give the students knowledge that will be valuable to them in their own lands.
While I fully appreciate the many good things that this Government is doing and has attempted to do to assist our friends, I think we should make some mention of some of the things that we are not doing and, from what I have heard recently, probably do not intend to do. I understand that a statement has been made in fairly recent times to the effect that the Government does not propose to give further consideration, at this time particularly, to a quota of Asian migrants to Australia. I remember that, some few years ago when I made the suggestion in this House that a very limited quota should be introduced, it did not meet with general approval; but, Sir, there was one aspect of the matter that I thought was quite important. Not long after I raised the subject a gallup poll was taken. It indicated that 49 per cent, of Australian people tended to favour the idea, which I had suggested, of a very limited form of quota. I believed then, and I still believe, that something of that kind would be of considerable assistance in impressing on these Asian neighbours of ours the fact that Australia is not a country that is governed by racial or colour prejudice.
When I raised the matter in the first place, I had no intention whatever of opening the flood-gates to allow the Asian masses to pour into Australia. The idea was that it would be a very limited number and very strictly controlled. That is still my idea; but I understand, although I am not certain of this, that since then the Government has been granting naturalization to some Asians who have been long resident in our country. If that is so, I am very glad because, from time to time, I have had cause to feel ashamed when I have met an old Chinaman who came here in 1902 or 1903, and simply because he did not come here in 1901, or before then, was unable to receive an age pension. I have felt ashamed of the fact that the parents of a friend of mine could not become naturalized Australian citizens, although the father had been in this country for more than 40 years. He was a Moslem. Their children were born in Australia, and I think that their two sons were the only Moslems in the Royal Australian Air Force during the last war. One of them was killed in action. Yet, as I say, the parents of that Australian who died for his country could not at that time be naturalized. If those things have been changed - and I hope and believe that they have been - this Government should be proud of the fact that it has been responsible. Tt should not hide its light under a bushel in this respect.
There has been a considerable degree of discussion in the course of this debate as to whether red China should be recognized. I know that that question presents some tremendous difficulties, but I think that we should approach it from the point of view that was mentioned by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) last night. I intend to quote some of his remarks, completely out of context, because I think that they are most appropriate. The honorable gentleman said -
One says this of the past, not in any spirit of recrimination, but in order to try to put the facts and to endeavour to face up to the situation as it now exists. We do ourselves a disservice if we lay our plans of defence or foreign policy on the basis of an old situation which has now vanished.
I believe that we have to ask ourselves a few questions, and that the first one is this: Is the present government of red China likely to change in the near future? I think that the answer to that question will be “ No “, because most nations of the world are striving to bring about a state of peace and the government of red China to-day cannot be changed without a war, which, in my opinion, would be a global war. So I believe that that government will be there for some time. If it is going to be there for some time, I believe that we should recognize it. When I say that, I take into consideration a number of points. In the first place, I do not think that we should throw overboard Nationalist China. I think that we should carry out a policy of recognition and, at the same time, pursue a policy of containment, as we are trying to do to-day. I am not suggesting that we should throw over the anti-Communist Asian neighbours who are, in fact, our allies. I believe that recognition does not mean that we should throw them overboard. I think that we can pursue a policy of containment.
I am of the opinion that in no way would recognition of the government of red China condone some of the activities that go on internally in China, a matter that seems to be most important in the view of some of my friends. I believe that, in this respect, we have a problem that has to be looked at. I know that it has been looked at in the light of economic considerations. There is a great difference of opinion between the great powers of the West - the United Kingdom and America. The United Kingdom has been accused of recognizing red China in order to gain financial advantage and to retain her own interests.
– Who accused her?
– The accusation has been made.
– Yes, falsely.
– I am not saying that it is necessarily false. There could well be some truth in it. We should also consider whether it may be influenced largely by the fact that United Kingdom governments are far more liberally minded, whatever their colour, than are most other governments.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!
– We must bear in mind, too, that at the time of the Suez Canal crisis America - I am sure my friends of the Opposition will not like this as much - was accused of intervening in the Suez crisis to look after her oil interests. I do not doubt for one moment that possibly there was some truth in that accusation.
That brings me back to the speech delivered last night by the honorable member for - Mackellar. We must, somewhere along the line, find a basis of understanding on a number of very difficult points. To do that, there must be a lot of give and take on all sides. There must be give and take in the attitude of the United States towards the United Kingdom. That is most important. There must also, to a certain extent, be an attitude of give and take on the part of the United Kingdom in regard to her trade with Australia. That, too, is most important. Unless we can get some agreement on those levels, it will be very difficult to maintain a form of solid front all along the line against this Communist menace which undoubtedly threatens us.
That again brings me to the speech of the honorable member for Mackellar which, in the main, was very good. I completely agree with it. I recall the situation at the end of the last war when the Communists were very much in favour in almost the whole of Europe. I was amazed that, in the furtherance of their policy, they did not continue along the line they had been pursuing at the end of the war, because there is no doubt that many people were falling in their direction. I think the honorable member for Mackellar spoke the truth when he said that the Communists decided that they would go in for a quick atomic war and victory in that field. It is true that a few years ago a number of people said that, if we gave the Russians sufficient time, they would be able to gather sufficient strength and we would not be able to beat them, and that therefore we should go to war with them immediately. I am very glad that idea has been proven to be wrong.
I believe that the new era which was introduced when satellites were first shot into outer space will be the longest period of peace that this world has ever known - if we get over the next few years. It is not a question of being able to get one of those satellites up into outer space; it is a question of some one being able to bring it down where and when he wants to. I am quite sure that there is sufficient deterrent power in the Western nations to-day. That power must be maintained until we reach the stage where these satellites can be controlled. When that happens, I believe we shall enter upon a long period of peace in which undoubtedly there will continue to be a war of ideas. I do not think that wars of ideas are harmful. I am quite certain that in the long run a Christian viewpoint will win.
.- I am astonished and amazed that the liberal speech which we have just heard delivered by the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm) should fall from the lips of a member of a party which includes the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) and the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) - if one can regard the Australian Country party as a satellite, part, piece or ancillary of the Liberal party. The same remark applies to the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), who seemed to be putting in a late run to establish himself as a protagonist of the Australian Democratic Labour party abscess, the members of which have adopted the same doctrine in order to gain favour with the Liberal party.
I return to the speech of the honorable member for Bowman. It has been worth while to go through most of this long, hard day to hear such a liberal speech from a member of the Government parties.
– Do not go too far!
– I shall not go too far because 1 realize that, in the realm of internal politics, the honorable member for Bowman is just as likely to support the tenets of fascism as expressed in the Stevedoring Industry Bill and other measures brought down by the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt). I was a little astonished when I reperused the speech of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). Does the right honorable gentleman belong to the same party as the honorable member for Moreton? Are the sentiments that are expressed throughout his speech the sentiments of a member of the Liberal party as it now stands? The honorable member for Moreton did not take much notice of the speech of the Minister for External Affairs, so I do not suppose mine will have much influence on him for the time being.
Let us consider some of the problems that have been raised by the Minister for External Affairs. I have not heard a single attempt from honorable members opposite to answer them in any constructive way whatever. I do not claim to be an expert on international affairs - I have had little opportunity to travel at public expense or at anybody else’s expense - and I do not claim to be an economic expert. Therefore, I cannot produce the answers myself. But at least we on this side of the chamber can give some thought to these problems. What we must do is not so much to answer the problems as to recognize them. The Minister said -
An important factor in Asia is the growing conviction among the people that a better way of life than that which they have endured for generations is now within sight.
What have we done over the last seven or eight years in any but a very small way to see that that objective is attained? What have we done to encourage the people of Indonesia to solve their problems? What have we done in any major way to assist the people of Indonesia to solve the problems that were outlined so ably to-night by the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor)? What contribution has been made by the super study group of the Government, with its more highbrow approach to these problems, in an effort to help us to solve these problems?
The Minister also said - . . we must recognize that this situation offers an opportunity to the Communists, which they have not ignored, to try to win the allegiance of the economically frustrated masses of Asia. . . It would be sterile for any country to base its policy merely on opposition to communism.
Are they the words of the rest of his party? It does not seem so. To-day, we have heard speeches that have been a disgrace to this
House. I refer particularly to the closing phrases of the honorable member for Wentworth, although occasionally I have had regard for his remarks.
What are the Liberal answers to the questions that have been posed by the Minister? What do we intend to do to assist these people in such a way that they will not fall prey to communism? The Minister made very few suggestions. His speech was more a travelogue than a statement of policy. We must consider the question of economic aid and the economic position of the people of Asia. One matter to which we should be turning our attention with all the intensity of which we are capable is that of the prices of primary products on which many of the countries of Asia must base their very existence. The Minister said that we must be actively conscious of the considerable political consequences that would follow from further serious deterioration of commodity prices in South-East Asia. That is a fundamental problem. But from not one single honorable member opposite have I heard any recognition of the problem or any attempt to pose a constructive solution of it.
Only governments can solve the problem. We realize that honorable members opposite are opposed to any kind of government activity in the economic field, but in the end there will have to be some kind of international prices control. There will have to be, if possible, a subsidy of some kind, too. To the north of Australia, 1,000,000,000 people live very close to or beneath the bread line. That is one of the challenges of the age; it is one of the questions that we must face.
The Minister referred to Indonesia. The honorable member for Moreton, too, made quite a lengthy examination of the history of that country. He has no sympathy or understanding whatsoever for the Indonesian people in their struggle. We talk about our own problems; but consider the plight of a nation faced after only ten years with the job of solving problems that have been foisted upon it for 300 years. The Dutch may well have been very good colonial masters; but, after all, it was colonial and it was mastery. There is no doubt whatsoever that the Indonesians had no opportunity to develop their own internal administrative skills and know-how in order to make their country work.
The country itself consists of hundreds of islands. It is divided slightly by differences of race and not so many of creed. The honorable member for Moreton suggests that we should offer to buy West New Guinea. I shall refer to that matter in a moment or two. But let us consider the problem in Indonesia. There has been a considerable and rapid deterioration of the economic position throughout Indonesia, our closest neighbour, the shortest distance between that country and Australia being about 250 miles. There we have 70,000,000 or 80,000,000 neighbours close to chaos internally and close to starvation in their way of life. What have we offered? What have we done? I lay at the door of the present Government and its foreign policy the complete failure to offer constructive and friendly assistance to the Indonesians in such a manner that they could accept it without in any way surrendering their national sovereignty or their personal pride, without their being affected in any way, without causing them personal humiliation; because, we must remember that the people of Europe in the last 300 years have been associated in the minds of the rest of the people of the world with everything connected with power, colonialism, imperialism and conquest. For 300 years no person in the world has been safe from a European coming along and trying to sell him something, conquering him, or trying to convert him to our creed.
Therefore we have to be very careful that we take into consideration the fact that there exists at the back of the minds of the people of Asia this lurking suspicion of Europeans generally. As we are Europeans, descended from Europeans, with a European culture and way of life, we are the objects of some of that suspicion. Geographically, we are irrevocably part of Asia. Historically, we have managed to maintain ourselves free from the entanglements of colonialism, conquest and imperialism. On the whole, until the last few years at least, we have been very favorably known personally to the people of Asia. We should have fostered that.
The challenge to Australia, I believe, is the fact that we are the link between east and west. Here on this continent we have an opportunity to offer the people of Asia something better than Europeans generally in the past have offered them. Our European background makes us the link with western tradition, and our geographical position makes us the link with the east. It is folly for us to aline ourselves in any way whatsoever with the past, associated with things in the minds of the Asian people that they call colonialism, or conquest.
I now refer to the failure of our foreign policy in the last few years, which has been a complete negation arising from our neglect to take any sort of positive line whatsoever, by surrendering in what we might almost consider a humiliating fashion, to the belief that 9,000,000 of us can have little to say in world affairs. I believe that when men of goodwill meet together as they do in the United Nations and its subsidiary bodies, they are not interested in your weight ki battleships. It is the goodwill and the feeling and spirit you can bring to the discussions that will matter to them.
The whole history of human development has been based more on the quality produced by small numbers than on the power produced by great nations. The influence of England over the last 300 years is an example of that. One of the great dynamics of history has sprung from a small island off the coast of Europe. Three hundred years ago a population of no more than 4,000,000 English people inhabited an island little larger than Tasmania; yet their influence, their language, their culture, their Parliamentary institutions, have spread to the uttermost corners of the earth. The same thing could be said of some of the city-states of ancient Greece, which left all mankind a great heritage. Similarly, we on this continent, few though we may be, with the background of the west and with the goodwill that we take to the United Nations and all its ancillary organizations, have a great task ahead of us. In the last eight or nine years we have failed to take up the challenge in any way, and have surrendered the position that was built up under the previous management of our external affairs.
This is the direction in which the Australian people should be turning their minds: I believe that it is of great concern at this moment that we should give the utmost support to Dr. Soekarno. I do not know very much about the intimate details of his personal politics. But I know he has accepted a great task in trying to build a new nation on this good earth. I know some of the problems that beset him when he took over the Government of Indonesia. I was up in Indonesia at the end of the last war, and I saw about me evidence of the great distrust that the local people had of the Dutch. I saw the difficulties that arose in some places, for instance Borneo and a place called Bandianak. from the great distrust that existed between people of Chinese descent and people of Malay descent. In the end, rather than trust one another, they took the Dutch back; but they took them back unwillingly. Then they attempted to throw the Dutch out. And so it came to pass - as it must always come to pass - because nobody on this planet will accept domination by people not acceptable to them. We see it in Malta. We see it in Algeria and in other parts of the world too. We even see it in our own Northern Territory. It would not be a bad idea if we turned our minds to solving our own problems here.
I refer now to West New Guinea. The honorable member for Moreton suggested that we should buy it- What an undignified and humiliating way in which to acquire a great slice of country! There are, I understand, a couple of million native inhabitants of West New Guinea. Are they to be bought and sold as chattels as slaves were bought and sold not so many years ago?
What is the challenge of New Guinea? I acquired some figures yesterday from the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck)- In our part of New Guinea there are 350,000 children, or so we think, because they have not all been counted. We spend about £800,000 a year on their education. But the education system available to the white people in Australia is a long way from what it ought to be. In Victoria there are 250,000 children in the State schools, and we spend on their education the best part of £20,000,000. Yet, if we adopted the suggestion of the honorable member for Moreton, the Australian people would be asked to accept new burdens- Mark you, we are to buy West New Guinea while we have not solved the problems of our own territories and the territories placed under our control!
I think it is time we turned our minds to the general solution of those problems, and admit that they are problems and that there is no easy answer to them. Perhaps the important keynote of the speech of the last speaker on the Government side was that he admitted that these problems were not easy of solution. This is a novel feature in a speech by a Government supporter, because one thing about honorable members opposite is that they have always a ready answer, they have always the suggestion that power will solve the problem. We talk about deterrents and we talk about power. These will not solve the problem. Historical analogies show only the complete failure of these methods to solve the problem. Honorable members opposite speak about appeasement and revert to 1938 for their examples. It is not to 1938 they should go for their historical analogies, but to 1848, when the people of Europe were struggling for national rights and national sovereignty. As is usual, the anti-Labour parties are 100 years behind the times. This is the significant thing in all their political, social and other philosophies.
One of the most distressing features of this House is the continual violent and reactionary statements from honorable members opposite. I presume that their backgrounds are much the same as mine. I presume they went to the same sort of school as I did. I know that many of them served in the same defence services as I served in. I know that they live in the same sort of suburbs and the same sort of homes as I and people like me live in. How honorable members opposite could have developed such a ridiculous and outmoded, such a reactionary and almost humiliatingly servile attitude to the reactionary elements of the world surpasses my understanding.
The honorable member for Moreton spoke with great dramatics about the monstrous situation in China. Well, it may be. I do not know. But I do know that the honorable gentleman omitted altogether to mention the monstrous situation in Germany not so long ago. Has the honorable member no sense of history at all? The point is this: Very few times on this planet have ordinary human beings been treated as equals, and had the right to live and to live happily together. It has been on very few occasions that that has been the case. In fact, for 6,000 years men have tried power and violence, the bomb and the spear, as solutions to their problems. For 6,000 years they have failed.
We on this side of the House believe that it is time we took up the challenge and tried a new method. And the new method outlined here is the socialist philosophy which motivates the Australian Labour party. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), a man who should know better, made some remarks about Labour’s alleged alinement with the Communist philosophy. The Communist philosophy is materialist; the capitalist philosophy, which is supported by honorable members on the other side of the House, is materialist. We on this side of the House base our attitude on humanity. We believe that no matter where a human being may be, whether he is a Hungarian, an Arab or a Jew, he has no right to be treated ‘as anything but an equal. That is fundamental to our philosophy. Honorable members who belong to the Australian Country party talk about democracy, by way of interjection. It is not democracy in this country. The Australian Country party and the Liberal party in Victoria support plural voting and property franchise. In Victoria, they still flog. In South Australia, the Liberal party will still hang. Those matters are against our philosophy, and they prejudice part of our mission in this world to-day.
– And trap shooting.
– And trap shooting with live pigeons for sport. No wonder they are hundreds of years behind. No wonder, when we turn back the pages of “ Hansard “ we find that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) opposed freedom for India. I will give the correct references to any one who cares to have them. No wonder the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) was opposed when he was against the veto not so many years ago. Honorable members opposite are completely out of touch with history and everything it has taught us. They are completely out of touch with humanity, the background of social equality and everythin« else that has developed in this country over 150 years to make it an almost unique community, completely homogeneous in many ways, as no other nation has been.
I hope that as a result of constant debate in this House, we will be conscious that we have this sort of mission in world affairs. There is not much that we can do, perhaps, to make our attitudes effective through power, but we can make them effective through persuasion. 1 am reminded of the quotation in the third or fourth readers in Victoria -
What can a little chap do?
He can fight like a knight
For the truth and the right,
That is what a little chap can do.
We in Australia can develop the theory that we use in our personal and domestic relations and apply it to our relations with the Arabs, the Indonesians and the people of West Irian. Unless we do that, there is no hope for the world.
.- I am always pleased when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) speaks in a debate. I believe he is a delightful character and one of the nicest men we could possibly meet outside the House. Inside the House, he hits with everything he can find. He is not too accurate in his statements, but when we respond he can take it, if I may use an Australian term. When he comes into a debate, he has a wonderful sense of humour and I am always pleased to hear him. However, we get a little tired of some of the phrases he uses, such as “The flowers that bloom in the spring have nothing to do with the case “. We have heard that used very often. Another phrase he uses is, “ Throwing pearls before the Country party “. Surely that is worn out now! The Country party can take that kind of humour, but all the same the repetition must be tiring, even for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
The Deputy Leader spoke of many things. He spoke of social justice and criticized my colleague, the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan). He said that the honorable member for Gwydir said that social justice meant nothing. The honorable member did not say that at all. The honorable member said that the words “ social justice “ mean nothing unless it is applied to something practical and substantial. That was the theme of his speech, but it was twisted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in a way that may impress some people who did not hear or take particular notice of the speech of the honorable member for Gwydir. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition went on to say, in this debate on international affairs, that democratic socialism is the hope of the world or the hope of Australia.
– Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, I direct your attention to the state of the House.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lawrence). - Ring the bells.
– Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, why did you not adopt your usual practice of saying how many members were on the Government side and how many on the Opposition side?
– 1 have never done that.
– As you have done on former occasions, many times.
Order! [Quorum formed.]
– I was so rudely interrupted by the honorable member for East Sydney, of course, with the object of reducing my time, because the longer I speak the greater the agony of the Labour party. The points I make pierce the armour of Opposition members. I was speaking about the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. After praising him, I mentioned his comment that democratic socialism, as practised by the Labour party, was the hope of Australia or even of the world because it is democratic, whereas socialism is not democratic.
Order! There is so much noise in the chamber that I can hardly hear the honorable member for Mallee. It must cease.
– I had better go over that again. The point is that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that democratic socialism, as its name implies, is democratic but that communism is not democratic, and democratic socialism will eventually defeat communism. I was wondering where the unity ticket between the socialists and the Communists fits in.
– What are you talking about?
Order! There are too many interjections. I will have to take action if they do not cease.
– After getting everything it can from the Communists, does the Labour party intend to double-cross them? That appears to be what is really happening. I was most interested in the discussion on the summit conference. We have heard a lot from the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) about the summit conference. Honorable members will recall that recently we had a visit from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Macmillan. When Mr. Macmillan referred to the need for a summit conference he was immediately applauded by the Leader of the Opposition in the Australian Parliament. The Leader of the Opposition said that Mr. Macmillan was a man of great understanding because he favoured the summit conference and that we could work in very satisfactorily with him in every possible way, quite different altogether from working in with the Prime Minister of Australia. However, very shortly afterwards, Mr. Macmillan spoke about the great help Australia had given to the Commonwealth Forces in Malaya in fighting the terrorists. I was wondering just how the Leader of the Opposition felt then. The real point about Mr. Macmillan and the praise of the Leader of the Opposition for him is this: When Mr. Macmillan’s opinions coincided with those of the Leader of the Opposition, he was a wonderful man, but the moment they did not - for instance, regarding Malaya and the Australian forces there - he would not be worthy of the praise that was given to him by the Leader of the Opposition.
I want to mention the remarks of the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor) because he made one or two very big mistakes. He said that Australia and other countries should send soil experts, engineers in irrigation and experts in other phases of primary production to the countries where the machinery is sent. Surely the honorable member knows that many soil experts, stock experts and engineers in irrigation have been sent to these countries under the Colombo plan. Apparently he had no knowledge of that at all, but he claimed that they should be sent there. This Government has looked ahead and sent to those countries experts in the growing of wheat, wool and countless other products of the soil. The sooner the honorable member for Gellibrand brings himself up to date, the better it will be for every one concerned. He asked, “ Why does not the Country party send some of its wheat to those countries overseas? “ Is that a fair proposition? If wheat were sent overseas, should it not be sent on behalf of the whole Australian people? Is the honorable member prepared to organize those people in his electorate whom he calls the workers, to work two or three hours extra each day for perhaps six months to produce articles that will be of use to those countries? If he will do that, I can say without any fear of contradiction that the primary producers of Australia will play their part, pound for pound, in goods to be sent overseas. However, we have the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) who says, “ I believe that the people on the Government side of the House went to the same schools, play the same sports and live in the same suburb “. We all know that his vision in Melbourne opens in the morning with a view of the Dandenongs, and closes with the setting sun with a view of the You Yangs.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) in a statement dated 25th April, said -
Australia is shipping 2,355 tons of flour worth £100,000 to Ceylon as a contribution to alleviating the losses that country suffered through floods last year. The gift of flour will form part of Australia’s Colombo plan aid to Ceylon. It is in addition to the emergency relief supplies of milk powder and medical goods sent last December to help the people in the flooded area at the time of their greatest need.
I do not very often quote from statements and books, unlike members of the Labour party who search through books and, when they find a statement of some person which agrees with their point of view, they quote it. However, the statement from which I am reading is entirely factual, and I shall quote further from it -
Australians, from their own experience, are able to understand the human suffering, discouragement and economic dislocation that follow in the train of national disasters such as these floods.
I point out to the Opposition that Australians, those who live in the suburbs as well as those who live in the great outback, have suffered from floods. But 1 do not think the honorable member for Wills is frightened or anxious about any flooding of the Yarra that may affect Melbourne. Mr. Casey’s statement continues -
We are, therefore, glad to join a fellow member of the Commonwealth in its efforts to get its land back into production and its irrigation works in order in the interests of the people’s livelihood.
Mr. Casey said the flour would be shipped from Fremantle in the “ State of Travancore Cochin “, which was due to sail that week-end. It had been agreed that the proceeds from the sale of flour would be used on a reconstruction project to be chosen by agreement between the Australian and Ceylon governments. The footnote to Mr. Casey’s statement reads -
Australian Colombo plan aid to Ceylon since the Colombo plan began nearly seven years ago amounts to £3,242,668. It includes capital aid in the form of equipment for irrigation and food production worth £750,000; flour worth £1,550,000 which has been sold by the Ceylon Government to raise funds mainly for the anti-tuberculosis scheme and for renovating old irrigation works; the cost of sending 50 Australian experts to Ceylon and bringing 177 Ceylonese to Australia for training and the award of 72 correspondence course scholarships to Ceylon.
If the honorable member for Gellibrand wishes, I shall obtain for him a copy of Mr. Casey’s statement because I am sure that if he studied it he would not make again a speech in the same terms as his speech to-night.
Other countries in the world, our great allies, are also contributing to the assistance of backward nations. I shall quote a statement from a book entitled “ United States Foreign Aid” produced by The H. W. Wilson Company, New York, in 1957. Under the heading of “ Scope of American Aid “, the article reads -
During the period 1952-1956, the United States contributed 110,000,000 dollars in project aid to Pakistan, exclusive of military aid. In the first two years, economic development aid was directed towards increasing agricultural production, improving health and supporting Pakistani Village Aid Programmes. In this programme - agriculturalindustrial development - village leaders trained in agricultural, public health and home-science techniques, with the aid of American colleges and universities, teach elementary sanitation, nutrition and improved methods of cultivation.
Australia has carried out all those functions under its Colombo plan programme.
We heard a gem from the honorable member for Gellibrand when he said that Mr. Nehru is the greatest statesman in the world. But he also said that a large percentage of the population of India was in a terrific state of poverty while the remainder were living in crystal palaces. Those conditions exist in a country which is working more or less on the socialist plan that the Labour party is endeavouring to introduce into Australia. It is strange that these conditions should exist in India which, according to the honorable member, has the greatest prime minister in the world. During the course of his speech the Deputy Leader of the Opposition completely changed the subject and said - I quote from my note of his remarks - that no Indian goes to sleep at night having had a good meal during the day. That is in sharp contrast to the multi-millionaires whom we know live in India, and to whom the honorable member for Gellibrand referred. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition went further and said that conditions in India are quite different from those in Australia where no one is really hungry. Day after day we hear members of the Labour party, especially the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) and the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), saying that some people in Australia are starving, yet, on the other hand, the Deputy Leader of the Labour party gives the direct lie to those statements and says that no one in Australia is really hungry.
There has been vigorous advocacy in this House for greater aid for India which has a population of 289 persons to the square mile. We all know that those people should have aid. The honorable member for Gellibrand is not the only person who has seen starvation in other countries. I have seen women in Malaya go to a place where rice had been loaded, carrying a sieve with which to sieve the dust to get a few grains of rice. I have seen them work at that job for hours, gain enough rice to fill a small pocket handkerchief, and go away happy. But the Opposition thinks that members of the Government know nothing of those things. The population in Pakistan is 208 people to the square mile. Surely, they need assistance, too! What about Japan, where the population figure is 601 people to the square mile?
– What is the Government going to do about it?
– The honorable member for Lalor asks what the Government is going to do about it, yet when Australia, by a trade agreement with Japan, tried to alleviate the suffering in that country to some extent, the Australian Labour party was in an uproar endeavouring to prevent the agreement being ratified because there may have been some slight dislocation in the textile industry. Japan has about 600 people to the square mile. The plight of the people of India, of whom the honorable member for Gellibrand spoke, and who have only half as many people to the square mile, is not nearly so serious, and on numbers they do not need aid nearly as much as do the people of Japan. When we made an attempt to give aid to Japan by means of a reciprocal trade agreement of the kind that this Parliament recently discussed, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who is interjecting to-night, was most ardent in his opposition to the agreement.
– I beg your pardon!
– On a point of order, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, I ask the honorable member to retract his statement, which was untrue. I was not here when the agreement was ratified by the House.
– I did not say that the honorable member opposed the agreement in the House. He condemned the Japanese Trade Agreement outside the House.
– I was not here.
– But the honorable member condemned it outside the House after he came back to Australia. Get up to date! I know you are a world traveller, but you are back here now. I was pleased to hear the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) refer to the futility of socialism. He pointed out that this country was built on private enterprise. Everything in Australia has been built on private enterprise. But there is one point he omitted to make. It is that everywhere socialism has been tried is has been proved a rank failure. Why should we experiment with it in this country? Why should we give any attention to what is called democratic socialism? What is the democratic part? Members of the Labour party say that any combine or any business exploiting the people will be abolished. That is their attitude. The point is, however, that it is they who will decide. We know that they want to put the banks out of business. They want to put all manner of enterprises, which are giving employment to many people today, out of business, so that they can usher in socialism and tax the man who has a few pounds. Then, when you have that man in the socialist ranks, there will be no money, there will be only poverty and degradation stalking the land. The only way to prevent these things happening is to keep Labour off the treasury bench. The people are fully awake to this necessity, and when the next election is held they will act in the way that true Australians can be expected to act.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Opperman) adjourned.
Immigration - Japanese Trade Agreement - Oil from Coal - Hobart Waterfront - Communism - Industrial Situation.
Motion (by Mr. Osborne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn
Mr. CAIRNS (Yarra) 1 1 0.431.- I desire to raise two matters which, I think, arc of considerable importance. They concern the restriction of the entry to Australia of members of the families of immigrants already in Australia, and the refusal of naturalization to a great number of new Australians. This evening we have had introduced into the House an amending immigration bill, which, I think, shows great promise of producing some very necessary liberal reforms of our immigration laws. These reforms have been overdue for a great number of years.
Order! There is too much audible conversation.
– It is in this atmosphere, involving a new attitude towards immigration, that I raise these matters.
Order! The honorable member will resume his seat. If the honorable member for Mallee and the honorable member for Lalor continue to talk as they are talking now, I shall name both of them.
– Australia’s immigration policy has been based on a number of principles, one of which requires that we should endeavour to secure sound and physically fit immigrants - persons who can contribute by their work, skilled or unskilled, to the development of Australia. This means that older people have a secondary, and sometimes a very low, priority. This principle is all very well for those people who think only in the materialistic terms of economic development, but at a time when we are taking a more humanitarian attitude towards immigration, I hope that the responsible Minister will lake into account the lack of humanitarianism shown in the cases to which I shall refer.
There are three or four main kinds of restrictions on immigrants at present. First, with regard to European countries, there is a restriction which excludes from Australia altogether any persons from particular countries except dependent relatives of immigrants already here, female immigrants between eighteen and 35 years of age and those engaged to sponsors already in Australia. There is a second main type of restriction, based on medical considerations. Very often the medical defects suffered by intending immigrants! - the parents of immigrants already here - are no more than the normal conditions to be expected in persons of 60 or 70 years of age. Thirdly, there is a restriction which is, in fact, based upon colour. The projected amendment of the immigration legislation to remove the provision regarding a dictation test - a device which has been frequently used to exclude a person who was not of a satisfactory colour - should not obscure the fact that there is still a restriction based purely on colour.
In relation to those three categories of restrictions, there is a matter which I think should be brought to the attention of the House. Frequently, when an immigrant is refused entry to Australia, no reason is given by the department, and it is often very difficult to get any indication whatever of the reason for the refusal. Quite a number of cases of this kind have been brought to my attention. I have some files with regard to them here this evening. These cases show that restrictions have been illiberally and unfairly .applied. I cannot, of course, mention names, but I shall mention one case which is typical of quite a number. The departmental file is numbered 57/7203, and it concerns some Italian immigrants living at Abbotsford in Victoria. All the younger members of the family I think, with one exception, have come to Australia, leaving the father and mother in Italy. Their plan was to establish themselves here and then to arrange for their parents to come here.
This is not a rare case; there are many cases of this kind. The parents in this case have been refused entry on what are, quite clearly, medical grounds. I know very well the principle underlying the refusal in such cases, but I want to stress for the consideration of the Minister, particularly in view of what T believe is the great improvement in the ministerial attitude demonstrated in the amending bill introduced to-night, that we should, on humanitarian grounds, be prepared to reduce somewhat the number of young and physically fit persons who may be admitted, in order to make room for older people such as these.
These remarks do not apply only to European immigrants. 1 have another case that I wish to mention. It has not ye: been given a departmental file number, but I believe the Minister will be informed of the details of it. This concerns a family in England. I wrote to that family recently, and I shall read to the House a portion of a letter that I received in reply. It is as follows: -
It is with deep feeling, and gratitude, that I am replying to your letter offering to try and get myself and my wife out to Australia, but I am sorry to say I cannot make any headway over here. I took your letter to my doctor, and asked him for a detailed document on the present health of myself and my wife. I am so very sorry to say that he would not comply with my request. He took particulars of your letter and told us that he would have to write to Australia House, London, and find out on what grounds we had both been rejected from going to Australia, and he would let us know the result of their answer, and we had to wait a considerable time before he received an answer.
It frequently happens that people in these circumstances have to wait a considerable time for an answer.
Eventually he received an answer to his letter, and would not tell me the answer he received. However, my wife went to see him and he told her in confidence, and the answer was I was rejected because of epileptic fits which occurred very often between 1917 and 1924. Forunately I have been free from them for a long time.
The family in this case is an English family. The son and daughter-in-law came to Australia on the understanding that when they established themselves here they would be able to bring their mother and father out. As far as I can see, the mother and father have been rejected because the father had epileptic fits between 1917 and 1924. He receives a pension of £1 18s. sterling a week, which would be considerably more in Australian currency. I believe that we should make special provisions for dealing with cases of this kind.
I want to cite two other cases relating to the colour bar, which I think has a big influence on this country’s migration policy.
– I rise to order, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker. I seek your ruling as to whether the honorable member is in order in speaking on this subject. I refer you to Standing Order 83, which says -
No Member shall anticipate the discussion ot any subject which appears on the Notice-Paper: Provided that in determining whether a discussion is out of order on the ground of anticipation, regard shall be had by the Speaker to the probability of the matter anticipated being brought before the House within a reasonable time.
The subject-matter being dealt with by the honorable member is immigration. A bill to deal with every phase of immigration has been introduced into the House and it is the only bill before the House. Therefore, we can reasonably expect that the measure will be brought forward for discussion within a reasonable time.
I cannot uphold the point of order raised. The honorable member for Yarra is dealing with specific cases which I do not think are involved in the bill.
– In the short time left to me I want to refer to two cases. One concerns a man and his wife, living in Richmond, Victoria. They are Italians and they have applied for permission to bring their son to Australia, but permission has been refused. In my view, the only conceivable reason is on the ground of the son’s colour. Yet his mother and father are already here. Perhaps the son is a little darker than his mother, and a little darker even than his father, though I doubt it, but the mother and father are already here. After studying the files and having discussions about the matter, I am bound to say that the only reason I can see for the refusal to allow this young man to enter Australia is his colour.
I said previously that I was concerned with the migration of families and also with refusals to naturalize immigrants. I have with me six files concerning Greek people, all of whom have lived in Australia long enough to qualify-
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKEROrder! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- What I have to say may be regarded as a personal explanation. You will remember, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, that a few minutes ago you said that the honorable member for Lalor and I would be named in certain circumstances. The reason why you had to take that action was that the honorable member was so incensed by the fact that I had included him among those members of the Opposition who had spoken against the Japanese Trade Agreement. 1 am sorry that I said so because apparently he did not speak against the agreement. I want the records to be straight and I want anything that I say to be accurate. As the honorable member came over to my seat and assured me that on no occasion either in the House or outside, had he spoken in any way against the Japanese Trade Agreement, I withdraw my remark. I do not desire to include him among the honorable members of the Opposition who spoke against the Japanese Trade Agreement.
.- I wish to raise a matter that has been mentioned in this House by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), who for some time has been absent. It is a matter of great importance, namely, the process of making oil from coal.
The coal industry in Australia is gradually sinking into the doldrums, particularly in Queensland and northern New South Wales. The number of men engaged in mining coal has fallen. Periodically we see in Queensland in particular that the production of the mines is slowing down and frequently men are dismissed. This causes industrial trouble on the coal-fields. I think it is freely admitted that we are getting out of the coal age, because oil is taking the place of coal as our main fuel. We know that the railways are giving up the use of coal in preference to oil, and generally there is a greater demand for oil than coal. But coal has played a most important part in our national and industrial development, and something should be done, not only by this Government, but by other governments, to finance the extraction of oil from coal and thereby save this industry from sinking any further.
Australia is vulnerable because of its dependence on fuel. Only to-day honorable members learnt that the Shell Oil Company has decided to close down some of its production stations in Indonesia. According to the Government Statistician, Indonesia is the principal supplier of oil fuel to this country. In the first seven months of this year Australia imported petroleum products to the value of £52,000,000 and Indonesia’s share was in excess of £15,000,000. So it will be seen that more than 25 per cent, of our petroleum requirements come from Indonesia. The way things are going to-day in Indonesia, our oil supplies could easily bc seriously jeopardized. Because of the turmoil in Indonesia and the rumblings in the Arab states and Persia, it is easy to see that Australia could, almost over-night, be faced with a fuel crisis affecting her industries, particularly her transport system. Consequently, now is the time to seek other sources of fuel. Millions of pounds have been spent on the search for oil in Australia and the results have been most disheartening to the companies that spent their money on that search. Many are giving up the search, notwithstanding the assistance offered by the Government.
I feel that something should be done to obtain other sources of fuel to maintain our transport system. One of the best things that governments in this country could do - and I include the States, as well as the Commonwealth - would be to investigate further the process of extracting oil from coal. If that were found to be successful, a great industry would be saved and would be given a real shot in the arm. Efforts have been made in the past to increase the export of coal from Australia. Periodically, orders are received from overseas, but they are only spasmodic and no firm export market can be built up.
In the Union of South Africa, something has been done about extracting oil from coal that Australia could well emulate. A modern plant was recently established in the Union. I have before me a most informative article that states that at a cost of £60,000,000 a most up-to-date plant has been constructed there for the purpose of getting oil from coal. The plant was commenced in 1952 and was in production in 1955. It is producing about one-seventh of the total fuel requirements of South Africa, and, in addition, is producing a number of by-products that are necessary for the industrial requirements of the nation, and to supply the export market. What is more important, the plant is producing a fuel that is the equivalent of premium petrol, as we know it in Australia, at Id. a gallon below the normal price.
In South Africa, one-third of the production of this fuel is being supplied direct to the motoring public. Two-thirds of the production goes to the oil companies for mixing with petroleum products that are available for the motorists of that country. In this plant, which has cost about £60,000,000 to get into production, about 2,000,000 tons of coal a year is being used. From that coal, this enormous quantity of fuel, which is urgently required in that country, is being produced. South Africa, like Australia, has no oil resources and is completely dependent on outside sources for petroleum and other fuel.
There is a great field here for the Government to investigate. For some years past,v the honorable member for Hunter (Mi. James) has periodically raised the matter in this House. He has directed questions to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) who always, in his courteous way, has informed the honorable member that he would investigate the matter. Apparently, nothing has yet been done. So I raise the matter again to-night because I feel that Australia could quite easily face a fuel crisis within a very short time. As I said earlier, one does not know the way things will go in Indonesia :ind that country is responsible for supplying a quarter of our petroleum products. I hone that my words will not be wasted on this important issue and that something will be done, at least, to investigate the possi bility of establishing such an undertaking. I suggest that the first thing that should be done is that a group of representatives should be sent to South Africa to investigate the very big and noble undertaking in that country.
.- I want to detain the House for a few moments to refer to a very grave display of trade union arrogance and a very grave display of tyranny that must, in all conscience, exercise the mind of every independent thinking person in Australia, irrespective of his political allegiance or political beliefs. I understand that a gentleman by the name of Colrain in Tasmania has, in recent weeks, been exposed to a form of danger which, if it happened openly, would instantly involve prosecution by the police force. This is a very serious matter and I appeal to the good sense of the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin), who is interjecting. I invite him to consider -earnestly, seriously and quite dispassionately what is involved in this issue. I understand that a gentleman in another place referred to it last night.
Irrespective of what we may judge to “be Mr. Colrain’s motives, I think that every person in this Parliament has an obligation resting fairly and squarely upon his shoulders to face up to the simple fact that if an individual is exposed to danger, no matter how grave it may be or how insignificant it may be, because he is pursuing what he believes to be intrinsically right, and if v/e do nothing about it, we are discharging our responsibility in a pretty shoddy sort of way. Mr. Colrain s entry into this “dispute in Tasmania - a dispute which, in the final analysis, will be found to be but fragmentary of an overall dispute throughout Australia before this year runs to its conclusion - was not prompted because he believed that two other gentlemen who have since found themselves in litigious circumstances were right. Mr. Colrain did not agree with them, but he had the intestinal fortitude to say that they had a right to state their point of view. He said that to those who are interested in tyranny, including the provocateur Healy, whom I have previously described in this House as a fond admirer of a power which has no community of interest with Australia. He said it to Healy and his miserable tribe. What happened?
Immediately, Mr. Colrain was exposed to danger, it is not an ordinary sort of danger. It is danger which may be measured in terms of a sling that happens to slip. It may be measured in terms of a gang-way that is improperly fixed. It may be measured in terms of being ostracized by men with whom he has worked and associated, not just for a few passing years, but for the greater part of his life. A very fundamental principle is involved in this matter and if this Parliament intends to spurn it, it is no longer a parliament. It may well be described as an embryonic central executive of the Communist party of Australia.
I notice a few members of Her Majesty’s Opposition laughing. I appeal to them, particularly the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) and the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), who have indicated that they have something in the nature of a nodding acquaintance with Marx and Lenin, to consider earnestly what is involved in this matter. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) recognizes and declares to be comparable to Magna Carta, sets forth in language which even the most plebeianminded individual sitting opposite could understand, that no individual should’ be compelled to join an organization in order to work.
Opposition members may put that issue to one side if they like. But they must come back to this fundamental, crucial and, I hope, conscience-prompting issue: If an individual should be compelled to belong to an organization in order to work, he should not be exposed to danger in terms in which his life and that of members of his family are involved. That is no mean, idle issue and I hope that the Parliament will face up to it. If we do nothing about it I believe that that will be an implied acquiescence in the conduct that has been foisted upon Mr. Colrain.
I say in simple terms to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) that a thorough examination should be made of the Crimes Act on this issue. If Mr. Colrain is being exposed to danger, a danger which, 1 repeat - and I do not apologize for my repetition - involves his life, his probity, and the safety of his family, T believe there is a prima facie case for invoking the Crimes Act. I appeal to the Government and to the House to consider what is involved in this issue. If we are going to step to one side and say that it is a matter for the Tasmanian police and that it does not concern us, we shall be tacitly approving a wretched and miserable circumstance.
I said, a few moments ago, that that was but fragmentary of what will appear, during the course of this year, to be an Australiawide dispute. That is essentially true. The central committee of the Australian Communist party has ordained that, in this election year, there shall be the maximum of industrial unrest throughout Australia, and the Communists are going to use the Colrain issue and every other possible issue upon which they can light their eyes, or lay their hands, in order to stir up industrial unrest and promote disturbance. If we allow ourselves to be bluffed by these petticoat tyrants, these individuals such as Healy, who fondly imagine that they are greater than the law, and that they can say to the parliament of a free democracy that these matters have nothing to do with that parliament, and that they can thumb their noses at that parliament, we shall tacitly approve what is going on. What is happening in Tasmania in relation to Mr. Colrain is a fundamental challenge to elementary democracy. We either accept it or reject it.
.- We have just heard one of the typical performances of this funny little man, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) - this union hater. Let us consider for a moment whether there is any basis in his allegations. There is a police force in Tasmania. If the life of anybody in that State is endangered, the Tasmanian police force can attend to the matter. But I am not prepared to accept the word of the honorable member for Moreton that the life of somebody in Tasmania is endangered. Neither am I prepared to take his word in proof of other matters. Surely we have not forgotten the fact that there are still in this country people who are prepared, when they are trying to provoke trade unionists, to concoct statements that are untrue in fact, and who are prepared to frame people, if necessary, in order to produce the right atmosphere for nation-wide industrial upheaval.
Before the honorable member for Moreton accepts these things at their face value, he should read the history of what is known as the Dobson case. That case had some similarity to the one at present under consideration. Dobson was supposed to have been thrown off a Manly ferry, into Sydney harbour, allegedly by Communists. Such an act would have amounted to attempted murder. Eventually, it was discovered that Dobson, who was an anti-union agent, as are some other people who are active in this country to-day, had not been thrown off a Manly ferry by anybody.
– He had not been on a Manly ferry.
– That is so. It has been stated on a number of occasions - I have never heard it denied - that Dobson had stayed at the home of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) on the evening before this alleged episode. After he had allegedly been thrown off the ferry, he was found on the foreshores of Sydney harbour, supposedly having swum ashore through the shark-infested waters of the harbour - a marvellous feat of endurance. It was discovered that he had merely gone to the beach on the harbour foreshore, rubbed sand in his hair, and told the story that he had concocted. All that was done deliberately. The Colrain incident may be of the same kind. What evidence does the honorable member for Moreton produce to establish that the life of any one in Tasmania is in danger? He did, however, make one significant statement. When he talked about an impending nation-wide strike, he said, “ This is the Communist plan “.
– That is right.
– Let me tell the honorable member that it is the Liberal plan. But, as I pointed out some weeks ago, when the House was considering the Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill 1958, the Government was looking for an election issue, and for a head-on collision with the trade union movement. Let us just consider this matter for a moment. The honorable member for Moreton said that this is trade union arrogance, because the trade unions, on their own initiative, decided to impose a levy for political purposes. The very men whose cause he is now championing were present at the meeting at which it was decided to impose the levy. They had an opportunity to speak against it, if they wanted to, and to vote against it, but they remained silent, and voted with the rest. The union’s decision was unanimous.
– That is not true.
– I will tell the honorable member when those men became interested in resisting the union’s decision to impose this levy. They became interested after the Liberal party of Australia got hold of them. Because it wanted to make this matter an election issue, it induced the Hurseys to refuse to pay their legitimate dues to their trade union organization.
Order! The honorable member may not refer to the Hurseys.
– Let me now turn to another matter in order to show the game that this Government is playing. There is a body known as the Ministry of Labour Advisory Committee. Recently, the Australian Council of Trade Unions decided to withdraw its representatives from that committee. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) criticized the decision of the A.C.T.U., but surely that body has the right to decide whether it should be represented on the committee, and whether it is of any further use for it to be represented. What is happening now? The Minister is making a desperate bid to keep the advisory committee functioning, and his way of going about it is to try to split the trade union movement. Mr. Bland, the secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service, has recently been in Sydney interviewing representatives of certain trade unions and trying to induce them to defy the A.C.T.U. and appoint representatives to the Ministry of Labour Advisory Committee. One of the inducements being held out to these trade union officials is that there will be quite a number of government-sponsored trips overseas for members of the committee, and that these officials may participate in those trips if they care to join the committee,
Here is a public servant - the secretary of a department - being used in this manne behind the back of the A.C.T.U. in an endeavour to break the solidarity of the trade unions, which is the thing that the Government fears most. I say, therefore, that this Government has set out to split the trade union movement - to divide it against itself and set one section against the other. 1 understand that, to the credit of the trade union movement, all the Government’s approaches - up to this point at least - have been rejected, and that the efforts made by the secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service to induce union officials to “ scab “ on the decision of the A.C.T.U. have been singularly unsuccessful. I hope that the Minister will see that the secretary of the department - who, no doubt, is acting under the Minister’s direction - desists, and that this policy is discontinued.
Let me now deal more particularly with industrial troubles. If the honorable member for Moreton wants to assist trade unionists in their legitimate industrial efforts, why did he not mention Mr. Justice Foster’s recent criticism of an order to seamen? The honorable member’s failure lo mention this shows that he is merely a union-hater and does not believe in unions. In the case with which I am dealing, Australian seamen were ordered to man a ship tha; had been brought to Australia by a non-union crew, and they appealed against the order. The appeal was heard by Mr. Justice Foster, who personally inspected the ship. He was shocked and scandalized to think that any person or authority in this country would order men to take to sea a ship in the condition in which he found the vessel in question. It was nothing less than a death ship.
– A coffin ship!
– A coffin ship, as it is termed on the waterfront. Mr. Justice Foster ordered certain things to be done. Why have Government supporters not directed attention to this matter? It is simply because they do not believe in decent working conditions for the workers. They take the attitude that, regardless of the conditions under which men are asked to work, they should obey the dictation of those who are placed in authority by this Government.
The same thing applies in regard to established industrial conditions on the Australian waterfront. Is it not provocative for any authority, even on the basis of legal authority, to try to alter customs that have been well established on the Australian waterfront for very many years? The men are, of course, seething with discontent over the actions of this Government, and if agents. We may expect continuing industrial trouble if the Government pursues its present policy. Quite clearly, we should expose the conspiracy of this Liberal-Australian Country party Government and its agents to create unrest and cause an industrial upheaval so that they can have a “ law and order “ election. They have had a few in the past. They could not hope to win the next election on a faked Communist scare like the Petrov conspiracy. They could not hope to play that trick so soon after the last occasion, when it was so successful. I repeat to honorable gentlemen opposite, who hate to hear the name of Petrov or what happened at the royal commission-
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKEROrder! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I want to make a personal explanation. I have not had an opportunity to speak in the debate, but I cannot allow to pass unchallenged the references made to me by the honorable member for East Sydney. They are false. He knows that they are false. They have been denied in this House before, and I deny them again.
– I want to make a personal explanation.
Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. What I said was that this allegation had been made several times in this Parliament, and that the honorable member had never denied it. I think that even his doing so now is a bit late to be convincing, either to this Parliament or to the people outside.
– It has been denied in this House before.
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) never disappoints us. We can always expect from him the same type of speech. It is unfortunate that it should be necessary at this late hour even to take the trouble to deal with his misrepresentations. On this occasion, as on others, he has made an entirely unfounded attack upon a member of the Commonwealth Public Service whom he knows has no opportunity to reply and can be blackguarded by him without redress, unless some person in this place - preferably the Minister in whose department he is employed - takes the opportunity to state the facts. All I have to say regarding the reference made to Mr. Bland, the very able secretary of my department, is that the allegation is completely unfounded. Neither on any instruction from me nor, I am certain, of his own volition, has Mr. Bland made any approach to any member of a trade union in an attempt to reconstitute the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council, from which the Australian Council of Trade Unions has withdrawn. I make that statement quite emphatically.
As this episode was introduced by the honorable member for East Sydney it might be of passing interest to honorable gentlemen to trace a little of the background of the withdrawal of the Australian Council of Trade Unions representatives from the council. The council was constituted by me so that a round-table conference might be held periodically between senior representatives of management and the organized trade union movement to discuss, in a co-operative and friendly way, matters of national interest - certainly those of direct interest to the parties around the table. It worked very well It worked too well for the honorable gentleman who has just spoken. It worked too well for other supporters of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). It was no secret to me that the right honorable gentleman was very unhappy about it. 1 have previously made the charge in this place that the wrecking of the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council took place with the knowledge and approval of the right honorable gentleman. The prime mover - or one of the prime movers - was the federal president of the Australian Labour party, Mr. Chamberlain of Western Australia. Who wrecked the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council? Was it the solid trade union representatives who have come to earn the respect of their fellow unionists and the people of this country? The council was wrecked by Mr. Chamberlain, by four acknowledged Communist members of the interstate executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and by one or two others who are well known for their left wing views.
I believe it to be a fact that, with possibly one exception, no member on the trade union side who had taken part regularly in the deliberations of the council, voted in support of the withdrawal. It is common knowledge that it led to a strong division of opinion inside the trade union movement. The matter has been discussed at the trades and labour councils of the various States, and a difference of opinion has been clearly revealed. For my own part, I recognize that the decision was taken in a political atmosphere. It had political motives. It was designed to improve the electoral prospects of the Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for East Sydney and those who sit with them in this place, lt would be entirely unrealistic of me to expect any change of attitude on the part of the trade union movement this side of the next election. However, I continue to hope that, at no distant point of time, the good sense of senior trade unionists will lead them to realize the value for them, and for those whom they represent, of the kind of conference which we have conducted so successfully since the council came into existence.
I do not want to devote all my time to that one issue. Another typical piece of misrepresentation took place concerning the dispute over the ship “ Pattawilla “. As the honorable gentleman should be aware if he has studied the transcript, the industrial court, knowing that there was a ban upon the manning of this ship, and knowing the background of similar disputes concerning ships brought to Australia by non-Australian crews, did direct that “ Pattawilla “ be manned. The question whether it was in a seaworthy condition was one for decision not by the court, but by the navigation authorities. An examination of the transcript of evidence makes that clear.
I should have liked, had there been time, to d-.al with other matters raised by the honorable gentleman, but I shall conclude on this note. The honorable member made a wild allegation about the Government trying to create a head-on collision with the trade union movement. Just how silly can the honorable member get? This Government, and the members who sit behind it in this place, are kept here by the votes of the people. Two-thirds of the votes recorded at any election are those of trade unionists and their dependants. How silly any government, or representative of a government, would be to attempt to destroy the base of their support by contriving a head-on collision of this kind. Far from doing that, the Government has steadily pursued a policy which, to the cost of the honorable gentleman and those who sit with him, has maintained it in office, and will go on doing so. Far from having provoked industrial unrest in this country, I proudly claim that last year gave us the best year - in terms of working losses - of any year since 1942, and that was one year out of a group of years that showed a marked improvement in working time lost.
What we have in this country presented to the public from time to time is the spectacle of two unions, both under Communist control, which are losing 40 times on an average per worker in the industry the loss which is to be found in Australian industry generally. We have now reached the situation in Australia where, to 98 per cent, of our industrial work force, the loss of time through industrial disputes is negligible. It is about a quarter of the loss which takes place because of industrial accidents. Here remain two critical unions which could have an important bearing upon the cost structure of this country. In my experience there is no doubt that the principal reason why these losses continue so heavily is because of the Communist industrial leadership which continues in those unions. In New Zealand there is a waterfront, and an organized work force controlled by a union corresponding in composition and organization with the Waterside Workers Federation. It has not got Communist leadership and its working losses through disputes are about onefiftieth of those that occur on the Australian waterfront. In other parts of Australia there are coal-miners but they do not cause one-tithe of the loss of working time through industrial disputes that we get from the coalfields of New South Wales which are more directly under Communist leadership.
Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– I did not intend to intervene until I heard the speech of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt). I suggested to the
Minister earlier to-day that there should be some discussion in the House of the industrial situation. Although time is limited, it is important that I should speak on this matter that has been ventilated, even though it has been ventilated by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen).
– When did the honorable gentleman make that suggestion to me?
– In this chamber this afternoon. I asked my colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to carry through that proposal by suggesting that the motion for the adjournment be submitted early enough to allow us to debate the matter. At any rate, I am not going to be deterred by your interjection now from saying what I have to say. I have been driven to the conclusion that for at least five weeks in this House the Minister has done everything possible to cause provocation in the industrial field. He has organized in the House a series of pre-arranged questions.
– That is not true.
– You have been ready to answer them. You have had the documents with which to answer them, and the members asking the questions have had the copies in their hands and have read them out. That has happened over and over again. “ Hansard “ is full of them. I am not going to be deterred by your intervention now. Everybody knows that what I am saying is true.
Why has the Minister for Labour and National Service done this? His idea, first of all, was to build up the Hursey case. The Hursey case occurred a long time ago. lt is twelve months now since it began. The Hursey case has been grossly misrepresented. Circulars have been distributed around Parliament House in connexion with it showing that the branch of the trade union in Hobart consists of well-behaved members. That will not be disputed by any one who has any knowledge of the port of Hobart. So far as the Hurseys were concerned, the union was responsible for preventing the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and the shipowners from sacking them; it got them back. One of the Hurseys was seriously injured. He was cared for by the union which ultimately enabled him to get his employment back.
He was an ordinary loyal member of the union. The union obtained a home for him and this man voted for the levy about which all this outcry has been made by the honorable member for Moreton. The honorable member has raised the question of political levies, but he did not think of tackling the question of political levies from big business cartels in this country from which his party obtains its money. He never touched on it. He knows a good deal about it, but the Hursey case comes first with him. Let this issue be raised throughout Australia and one after another people throughout Australia will start echoing the Minister. Did he do that to cause understanding with the unions concerned? Did he talk about conciliation with the union? He is in favour of meeting the Australian Council of Trade Unions, but when it came to putting that into practice he played the dirtiest series of tricks upon a union that have ever been perpetrated.
I know this is a turbulent industry and I am not defending all the actions of the trade union, but 1 think it was contemptible for the procedure of this House to be lowered by the Minister who is in a responsible position. He said to-night that I was responsible for the decision to end the Advisory Council. That is a complete invention. It is utterly untrue. I do not think he believes it. It is perfectly true that one gentleman he mentioned, Mr. Chamberlain, is a close personal friend and colleague of mine, but if Mr. Chamberlain voted for it he dic! so as a leading Australian trade unionist, and he is a man of most moderate, sane and balanced views. If the Labour movement had to decide which was the correct view, it would support Mr. Chamberlain. How could they meet with a Minister like this after what he has been doing recently?
This is what was announced to-night by Mr. Souter, the secretary of the A.C.T.U. This is what he said only a few hours ago -
The A.C.T.U. will closely examine the Waterside Workers’ Federation report on prevailing waterside disputes emanating from political provocation. We view with concern that whilst these tribunals are under the administrative control of Labour and National Service, the honorable H. Holt as responsible Minister proposes repressive measures in an endeavour to enforce the administrative action of these tribunals.
What is that based on? It is based partly on Mr. Justice Foster’s decision, I suppose. A shocking state of affairs! Does the Minister seriously-
– You have not read the transcript, and you know it.
– I have read the judgment of the Court.
– You have not read the transcript.
– They must have seen Mr. Justice Foster’s public statements which the shipowners finally agreed to, because they abandoned their proceedings. The object was to force men onto a ship that was unworthy to be sailed. This was after they had come out from England in this ship and an order was obtained against them from what the Minister calls the Industrial Court but which we prefer to call the court of pains and penalties - the enforcement court. Why did that court make the order? The Minister says that is just formal. It made the order but it did not look at the facts. Mr. Justice Foster looked at the facts and the whole case collapsed.
That is the kind of thing that is provocation. Doing that to seamen is provocation. The honorable member will justify it because there was some trade union official there who was probably a Communist. Do what you like to the Communist; that is his theory. Get agitation going and then say that it is Communist agitation. I do not know the details of the instances referred to by my colleague the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), but I do know that the Minister’s secretary is continually interfering with the affairs of trade unions and that he is a menace to peace in industry in this country.
– That is why we have the record of peace that we have established.
– What has the record of peace which you have got to do with it? That depends on other conditions. Whatever record you have had in the past, you are spoiling it by your conduct in recent months, and I think it is due to the proximity of the general election this year. I cannot see any other reason for it. If you believe in conciliation get the Australian
Council of Trade Unions or the officebearers of that body, not one of whom is a Communist together with the shipowners and representatives of the great trade unions in these vital industries and work out a settlement. That is what has to be done. Stop this provocation. You can easily get great disputes in this country because the unionists are loyal to their mates and they detest oppression. To-day, 5,000 or 6,000 waterside workers in Sydney carried a very strong resolution actually protesting against what they called the proved dishonesty of the Stevedoring Industry Authority. Inquire into that allegation! See what it is! Do not dodge the allegation! Get it before a tribunal which can find it out. I say again, “Get your parties together”. It is quite obvious that conciliation in this country has almost disappeared under the recent legislation. The first thing should be to conciliate before you arbitrate. An effort should be made to get a settlement. One judge, Mr. Justice Foster, does it, but he is put in a relatively lower position, although he is the most experienced and able of the lot. He is a very great judge. He belongs to the tradition of Higgins and Piddington. The Minister is not going to bluff and browbeat us by making these attacks. I advise him to give up provocation and abusing the procedures of the House for that purpose.
– Even when one can understand the behaviour of the Australian Labour party, one does not always sympathize with it. I can quite understand its attitude to the honorable member for East Sydney, but I think it rather unkind of members of that party to refer to him, behind his back, as “ Old Golden Staph “, apparently because they do not know how to get rid of him and they are frightened he may be fatal to their electoral prospects. The speech that the honorable member delivered to this House a few moments ago is one which might well cause a good deal of heartburning in the Labour party itself. What did he do? He got up and defended people who were bashing in the union, who were vicitimizing members of the union, who were proving that the people in control of the union were inimical to the interests of the rank and file. He deliberately ignored the evidence, which is now plain, that these things have been done. The truth of this now rests on a decision of a court of law. 1 quote from the “ Canberra Times “ of this morning -
A watersider was sentenced to four weeks gaol to-day because he deliberately reversed his car and struck another wharfman and his young daughter.
He was Gordon Shackleton, 43, who was charged with having assaulted James Colrain, 50, and Katheryne Mary Colrain, 7, in the Hobart suburb of Warrane.
There was a conviction in the court for that offence.
– 1 raise a point of order. It is stated in newspaper reports that an appeal is pending. The matter is therefore sub judice.
– The right honorable gentleman is very tender about this. Apparently he has read the report. But a moment ago he was referring to the Hursey case, which is definitely sub judice. He relies on the point of order to defend bashers, criminals and Communists. He will not apply to himself the rules of conduct that he endeavours to exact from other people.
The Leader of the Opposition did refer to the Hurseys. I listened to the right honorable gentleman very closely and although he was getting near to the border, I did not stop him. I do not know whether or not the case about which the honorable member for Mackellar is speaking is before the court. Unless I am so assured by somebody who really knows, I shall allow the honorable member to proceed.
– I think it is true that some appeal has been lodged. What I am saying is that there is evidence now-
Order! The honorable member himself is saying he believes it is true that an appeal has been lodged, so he must not continue.
– Very good. I was only following the example of the Leader of the Opposition. Let me just repeat that there is evidence now that .goes far beyond hearsay of the fact that bashing and intimidation are going on in Hobart against the rank and file of the unionists and in the interests of Communists. We have to stop this kind of thing. Even if a particular case may be denied, what about the general principle? Have we heard anything from the Opposition-
Order! The honorable member for KingsfordSmith must stop his offensive behaviour.
– I cannot help laughing.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKEROrder!
– Have we heard from the Opposition one word in condemnation of the bashing of people in trade unions who only stand up for their trade union rights against the Communist junta in control?
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKEROrder! If the honorable member for East Sydney continues with his offensive behaviour I shall name him.
– Surely we should have had some show of indignation, even if only synthetic indignation. If the Opposition was honest in this, its members would be saying something. They might say, “ It is proved in a particular case, but we think this would be a terrible principle. We are against it.” But they have not said that. What they are doing, in point of fact, is giving moral support to bashings by trade union cliques of trade union members. They show themselves to be the enemies of the rank and file. I think that is the truth and a fair statement of the Opposition’s position.
Let me go on with the points raised by the Leader of the Opposition. He talks about provocation. Is it, perhaps, that he has guilty foreknowledge of a Communist plot to disrupt the industry and the waterfront of Australia? He was quoting a moment ago from a Communist document with a good deal of sanctimonious approval. He may say, “ This is not a Communist document. This is only issued by the Communists in control of the waterfront union “. That ;s not quite the attitude of the Australian Workers Union in regard to the Australian Council of Trade Unions. If one looks, for example, at that union’s official journal, one sees that the union now believes that the A.C.T.U. is so much “ in the red “ - to use its phrase - so much under Communist control, that it is not reasonable even to confer with that body.
– Who wrote that?
– The letter is signed by Mr. T. Dougherty, the general secretary of the Australian Workers union. lt is published in an official trade union journal, so there is no point in the honorable member’s trying to deny the authenticity of the document. This is not, of course, by any means the first time that the right honorable member for Barton, or Hunter - “ right honorable member for Bunter “, I suppose, is the way one could describe him - has taken the Communist line in this House and elsewhere. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) suggested that the Government might examine the possibility of applying the Crimes Act in certain cases such as this. I think that is a good suggestion, but it does leap to my mind that the right honorable gentleman, when he was on the bench in the case of Rex versus Hush, ex parte Devanny delivered a judgment which, upon reading, one can see is a Marxist judgment. I believe that that was part of the pay-off for the very unusual circumstances in which the right honorable gentleman was appointed to that bench and for which he was under a debt of gratitude to the Communist party and its associates. There is no doubt also - again, there is documentary evidence of this - that the right honorable gentleman’s selection as a representative of the Labour party and his entry into this House were engineered for him by people who were Communist agents.
– I rise to order. Two statements have been made by the honorable member associating me with communism or Communists in a derogatory way. They are a reflection on me and I ask that they be withdrawn.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw those remarks.
– Yes, very well. I shall cite the documents concerned and let them speak for themselves. Dr. Lloyd Ross, writing in an issue of “ Railroad “, which I would be prepared to produce in this House-
– I rise to order. Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, you asked the honorable member to withdraw. He did not say, “I withdraw”; he simply said, “ Yes, and T will produce the documents “.
I accepted the withdrawal of the honorable member. On other occasions, when honorable members on my left have been asked to withdraw they have simply said, “Yes”.
– Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker-
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKEROrder! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Last night the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) made a reasoned speech on the ministerial statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), but to-night we have listened to the rabid rantings-
Order! The honorable member for Lalor will withdraw that remark.
– What did I say?
Order! The honorable member will withdraw, or I will name him.
– Last night, the honorable member for Mackellar made a reasoned speech on a statement of importance presented to the Parliament by the Minister for External Affairs, but to-night he has relapsed into his usual role of rabid reactionary. He has given us all the rantings for which he is so notorious. He sees communism everywhere. Ever since he came into this Parliament nearly nine years ago he has pursued the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) with a relentless vendetta all based on falsehood, distortion and gross misrepresentation.
The Leader of the Opposition has had a long and distinguished history in the parliamentary life of this country and, before that, as a member of the High Court Bench of Australia. He adorned that Bench from the time he was 36 years of age until he came into this Parliament about ten years later. So distinguished and meritorious was his service on the High Court Bench that I think it is true to say that the Privy Council has never reversed any of his decisions.
– That is not correct.
– Perhaps I have said more than 1 should have on that point. At any rate, the right honorable gentleman came into the parliamentary life of this country, when he left the High Court Bench, at a time when the nation was in danger, to destroy the majority which the Menzies Government had before the 1940 elections. Indeed, by his decision to step down from the High Court Bench, he helped to make possible the advent of the Curtin Government in 1941. Until he took this action he was a very highly respected judge. He did what he conceived to be his duty by the country at its hour of deepest peril, but from the moment he did so he became the object of animosity and most contemptuous vilification by members on the Government side. They have never forgiven him for helping to rally the country to install a government which delivered this nation from the threat of Japanese invasion.
The honorable member for Mackellar to-night has proceeded, as he has always done, to try to associate the Leader of the Opposition with communism. Everybody who heard my leader’s speech the other night on this very issue, and his speech last year on the action of this Government in seeking to help the representatives of the Kadar Government in Hungary in the International Labour Organization, and everybody who read his 1954 policy speech or who has ever heard him speak upon this issue knows the unequivocal language that he has used in condemnation of communism. When the honorable member for Mackellar is not deliberately smearing the Labour party or snarling at it on the Communist issue, he is attempting, by that most miserable system of his through innuendo, inference and insinuation to say that members of the Opposition are guilty by association, of communism. I thought that Senator McCarthy was dead. He will never be dead while the honorable member for Mackellar lives. The same process of character assassination, unfortunately, will go on and he will have his sentiments reechoed by a few other honorable members on his side. But to the credit of most honorable members of the Liberal party, they do not believe him or the charges which are being levelled against the Labour party on this issue. It becomes politically profitable, the minority thinks, to use the issue of communism whenever a federal election is approaching.
When we were in government, no Minister was more determined than the then Attorney-General, who is now the Leader of the Opposition, to frame our industrial legislation so as to make industrial disputes a nullity. Nobody did more to promote conciliation. The Leader of the Opposition was the author of the system of conciliation commissioners. He was the man who did everything to remove strikes from the Australian industrial scene. The Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) said to-night that there is industrial peace in 98 per cent, of the trade unions in Australia. If that is true, then the credit for that goes largely to the man, who with Mr. Holloway, as Minister for Labour and National Service, and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) as his predecessor in that office, framed the legislation which made this condition of affairs possible. The Labour party is always anxious for industrial peace because it knows that it is the workers who are hurt most when there are industrial disturbances. We want to remove provocation from the waterfront and from every other industry. We did our best to de-casualize waterfront labour and remove most of the grievances of the waterside workers. We did our utmost to bring peace back into that most turbulent of industries, the coal-mining industry.
Nobody has spoken more strongly than did the Leader of the Opposition in the cause of civil liberty and the rights of the individual. Nobody on this side of the House defends the bashing of anybody, under any circumstances. When it happens in high circles - and it sometimes happens there - or anywhere else in the community, we want the law of the country to be applied and the malefactors to be prosecuted. If some one attempts to assault somebody else in an industrial dispute, that person must be made to answer a charge before the courts of the land. This party never condones bashings or acts of physical violence. There is no necessity for members on this side to rise in their places when somebody charges our party with condoning such acts, because it is an accepted fact by all decent citizens that every decent member of the community wants to see the law of the nation observed. On many occasions, over the years the Labour party has been in government during many critical periods and nothing can be shown to our dishonour during those times in respect of violation of law and order. We do not encourage or support anything that is done by stupid, irresponsible or viciously-minded people.
We say to the Minister for Labour and National Service that we would like to have a debate clear of all hysteria and false issues. In a discussion I had with the Minister to-day, I said, “ Perhaps we could have a discussion on industrial matters to-night”. I will be quite frank with the House. I wanted to prevent the delivery of some of what I would term “ rat bag “ speeches on communism and I thought it would be a better idea to have a discussion on industrial affairs. The Minister said, “ If we open up the question of industrial affairs at this particular time, we may get the very thing you want to avoid in the other discussion “. Then he added, “ Anyhow, we are not in a position at this moment to prepare a statement on industrial affairs “. I replied, “ Very well, we will then have to go on with the other debate “. We have gone on with that debate and it cannot be said that a good night has been had by all. We have had the usual nonsense in that debate and in this one that passes for sanity in political affairs. It is just as well that this debate was not broadcast to the people and that at this moment Parliament is off the air, because if the people of Australia had heard the honorable member for Mackellar as the spokesman for this Government they would have thought that something had gone very wrong with the parliamentary institution.
– Does the honorable member dismiss the whole Colrain affair as being of no concern?
– I do not elevate the whole Colrain affair to the level of a general happening over the waterfront, and T am not permitted to continue a discussion of the whole Colrain affair because the case is sub judice.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– in reply - If ever I heard a man speaking with his tongue in his cheek, it was the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) when he was praising his leader. What was once a united party has been divided by the activities of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), in his efforts to save his own position. There is not one member of the Labour party who can look at another with full confidence. The members of that party are completely divided. The Leader of the Opposition has split his party absolutely in order to save his own skin and his own place as the Leader of the Opposition. Not only has he split the party here; he has split it outside the House also. The effects of his work have gone right into the industrial movement itself. 1 do not want to develop this matter and to take up the time of the House with it at this hour, but I remind honorable members, and particularly members of the Opposition, of the re-appearance in the industrial movement of unity tickets between members of the Australian Labour party and Communists. The Leader of the Opposition is awfully sensitive about accusations of association with Communists, or friendliness for them and of assistance to them. He has risen three times to-night to protest and to ask for withdrawals in respect of accusations of that kind. Yet, since he has been the Leader of the Opposition, the unity ticket has reappeared in industrial affairs. However, I do not want to go on with that aspect.
We have heard some fantastic charges to-night by the Leader of the Opposition against my right honorable friend, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt). The absurd charge has been made that he is, for political purposes, with an election in view, promoting trouble in the industrial movement. I suggest that the Minister’s record over the past eight years gives the complete lie to those charges. Everybody in the House knows with what patience and industry he has pursued the cause of peace in industrial affairs. We all know how, from time to time, he has been subjected to criticism for not being tough enough, for not taking a firm stand on this, and for not taking a firm stand on that. Patiently, he has pursued his course, and the result is that this country, during the last eight years, and particularly during the latter part of that time, has had a degree of industrial peace such as it has never known before.
Let us see what kind of a test we can apply to assess the validity of the accusation that the Minister for Labour and National Service is promoting trouble in industry. The right honorable gentleman opposite, having split the Labour movement and the industrial wing of the movement in a dozen different ways, is now, with an election coming closer, running cap in hand to the divided elements of the party, trying to bring them together. All of us here remember what happened on the cross benches when seven members of his party were driven out. All of us know of his recent activities in going, cap in hand, to the Democratic Labour party to try to get its members back again before the next election, and all of us know of his invitation to the Australian Workers Union: “ Come along to a conference and let us talk things over”.
Obviously he pays some attention to the political value of the Australian Workers Union. He thinks that it is valuable to have the union on his side. What does the Australian Workers Union think about his charges that the Minister is promoting trouble in industry? I have here the “ Australian Worker”, dated 16th April last. Does it agree with his charges that the Minister is promoting trouble in industry? On page 7, there is a framed leading article which begins with the words, “ Why won’t Holt gaol the reds? “ - meaning, of course, the waterfront reds. In other words, here is a charge made by the official journal of the Australian Workers Union, against the Minister, that he is not sufficiently active against the Communists on the waterfront. Yet the Leader of the Opposition has charged him with trying to promote trouble on the waterfront. Where does the truth lie?
The fact is that, to save his political skin, the Leader of the Opposition has destroyed his own party. He has created in the industrial wing of the Labour movement a state of affairs in which it is possible for the Communist to make headway again - and he is making headway. The Leader of the Opposition is responsible for that, more than is any other single individual. He is tender about being called a friend and aider of Communists. He is tender about the charge, made here a little while ago, that he is the enemy of the rank and file of the Labour movement. There sits the destroyer of the Labour party! There sits the man who, judged by his activities, must be regarded as a friend and assister of Communists! (Several honorable members having risen in their places) -
– Order! The Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne), who moved the motion for the adjournment of the House, has closed the debate.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker - Mr. W. R. Lawrence.)
Majority . . . . 24
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.12 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. There are two Re-employment Committees constituted broadly along the lines indicated by the honorable member, one concerned with the northern mining field and the other with the western field. A question such as that mentioned would hardly be one for the committee to raise; in any case they have not done so. There is, of course, also the Coal Industry Committee, chaired by the Minister for National Development and having representatives of the New South Wales Government, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the miners’ federation, the owners, the Joint Coal Board and my department as members, which concerns itself with the problems of the industry. The honorable member will also be aware of the recent statement by the right honorable the Prime Minister in answer to a question by the honorable member for Shortland in this House on 17th April, 1958, vide page 979 of the current “ Hansard “.
m asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The six conventions are as follows: -
The present position as to each of these is set out hereunder: -
b asked the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
Is any further information available regarding experiments being made by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization into the production of fresh water from salt and brackish water?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Previous information given to the honorable member in May, 1957, referred to the international co-operative investigation carried out in Holland on the desalting of water by electrodialysis. Australia supported this work through the Department of National Development and C.S.I.R.O. The aim of the project is to provide reliable data to assess the practical application of the electrodialysis method and to design equipment that uses this method in the most economical way. The three-year experimental programme will finish this month and final reports will be available later this year. Considerable progress has been made in the design of electrodialysis equipment and three firms (British, Dutch and German) are now offering equipment based on this work. The initial cost of these units is fairly high and broadly speaking the process is not an economic proposition for treatment of sea water or bore water of high salt content. C.S.I.R.O. scientists are keeping a close watch on overseas developments and report that both here and in other countries it is felt that the known methods of water desalting have been pressed fairly close to their practical limits without providing a method that could be widely applied under the conditions facing Australian primary industry. C.S.I.R.O. is therefore exploring possible new approaches to the problem in the belief that the next important advance will be the invention of a new technique rather than the development of one of the known methods.
son asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has furnished the following replies: -
s asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister foi Social Services, upon notice - !. How many age and invalid pensioners receive free hospital and medical benefits?
– As the above question concerns the administration of my department, the Minister for Social Services has referred the question to me for attention, and 1 furnish the following answers: -
t asked the acting Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Two or three months will elapse before the reorganization of the Aircraft Maintenance Branch is completed. Some positions will thereby become redundant. It is expected that normal retirements and resignations will dispose of a number of the positions so affected. The Public Service Board, where practicable, will absorb displaced officers in vacant positions in other branches of the Public Service. It is probable that a limited number of people at present employed at the Aircraft Maintenance Branch will not be needed irrespective of the re-organization because the aircraft spares procurement programme has been substantially completed and the volume of work is correspondingly decreasing. Endeavours will be made where practicable to place these surplus officers in approved vacancies elsewhere in the Public Service. No guarantee can be given, however, that all of them can be so placed.
d asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Why was the request of the Lord Mayor ot Sydney that a Royal Australian naval contingent be made available to take part in the Australia Day march through Sydney streets on Monday, 27th January last, not complied with?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The present personnel strength of the Royal Australian Navy is far below the level needed to carry out the full range of normal naval tasks and it has been found necessary to restrict participation in local ceremonial occasions to the barest minimum. A Navy week was held in Sydney about the time of the 1957 Waratah Spring Festival and Trafalgar Day anniversary which involved the full participation of ships of H.M.A. Fleet and shore establishments. The Navy also participated in the traditional celebration of the landing in Port Jackson. I would point out that naval participation on such a scale is not undertaken anywhere else in Australia. The Lord Mayor of Sydney was advised of the circumstances which precluded participation in the Australia Day celebrations.
Ordinances Governing Natives in Papua and New Guinea.
t asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
What Ordinances are in force in Papua and New Guinea controlling - (a) the movement of natives, (b) conditions of work of natives, and (c) wages for native workers?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
t asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 May 1958, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1958/19580501_reps_22_hor19/>.