23rd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– 1 desire to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question about the great conferences that are starting, I think to-day, with a meeting in regard to the agenda for the summit conference - a meeting which will be followed by the summit conference, if all goes well. Will the Minister state, broadly, the programme, so far as time is concerned? Secondly, and this is more important, can he tell the House what steps are being taken by Australia and in what practical relationship to the conference Australia will stand, not being a direct party but being in a position in which it should be able to exercise substantial influence on the proceedings and, 1 hope, on the result, because of its intimate association with the United Kingdom? Is anything being done about it other than what was stated in the generalization which the Prime Minister gave to the newspapers the other day, and which really gave no information at all?
– I am sure that the right honorable gentleman does not expect me to make offhand a policy statement on this matter in answer to a question without notice. From the factual point of view, the situation is that the four Western Foreign Ministers - those of the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France and West Germany - are meeting in Paris to-day to co-ordinate their views and to determine their approach to the meeting of Foreign Ministers, including the Soviet Foreign Minister, to be held in Geneva on 11th May. As I think the right honorable gentleman realizes, and as I think everybody realizes, the current situation, particularly in respect of Berlin, has been brought about by the Russians rocking the boat, and not the West. Mr. Macmillan recently made what I think can be described as a commendable visit to Moscow, In the statements that he has made since, he has been hopeful about the holding of a summit meeting at some time after the meeting of Foreign Ministers on 11th May. He has also said that he has not any great hopes that this extremely complicated situation as between the East and the West can be resolved by one summit meeting, and he has envisaged the possibility of high level meetings - perhaps a series of them, perhaps summit meetings or perhaps something below the level of summit meetings - to be brought about in the period ahead of us.
There is no doubt that the Russians have precipitated what could be a serious crisis over Berlin, and I expect that discussions about Berlin will be the hard core of the Foreign Ministers’ meetings, and subsequently of summit meetings. I refer, of course, to Berlin looked at against the background of the German problem as a whole. It is to be hoped that these high level meetings - both the Foreign Ministers’ meetings and the summit conference - will not result in the Russians being able to get piecemeal concessions from the West. At present - and one hopes this will continue - the West appears to be determined to maintain its rights over Berlin; namely, the right of access to Berlin and the right of the Berlin people to have a government of their own choosing. The situation is extremely complicated and is bedevilled by almost complete lack of confidence on each side. It may well be that some solution of the Berlin problem can be evolved other than by the method that has existed up to the present.
As far as Australia is concerned, we have had a few ideas on the matter and we have put them to our friends in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. However, as the right honorable gentleman says, we are not parties principal in this matter. Already four points of view - those of the United Kingdom, the United States, France and Western Germany - have to be coordinated, and it is known that they have not always been in line. I believe that we could not do any good by making a public statement of another view in addition to the four views that have already been presented.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether he will advise the House of the position of the Commonwealth in relation to the free-way now being constructed around the southern perimeter of the Essendon Aerodrome. As many residents have been denied access to Keilor-road tram routes because some streets have been bisected and five or six others have been changed into dead ends, will the Minister consider an approach to the State Government in an endeavour to minimize the extreme inconvenience being caused to my constituents in this area?
– The Commonwealth has very little responsibility in connexion with the construction of the free-way around the perimeter of the Essendon Aerodrome. Initially, the Commonwealth agreed to construct a road around the perimeter - a fairly narrow road, I understand - to compensate for the aerodrome lying across the extension of, I think, Bulla-road. Subsequently, the State Government asked that, instead of constructing this road, the Commonwealth make a contribution towards the cost of construction of the free-way, and the Commonwealth made a contribution of approximately £60,000. The planning of the freeway with its intersection of other roads is entirely the decision of the State Government. I hardly think that it would be the function of the Commonwealth Government to take any active part in the State Government’s function of town planning.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Treasurer, by saying that I read with interest his comment that rail transport was one of our problems at the present time. I ask him whether, in relation to the Budget, consideration is being given to relieving State railway systems of the payroll tax? If this is not being considered, will he explain why the Commonwealth railways are treated differently from the State railways in the assessment of their annual returns?
– There was considerable discussion on this topic at the last meeting of the Premiers. What was then said will be on record and I suggest to the honorable gentleman that he will find something of interest to him in a perusal of the views expressed by spokesmen for the Commonwealth and State Governments. As to whether there is some comparability between the situation of the Commonwealth railways and that of the State railways I cannot answer offhand. I will examine that aspect of the matter to see whether there is any discrimination that operates unfairly. This is quite a complex matter. It is not unconnected with the general problem of pay-roll tax, as I think the honorable member will appreciate. The Government does review the operation of that general tax from time to time, and will do so again in connexion with the forthcoming Budget.
– I should like to ask the Acting Prime Minister a question without notice. Has the right honorable gentleman yet come to a decision to re-constitute the committee appointed some years ago to examine possible changes in the Constitution? If the answer is in the affirmative, will the right honorable gentleman tactfully whisper in the collective ear of the esteemed committee suggesting that it might complete the provisional report by setting out the reasons for its suggested alterations to the Constitution, so that the House might have before it all the available evidence when the opportunity is given to it at some distant date to discuss the changes proposed by the committee?
– Either I or my colleague, the Attorney-General, will take an early occasion to state what the current position is in regard to this matter, and I have no doubt that the information sought by the honorable gentleman will be forthcoming.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister a question without notice. Last week, I asked the Treasurer, who was acting for the Prime Minister, whether a decision had been made to proceed with the establishment of the Canberra University as distinct from the Australian National University in Canberra, something which was foreshadowed in a Government statement just before the last election. I asked the Treasurer at the time whether a decision had been made to take the administrative steps necessary to establish such a university. The right honorable gentleman said it was possible that when the Prime Minister returned after his illness there might be some sort of decision. I now ask the Acting Prime Minister whether any decision has been made.
– This is a matter in which the Prime Minister had been concerning himself up to the time of his departure from this country. It is not possible to make an announcement with regard to it at this stage, but I assure the honorable member that the matter is under current consideration by members of the Cabinet and by the Prime Minister himself.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question without notice. Has the Minister seen a circular letter from the secretary of the Victorian branch of the Australian Railways Union asking the Leader of the Opposition to clarify his position in relation to unity tickets and enclosing a photostat copy of a how-to-vote card, showing members of the Australian Labour Party and the Communist Party on a unity ticket and seeking support to return a militant team to office in the Australian Railways Union Victorian branch elections? In view of the Australiawide interest in this unholy alliance between the two parties, will the Minister say whether a continuation of these agreements between the Communists and the Australian Labour Party could be detrimental to the Australian Railways Union and to unionists generally?
– I have seen the circular to which the honorable gentleman refers, and also a copy of the how-to-vote card. As I see the facts, at least there is one- (Opposition members interjecting) -
– Order! I must ask the House to come to order. Honorable members know the provisions of the Standing Orders. They have been contravening them on several occasions, and I think it is time that the House had their co-operation.
– I was saying, Mr. Speaker, that I had seen a copy of the circular and the how-to-vote card. As I see the position, there is the name of at least one well-known and self-proclaimed Communist on this how-to-vote card. I do not know whether the names of any Australian Labour Party members are on it, because I have not checked; but it is reasonable to assume that at least one or more of the other fourteen candidates mentioned are members of the A.L.P.
Sir, it is well known that there is a decision of the federal A.L.P., supported by the Leader of the Opposition, which states quite clearly that unity tickets are not to be permitted. Equally, too, it is certain that the Victorian branch of the party and the Victorian Trades and Labour Council have decided not to be bound by the federal A.L.P. decision. In answer to the honorable gentleman, I can say that this is not a matter that directly concerns me. It is a matter between the federal A.L.P. on one hand, and the State branch of the party and the Victorian Trades and Labour Council, on the other. As to whether it can do damage to that section of the trade union movement-
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the Minister’s admission that this is a matter that has nothing to do with him, is he in order in continuing to answer the question?
– Order! The Minister is in order.
– As to whether it can do damage to the section of the trade union movement concerned, I can say that all too frequently Communist association with particular trade unions has done harm to them.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General and preface it by stating that another highly successful play entitled “ Emergency “, again with an all-Australian cast, has been produced by station ATN on channel 7. Has the PostmasterGeneral met with any success in response to my request that he approach the other television stations with a request that they follow the example set by ATN in the production of plays with all-Australian casts?
– The Australian Broadcasting Control Board’, at my direction, is constantly in touch with television licensees on various problems which arise, particularly that to which the honorable member has referred. Only last week, I think, the chairman of the board had a conference with some of the television licensees at which the question of the production of further plays of this sort was discussed.
– I preface a question to the Treasurer by saying that it has been brought to my notice that there is a I2i per cent, sales tax on musical instruments. As these instruments are used by rural town bands which are invariably faced with a drastic lack of finance and are a most important asset to any community, will the Treasurer consider abolishing this financial burden which is imposed on these organizations? If it is not practicable or reasonable to discard this tax, will strong consideration be given to reducing it to a minimum?
– For many years it has been my purpose to remain in harmony with representatives of the rural interests of Australia. I can only say to the honorable gentleman that I will consider the suggestion he has made.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. Is the Minister aware that Group Captain Cheshire, V.C., D.S.O., D.F.C., is at present visiting Australia with his wife? Is the Minister also aware that to date Group Captain Cheshire, who is generally accepted as a very distinguished personage, has not yet appeared on any television interview sessions? As, for some reason or other, the commercial stations have not seen fit or have been unable to arrange for him to be interviewed, will the Minister bring to the attention of the Australian Broadcasting Commission the fact that countless Australians would like to meet this distinguished man, and arrange for him to be interviewed on channel 2 at an appropriate time, such as in the session “ Meet the People “ conducted in Sydney on Sunday nights?
– I shall be very glad to bring the suggestion to the notice of the chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and to suggest that attention be given to its implementation.
– I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister, both in thai capacity and as Minister for Trade. I should like to join with Sir John Allison in welcoming the announcement that an Australian trade mission will leave for central and east Africa in June. My question, Sir, is: Will the Minister look into the possibility of a member of this Parliament accompanying the mission with a view to giving it the added status of Government participation and to enable members to understand to a greater degree the problems of trade which we are required to consider in this Parliament?
– I shall be glad to consider the proposal which the honorable member makes, but I point out that in regard to all the many trade missions that have been arranged there has been a conscious desire on the part of myself and the Department of Trade to avoid any appearance that these are political ventures or have anything to do with political stunting or political preferment. To this end, with one exception, the leadership of missions has been in the hands of businessmen approved by the business members of the missions, and Department of Trade officials have appeared not in a leading role, but merely to assist the businessmen embarking on the missions. The one exception was in the case of the very distinguished leadership given to a mission to South-East Asia by my colleague, the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz), who co-operates with me virtually as an assistant Minister. He was really taking the part that I myself might have taken. I think the honorable member for Macmillan will realize that there are quite important reasons why it is desirable to avoid any implication that there is a political flavour in, or any desire to get political advantage out of, what are strictly commercial trade missions.
– I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs. Recently, the United Kingdom Conservative Party announced a plan for setting up what it termed the United States of Melanesia, to include Papua and New Guinea. The announcement included the statement that the plan had the support of Sir Keith Officer, former Australian Ambassador to France. I ask the Minister whether Sir Keith Officer is still a member of the staff of the Department of External Affairs. Further, will the Minister say whether the Australian Government approves or supports the policy of the United Kingdom Conservative Party on this matter?
– I am sorry to say that I did not quite get the complete sense of what the honorable gentleman said. I have seen in the press some reference in a general way to the matter mentioned. I did not give it any great attention. I shall look at it again and let the honorable gentleman know about it as soon as I can.
– Will the Minister for Primary Industry state the reason for delay in the implementation of the wheat industry research legislation? Can he say when the research envisaged in the legislation will be undertaken?
– I understand the honorable member to refer to the Victorian committee envisaged by the legislation introduced by my predecessor and passed by the Parliament. All the States that are associated with wheat production, except Victoria, have appointed committees. The matter is really one for the Victorian Government to determine. At this stage I can see no reason why an amendment of the act should be recommended just to meet the circumstances pertaining in one State, when all the other States have been quite happy to accept the conditions of the act. I think it is a shame that this matter has not been settled, because there is a large amount of money for research, collected in Victoria, which is not available for use in research fields. Of course, the matter is one in which the Victorian Government wants to appoint a representative of a particular organization.
Mr. Pollard__ Which one?
– The Australian Primary Producers Union. But the act requires that a nomination be made to the State Minister by the Victorian organization affiliated with the Australian Wheat growers Federation, so it is a matter between the State Government and that particular organization to iron out. In the absence of agreement on the nominations the industry is losing out in Victoria.
– I desire to ask the Minister for External Affairs the following question without notice: Has the Commonwealth Government taken, or supported, action to have the anti-democratic, oppressive racial discrimination laws of South Africa discussed on an international level, preferably by the United Nations organization, with a view to securing the termination of a policy of discrimination which can result only in continuing and accentuating hatred among people on a racial and colour basis? If no action has been taken or is proposed to be taken in this matter, is it because the Government’s attitude to the question of protecting individual freedom and justice is determined in accordance with the political character and colour of the offending government? If this is not the Government’s reason for not expressing criticism and opposition to the unchristianlike actions of the South African Government, will the Minister state upon what ground he justifies the silence of the Government on the South African situation when we recall the alacrity with which the Government has been prepared to condemn as acts of oppression happenings in other parts of the world?
– It is common knowledge that over the last ten years the matters of which the honorable gentleman speaks have been before the United Nations, and have been debated there practically every year.
– I direct a question without notice to the Minister for Labour and National Service. In connexion with the figures issued by the Department of Labour and National Service on the incidence of unemployment, can the Minister inform the House whether in the records unemployed persons are grouped according to age; and, secondly, whether it is possible to ascertain how many of those receiving unemployment benefit have been on benefit for two months or more?
– As to the first part of the honorable gentleman’s question, I do not think that the records of those registered for employment show the age groups into which they fall. However, I shall ask the department whether it can make a dissection of the figures, and if it can do so, I shall pass on the result to the honorable gentleman. As to the second part of the question, two weeks ago I asked the department whether it could make a dissection showing the period of time for which people have been on unemployment benefit. There is some difficulty about getting the figures, but as soon as I get them I will make them known, to the honorable gentleman and to the House.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Has the Minister been advised that doctors of the Boston University School of Medicine have developed an advanced method of testing the vision of new-born babies? In any event, will the Minister secure information on this new method, which promises sight to many children who otherwise might remain blind?
– I have heard something about the matter to which the honorable gentleman refers, but so far we have no information in this country, through any of the scientific journals, about it. All we know is what is contained in press references, and inquiries by the Department of Health both from Australian oculists and from visiting American surgeons have thrown no light on the subject.
– I ask you, Mr. Speaker, under what standing order you or your deputies are not permitted to use an honorable member’s surname in this House but only the name of his electorate? I am thinking of the thousands of visiting electors from all over the Commonwealth who, during sessions, listen to debates in this chamber from the galleries. Are you aware, Sir, that whereas listeners 3,000 miles away at Perth and Darwin are enabled to know who is speaking in this chamber, through the medium of the Australian Broadcasting Commission announcer, people actually sitting in the galleries and looking at the honorable member who is speaking only a few yards away, have no idea who he is? As a guide to visitors, would it not be possible and desirable for you and your deputies, and also the occupants of the chair in committees, to add the surnames of honorable members when they are called to speak in this chamber, for example, “ The honorable member for Braddon, Mr. Davies, the honorable member for Bass, Mr. Barnard, the honorable member for Mallee, Mr. Turnbull, the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr. Adermann “ ?
– I direct the honorable member’s attention to Standing Order No. 81 which reads -
No Member shall refer to any other Member by name, but only by the name of the Electoral Division he represents.
I understand that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has an arrangement under which the member’s name is mentioned outside the House.
– The Postmaster-General will recollect that recently I directed his attention to the long delays occurring in telephone communication between Canberra and Sydney. He indicated in his reply at the time that he would look into the matter. I now ask the Minister whether he has done so and whether he has anything to report. Can he hold out any hope of improvement in the service in the near future?
– I remember the question which was directed to me by the honorable member just a few weeks ago concerning the unsatisfactory trunk-line service between Canberra and Sydney. At the time, I replied that, according to information which I had received as a result of previous inquiries, the trouble was due less to staffing than to lack of sufficient channels to carry the increased traffic. Since then it has been found that although there was sufficient staff some of them had not had very much experience. To improve the situation three experienced telephonists were sent from Sydney to help deal with the situation. At the same time an experienced traffic officer came down to look into traffic control methods in the post office here, with the result that already, I believe, there has been some improvement in the service.
But as I said in my previous reply it was realized that there was also a channel problem to be dealt with. I think I stated that there was a long-range plan involving the co-axial cable which would finally solve the problem but pointed out that this would not be available for about two years. It has been decided that in the interval two new twelve-channel carrier systems will be installed between Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney, and this will very materially improve the service. It is believed that this will carry the increased traffic until the co-axial cable is in operation. These two new systems are actually being installed at present and should be available for service very shortly.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for East Sydney. Will the Minister state what attitude was adopted by Australia when discussions took place at the United Nations relative to racial discrimination in South Africa? Is it a fact that the Australian delegate supported the South African stand both in discussion and by vote?
– The subject has come up under two headings. Under the principal heading to which I think the honorable gentleman referred, we have believed that the matter was one of domestic jurisdiction in South Africa and that the United Nations should not be seised of it by reason of Article 2, paragraph 7, of the United Nations Charter, which debars matters of domestic legislation from discussion in the United Nations.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry received an invitation from the New South Wales Citrus Growers’ Council on behalf of their federation to open the annual conference of the growers at Terrigal next Monday? If he is able to accept the invitation, will he take the opportunity of addressing the growers at the same time?
– I have been honoured with an invitation to open the conference referred to by the honorable member, and I shall certainly have pleasure in addressing delegates and giving them of my wisdom, so far I have any, pertaining to that industry. I shall enjoy the experience and, I hope, the company of the honorable member.
– I should like to ask the Minister for Immigration whether greater consideration can be given to the admittance of the parents of people in this country, who are residing in England and who are stopped from coming here for health reasons. I urge this consideration particularly in view of the fact that, under the reciprocal social service arrangements those people would be entitled in a very short period to benefits here on account of their age, apart from health reasons. Does the Minister realize that some of the difficulties in getting migrants from Great Britain are bound up with the fact that emigration means separation of families? Further, in some cases, sons or daughters who come here eventually return to rejoin their parents.
– I am very well aware of the problems of which the honorable member complains. I have said before on several occasions in this House - and it should be well known to honorable members by now - that one of the tenets of the Government’s immigration policy is the preservation of the family and of family ties so far as is possible and reasonable. I think it can be truly claimed that the various actions that have been taken in the last year or so have been very much directed towards that end.
My honorable friend raises some difficulty, however, when he asks virtually for an open go, as I understand the question, for all parents in the United Kingdom who have offspring in this country. We endeavour to be as humane and sympathetic as possible in this respect, but I ask the honorable gentleman to remember that if we disregarded the health aspect completely the Government would impose, unquestionably, an onerous burden upon State hospital services and State health institutions generally. If that became too prevalent and we completely disregarded the cost of maintaining people who were palpably ill and could not look after themselves, very serious representations would be made by the State governments to the Commonwealth. I believe, too, that some damage would be done in the eyes of the Australian people to the cause of immigration generally. But I do not want the honorable gentleman to feel that the Government is not seised very fully of the humanities of this problem. I only ask him to remember some of the difficulties on the debit side of the ledger.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service been directed to the fact that outside pressure is being brought to bear on the New South Wales Government to repeal the penal clauses of the State Arbitration Act? What effect would this have on the arbitration system of this country?
– Naturally I have seen reports of action being taken, both by the trade union movement in New South Wales and by some members of the Parliament of that State, to have the penal sections of the New South Wales industrial legislation either amended or repealed. As the honorable gentleman knows, this is a matter that directly concerns the New South Wales Government. The Minister for Labour and Industry in that State has stated that he does not think it would be practicable to amend the penal sections, insofar as they apply to the working men, without at the same time similarly amending the sections relating to lockouts by the employers. He has gone further and said that if action were taken along these lines it would, of course, ruin the industrial legislation of New South Wales. I think his answer should be sufficient for the purposes of the honorable gentleman from Hume. The Commonwealth, of course, has had this matter under very close consideration. I have already discussed it with my departmental chiefs and the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
– Will the Minister for External Affairs inform the House of the full details of the negotiations between himself and Mr. Firubin concerning the reestablishment of the Russian Embassy in Australia? Is it a fact that despite this Government’s professed hatred of communism, the right honorable gentleman fraternized over a glass of vodka with Mr. Firubin on the Gold Coast of Queensland?
– I have already outlined, on more than one occasion, the broad arrangements that were made for the reestablishment of embassies in Australia and in Moscow. I have given the House an assurance that Australian interests have been completely safeguarded. I do not think there is anything more to say about it.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration. I preface it by directing the Minister’s attention to the fact that State governments will not issue migrants with driving licences unless they have a satisfactory knowledge of English. Yet these same people, before coming to Australia, were able to drive freely in nearly every country in Europe although obviously they did not have an adequate knowledge of all European languages. Will the Minister confer with the various State governments to see whether some scheme can be devised by which internationally recognized traffic signs will be erected throughout Australia, thus assisting migrants to obtain driving licences more readily?
– I will certainly refer the honorable member’s complaint to the right quarters and/ or take it up with the various State governments. But, just giving my own personal opinion, I would utter a caution. I think it is desirable that all drivers of motor vehicles in this country and all holders of driving licences should have at least some knowledge of English in order to understand the rules of the road, the road signs and, generally, what is going on.
If I may step out of my province for a moment, I should like to say that I imagine that, in the past, the practice of some State governments in issuing driving licences has erred on the side of leniency, and perhaps even of weakness, whereas the interests of the public would have been better served had the conditions for the obtaining of driving licences been rather more rigorous.
– I direct my question to the Acting Prime Minister, because I do not think that any other Minister would be sympathetic in this matter. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he will favorably consider an application for a £l-for-£l subsidy made by any local authority in Queensland which is prepared to lay down an airstrip in its area a9 a project for the year of the centenary of the granting of responsible government in that State.
– Notwithstanding my well-known sympathetic understanding and my predilection for helping Queensland, I cannot give such an undertaking.
– by leave - Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) asked me several days ago whether I would be willing to make in the House a statement explaining the issues that arose, and the policies stated by me, during my recent mission to the United States of America. My request for leave to make this statement is made in consequence of the assurance that I gave then.
When I was about to leave Australia, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in an announcement concerning my departure, said that I should be dealing with United States Ministers in Washington on a number of trade matters of concern to Australia. In fact, my mission was the result of a particular invitation which, at the moment of my departure, I was not free to mention, because the United States itself had not at that time revealed the convening of a meeting of Ministers to discuss wheat surpluses. But it was quite correct that I was to take the opportunity to discuss several trade matters other than wheat surpluses, in respect of which the particular invitation had been extended. For example, I quite naturally took the opportunity to raise again with the United States Administration issues concerning our interests in lead and zinc, and particularly to discuss with Australian representatives of the lead and zinc producing industries who were assembling in that country, and with Australian officials who would be working with them, the line of policy and the tactics that could be adopted at the then impending meetings of the United Nations Lead and Zinc Committee and Study Group on lead and zinc - a meeting which is proceeding at the present time.
My particular representations to the United States Administration in this regard were designed, as would be obvious to every one, to improve our share of, and access to, the great United States market, particularly for lead, and, in circumstances of a restrictive quota in respect of zinc, to secure for Australia a particular country allocation, for we have not a particular Australian allocation in that metal. Further to this, of course, it was clearly desirable that I should seek to ascertain, explore and discuss the line of American official thinking with respect to the meeting of the United Nations study group. I think I can say that yesterday, in replying to a question asked by the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark), within whose electorate the great Broken Hill mines are, I made a statement which covered fairly well the situation that led up to the American action on lead and zinc, and which, indeed, referred with equal importance to the total world situation of production and exports, with consequent price instability. I do not think it is necessary for me to canvass again in this statement the matters which I mentioned yesterday.
Before turning, as I desire to do now, to the prime purpose of my mission - the statement of Australia’s attitude towards wheat surplus disposals - I make it clear that I sought to establish in the minds of United States Cabinet Ministers and senior officials the fact that it would not be appropriate or satisfactory ever to examine in isolation United States policy in respect of one particular Australian export product, and that is established by the relation of a set of circumstances which I stated vigorously at the ministerial and official levels over there. The point that I make is this: Our capacity to earn overseas income is probably, at the present stage, the most inhibiting factor in the whole plan, programme and future of Australian development and the tempo that we have worked up, for we cannot proceed with our internal development without a certain minimum amount of overseas exchange. In fact, on an average, upwards of 70 per cent, per annum of our overseas exchange is earned by five products, and there is a trading relationship between these five principal products and United States policies.
Take wool, which is our greatest export Earner. The United States is in fact the only important wool-buyer in the world which maintains a very heavy duty against Australian, wool. United States surplus disposal activities confront us and inhibit us to some extent in our commercial selling opportunities in respect of wheat, which is our second biggest export earner, and, on occasions, of flour. In relation to meat, we have constantly encountered over a variety of fields in that country circumstances obstructive to our opportunities to sell meat there. There is, for practical purposes, a United States embargo against the import of Australian dairy products - one of our greatest export earners. We can sell no cheese there, and we can sell only nine tons of butter a year in that market. With respect to lead, which is one of our great export earners, and our principal dollar earner, we have in recent months suffered from a restrictive reduction, amounting to 49 per cent., of our freedom to sell lead compared with the quantity which we sold to the United States in the last year when no restrictions applied. These products account for more than 70 per cent, of Australia’s overall export earnings and this is a pretty serious and important category of trade obstruction. I describe it as being an unparalleled obstruction to our opportunities to sell, and I state in this House - as I stated with all the vigour at my command in Washington - that we should not be expected to discuss any single item of trade with the United States except with a conscious understanding of the total circumstances of our trading opportunities there.
Now. to put the discussions in respect of wheat surpluses in their setting, the fact of the matter is that in relation to this great export item of ours we have in recent years been operating commercially in the same fields in which the United States has been making surplus disposals, sometimes by straight gift, but more often by disposals from accumulated surpluses under what is known as United States Public Law 480. This means, generally, sale for payment in the currency of the receiving country, and very frequently not merely payment in an unconvertible currency, but also re-lending of the proceeds of the sale for long terms. Of course, we cannot in a commercial transaction compete with that kind of operation. Notwithstanding that, we have been pursuing our commercial activities. By patient understanding - as much understanding, I hasten to say, on the side of the United States as on our own side, but largely on our initiative - we have achieved a certain level of agreement with the United States. Clearly there has in recent times been increasing public concern in the United States about the aggregation of surplus farm products and their disposal. Concern has been expressed internally at the cost of the price support system and at the progressive addition, in at least important items, to the already accumulated surpluses.
I want fairly to pay a tribute to the policies of the United States. They have been designed to limit the increased surplus production of items for which there is not an obvious commercial market. In the circumstances of great surpluses, I pay a tribute to the conscious and successful endeavours of the United States to sustain reasonable world prices. I acknowledge immediately the generosity of the United States in the use of its surpluses, its recognition of human wants in certain fields and its consciousness of the fact that, where there is a surplus of food and where there are needy people, a foreign policy relationship purpose can be served by making certain foods available.
We watch these matters closely through the appropriate department, and it was against this growing interest and concern in the United States that we placed our assessment on a message which the President of the United States sent to the Congress. Referring to these surpluses, he said that the United States should use food for peace. That was the culmination of great congressional interest and it focused new and urgent attention upon surplus disposal operations. Tt was pursuant to the President’s message and the general conercasional and public interest that an invitation was extended to the appropriate Ministers of the wheat exportine countries - Canada, Australia, the Argentine and France - to meet Mr. Benson, the Secretary of Agriculture in the United States, to discuss surplus disposals. I understand that wheat is the major item and is perhaps only the first item; other discussions may follow on other commodities.
Australia has developed a constant policy. I have stated it in this House on a number of occasions and also publicly and at international meetings. We have a need to safeguard our commercial markets. Having stated that, we add instantly that in the same field we welcome American generosity extended within such limits as will prevent the destruction of the essential commercial marketing opportunities for Australia’s main products. These two principles are easy to state, but not easy to reduce to a formula. I have said many times that the only way to work with these principles, once accepted, is to establish a basis of close consultation on each year’s crops or from incident to incident where there is a request or a proposal.
Our general policies were clear in my mind when I went overseas. As the meeting of ministers was convened for 5th May I clearly could not go, because the Prime Minister would then be absent from the country. It was mutually agreed that it was desirable that I should go before the meeting for a discussion. But obviously, I could not go to negotiate any agreement prior to the actual meeting of ministers. I went not to secure a commitment, but to ensure that there was, at a high level, an appropriate understanding of the relevant interests of both parties and of the thinking of both parties. Here I was at some disadvantage - I say that without a sense of complaint - in that no agenda was available or prepared for the meeting of ministers. It was stated that the point of view of the United States would be explained when the meeting convened. I clearly am responsible finally for instructing our delegate to the meeting of ministers, and our delegate will be Sir John Crawford, who is, as honorable members know, the permanent head of the Department of Trade, and very skilled in all these matters.
I have made it clear that Australia has special problems connected with wheat marketing. Wheat is our second biggest export earner. With low prices for wool, there is a swing back to the production of wheat. Our wheat acreage dropped by some 25 per cent, as wool prices rose, but to-day there is a clear swing back to a bigger wheat acreage. That itself points to the new necessity for us to preserve our commercial marketing opportunities. We must be conscious of the need to safeguard our exchange earnings because our whole programme of national development could be limited if we did not earn enough. These statements are of immediate self-interest, but we have never failed to recognize that sometimes certain areas which have a need for food, have not a commensurate capacity to pay for it.
We not only welcome the generosity of the United States, but, indeed, we ourselves have been a leader. Australia more than any other country took the initiative in establishing the Colombo Plan. We have made wheat or flour available under the Colombo Plan. But, as in many circumstances of life, it has not proved to be so simple as merely to say that here is a capacity to buy but here is a need and no capacity to buy; it is not as clear as that. A new factor is emerging. The underdeveloped countries - I use that term not in a sense of disparagement, but to identify a class of country - almost without exception have a real problem of exchange shortage. Where a country has no capacity to pay but has hungry people, and another country has surplus food, the situation is clear. But it is not quite so clear or so simple where a country with a real exchange problem but not entirely without purchasing power seeks to be given, without exchange expenditure, such an important item of food as wheat. This is not merely from the motive of giving people food but from the very understandable motive of conserving the exchange resources of the country, which has become an increasingly complicating factor.
The United States, not uncommonly, now attaches as a condition to its Public Law 480, relating to concessional transactions, a condition that the country benefiting shall purchase a certain stated or minimum quantity at commercial terms. We have agreed that this is very appropriate, but again, to illustrate the changing scene, only last year our great friend, Canada, which does not have the same kind of exchange earning problem as Australia, was able to sell wheat to India on ten-years’ terms with nothing to pay in the first three years. Quite frankly,
I cannot concede that that is in the category of a commercial transaction.
To illustrate further the impact of these incidents upon Australia, India was for a considerable period Australia’s biggest buyer of wheat. In the last nine or ten years, we have sold India up to 37,000,000 bushels of wheat annually, but with the advent of surplus disposal programmes and terms sales, last year our share of the Indian market diminished from the former high level of 37,000,000 bushels to 500,000 bushels. I am sure that we would not have sold one bushel of wheat to India this year had I not engaged in special pleading at Montreal with the Indian Minister for Finance on the ground that as Australia had been an important supplier, her product should not become unknown on the Indian market. Accordingly, the Indian Finance Minister agreed to buy about 2,500,000 bushels of wheat from us this year.
Those are illustrations of how things have been going. I think I can stand in this Parliament and say that Australia has behaved well in difficult circumstances.1 No country has ever rebuked us for adopting an unreasonable attitude. We have pursued quite vigorously every effort to get greater access to those markets that are commercial, so that we would be less concerned about taking a stand in the markets of the underdeveloped countries. For instance, honorable members will remember that we made a special bargain - not without a concession in order to secure it - with the United Kingdom to buy 28,000,000 bushels of our wheat a year.
– To what extent has Australia taken advantage of that?
– We have taken as much advantage of that bargain as we felt disposed to take. We had a light crop last year, and did not particularly want to hold the United Kingdom to its bargain. The United Kingdom took less wheat last year than it had been taking in other years, but more than it would have taken but for the bargain. Australia also entered into a special bargain with Japan, which ensured the sale of not less than 8,000,000 bushels of f.a.q. wheat a year. We also entered into bargains with Malaya and Ceylon in order to achieve sales of our flour. But none of those bargains was achieved without commensurate compensating action on our part.
I mention those points to show that Australia has never engaged in mealy-mouthed pleas for markets to be made available to us. We have gone out and fought and bargained for them. We do not want to be driven completely out of historic and natural markets in the under-developed countries. We have lived with this situation, difficult though it has been. We have argued, but we have not complained. But when, on top of what I have been relating, we discovered that a country with immense surpluses of wheat had convened a meeting of wheat producing countries in order to discuss a proposal to “ Use Food for Peace”, we clearly became concerned lest a new policy should produce some quite unmanageable marketing circumstances for us. In view of the slogan, “ Use Food for Peace “, and bearing in mind the fact that the most recent United States crop had added 400,000,000 bushels of wheat to a stock already standing at 900,000,000 bushels, it was quite understandable that we should be concerned lest new policies might prove too damaging to our interests to be tolerable.
It was against this background that I proceeded overseas at short notice. I had discussions with the Minister who had invited me, the Secretary for Agriculture, Mr. Ezra Benson. I felt that this was not merely a question of commercial interests. I felt that it would be a very serious matter for Australia if some disposals activity should force us into the position where we had to complain about the wide generosity of Americans towards our Asian friends. We have worked too hard and with too much realism to build up goodwill with our Asian friends to risk any hard feelings now. Against that line of thinking I felt that I should direct my arguments not merely to the Minister in control of commercial disposal or non-commercial disposal of primary products, but also to the appropriate senior official of the State Department, Mr. Dillon, the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs. It was on account of any new situation that might impair our relationship with the Asians that I successfully sought to see Mr. Dillon, although he was out of his own country at the time. By arrangement we met in Honolulu - before I met Mr. Benson. Mr. Dillon was on his way to the Seato conference and I was on my way to Washington. By arrangement I met him again during his return trip.
Our cases were stated at two different levels - as they concerned the primary product and as they concerned international relations. I stated Australia’s anxiety and concern for our wheat and flour industries and our concern for our exchange earning opportunities. I made it clear that we earnestly wanted to avoid any appearance of pressing our commercial interests to the point where we had no regard for the food needs of poor people, with consequent harm to our reputation in Asia. I stated our legitimate interests, but avoided obstructing United States help to the needy. Clearly, any expanded programme of wheat disposals would present real problems, both from the economic and political points of view. From the outset, I said that if the United States Government desired to embark on a wider and more generous programe of disposals to needy peoples, we would endeavour to co-operate and support such a worthy cause without seeking to benefit from it. But having said that, I was assured by the appropriate Cabinet Minister that the United States did not propose to embark on a programme of wider disposals. I say frankly, as I have said frequently, that this assurance surprised me but reassured me. I said in that situation there was a need to study with very great care the processes of consultation for two reasons - for the purpose of guarding our trade against avoidable harm, and for the not less important reason of ensuring that seasonal aid by the United States of America is never denied where it can be extended without harm to normal commercial trading.
One objective the United States has is to try to expand actual consumption of wheat in the under-developed countries. Here is a highly laudable objective which would have very high advantages from whatever aspect one might view it - commercially in the long term, on the grounds of humanity in the short term or from the viewpoint of international relationships. I put it on record, however, that if, notwithstanding the assurances volunteered to me - not sought by me but volunteered to me - American policies or thinking should be changed in the direction of desire to expand food disposals, then I have said in Washington that I believe it is not impossible for us to reach an understanding and an arrangement designed to avoid Australian pressures and protests from inhibiting American aid by disposal. This would require acknowledgment by the United States that any further important broadening of surplus disposals must unavoidably harm Australia’s commercial opportunities. In consequence, there would have to be some American assumption of obligation which would allow our industrial and export earnings to continue. In such a possible situation where the interests and policies of the United States of America and the under-developed countries are all involved and could easily become conflicting, then so far from adopting a dog-in-the-manger attitude, I sought to be co-operative and constructive.
Clearly, the situation of United States surplus farm production will exist in the long term. Of that I have no doubt. None of us has any doubt that poverty in Asia will exist for a long term. This confronts us with issues which touch our commercial interests and our Asian relationships and, indeed with issues which touch our very conscience. These situations will not be disposed of by a single meeting or by a single speech. I would hope that I have stated a line of thinking acceptable to the Australian nation, for this is not a party political issue.
I make it quite clear that my visit to the United States of America was not designed to anticipate, by any prior arrangement with that country, the results of the ministerial meeting. Clearly, that would be improper. I did not seek to come home with any decisions. However, I am sure I left an adequate impression with the United States Cabinet Ministers and top officials of the magnitude and significance to Australia of the impact of United States disposals policies on our export earning commodities. There is a conference of officials proceeding at present preparatory to the meeting of Ministers which will take place commencing on 5th May. I say now, in conclusion, that, by convening this conference, the United States of America has provided an opportunity which might not readily occur again for exporting countries like ourselves to join with it to endeavour to find ways and means by which disposal of surplus wheat may proceed side by side with commercial sales. The high objective ws have had in mind is to agree on the means by which maximum help may be extended to the needy whilst, at the same time, safeguarding the legitimate opportunities so essential to exporting countries such as Australia. I lay on the table the following paper: -
Trade Mission to United States of AmericaMinisterial Statement. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Customs Tariff Bill 1959.
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1959.
Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Bill 1959.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill 1959.
Customs Tariff (Papua and New Guinea Preference) Bill 1959.
Excise Tariff Bill 1959.
Northern Territory Representation Bill 1959.
Messages from the Governor-General reported transmitting (a) Additional Estimates of Expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1959; and (b) Additional Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works and other Services involving capital expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1959, :nd recommending appropriations accordingly.
Ordered to be referred to the Committee of Supply forthwith.
Motions (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That there be granted to Her Majesty an additional sum not exceeding £57,204,000 for the services of the year 1958-59, viz.: -
That there be granted to Her Majesty an additional sum not exceeding £7,399,000 for the services of the year 1958-59, for Additions, New Works and other Services involving Capital Expenditure, viz.: -
Standing Orders suspended; resolutions adopted.
Resolutions of Ways and Means, founded on resolutions of Supply, reported and adopted.
That Mr. Harold Holt and Mr. Roberton do prepare and bring in bills to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill and of the associated Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill is to obtain parliamentary authority for certain expenditure for which provision was not made in the 1958-59 Estimates. The various items contained in the Additional Estimates can be considered in detail in committee and I propose at this time to refer only to some of the major provisions. Some re-allocation has been made within the total defence appropriation of £190,000,000, with consequential increases and decreases in individual votes.
Provision is made for additional expenditure of £3,500,000 on departmental and miscellaneous items. Savings on other items, however, are expected to limit net additional expenditure to about £2,400,000. Included in the additional items is Commonwealth scholarship scheme, £135,000; building of homes for the aged, £300,000; merchant ship construction subsidy, £334,000; assisted migration, £262,500; and additional contribution to the United Nations Organization, £41,000. An amount of £872,000 is sought for repatriation medical treatment. This is required mainly to meet an accumulation of expenses due to the State of Victoria in connexion with the operation of the Bundoora Mental Hospital for the Commonwealth. Additional funds are also needed to meet increased treatment and higher costs.
New items of capital works expenditure include £200,000 towards the purchase of a tandem generator by the Australian National University, and £2,000,000 for a further capital subscription to Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. An amount of £4,500,000 is sought for additional expenditure under the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act, primarily due to the fact that some major contracts are proceeding ahead of schedule. There is also provision of £210,000 towards the cost of the co-axial cable to be installed between Sydney and Melbourne.
When the Budget was prepared, it was estimated that £102,000,000 would be needed to supplement loan proceeds available for the State works and housing programmes and to finance advances to the States for war service land settlement. Provision was therefore made to appropriate that amount from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve. On the other hand, it was proposed that £78,000,000 of defence expenditure be financed from the Loan Fund. Because loan proceeds will be considerably greater than was expected, the amount of Commonwealth assistance to the works and housing programmes will be much less than £102,000,000. Accordingly, a greater amount of defence expenditure can be financed from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
– How much more will loan proceeds be?
– That will be affected by the results of the loan currently being undertaken.
– How much is that?
– We are seeking £35,000,000. There is a conversion operation as well. Those two transactions have a bearing on the accounts for the year. An additional appropriation of £40,000,000 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for defence is therefore being sought. This will reduce the amount to be met from the Loan Fund from £78,000,000 to £38,000,000. The amount to be transferred to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve will depend upon the final outcome of the year’s transactions, which cannot be foreseen precisely at this stage.
I commend the bill to honorable members.
– What will be the overall amount spent on defence?
– It is still expected that the defence expenditure will be within the Budget total.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
.- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In my second-reading speech on the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1958-59 I referred to the need to seek additional funds for capital works and services. This bill will effect the appropriations.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Messages recommending appropriation reported.
Motions (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That there be granted to Her Majesty a sum not exceeding £247,228,000 for or towards the services of the year 1959-60.
That there be granted to Her Majesty a sum not exceeding £55,723,000 for or towards the services of the year 1959-60, for Additions, New Works and other Services involving Capital Expenditure.
Standing Orders suspended; resolutions adopted.
Resolutions of Ways and Means, founded on resolutions of Supply, reported and adopted.
That Mr. Harold Holt and Mr. Roberton do prepare and bring in bills to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to appropriate £247,228,000 to carry on the necessary normal services of government, other than capital works and services, during the first five months of the financial year 1959-60. These are services approved by the Parliament in the Appropriation Acts 1958-59. The several amounts provided for ordinary services are -
These represent, with minor exceptions, approximately five-twelfths of the 1958-59 appropriations. The amount of £82,448,000 for Defence Services provides for expenditure on the current defence programme and the amount of £35,402,000 for War and Repatriation Services provides for expenditure on war pensions and repatriation and rehabilitation services. Except in relation to defence, no amounts are included for new services. However, an amount of £16,000,000 is sought for an “Advance to the Treasurer” to make advances which will be recovered within the financial year; and to make moneys available to meet expenditure, particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to Parliament.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to appropriate £55,723,000 to carry on the necessary normal capital works and services of government for the first five months of the financial year 1959-60.
There will be Commonwealth works in progress at 30th June, 1959, expenditure on which must be continued until after the 1959-60 Budget has been considered by Parliament. In addition, it is the practice to programme the capital works and services in the major Commonwealth departments, including the Department of Works, the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Department of Civil Aviation. The appropriation will also provide funds to ensure continuous employment and to enable purchases of materials in advance for the carrying out of those programmes of works.
The bill provides for five months expenditure at the annual level at which expenditure was approved for the purposes of capital works and services in 1958-59.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 23rd April (vide page 1521), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the following paper: -
International Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 23rd April, 1959. be printed.
– J wish to refer first to some matters mentioned by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) in the speech with which he initiated this debate. These matters concerned a number of meetings that he had attended, or visits that he had made. The first one with which he dealt was the meeting of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East at Broadbeach, Queensland. He dealt with the importance of that body. He described the discussions. The importance of Ecafe - and I think that all honorable members will be assisted if they remember this - is that it is actually a United Nations organization, and that the representation in that international body springs from the fact that in the present situation the jurisdiction of the United Nations in relation to economic matters and matters of social welfare and the like has been assumed by the international organization. This situation differs greatly from that under the League of Nations, which had no such power. There is the Economic and Social Council representing all the nations, sitting usually in New York. Then there are these regional bodies; but this is a United Nations body, and at that meeting there were eight United Nations specialized agencies represented and seventeen Asian countries were actually members of the conference.
The Minister says, quite correctly, that these conferences are very helpful. They discussed matters such as population pressure, food production, telecommunications, hydro-electric development, industrialization, regional trade, low-cost housing, road building, statistics, census taking and so on. The population problem was discussed at considerable length. Of course, no solution of it could possibly be reached at a conference of that character, but still it was an important discussion.
Then the conference dealt with the region of Ecafe. The most important project referred to by the Minister was the Mekong Valley project in Indo-China which affects four neighbouring countries, Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam and Laos working in collaboration. This project will benefit an enormous number of people living along the valley. The estimated number is 17,000,000. It was thought that this should be further discussed and Australia pledged itself to an amount of £100,000 Australian. That seems a rather tiny contribution to such a great project, but perhaps that is only the first step.
– That is so.
– We want Australia to take its part in all these activities. The Minister described the Ecafe meeting and correctly emphasized its importance. The Mekong Valley project is still in the stage of investigation and an expenditure of 9,000,000
American dollars is contemplated. The investigations alone will take five years to complete. Noting that, and realizing that this is a United Nations body which we must support we wish it well and we thank the Minister for his report on it. There might be difficulties about some of the other organizations in being and quite obviously there are difficulties about the working of Seato because of its membership being limited.
I turn now to the South-East Asia Treaty Organization, which is called Seato, and which held a conference in New Zealand. It has military, political, economic and social jurisdictions, but the principal reason for it, according to the Minister, is military security. I do not want to discuss this at any length but if honorable members look carefully at the Constitution of Seato and at the Constitution of the United Nations under which Seato claims authorization they will find that all those matters can be dealt with.
The preamble to the Seato agreement points out that its purpose is to uphold the principle of self-determination of peoples, to try to promote self-government by peaceful means, and to secure the independence of all countries whose peoples desire it. Its objective also is to strengthen the fabric of peace, democracy and individual liberty. The Charter of the United Nations requires each regional organization to act in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations. That is why our criticism of Seato has not been against its existence at all; there is room for such an organization, but there are limitations to this particular organization and the way in which it works. For example, one of its purposes is to promote peaceful relations in the areas. But it does not seem to be concerned with that.
Unfortunately it seems to have concentrated more on some form of military activity. Although it does not neglect the other matters, this seems to have become its predominant purpose. This provision for regional agencies was put in the Charter for a quite different purpose. These agencies were to be bodies auxiliary to the Securitv Council with the additional function of peacemaking and matters of that kind. I ask honorable members to think of what a body of this kind could do to promote peace if it were fully representative of the areas. The cause of the United Nations is predominantly the peace of the region and peace of the world. There is an enormous job that could be done by the Seato organization.
I, and my party, have been censured because of our criticism of Seato, but our objective has been to try to improve it. What is Seato now? Who belongs to it? It is supposed to represent the region. But it has representatives of European powers on it. The United Kingdom has an interest in the region and so also have the United States, France, Australia and New Zealand. But of those five nations none is an Asian power. This leaves only three members in Seato of an Asian character. Who are they? Pakistan, which is right over on the western side of India, far away from the Seato region, Thailand, which is only one of the continental nations, and then the Philippines. Those are really the three Asian powers. When we compare this body with Ecafe, which has seventeen Asian powers in its membership, the difference which I am pointing out becomes obvious. It is one of representation. I should like to see Seato work out its destiny under the United Nations Charter, otherwise it has no right to existence at all. It must broaden its membership and its functions and must not emphasize so much what might be called the military side.
– What other nations would the honorable member suggest should be included?
– I would include - if I could get them in and the full Charter were carried out in the way I have suggested - countries which are truly Asian. But why will they not come in? India will not look at it. India says, “This is not a United Nations body. We belong to the United Nations, but Seato is an arrangement of European powers with a few local members thrown in.” I do not wish to say anything offensive, but I should like to think for a moment of Pakistan and Thailand, two out of the three countries now in Seato. Pakistan is in the Commonwealth of Nations, but whereas it had selfgovernment it no longer has it and at present is under a dictatorship. We hope for better things. Thailand is an open dictatorship. I do not criticize the Thai Government, but T do point out that the membership of Thailand is that of a country in which one military dictatorship succeeds another. Yet one objective of Seato is to uphold the principle of self-determination of peoples. The situation in Thailand is a contradiction of the very charter to which these three members have subscribed. Of course, I am not saying that that is the end of Seato. It should not be folded up because of that, but we must not forget what is contained in its constitution.
What is the military jurisdiction? The United States says quite frankly that its jurisdiction which is attracted under the agreement is the jurisdiction to act against aggression and armed attack. But that applies directly only to Communist aggression. In other words, if it is to be a United Nations body designed to carry out the United Nations objective of peace, the organization should try to repel aggression in the area, whatever its character. There is obviously fascist aggression in some of these states.
– A little further to the north there was a trend for fascism to pit itself against democracy, but the United Nations stands for democracy. Let me give two illustrations of nations which are not members of Seato. One is Burma. Burma was a self-governing country. Now it has what is popularly called a “ guided democracy “. In fact, the people no longer control the destiny of the country for the time being. They call themselves a free nation and would be very annoyed if they were not included in the list of free peoples. But in fact, democracy is weakened and, for the moment, it is suspended in countries such as Burma.
Indonesia was democratic. Now it has guided democracy. It is not in Seato. In organizations such as this, which are supposed to be auxiliary to the United Nations, and which are bound by the principles and purposes of the United Nations, we should be sure of what we are doing. I am interested in the report of the Minister for External Affairs, but I think that those are comments which should be made. We should not be uncritical of these matters simply because Australia is a member of the organization. Australia should say, at the meetings, “ What about the situation in your country - Pakistan? When are you going back to democracy? “ It should also say to
Thailand, “ Will you ever be ready to try out the purposes of the United Nations and become a democracy? “ I am not saying that the other Asian nations are any better. They have, to a large extent, abandoned democratic forms.
That is the point that I particularly want to make about Seato. It is the point that has been made by the Labour Party for years. The Labour Party has no opposition to Seato as such, but it believes that the principles of the United Nations must be carried out so as to improve the position in Seato which should not be relied upon too much as a military adjunct. In fact, the United States takes great care to limit its obligations to aggression where and whenever the aggression is of a Communist character. The charter of the United Nations does not say that. It is against aggression from whatever source it comes. The peace of the world is its objective. Those bodies which do not carry that principle out strictly have to be reminded of it.
One of the correct objectives of Seato is the United States project to combat cholera which has been a great scourge in Asia. The Americans are prepared to contribute a considerable sum of money for the humanitarian purpose of establishing a cholera research project. Research will be carried out on a regional basis under a Seato label and the co-operation of qualified persons will be sought. This is a good example of regional assistance for a non-military project under Seato. I think the Minister is correct. On that the organization is to be congratulated, but the other things have to be mentioned.
– There are many other nonmilitary projects.
– I am not saying that there are not. But the Minister’s speech suggested that the emphasis primarily was on military action to deal with Communist aggression. I accept what the Minister says. I think it is good that it is so. But I do not think it is sufficiently so, and I think that the other points that I have made need consideration by Seato and the Minister. 1 asked the Minister whether any attempt had been made to have Malava represented as an observer. One would think that Malava, as a member of the Commonwealth, would come into Seato. Perhaps it abstains for some of the reasons that I have mentioned. Malaya is not only a member of the Commonwealth, but also a member of the United Nations. I think the feeling is that these groups, to some extent, travel far away from the United Nations objectives. I have tried to illustrate this frankly and I think that I have substantiated what I have said. I look for better things from Seato. The Labour Party has never opposed Seato. We have put our view frankly in connexion with it. We have criticized the dictatorial nature of the governments in some cases and I do that again.
We are pleased to have the Minister’s account of his visits to Japan and Korea. He referred to the resurgence of Japan. In a recent speech at one of the universities in the United States of America, the Minister referred to the importance of getting Japan really recognized as a member of the United Nations. That has been done. The resurgence of Japan is a miracle upon a miracle. The first agreement for peace with Japan said that the Japanese were to be disarmed and that there was to be no possibility of future rearmament. But that has gone. The Minister has now said that we must help Japan as a member of the United Nations.
I think that this must be looked at as a correct broad principle. But when we decide to help a nation like Japan, which was one of the greatest aggressors in the war, we have to look at other nations, too. I feel that I should reiterate the Opposition’s policy on China. This does not mean that we agree with the policy of China but that we feel that the omission of China from the United Nations weakens the organization. Take, for instance, this dispute in Tibet. China, a tremendously powerful nation, is engaged in a dispute with the Tibetan people. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) has asked in this House, “ How could you deal with China? It is not a member of the United Nations.” I feel that China should be in the United Nations. There are a lot of “ baddies “ in the United Nations as well as a lot of “ goodies “. Some are “ good “ to-day and “bad” to-morrow, according to what they do. I cannot contemplate, and I do not think the world will tolerate, a situation in which a nation with such tremendous re sources - it could be a very great trading) nation but I am not putting it on that ground - is excluded from the United Nations.
It can be said that China has a bad record, but what about other nations? I gave the illustration of Japan, which now, perhaps, can be regarded as one of the “ goodies “. Certainly it deserves great credit for its recovery. The case of China’s recognition by the United Nations is based on the fact that it would help the United Nations. The intention behind the United Nations Charter was to have all the nations of the world meeting in that organization.
I do not want to elaborate on that subject now. I know that there is strong opposition to and feeling against China’s admission, but I beg those who have that feeling, and who no doubt can give plenty of evidence to support it, to pause and think of the purpose of the United Nations. One could not dream of describing a third of the United Nations as democracies. Military dictatorship is on the march everywhere in the world. [Extension of time granted.]
I have dealt broadly with the Minister’s speech. But there are two things that I want to mention specially in the time that remains to me. They are much more important to the world than discussion on the subjects I have been mentioning, although they are important, too. I refer to what is going to happen at the great international conference that is starting to-day and to which the Minister referred in his speech this morning. There the Western nations are meeting to deal with the agenda for a summit conference. Later on, a further agenda meeting will be held with Russia in it. Then, we hope, unless there is some obstruction, there will be a summit conference and the future of the world will be completely involved in it.
The Labour movement of Australia feels strongly on this matter, and it has been part of our active policy to advocate, at all points and in every place, a summit conference between the leading nations of the world, so that problems can be thrashed out by the various leaders meeting face to face, without continual intervention by outside critics. Let the leaders confer. I regard such a conference as one of the possible turning points in history. I do not agree with the Minister’s pessimistic comment in answer to my question this morning. He said that Russia did this, and that Russia did that. He said that Russia is to blame for many things. Of course it is, but the blame in the cold war cannot simply be parcelled out in that way. We must look at each situation. I think the Prime Minister of Great Britain gave an excellent lead in going to Russia and meeting the Russians face to face. He said, in a television address to 5,000,000 Russians, that there could be victory for no one in another world war. That is true. No one can win a war waged with nuclear weapons.
That is the point. The whole future of the world is at stake, and I want Australia not merely to look on but also to say what it thinks should be done. We should give advice to the leaders of nations that are, of course, greater than ours. They should consider advice given in this way and tackle the problem, instead of allowing insignificant points of procedure to stop them dealing with the essential matter - the peace of the world. In visiting Russia, the Prime Minister of Great Britain undertook a difficult task, but it turned out to be a great success. People are always apt to say, “ There is a hitch here; there cannot be peace “, but I want to see all the difficulties removed, and I think that Australia can play a part by maintaining contact with Great Britain. I ask the Minister to consider the matter from that point of view. We can make an important contribution, perhaps a vital one, on some matters. Who is to advise the British Government on the particular areas with which Australia is very familiar? I detest the idea that Australia is completely out of these matters and that our people cannot be represented.
I want to refer to the situation with respect to nuclear experiments. The people are beginning to see the true position with regard to these experiments. The world has received a few shocks. Scientists have reported that the radioactive fall-out from nuclear experiments reaches the earth more quickly, and affects the soil and vegetation much more rapidly, than was previously thought. Time, therefore, is a vital factor. A newspaper report to-day tells us that Mr. Macmillan informed the House of Commons yesterday that radioactive fall out over Britain had doubled since May, 1958. The report stated -
He said that if the enhanced rate, which began in the middle of last year, continued this year, an increase in the strontium 90 content of diet was to be expected.
He emphasized that if this tendency continued - and there is no saying that it will not unless an agreement is reached - immediate consideration would be necessary. Well, consideration is necessary now, if the continuation of these experiments is likely to lead to the results that he mentioned. The decisions must be made quickly.
I would like to refer now to a remarkable lecture given by Professor Oliphant, one of the greatest experts in this field in the world, and perhaps the greatest authority on atomic energy. The lecture was called, “ Science and the Future of Humanity “. I have not sufficient time to read the lecture to the House, but Professor Oliphant said that with scientists engaged by governments to the extent that they are at the present time, we must face the fact that their reports are often not sufficiently frank concerning the evidence of fall-out. He says that this is because the scientists are associated with governments. He says also that those who are opposed to those tests exaggerate the damage and the harm that are done. There is exaggeration on both sides, with no sound scientific backing. This is an important point made by Professor Oliphant in his splendid lecture.
The Australian committee that dealt with the problem of fall-out rather pooh-poohed the idea that there was any danger, until the United Nations radiation committee reported that nuclear experiments were, in effect, endangering health. The United Nations Committee rather implied, although it did not say so specifically, that the tests should be stopped. Certain Australian scientists formed the committee that assured us previously there was no danger. The former Minister for Supply, Mr. Beale, always had half a dozen scientists present at these experiments, and one would have thought, from what Mr. Beale used to tell us, that the fall-out was a sort of tonic for the people. He continually assured us that everything was all right. I want a proper investigation of this matter to be carried out, if necessary on such a scale that Australia can participate and render some contribution. Consideration must, and no doubt will, be given at some time to the appointment of such a committee. Let me direct the attention of the House to some of the newspaper reports -on this subject that have appeared during the last month. I have some of them before me at the moment. One report is headed, “Deadly Ray Fallout Rises “. A report from New York says, “ The amount of strontium 90 now judged permissible ‘ could cause one child in every 1,000 to die of leukemia “. Another report is headed, “Surprise in House of Commons “, and reads as follows: -
The British Labour Party exploded a generalelection nuclear “ bomb “ in the House of Commons to-night.
Labor’s spokesman on foreign affairs, Mr. Aneurin Bevan, said that if his party returned to power it would not flinch from stopping all nuclear tests at once. “We do not consider any nation is entitled to poison the world’s atmosphere in the pursuit of its own defence”, he said. “We consider that position to be indefensibly immoral.”
I, personally, would prefer an agreement to be reached at a summit conference, so that not only Britain would have to take this action, but also Russia and the United States.
– And France.
– Yes, and France, if that country is planning to carry out nuclear tests. I would like to see an agreement binding all nations. That is the point of view that Labour has adopted for five years.
– Do you want any guarantees?
– Certainly. I am not now dealing with guarantees, but I realize that you must also have a limitation of conventional armaments, in which there is such a preponderance of strength in favour of Russia. You cannot deal with the matter without entering into considerations of that kind. However, I am dealing at the moment with only one or two aspects of the problem.
We, as a member of the British Commonwealth, have one of the greatest chances we have ever had to help the British people and help all the nations of the world. The various nations should be bound together by strong links. The cold war, after all, simply means a continuation of the threat of war and acts of violence. We want to see the cold war ended as a result of meetings of leaders of the great nations. I believe, and
I will not accept any other view, that Australia can help. The Minister underestimated the capacity of Australia in the answer that he gave to me, and I ask himto read what he said. He suggested that we cannot do much to influence these great powers. Well, suggestions can be made by Australia, and they have been made by this, country in the United Nations. Australia, has contributed much towards the settlement of certain differences. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is on his way overseas. Is it not obvious that he should give assistance to the British Government in this, matter?
I have tried to make a few important points to-day. I have had to hurry through my speech, and I am obliged to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the House, for allowing me extra time. I believe that we have reached one of the most important turning points in history, at which we can see the broad way that leads to peace and justice for all nations, without any exception. I’say that we should bring them all into the United Nations, and we will all derive great benefit thereby.
Sitting suspended from 12.44 to 2.15 p.m.
– Mr. Speaker, I understand that to-day is the birthday of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). The calendar is not very kind. It says that the moon’s last quarter begins to-day. I should like to wish the right honorable gentleman many happy returns of the day, but not many returns of what I felt was a confusion of thought which must have confounded listeners on both sides of the House as they heard his speech on international affairs to-day. The Leader of the Opposition seemed to imply that the statement made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) contained no matters of any great moment, but I think that we all will agree that at practically every moment great matters are occurring in the changing and challenging world of to-day. Naturally, the Minister, for reasons which were obvious to us all, did not put many things into his statement. But it was a statement which gave us very valuable background material and which should help, by sketching the background in a clear and concise manner, to enable all -of us to put what is happening in our part -of the world into better perspective.
I know that many people have criticized the Minister, just as Mr. John Foster Dulles, of the United States of America, has been criticized, for his wanderings about various countries of the world. Those people seem to have forgotten that the age of to-day is not the age of yesterday, and that it is a most essential part of the duties of any Minister in charge of foreign affairs to make contacts, meet people and discuss problems on the spot in the manner in which our Minister has done and continues to do these things. I believe that when the history of Australia is written the present Minister will stand high among those in this Government and this age who have done very important work on behalf of Australia.
– He will have the flying hours if nothing else.
– They have not been accumulated in the pursuit of pleasure. The kind of travel that the Minister has undertaken is a very arduous experience, as the honorable member knows. The Minister’s job is not easy, and he has done a very great deal to promote the security of Australia by closer cooperation with our next-door neighbours. He has aided in obtaining greater understanding between ourselves and the inhabitants of the countries near to us, and I think that we should feel grateful to the Minister in every way. I suppose that, being human, he has made mistakes, as the rest of us have done. Nevertheless, it is obvious that, over the past eight years or so, Australia’s position in this part of the world as well as its position in relation to other parts of the world - but particularly its position in this part of the world - has improved immeasurably compared with what it was.
The Leader of the Opposition mentioned the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East and went on to criticize the South-East Asia Treaty Organization. Indeed, at the time, he waved his arms about as if he were trying to conduct an orchestra with a field-marshal’s baton - an orchestra which produced nothing but discordant sounds. The right honorable gentleman’s criticism of Seato was very strange, because, at the same time, he praised the United Nations. One of his main criticisms of Seato was that certain of its member countries had governments of a non-democratic form. Why he should praise the United Nations and at the same time criticize Seato on that account I cannot understand, because I suppose that at least one-half of the countries that are members of the United Nations are not democratic nations as we understand the meaning of the term.
I think it is very .difficult for many nations in the part of the world with which Seato is concerned to adopt democratic institutions at what may be termed very short notice. Our own democratic institutions have grown out of local government. In fact, they stem from the old Witenagemot and have progressed upwards to the highest level. In some of the countries adjacent to us, there has been an attempt to impose democratic institutions from the top, but this has proved to be very difficult. I know that in both the countries which the Leader of the Opposition mentioned every endeavour is being made at present to establish local democratic institutions, so that the people may learn by experience and come to understand the value of such institutions and - perhaps more rapidly than we did - promote the progress of these institutions to higher levels of government in order that these countries may return to democratic government at the top.
I have dealt with the Leader of the Opposition’s first reason for criticizing Seato. He then said that it is one of the regional bodies auxiliary to the United Nations Security Council, and that it should therefore function under the United Nations. I do not think it needs any very great stretch of imagination to understand what would happen if Seato functioned under the Security Council, where any one could apply the veto. The Leader of the Opposition then criticized the organization by saying that it was really designed only to guard against aggression by the Communists. It is true, that Seato came into being to guard against aggression, but if anybody can tell me of any country in the Seato area, apart from red China, which is threatening aggression to any other nation, I should like to hear of it. It has never been said previously that the organization was designed only to guard against aggression by the Communists. I think that if the Leader of the Opposition had been a Korean, a Vietnamese or, in more recent times, a Tibetan, he would have understood much better why it is felt - at the present time, at any rate - that the only aggressors in this area are the Communists in red China. You do not need to live on the island of Quemoy to understand that.
The only criticism that I have of Seato is a very minor one. In fact, it is not a criticism but a suggestion. I feel that, apart from Seato’s function to provide defence against aggression, some of its functions have been taken over to a degree by others, with a lot of resultant overlapping, by institutions such as Ecafe and under arrangements such as the Colombo Plan. 1 think that we could perhaps do something to draw together the efforts that are being made by entirely separate organizations, in many instances in respect of the same things, such as the development of southeast Asian countries and the maintenance of economic stability. But that is a very minor matter.
The Leader of the Opposition later turned to the recognition of red China. In this connexion, he asked how we could deal with the red Chinese on a matter like the events in Tibet if red China was not a member of the United Nations. I suggest to the right honorable gentleman, Mr. Speaker, that we did not have very much success in dealing with the Russians over the suppression of the revolt in Hungary although Russia was in the United Nations. I do not think, therefore, that we should have had any more success in dealing with the suppression of the Hungary of the Himalayas if red China had been a member of the United Nations. However, it is not only red China that is involved, because certain Russians who were responsible for putting down what Russia called the revolt in Hungary were airlifted into Tibet in order to teach the red Chinese how to suppress such uprisings which arose from the discontent of the people. So, if anybody wants to bring the problem of Tibet before the United Nations, it can be dealt with bv the United Nations on the basis of Russian participation by airlifting those Russians into Tibet.
The Leader of the Opposition finally dealt with strontium 90 and leukemia, which I do not feel competent to discuss.
He advocated the abolition of nuclear tests. We all advocate that. The difficulty is to get agreement. When the right honorable gentleman was asked by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) whether he thought that there should be guarantees he said, in effect, “ Yes, of course there must be guarantees, and also limitation of conventional weapons “. They are the two points on which there seemsto be no chance of agreement, unfortunately, at present. How the right honorable gentleman expects to achieve more than the leaders of Great Britain and the United1 States of America have achieved by advocating exactly the same things as they are advocating, I do not quite understand.
I should like now to say one or two words, about Ecafe. I had the good fortune to be at the meetings held on the last two days of the conference. I only wish the House had gone into recess and thus enabled many more members to be present at the meetings, whether they attended at their own expense, as I did, or otherwise. I do not mean only that they would have been able to hear the discussions - perhaps they will be able to read the reports of the discussions when they are printed - but they would have been able to absorb the atmosphere and to assist in creating an even better atmosphere of international goodwill, though that would be most difficult. They would also have had the opportunity of making contact with the many representatives from seventeen Asian nations. I should like to pay a very high tribute, first, to the Government for having issued the invitation for the conference to be held in Australia; secondly, to the Minister for the way he chaired the conference and the influence he had on it; and, thirdly, to the members of the Department of External Affairs for the organization.
Tt was an undoubted success, and although some people may say that it should have achieved more than it did, in these international conferences if a good foundation is established, such as was established here, the delegates have gone a long way towards understanding each other’s problems and towards eventually getting at least partial agreement on some of the solutions. I came away from the conference feeling that perhaps the greatest way in which we can help our next-door neighbours is not by lending them our technicians, so much as helping them to attain increased technical knowledge, to become first-class administrators and to become trained agricultural experts. These countries need people with such skills, rather than gifts of buses and other items of that nature.
There is only one other matter arising from the conference that I desire to mention, and it, too, was referred to by the Leader of the Opposition. Discussion took place on the Mekong Valley project. None of us know very much about it, except that it could be a big factor in improving standards of living, increasing production, and bringing harmony to south-east Asia. It is a tremendous project. I think the hydro-electric generation alone will be two or three times that of the Snowy Mountains project. But the irrigation side is also important. Two crops of rice will be produced from land which formerly bore only one crop. This is really the most important factor. I do not see any reason why the scheme should not be made to pay for itself, and I feel that we should assist the four countries concerned - Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam - to achieve at least partial completion of the project at the earliest possible moment.
It is a long-term project. The engineers must take river readings and assess the flow of the river at various times - “ cusecs “, I believe, is the correct term. When this information is available, they can make plans for dams, irrigation and hydro-electric work. But all this is estimated to take five years. I hope that this time can be reduced. Australia has offered to contribute £100,000 towards the project. That is a very small sum, particularly when we keep in mind the effect of bills which have recently gone through this House. Our aid could be of vital importance in helping our next-door neighbours to proceed a little way along the road towards the standard of living that we enjoy.
– That is our initial contribution.
– I am sure we all agree that the Government should make a very much larger contribution. If it did, there would be no criticism from any member of this House.
I do not want to say very much more about Seato, except to point out that the Minister drew attention to the difficulties of effecting economic advancement in a country such as Korea where 650,000 persons are in the services. Seato is a defence against aggression in the south. It is equally important to have a defence against aggression in the north and this has been provided by 650,000 Koreans, or Rok’s as they are called, and 650,000 Nationalist Chinese. We are inclined to forget that other countries are paying a much heavier price than we are paying and are carrying on their shoulders quite a large share of the defence of this area. I say that, even allowing - I do not want to skate over it in any way - for the very considerable assistance that these countries receive through American aid. We would all like to be able to do away with most of these defence forces. But how can we discuss the recognition of red China when we are still at war with that country? There is no peace in Korea; there is only an armistice. There is certainly no peace in Tibet. It is interesting to note, not just what members of this Parliament say about Tibet, but what Asian countries have said about Tibet. I shall give extracts from newspapers in various Asian countries. Ceylon’s “Dinamina” said -
An innocent nation, fighting for freedom, is [being] massacred by brutal force.
Thailand’s “ Siam Nikorn “ said -
Tibet is not a zoo, where other human beings can oppress and torment the inhabitants.
Malaya’s “ Straits Times “ said -
Here is a colonialism, bloodstained and rampant.
Philippines’ “ Manila Times “ said -
The free world … is again witnessing the death throes of another . . . independent country, and is helpless to do anything about it.
Burma’s “ Review “ said - [The Red Chinese] relish the massacre of people who are not as well armed as themselves.
Indonesia’s “ Times “ said -
Asians kicking Asians around is not a pleasant prospect.
India’s “ Hindustan Times “ said -
Tibet is dead. Let us hold our heads low to-day.
It would seem that the sacrifice of Tibet has at least brought very vividly in front of other Asian nations not under Communist domination the nakedness of the aggressive intent of communism in Asia. Therefore, when people say that we should forget about the Formosan Straits, I reply that we cannot forget the Formosan Straits and that we cannot forget that red China includes on its maps Nepal and Bhutan. Nor can we forget about infiltration in Kashmir. Once they find that Berlin, Iraq and the other places in the west where they have been applying pressure and keeping the whole world tottering on the brink of war-
Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), after making an interesting speech on the international situation, made a plea for recognition of the important work being done by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). Nobody would deny that the Minister is doing important work. But the Opposition conflict with the Minister takes various forms, as was pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), and I will refer to this matter in the course of my speech. We on this side of the House complain that we are not given the complete story in relation to so many of these matters. All the information that we are given, unless it is garnered from some other place than this Parliament, goes through the propaganda mincer, emerging as a story that should not be read unless you are prepared to be shocked at what can be handed out by the Department of External Affairs. For that reason the Opposition wants to straighten out some of the statements that have been given in this place.
I want to speak particularly about Tibet, but first I think I should reply to the Minister, who spoke about Seato and made some strictures on the Leader of the Opposition because of his condemnation of Seato. Honorable members should not forget that ever since Seato became a working part of the United Nations, the Leader of the Australian Labour Party has pointed out that Seato is a thing without teeth. It is limited because all peoples of the East are not in it, and there have been reservations of a tremendous kind made about it, particularly by the United States. Although some countries may talk about aggression - aggression from anybody - the United States has caused Seato’s activities to be limited, if aggression occurs in the areas with which it is concerned, to nothing more or less than support of any campaign against Communist aggression. That was one of the points referred to by the Leader of the Labour Party, who is a former President of the United Nations, and it is a valid point. In other directions, also, his comments are usually found to be extremely sound and far-sighted.
I want to say something about Tibet, and I want to refer to the nonsense that has gone on about Tibet. I particularly want to refer to the statement made about Tibet by the Minister in his little travelogue. The Minister in his statement said -
Now the world has seen the ruthless use of force in the autonomous country of Tibet in order to force a system on the Tibetan Government and people other than that of their own choice. Chinese actions in Tibet are greatly to be condemned .
We have a confused picture with regard to Tibet, and it is to the advantage of all countries, those within the Iron Curtain and those outside it, that the facts should be made known - the full facts, not half the facts. It is insulting to the intelligence of the peoples of the democracies to be shown only half the picture. They should be tough enough to take the whole picture. I submit that they are, and that this Parliament is tough enough to take the whole picture. The whole picture of Tibet is nothing like the pabulum that you read in the daily papers or the garbage that is cabled to this country from overseas, because it is a fact that the Dalai Lama has been in flight more often than he has been in a stationary position. He has been in exile in Mongolia from India. He has been back in India dodging the Chinese. To come forward with a newspaper story that this little country - a little Belgium of the Himalayas - has been outraged and ravaged and taken over by the Chinese as an ugly act of aggression is unfair to the Chinese people, whether they be on the inside or the outside of the lion Curtain. The fact is that there was, as the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) said, a Chinese overlordship in Tibet for very many years, indeed. The Dalai Lama has frequently visited the Emperor of China in the past, just as he was in the habit of visiting the President of China in more recent times. The public have been misinformed. One would think that this man had suddenly been seized and taken to- some place, and has escaped from the clutches of the conqueror of the moment.
We have an ugly story of our own with regard to Tibet. The British were the first to break into Tibet. In 1904, an expedition under Sir Francis Younghusband waged a war in Tibet. The poor little Tibet of those days is the same poor little Tibet of to-day. There has been imperialism on both sides. It is fair to remind the Australian people that the British in the past have done the same things that the Chinese may be doing to-day. That will give us some idea of the level of man’s inhumanity to man, and will not make us feel so precious and highminded about what appears to be the acquisition of a small and less heavily defended country.
In the eighteenth century, when Clive was in India, and even before that, the trading companies of India had their eyes upon Tibet, and after the expeditionary wars through the passes to the capital, Lhasa, which was taken over by the British Raj, it was decided by treaty that a fine of £10,000 sterling would be imposed on the Tibetans, that two trading posts of British Indians would be established in the area, that there would be a duty-free exchange of goods, and that mostfavourednation treatment would be given to British traders of the period. So when we speak of the ravishing and assaulting of Tibet, we must remember that there has been open slather, as it were, in Tibet by countries other than China in the past. If we get that picture firmly in our minds we begin to see what is happening to-day in Tibet.
We must be careful also of our friends, the people of India, who at this moment are in touchy negotiation with the Chinese. From personal experience - as this House knows, I led a Labour Party delegation to China - I would say that the Chinese people, who are of Han origin, are extremely keen as a point of policy to be particularly reasonable with dependent peoples. Sixty per cent, of the land in China is held by one-sixth of the people who are non-Chinese, and the plan for Tibet, which included some form of communization of development, was deferred by Mao Tse-tung for five years in the hope that there would be a more reasonable approach. The people of India and Asia would understand these problems better than we do, and there is an anxiety on their part to settle them. If we do not worsen the position by reading out newspaper headings of the type that were read by the honorable member for Chisholm referring to what the white man knew about the rape of Tibet, and the tears that are being shed-
– I quoted from Asian newspapers.
– I am sorry, they were Asian newspapers. The honorable member spoke about innocent people, and the free world being deep in mourning. I think that now that armed conflict has ceased, we could leave this matter to the Asians concerned to reach an amicable settlement. Of course, the whole situation is full of strange Asiatic contradictions. You find first of all that the Dalai Lama said that he was captured, was frightened from his capital, and fled to India. Then a sheaf of correspondence is released by the Republican Chinese Commander in Lhasa, and it is denied as being a forgery. A few days later Mr. Nehru, an extremely honorable man, releases the information that the correspondence is genuine. In extenuation of the action of the Dalai Lama, who is the Godking of Tibet - a man above suspicion by his own subjects at least - Mr. Nehru said that in the confusion of the moment the Dalai Lama had forgotten that he had written the letters, or he had not thought of them in the context in which they had been published. So it appears early in the piece that there was a move being made by the Dalai Lama to gain the assistance of the Chinese. Then there must have been some change of policy, followed by the flight taken into India. Whatever the cause, it is best for us as a people and for the general settlement of arguments in the Asian and Afro-Asian scenes in general, as well as the whole Pacific scene, to watch this thing with calmness and make no overt and over-anxious comments about a situation about which we know only a little and can only imagine the rest.
It seems to me that the main trouble has been caused by trying to create in the minds of the people the idea that another Formosan situation is developing. It is quite clear from all the evidence and the encyclopaediae in the library - the alma mater of honorable members - what actually has been the shift and change in politics in Tibet since 1904. It is not a very prideful story for the white man who came to conquer India or those people - the Ghurkas and others - who previously had invaded Tibet so often. There is a great lesson to be learnt from the question of Tibet and that is its general backwardness. While all respect is given to a great religious movement, we must be realistic. The people of Tibet live on a plateau or tableland 16,000 feet high with a population of 3,000,000. At least a quarter of them are housed in monasteries throughout this arid and frozen country. The farming and pastoral work is of a most poor or mediocre nature. It is obvious that the Chinese acted in Tibet assuming that they had a suzerainty that was as old as time. Up to 1910, there was a resident Chinese Minister in Tibet who helped in the choosing of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. He was considered to be a friend who came from a country of greater experience, wealth and wisdom. He was received and named and belonged to the court of the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama has since appeared at, and been listed as a delegate to, the yearly congress held in Peking by the Communist Party - the common front government of China - and so also has the Panchen Lama.
So, there is a whole area of confusion and there are many by-ways which we might examine before we make positive thrusts one way or the other. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, we would be able to do immeasurably better with these problems if we had China in the United Nations. No matter what has been happening in the past, looking backwards will not help us. The regrettable facts about Hungary do not make it undesirable or unfeasible that 600.000.000 Chinese should have representation in the United Nations even if, as in the case of the Russians, there is explanatory matter which could be sifted and delved into in a search for the essential truth which eventually must emerge. That would be better than just having a by-and-large attitude that anything that comes out of this situation comes from a tainted source and that you cannot get the facts anyway.
If there were a Chinese representative in the United Nations we would know that the new roadway that has been built into Tibet, the aerodromes and the know-how in agriculture were all part of a Chinese plan and indeed were part of a plan in the days of Chiang Kai-shek for dependent people on the perimeter of China to win them to an appreciation of the Chinese ideology whatever it was at the time. There have been substantial gains of a materialistic nature which have been given to Tibetans by the Chinese people. Therefore, when we speak loosely of it being midnight in Tibet and that the democracies have closed down, we should remember that there has never been a democracy in Tibet.
The first people to go into that country were two Christian missionaries. One was a German Jesuit and the other a French Jesuit. One was a priest named Monsignor Grueber and the other a Frenchman named Monsignor D’Orville. They spoke of the practices followed in Tibet, the religious faith, the cruelty, the suppression of the workers who were not allowed to leave their farms and had to seek permission to walk 100 yards. They spoke of the perpetual praying and domination of the monasteries. A visiting lama could come from one of the numerous monasteries on the heights and could take possession of a peasant’s house on the way down to India. He could live there and be fed and cared for as a part of a religious service to the peasant’s overlord. They were practices which these two Jesuits recorded as is their custom, pursuing their religious duties and recording history as they went along. They referred to the Dalai Lama as -
That devilish god who puts to death all those who refuse to adore him.
We know of these practices from current books on the subject such as the most interesting book “ Beyond the High Himalayas “ by Mr. Justice Douglas of the High Court of the United States of America who has said that these practices are now modified. Still, to a democrat or a European the practices in Tibet are heartrending. It is heart-breaking to see the way in which these people have to win a meagre living from the ice-bound tundra which is above the snow line. The best thing we can do - as the United Nations and as a community - is not to look back over the centuries and not to attack these people who for one reason or another, which is not crystal clear to us, have taken some sort of control of Tibet. They might be using their own declared right to an overlordship and an interest in Tibet as other countries have done. I do not approve of it or say that it is sound but it is understandable because one kind of imperialism leads to another kind since man is fundamentally imperialistic.
But I do bring to the attention of the House the fact that there have been invasions of Tibet by the people of India or elsewhere on four occasions from 1864 onwards. Whether that was done when India was under settlement by the British or in their own right I cannot say. Money has been mulcted from the Tibetans. It is the original area of gold. Herodotus the famous Greek historian and the father of history referred to the rivers of gold. The Mekong River which is alleged to rise in these mountains, as most big rivers do in the Himalayas, is also called the river of gold. The long march the Chinese made during the years of the revolutionary wars was also across the stream called the river of gold. All these things would bring Tibet to the attention of the outside world and particularly the capitalistic world.
I regret that we have had a bald statement that we are the virtuous and the pure and that what has happened there is just another communistic dodge. It is implied that that is what we expect, and that we should make no investigation. If we are to do that, we damage ourselves as an adult race. We have to recognize that everywhere in the world to-day there is a double barrier. You are inside or outside it; you are inside the democratic world, the so-called free world, or the bound world. Out of that you have to build a bridge or perish.
It is not enough to look at the practical symbols of our differences which are the guided missile and the atomic bomb, but also the political differences which must in the fullness of time be investigated and perhaps overcome. How that is to be done we do not know at the moment. Therefore, my main attack on the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) and the department under his administration is the lack of solid courageous information. Let us have it raw, warts and all as they did with Cromwell’s portrait. We can take it. We have all heard about the Afro-Asians and the question of the Africans. In the United Nations there was a debate about racial discrimination. For some pernickety reason, we abstained from participation because it was said to be a domestic matter. Tyranny is not domestic but is world-wide and should be fought as tyranny with courage and without any attempt to hurt a fellow dominion. At least that should be brought into the open. If you are going to drag Tibet, Korea, Hungary and Formosa into the open, you must drag the apartheid policy of the Africans into the open too, because they are tyrannous things which lead to war and the tensions and hatreds which create war.
Whilst I appreciate what the Minister for External Affairs is doing and has attempted to do and his obvious devotion to the task, nevertheless we would think, in view of the information and propaganda given to us, that we have been treated as children. We ought to have all the information available, and we ought to have it at once.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I am indebted to my friend the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron), who normally would have taken this position in the debate. He knows that I have other commitments and he has graciously consented that, temporarily at least, I should take his place. I have listened with a great deal of interest to what both the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) have said about this ministerial statement upon international affairs. The honorable member for Parkes, unlike the Leader of the Opposition, seemed to forget that we are discussing a ministerial statement on international affairs. He seemed to forget - interesting as his observations on Tibet were - that we are dealing with our own contemporary history. He seemed to forget that we are talking about our own responsibilities to our neighbours and to the free world as a whole.
During the last eight years, and for the first time in the history of our federation, which is now more than 50 years old, we have been treated to periodic reviews on international affairs by a man who, on his personal history and record must be described as one of the world’s greatest living authorities on the subject. I refer, of course, to the present Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). The statement which the right honorable gentleman made to the House only last Thursday and which is now under discussion, was made at the request of the Leader of the Opposition. It would seem to be particularly appropriate that the latter himself resumed the debate this morning - on his birthday.
The statement was restricted to four main items of current importance. The first was the conference of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, which was recently held in Queensland. The second was an official visit that the Minister made to Japan. The third was an official visit that he made to Korea. And the fourth was the annual conference of the council of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization which was recently held in New Zealand. They are all matters of very great importance to us and to all the other people directly concerned, but they are no less important to people in other parts of the world who seek information on current political events.
All of the Minister’s statements are objective. They are all informative, and they are all factual, but they invariably have additional qualities that never fail to refine the senses and elevate the mind. For example the opening sentence of the Minister’s recent statement read -
In March and early April I had a series of assignments that were concerned, in one way or another, with Australia’s relationship with the countries of Asia.
The entire sentence fascinated me, but the five words, “ in one way or another “, astonished me as a classic example of understatement, and I was to remain astonished throughout the whole of the right honorable gentleman’s speech. To those of us at home and abroad who know the Minister, it is not unusual to be fascinated by the information he has to impart from time to time, or even astonished by the minor key he invariably uses when speaking of the part he has been called upon to play in international affairs. But there are people here at home, if there are few abroad, who do not know the Minister, and that is the tragedy of it. The assignments to which the Minister referred were conferences of the very greatest importance in four different parts of the world and they were concerned, “ in one way or another “ - to use the Minister’s own words - with the peace, progress and security of that part of the world which to-day stands in greater need of peace, progress and security than does any other part of the world. That, unhappily, is no understatement.
A few days ago, at a State function in honour of an international celebrity, I heard a top-ranking diplomat say publicly that the greatest contribution that this country had ever made to the peace, progress and security of a sorely troubled world was the Minister for External Affairs. That opinion is not likely to be challenged by any informed person who is in a position to give a considered judgment. It will be resisted, of course, by the Minister, who has always been singularly successful, “ one way or another “, in reducing himself to comparative anonymity in the statements he makes from time to time, but it is a success that is exclusive to his native land, and it has given the wrong impression to a generation innocent of information to the contrary.
I should like, if I may, to give just a few biographical details of the man who is responsible for translating the external affairs policy of this Government and country in other parts of the world. It is very questionable whether any man is better known or more highly regarded throughout the world than the present Minister for External Affairs, and the time has come to give a very great Australian the credit that is his due. With a little bit of luck - to use a colloquial term - the author of this statement on international affairs might have been a Riverina man. It is forgotten that his father was the manager of Kilfera station, on the Willandra billabong, nearly 600 miles south and west of Sydney, and some 80 miles north and west of Booligal. But the fates were unkind, and the Minister had to be content with being born in the wilds of western Queensland, after the family had taken its departure from Kilfera.
That was the beginning of a man who has served his country faithfully and well in peace or war, “ one way or another “. I vividly remember his coming to this place in 1931, after a period - which has been forgotten - in London as the Australian political liaison officer. Within a year, he was the assistant Federal Treasurer. By 1935, he had assumed full ministerial responsibility for the Treasury and, in addition, in 1937 he was Minister in charge of
Development and of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. This information is available to people in other parts of the world, and it is only right that it should be available to the rising generation. He got a thorough training for the high office he now holds. In 1940, he became the first Australian Minister ever to be appointed to the United States of America. By 1942, he was a member of the British War Cabinet, and, that same year, he became British Minister of State in the Middle East, When the second world war was rushing to its close he became the Governor of Bengal, and he remained in that office until 1946.
A lesser man might have decided to call it a day, but by 1949 the right honorable gentleman was back in this Parliament to hold a variety of portfolios until 1951, when he became Minister for External Affairs and no other Minister has ever been better equipped for this task.
At the recent conference of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, seventeen Asian countries were represented, and seven non-Asian countries. In addition, ten other interested countries sent observers. The United Nations Specialized Agencies were represented, together with a number of non-governmental organizations, and it was natural enough that the Australian Minister for External Affairs should be elected as chairman.
This was the fifteenth session of a body that deals with great human problems of vital importance to us. There might have been a time when we could ignore the social and economic circumstances of the more remote parts of the world, and when practical politics compelled us to confine our activities within what used to be called the British Empire; but that time is over, and to-day it is the manifest duty of every country to do whatever lies within its power to advance the human family, free from all the senseless prejudices of the past, along the road to social and economic progress. That can be done only in an atmosphere of peace and friendship, and so the allpervading purpose of conferences of this kind-
– On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is the honorable gentleman in order in continually reading from a manuscript obviously prepared by somebody else?
– I think that, as other honorable members do on occasion, the Minister is speaking with the aid of copious notes, and he may proceed.
– I was saying that that can only be done in an atmosphere of peace and friendship, and so the allpervading purpose of conferences of the kind is the promotion of both, not confined to countries where the people have a common ancestry, but to groups of nations where the people can have common interests.
It is a simple matter to see the advantages that are to be gained by us if the people of Asia are to be better fed with food bought from us, if they are to be better clad with clothing the raw materials of which are to be bought from us, if they are to enjoy the basic social services of public health and hygiene based upon our ideas and provided in the same way; but it is not quite so simple to see the advantages if the people of Asia are to be better fed and better clad from the improved utilization of their own land and natural resources, and if the community services are to be confined - as they always are confined - to the financial capacity of the people to pay for them, although the advantages are not to be doubted even then. What seems to me to be necessary is the general recognition that backward communities - Asian and European alike - in the modern world can be a permanent liability and a constant source of danger to the more advanced communities - Asian and European alike - and, conversely, that the more advanced communities can be a permanent asset and a constant source of strength to the backward communities in other parts of the world.
These, of course, are confessedly just pious platitudes until they are translated into practical politics by discussions and decisions of conferences, such as the Ecafe conference, and by the actions of the representatives of the countries attending those conferences that are committed to decisions of the kind.
The Minister speaks of the practical gestures of assistance made to the Asian countries by the Western countries and, referring to the Western countries, he says, “ In most cases, they have had experience of the sort of economic and technical problems which now confront the Asian countries “. How very true, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Of course we have had experience of the kind. It is not so very long ago since even the more advanced Western countries emerged from the primitive state, and we have cause to remember our own struggles in the last 180 years.
I am not an old man in the accepted sense of the term but, because I am a farmer, I remember the time not so very long ago when the average Australian farmer was expected to live under primitive conditions, was expected to labour twelve or fourteen hours a day six days a week, and was expected to accept export parity prices unrelated to his costs for his total production, because there was no known way to improve the conditions, no known way to reduce the everlasting labour, and no known way to escape from the tyranny of export parity prices unrelated to the cost of production.
All that has been changed by technical, economic and social progress. We had to devise and adopt new and improved methods of production, we had to devise and adopt new and improved economic systems, and we had to lift the standard of life and living in all our rural communities. That is my own experience, and there is no sound reason for believing that progress of the kind could - or should - be confined to the people of any one country or any one race.
The Minister’s statement was of particular interest to me when reference was made to the population problem. The Ecafe discussions revealed that the problem of the pressure of population is not common to every Asian country - Thailand, apparently, is free from it - and that, where it did exist, re-settlement was rejected as a solution. But the conference appeared to favour a reduction in the birth-rate as a possible solution.
The idea is not new, but it has always failed - as fail it must - for a wide variety of reasons, both spiritual and temporal, including the utter futility of ever expecting universal acceptance of any proposal to limit population; and, without universal acceptance, limitation of population could only serve to reduce the number of the relatively fittest and increase the pressure of population at the weakest points of the human race. The Minister informs us that the Australian delegation took the view that the great and growing population of the region should be utilized to provide for its own immediate physical needs on an expanding scale. I agree that it is the only possible solution to a problem that has plagued mankind since the dawn of human history.
– Order The Minister’s time has expired.
.- One of the most significant developments in the postwar era has been the inception of a programme of foreign aid given by the better circumstanced countries to the underdeveloped countries of South and South-East Asia. The wisdom of this policy has never been in doubt. At times, of course, in this community and others, there have been pockets of people who have assailed this policy by stating, in effect, that charity begins at home and that if Australia, for example, has £5,000,000 which it is prepared to give to the Colombo Plan, that money could be better spent by giving it to the recipients of social service benefits in this country. That point of view has never been very widely adopted, and rightly so because any foreign aid plan that this country supports in the long run will bring a very enhanced dividend. This country is a participating member in the Colombo Plan aid. There is also the aid given under the auspices of the United Nations. Then there is the United States of America foreign aid plan as well as a number of minor plans. There are a number of very good reasons why some countries of the world departed from their pre-war conceptions of giving assistance to other countries. There is no need for me to point out these facts to honorable members. But if we are to gain the goodwill of peoples who have been subjected to age-long poverty and enable them to raise their standard of living, then all these aid plans must be continued. Failure to do so would encourage the anti-democratic forces in the countries of South and South-East Asia and in the long run would increase their prestige and power and lead to ultimate success according to their philosophy. However, in recent years a new factor has emerged in relation to aid to South and South-East Asian countries. I refer to the fact that since 1954, Communist countries have embarked upon an economic offensive in many undeveloped countries. The Communists are giving aid to countries which are not committed to the West in outlook and philosophy. As a result of this radical practice on the part of the Communist Party by both Russia and China, trade has increased enormously between Russia and China and the countries they have helped.
Closely tied to the trade agreement between the Communist countries and those of South and South-East Asia which are recipients of their assistance, have been arrangements by which the Communists have undertaken to provide economic aid almost entirely by way of loans. On the other hand, the assistance we provide under the Colombo Plan has been by way of grants untrammelled by any repayment obligations. Communist aid has been concentrated on a few countries for very obvious reasons. About 95 per cent, of it has gone to the group consisting of the United Arab Republic, Yemen, Afghanistan, Nepal, Indonesia and India. The agreement under which it gave help to Yugoslavia has now ended. The Communists consider that they have followed a very wise course by concentrating their aid on countries where it will have the greatest political effect, and therein lies the danger from our point of view. India and Indonesia which are participants in aid under the Colombo Plan are also receiving assistance from the Communist countries. As everybody knows, if India and Indonesia go Communist, then the rest of Asia will automatically follow. But, unfortunately, the Asian countries which are the recipients of Communist assistance have become increasingly receptive to Communist ideas as their international reserves and export earnings have dropped following the diminution of activity in the Western sphere. But although their commodity prices have decreased, many Asian countries have pushed forward with developmental schemes. However, unfortunately for them their income from all sources including Western aid is often inadequate for them to carry out their programmes. Therefore, they are only too willing to obtain assistance from both sides in the cold war. lt is rather difficult to obtain authentic figures of aid given by Communist countries. The figures relating to Western aid are far more readily available and accessible if one wishes to delve into them. Therefore, it is very hard to compute the real value of the assistance that most of these countries receive, because in the main it consists of goods and not money as in the case of the assistance we give under the Colombo Plan. The Communists provide goods and technical aid. They fix the prices of the goods and it is difficult to compare those prices with ours without some knowledge of the quality of the goods. About half of the Communist aid to non-Communist countries has gone to countries which are recipients also of Colombo Plan aid. India has received the major part of Communist assistance. Its value is nominally about 300,000,000 dollars. But in the same period India has received about 600,000,000 dollars from non-Communist sources. Western assistance to India has recently been extremely heavy and consequently the proportion of Communist aid will be reduced. It is to be hoped that the measure of Western aid will continue at that level. This will be one effective means of preventing India from joining the Communist bloc.
Indonesia is another country in which Australia has a vital interest, because an Indonesia led by the Communist Party would be a distinct threat to the sovereignty of Australia. That country received about 110,000,000 dollars worth of assistance from Russia which is approximately double the amount of aid it received in the same period from Western countries. Indonesia ranks second on the list of countries receiving Communist aid. It must be borne in mind that this aid from Communist countries is only of comparatively recent origin, and it is rather doubtful how much they will give in the future. As an illustration, Burma has received 42,000,000 dollars worth and Ceylon 20,000,000 dollars worth of assistance from Communist sources. As far as those two countries are concerned, however, non-Communist countries have contributed 50 per cent, more in the same period. This shows that there is a continual tug-of-war going on between the Communist and nonCommunist countries. Cambodia has received 22,000,000 dollars worth and Nepal 13,000,000 dollars worth of aid from Communist sources. lt is important that the nature of the Communist aid to these countries should be compared with that offered by the Western countries. As I said earlier, Communist aid is almost entirely in the form of loans rather than grants. This is done so that the Communists can play down the idea of political motives. They say that the Western countries provide aid to the Asian countries in the form of grants only because they are seeking support from the Asian countries in the event of any hostilities and also to prevent any further threat of communism in those areas. It is interesting also to relate that a number of Asian countries which have received support from the Colombo Plan or the United States of America foreign aid programme have objected to publicity being given to this fact. They seem to dislike any suggestion that they have been the objects of charity, however poor they may be.
The Communists are very shrewd in regard to these loans. They only charge 2i per cent, on them and that gives them a propaganda victory when they stress the much higher amount of interest charged by the United States of America or by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to countries which decide to seek loans from those sources. On the other hand, whilst the Communists play up very largely in the Asian mind the advantage of receiving loans from Russia because of the low interest rate, they rarely mention the disadvantage of paying back the loans to Communist countries. Repayment of loans to Communist countries requires the export of goods to the Communist bloc which often shackles the export potential of the country making the repayment.
Another important feature of Communist aid is that there is far less elasticity in the nature of the aid given. Most Western aid is spent where the recipient desires it to be spent. But Communist aid is not given to many of the recipient countries to buy goods. Communist aid just consists of the supply of goods, and very often, the variety and quality of the goods derived from Communist sources is very much open to criticism.
We have to give very serious consideration to the other side of this matter of aid - technical assistance. To use a colloquialism, we are being “ left for dead “ by the Communists in this direction. The technical assistance given by Communist countries to Asian countries is very extensive indeed. The Communist countries do not ask the students from the Asian countries to go to the universities and technical schools of their benefactors to learn. They send the experts to the countries that are receiving the aid. I think this is far more beneficial than the way we do it - in reverse. The experts are usually very well trained in the language of the country to which they go and they are usually far readier to accept the living standards there than are Western experts from countries such as Australia.
In 1957 it was estimated that there were 1,600 Communist specialists in the underdeveloped countries in the non-Communist world. Afghanistan had 500 whilst there were 550 in other parts of south and south-east Asia. The Colombo Plan countries had about 450 Communist experts, India had 250, Indonesia 100, Burma 60, and Cambodia 30. It is difficult for non-Communist countries to match such assistance with people ready and qualified to go on such missions. If we are to match the Communists in this regard we must expand our facilities for teaching Asian languages. We must do this if we are to exert any influence comparable to that which the Communist technicians exert in Asian countries.
The Communist countries have one other great advantage over the democratic countries in giving aid. When the Communist masters decide to give aid to an Asian country it is not debated in the Communist parliament. It becomes an accomplished fact. Public opinion does not have to be convinced of the necessity for such aid. Everybody knows the difficulty that is experienced by the American Congress in obtaining grants for foreign aid yearly. It has terrific pressure from the inhabitants of the United States to curtail the amounts of the grants because it is claimed that they could be spent to greater advantage on the American people in their own country. Therefore, it is much easier for the Communists to give these grants because there is no hostile opinion in their country.
Also, the grants from Communist countries are given several years in advance. For example, they say, “We will make an amount of so many million dollars a year available for the next five years “. But in America an annual apportionment has to be made by Congress, and on occasions grants have been materially reduced from year to year. The Russian people have not been informed by the Communists of the extent of the aid given to overseas countries. Consequently, it is hard to know whether the Communist people themselves approve it. But in this country, this Parliament has to bring an appropriation before the Parliament annually for approval. From time to time, we have been subject to criticism for the amounts given but, luckily for us, only by isolated pockets in the Australian press.
Whatever the aid programme of the Communists is, they stand to gain some advantage. If they give aid to a country which fails economically, it means that democracy in that country will break down, and when democracy breaks down communism stands to gain. Success will mean that Communist countries can gain some kudos for having contributed to the plan which has been successful as a result of aid from outside sources, including the Communists. On the other hand, Western countries which wish to see the plan succeed give aid, not to short-range projects which may appeal immediately to the people, but to longrange projects which cannot appeal to the inhabitants immediately. Often, aid given by the Western countries does not have a public appeal like that of Communist aid which may be unsound economically but, temporarily, very popular. Some Communist projects have been put forward to make a big and obvious effect on a large section of the population of the country to which aid is given.
I submit for the consideration of the House that our attitude to Communist aid must be carefully appraised. Provided that it is genuinely useful to recipients who are aware of its political and economic cost, we should welcome it, even though it comes from Communist sources. In some ways, we can learn from, the methods of Communist aid, despite the fact that it has some undesirable features. On the other hand, we should extend our efforts to make much more widely known the nature ‘and scale of our own aid. Communist propaganda, related to the amount given by Communist countries, overshadows our efforts in the same direction. We have been far too modest about the amount of money given by the Western world to the under-developed countries. In giving aid, we must be very careful to avoid attaching any political strings because the Asian mind works in a way that is peculiar to us although satisfactory to themselves. If the Asian mind is told by communism that we are only giving aid in order to secure some political advantage for the donor country, our aid will not be appreciated. I am satisfied that every European country has a sincere wish to make the programme succeed. Communist motives are often very questionable.
In the years ahead, Asian countries will have a stupendous task to find enough foreign exchange to finance their development programmes. Assistance from Communist sources increases the chances that they will be able to put to effective use the aid that we, as a country, provide for them. As a matter of fact, there may well be a case for the West to advocate that all aid from all sources should be given through one international organization. This would undoubtedly improve the distribution and eliminate any suspicion of political strings. If the Communist countries refused to join in such an organization, their motives for supplying aid would be open to very strong doubt. It is true that the West might lose a certain amount of control over such distribution of aid; yet the adoption of a system of international supervision would certainly improve its efficacy and acceptability.
One thing is certain: If we are to gain and keep friends in Asia, Western aid must keep up with and outstrip Communist aid. If we fail in this task, the battle for Asia will be lost. If we lose this battle, the future of Australia will be very precarious indeed. We notice every day that the Communists are exploiting increasingly the economic and social grievances in Asia. We must counter this insidious weapon. Only by increasing economic and technical assistance will we be able to do this in an effective way. We must eradicate the economic and social evils existing in South-East. Asia, or at least attempt to do so, because these are the evils upon which communism hopes to thrive in the future. Let us act with imagination and give a lead to democracy by proposing a much larger aid programme.
.- I thought that the statement made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), which we are debating, was a remarkably interesting one. Of course all events in South-East Asia are of extreme interest to us, but his statement fastened attention on them in a particular way, and brought home to us once again their importance and how much they concern us. He began by talking about the developmental aspects of events in SouthEast Asia. Of course South-East Asian countries are in process of development, just as is Australia. Perhaps they are at different stages of development from us, but, nonetheless, we have this in common: We are all interested in development and in each other’s development.
The Minister’s statement was not a controversial one, but I should like to point to one or two of the general considerations which arise from it before I go on to more particular matters. The first point is that very few problems of one country, either political or economic - and I say that advisedly - are without affect on other countries. This does not imply, of course, that there is - although sometimes this is the case - or that there should be interference by one country in the political affairs of another. But it is idle to pretend that political events in one country have no effect upon and are of no interest to the governments of other countries. For this reason there is always an avenue for normal diplomatic exchanges and much consultation between countries, on political as well as on economic events.
The next impression that the Minister’s statement created was, I think, that of the immense value of personal contact, contact by individuals. If I may say so, no one has given us a finer example of the value of this personal contact in relations between countries than the Minister himself. He brought a great reputation to his office when he first assumed it, and his conduct of our diplomatic relations and his personal contacts with the countries of Asia have enhanced not only his own reputation but that of his country also. However, personal contact between individuals is also of immense value in our trading relations.
We should also foster these valuable personal contacts through tourists and through visits of members of Parliament. I hope that in the future there will be many such visits to neighbouring Asian countries. These individual contacts can also be achieved through various agencies and institutions like the World Health Organization, which is of great value scientifically but also in other ways. Then, of course, there are the agencies to which the Minister referred, such as the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, the South-East Asia Treaty Organization and the Colombo Plan. 1 suggest that trade and commerce are important not only from the point of view of improving relationships between countries and individuals; they also give splendid opportunities for generating respect between one country and another. The advantages to be gained from these relationships are almost as valuable as the others to which 1 have referred. 1 have said that the Minister has brought out the fact that there is a large identity of interest in development between Australia and the Asian countries. But there is also another, and perhaps even more important, aspect about which I want to say something. It is immensely important that the development and growth of these countries should proceed free from the influence and the shadow of communism, which brings with it the destruction of individual human liberties and values. This is not just a bogy, as I hope to show. This aspect of the matter formed a sort of background to the Minister’s statement, and we all know that the Communist threat is ever present on a growing scale in South-East Asia. All sorts of statements are made about the menace of communism. Some of them are realistic and some unrealistic. Some underestimate and others overestimate its gravity. But there can be no doubt that communism represents an immense threat to personal human values and to individual liberty, and that it is the great issue of our time. Its reality has to be understood and resisted. It must be resisted by intellectual means, by political means and by economic means. It must be resisted, in the last resort and if necessary, by military means. I was not surprised but sorry to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) complaining to-day about the military aspects of Seato. It seems to me quite unreal to imagine that military sanctions have no value in this world. The Communists do not think like that, and they do not act like that. All the means of combating communism that I have mentioned are important, and it has always been the policy of this Government to give due emphasis to each of the different ways of resisting communism.
The reality and magnitude of the Communist threat in South-East Asia can be brought home to us if we think about a few recent events. Let me remind honorable members of the setting up of the communes in China, of events in Tibet and of recent events in Formosa. Let me refer here again to something else that was said by the Leader of the Opposition in this debate. He advocated bringing Communist China into the United Nations. I want to ask him and his followers one question: Are they prepared to abandon Formosa and to dismiss it from the United Nations? I ask that question because he knows, and his colleagues »know, quite well that this would be an inevitable result of the admission of continental China to the United Nations. [Quorum formed.]
The Minister referred also to the island chain, and to Japan as forming part of that chain. It is about Japan that I now wish to speak. This is a country that has been through a unique experience, unique, I think, in the history of the world. For centuries Japan was, by its own volition, isolated from the rest of the world. It grew and developed behind this wall of isolation. This must have had an incalculable effect on the thinking of all the people of Japan.
Let us just look at the kind of country that grew up behind this wall. This was a country of intense patriotism, in which was generated a feeling of superiority and invincibility and a sense of imperial destiny. The Japanese grew up to be a proud imperial nation, and, after many remarkable achievements, they suddenly decided to adopt the habits and practices of the Western world. They pursued the process of westernization, not by a violent revolution or a sudden overthrowing of the existing order, but by a modification of their methods which resulted in their emergence in the modem world as a great power. This in itself was a remarkable achievement. Here we had a nation with a great military tradition, with a past wrapped up in this isolation that I have described, a nation with numerous people imbued with a fanatical courage and the belief that they had a great imperial destiny before them.
The Japanese had undergone a sudden transformation. We can, of course, disagree with their aims, and repudiate the claims that they made, but that does not alter the facts of the situation. They embarked on a great military adventure which, after some initial success, ended for them in an appalling disaster and the foreign occupation of a country they had believed to be invincible. What a profound effect this must have had on the Japanese people, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Were all the traditions in which they had lived for centuries, all their teachings, and all their ideals wrong? What a fearful mental and spiritual turmoil the Japanese people must have been thrown into! Then came the peace treaty. What were the boundless energies now to be directed towards - energies which had previously been directed into these other channels that I have mentioned? How were the hardy, brave and industrious people to be employed? Even more important, Sir, how were their aspirations to be satisfied? All the traditional avenues were gone. But the Japanese, nonetheless, set about the rebuilding of the nation, and a great expansion of their trade. But surely they must be asking themselves where they are going now and in what direction the efforts of the nation are to be guided.
The Minister for External Affairs pointed out - and I want to emphasize again - that the adherence of this great, virile, capable and hardy nation is a prize beyond price to the Communist world, and I venture to say, Sir, that it is such to the free world also. What are the Communists doing about it? They are exerting immense pressure on the Japanese. Let me review some of the recent events that indicate this pressure. In November last, or a little before, the mainland Chinese market - the traditional market for Japan - was closed to the Japanese by an action of the Chinese Government. We have had a series of propaganda statements emanating from Peking in an attempt to shake the power of the Japanese Government and move it from the course on which it has set out. We have had statements to the effect that the Chinese people fully sympathize with the aspirations of the Japanese for the removal of United States military bases and the withdrawal of all United States armed forces from Japanese soil. The Chinese have said that the only bright future for the Japanese people lies in an independent, democratic, peace-loving and neutral Japan. This statement was resented by the Japanese Government as an interference in Japan’s internal affairs. A little later, the Chinese Government announced that the Japanese Government must end its hostile policy towards China, must not join intrigues for the creation of two Chinas, and must not hinder “ non-governmental efforts to normalize Sino-Japanese relations “.
I submit, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that these all are pressures and interference in the national and governmental processes of Japan. In February of this year, the Premier of China said that China would resume trading with small and medium enterprises which could be guaranteed as being not unfriendly to Communist China. This meant that the Chinese would single out those elements in Japan which were friendly to an alien political philosophy and trade with them, not with the main body of Japanese traders. In March of this year, the Chinese and Japanese Communist Parties issued a statement to the effect that their objectives were the abolition of the Japan-United States Security Treaty, the withdrawal from Japan of United States forces, the elimination of United States bases, and the restoration of Japanese sovereignty over Okinawa and the Bonin Islands. So it can be seen that the effect of China’s policy was not only to exert pressure on the Japanese but also to endeavour to drive from the Pacific the American forces which have been such a shield, and to repudiate the American aid which has been of such immense value, not only to Japan, but to the free world in the Pacific.
Then the Chinese went on to say that the fundamental issue between Japan and China is a political issue and that unless it is settled it will be impossible to discuss economic problems. The Chinese have also indicated that political problems must be given priority before economic problems can be discussed with Japan. The whole force of the Communist effort has been directed towards undermining the present Japanese Government, overthrowing the parties which have been elected by the Japanese people themselves to govern them, to detach the Japanese from the Western world, to separate them from the United States of America, and to bring them within the Communist orbit. These things, Sir, illustrate the techniques of the Chinese and highlight the value of Japan, not only to communism, but also to the Western camp.
I put it to the House that the survival of democracy and freedom is of the same importance in Japan as it is everywhere else, and that the fate of Japan can be described only as being a vital interest of Australia and of the Western world. It is incumbent upon us, Sir, to see that, in our conduct of affairs in the Pacific, we co-operate with the United States, which has already announced its policy that reasonable trade opportunities and markets, and reasonable opportunities for the development and growth of the Japanese people, must be afforded to the Japanese by the Western world. For ourselves, I cannot stress too much the value and the importance of scientific, cultural, tourist, diplomatic, economic and trading contacts with Japan. We must co-operate with the Japanese people. I know, Sir, that such a course may be distasteful to some people in this country and to some members of this House, but we cannot live on the enmities of the past. If we are to have a brighter future in the Pacific, we must have both understanding and co-operation with the Japanese people.
I do not know that it can be said that a nation can undergo a change of heart. Perhaps this is too much to expect, but all of us can realize that, whatever Japan may have inflicted on others in the past, she has experienced sack-cloth and ashes herself. It is the future that matters. We live in the Pacific with the Japanese, and we must work together with them. This is perhaps the most significant of all the important things that the Minister mentioned in his statement, and, in all the grave issues of foreign policy which face Australia in the Pacific, I can think of none more important than that we should endeavour to understand and co-operate with the Japanese people, in the interests not only of ourselves, but of the Japanese and of the free world in the Pacific.
.- In a book recently published by the Australian official historian of the First World War, Mr. C. E. W. Bean, called “Two Men I Knew “, there is a photograph of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) as a young man walking on the beach at Anzac. If the Minister was a young man in 1915, he was also a young man in 1918 and 1921. I invite his attention to the diplomatic contrast that we may note in the two postwar situations - the post Second World War situation contrasted with the post First World War situation. In 1918 and 1921, there were diplomatic achievements and diplomatic settlements. The frontiers of Poland were delineated. Czechoslovakia was created. The Austro-Hungarian empire was partitioned into the Succession States. By 1921, the situation in Europe had been diplomatically and clearly settled.
What is the situation to-day, fourteen years after the end of the Second World War? Germany is partitioned. No frontiers of Germany have been settled in fourteen years - a record of abysmal diplomatic failure. The situation in Germany is a situation of military occupation zones, not the creation of a nation state. Indo-China is partitioned, again with a situation of military occupation zones. Korea is partitioned. Nobody suggests that the Korean people do not form one nation, but there has been no diplomatic settlement in Korea. Palestine is partitioned, and that is not one of the decisive situations in the world.
The reason why there could be diplomatic settlements after the First World War and why there cannot be diplomatic settlements after the Second World War is that, in truth, the contending powers in the world do not accept one another. The Soviet Union in 1918, although it attempted by an invasion of Poland to upset the diplomatic situation there, was in the immediate post-revolutionary period too weak to be able to enter ideologically into the rest of the world, winning the consent of the masses of men’s minds. But to-day, with the enormous increase in the strength of the Communist powers and their balance against the non-Communist powers, the simple truth is that we do not trust one another. I for one will not join in the argument that we ought to trust one another.
I believe that the twentieth century has been a century of British diplomatic failure almost without parallel in history. I do not say that in a derisive way. I say it as a statement of fact. Very often in the English-speaking world, in Australia and in Great Britain itself, there is a constant tendency to turn to wishful thinking, to refuse to look at the intentions of the people with whom we are dealing and to imagine that we can make settlements even though their intentions do not change. Sir Neville Henderson in 1939 was determined to ignore the stated aims of Nazi Germany, which were to drive to the southeast, to go into the Ukraine and to do all the things set out in “ Mein Kampf “, and which Hitler did. To-day, we have an equal determination to ignore the innumerable writings of every leader of the Communist world, although they state the intentions of the Communists quite simply. Lenin laid down as a diplomatic principle, “We enter into compromises and agreements with other parties in order to destroy them “. We had the sensational statement of Mr. Khrushchev made two years ago to the diplomats of the West in Moscow - “ We will bury you “. Then we have his other statement, “ Military co-existence, yes definitely; diplomatic co-existence, as long as it suits us; ideological co-existence, never “.
It is, however, important to recognize that although the Communist world represents itself as a unified unshakeable bloc, Hungary and Poland have shown quite clearly that there are tensions within it. It would be a wise diplomacy on the part of the West if it were to take at least one leaf out of the Communist book and, in every utterance, differentiated between a regime that has conquered a nation and the people of that nation. Many people in Australia contend that we should trust Communist China. One of the clearest facts in the diplomatic world to-day is that the Soviet Union does not trust Communist China. It has not given Communist China intercontinental ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons. If China did get those armaments on a mass scale, it would be a more powerful nation than Russia. If we imagine China, which has a population of 600,000,000 increasing by 12,000,000 each year, in a simple world in which there were no governments and no problems, the movement of that population would be into Siberia. There is not much doubt that the tremendous Russian efforts at colonization of those areas are with a view, at least, to guarding against some possible dangers.
Then again, there is a determination to ignore such things as that which has recently produced a great shock in India - maps which show Peking’s claims extending far beyond the borders of China as we know it. Indeed, an Indian diplomat whose name 1 have forgotten but who at one stage was accredited to Peking and who was a very strong leftist in his political philosophy, came back justifying the Chinese claims which extended far beyond their borders, even down into South-East Asia. If in the world to-day this relationship between Russia and China is important, what are the relations of the United States with China and what underlies these relations? In the 19th century, we had a simple world. The people of one nation state formed a distinct group. In a world of ideologies, millions of people outside the Soviet Union in fact have active allegiance to the Soviet Union. Stalin defined a Communist as one who at all times and in all places vindicated the policies, interests and actions of the Soviet Union, which is a complete definition of a person who internationally adheres to a particular nation.
This has complicated the whole question of diplomatic recognition. The British have accepted the classic doctrine of recognition laid down by Lord Canning over the Spanish-American colonies. It was that you recognize a fact and that you recognize a government that will pay its debts, safeguard your trade and maintain order. That is the simple doctrine of recognition which, I think, underlies the British recognition of Communist China. Certainly, Communist China did not pay its debts and did not safeguard British investments in the Yangtse Valley, but nevertheless it certainly existed as a fact controlling the mainland of China. But it is not quite certain whether facts of that territorial order are the decisive facts in the world to-day.
During the last war, the British maintained in London a Polish government, a Czechoslovakian government, a Dutch government and a Norwegian government. If you like to apply Lord Canning’s test of recognition, all those governments were absurd because they were cabinets without nations. But if you like to apply ideological tests, all those governments had the warm allegiance of the people of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Holland and Norway. In fact, those governments, maintained outside the area which in theory they governed, were powerful weapons for undermining the Nazi occupation authorities. In the cleavage of diplomatic policies pursued by Britain and the United States with respect to red China, you have two approaches - Lord Canning’s nineteenth century approach of recognizing a fact, and the twentieth century ideological approach. The maintenance of a government on Formosa is calculated by the United States to mean - and this must be refuted if you are to overthrow their line of argument - that millions of people within the Chinese mainland have allegiance to Formosa, and that the Chinese of South-East Asia have allegiance to Formosa. Accepting the fact that it is the aim of Communist China to eliminate the influence of the United States, the United States proposes, by fostering Formosa, to weaken the influence of Communist China. I have no idea whether the United States is successful or not in that regard. There are no gallup polls conducted in Communist China, but there was a gallup poll of sorts conducted by the United Nations among Chinese Communist troops who were taken prisonersofwar by the United Nations in Korea. Seventeen thousand of them chose Formosa and 4,000 chose Peking. So the maintenance of an alternative Chinese government on Formosa at least won the allegiance of the young people in that proportion. That was when they were in the hands of the Indian General Thimmaya, who, many observers considered, was leaning over backwards to be favorable to Peking, and was certainly doing nothing to influence the prisonersofwar in favour of Formosa.
The other thing that we note in the areas of partition to-day is the movement of population. Lenin said that the decisive tests that we were to make concerning his revolution, when he was contending that it should be accepted by the Western world, was how people voted with their feet. He said that the Communist troops walked away from the front to go home to peace and bread, and that was a democratic vote for him - they voted with their feet. Well, millions of people in East Germany have voted with their feet. Some 2,000 a day are crossing from East Germany to West Germany. Millions of people of North Korea have voted with their feet. All the movement has been from North Korea to South Korea. Those in red China who were able to do so have also voted with their feet. The movement has not been from Hong Kong to Communist China, but from Communist China to Hong Kong. So this business of accepting the Communist contention that everybody in a Communist country loves his government, and that we should therefore quietly, without any argument, accept the existence of the Communist governments and do everything that we can in the West to underwrite them, is at least open to question if we apply the Leninist test of how the people vote with their feet, which is the only form of voting that we can discern in those areas.
But when all is said and done, we must recognize that the West has been constantly slipping vis-a-vis the Communist world for two reasons. I think it is a grave misnomer to call the non-Communist world the free world. Not all of the non-Communist world is free. Those parts of the non-Communist world that are not free constitute one of our biggest diplomatic liabilities in appealing to the uncommitted world. The second thing is this. We have an irradicable tendency to believe that we can continue with the narrow self-interest of national policies of the 19th century and compete with communism.
I think that the speech of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) was an important contribution in that he spoke about the Russian approach to an area which it wishes to win. The difference between the Australian diplomat accredited abroad and a Russian diplomat accredited abroad is that the purpose of an Australian diplomat is more or less to deal with the official circles of the country and to report to his government, but a man with an ideology - a diplomat with an ideology - tends to be the top of a team that is out to win men’s minds. It has been notable in Indonesia that all the Soviet diplomats and technicians accredited there can speak Indonesian, but it is rather the exception for a Western diplomat to be able to do so.
The Communist countries seem to have a co-ordinated policy. We tend to have one policy of saying how friendly we are towards a nation and another policy whereby we tend to wage economic war on it. I am very grateful to the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) for recognizing that Japan must be allowed to live, that the treaty must be made to work, and that Japan must find markets around the world if she is to continue to act in a responsible way. But very often the approach of the West is to imagine that we can have good diplomatic relations with a country while at the same time having bad industrial or trading relations with it. We can see in the very things for which honorable members opposite commend the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) the complete lack of co-ordination between the Government’s diplomatic approach and its trading approach. If the Minister for Trade is successful in persuading the United States not to make gifts of food to the under-fed parts of the world, do honorable members opposite imagine that they advance communism or retard it?
– The Minister particularly disclaimed that.
– I do not know whether he disclaims it in words, but if the United States makes these gifts of food to countries that need them, I think the Government must recognize that that is a contribution to political stability. I face the fact that we should be prepared to pay something by way of loss of trade for that political stability. I do not think that we can have a diplomacy in the world to-day that will cost us nothing, a diplomacy whereby we think that we can compete in seeking the allegiance of the minds of men at no price to ourselves. We are confronted with a policy that co-ordinates its diplomatic, military and trading actions, and we must answer it on the same level or else we must expect to go under.
– The Minister for Trade and I discuss these matters intimately and frequently.
– I certainly hope that is so. In this place the Minister for Trade speaks purely as a Minister for Trade, as one who is trying to safeguard Australia from a fall in price that may be the result of some United States action. Having regard to his position, that is a natural tendency. All I do is ask the Government to realize that it will pay a diplomatic price if it succeeds from the trade point of view, and if it wants to succeed from the diplomatic point of view, it must be prepared to pay a trade price.
I agree with the honorable member for Partes (Mr. Haylen) about the obscurity of facts concerning Tibet, but I disagree with the basic reasoning underlying his argument. Suppression in Tibet is not insignificant because Chinese rights in Tibet are historic. British rights in India are historic, but that would not justify an attempt to re-assert them. British rights in Cyprus are historic, but that would not justify an attempt to re-assert them. I suggest that the only ground on which we can stand, as democrats, is the consent of the people of Cyprus and the consent of the people of Tibet.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The speech just concluded by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) represents to my mind as sturdy a display of moral courage as I have seen in this House. Not only was it a courageous speech, but I believe it represented the essence of good sense. Here was a mind that was prepared to approach the problems of saving civilization and of rescuing humanity, not according to some preconceived political ideal but on the basis of humanity and with a readiness to recognize facts and not step out of their way. I hope I have not embarrassed the honorable gentleman by describing his speech in that manner, but I feel it would have been ungenerous of me if I did not tell him in this chamber precisely what I thought of the sentiments he uttered and the manner in which he uttered them.
I would like to turn from that to the statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), and first I would like to refer to the Ecafe conference. I join with my friend and colleague, the honorable and gallant member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), in commending the Minister on the superb arrangements that were made at the Ecafe conference. I had the pleasure of spending some little time at it, and I would like the House to know that from my own observations and my own discussions with the delegates, the Minister’s prestige was rated extremely highly. The manner in which he was - and I should say still is - regarded by the delegates who attended the Ecafe conference was not simply a generous display of oriental courtesy. There was a spontaneity about it which had to be seen and, in a sense, to be felt to be believed. Without any wish to try to outrival the apotheosis delivered by the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) this afternoon, I would like to say to the right honorable gentleman warmly and generously that this country has every right to be proud of him.
But I have one regret concerning the Ecafe conference, and I hope I may speak of this regret with frankness and bluntness. It was during the Ecafe conference that negotiations were put under way to reestablish diplomatic relations with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The honorable member for Fremantle has spoken about the twentieth century approach to diplomatic problems and compared it with the nineteenth century approach to them. I regret very much that this country has re-established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. I am quite aware that I am very much in a minority in this chamber in this regard, but I believe that there are some respectable arguments to show that we should not have reestablished diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union until certain conditions had been fulfilled.
Having said that, may I say I believe it is of singular significance that the person who was entrusted to pave the way for the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with this country was Mr. Firubin. It is one thing that Mr. Firubin is a Deputy Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union. To my mind it is a far more important thing that Mr. Firubin is a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Beyond that, there emerges this fact: Mr. Firubin is married to Mrs. Furtseva who is a member of the Presidium of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Firubin-Furtseva marriage would represent the most significant and possibly the most powerful political combination within the Soviet Union to-day. : Sir, I do not feel at liberty to look at this circumstance without some concern. However, it is a reality to-day and the Soviet Union is to come back to this country. But that prompts me to say that I regard the weaknesses in our Crimes Act relating to espionage and security as a national emergency. We are not dealing with a power that regards its diplomatic posts and ambassadorial missions in the normal sense; we are dealing with a power that is bent on world domination. If there is any person inside or outside this House who can stand and point in documentary fashion to the fact that the Soviet Union has abandoned its aims and ambitions of world domination, then I will go to the Speaker of this Parliament and hand him my resignation. The simple truth of the matter is that there has been no fundamental departure from the Soviet Union’s goal, and to the Soviet Union the unbroken seal of the diplomatic pouch is a vital link in a world-wide espionage system. So, I say to the Minister that I hope he will understand my feelings in this matter. The grievous weaknesses in our Crimes Act relating to espionage must be regarded in the light of a national emergency.
I am not one of those who take the view that we should go out of our way at all times to parley with the leaders of the Soviet Union. I see in the approach of many people to the Soviet Union to-day a fitting application of the words spoken by the Duke of Orleans in Shakespeare’s King Henry V. -
Foolish curs! that run winking into the mouth ot a Russian bear, and have their heads crushed like rotten apples: You may as well say - that’s a valiant flea, that dare cat his breakfast on the lip of a lion.
I would hope that the words of the Duke of Orleans will not be completely lost in this chamber. Our duty, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is to face up promptly to the fact that the only promise the Communist empire is prepared to keep is its declared intention to achieve the world Communist state. Look at the case of the United States of America over the past 25 years. The representatives of the United States of America have had some 3,400 meetings with Communists. During that time in those meetings the negotiators have spoken 106,000,000 words and filled 700 volumes. What has it led to? It has led to 52 agreements and 50 of them have been broken. In the last three years, the United States delegates at Geneva have conducted 73 conferences with Chinese Communists regarding the accounting for 450 American servicemen who disappeared during the Korean struggle. I am reminded of the fact - and this House should daily remind itself of the fact - that nine Australians who disappeared during the Korean struggle are unaccounted for by the Chinese Communists.
I agree with the honorable member for Fremantle that in the past five to ten years there has been a breaking-down of resistance towards the programme of Communist expansion. We see in Asia to-day the result of what one might describe as the twin revolutions: On the one hand is the genuine, nationalistic revolution of people, formerly held under colonial sovereignty, advancing towards full nationhood. I should imagine that every genuine democrat would assist and applaud them. But the other revolution, the Communist conspiracy in Asia, is a revolution of an entirely different colour. If one had the time, one could sit down and put together the pieces of the jig-saw puzzle of the Communist conspiracy in Asia, in a fashion such that no person would say, “ This is unreal “. One has only to recall the 1948 congress of the Indian Communist Party and a document which was discussed at that congress entitled “ Revolutionary Possibilities of 1948 “. Therein was the programme of Communist expansion throughout Asia, including South-East Asia. It is rather bewildering to me that, in the face of all of this and with the pattern of events unmistakably clear, we should have people in this chamber and outside it saying that we ought to move towards achieving a closer link with those who are responsible for guiding the Communist conspiracy in Asia, including SouthEast Asia.
I regret very deeply that that distinguished Australian, Sir John Allison, a few days ago suggested, in effect, that this country should embark upon a livelier programme of trade with Communist China. Quite apart from the economic consequences, surely to goodness there is a moral issue at stake! Or am I to understand that this century, with its ersatz enlightenment, is now to throw morality into the ash-can as being of no consequence? Am I to understand that one can compartmentalize - if I may use a form of language which is creeping into the Public Service of this country - the whole core of Communist theory and say, “This is of no account”. There is no such thing as an economic fact in the Communist thinking. The Communists simply regard trade as an economic weapon. While Sir John Allison was suggesting that we should expand trade with Communist China, there came the Tibetan revolution, and if the honorable member for Parkes genuinely believes that, here, right was entirely on the side of the Chinese Communists, he disappoints me immensely. The truth is that when he urged his strictures upon the United Kingdom, saying that in the final analysis this was the fault of the British policy in South-East Asia, he was showing a rather scant regard for historical fact. It was in 1913 that, under British influence, Tibet declared its independence, and if the honorable member for Parkes believes that there is any doubt as to who has sovereignty over Tibet, he is again showing a rather casual regard for historical fact.
My attitude to events in Tibet would, I suppose, reflect the attitude of many people in this country. May I illustrate it in this fashion? Two years ago the former leader of a European country, who had seen his country enslaved, liberty in his country destroyed, and his people reduced virtually to a state of serfdom, used these words -
Do not fear your enemies. At the worst they can only kill you. Do not fear your friends. At the worst they can only betray you. Be afraid of the indifferent. They neither kill nor betray you, but it is only with their silent consent that murder and treason exist on this earth.
Where is the conscience of the world in the matter of the Tibetan horror? The conscience of the world has been reduced to a state of complete enfeeblement. The suggestion has been made to me that for Australia to intervene in this matter - I mentioned this in a debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House a few weeks ago - would be unwelcome, and that it would indicate to some Asian countries that we wanted to interfere in their affairs. I wonder if that is so. To use the phrase employed by the honorable member for Parkes this afternoon - tyranny knows no frontiers. That is perfectly true. Here was tyranny in Tibet and where was world re action? World reaction was confined to editorials and, I suppose, in isolated instances a few protest meetings.
I want to conclude by referring perforce to what emerges, to my mind, as the dominant issue in Asia, including SouthEast Asia. I feel that it was rather accurately described in the opening address given by the Australian military adviser, Vice-Admiral Sir Roy Dowling, at the conference of the council of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization. He used these words -
The free world is faced with the most powerful, and the most evil, threat in the history of mankind. We are engaged day in day out in a war of ideologies. We are determined that the tentacles of that evil octopus, Marxist Communism, shall not destroy our countries or deprive us of our freedom. If the cold war should become a hot war we must be prepared collectively to fight with everything we have in defence of freedom.
In that statement I see the dominant issue, the ideological struggle, and I regret very much indeed that the Minister for External Affairs is not completely at liberty to indicate to the House precisely what the Seato organization is doing in this connexion. We can imagine, I suppose, in the broad what is happening, but those people who are genuinely concerned with this ideological struggle would like to know much more. Here is humanity, and more particularly this country, poised perilously at this point of history, seeing the twin revolutions in Asia - the genuine revolution in search of genuine nationalism, and the result of the Communist conspiracy. The struggle remains, in the words of Sir Roy Dowling, essentially an ideological one. If I may lapse into poetic vein again - in the words of John Milton’s “ Lycidas “ -
The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed, But, swoln with wind and the rank mist they draw,
Rot inwardly and foul contagion spread.
The responsibility for seeing that the hungry sheep of Asia are fed rests in greater part upon us than it does upon the people of Asia. We either accept that responsibility with a will and with a decent pride, or a generation in this country will pay in a monstrous and wicked fashion for our indifference and indolence.
– I intend to have a few words to say later in my speech in relation to certain comments made by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr.
Killen). At this stage let me say that I have listened to and read the speech of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) in relation to the conference in Queensland in March this year of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, the meeting in Wellington of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization, the Minister’s visit to Japan and Korea, and problems in Asia. I think it is regrettable that the Minister saw fit to refer, virtually in only one short paragraph, to the important country of China, with a population of over 600,000,000. I intend later to say also a few words on his shortcomings and the policy of the Government generally. The Minister summarized the major problems of Asia, in which, I think, people of all nations are interested.
He said -
These Ecafe meetings are very useful. They deal with a great many practical problems of human welfare - with more food, better clothing, better basic economic services and many other things of direct and immediate importance to millions of Asian people. Typical subjects thai are dealt with by Ecafe are - population pressure, food production, telecommunications, hydro-electric development, industrialization, regional trade, low-cost housing, road building, statistics, census taking - and the like.
I believe, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that these problems are common to all the people of all the Asian nations, and particularly affect under-privileged people, many millions of whom are congregated in Asia.
Australia’s position in regard to Asia is much different from that of many of the major nations. We are, in effect, a part of Asia. We are the neighbour of many millions of people not of our colour. Our geographic position, our population and our general position in world affairs in relation to Asia are different from the positions of the United States, Great Britain and other countries. Therefore, it is inevitable that in facing the problems of Asia, and in seeking to assist our near neighbours, we must be, on many occasions, in direct conflict with the United States and Great Britain on certain matters, because our position, being totally different from theirs in regard to Asia, poses totally different problems for us.
When I was in America a couple of years ago, I discovered that many American people disagree with their own government in respect of certain of its actions regard ing Asia. I explained to these people that on occasions we in this country realize that our policy should be different from American policy towards Asia, for the reasons that I have already stated. I believe that our policy towards Asia must continue to be the policy laid down by successive Labour governments, and by the Labour movement in Australia. We must offer friendship and assistance and cooperation, and foster, among our Asian neighbours, in every practical way, that goodwill which, if carried to fruition and accepted by other countries, will maintain peace throughout the world. I hope that that will always be the policy of all Australian governments.
I do not want to introduce into this debate anything bitter in the way of politics, because we are all seeking the ultimate objective of world peace and friendship with our Asian neighbours. However, it is true that in times gone by members of the present Government in many ways antagonized our Asian neighbours at the time when the Labour Government was in office. So it is pleasant to see that to-day honorable gentlemen opposite have to some extent at least accepted a policy of friendship and goodwill towards the teeming millions of Asia, because that is the only policy that can be effectively pursued by a white country in our geographical position.
I put it to the Minister for External Affairs that on some of his visits abroad he spends too much time in countries a long way from Australia instead of giving more attention to those close to our shores. Indonesia provides a classic example of this. I do not recall that any lengthy visit to Indonesia has been made by the Minister. Certainly very few members of this Parliment have been there. Since Indonesia is right on our doorstep I think that the Government, and the Minister in particular, might well consider the making of more visits there, including visits by members drawn from the Parliament generally. Indonesia is both our immediate problem and our immediate neighbour.
It is impossible to discuss the problems of Asia without referring to one aspect dealt with by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), and other speakers during the debate. I refer to the problem of continental China. In a speech the report of which covered quite a few pages, the Minister for External Affairs saw fit to include only one small paragraph dealing with that huge country, which has a population of more than 600,000,000 people. No matter what might be said, to my mind China is the most important country of Asia, if for no other reason than that it has such a tremendous population. We cannot ignore the effect that this huge population to our north will have not only on the welfare of the people of this country in the future, but also on the whole progress and history of Asia.
So I reiterate what other speakers have said about the Labour Party’s policy in regard to continental China. In order that the policy will be clearly stated to honorable members opposite, who generally seem to misinterpret the attitude of Labour on this matter, I shall quote the policy from the official record of the proceedings of the 22nd Commonwealth Conference of the Australian Labour Party, held at Brisbane on 11th March, 1957, and on following days. Paragraph 5 of the reported decisions on Labour policy on international affairs reads -
The admission to U.N.O. of Continental China should no longer be delayed, and it is in the best interests of Australian development that, in line with the policy initiated by the British Labour Party seven years ago and since supported by the British Conservative Parties, normal and friendly diplomatic relationships between Continental China and Australia should be established and strengthened at once.
The report goes on -
Criticisms of the regime in Continental China by Conservative Governments such as the Menzies Government in Australia ignore -
The report then lists the points ignored. With the permission of the House I shall incorporate that section of the report in “ Hansard “.
– Is leave granted? I heard an honorable member say, “ No “. Leave is therefore not granted.
– It is obvious that the Government fears to have incorporated in “ Hansard “ a factual statement of Labour’s policy in respect of this matter. The report, after listing various factors ignored by the critics among conservative govern ments of the regime in continental China, and such critics include among their number the present Australian Government, continues -
In view of these circumstances the immediate recognition of Continental China must be and its admission to U.N.O. is an integral part of Australian Labor’s Foreign Policy in the Pacific.
For the benefit of those honorable gentlemen opposite who are frightened to have the facts incorporated in “ Hansard “, I have read as much of that part of the report as I have time to read. The other section of the report, which is of vital importance, has been denied inclusion in “ Hansard “ because the tory members of this Parliament wish to hide their own shortcomings. Their refusal to permit the inclusion of the matter pinpoints those shortcomings.
The Labour Party’s policy is the recognition of red China. This is not a new policy for us. It has been the policy of Labour for a long time, as 1 can prove by quoting from a speech made by Mr. J. B. Chifley on 7th March, 1951, as reported on page 378 of a book called “ Things Worth Fighting For “, which is a collection of Mr. Chifley’s speeches. He said -
On a previous occasion in this House 1 said that the greatest diplomatic folly I knew of was the refusal of the United Nations to admit as a member Communist, or Red, China, or whatever else one might like to call it.
The following statement by Mr. Chifley is reproduced on page 379 of the book: -
But if my government had been returned to office, it would have supported China’s admission to the United Nations, not because we like the Communists or support anything associated with communism, but simply because we prefer to be realists.
That statement was endorsed not so long ago by the honorable member for Fremantle in an excellent speech in this Parliament on the subject of realism.
Those things are worth mentioning, because the Labour Party’s policy towards red China is a practical policy that has since been adopted by conservative governments of Great Britain and other places. I have mentioned that matter in order to clarify the position. On what ground do honorable members opposite justify nonrecognition of red China and refusal to admit it to the United Nations? A few moments ago, the honorable member for
Moreton (Mr. Killen) said that Russian embassies throughout the world were centres of espionage. But this Government has now decided, after having been insulted by Russia, afer having bought off a Russian spy - so they said - in the Russian Embassy in Australia, to resume diplomatic relations with the Soviet. Honorable gentlemen opposite say that the Russian Embassy in Canberra was a spy centre. Petrov is still on the Commonwealth’s pay-roll as an exmember of that spy centre. Yet this country to-day is in the process of resuming diplomatic relations with the government which, when all is said and done, is the master of world communism. If the representatives of that government are to be accepted here, with their background, there cannot be much justification for opposition by honorable gentlemen opposite to the people who comprise the Government of red China. For my part - and I say it quite frankly - I have no sympathy with communism or with any of its purposes. Also, I do not believe any of these stories that come from people who go to red China on conducted tours - and who have to rely on interpreters supplied to them by the red Chinese - about what is going on in China. I do not accept the stories that there is freedom of religion in that country. Irrespective of who might relate them, I do not believe as true the stories they are bringing out, because they are impressions planted there to give some kind of substance to this regime which is opposed to everything, naturally, that the people of the free world say and understand in a free way of life.
At the same time, everything that can be said about red China can be said against Russia also. Yet, Russia is accepted to-day in the United Nations and it is to be accepted here again on a diplomatic level. Russia is allowed to deliberate on matters of world peace in the United Nations. Although opposed to recognition of red China because it will not give assurances that it will continue on the road to peace and also because red China has broken pledges and obligations entered into, this Government completely overlooks the fact that all these things have been done by the Russian nation also. Whilst this Government recognizes Russia in this country and in the United Nations, it has no possible justification for not giving effect to the same policy with regard to Communist China which has a population of 600,000,000 and which is increasing, as the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has said, by over 12,000,000 a year. How can the Government justify its attitude in this matter? Surely, it must know that its position is farcical in the light of world affairs. How can it hide its head like an ostrich and ignore a country with a population of 600,000,000? There are many things we do not agree with in the governments of these countries, but we cannot continue to live in this age and refuse to accept a major nation like China.
I read an interesting debate on this matter which took place in 1957. It was reported in the magazine “ Western World “, in September, 1957, and was featured as the debate of the month. It was between Kenneth G. Younger, a former Labour Minister in Great Britain, and Walter S. Robertson who had been American Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs since April, 1953. In 1943 and 1944, the latter served as chief of the United States Lend-Lease Mission to Australia, and subsequently went to Korea as the special representative of President Eisenhower with the task of persuading President Syngman Rhee to accept the armistice then being negotiated. That debate was very interesting. I have not time to read it all, but in the course of it Mr. Younger said -
Much argument has arisen about two different views of the significance of diplomatic recognition. The United Kingdom and many others claim that recognition implies neither approval nor disapproval, but is merely a practical arrangement suitable for maintaining contact with any government, whether friendly or unfriendly, which in fact disposes of the power to rule its people and apply its policies. The rival view, to which the U.S. subscribes imports into the act of recognition a moral judgment favorable to the government recognized.
This aspect of the dispute is of more than technical significance. The British and European view has grown out of generations of living alongside unfriendly neighbours, with whom a state of actual war was only intermittent and with whom a final reckoning was never reached through the centuries. Against such a background, the advice to “ know thine enemy “ seems mere common sense; and a major purpose of establishing diplomatic relations is to know about other countries.
The American view, on the contrary has its roots in the isolationism of the nineteenth Century. A country which aimed, on the whole successfully, at having nothing to do with foreign countries, could afford to treat as non-existent any government of which it strongly disapproved. Such an attitude, however, makes no more sense for the deeply-involved U.S. in mid-twentieth Century than it would have done for Europe in the nineteenth.
I think that is a very practical summary of the position. The fact of the matter is that we must be realists, particularly with regard to the fact that there are 600,000,000 people in China. Whether we like it or not, it would appear that the Government of red China has come to stay, if not under the present administration then in some other form with possibly the same set of fundamentals. This Government has continually refused to support the admission of red China to the United Nations; but now it has said in this House that it is prepared to resume diplomatic relations with Russia, although, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said, we had caught Russian spies in this country. Yet he and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) ignore 600,000,000 people who have a far more important bearing on our lives and welfare than those people who may represent the Soviet in this country. I make these submissions because I believe it is necessary to awaken the Minister for External Affairs to the realism of the situation confronting us in Asia. We must realize that we cannot continue to ignore these people to our north who are evidently making great progress and, in the future, will play a dominant part in Asia.
I might summarize the position by saying what was once said by Pandit Nehru, in the course of a speech dealing with the problems of Asia. He said -
If anybody thinks he can stop the spread of radicalism in Asia by guns, soldiers and ships, he makes the greatest possible mistake.
We are the only white race between here and Asia, except for our neighbours in New Zealand, over 1.000 miles away. Our problem is unique and different. It requires a realistic approach by a government prepared to take into consideration all these factors, not by a collection of humbugs and hypocrites - I hope I may use that term, Mr. Deputy Speaker-
– Order! The honorable member may not use that term.
– I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but you know to whom I refer. I will say a collection of people who travel around the world endeavouring to obtain trade with Communist countries. I do not object to that, because we should trade with whoever we can do business. But although we are endeavouring to get trade with Communist countries, we are denying to those countries the rights and privileges of diplomatic representation here. This Government needs to be practical and realistic. It is looking for trade, but it will not get it if it continually ignores the claims of countless millions of people and insults them. But that is the policy of this Government as it affects China, a major nation in Asia to-day.
.- We have just listened to the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) making a plea for the recognition of red China. It might be as well for the honorable member to stop for a moment and consider the consequences of doing what he suggests. Although Great Britain, in its wisdom, has recognized China, it has received precious little benefit from such recognition. We might also consider the position of the democracies which are members of the United Nations. What would happen in the Security Council if Russia and red China combined to use the veto? The democracies would be placed in an untenable position. These things must be considered when honorable members opposite talk about the recognition not of “ continental “ China, as the honorable member for Grayndler prefers to call it, but red Communist China.
With the rapid change in world affairs since World War II., Australia is playing an increasingly important part particularly in the South-East Asian sphere. Until a few years ago, we were apt to feel rather confident in our geographical isolation and in the knowledge that the might and power of the British Fleet was our first line of defence. To-day, with modern aircraft and modern means of speedy transport that position is changed. The Far East has become our near north and our security in isolation has vanished. The measure of security which the British Fleet once afforded us has rapidly decreased since the sinking of the “ Repulse “ and “ Prince of Wales “ so effortlessly by the Japanese.
To-day, the United Kingdom is completely absorbed in events in Europe and the Middle East and in the defence of its own contracting Empire. Unhappily, in the event of conflict in the Far East it must be rather regretfully admitted that the United Kingdom’s interest in this area could well be found to be expendable. Surely then we must ask ourselves: What can Australia do to ensure its future security? Obviously the threat to this country is not war but communism. If we accept that, then we must examine our attitude to foreign affairs and satisfy ourselves that in our diplomatic exchanges we are holding our own and developing a sound material outlook. We certainly appear to have come out second best in the high level pleasantries that have resulted in the restoration of Russia’s diplomatic post in Canberra. No doubt there will be many who will be pleased to see the light shine again in the deserted Russian Embassy, which was closed so abruptly only a few years ago. However, there are certain disturbing facts about this new tenancy. It is true that we are to open our offices in Moscow, and no doubt benefits will accrue to us from this action.
But the circumstances of establishment in Moscow and in Canberra could well prove to be entirely different, for it appears that we have allowed to pass an opportunity which would have enabled us to establish equality in our diplomatic relations with Russia. The Government has wisely taken the precaution of restricting travel. This is a necessity, and of course, the restriction applies most rigidly to our diplomats in Moscow. In the light of past experience, I believe that the terms of re-opening the Russian embassy in Australia should be more stringent, certainly no less stringent than our diplomats are required to observe while they serve in Moscow. As the cost of establishing a large diplomatic post in Moscow is very high - almost exorbitant - our mission there, of necessity, is small in comparison with the last Russian Embassy that was established in Australia, which comprised not only Russian diplomats, but also chauffeurs, gardeners, and domestic help all of Russian nationality. The people who are to come here in the near future in this category are bound to have been selected most carefully and trained not only in their daily chores but in obtaining and reporting useful information to the Embassy itself.
In Russia, our post is staffed by trained domestic persons of Russian origin, skilled in the way of espionage. Every visitor to the embassy, and every action by our officers, is reported. Microphones are used and concealed in all rooms, including the bedrooms. Telephone conversations are recorded, and the only safe place for our officers to converse is on the pavements, while they are walking. But even there, diplomats are followed and shadowed. There are few entrances to the diplomatic compound, and all of them are guarded. The guard is required to telephone to notify M.V.D. personnel of all the movements in and out of this compound, so that the movements of all officers are covered at all times. There is no real pretence. No effort is really made to conceal or disguise the actions that are taken. In fact, it is almost blatantly done. Our officers do not drive cars in Moscow. They are always driven by a Russian chauffeur. The reason for this must be obvious to all. In Australia, the Russians are driven by their own personnel. These methods, Sir, are foreign to our ways, but they are common-place in Russia and are accepted there by the people. I believe that when this entourage of Russians comes to our shores, for our own security the security service should be most vigilant at all times to see that these people are given no greater freedom than our diplomats receive in Moscow. When one is dealing with a ruthless, cruel and unprincipled nation we should leave no stone unturned to ensure that their actions and contacts will not endanger the security of this nation for we, as a nation, are implacably opposed to this godless foreign ideology peddled by Russia in her quest to dominate the world.
However, much has been done to safeguard our security. We have accepted and received commitments under Seato, Anzus, and Anzam, and at the same time we have been most anxious to develop the closest friendly relationships with all our neighbouring Asian countries. Surely our efforts in this regard must remain unabated. It is imperative for us to have the trust of our friends in Asia so that the links that now exist may be further cemented into a solid bridge between our respective countries, because it must be clearly recognized that the fundamental cause of world tension, and the many problems arising out of that tension, is the rapidly expansionist nature of international communism. This realization by ourselves and Asian countries has led to the formation of collective security pacts, to form a defensive counter to Communist aggression.
Recent events have shown that these treaties were not made too soon. The happenings clearly show that the menace of communism is spreading through Asia. The intolerable outrage on primitive Tibet is no less repugnant than the Russian rape of Hungary, for in Tibet the world has again witnessed the slaughter of peace-loving, religious, and virtually unarmed people by sheer brutality and the use of modern arms and weapons. This re-enactment of the Hungarian situation stamps the Peking regime as beastly and as power-drunk as the U.S.S.R. Red China, with a population of approximately 650,000,000, which is rising at a yearly rate greater than that of the whole of the population of Australia - its population by 1980 could well reach the one billion mark - has with the aid of Russia, by way of technical assistance and advice, made great industrial progress. Admittedly red China, before she can claim to be a modern industrial state has a long way to go, but with such enormous manpower at its command it may well awaken deep anxiety in a nation as near to her shores and so sparsely populated as Australia. Red China’s action, well-timed to divert attention from the mounting Berlin crisis, has placed her virtually astride the Himalayas and on the borders of neutralist India.
India has a large Buddhist population. The slaughter of the religious Buddhists in Tibet could well result in a hardening of public opinion in India and a protracted religious war in Tibet. Communism versus Buddhism could cause red China more than what she has bargained for. History has shown that religious beliefs are not easily dissipated. For the first time, two great nations - India and China - with opposing systems are to face to face, and their tactics could well have a profound effect on the thinking of over 250.000,000 Buddhists in the uncommitted countries of Asia. These Buddhists and the people of Asia have now witnessed the Communist version of what is termed peaceful co-existence. It is a lesson which brings home forcibly to our Asian friends and to ourselves, that in an everchanging pattern of world events no single country can defend its shores separately and in isolation from other countries.
The final communique issued after the Seato conference referred to the continuing possibility of open aggression. Although it is said that Seato is primarily for defence against Communist aggression it is essential if that is so, that it be given good strong teeth to use quickly in the event of such aggression. This would assist materially in strengthening Seato in the eyes of the uncommitted countries and, indeed, of the world. There can be no mistake. The Red menace will unhesitatingly and with rapidity exploit any moral or military weakness that may be apparent. The speed with which Seato forces are capable of action may well determine the future of any signatory.
Under Seato and the Colombo Plan, many millions of pounds of aid in various forms have been given by Australia. This has resulted in an increasing number of Asian students being afforded the opportunity to study in our country. But, to my mind, this number has not been nearly large enough. I would prefer to see the number of students increase greatly as a substitute for aid in the form of heavy equipment and machinery. Although it has been said that the receiving nations have requested this equipment, most of it could be readily obtained from other countries. We are well equipped and ideally situated geographically to take further students from Asia. By educating these students, whether in technical subjects, in other university courses, or in democratic government, and providing them with an opportunity to live among us, we could give better value than by giving machinery. Machinery exists only for a short time in the lives of people, but education would have a permanent effect. The students could go back to their countries and teach their own people what they had learned in their studies. They could also tell their people how democracy works. They could tell them of our parliamentary system, of our local government system, and of the freedom that we have in Australia. This, I believe, would result in a far better understanding of the democratic system of the Western world.
In Asia there is a lack of understanding of the true principles of democracy. We are losing the battle for men’s minds in Asia. The Communists are skilfully penetrating, by means of their propaganda, by means of leaflets and popular front methods, and by wireless, into the minds of the Asians. Many of them live in indigent circumstances and they grasp at the gospel put to them by the Communists. Students trained here would be able to give descriptions to their fellow countrymen of the workings of our system. These descriptions given at first hand, together with the practical application of the knowledge gained during training, would do much to counter the skilful propaganda that the Communists endeavour to disseminate throughout South-East Asia.
I believe that the Colombo Plan has contributed greatly to the alleviation of distress in South-East Asia. It has contributed greatly to the skills and learning of the indigenous people of South-East Asia. We in Australia have played a great part in that plan, through our Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), and I should like to join in the tributes that have been paid to him this afternoon. I believe it can be aptly said that he is the father of the Colombo Plan. Through him, this great scheme has been put into operation and no one tries more relentlessly and more sincerely to see that the scheme works as it was originally intended to work. But whether under Seato or the Colombo Plan, if we can make sufficient money available to double or even treble the number of Asian students that come to this country, we in Australia, in the ultimate, will reap the benefit of higher standards of living in Asia. This raising of standards of living is one of the most potent weapons that we have against the regime of communism. We must do these things before it is too late.
If we look at the map of East Asia to-day, we find Korea divided into north and south, although the Korean people are one people. We find Viet Nam divided into north and south. We find Communist activity in Laos and Cambodia. Coming further down into the former British possession of Malaya, we find a conflict between the Chinese and the Malays. The Chinese can accept citizenship of Malaya without revoking their Chinese nationality. They are forever
Chinese and whether or not their allegiance is to red China at present, they are potential sons of red China should there be any conflict in Malaya. In Singapore, teachers include many Communists. They are teaching children the Chinese language, not English. The whole of Communist ideology starts from the small child. As he goes through the various phases of life to adolescence, he becomes a person who accepts the principle of communism.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston), reading from a carefully prepared speech, made a “ hate the Russians - hate the Chinese “ speech. The honorable member stated that the British Conservative Government-
– He did not say “Conservative “ Government.
– The British Government is Conservative, and the honorable member for Phillip said that it had erred in recognizing red China. The fact is that the British Conservative Government can break off negotiations-
– I rise to order. - I am being entirely misrepresented.
-Order! The honorable member for Phillip will have an opportunity at the conclusion of the speech, if necessary, to raise the matter.
– The United Kingdom Conservative Government can break off negotiations at any time it likes with continental China. But for world peace and world trade it is better to recognize 600,000,000 people. As the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) said, the Australian Labour Party, under Mr. Chifley, if it had retained power after the 1949 elections, would have recognized continental China. The Labour Party’s policy has been read out by the honorable member for Grayndler and all members on this side of the House feel that it is right and realistic. We on this side of the House do not want a hate session with anybody. We feel that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has made a particularly important statement and we want to make our contribution to the debate.
I have spent a great deal of my life in Asia and have a strong feeling for its people. I repeat that we cannot solve anything through hate. We must solve the problem by the betterment of, and co-operation with, Asian nations to our north. The Opposition is proud of the fact that Labour parties throughout the world played a great part at the close of the second world war in maintaining peace and giving selfdetermination to the people of Asia. All honorable members know the part played by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) in granting selfdetermination to the people of Indonesia. All honorable members know also the part played by Mr. Attlee, the then British Labour Prime Minister, in the granting of home rule to the people of Pakistan, India, Burma and Ceylon. Labour Governments have been responsible for helping those people to manage their own affairs, and we in Australia should do our part by assisting them on the economic level. When Great Britain controlled India and Pakistan, she trained the leaders of those nations to assume control of their our countries when the appropriate time came. However, when the Dutch walked out of Indonesia they left only 300 trained doctors, and a few highly trained technicians whose numbers could be counted on the fingers of both hands, out of a total population of 60,000,000 or 70,000,000 people.
The people to our north need a great deal of help from us. On Tuesday last when we were debating the International Monetary Agreements Bill I criticized the nations which had bled the Asian people for generations, and I stated that loans from the International Bank at 6 per cent. interest would not go very far in helping those people in their plight. Apart from certain criticisms of the administration of the Colombo Plan, I give the plan my full support. We believe it will assist the countries to our north to develop economically and to raise the standard of living of their people. All Australians believe in peace and the betterment of the conditions of the underprivileged, whether he be in this country or in any other country. We must assist the people of Asia.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) referred to the Mekong Valley project which will assist the development of Thailand, Camodia, Viet Nam and Laos. I spent quite a number of years in Siam which, on Asian standards, is a large country with a comparatively small population of 14,000,000 people. If we succeed in raising the standard of living of the people of Siam, we may be able to encourage migration to that country from other parts of Asia. The Minister also stated that at the Wellington Seato conference, the United States advanced a plan to combat cholera, which has always been a great scourge in Asian countries. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) during the war years was engaged with me on the building of a railway line from Moulmein, in Burma, to Banpong, near Bangkok in Thailand. While we were working on that project we saw over 100,000 Asians die in the cholera epidemic which was responsible for the death of about 10,000 Australian, Dutch and British troops. At least ten Asians died for every European. Cholera is frightful and frightening. If this great scourge is to be eradicated, we should attack it ruthlessly and not allow finance to handicap us.
As the Leader of the Opposition has said, we on this side of the House have great faith in the United Nations. As all honorable members know, our leader was one of the statesmen responsible for setting up the organization. The Minister for External Affairs, in referring to Seato, said -
It is concerned with a wide range of issues - military, political, economic and social. But when all is said and done, the principal reason for the existence of Seato is military security. . . But the most immediate threat in the area to-day is not a military one.
I agree with the Minister. I believe that our obligation is to make finance available to the people of Asia on reasonable terms and conditions to assist them to raise their standard of living and to develop their countries. We should make money available to them with no strings attached.
I support the honorable member for Grayndler who has said that there should be a greater interchange of missions between the Asian countries and our own. Not only members of Parliament, but also ordinary Australian citizens should be able to visit the countries to our north and get to know the inhabitants. We must make every effort to foster goodwill between our nation and the Asian countries. We have sinned against them in the past; for manyyears they have been exploited, but now we must assist them. However, they do not want charity. They are very sensitive about accepting charity. We have done a great deal already by training Asian students in Australia to fit them to play their part in the development of their own countries, but the present restrictions on trade between our countries is hindering goodwill. In recent conversation with an Indian I asked him, “ How can we best assist your people without embarrassing you? How can we best build up goodwill between your nation and ours? “ He replied, “Lift your restrictions on our exports “. Some Australian people have objected to goods and machinery being sent to the Asian countries because the Asians have demonstrated against the donation tag attached to the trains, cars and buses that have been given to them. I think the Asians have every right to object to our gifts which are given with a feeling of patronage. The ordinary man or woman in the street does not understand the feelings of the Asians. I do not wish to appear too critical of the Colombo Plan because I believe that it is the most effective way in which we can assist the people of Asia. I believe also that the Colombo Plan is above party politics.
The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) gave vent to his usual hysteria when referring to the Russians. Although he complimented the Minister on the Ecafe conference, he spent the major portion of his time in ramping and raging against Russia. He was supported by the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston). They should turn the light within themselves and see their own weaknesses. We must give a lead to the people of Australia and also of Asia. Let us do our job. If we do, there will not be any repercussions.
I ask the Minister to push on with this project to combat cholera. I believe our contribution to the Mekong Valley project should be increased to something substantially more than £100,000. I also think that we should assist those Asian countries in the near north to obtain the loans that they require from the International Bank. When the bank was established, Mr. Chifley said that we should not need to borrow money from it. This
Government during its term of office has borrowed 300,000,000 dollars from that bank. Yet we find that the people in the near north, who were supposed to benefit from the establishment of this bank, are struggling to obtain loans. They are the countries that should get the benefit of this finance.
We must continue to build up goodwill by trying to assist the people of the near north, and we should try to eliminate any feeling that may exist of hatred of any nation. We must try to achieve a better understanding of the people of other countries. I commend the Government for re-establishing diplomatic relations with Russia. I suggest that continental China should be admitted to the United Nations When we can sit at a common table with them, we may be able to solve a lot of problems. We certainly cannot do so if we build a barrier between us.
In conclusion, I would like to touch on the point made by the Leader of the Opposition towards the end of his speech. We must do our utmost to stop nuclear tests. We know that the concentration of strontium-90 is increasing every day. Problems can no longer be solved by wars. We must solve them by peaceful negotiation. I hope that all honorable members of this Parliament will work towards that goal - peace through negotiation.
.- A very important event took place this year. I refer to the conference held in Australia of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East. This conference brought the spotlight to bear on the importance of cooperation between us and our near neighbours. The commission, as the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has said, is a co-operative institution. Its deliberations provide a guide for the nations of the Western world, so that they can see in which direction they can assist the progress of the people of Asia. It also provides an opportunity for the Asian nations to engage in regional trade talks amongst themselves. T believe that only good can come of this. Another point that has been clearly shown by this conference is that we and the people of Asia have many common interests. We face similar problems in the finding of markets for our primary products. After all, Australia is a developing nation, and the stability of prices of primary products is very important in our economy.
The South-East Asia Treaty Organization is quite a different proposition. I was somewhat shocked at the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). He tried to belittle the work of Seato. He wanted to take away the military functions of the organization. But Seato is essentially a military body. It plays a vital part in our defence policy. The Australian Labour Party, however, wants to take away the military role of Seato and leave only the economic side of it. Do Opposition members want to duplicate the work of the Colombo Plan or of Ecafe? Surely our defence is of importance. It is, as a matter of fact, of vital importance to us in our isolated position.
The Leader of the Opposition pointed out, in what I thought was a rather unkindly way, that the governments of some of the member countries of Seato are military dictatorships. He referred to Thailand and Pakistan. After all, the governments of those countries are very benevolent forms of dictatorship. The Leader of the Opposition is a strong supporter of the United Nations, and we know that very powerful dictatorships operate in some of the member countries of that organization. It seems strange that what is sauce for the goose should not be considered sauce for the gander. We hear dictatorships attacked in discussions regarding Seato, while the United Nations is applauded for admitting to membership countries that are governed by even stronger dictatorships.
The Leader of the Opposition suggested that the principles of the United Nations should be adhered to. I personally believe that Seato has saved the Far East. There is no question in my mind about that. If Seato had not been formed we would have seen Communist China acting aggressively in every part of Asia. I have heard it said that there are no teeth in Seato. Of course there are. So strong are its teeth that it has managed to contain communism. It is extraordinary that whenever we attack communism and suggest that it must be contained - and this was the very reason why America joined Seato - we seem to cause a strange disquiet among Opposition supporters. The moment we begin to discuss communism we hear accusations of other nations embracing fascism. I wonder whether the Leader of the Opposition really understands that those who dislike the Communists most are the Fascists, because both groups stem from the same socialist stock. The Communists and the Fascists know that it is quite easy to win over adherents from one group to the other. For this reason, the Communists hate the Fascists. I feel that on these occasions a guilty feeling comes over Opposition supporters, because they too espouse a socialist ideology.
There is nothing in the character or functions of Seato that offends the United Nations Charter. The member nations have a right to engage in regional defence pacts. Just as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has prevented the spread of war in Europe, so Seato has prevented the spread of war in Asia. After all, our interests are bound up with those of the Asian countries, and Seato is vital to our security. Any nation in this area that adopts a policy of neutrality finds itself in a most awkward position. For this reason Mr. Nehru is in an unfortunate position in India. You must take sides. You will get nowhere if you sit on the sidelines, and Mr. Nehru will find this out.
There have been appeals made for the recognition of red China. On what grounds are they made? They are made simply on the ground that red China is a very large country. No decent logical, legal or moral grounds can be advanced for recognizing red China. It is an aggressor nation. It was an aggressor in North Korea and is still a potential aggressor there. It was an aggressor in Viet Nam. We all know of its recent aggressive activities in Tibet, and in Quemoy and the off-shore islands along the Chinese coast. Does this policy of aggression give red China a cloak of respectability? It is an indisputable fact that the Communist Government of red China has killed off some 21,000,000 people in the last ten years. Are these the sort of people to whom we should give an air of respectability? Does the fact that they have killed 21,000,000 of their own people persuade us that we should recognize them and bring them into the comity of nations?
Look at the recent activities of red China. We know that 500,000,000 of the people of that country have been uprooted from their previous homes and family lives and forced into communes, in which the children are taken away from their parents. Why has this been done? It was because the people of China could not be subjugated otherwise. If you have to introduce socialism, you must do it by force. Here we see communism, which is a brand of socialist philosophy, being forced on an independent people, people whose whole existence has been based on family life and family worship. Family life has been destroyed and 21,000,000 people killed in order to further this dreadful creed of communism. Honorable members opposite know that 1 am stating facts, yet they would bring into the comity of nations the very government that perpetrates such things on its people. Why, by recognizing red China, we would give the green light to that government and kill the spirit of revolt in that country! Everybody must know that communism will not be absorbed ultimately by the people of China, but if the spirit of revolt is killed, if the people are given no hope for the future., the very objective of that government and similar governments - communism - is achieved.
What has the recognition of red China brought to Great Britain? At Peking, she has a charge-d’affaires, not an ambassador. I point out that in the orient loss of face is most serious. In that area, the representative of Great Britan, a great nation of the world, is a charge-d’affaires, and is kept in the servants’ hall, as it were. Do honorable members opposite want the charged’affaires for Australia relegated to the servants’ hall by these people? I repeat that by recognizing red China we will give the green light to those who now govern the country and hundreds of millions of Chinese in other parts will throw in their lot with red China because the spirit of revolt will have been killed. There is no moral, legal or responsible ground for recognizing red China.
I was shocked to hear the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) trying to apologize for red China’s action in Tibet. He was certainly having terrible difficulty with his speech. If he cares to take the trouble to study the history of Tibet he will learn how wrong he was in seeking to compare Britain’s action in 1904 with the present action of red China. There is no comparison whatsoever, and the study that I have commended to him will disclose the great mistake he made. Why, in the 1914- 18 war Tibet offered 1,000 soldiers to Great Britain! Again, in 1920, the first country to be invited to send a representative to Tibet was Britain. Our record with Tibet is a very fine one.
The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) - an old comrade of mine - spoke about the nations to our near north. He said that for over a thousand years the people there had been bled white by colonialism, capitalism and imperialism. 1 point out that 1,000 years would take us back to 100 years before the Battle of Hastings. I think that is a little bit further back than the honorable member wanted to go for I do not think Vasco de Gama had sailed round the Cape of Good Hope until 1497. The honorable member for Reid said that for 1,000 years - let us say that was poetic licence, and reduce it to 100 years - we have exploited the people of Asia. That statement is only in keeping with all the poppycock we have been hearing about colonialism.
Australia is a colonial power. Are we evil people? Are we exploiting the people of New Guinea and Papua? Of course we are not! Nor were the people in the colonies of Great Britain, France or Holland exploited. All this talk about colonialism and its evils is nothing more than the spreading of insidious communistic propaganda.
– You do not know what you are .talking about.
– I do know what I am talking about. Take Africa as an example. In the early days of colonialism, Africans were primitve, stone-age people who practised witchcraft. Their standard of living was dreadful. The rising of the Mau Mau in recent times was an attempt by a few to resurrect the practices of 100 years ago - the practices of witchcraft - to obtain control over a very fine peasantry. In some colonies a small coterie of people get a quasi-education. Among them, of course, are some fine men and some with great intellects, but the masses of the uneducated people are still in the peasant state.
Some of this small coterie hope to use white man’s methods and white man’s ideas to gain control over the masses who might be termed as being recently in a state of stone age development. By selfgovernment, too early, they will establish a form of colonialism much more evil than any other colonialism in the world. After all, the type of colonialism as practised by Russia in Poland, East Germany and Hungary is evil. The people in those places are certainly being exploited whereas the colonialism practised by Great Britain sought to educate the people, to raise their standard of living, and to bring justice, good government and health provisions to them. That is not the type of colonialism favoured by Russia.
In the same way, capitalism has been attacked as something evil. I was very interested in the comments made by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who said that United Kingdom diplomacy had failed. To some extent it has failed; but on whose shoulders does the blame for that failure rest? I point out that the Attlee Government of the post-war period was the cause of many difficulties in the Western world. We British people have a parliamentary democracy, and our diplomacy should accept that as a guide for our philosophies, but now we find that we are becoming divided amongst ourselves. In this war of ideas to-day we have on the one side the COl.lectivists. the followers of the Communist philosophy, and on the other side we have the followers of democracy, free enterprise and freedom of man. Even amongst our own people there are some who have changed their way of thinking. Honorable members opposite no longer represent the true Australian way of life because they are dedicated to the socialist philosophy. This division has a great influence on the world to-day. How much damage has been done in the eyes of Europe by people such as Aneurin Bevan? In our own Parliament we have divided opinion. On the one side we have those who say that red China should not be recognized because she is not worthy of recognition, while on the Opposition side there are those who advocate the recognition of red China. In this war of ideas, honorable members opposite should be only too happy to support the true Australian way of life. At the moment they are not doing so.
The honorable member for Fremantle also spoke of the weaknesses of communism in East Germany, Poland and Hungary. The people of those countries would not put up with communism for three minutes if it were not for the force of Russian arms. The people of Russia themselves would not accept it but for the force of Russian arms. Our future is not so black as some would have us believe. Who will follow Khrushchev? After all, he will not live for ever and when he dies many schisms and fights will occur within that socialist dictatorship and these ultimately will bring down this monstrous creed of communism. There is no threat to the peace of the world to-day except through the one source - communism. We should’ aim at defeating communism, but the Opposition seems to favour the encouragement of the one philosophy that can seriously disturb world peace. The time will come - and very soon too - when Russia and China will clash. The Russians and the others who accept Communist philosophies are opportunists, and they play their own game by taking advantage of any opportunities available for the moment. We recall that when Russia was planning certain tactics the Chinese suddenly attacked Quemoy, and upset the whole of the Russian plans. These people must clash with one another, and when they do they will embarrass one another and find themselves in the same difficulty which confronts the free world - the difficulty caused by the differences between the views of allies. We shall find that the Communist front will break up when differences of views come into play.
To my mind, the Western world is declining in influence a little because it will not take the initiative. We have the present situation over Berlin, for example. This is just a creation of Khrushchev’s mind. Berlin presents a difficult situation, but that is just because Khrushchev makes these mischievous attacks the whole time in his efforts to keep the West guessing. Why should we not adopt the same tactics and cause a situation in which Russia will be forced to get out of Hungary? Why should we not bring about in the Far East a situation in which China will be forced to get out of Tibet? Let us direct the spotlight on the evil of these people. If we do, we shall gradually gain the propaganda initiative and they will be forced on the defensive. There is no justification for the present differences over Berlin. They are caused only by Russia’s intransigence. Yet the Leader of the Opposition says that Australia should step in and tell the Western powers how to come to terms with Russia! The whole trouble is that Russia is completely intransigent. All the difficulties about the banning of atomic weapons and nuclear tests are nothing less than the results of Russia’s tactics in maintaining world tension the whole time. Anybody who thinks differently is swallowing propaganda which has been cleverly put out by the Communists.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Australian Universities CommissionBill 1959. Education Bill 1959.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) proposed -
That, subject to the concurrence of the Senate in the terms of this resolution, the joint Committee known as the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review that was constituted by resolution of the House of Representatives passed on the twenty-seventh day of February, 1958, and a resolution of the Senate passed on the twelfth day of March, 1958, be re-constituted under the name of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review with the same membership as the firstmentioned committee had immediately before the dissolution of the House of Representatives on the fourteenth day of October, 1958, namely: -
House of Representatives. - The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, as ex officio members, and Mr. Calwell, Mr. Downer, Mr. Drummond, Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Joske, Mr. Pollard, Mr. Ward and Mr. Whitlam.
Senate. - Senator O’Sullivan (Chairman), and Senators Kennelly, McKenna and Wright.
That the function of the committee be to prepare a report or reports to each House of the Parliament setting forth, so far as the committee thinks it desirable to do so -
further explanation of the recommendations and other matters contained in thereport of the Joint Committee on
Constitutional Review laid before each House of the Parliament on the first day of October, 1958; and
further information with respect to the considerations and reasons on which those recommendations were based.
That the chairman of the committee may, from time to time, appoint another member of the committee to be the deputy chairman of the committee, and that the member so appointed act as chairman of the committee at any time when the chairman is not present at a meeting of the committee.
That, in the absence of both the chairman and the deputy chairman from a meeting of the committee, the members present may appoint one of their number to act as chairman.
That the committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, to adjourn from place to place and to sit during any adjournment or sittings of either House of the Parliament.
That the committee have power to consider and make use of the records of the Joint Committees on Constitutional Review appointed during the Twenty-second Parliament.
That the committee have leave to report from time to time, and that any member of the committee have power to add a protest or dissent to any report.
That six members of the committee constitute a quorum of the committee.
That, in matters of procedure, the chairman, or person acting as chairman, of the committee, have a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of voting, have a casting vote, and that, in other matters, the chairman, or person acting as chairman, of the committee have a deliberative vote only.
That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.
That a message be sent to the Senate acquainting it of this resolution and requesting that it concur and take action accordingly.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Opposition concurs with this motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 29th April (vide page 1685), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Bird had moved by way of amendment -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ the bill be withdrawn and redrafted with a view to providing that without reduction of the amounts provided under this bill, an amount of money not less than the full proceeds of the petrol and diesel fuel taxes shall be granted to the States for expenditure by the States, municipalities and shires on or in connexion with roads “.
– This is a measure designed to grant financial assistance to the States for road construction and works connected with transport over the next five years. It provides, in my view, a rationalization of the financial arrangements for road construction and/ or maintenance as between the Federal and State Governments, and is intended, of course, to relieve the Federal Government of any further financial responsibility or obligation for road construction and maintenance for the next five years.
A measure of this character, dealing with the transport problems of Australia, poses three very pertinent questions: Will it in any way minimize the nation’s transport difficulties? Will it in any way lessen the huge burden of transport costs? Does it propose anything of a realistic kind to solve the problem of meeting our great need for good roads that could be used in wet seasons and in dry seasons, in times of peace and in times of war or other national emergency? Every member of this National Parliament must give serious attention to those three questions.
We in this Parliament have a particular responsibility to our people, as have the parliamentarians of Germany, America and other nations to their peoples. Transport is an integral part of our national economy and of our defence requirements. When we consider the problem of roads, as we are doing to-night, we must think in terms, not only of immediate needs, but also of what may lie ahead. We must take a stand quite different from that which we took on an occasion similar to this a few short years ago. We must make certain that we do something tangible, first, to meet the immediate national requirements, and, secondly, to afford protection for the nation in the future in the economic and other fields. It is because the Opposition does not believe that this measure will do any of those things, and because it believes that the Government is not facing up to the responsibilities that attach to the National Parlia ment, that last night the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) moved the follow*ing amendment: -
That all the words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “the bill be withdrawn and redrafted with a view to providing that without reduction of the amounts provided under this bill, an amount of money not less than the full proceeds of the petrol and diesel fuel taxes shall be granted to the States for expenditure by the States, municipalities and shires on or in connexion with roads “.
I support that amendment with all the force that a member of this House can exert.
Let me go back to the questions raised by the bill to which I referred earlier. Will this measure in any way minimize the nation’s transport difficulties? I do not think there is a member on either side of the House who will not agree that at present Australia is faced with tremendous transport difficulties. This is a measure designed to deal with one of the main arteries of the national transport system - roads. Let us suppose that the provision of really good roads - roads that would ensure safe and punctual travel for all vehicles - would minimize the nation’s transport difficulties. We ask: Will this measure make any worthwhile contribution to the achievement of that desirable objective? The honorable member for Batman made it abundantly clear last night that, under the measure, no more, if as much, financial assistance will be given to the States than has been given under the agreement now expiring. In that, he was supported by honorable members on all sides of the chamber.
With that view of the position accepted, surely we should then support the amendment, which asks for the withdrawal of the measure and proposes a realistic step to assist road construction in Australia. In my view, even the whole of the proceeds of the fuel taxes would prove to be insufficient to meet the requirements of Australia for road construction and road maintenance during the next five years. The whole of the proceeds of the fuel taxes would not be sufficient to finance even the construction of the new roads that are required if we are to maintain our road system at its present standard, without advancing a yard. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) said last night that there is no allweather method of travel between Brisbane and north Queensland at present. Could any one listen to that statement without being shocked by it and feeling grave concern at the position the honorable member revealed? If there is any one who could listen to it without being shocked, it is only a member of a spineless, apathetic government, devoid of national outlook, actuated by a spirit of slumbering bliss while the nation stumbles along the road of transport gloom.
The bill deals with transport. May I take a quick glance, Sir, at the inefficiency of our unco-ordinated transport system, and, if I can, analyse the cost structure of each of the land services. The position has deteriorated further in the last two years. On the latest information available to us, it appears that not less than 17 per cent, of our work force is engaged in transport. I am referring to “ Australian Transport Costs “, a document issued in March, 1959, by the Australian Transport Advisory Council. For the period under review, transport costs were equivalent to 25.4 per cent, of the value of the national product. In other words, 25.4 per cent, of the value of all our production is absorbed by transport costs.
We have spent tremendous sums of money on roads, on railways, and on air services, but we have indulged in a lopsided, haphazard method of expenditure for those purposes - a method under which no other country could survive. There has been a complete lack of co-ordination and a complete lack of understanding of what is required. That will, I venture to suggest, eventually bring this nation to its knees financially unless something is done to change it. This is a country of 10,000,000 people. We have already expended £768,000,000 on our railways. We have already expended £940,000,000 on our highways. The Government is now talking in terms of making available to the States over the next five years an annual sum of £40,000,000, or a little more. Last year, £111,000,000 was spent on roads in Australia. For the years 1953 to 1957 - this is the latest information available to me - we spent £309,000,000 on road construction and maintenance, but, having made that expenditure, we have, in the main, dust heaps instead of highways. That sort of approach to the nation’s transport problems cannot be tolerated for one day longer than it will take to remove this Government from power and put into office a government that understands our national transport requirements.
Let us see what has happened as a result of the expenditure on roads of more than £300,000,000, without any co-ordinated effort. Is any saving being effected because of this expenditure? The report to which I referred earlier provides part of the answer. I know that to-day thousands and thousands of tons of steel are being hauled from Sydney to Melbourne by road, and I say now that no other country would tolerate it. If a company attempted to haul steel from Pittsburgh to another American city by road, it would be stopped before the lorries left the gates, because an interstate commission operates there. The American people would not tolerate the situation that we have here. They would not tolerate the carriage of goods by road that we permit while they have steel rails on which to carry it.
There is a place in our community for every section of transport, but it must be organized and co-ordinated. The interstate commissions in Great Britain, Germany and America would not tolerate the carriage of steel on the roads as we do. I am able to say this because I have had the privilege of examining road transport in those countries in the past eighteen months or so. The report to which I have referred shows that the price for hauling a ton of steel by rail from Sydney to Melbourne is £13 15s. 8d., and the price of hauling a ton of steel by road from Sydney to Melbourne is £50 9s. lOd. This cost itself is detrimental to our economy, but in addition the lorries carrying the steel grind our roads into dust, no matter what amount of money we spend on them. The stage has been reached where an interstate commission should be appointed, because in this situation such a commission would immediately recommend to the governing authority, whether it be State or Federal, that action be taken to prevent these lorries grinding our roads into dust.
The position is rapidly becoming worse. The report shows that in the past twelve months an additional 1,000 trucks used the roads. To-day, 15,669 articulated vehicles of more than 9 tons carrying capacity use the roads. Can any member of this House visualize ever being able to construct, with the miserable £40,000,000 a year that this Government will make available, roads capable of carrying 15,669 vehicles of more than 9 tons carrying capacity? When the situation is looked at in this way, it borders on the ridiculous. I have dealt with the amount that has been spent on roads already and I now ask the House to consider the treatment that is being meted out to the airways by the Commonwealth Government, and to compare that with the treatment given to the States in the matter of transport.
This Government in the last ten years has spent on airport construction and similar works, through the Department of Civil Aviation, not less than £67,000,000. In addition, £44,000,000 has been spent on capital works, and this amount has come from revenue. This Government has also subscribed £10,000,000 to British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines, the Australian National Airlines Commission, Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited and the rest. That means that in the last ten years the Government has spent £121,000,000 to meet the requirements of airways. Yet we quibble about the amount that is to be given to the States for their railways and roads. And do we get a handsome return from that £121,000,000? Sir, as a nation, we receive about £400,000 a year from the capital investment of £121,000,000 that we have already made in airways! Based on factual costs, the taxpayer is subsidizing every airline passenger to the extent of not less than £5 for each trip. If the airlines in Australia were required to charge an amount sufficient merely to cover their own real costs, without any regard to the £121,000,000 contributed by this Government, they would have to increase their freights and fares by 21 per cent. At the moment, John Taxpayer, you and I, contribute to the Government an amount equal to 21 per cent, of every air ticket that is issued in order to keep the airlines going. It is no wonder the railways cannot compete!
What is the position of the railways? The capital investment in the railways, in the form of loan funds on which interest is payable, stood at £598,610,000 at 30th June, 1957. In the last ten years the railways have paid £137,850,000 in interest on that sum. In the same period the State railway systems have paid to this Govern ment not less than £22,000,000 in pay-roll tax. Although this Government imposes that burden on the State railway systems, it lets the Commonwealth railways go free of pay-roll tax. When I asked the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) about this to-day, he did not know the answer. But the answer is that over many years this Government has not paid proper regard to the real need for properly organized transport.
In looking at this problem, one is prone to ask how such a lopsided system has developed. But we have a Commonwealth Government in control of the purse strings and it pays out only a small amount to the States for road purposes. Last year, although the Commonwealth collected petrol and diesel fuel taxes totalling about £111,000,000, all it contributed to the States was about £38,000,000. Any honorable member thinking in terms of those figures and in terms of the shortage in the States of money for education, hospitals and the rest, must feel ashamed to be in this Parliament.
Many years ago, people who really understood the needs of Australia realized what should be done. In 1901 and again in 1909, the need for an interstate transport commission was recognized by the statesmen whose portraits are hung in this building. In 1901 and 1909, the bills were not passed, but in 1912 an attempt was made by the government of the day to do something about this very problem. The bill was passed on 13th December, 1912. I do not know whether the date means anything, but effect has never been given to the intention of the bill. Mr. W. M. Hughes, who was then Attorney-General, in his second-reading speech on the Inter-State Commission Bill, said -
Viewing the Commonwealth as a whole-
I cannot imagine any Minister of this Government ever thinking in these terms - it will be the business of this Commission to regard all commerce as being entitled to find its nearest economic outlet, all other things being equal. This is not the least of the functions which can be usefully exercised by this Commission.
But, in addition to this, it will have power in regard to carriers generally, including Inter-State carriers by sea.
Just in case the view of the late Mr. Hughes might be regarded as political, let me turn to the speech delivered on the same day by the late Mr. Alfred Deakin, which is reported at page 7071 of “Hansard” for 13th December, 1912. Mr. Deakin said -
Hence, it has always seemed to me that one of the most natural endowments of this Government would be some body of high character, which could be trusted to act as the eyes and ears of the Government and of the people as a whole, with respect to the great interests with which we are surrounded, whether they be commercial, industrial, social or executive, relating to the development of the country ….
When you look back to the days of the men who really were statesmen, who believed that this nation would develop, but who understood that there would be problems associated with that development, you wonder how this Government, in this year of 1959, with all the transport difficulties confronting us, could bring down a measure such as this and think that it could wash its hands of road transport problems in Australia for the next five years. That is the intention of the bill. The Government is doing nothing to answer the attacks made upon it by the Opposition except to say, “ It is a matter for the State governments.” When this bill becomes law, whenever a plea is made for decent roads in this country the Government will fall back on the catch-cry, “ It is a matter for the State governments.” You would think that the State governments were negroes, and that this Government represented the whites.
I do not agree with the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), who said in his second-reading speech that the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) 36 years ago played a leading part in the development of roads in this country. I would say that that was when this nation’s real transport problems began. It seems to me that from then on transport in Australia became a permanent haggle between the Commonwealth and the States. The 1924 action of the right honorable member for Cowper merely buried for all time any likelihood of a national coordinated transport system. At that time, the government believed that it had relieved itself of any responsibility towards the State railways or towards roads. All that the Government is concerned about now is air transport. It is not concerned about the realities of transport in this country.
During the last three years, expenditure on roads in Australia has increased from £82.000.000 to £111.000,000 annually, but under the bill the Government is offering a mere £40,000,000 to the States this year for road construction. That amount of money would not even maintain the roads that we have on the mainland, much less provide one mile of the new roads that are so vitally necessary to carry the growing number of vehicles that are using our roads. When the honorable member for Batman moved the amendment on behalf of the Opposition he did so with all the force and sincerity that the representative of a great party, saddled with vital national responsibilities could muster. The honorable member for Herbert said that there was no decent, all-weather road from the top end of Australia to Brisbane. I would go farther than that, and say that we should have a decent all-weather road from the top end of Australia to Melbourne, but although £111,000,000 was spent on roads last year, we have not got one. I think the fact that we got so little in the way of improved roads for that expenditure of £111,000,000 last year highlights the need for some co-ordinated transport effort in Australia.
I am reminded that Australia has twelve Hercules aircraft, one of which was in Canberra yesterday. I wonder whether we can gaze with a smile at those twelve Hercules aircraft and consider ourselves safe when we realize that the money spent on them would have given us a standard gauge railway from Albury to Melbourne, enabling troops and equipment to be moved from Melbourne to Brisbane without changing trains. As the honorable member for Herbert pointed out, you must take your chance on the roads north of Brisbane. A standard gauge line from Melbourne to Brisbane would have strengthened our defences, whereas the twelve Hercules aircraft will be out of date in a few years.
– That is not the case at all.
– That is the reality of the position, whether the honorable member likes it or not. The Government has no regard at all for the needs of this country. This bill provides for grants to the States of £40,000,000 this year and £42,000,000 next year, but the Government will be obtaining something like £60,000,000 each year from taxes on petrol and diesel fuel. What is left after making the grants to the States will probably go towards improving the airlines or perhaps giving members of Parliament a pay rise. In the final three years of the five-year period the States will receive £44,000,000, £46,000,000 and £48,000,000, but last year £111,000,000 was spent on roads.
I have said before that here in Canberra there is an unreal approach to Australia’s road problems. I believe that Cabinet Ministers, after a number of years, become stripped in their own minds of all sense of national responsibility in relation to transport. I think that they are stripped of any clear understanding of the nation’s needs. It would be a good thing if they had to drive their own cars or ride in trains once in a while, instead of being driven about in big black limousines or riding in aeroplanes. They would then have some idea of what the ordinary man in the street has to contend with.
Until there is some realization by the Government of this country’s transportation problems we can never hope to get anywhere. I am glad that the Constitution Review Committee has seen fit to recommend that some steps be taken towards bringing into being an interstate commission. A bill of the character of the measure now before us brands this Government for what it is - an unrealistic bunch of people who do not care what happens to any form of transport in Australia in the next five years. The Government is refusing to accept any responsibility to the road users of this country, and is throwing them to the wolves.
.- The background and experience of the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) is such that one has come to expect from him thoughful comment upon transport, but I would hesitate to apply that description to his remarks to-night. His emotional involvement in this problem appears to have sapped his judgment upon it. Certainly, he has generated much more heat than light. The honorable gentleman, with his colleagues, seems to have forgotten that road construction and maintainance are still a constitutional responsibility of the States.
– Is that so?
– It is to be found in the Constitution. Despite that fact the Commonwealth, which was the smallest of the three contributors to road construction and maintenance - Commonwealth, States and local government - has, during the present Government’s term, become the largest contributor. Nothing of the kind happened during the lifetime of its predecessors, though Labour was in office for a very long while.
The honorable member for Blaxland referred to the money that was invested in Australian roads. He stated that we had nothing to show for it except “ powdered dust “. I cannot speak for other parts of Australia, but I can say without fear of contradiction that the roads system of South Australia, as a whole, has never been in better shape. One has been able to observe a consistent improvement in every type and category of road throughout the State during the five-year period for which this legislation has operated.
For my part, I should like to congratulate the Government upon the legislation that is now before us. It appears to me to embody an imaginative and sensible approach to what is an important problem, though one about which some very unbalanced, if not rather silly, views are held. The Government quickly fulfilled its election promise to call a conference of all bodies interested in the roads problem. After considering the views submitted it made its decision, as it was bound to do, in the light of its other financial commitments and the Australian transport situation as a whole. Many of the Government’s critics, including honorable members opposite, have not looked at the matter in that light. To hear them speak, and to read what bodies outside this House have said, one could be forgiven for concluding, first, that the financial resources available to the Commonwealth were unlimited, secondly, that road transport was the only form cf transport and, thirdly, that the Commonwealth Government had no commitments in relation to transport other than road transport.
That would appear to be the line of thought, for instance, behind the plan put forward by the New South Wales Minister for Local Government, Mr. Renshaw. I mention his plan for a national roads system because he at least, Sir, has a plan. It is one which involves an enormous expenditure - as do the suggestions of honorable members opposite also. The only differ- . ence is that honorable members opposite have not given us any plan describing how the money is to be used - certainly nothing into which we can get our teeth. For that’ reason, I mention Mr. Renshaw’s plan for a national road system as an example of the type of thinking to whichI am referring. The plan involves the expenditure of an enormous sum of money during the next fifteen years, over and above what is regarded as normal road maintenance and construction. That this should come from such a source is explicable only when it is remembered that the whole of the proposed national roads plan would be paid for, not by New South Wales or the other States, but by the Commonwealth Government. A similar comment could be made about other national roads pians or schemes.
A national system of high-class arterial roads, capable of carrying heavy traffic at high speeds along the main interstate and intra-state trunk routes is obviously very desirable, and I should be one of the last to throw cold water upon it as an eventual objective. Indeed, it would be fair to say that, notwithstanding breakdowns in some places, such as were mentioned by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) and those encountered on the New South Wales, but not the Victorian, section of the Hume Highway, there has been a steady improvement in the main trunk routes during the last five years, while this legislation has been operating. This improvement should continue at an even faster rate under the stimulus of the increased funds foreshadowed in the bill. One would almost imagine, from the howls that have gone up in some places, including the opposite side of the chamber, that the expenditure of £250,000,000 by the Commonwealth Government, and £57,000,000 at least by State and local government authorities, in the next five years, would have no effect at all on the condition of trunk routes or roads in this country. Indeed, Mr. Renshaw described it as “ fooling “, if you please. So my argument is not as to the final objective but as to the priority given to its attainment in some quarters, in a country that is developing with great speed and in which, as a result, capital is a precious and scarce commodity.
One of the arguments employed to justify diverting hundreds of millions of pounds, at present being used on other national tasks of importance, to the construction of trunk or super-roads in the States in the next ten or fifteen years, is worth mentioning. 1 might interpolate that the proposition is never stated in this form by honorable members opposite, but we are led to believe by those gentlemen, and by some other people as well, that the whole thing will cost nothing. The argument used is the ingenious one that the extra money would come from that part of the petrol tax which is at present paid into general revenue. But if it does in fact go into general revenue, it is certainly being used to finance some other vital developmental project. If we use it on trunk roads a similar amount must be found from some new source, or important projects must be cut down.
The principal argument advanced in justification of giving the highest priority to the construction of main highways is that such highways would reduce the heavy burden on the Australian community of transport costs. That was mentioned by the honorable member for Blaxland. How heavy is the burden? It has come to be accepted as axiomatic that the figure in Australia is far too high. It has been said that transport costs exceed 30 per cent. of the national income. It is said that transport accounts for about 40 per cent. of the total cost of every commodity, and that the Australian figure is unduly high compared with costs in other countries where the equated percentage ranges around 8 per cent. to 10 per cent. compared with more than 30 per cent. of the national income in our case.
I have heard these figures quoted again and again both in this House and by those pushing some particular transport barrow outside it. However, the gap between us and other countries was so incredibly wide that I approached these figures with a good deal of scepticism. It is easy to see where they come from. They come from a document which has been mentioned many times in this debate. It is a report produced by a committee set up under the Department of Shipping and Transport and entitled “ Transport Operations in Australia in 1955”. In that report, it is said that the national transport bill accounts for 34.4 per cent, of the national income. Likewise, the figures for other countries can be obtained from certain United Nations publications.
But when one looks more closely at the break-down of the figures contained in the report on transport operations in Australia some of the fallacies become obvious. For instance, road transport alone is stated to be responsible for 26 per cent, of the national income, but when you look at how they arrive at this figure, you find that it includes such items as freight transport by truck, freight and passenger transport by utilities, passenger transport by bus, tram, taxis, hire cars and private motor vehicles, the cost of new vehicles, expenditure on roads and so on. An examination of these figures reveals that a great deal of duplication and double counting is involved. They represent the total cash expenditure on road transport, and include expenditure on both intermediate and final products.
For example, the figure for the first four groups I have mentioned includes petrol and tyres while at the same time a portion of its prices is counted separately in transport and handling of the respective classifications. The figures also include outlay of new vehicles during the year, although depreciation is provided for in the assessment of the total costs for these groups. When to these considerations is added the fact that overseas calculations are generally based on the operations of commercial carriers only, while the Australian figure includes all transport costs both commercial and private and also covers capital expenditure, the fallacy of comparing them becomes obvious. Indeed, a recent survey - one mentioned by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) - which was carried out in Canada, the only country with geographical and population factors similar to our own and from which comparable calculations are available, shows that their costs are very little different from our own. I make this point, Mr. Speaker: We should not minimize the importance of transport costs in our overall costs; nor should we belittle the importance of taking every reasonable measure to reduce them. I mention these matters to suggest that panic action involving the expenditure of hundreds of millions of pounds, particularly on trunk and main roads, on the grounds that our transport costs are two or three time as great as any other country is completely unjustified.
Even assuming that expenditure of the order advocated for instance by Mr. Renshaw would, in the long run, reduce motor transport costs, it is reasonable for us to ask ourselves whether it would reduce transport costs as a whole. For instance, is it not relevant that goods carried on interstate super highways by road transport could be carried equally well in many cases by rail, sea or air? Is it not relevant that this year the Commonwealth is spending £1,500,000 on rail transport and that £34,000,000 is being spent by State governments on rail transport? Is it not relevant that the Commonwealth Government is spending £2,500,000 on shipping transport and £8,000,000 on air transport in an endeavour to make those types of transport more efficient than they are at present? Is it not relevant that with rail standardization - on which the Commonwealth Government intends to spend tens of millions in the next few years - improved handling methods on the railways will be accomplished and will have such an effect on the long interstate routes for most classes of goods that the railways will be able to quote freight rates which will knock road transport into a cocked hat?
Why should the Commonwealth Government help to perpetuate the existing vicious situation where the railways which, other things being equal, should be more economical over the long distances, are beaten to-day by road transport while, in its turn, road transport could very well be beaten by the railways over the shorter intra-state hauls where road transport should be more effective? This happens because of restrictive regulations imposed by State governments. Again, the fact that the Government together with the State governments is attempting by the expenditure of considerable sums of money to remove the obstacles which at present exist to the other forms of transport with the maximum efficiency, suggests that it is not unreasonable to anticipate that expenditure of the order advocated by Mr. Renshaw and others on main trunk routes will not reduce but will increase transport costs by overcapitalizing the transport system. In any case whatever those whose living and prosperity depend on the extent of road transport may advocate, it is the Government’s duty to look at the transport system as a whole and to allocate the available resources in a manner which appears to ensure the maximum overall efficiency. I believe that is what the Government has done in deciding on the allocation of the sum contained in this legislation.
However, having said that, Mr. Speaker, I would not have this House believe that I consider the quality of roads has not any relationship to costs at all. That would be far from the truth. The point at which the quality of roads plays a crucial part in costs is in relation to those roads which carry the goods from the point of production to the nearest trunk road, railway, port or aerodrome. They are roads which may be broadly termed access roads and which cover routes over which road transport is the only form of transport. Those are the roads, for instance, which run past a farmer’s property. If such roads are bad, as so many of them are, they place intolerable wear and tear on the farmer’s vehicles and plant, and that is reflected in the cost at which he can produce his goods. That is the point at which transport costs play a crucial part not only for ‘the farmer himself but still more for Australia as a whole, because we depend so much on being able to market the farmers’ goods profitably overseas in a highly competitive world. Yet it is precisely these roads that are hardly ever mentioned by the proponents of these great national roads schemes. Indeed, Mr. Renshaw, to whom I have been referring, has come out as an advocate of a reduction of the 40 per cent, that is required to be spent on rural roads, that being the only means by which the Commonwealth Government is able to implement its conception of the importance of the roads about which I have been speaking.
It is in this sphere that better roads really, and vitally, affect the problem of costs. But it is precisely in this sphere that the traditional source of funds has been stretched almost to breaking point. I refer to the taxes that are imposed by local governments on property owners. A recent survey in New South Wales showed that in 1957, the sum of £20,700,000 was spent on local roads, of which £17,000,000 or 83 per cent, represented funds from local government rates. 1 have not been able to obtain the comparable figures from South Australia, but I have no reason to believe that there or in any other State the ratio is any less. When it is remembered, too, that local government also contributes to highways and main roads - again in New South Wales to the extent that it met 54 per cent, of the total cost of road building and maintenance in 1957 - it becomes very evident that the limit from that source has just about been reached. Against that figure of 54 per cent, for New South Wales, property owners in the United States of America and in Canada find 18 per cent, and 21 per cent., respectively, of the total amount of money required for roads. Does any honorable member believe that it is within the property owners’ capacity to fulfil the Treasurer’s pious hope that this legislation will encourage local government to contribute more? I do not believe it. On the contrary, I believe that the present rate level is imposing an intolerable burden on the property owner and is placing the administration in many local government areas in serious jeopardy.
As I have said, it is at the local and rural roads level, not at the highways or main roads level, where road transport costs are of vital national importance. 1 am very glad that the Government has recognized the force of this contention by maintaining the percentage of the Commonwealth grant that must be spent on this kind of road at the same level, despite considerable pressure to reduce it. This will mean, in effect, that the same percentage of a very much larger sum of money will be spent on rural roads during the next five years compared with the last five years. That will certainly have a most salutary effect on the quality of these roads, which I again stress are our most important roads from the viewpoint of saving costs.
There is one quarrel I have with the Government, finally, in regard to this legislation. It is that the percentage spent on these roads could have been raised to 45 per cent, or even 50 per cent. I hope that, as the new scheme proceeds and its operation is reviewed, the Government will give this suggestion the most serious consideration.
.- This Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill is the first substantial piece of legislation dealing with the question of Australian roads as a whole that this Parliament will have passed for five years. In that five years, there has been a very great number of cases in the High Court and the Privy Council which have drastically limited the sources of finance available to the States for the financing of road construction, maintenance and improvement. During the same five years the Department of Shipping and Transport, on behalf of the Australian Transport Advisory Council, on which each State is represented and which includes six Commonwealth Ministers, has carried out a considerable amount of economic research into transport costs. I shall refer to some of the publications that have been sponsored by the council and which have been prepared by the Committee of Transport Economic Research, which the council set up.
It is significant, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), when introducing this legislation, made no reference whatever to the capacity of our partners, the States, to finance road construction. He made no reference whatever to the research that has been conducted into the costs of transport, and above all of road transport, by the Department of Shipping and Transport, first of all under the administration of the late lamented brother of Mr. Speaker and now under the present Minister. This bill has been taken in isolation. The Treasurer made no attempt to deal with the transport costs as a whole, or to treat of the co-ordination of various means of transport. He overlooked the amount of money that was required from all sources to establish proper roads in this country. 1 do not detract from the Treasurer’s skill in presenting the measure. His phraseology was most astute and, having read the editorials of the various newspapers, one would think that a vastly increased amount of money was being made available for Australia’s roads under the legislation we are now considering. The right honorable gentleman said that £100,000,000 more would be available in the next five years than in the last five years. Elsewhere in his speech he referred to the “ additional £100,000,000 “. Again, he compared the £100,000,000 being reserved for rural roads under this bill in the next five years with the sum of less than £61,000,000 reserved for rural roads in the last five years under the legislation that this bill is superseding. Any one who listened to the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird), who led on behalf of the Opposition yesterday, would have been convinced that this bill, in the basic grants, will provide not £1 more in the next five years than would have been available for roads under the legislation that it is superseding.
– That is not correct, on the best of our information.
– Then the information has not been vouchsafed to the House. I shall go through the matter in detail. First, let me deal with the general picture of transport costs in Australia. On 31st March, a month ago, the Committee of Transport Economic Research produced its revision of the work to which the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) referred. The honorable member referred to the work that was produced four years ago; I refer to the revised edition which came out four weeks ago. The committee reported to the Department of Shipping and Transport and the Australian Transport Advisory Council that the total cash cost of the provision, operation and purchase of road transport, including vehicles, for 1955- 56 was £1,308,700,000, and for 1956- 57, £1,362,900,000. In those respective years the national income was £4,409,000,000 and £4,686,000,000. Therefore, road transport costs, in the view of the top economists whom the Australian Government has appointed to deal with this subject, amounted to more than 29 per cent. of the national income. The honorable member for Barker has disparaged the work of this committee. The Treasurer, prudently, ignored it; he did not mention its findings. The honorable member for Barker - bolder - decided to disparage it. Even if one discounts some of the committee’s findings on the percentage of the national income which is spent on road transport, we cannot disparage or discount the comparison which the committee makes of road transport costs with transport costs by sea, air, and rail. We must assume that if the committee makes errors, the errors creep into the committee’s computations in all four fields. It is quite plain from its relative computations that the cost of road transport in Australia is four times as much as the combined costs of every other form of transport in Australia. Therefore, if we are to get better value for our pounds, if we are to improve our standard of living, and if we are to reduce our cost of living, the first thing to tackle is the cost of road transport. But the Treasurer completely ignores that position.
Now let me give some idea of the deficiency of funds for roads themselves. It is not sufficient just to say that this bill will provide a certain sum of money for roads. One also has to look at what sums of money will be provided from other sources and to see how much money is required all told. One can take very little comfort if it is found that there is a large gap between what is being provided and what is required. This report, which was released four weeks ago, states -
It was assessed, in consultation with State Road Authorities in September, 1956, that the finance required for the decade ended 1965-66 for a reasonable and practicable roads programme would be £1,643,000,000. On the other hand, the finance available from all sources under existing conditions was estimated to be £1,325.000,000, this being a shortage of £318,000,000. The special assistance to States resultant from the introduction of the tax on diesel fuel in 1957 will provide approximately another £18,000,000 in that decade. Various taxation adjustments had also taken place within the States since the estimate of £1,643,000,000 was made, and at 30th June, 1958, it was estimated the shortage of funds to meet the above roads programme had been reduced to £260,000,000.
That is, at the end of the last financial year all the engineering and economic experts available to the Commonwealth and State Governments decided that a reasonable and practicable roads programme could not be provided unless, by the end of 1965-66, we had provided another £260,000,000. Now I propose to deal with what contribution, if any, this bill is making towards that £260,000,000 deficit.
I realize that in dealing with any of these bills we have to deal with them, to a certain extent, in isolation. We do not get an opportunity in the Parliament to’ deal with transport costs as a whole. We can deal with rail costs if there is to be an amendment of the Commonwealth Railways Act. We can deal with road costs under this bill. We can deal with stevedoring, shipping, or air costs if the appropriate bill is brought down. Otherwise, it is left to private members - because the Government has never done it during its nine years of office - in the discussion of the Estimates, by raising a matter of urgent public importance, or by speaking on the motion for the adjournment at night, to deal with the general subject. It is particularly difficult to discuss transport costs in this country. 1 regret to say that it is beyond the capacity of most Government members to deal with transport costs in general without bias. If we are comparing the role and cost of rail and road transport, immediately the discussion turns to the comparative virtues of public and private enterprise, all the significant railways in this country being owned by the Commonwealth or State Governments, and all the road transport being in the hands of private operators. Therefore, one does not deal with the costs; one deals with public and private enterprise.
If one deals with the relative role and costs of rail and air transport, or subsidies for them, there is the still bitterer argument about State and Commonwealth rights, because the States run the railways, usually for the purpose of centralization in their State capitals, and the Commonwealth owns half the airlines and subsidizes and guarantees the other half. Dealing with sea costs, one gets the remarkably confused position wherein the States own the wharfs, the shipping companies control the stevedoring companies which employ the waterside workers, the Commonwealth allots the waterside workers to these stevedoring companies, and the ships, in the case of private shipping lines, are built overseas, and in the case of the Commonwealth line - the only large and modern line - are built within Australia. One can see that it is pretty difficult to deal with transport costs in Australia, except piecemeal.
– What is the only large and modern line?
– The Australian National Line is the largest and most modern Australian shipping line, and the only shipping line, other than that of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which is sufficiently patriotic to order its ships for construction within Australia. I realize that in this bill one has to deal with road transport costs alone. I want to make it plain merely that I do not overlook the fact that these are part of the general costs of transport in Australia. It is justifiable to concentrate on the cost of road transport because it is ancillary to every other form of transport, because passengers or freight, by sea, air or rail, at some time have to use road transport.
Now let us see to what extent this bill will make any difference in the existing position. We have been operating under legislation which made available for the construction of roads by the States, 8d. on every gallon of petrol used in Australia. I shall now refer to the report of the Committee of Transport Economic Research on road transport costs, which appeared in September, 1956. Table 18 in this report gives the estimated revenue from Commonwealth and State taxation and the estimated expenditure on roads in each year during the decade which the Australian Transport Advisory Council has been treating, that is, from 1956 to 1966. I propose to refer to these estimates for the five years 1959-64, with which this bill deals. The bill guarantees to the States basic grants totalling £220,000,000 in those five years. In September, 1956, this committee estimated that the total allocation from petrol tax to the States under the 1954-55 legislation during those five years would be £205,400,000. In November, 1957, this Parliament passed a Commonwealth Aid Roads (Special Assistance) Act, imposing a tax on diesel fuel and giving the proceeds to the States for roads purposes. If one adds the £3,000,000 a year which was stated as being likely to be derived from that taxation, that is, £15,000,000 over the five years, one finds that the amount which it was anticipated would be provided in the five years we are dealing with would be £220,400,000. That means that £400,000 more would have been available under the existing legislation, which we are replacing, than under the basic grants proposed by the bill before the House.
– But not including the supplementary grants.
– The Minister for the Interior is trying to help, but need not fear that I will fail to analyse those grants. In addition, the present bill provides for matching grants. If the State governments in any subsequent financial year provide more from their own resources for expenditure on roads than they provide during the current financial year, the Commonwealth will match that extra amount made available by the States £l-for-£l. The Commonwealth will match that amount up to £30,000,000 all told, during the five years. How much extra will that provide?
The Treasurer did not tell us what the States were allocating for roads from their own resources in this financial year. Therefore, we cannot compute precisely what advantage the national roads will derive from these matching grants. Therefore, Sir, one goes again to table 18 in the September, 1956, report of the Department of Shipping and Transport, and there one finds that, for the five years with which this bill deals, the allocations to road works from State registrations and motor taxes are estimated to be £22,700,000 more than they would be at the 1958-59 rate. On those expectations, Sir, it might be anticipated that there would be available from Commonwealth sources £22,700,000 more than would be available if this bill were not passed.
Let us assume that the States will make an effort to find not merely £22,700,000 more, but £30,000,000 more, or an additional £7,300,000. In that case, there will be available for Australia’s roads in the next five years an additional £37,300,000. That is the advantage which comes from this bill. In five years there will be, at the most, £37,300,000 more than there would have been if this bill had not been passed.
– That is guessing.
– It is the best guess which we can make on information that the Australian governments provide. It is an enlightened guess, based on the researches and the reports of the Committee of Transport Economic Research, appointed by the Department of Shipping and Transport at the request of the Australian Transport Advisory Council.
The Treasurer does not refer to this report, but we are entitled to go to the only official documents that are available to us. Therefore, such a guess cannot be disregarded. The only documents available from public sources in Australia show that this bill will provide, at the very most, for the five years with which it deals, £37,300,000 more than is already available. That, of course, is a useful sum, but when we compare it with the figure of £260,000,000 which the Australian governments, Commonwealth and State, all agreed in September, 1956, and again at the end of last month, was required to give us a reasonable and practicable roads programme, then it can be seen that that is not a very satisfactory amount, because it still leaves a gap of more than £220,000,000.
Even if one assumes that the extra amount will be continued, pro rata, for the remaining two years of the decade, it will still leave a gap of £200,000,000. Where is that money to come from? It is plain that it will not come from the Commonwealth. This legislation is to provide for five years. It sets a limit to the amount of money which the Commonwealth will make available. The basic grants are defined. They are guaranteed, but they will not be exceeded. The matching grants are put as a ceiling. Even if the States exceed the amount of the matching grants, the grants from the Commonwealth will not be increased. Therefore, it can be seen that, as far as the Commonwealth is concerned, at the end of this ten-year period there will still be a deficit of £200,000,000 for Australia’s roads, out of a total sum of £1,643,000,000, or a deficit of 12 per cent. That calculation is based on the assumption, of course, that the value of the £1 will remain exactly the same throughout the ten years.
In the light of that, none of us can take any comfort from this legislation, and it is for that reason that we of the Opposition have moved, by way of amendment, that the whole of the petrol tax should be made available for the construction of roads.
– Where do we get the rest of our revenue for consolidated finance?
– I do not think that the honorable member for Corangamite was in the House when I started my speech, but if he had been, he would have heard me point out that more than 29 per cent, of our national income is spent on road transport costs. That information is contained in the report which the research committee to which I have referred has made to the seven Australian governments, and which they have adopted. Therefore, whatever is the order of priorities in this country, road transport costs must be number one.
I know that the argument can be advanced that the petrol tax is a general revenue tax. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) last night, in a highly diverting speech, drew the comparison that one should devote succession duties to the improvement of crematoria, and excise duties on beer to the improvement of breweries and hotels. The honorable gentleman has let fall many absurd things in his time in this House, but on this occasion the absurdities were conscious and deliberate, and I think we all enjoyed them. We on this side do not advocate that all the petrol tax should be spent on roads because we believe that the taxation levied in a particular field should be disbursed in that field; we advocate it because we believe that the petrol tax is the best and fairest way of raising the funds which, all the experts agree, are necessary to maintain and improve our roads.
– It still would not be sufficient.
– That is very true, but it would be a considerable contribution. I hope I have convinced honorable gentlemen opposite that the deficit over the ten years will still be at least £200,000,000.
The honorable member for Batman, in moving this amendment, pointed out that if all the petrol tax levied during the period of this bill were devoted to roads there would be an additional £70,000,000, so that more than a third of the gap would be filled. That would be a larger contribution than this bill will make. In fact, it would be more than twice the contribution that the bill is making. If this amendment of ours were adopted it would mean that the extra money available for Australian roads in that decade would be trebled. Even that would not fill the bill which the Australian governments have drawn up, but at least it would make a very large contribution.
Quite apart from any theories of budgetary practice, the fact is that there is no easier or better means of raising money for roads than by the petrol tax. If we must enter the realm of budgetary theories, it is significant that the Commonwealth Grants Commission, year in and year out, rejects the contention of the Commonwealth
Treasury that the State motor taxes are general revenue taxes. The Commonwealth Grants Commission regularly propounds the theory that the State motor taxes should be spent on roads. The views of the commission are entitled to as much respect as those of the Treasury.
Now, Sir, I turn to the question of political and constitutional responsibility for roads. We have heard it said so often that roads are a State responsibility. It is true that only the States can spend money directly on roads. The Commonwealth cannot resume land on which to build a road; or, at least, such an action could not survive legal challenge. But, by the same token, the States cannot raise enough money to build their roads. Court decisions during the last five years make that perfectly plain. At the same time, the Commonwealth’s power over excise - that is, over petrol tax - is exclusive. Petrol tax is a tax which is simple and cheap to administer. It is paid in advance. It involves no paper work. It is equitable in its incidence. If the frequency or the speed of your transport is greater, you pay more towards maintaining and improving the roads.
There should be no demarcation disputes or jurisdictional jousts in this matter. Roads are clearly not a State responsibility solely, or a Commonwealth responsibility solely; they are a dual responsibility. And this responsibility cannot be fulfilled unless the Commonwealth and the States act in a partnership in which they co-operate fully. It will not be discharged until we do co-operate in that regard. We know - the courts have told us - that there is a very definite limit to the power of the States to raise taxation for building their roads. Their financial flexibility is, of course, much more restricted than ours. During the last five-year period for which one can get comparable figures - 1952 to 1957 - the Commonwealth’s yield from petrol tax increased from £27,298,000 to £46,380,000. In the same period receipts from State motor taxes increased from £23,321,000 to £33,539,000.
It is not possible for the States, with the best will in the world, to raise enough money from their available forms of taxation to pay for the roads which they alone may build. Even if they did increase the rate of their motor taxes it is not possible for them to increase the rate of tax on vehicles which pass over a State border. They cannot impose their usual ton-mile tax on such vehicles. They cannot charge their usual registration fee for such vehicles. At least, they cannot charge interstate vehicles to the same extent that they can charge any other vehicle. That means that any State tax in this field is sectional, incomplete and wasteful, cumbersome, expensive and unfair.
Therefore, the only fair taxes for raising money to build roads are the petrol tax, the diesel tax - fuel taxation in general - and if you like you can add taxes on tyres. Only by co-operation between the Commonwealth, raising the money, and the States, spending the money, can you get the roads system which the Commonwealth and the States alike say is necessary.
It is significant that the Minister says that the Commonwealth should not spend all its income from petrol tax on roads. But the matching grants principle requires that the States shall spend all the receipts from their motor taxes - and more - on roads. If the Minister’s argument that petrol tax collections should not be fully spent on roads is correct, then his requirement that the States should spend all their motor taxes on roads is incorrect. He cannot have it both ways. Matching grants can be secured by the States only if they raise taxes in excess of their present motor taxes.
The carrot which this bill holds out to the States - that if they raise a certain amount of money we will match that amount £1 for £1 - has never fully worked out in practice. The States Grants (Universities) Acts entitle State governments to receive certain Commonwealth grants, if they raise certain amounts themselves; they have never been able to secure the full grants. The States Grants (Mental Institutions) Act entitles the States to receive certain Commonwealth grants if they raise certain amounts themselves; here, too, the grants have not yet been fully earned. It is very likely, therefore, that the States will find themselves unable to raise the necessary increased amount of motor taxes which will be necessary to attract the matching grants which we are now holding out to them.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- All speakers in this debate except three - the honorable members for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton), Moreton (Mr. Killen), and Herbert (Mr. Murray) - have argued on the basis that the Commonwealth is not making enough money available to the States for road construction. Those three honorable members have argued that Queensland has been adversely affected by this form of legislation, and I propose to-night to add to their contribution by pointing out the conditions that will apply to Western Australia as a result of this measure.
I think that the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) indicated quite clearly to us that his intention - not only now, but for some time past and for the future - is inclined towards unification. With that principle I disagree, just as I disagree with the amendment moved by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird).
Although I do not like going back too many years for examples, I am reminded of the remarks of the previous leader of the Labour Party, a gentleman who has been referred to as comparable With Abraham Lincoln of the United States. In 1948 he said quite clearly and plainly that he could never visualize any Commonwealth Government giving the whole of the petrol tax receipts to the States for the construction of roads because, on a constitutional basis alone, that money must be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund and then such of it as is to go to the States must be paid to them in the form of grants.
This present legislation is a continuation of the original federal aid roads legislation introduced in 1926 by my friend and colleague the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). In his second.reading speech the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) paid a tribute to the right honorable member for Cowper in the following words: -
Recognizing the national importance of roads, the Commonwealth has long been making contributions to assist in financing roads expenditure - ever since our distinguished’ colleague, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), 36 years ago played a leading part in inaugurating federal aid for roads. I think it is universally recognized now that Australian development over the intervening years owes a great deal tq his vision and’ initiative’ iri that regard
I do not think anybody could disagree with those favorable comments. The Treasurer could have gone further and said that the development that has taken place in those intervening years is a mere bagatelle to the development that is required to be done in this Commonwealth over the next 50 or 60 years. I am somewhat surprised by the approach made by the Government in this regard when it called the Premiers together and placed before them a proposal as a fait accompli, and more or less said to them, “ There it is! “ I feel disposed to call this legislation the “Bolte bill” and’ probably add a word of congratulation to my friend the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). The bill might even be called the “ Bolte-Turnbull bill” because of the honorable gentleman’s agitation down through the years to have the formula for the distribution of petrol tax proceeds altered.
This legislation is based on population and not on the areas of this country which require development. I think that it is ridiculous to base a formula on the number of people in Australia now. We should be a little more visionary, a little more AusT tralian, and think in broader terms. We should design the legislation to cater not for the people living here at this moment, but for the future - design it to improve areas in Australia at the four cardinal points of the compass so that we can encourage people to live in those areas and not only spread our population, but increase our population throughout the length and breadth of the continent.
Had the original proposal placed before the Premiers by the Commonwealth been accepted, Western Australia, even if it had earned matching grants, would be down by £100,000 in the financial year 1959-60 compared with the current year. I wonder what the newly-elected Premier of Western Australia is thinking at this very moment in view of the telegram that he received from the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on his marvellous victory so recently, wherein the Prime Minister said, “ Congratulations. I am looking forward to co-operating with you”. Under this legislation, if Western Australia does not earn matching grants it will be down £400,000; if it does earn matching grants it will be down £100,000. I am very glad to be able to say that as a result of a little stress and agitation concerning this matter apparently the Government saw fit to introduce clause 4 (2.) and for next year, 1959-60, the State of Western Australia will not be so badly off.
– But that is only for one year.
– I admit that. How Western Australia will get on in subsequent years I do not know. 1 propose to deal with that later. I consider that we are not here to try to give something extra to the States that can well afford to carry on. This road programme should be carried out in its entirety as it was conceived by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) in 1926 with the main objective of the development of Australia as a whole. If we are to adopt a narrow attitude and say that there are so many million people living in a particular area, naturally, as a third class schoolboy would know, there will be many more motor cars in the thickly populated parts than in the sparsely inhabited areas, and on the population basis more money will go where it is dense. This whole matter is being approached from the wrong angle. We need to take a very serious view of it because of its importance in the development of our country.
I am pleased to be able to recall that the conference of the Australian Council of Local Government Associations, which consists of people representing the bodies which carry out, to a large extent, the programme of building and maintaining roads, was attended in Adelaide last year by representatives from all parts of the Commonwealth and all parts of the respective States. That conference carried the following motion -
That the Commonwealth Government be requested that, when reviewing the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act 1954-1956, the present formula based on area and population be retained.
I have taken the opportunity of perusing the minutes of the Premiers’ Conference which was held quite recently to discuss this matter. Even Sir Thomas Playford from South Australia criticized the idea of onethird area, one-third population and onethird motor vehicle registration. To any one who studies the legislation it is obvious that this is a plan to assist one State more than any other, that is Victoria. When the
Premier of Western Australia at that particular conference raised the matter of the reduction in the percentage of money which Western Australia would receive, the representatives of the Commonwealth started to talk about the Commonwealth Grants Commission. They said that Western Australia was a claimant State.
It is true that Western Australia is a claimant State, but I ask the Government: Why is it that South Australia, also a claimant State, will suffer no reduction in the percentage of money it will receive from the legislation we are now debating? Tasmania, which is another claimant State, will not lose anything by this new agreement. The only States which will be penalized by the measure to any degree will be Queensland and Western Australia. The allocation to New South Wales, admittedly, will be down .2 per cent., but the reduction to Queensland will be .8 per cent, and to Western Australia 1.9 per cent. These are the two largest States of the Commonwealth; in fact, Western Australia represents onethird of the total area.
We hear people talking about defence roads. If the Government wants to build defence roads in this country let a start be made in the areas which are most vulnerable. Why not build roads from Darwin to Brisbane and from Darwin to Perth? The subject of a national roads programme has been bandied around the Commonwealth over the years. On some occasions I have attended the meetings of the Australian Transport Advisory Council. In Adelaide when the subject of building defence roads was proposed, that council dropped it.
To use a phrase of my colleague from Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) it has been transparently clear that ever since the agitation started for a national roads programme, interested parties in the States of New South Wales and Victoria have pressed for the building of an autobahn from Adelaide to Sydney. Some of the suggestions that they put forward would involve a construction job lasting 30 years and costing more than £100,000,000. As a result of agitation that has been insistent through the years this legislation has been deliberately designed to help the State of Victoria in the main. I know that Victoria probably receives a raw deal under the original plans, but we must look at other things besides the interest of one State.
When we come to deal with national policies we cannot afford to consider any aspect separately. Victoria and New South Wales, to a large degree, have benefited over the years and will benefit to a lesser degree from the tariff policy adopted by this country. It may be said that the claimant States are compensated for that by receiving grants recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission. That is perfectly true, and I will not dispute it; but I would point out that as a result of that tariff policy over the years the establishment of secondary industries in Western Australia and Queensland has been very seriously jeopardized. I have not the figures for Queensland in my mind, but last year Western Australia imported from New South Wales and also Victoria goods to the value of approximately £40,000,000. I think the amounts were approximately £38,000,000 worth from one State and £43,000,000 worth from the other. When we consider our migration policy we find that as a result of the advancement of secondary industries in those two major States people coming from Britain and other countries on reading the history of this country show a marked tendency to migrate to Victoria or New South Wales. As a consequence the population in those States is increased and also the demand for services. It is the same with heavy industry.
For years I have been asking the Commonwealth Government to give serious consideration to the establishment of a naval installation on the 4,380 miles of Western Australian coast. I do not want some grandiose scheme like the Cockatoo Dock, but I think that Western Australia deserves a start to be made on docking facilities for overseas ships in an endeavour to encourage the growth of heavy industry. But as I said before because of the tariff policy through the years, the States of Western Australia and Queensland have been jeopardized through the years. An examination of the figures shows how much of the defence allocation of £200,000,000 has been spent over the last seven or eight years in those two States on contracts and so on. It has been a mere drop in the ocean.
Obviously the reason is that through the years as a result of the fiscal policy adopted by this country, Western Australia and Queensland have not had the wherewithal to develop their secondary industries. They have asked for a continuation of old roads policy so that they might receive assistance from the more populous and wealthy States in their own development. For a beginning they would have to concentrate on primary industry; but this is a reflection of the treatment meted out by this legislation.
Even in the matter of import licensing I know that business people in Western Australia are unable to obtain direct import licences for some goods. I am not aware to what degree this happens, but I know that they have to get some lines through people in Sydney and Melbourne. Who gets the profit? Of course, Sydney and Melbourne get it. I think that at this very moment there are a couple of cases before the import licensing people. Take the matter of cameras, for instance. Many people in Australia seem to have gone happy as far as taking coloured pictures is concerned. If some of the business people in Western Australia want to get three or four good types of cameras, they have to take a lot of rubbish as well. That has been the policy that has affected Western Australia. I think, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that every consideration should be given to that State.
Let us now have a look at what the Treasurer said when introducing this measure. He discussed the proposal for a revised method of distributing the Commonwealth road grants between the States, and then said -
The weighting of the formula in favour of the larger but more sparsely peopled States has been justified on the grounds that their need for aid in transport development was relatively greater than that of the more densely settled and generally richer States, like New South Wales and Victoria; and there is undoubtedly a great deal of force in this still.
I wonder how many people on this side of Australia realize the miles of road that have been opened up in the last four or five years in Western Australia? I wonder how many realize the amount of country that has been alienated from the Crown in Western Australia for primary production, not only in the south, but in the north as well. I wonder how many people realize that under the war service land settlement scheme we opened up big swathes of virgin country we had available, and that no other State took the opportunity of doing so, apart from Queensland, which did a little bit for a while. But we had the credit of opening up the largest single land settlement project that has ever been conducted in Australia, Therefore, these words of the Treasurer, “ and there is undoubtedly a great deal of force in this still”, ring more true to-day as far as our State is concerned. I am surprised that the Treasurer included that comment in his speech, because subsequently he said -
In the first year of the scheme, for example, the total Queensland grant will be approximately £5 8s. per head and the Western Australian grant £10 6s. per head as compared with £3 3s. per head in the case of New South Wales and £3 per head in the case of Victoria.
– The use of it is not warranted.
– Exactly. If we look at this legislation objectively and without bias one way or the other, we see that it was designed to have a crack at one particular State. The Treasurer went on to say -
Thus, if those States take full advantage of the Commonwealth £l-for-£l offer, Commonwealth road grants to Western Australia will rise from about £7.200.000 in the current financial year to about £10,200,000 in 1963-64 . . .
That is airy-fairy stuff, Sir, because he said elsewhere in his speech that Western Australia is to receive 17.6 per cent, of the money that will be made available in each year. Out of a distribution of £48,000,000 in the last year of this proposal Western Australia would receive something like £8,400,000. That would be received direct from the grant. By a quick calculation we see that there is approximately £1,800,000 still to come to Western Australia, but if that State wants to obtain that money it has to find £900,000. Surely the people advising the Treasurer have read the report of the inquiry by the Under-Treasurers of the various States after a discussion took place at a Premiers’ Conference about the Commonwealth handing back to the States their taxing powers. It was very clearly demonstrated that the taxing capacity of Queensland and Western Australia would not stand the return of these taxing powers, that if those States accepted back their taxing powers their people would have to be taxed to such an extent that it would be very difficult and very harmful to industry. Yet the Treasurer says that this money can be got by the States from their own resources. In Western Australia, we have a different system from the other States for the collection of motor registration fees. The local authorities collect all vehicular licence-fees and they spend that money on the roads. It is assumed under this legislation that there will be such an increase in motor vehicles in Western Australia that the £900,000 will come mainly from the increased receipts from licence-fees. I doubt that very much, Sir. If it proves to be correct, there will be no one more pleased than I shall be. But such a jump in receipts in this short period - I doubt it very much!
I remind the right honorable gentleman that at the Premiers’ Conference, so I am informed, he referred to a population basis with respect to Western Australia and Victoria. Why he picked Western Australia I just would not have a clue. But if you look at this matter as an Australian, not thinking of States, it makes you wonder why everything in Western . Australia is related to conditions in Victoria. Down through the years the representatives of Victoria have stated that Western Australia is getting too much. A few years ago they talked about production. Let them have a look at the production of wheat and so forth over the last few years and see whether Victoria has had production this year or last year equivalent to that of Western Australia, and whether those States had a similar acreage sown to wheat. Indeed, we can look for comparative purposes at anything except dairying and Western Australia can measure up to the test. But do not divide the wheat acreage by the whole territory, because our wheat areas are situated in the southwest lands division.
– What about dried fruits?
– Yes, we are probably not up with Victoria in respect of dried fruits but there is gold production. The Treasurer seems to think, if we are to judge from his speech, that our vehicle increase will be sufficient to meet this matter, but he was very critical at the Premiers’ Conference in referring to the, increase in motor vehicles in 1958 compared with the previous year as against the position in Victoria. I think the figures, if I remember
Tightly, were 190,000 as against 36,000. If that has been the trend over the last few years - the golden era of the post-war years - unless something dramatic happens and a lot of money is pumped into Western Australian development, I cannot see sufficient money coming from an increase of vehicles to provide the Western Australian Government with a matching grant of £900,000.
I do not want to say much more on this matter, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I think that the whole matter has been approached with a somewhat parochial attitude. I think that most Australians believed that this legislation was originally designed to cater not merely for the populous areas and the more densely settled areas where, as a corollary, there is a greater density of traffic. This scheme was introduced in 1926 for the development of this country. I do not blame the people of Victoria for agitating down the years for the revision of the formula, but I have certain reservations with respect to what the Government is doing to meet their wishes. But I ask them how will Western Australia with a population of 700,000 provide roads in the north Kimberleys where over 4,000,000 acres of land have been alienated for land settlement purposes? How is the State government going to provide roads on the south coast in the Jerramongup-Gardiner River war service land settlement area where 250,000 acres have been alienated in one piece? How is it going to cater for jobs of these proportions? , The new roads opened to traffic in Western Australia during the last four years have been as follows: For the year ended 30th June, 1955,, 3,700 miles; for the year ended 30th June, 1956, 1,100 miles; for the year ended 30th June, 1957, 3,500 miles; and for the year ended 30th June, 1958, another 1,100 miles. In Western Australia during the years 1952-56 3,451,000 acres of land have been alienated for ordinary land settlement - not in the north west. I remind honorable members that this figure equals the combined totals of land alienated in New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia and is four times greater than the area alienated in the same period in Victoria.
Western Australia now faces the prospect of this formula being cut to the basis of one third population, one third area and one third vehicle registration. I think it is grossly unfair to the States of Western Australia and Queensland. It shows very narrow thinking on the part of the Government. I recall vividly repeated occasions when the Prime Minister, (Mr. Menzies), both as Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, said in this Parliament that we should think as Australians and not in terms of any one State in connexion with Commonwealth aid for roads because this was designed originally for the development of the country. Its aim was not to provide better roads for smaller cars where more people live, but to provide better roads for bigger areas where small numbers of people live so as to encourage a greater number to move out, thus spreading our population throughout the length and breadth of this country, and, by so doing, accelerating our development.
.- One could never dream that the roads of Australia were in such a shocking condition bylooking carefully at the bill before the House. If you long for a statesman-like attack on our road problem, you will not find it in this bill. If you long for a brilliant stimulus for our outmoded road system, you will not find it in this bill. If you long for an original constructive answer to the chronic road problem of Australia, you will not find it in this bill. It is like using a shovel to deal with the national road problem when you should be using a bulldozer.
If ever there was justification for a national road plan, carried out by the Commonwealth, it was evident in the speech of the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton). There one finds frustration. There one finds sectional interest being placed against sectional interest. There one finds State versus State arguments. It will go on like this interminably while we have a Government in Canberra which is not game to face up to the road problem on a national basis. The speech of the honorable member for Canning is complete justification for an overall national roads plan, engineered, handled and guided from Canberra down through all the States and the local municipalities.
This new legislation will remove finance for roads from dependence on petrol tax. It will tie the finance from the Commonwealth to Federal revenue. Secondly, the formula for the allocation of grants will be extended into a new field. A third of the money will go to the States on an area basis, a third will go to the States on a population basis, and a third will go to the States on a new basis of motor registration.
Tasmania will receive the same proportion of the Commonwealth grant as it received before - 5 per cent, of the total money allocated. We are not growling about that in Tasmania. We never growled about the old legislation. This bill will still provide us with a reasonable percentage of the revenue. The sum of £1,000,000 which was allocated previously for defence and strategic roads and for Road Safety Council purposes will now come from revenue, not from the petrol tax. These are the three main alterations to the old legislation.
My friend from Batman (Mr. Bird), in a brilliant 45-minute speech, packed with commonsense and showing a statesmanlike approach to the problem - a speech that I have read again to-night with tremendous interest, contrasting as it did with the speeches of most members on the Government side except the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) - mentioned the conference that was held in the Albert Hall, Canberra, on 12th and 13th February. When the Government called this conference we thought that it had decided, at last, to do something. It invited to the conference the greatest array of people associated with roads that the country has ever seen. It was the most representative conference ever held in Australia to deal with this problem. What happened to it?
I thought that this was a movement in the right direction. I suppose it was. But the conference was only a brilliant facade behind which a word-building competition want on. This is the Government’s favorite trick - to get people talking at a conference such as the immigration conference held in Canberra every year, then go ahead and do exactly what it wants to do as though the conference had never been held. That is exactly what happened at the roads conference in Canberra. I cannot see in this legislation one piece of evidence that the Government listened to anybody at that conference but its own spokesman.
This new plan is a juggler’s plan, it is a sleight-of-hand trick to try to convince the people of Australia that something real is being done which has never been done before and that a lot of money is being expended that was not spent before. It has little relationship to the principal ideas put forward by the organizations at that conference which, in my opinion, was a waste of money and time. I was reminded of the child who writes to Father Christmas for presents of a very wide range as most children do at Christmas-time, but, on opening his stocking on Christmas morning, finds only a few boiled lollies and a few crackers. That is all that came out of this conference. The hopes of the people who went to it and the reality of the situation are as far apart as the North and the South Poles.
I am sorry to be so critical of this conference but it could have been a nationmaking conference. It could have started us on a new road to a new plan for a new roads system throughout Australia. It did nothing of the kind. The people who attended that conference must have returned home feeling utterly frustrated and utterly sick and tired of the talking that went on, and they must be utterly disappointed now at what this legislation proposes to give them. The Government’s plan is called a five-year plan. That sounds very interesting to us because we believe in five-year plans, but we prefer them to have a little more meat in them than is contained in the Government’s plan. The Government will pay to the States basic grants totalling £220,000,000, distributed over the five years as follows: -
Tasmania will receive a special grant of 5 per cent, of the total to be allotted to the States, and for the years that I have mentioned that State will receive amounts of £2,000,000, £2,100.000, £2.200,000, £2,300,000 and £2,400,000 respectively. In addition to the basic grants of £220,000,000, the Commonwealth will make available to the States further sums totalling £30,000,000 to be distributed over the five years on the basis of £1 for every £1 provided by the State governments from their own resources for expenditure on roads in excess of the amounts allocated for expenditure in the current year 1958-59. Forty per cent, of the grant is to be used for roads serving sparsely populated areas in all States except Queensland, where 30 per cent, is to be reserved for those roads. The remainder of the grant may be expended, as at present, on other main or local roads. The grants will have no relation to petrol consumption or the petrol tax but will be drawn direct from Consolidated Revenue.
That is the basis of this so-called new plan. Unfortunately, we have in Australia three authorities dealing with roads - the Commonwealth, the States, and municipal and city councils. Every thinking person must admit that our State set-up is a brake on Australia’s development. I make that statement even though I am a great believer in the rights of the States. Unfortunately, we have in this Parliament too many Staterighters - people who believe that the rights of the States must not be taken from them in any circumstances. It is about time that we commenced to look at matters from a national point of view. We should forget we are Tasmanians, Victorians and Western Australians, and remember that we are Australians. Our roads problem will never be solved until the Commonwealth gives a lead to the States. I shall elaborate on that thought later.
The States are asking that the Commonwealth give them not fantastic amounts to be spent on our roads, but merely the amounts necessary to put our roads into what may be regarded as a civilized condition. During the last six years I have studied road problems in fifteen countries overseas, and I have no hesitation in saying that we have the worst road system in the world. In the United States of America and Europe our main roads would be called back roads. The proposals contained in this measure will not solve our problems in the five years during which the plan will operate. We will not solve our problems until we have in office a government that will put into operation a national roads programme in co-operation with the States. The great difficulty is that the States are not receiving enough money from the Commonwealth. As the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) has said, these proposals will not provide any additional money except in one way - instead of £1,000,000 from the amount received as petrol tax being allocated for strategic roads, Commonwealth roads and for Australian Road Safety Council purposes, that money will come from Consolidated Revenue. In effect, in five years the scheme will cost the Commonwealth only £5,000,000 in addition to the grants that have been allocated in the past. The Government will still retain £70,000,000 that will be received as petrol tax over the five years.
The Australian Labour Party is pledged to use all moneys received as petrol tax on our roads, and when we come to office we shall honour that pledge. I shall quote to honorable members a brief description of the Australian roads system which has been extracted from the booklet “ Roads in Australia “, issued by the 1957 conference of State authorities. It is in these terms -
While each State through its legislation has its own system of road classification, the roads throughout Australia fall into two broad groups of primary and secondary routes. The primary roads include the principal routes which lead from one State to another and the routes linking the principal centres of population within each State. The secondary roads include those which carry produce from farms to a primary road and thence to the nearest railheads, those serving mines, forest areas and tourist resorts, most streets in cities and towns, and all roads whose function is essentially to provide local traffic service.
In general, the primary roads are known as “ main roads “. In some States the more important main roads are classified as State Highways. Although the central road authority in each State is concerned mainly with the primary read system, its activities may extend to many of the secondary roads, particularly those serving the agricultural, mining, timber and tourist industries. There are about 525,000 miles of road in Australia, 13) per cent, of which form the combined primary road system of the States and Territories.
Analysing that statement a little more closely we find that of the total of 525,000 miles, only 134 per cent., or 70,383 miles, are absorbed in the combined primary road system. Local roads totalling 395,360 miles represent not less than 75 per cent, of the total mileage within the Commonwealth, and in three States they constitute more than 80 per cent, of the whole. In other words, local roads, to which not very much money will be allocated by the Government, have a mileage three times greater than all other roads put together.
For the information of the House, I shall quote the percentage of local roads to the total roads in Australia. I remind honorable members that a great deal of money is. needed to put these local roads in order. New South Wales has 79.01 per cent, of local roads, Victoria has 68.09 per cent., Queensland has 84.12 per cent., South Australia has 56.2 per cent., Western Australia has 87.6 per cent, and Tasmania has 82.77 per cent. In other words, 75.38 per cent, of all roads in Australia are local roads. Until I read the booklet, “ Roads in Australia “, I had no idea that local roads constituted such a high percentage of all roads In Australia. How will this legislation affect those local roads for which, in most cases, municipal councils are responsible? The proposed 40 per cent, of the grant will not be sufficient to solve the terrific problem Confronting the municipalities.
We, on this side of the House, give constructive answers to the question. First, we propose an amendment to the bill, the result of which would be that all petrol and diesel tax collections would be allocated for roads purposes. This would provide another £69,000,000 over the five years of the plan. Secondly, we suggest that all the receipts from petrol and diesel tax should be spent through the States. As my friend, the honorable member for Batman, explained so brilliantly in his speech, every country in the world this side of the iron curtain uses a petrol tax as the primary means of financing road construction and maintenance. We should do the same in Australia. New Zealand does it. It allocates all petrol tax receipts for roads, plus another £1,000,000 from revenue, to help with the colossal problem that exists in that country.
Let me refer again to the speech made by my colleague from Batman. I cannot help quoting him, because he made such a fine speech. He made out an excellent case for his proposition that the Commonwealth should pay the entire petrol tax receipts to the States for roads purposes. T shall run brieflv through the four reasons that he gave. First, the roads are extensively used for Commonwealth purposes, such as the distribution of mails, the maintenance of telephone service, and for defence and other purposes. Secondly, the roads are essential to production, from which the Commonwealth benefits by way of taxation. With a better road system, the Commonwealth would collect more by way of taxation, so why should it not hand over all the petrol tax collections for roads purposes?
Thirdly, Commonwealth vehicles do not pay registration fees in the States in which they operate. To my mind, this represents a colossal benefit for the Commonwealth, which has hundreds of vehicles on the roads in the various States. Further, as the Commonwealth is the collector of the petrol tax, the tax costs the Commonwealth nothing. Finally, road transport contributes heavily to Commonwealth revenue. For these reasons, the Commonwealth should revise its whole attitude towards the petrol tax and agree that all receipts by way of this tax should be spent on roads. We on this side intend to adopt that policy when we come to power.
The honorable member for Batman and 7 were the first two members of this Parliament to bring forward a national roads plan for Australia. That was eight years ago. We are concerned about this matter and our party is concerned about it. The United States of America already has a national roads plan in operation. The colossal plan that has been implemented in that country has been in progress for three years, and it will finally result in all States being linked with super-highways. We saw a film on the United States roads plan last year. It showed how these magnificent new highways will link the various States, by-nassing the towns themselves. The plan will cost 10.000,000,000 dollars, and the scheme will not be completed until 1975. Whv have we not a government in Canberra with similar vision?
– We have not got 10,000,000,000 dollars.
– We would not need to pay that much. It would not cost that much. The fact is that we have not pot a governrnent with a national plan. This Government cannot think beyond its own backyard. It is handing over all responsibility in this matter to the poor old States. It is creeping away from its responsibility. Now it proposes to provide the monev out of revenue, not from the petrol tax. It is getting out from under and handing the burden over to the States.
We should d-vise an overall nationa plan, so that every vear a certain length of highway could be built or re-built. The work would be done by State and municipal agencies, with Commonwealth money and under Commonwealth supervision. It can be done in other countries, and it can be done here, if the Commonwealth Government will give a lead.
The next aspect on which 1 wish to address the House is that of the coordination of transport throughout Australia. This can be achieved through an interstate transport commission. We advocate the establishment of such a commission very strongly, lt is 40 years since a commission of this kind operated in Australia. Why it went out of action I do not know, but it is time it was re-established. We believe that for the purpose of co-ordinating’ transport, a federal body should be set up, to be known as the Australian Interstate Commerce Commission, similar to the commission that operates in America. It should have power to control all types of interstate transport in Australia - rail, road and sea. It should have power also to fix rates and charges for all forms of transport and to control conditions of carriage: The co-ordination and regulation of all forms of transport, so far as journeys within the boundaries of a particular States are concerned, are matters completely within the legislative competence of that State. However, section 101 of the Constitution says: -
There shall be an Inter-State Commission, with such powers of adjudication and administration as the Parliament deems necessary for the execution and maintenance, within the Commonwealth, of the provisions of this Constitution relating to trade and commerce, and of all laws made thereunder.
We have the power under the Constitution to establish this interstate commission to coordinate transport throughout the Commonwealth, and when we on this side form a government we intend to bring such a commission into being. This will make a direct contribution to the task of putting some order and system into our uncoordinated and chaotic transport services, as they exist to-day.
Finally, my colleague, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), made an interesting point in his speech to-night. As always, he made a brilliant contribution to the debate. He said, when speaking of taxes on motor vehicles raised by the States, that the State governments have very little chance of obtaining further revenue by these means. Interestingly enough, I, too, have been investigating this aspect, although, of course, I have not the brilliance of my honorable friend. I rely on the figures of the Commonwealth Grants Commission for this information. I looked at the commission’s reports for the years 1958-59 and 1957-58, and I discovered that in 1957-58 the States obtained, between them, only £28,919,000 from motor registration fees, drivers’ licence fees and the like. Last year they received a total of £33,539,000 from these sources. This represented an increase of only £4,620,000 in the year, spread over the six States. The average increase in each State was only about £800,000. In these circumstances, how can the States obtain the extra revenue to enable them to accept the Commonwealth’s offer to match their contributions, £1 for £1, up to a total of £2,000,000 in the first year, £4,000,000 in the second year, and increasing in this way to £10,000,000 in the fifth year? The Government has put itself forward as a Father Christmas in making this offer, but it has failed miserably to live up to a reasonable description of Father Christmas. The Government is misleading the people of Australia with this bill. Although the white whiskers of its members have grown much whiter and much longer over the last nine years - they have been here too long now - and although the Government tries hard, with its red gown and belt - the belt is being tightened, too - to pose as Father Christmas, it has failed to carry out the traditions of Father Christmas in this bill.
The measure is a weak and watery attempt to solve Australia’s greatest problem - that of our road system. I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Batman and supported by every one of my colleagues with both hands and both feet. We hope that the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) who waxed so wrath at his colleague, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) will vote for our amendment as a practical way to try to get some justice for Western Australia, which does not receive justice under the bill.
.- I am glad to have the opportunity to speak to this bill to grant financial assistance to the States in relation to roads and works connected with transport, and in so doing oppose the amendment moved by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird). 1 am also gratified at following my Western Australian colleague, the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) who presented Western Australia’s claims most vigorously and emphasized the concern we feel over certain aspects of this legislation.
The honorable member for Batman, who has moved the amendment on behalf of the Opposition, has earned my admiration time and again because of his enthusiasm in connexion with Australia’s road requirements, but I oppose his amendment. I want to say quite kindly that he becomes rather fanatical in his desire to have all petrol tax revenue expended on roads. 1 shall have more to say about that later.
The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), has surely dragged a red herring into the debate. He expresses concern about the provision of money for roads in such Commonwealth-controlled areas as the Northern Territory and the funds for road safety. He says that the fact that these moneys are being provided for under separate legislation is a subterfuge. I reminded the honorable member for Wilmot and all honorable members for that matter that, after all, the taxpayer finds the whole of these moneys, so that the funds which will be provided under separate legislation can be added to the most magnificent contribution the Commonwealth proposes to give to the States under this bill. I repeat that the honorable member for Wilmot has merely introduced a red herring which will not mislead those thinking people who care to analyse the legislation.
As I have indicated, I support the bill but I shall be making some observations to indicate my concern at several points relating to it. The first thing I want to underline is the value of forward planning in connexion with road development and road maintenance in Australia to-day. I think all honorable members will agree that forward planning is most important. This is a modern era of forecasting and budgeting, and I pay tribute to-night to the excellent work done by municipal and local government authorities throughout Australia in road development. construction and maintenance. While congratulating them. I cannot envisage how those authorities could carry out their responsibilities efficiently if their interests were not protected by sound forward planning so far as finance is concerned. The same thing applies, of course, to the State governments. We in this House are well aware of how important it is for the Commonwealth Government to plan ahead and indicate what funds it proposes to allocate to this and other important projects. The programme outlined in the legislation under consideration makes forward planning possible. Specific grants are set down, and additional incentive matching grants are to be available within specified limits.
I have mentioned the attitude of the honorable member for Batman and his insistence that all revenue from petrol tax should go to roads. That leads me to point out that no link with revenue obtained from taxes on petrol and other motor fuel has been recognized in this bill. I submit that the Government’s reasoning on this particular point is both sound and impressive. I know, of course, that it will not convince every one. We knew before we started that it would not convince the members of the Opposition who use this point as the basis for the amendment which has been put forward.
The great fluctuations in the use of petrol fuel in Australia over recent years surely rule out forward planning for road works. If we were to depend solely upon this revenue, with its up and down movements, the first thing to be affected by any fluctuation would be the important aspect of forward planning and budgeting, which I have already covered.
Secondly, the fundamental principle of budgeting - that all revenues should be placed in a common account and all expenditures approved by Parliament - should not be lightly discarded. It is a fundamental aspect of the handling of Commonwealth funds for various purposes. Further, no previous government has ever accepted the proposal envisaged by the amendment - that all petrol tax revenue should be spent on roads.
I wish to support the proposed overall increase of the . grant. representing £100,000,000 over five years, and I want to say most emphatically now that I, for one, just cannot follow the reasoning of those honorable members opposite who have tried to indicate that the proposal set out in the bill does not mean an increase of approximately £100,000,000.
In passing, let me refer to the splendid record of the Commonwealth Government over the years in connexion with these grants to the States. In 1946-47, the Commonwealth’s contribution for roads was only £4,800,000. The contribution moved up to £14,100,000 in 1950-51 and, for the current financial year - 1958-59 - it is estimated that it will be £38,300,000, of which £37,300,000 represents grants to the States. During his second-reading speech, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) pointed out that it is significant that during the last five years of the current legislation the Commonwealth’s grants to the States for roads will be greater than the total grants made during the whole of the previous 31 years since federal aid for roads began. We should be proud of that record, lt is a progressive record and it is an indication of the Commonwealth’s growing awareness of its responsibility to assist the States in this very big task of overcoming our road problems.
As 1 have said, the bill proposes to grant an increase, and the proposals may be summarized in this way: In the first year of operation of the legislation - 1959-60 - the sum of £42,000,000 is to be allocated compared with the £37,300,000 allocated in the current financial year. In the final year of the five-year term, the contribution by the Commonwealth to the States will be increased to £58,000,000, which is to be compared, of course, with the £42,000.000 to be provided in the year immediately ahead of us. I find no difficulty, Mr. Speaker, in also indicating my support for most of the main provisions in the bill. I have no argument, personally, with the five-year period. I also feel that, as was indicated by the Treasurer, the previous experiment with a three-year period adopted too short a term, and a greater period than five years would err in the opposite direction. So I agree with the period envisaged in this bill. And I shall not argue about the separate provision for roads serving Commonwealth purposes and for road safety. I have indicated already that funds for those purposes will be subject to a special and independent provision.
Other speakers have dealt with the merits of the provision that 40 per cent, of the
Commonwealth funds provided under the terms of this measure are to be used by the States in rural areas. I shall be talking about Western Australia again shortly, but I want to say now that country roads in that State - I do not represent a country electorate - are vital to the future prosperity of Australia, and this seems, therefore, to be a logical and helpful provision. I am glad to see that the States are to be entirely free to allocate funds to local authorities, including municipalities. I have already, in passing, paid a tribute to the magnificent work that these authorities are doing. In Western Australia, the quality of road construction has been praised by many experienced people who have visited that State.
I want to deal now with the first of the provisions over which I have some concern. Much has been said already about the provision in this bill for matching grants. I think it is wise for us to define the basis of this. The incentive aspect regarding matching grants, Mr. Speaker, is sound for those States where the density of the population ensures that it is reasonably possible to provide local funds which may be matched by Commonwealth grants. The Treasurer indicated, in his secondreading speech, the sound definition which I think some honorable members have overlooked, when he said -
In addition to these basic grants of £220,000,000, the Commonwealth will make available to the States further sums totalling £30,000,000 on the basis of £1 for every £1 allocated by State governments from their own resources for expenditure on roads over and above the amounts allocated by them for roads expenditure in the current financial year . . .
So it is quite apparent that any State - I am thinking particularly of my own State and of Queensland - that may have been pressed to the limit in providing local funds in the past will qualify only for matching grants over and above what has been spent in the current financial year. At the recent Premiers’ Conference, the Western Australian Premier referred to this matter, and said -
T know that we in Western Australia would certainly have considerable difficulty in finding additional finance - additional over and above what we now provide from our own funds for roads - no matter how anxious we may be to find and provide additional moneys in order that we might get the benefit of the offer now being made by the Commonwealth.
I must move on, because the clock does not seem to be very kind. I want to deal next with the formula provision. I am glad to see that a few more Victorian members seem to be assembling about me at this point. I almost feel as if they were gathering for the fray, anxious to know what this member from Western Australia would say by way of: protest. The first thing that I want to say, Mr. Speaker, is another word of tribute for this statesman-like legislation under which we have been operating, for some 36 years. Without the assistance of the formula to which we have become so accustomed, Western Australia’s road development programme would have been more than severely restricted. The Western Australian Premier supported the retention of the existing formula, of course, when he spoke on this subject at the recent Premiers’ Conference. He said that Western Australia naturally favours the retention of the existing formula. Some of my Victorian colleagues on this side of the House say, * That is understood “. But the Premier of Western Australia said also -
We believe that this formula was worked out to do the best possible for the roads of Australia as a whole without consideration to the requirements of one particular State as against the requirements of any other State. I think it can be said that broadly the policy that has been carried out under the existing formula has worked with reasonable satisfaction and that policy would naturally be Western Australia’s first choice for a formula to operate during the next five years.
However, the formula for the distribution of the petrol tax has, as we find in this bill, been revised to the detriment of Western Australia and Queensland.
– Not really.
– That is so to a considerable degree, as the honorable member well knows. A greater proportion of the grant, of course, will go to Victoria and New South Wales, which already benefit in many other ways, and particularly by the standardization of the railway from Albury to Melbourne. I want also to remind the members from Victoria that Western Australia is a very valuable market indeed for the eastern States. The trade balance in favour of the eastern States of the continent and adverse to Western Australia is approximately £50,000,000 annually. If I had the time. I could quote a further comment by the Western Australian Premier at the Premiers’ Conference concerning; the unfair advantage that the eastern States have over Western Australia because of the tariff policy.
The 36 year-old formula which provides for a distribution of funds based, as to threefifths, on population and, as to two-fifths, on area, was one of the few concessions that Western Australia and Queensland enjoyed under federation.
– What about Western Australia’s development grants?
– They meet only about 50 per cent, of our disability. Now the Commonwealth proposes to give the States £250,000,000 over five years, including the £30,000,000 that the States will have to match £1 for £1, and to distribute these funds, as to one-third, on the basis of population, as to one-third, on the basis of area and, as to one-third according to vehicle registrations. Let me say this: The introduction of vehicle density is a subterfuge adopted in order to water down the formula. Grants rising from £7,400,000 to £10,000,000 a year will give Western Australia a lot of money under the new formula. That is agreed. But we shall not get as much as we should have received if the £250,000,000, inadequate though it may be, had been distributed under the existing formula.
– Is Western Australia getting enough?
– I shall deal with that interjection also in a moment. In my opinion, the Government has made a concession in the face of the persistent campaign conducted by New South Wales and, primarily, Victoria against the principle of national responsibility for developing the big, sparsely populated States.
Let me dispose quickly of the statement that Western Australia cannot spend the money allocated to it. This simply is not true. The facts of the case are these: At the end of last June, £224,657 remained unspent - a carry-over, at the average monthly rate, of less than two weeks’ expenditure. Further, the year’s allocation from diesel fuel tax funds was not notified until half-way through the financial year.
Let us have a national outlook on this matter. Western Australia, more than any other State, is faced with a formidable task, in opening up new land areas and providing them with road systems. It can be fairly claimed that the State’s developmental needs justify, as much as ever before, distribution of the federal fuel tax funds on the basis of two-fifths area and threefifths population, as in the past. To demonstrate how strong, in my opinion, the pressure has been on the Government, let me quote a part of the speech made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in 1954, when speaking on a bill similar to the one under discussion. Dealing with the then existing formula, he said -
The only Premier who voiced opposition to it was the’ Premier of Victoria, although I must say that he recognized,, without abandoning his general arguments, that this method takes account of the special needs of the large, sparsely populated States, such as Western Australia and Queensland. Indeed,. I should prefer to put it in another way.
Continuing, the Prime Minister said -
We may look at this problem too much as if we were dealing with six separate communities in six States. The real purpose of the formula is that these moneys should be distributed throughout Australia so that those parts which are the least able out of their own resources to provide and repair roads should be placed in a position to get on with the job.
He continued: -
I have always believed the formula to be just. We propose.- to adhere to that formula which, for 17 years, has done a great deal to develop the road system in the more remote parts of Australia.
Great pressure - in the main from Victoria, I suggest - must have been exerted, on the Prime Minister and the Government to bring about the change of attitude which brings to us in this legislation’ a different formula. My friend and colleague, the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) who sits across the aisle from me, has at least been consistent on this subject. In the 1954 debate, he came in as a Victorian. He said -
As one who comes from Victoria, I desire to say something about the formula for distribution. Far be it for me to signify in any way that I have anything but a- national outlook.
He then proceeded to indicate a circumscribed outlook, which belied what he had said about having a national outlook in the interests of road development. He continued^ -
I believe: that the Parliament should approach, the problem in the attitude that it represents the whole of Austrafia and’ not any particular section of it.
At the same time, honorable members do represent State electorates, and the States have certain rights and interests.
He said later -
It does not work out that way in Victoria. I think there is some ground for examining the position in Victoria.
When, my friend the honorable member for Corangamite follows me in this debate, as I know well he will - I know that he has something to say and that he will try to cut me down - he will follow that line again. His claim to have a national outlook is negatived by his constant complaint that his State, Victoria, with, all its advantages, has been grossly mistreated. With my colleague the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton), let me say that I am not one wit impressed by the use of the per capita argument in respect of the distribution of these funds.
The House should be- made aware of Western Australia’s tremendous task. The economy of Western Australia is largely based, as we well know, on primary industries. Vast areas have to be covered by roads because of the absence of railways. Honorable members from Victoria should be reminded yet again that the north-west of. our State covers 529,000 square miles - about six times the area, of Victoria. It is mostly undeveloped land and has no railways. The future of the region north of the 26th parallel, where only 1.7 per cent, of the State’s population lives, depends upon a system; of serviceable roads. More than £3,000,000 has been spent in that area during the past five years.
Western Australia has a £60,500,000 fiveyear road programme. This is based on a survey carried’ out by the Main Roads Department. Apart from the maintenance of. thousands of miles of existing roads, the programme includes two major projects. The first is the reconstruction and sealing of 450 miles of the Eyre Highway from Norseman to Eucla, at a cost of something like £2,540,000. I had the privilege of driving from Perth to Canberra some eighteen months ago along the Eyre Highway, and I provoked quick comment from the Premier of Western Australia and from the Premier’ of South Australia when I referred to the desperate need for improvement of that highway. I am glad to know that the Government of Western Australia is making a move to undertake that project in part. The second project is the expenditure of £8,300,000 on road development in the north-west of the State.
Of the £60,500,000 to be spent on the fiveyear roads programme of the western State, £13,000,000 will be used by local authorities on domestic and minor roads, and £47,500,000 by the State road authority. Here is a significant point. Prior to the proposed change in the formula, the State authorities had estimated that their receipts under the existing formula would fall short of requirements for the period from 1959 to 1963 by something like £6,200,000. The change in formula, of course, will set this figure back substantially.
The most recent statistics of land alienated in the various States for the fiveyear period 1952 to 1956 reveal that the area alienated in Western Australia was no less than 3,451,000 acres - approximately equal to the combined total for New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, and four times greater than the area alienated during the same period in small Victoria.
The mileage of new roads opened to traffic in Western Australia during the last four years is amazing. In 1955, 3,700 miles of new roads were opened; in 1956, 1,100 miles; in 1957, 3,500 miles; and in 1958, 1,100 miles, making a total of 9,400 miles. In the Northern Kimberleys, which are uninhabited except for the settlement of the native mission at Kalumburu, near the mouth of the Drysdale River, the Government allotted leases in April of last year covering an area of 4,615,000 acres. I can speak with first-hand knowledge of this area, because in company with other members of this House, I visited the mission only last July. Hundreds of miles of access roads will now be required to be constructed to serve this proposed new large-scale development area.
In conclusion, I say that the severity of the impact on Western Australia of the operation of the new formula in the first year has admittedly been offset by the promise of a special grant to cover the short-fall of £400,000, compared with the funds received from the Commonwealth for the current financial year. It is recognized that because of the increase in the Commonwealth contribution, notwithstanding the change in formula, Western Australia will thereafter receive more than it has received in this last year. But the important point is that when the time comes for the distribution of a much larger amount of money for roads - which is the hope and ambition, not only of the honorable member for Batman, but of all other honorable members in this House - Western Australia will be at a disadvantage. If the sum to be distributed then amounts to £500,000,000, Western Australia will find that the change in the formula, which some honorable members say is insignificant, will cost it £10,000,000. In other words, Western Australia will receive then £10,000,000 less than it would have received under the old formula. When that time is reached, it will be too late to complain, for a new pattern will have been set and legislation designed with a national outlook will have been amended to help the more populous States to the disadvantage of the States for which it was originally moulded to give such valuable assistance.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Makin) adjourned.
Mr. DAVIDSON (Dawson - PostmasterGeneral [10.51]. - I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
Honorable members will recall that, in recent months, many questions have been directed to me in the House concerning the provision of television services for areas outside the State capital cities, where television stations are either already in operation, or are to commence service later this year or early in 1960. In addition many personal representations have been made to me on the matter. In reply, I have indicated that the question of the extension of television services was being considered by the Government and that when decisions had been made I would make a statement in the House on the matter. I am now in a position to inform honorable members of the steps the Government proposes to take in respect of major provincial and country areas of the Commonwealth, following a decision which was made last week.
It has been our policy, right from the outset, to proceed with the establishment of television services in the Commonwealth on a gradual basis, and 1 am satisfied that this policy has been amply justified by our experience. We are now reaching the completion of what I have described as the first and second stages of development - that is the provision of services in all the State capital cities - and we are faced with the problem of initiating the third stage, which is the extension of television to major country and provincial areas. Broadly - I stress the term “broadly “ - the areas to be considered in this third phase of television development will be -
Richmond-Tweed Heads area.
Central Tablelands area.
The centres which I have named are those broadly described in the provisional frequency allocation plan of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, which is based on population density in accepted regional divisions. It will be understood that they cover wide areas including large rural areas as well as the towns named. The location of the transmitters in these areas, as well as areas to be covered, has not yet been determined. No doubt suggestions in this connexion will be made during the inquiry into applications for licences to which I shall refer later.
This further extension of television now planned will mean, when it is complete, that 75 per cent. of the Australian people will be able to receive a television service. Consideration of the remaining provincial and rural areas are not included in thisphase will be given when this phase is well. under way.
For some time, this matter of extensions has been under consideration by the Government. We have been particularly concerned with the commercial television service, the extension of which involves many important and difficult questions, both economic and technical, which are not capable of being resolved easily, and as to which there are acute divisions of opinion among those who wish to be permitted to provide services in the areas. On many of these issues, it has become clear that more information is required to enable sound decisions to be made, and that that information is likely to be forthcoming on examination of applications for licences when those seeking them have the opportunity of presenting their cases in public.
The Government has, however, decided that the number of commercial licences in any area should not necessarily be limited to one and that, subject to technical considerations and to the quality of the applicants, more than one commercial service in each area might be licensed. It has decided that, as far as practicable, priority in the grant of such licences would be given to applicants which are local independent companies not associated with metropolitan stations, provided such applicants demonstrate their capacity to provide, in the circumstances prevailing in the area, a service comparable to that available to city viewers and to conform to the technical and programme standards laid down by the AusAustralian Broadcasting Control Board.
It has further decided that the actual number of commercial television stations to be established in any of those areas should not be determined until a report on applications for licences has been received from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, as required by the Broadcasting and Television Act. The Government has therefore authorized me to invite applications for licences for commercial stations to service the areas specified, on the understanding that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board should be required, when inquiring into the grant of such licences, to inquire into and specifically report upon the ability and financial capacity of each applicant to provide an adequate and comprehensive programme in the event of other licences being granted which would permit the transmission of programmes in or into the area.
The procedure to be followed with respect to the public inquiries which are to be made and to the grant of licences is prescribed in the Broadcasting and Television Act. Before inviting applications for licences for the various areas, it will be necessary for me to discuss with the board the arrangements it is able to make concerning the holding of public inquiries. I propose to do. this as early as possible, and will endeavour to ensure that the matter is proceeded with as quickly as circumstances permit. I should say, however, that a heavy burden will be imposed on the board and the whole matter will take some time, mainly because prospective applicants will have to be given a reasonable opportunity to prepare their applications.
Regarding the national service, the Government has decided to maintain its policy of providing dual national and commercial services to viewers. Because of the frequency problems involved, however, no final decision regarding the actual details of the extension of the national service will be made until the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has completed its inquiries into applications for commercial licences, and submitted its recommendations to the Government. In the meantime, such preliminary work as is possible in the planning of the stations can proceed.
– The House is indebted to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) for his important statement, but I think it is a pity that he chose to make it on the motion for the adjournment of the House instead of affording honorable members an opportunity to debate it fully on a motion that thepaper be printed. I am not at all satisfied with the assurance that he has given. He has sought to give the impression that his Government is trying to break the grip of the newsnaper monopolies upon commercial television in Australia by stating that priority in the issue of licences will be given to companies which are locally owned, providing - and this is the catch - that the local companies can satisfy the Government that they are capable of giving the same quality of service as that given by the city interests.
– That is ridiculous.
– Of course it is ridiculous, because it would be almost impossible for a locally owned company to give the same service to country viewers as that given by the city-owned television networks.
– It is quite possible that they will give a better service.
– If it is possible that they will give a better service, that in itself is an indictment of the PostmasterGeneral for allowing the great commercial interests that now control television in the big cities to put on programmes that are inferior to those which the honorable gentleman suggests could be televized by small country companies established to operate in one area only. I know what will happen. The big city interests will say that they can make their programmes available to country television stations provided that they own the country stations, but that they will not be prepared to let small country television companies have the benefit of syndicated programmes if they have not a controlling interest in those companies.
I am glad pf the opportunity to raise this matter, because not only has the Government quibbled over the question of who is to get control of the country television stations, not only has it carefully evaded the assurance that most of us were expecting from it that there will be no extension of the monopoly now enjoyed in the field of television by the great newspaper combines, but also the Government still is not carrying out the intention of the Broadcasing and Television Act so far as city television stations are concerned. Although section 91 of the act states that no person - I presume that means no company either - shall have the right to control more than two television stations, the fact remains that the Melbourne “ Herald “ virtually controls three television stations already, which is a breach of the act. The Melbourne “ Herald “ virtually controls the Adelaide “ Advertiser”.
It is no use the Postmaster-General getting up again and saying that the Melbourne “ Herald “ does not control the “ Advertiser “ because it only has 37 per cent, of the shares. Everybody knows that you can control a company with as few as 10 per cent, of the shares. If you own 10 per cent, of the shares and the other 90 per cent, are owned collectively by another 40,000 or 50,000 people scattered all over the Commonwealth who cannot attend shareholders’ meetings, you can, by your bloc vote, control the whole of the company’s activities. But the Melbourne “ Herald “ owns in one parcel not 10 per cent., but 37 per cent, of the shares in the *’ Advertiser “, and Sir Lloyd Dumas, representing the Melbourne “ Herald “ interests, is able to control the decisions of every directors’ meeting of the Adelaide “ Advertiser “. That means that he can also control, at the direction of Sir John Williams, managing director of the Melbourne “ Herald “, all the decisions arrived at by the commercial television station in Adelaide, because 30 per cent, of the shares in that station are owned directly by the Adelaide “ Advertiser “. Another 30 per cent, of the shares are owned by a syndicate consisting of radio station 5KA, the Philips organization, and one or two other people. The Australian Labour Party owns 20 per cent, of station 5KA and the other 80 per cent, is owned by the Methodist Mission.
Thirty per cent, of the shares in the television station consisting of 900,000 shares at 5s. each were to be allocated to the general public, according to the information that was given to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board when the application was made for a television licence. But we found that of those 900,000 shares 138,000 were given to the employees of the Adelaide “ Advertiser “. What hope has Stan Stephens in the press gallery here, Bill Rust or any other person employed by Sir Lloyd Dumas, of going to a meeting of shareholders and daring to raise his hand against the decisions of Sir Lloyd? When Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited wanted to get control of Butler Air Transport Limited, it flew employee shareholders from Melbourne to Sydney for a meeting. Just as Ansett was able to control the voting strength of those people, Sir Lloyd Dumas and the directors of the Adelaide “ Advertiser” are now in virtual control of 138,000 shares that were allocated directly to the employees of the “ Advertiser “. In addition, the great bulk of the balance of the 900,000 shares were allocated to the large advertisers with the Adelaide “ Advertiser “. Jimmy Martin of Myers was given 4,000 shares for Myers Limited. Other individuals who are directors of companies that have large advertising contracts with the “ Advertiser “ were given parcels of 1,000 shares. Between them, those people have taken up the great bulk of the balance of the shares. Members of the general public who tried to buy some of the shares that were left over after the “ Advertiser “ directorate had decided who was to get the major portion, were either told that no shares were available or that only 100 shares could be allocated to them.
It is true that the directors of the “ Advertiser “ gave the allocation of the shares to three firms of stockbrokers, but they instructed the stockbrokers who was to get shares and how many. I do not want to see this sort of thing going on, but it is characteristic of the Government’s attitude towards television. I can remember the Australian Broadcasting Control Board taking evidence in Adelaide. It recommended that there should be only one commercial television station in Adelaide and that the licence should go to the Adelaide “ News “, which was wholly controlled and owned by South Australian interests. But this Government, at the behest of the Melbourne “ Herald “, which brought pressure to bear - an election was impending and Sir Lloyd Dumas was able to put the point of view of his directors to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) - decided to reject the decision of the independent Australian Broadcasting Control Board that there should be only one licence and that it should go to the locally controlled station. Instead, the Government decided that there would be two licences and that fresh applications were to be called. When fresh applications were called the three applicants for the licence were the “News”, the “Advertiser”, and the Sydney “ Telegraph “. It is a great tragedy that the Sydney “Telegraph”, despite the fact that it is owned and controlled by Sydney interests, was not given a licence, if two licences had to be given, because at least the Sydney “ Telegraph “ guaranteed to give a greater share of the ownership of the television station to South Australian public interests than was eventually given by the “ Advertiser “.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I congratulate my colleague the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) for having immediately taken up this matter of country television licences. I join with him in protesting against the procedure adopted by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) in making an important statement on the motion for the adjournment of the House when the Opposition has no opportunity to have the debate adjourned so that the matter can be fully debated at a later stage. I agree with my colleague that it is quite evident from what the Postmaster-General has said that this is merely an attempt to wipe off the smaller interests in the country and place country television stations in the hands of the great monopolies that already control television, radio, and newspapers in the major cities of Australia.
Having said that, I turn to the matter that I intended to raise this evening. I wish to refer to professional lobbyists in this Parliament who are employed by outside firms, particularly those doing big business for the Government. On 8th May, 1958, the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) made a statement in the House. Honorable members will remember that a Mr. Somerville Smith had placed an advertisement in a newspaper inviting members of Parliament to contact him with a view to being employed as lobbyists on behalf of private interests. When this matter was raised on the adjournment, I think by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), the Leader of the House said -
There are specific provisions under the Constitution which prohibit a senator or a member of the House of Representatives from directly or indirectly taking or agreeing to take any fee or honorarium for services rendered to the Commonwealth, or for services rendered in the Parliament to any person or State. Should he do so, his place shall thereupon become vacant.
Now, in my opinion, we have not yet had cleared up satisfactorily the question whether there are in this Parliament members who act in a professional capacity as paid lobbyists for outside private interests. 1 think until that is satisfactorily cleared up neither I nor many other people will be satisfied with the situation.
I should like the Treasurer to tell mc whether a member who has his fares paid to Japan by a private firm holding large contracts with the Government is infringing this ruling in regard to paid lobbyists, if his accommodation is found and paid for by a private firm, if his general expenses are met, if, on occasions, he occupies in Sydney a flat free of any rental possessed by the firm, and also has free use of a motor car. I think that if those things are true there is no doubt in the world that an honorable member who is engaged in that type of activity has offended against the very ruling that has been provided by the Treasurer himself.
I am not going to refer to the Committee of Privileges which dealt with the matter because I have said, on a previous occasion, that I believe the committee arrived at a proper finding; but that does not, in my opinion, clear away entirely the allegation that there are paid lobbyists - for private interests - in this Parliament.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) tried to brush any allegations aside by referring to the character of the person who had made them. I know nothing about the gentleman who made the allegations. To me he is nothing more than a name, but evidently the Government, at the request of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) was prepared at the time to take this man so seriously that it referred the matter to the Committee of Privileges. The committee has not dealt, and in my opinion, could not deal, under its present constitution, with the matters that ought to be investigated. I firmly believe that the only way in which this could be satisfactorily decided would be by a thorough and proper investigation either by a royal commission, or by some other body which the Government might appoint.
I received an urgent wire to-day. As for the gentleman who signed it, I knew nothing about him. I have since made a
Jew inquiries and I understand that he is the brother of Sir Arthur Warner, who is the leader of the Liberal Party in the upper house of the Victorian Parliament, and who is also a very prominent member of the outside organization of the Liberal Party. This urgent wire happens to be signed, “ Len Warner Mullion Sternhaven Court Toorak “. Here is what the telegram says -
In event royal commission being appointed investigate allegations against Pearce I am prepared on behalf group of importers to guarantee Somerville Smith legal costs.
Evidently there is a group of importers outside which believes that some priority or preference has been shown to Thiess Brothers as against other importers in this country, in regard to the issuing of import licences. Evidently, those people are not satisfied that the position has been adequately cleared up. Thiess Brothers have a reputation for employing paid agents. There was an occasion when a former member of the Labour Party was engaged by Thiess Brothers for some time. I remember also an occasion when Thiess Brothers established a dummy company - speaking from memory it was the American Equipment Company, or some such name - which brought into this country from Honolulu large quantities of what was regarded as disposal material.
Honorable members might recollect how the newspapers were commenting on the extremely long tow across the Pacific with all this disposal material. At that time I raised the question in the Parliament. I discovered that the material had actually left Honolulu before Thiess Brothers, or their subsidiary company, had obtained an import licence. I then continued my investigations and I discovered that the people in charge of import procurement in Sydney had refused the application and, upon their being pressed to reconsider it, the application was sent to Canberra for consideration at head-quarters. Mr. Meere, the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs, according to my information, upheld the decision of his department in Sydney, but by then the material was on its way to Australia. My understanding is that the then Minister for Customs issued to Thiess Brothers, over the heads of his own department, the import licences that the subsidiary company had been seeking.
I merely ask a few simple questions about this matter. I say that it is not satisfactorily disposed of merely by some one saying, “ Well, who would believe Mr. Somerville Smith? “ Apparently it is not disposed of to the satisfaction of a body of responsible importers. My inquiries lead me to believe that Mr. Len Warner is the brother of Sir Arthur Warner, a prominent Liberal in Victoria. Surely the Government is not going to let the matter rest there. I say to the honorable member for Capricornia that, in his own interests, he ought to ask for a royal commission. He ought to ask for a thorough investigation to clear his character as a member of this Parliament. If Somerville Smith has been making malicious and unfounded allegations - and he is still repeating them, I understand - against a member of this Parliament, and on investigation those allegations cannot be substantiated, he ought to be penalized. Some action ought to be taken against him. On the other hand, if there is some substance in what he has been saying, and in view of what the Treasurer of the Commonwealth has already said in respect of paid lobbyists, the honorable member for Capricornia should not remain a member of this Parliament.
I should like some assurance from the Government that it is prepared to have ibis matter thoroughly investigated, to see whether there is any basis for it. As a matter of fact, I do not say that this matter is confined to the honorable member for Capricornia, because I have been told that in this Parliament there is also a paid lobbyist for Ian Potter and Company, the financial firm in Melbourne. Therefore, a proper and thorough investigation is warranted into these serious allegations that have been made and I hope that the Government will no longer hesitate to do what I feel the great majority of the Australian people would require it to do.
– I think that no one wants any form of inquiry, other than the honorable gentleman from East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who obviously to-night is scavenging for filth and distributing it around this chamber. Let me look at the first part of his question. He referred to section 45 of the Constitution, which states that if a senator or member of the House of Representatives directly or indirectly takes, or agrees to take any fee or honorarium for services rendered to the Commonwealth his place shall thereupon become vacant. Clearly the provision refers to services rendered to the Commonwealth and has nothing whatever to do with something a member might undertake for commercial interest, or with what he does in connexion with his work in the Parliament. The honorable member for East Sydney might have had the decency, especially as he was making these accusations, to read what was in the Constitution. Then he would not have made these statements because he knows very well that what he is referring to has nothing to do with either the Government or the parliamentary duties of the member concerned. I say quite positively that it is a disgraceful thing for an honorable member to come into this House and throw around vague accusations picked up in the most strange corners and then utterly misinterpret the Constitution in an attempt to malign the character of some one else.
I shall deal first with the constitutional position. As far as my colleague from Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) is concerned, we have made it perfectly clear, first, that he says quite plainly - and makes no mistake about it at all - that he did go to Japan in order to try to sell some coal for private concerns in Queensland. That was a matter of common knowledge. It was blazoned in the newspapers and he does not want for one moment to have it thought that he wished that information to be suppressed or hidden. He was only too happy to make it available. He was only too happy to try and sell an Australian product overseas. He was only too happy to try to ensure that Australian employees were kept in employment. Those are the facts.
First, the matter had nothing to do with the Commonwealth Government. Secondly, it had nothing to do with the question of privilege and, thirdly, it had nothing to do with this Commonwealth Parliament, so I fail to understand why the honorable member for East Sydney continues to scavenge for filth in this way and tries tomisrepresent what actually occurred, as well! as the way in which my friend and colleague from Capricornia was involved in thematter.
Now, Sir, what is the proper course to follow? There is only one thing to do,, and that would be if my friend wanted to take civil action. Would he? The gentleman to whom reference has been made has no finances whatever: The honorable member would not want to put him in gaol. None of us would like to do that because, frankly, many people feel sorry for the man.. I do, for one. Consequently, the honorable member for Capricornia would be doing a foolish and hazardous act if he attempted to take any action against this gentleman. That is the position. No person acting wisely or sensibly would try to take any kind of civil action.
The third thing that has been said by the honorable member for East Sydney was in relation to import licences. Obviously, this is too vague. No positive statement has been made except for a vague telegram from a fellow in Queensland. What the honorable gentleman ought to have the decency to do, if he has any facts, is to submit them to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). If he did that, he would get a prompt and, I am certain, a conclusive reply; because we have had statements of this sort made before and always when investigated they have been found to be erroneous.
I personally believe this has gone far enough. I have discussed the matter with the honorable member for Capricornia and - if I could put it this way - I have said, “I think you would be wise - extremely wise - if you disregarded Mr. Somerville Smith and the honorable gentleman for East Sydney “; or, perhaps, if I could put it in its proper sequence, “You would be very wise to completely disregard the honorable member for East Sydney and take no notice of Mr. Somerville Smith “.
.- The Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) has adopted a most unusual course in the presentation of his statement concerning “the third phase or stage in the provision of television services to the people of Australia. It is a remarkable exercise of the parliamentary system that the PostmasterGeneral should choose the debate on the adjournment to present his statement to the House. Perhaps time will prove that this course was justified because of some urgency in this matter. If the urgency is so great, I think perhaps the debate might have been interrupted earlier this evening to enable the Minister to make this important news known to the people who may have been listening to the broadcast of the parliamentary proceedings. The opportunity which was available to the Minister to do that was not taken, and I am at a loss to understand why such an extraordinary course was adopted by the PostmasterGeneral on this occasion.
In his statement to-night, the Minister said that local and independent stations will be given opportunities to render the -service to the people in the country areas. Again, I note with some dissatisfaction a reservation. I hope my feelings and that reservation are not justified, and that they prove to be unwarranted. Whatever delays might be necessary in clarifying this matter concerning the provision of television services to the people of Australia in country areas, I am at a loss to understand why the Australian Broadcasting Commission, for which the Minister is responsible, should find it necessary to delay giving a decision on its future intentions. Even if it is necessary to delay the matter so far as commercial organizations are concerned to enable the Government to make a full, searching investigation into the background of any proposed companies and other matters relating to them, at least there ought to be a definite and clear policy for the A. B.C. At this stage, it ought to know its own business. If the commission could make a statement now of its intentions, it would be an excellent guide to the commercial organizations which desire to enter this important field.
Another matter which arises in regard to the inquiry to be made by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board raises a question which was mentioned here previously. It is this: When the inquiry has been made and the whole facts have been heard, will the Government accept the view of the
Broadcasting Control Board? That is important, because in other cases we have found that the Commonwealth Government, through the Minister, has not accepted a carefully considered report and has taken another course entirely. Therefore, it is with some misgivings that I have heard the statement by the PostmasterGeneral to-night. I can only hope and trust that as time goes on, the best will be done.
For my part, as a representative of a country electorate and an area to be served by a station, or stations, within this third stage of television development, I hope that country interests will be protected. I hope the people will be given a service second to none, and that it will be owned and controlled in a commercial sense by local interests. I hope that the A.B.C. will get on with the job. So far as I can see, there is no need to delay any longer in giving a decision.
– There is no occasion for honorable gentlemen opposite to get angry or concerned about the procedure that has been followed by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) in presenting his statement on television. If there is a desire on the part of honorable members around the chamber - and there may very well be - to have some general discussion on the matter which the Minister has presented to the Parliament to-night, then I will be only too happy to arrange with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) for a debate to take place on a statement to be placed on the table by my colleague who will move for the printing of the paper.
Insofar as there is any criticism to be applied to the course that has been followed to-night, it should be directed against me, because I counselled the line of action that was taken by the Postmaster-General. I did it believing at the time that it was in accordance with the convenience of the House. My colleague came to me earlier to-day and told me that because of wide speculation through the press and elsewhere of the intentions of the Government in this matter, he thought it desirable that Government policy should be stated.
– What do you mean by speculation - gambling in shares?
– No, no! I mean speculation as to the intentions of the Government. The honorable gentleman must not be infected by the company he keeps. Everybody does not approach these matters with a sinister mind.
The Postmaster-General suggested to me that he make a statement to the House at 8 o’clock to-night. 1 said I thought that would not be well received by honorable members, particularly those on the Opposition side, when we had business before the Parliament which they would not wish to have interrupted for this purpose. I said, “ Your proper course in the circumstances would be to make your statement, preferably by leave, after question time on Tuesday “. He pointed out to me that because of the publicity that had already been given to the matter, and the uncertainty that the publicity was creating, he thought it necessary to get a Government policy statement out before the week-end. So I counselled him to get a statement ready for the press at a convenient time for publication, but I said, “ You must pay the House the courtesy of letting honorable members know what our policy is in the matter”. So that was done.
That has not precluded opportunity at any time for discussion of the matter by honorable members. If there is a general feeling that we should have some discussion on the matter next week, I shall be only too happy to arrange it. I know that mv colleague will be willing, indeed eager, to debate the matter even further in the House.
.- Mr. Speaker, I would not have risen but for the fact that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) spoke in a very contemptuous manner of the statements made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and said that, because the honorable member had requested that certain things be done, he was a scavenger of some description. In reality, what occurred was this: The matter was brought before this House, not by the honorable member for East Sydney but by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce). The honorable member for Capricornia told the House that certain^ allegations which reflected upon hisintegrity as a member of the House had been made by some one outside the chamber. With the assistance of theTreasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), he had thoseallegations referred to a body called the Privileges Committee so that it could clear him of them and leave his characterabsolutely unbesmirched
– It was done with theassistance of the Parliament. The decision was made by the Parliament.
– It was a decision of theParliament that the matter should go before the Privileges Committee, but it was thedesire of the honorable member for Capricornia and the Treasurer that the matter should go before that committee.
– And of the Leader of the Opposition.
– It was the desire of theTreasurer and the honorable member for Capricornia that the Privileges Committee should take such action as would clear thecharacter of the honorable member for Capricornia of any imputation.
– It was nothing of thekind.
– It was the desire of thosehonorable gentlemen that the committee should clear the honorable member for Capricornia of every imputation by taking action against the person who had made thedefamatory statements. However, thePrivileges Committee did not do that but left the position exactly as it was when thehonorable member for Capricornia rose inhis place and when the Treasurer addressed the House through you, Mr. Speaker. According to the honorable member for Capricornia, his integrity was beingchallenged; it was under a cloud. According to the Treasurer, the integrity of thehonorable member for Capricornia was at stake. Well, his integrity is still at: stake, and that is what the honorable member for East Sydney has pointed out tome House.
The honorable member for East Sydney having pointed that out, this gentleman at the table, the Minister for Labour and National Service, this person who seeks to be the embodiment of all virtues and the upholder of the dignity and honour of the parliamentary institution, casts reflections upon the honorable member for East Sydney. I have merely risen to rid this issue of some of the humbug that surrounds it and to point, not merely to the honorable member for Capricornia and the Treasurer, who have had a part in the matter as humbugs, but also to the honorable gentleman who had the audacity to challenge the integrity of the honorable member for East Sydney.
– At the risk of taking up a few moments of the time of the House, I really feel that, having heard the speech of the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), we need to get the position straight. The honorable member did not set the position out very clearly when he referred to the way in which this matter was submitted to the Privileges Committee and the nature of the question that was decided by the committee.
The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) brought before this House one question, and one question only. That was whether or not there had been a breach of privilege - that is, in a layman’s language, whether there had been an attempt to intimidate him in the course of his parliamentary duty. That question, and that question alone, by a decision of the House, not by a decision of any single member of it, was referred to the Privileges Committee.
– The Leader of the Opposition concurred in the arrangement on behalf of the Opposition.
– As my colleague has stated by way of interjection, the Leader of the Opposition joined with the Government in saying, in effect, that this was a matter that could properly go before the privileges Committee for its decision. The matter that went before the committee was solely a question of privilege. Any matter affecting the actions or the character of the honorable member for Capricornia was never a matter for decision by the Privileges Committee. If the honorable member for Scullin reads again the report that was tabled by the Privileges Committee, he will see that that question was never touched upon. I repeat that the only matter that was referred to this House by the honorable member for Capricornia was a question of privilege, that the only matter sent to the Privileges Committee was a matter of privilege, and that the only matter on which the committee made a report was that question of privilege.
That being over and the one matter put into the custody of this House having been disposed of, then and only then does the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) rake up from sources outside the House and bring in as a new matter what I regard as being extraneous material designed to damage the reputation of a fellow member of the Parliament. I think there are decencies which we as members owe to one another.
.- I am sorry to occupy the time of the House in this matter, but I want to get a few points clear. I hope they will be quite clear in the mind of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) by the time I resume my seat. On Wednesday, 22nd April, the honorable member for East Sydney rose in his place in this chamber and launched a debate on the issue of J. Somerville Smith versus the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce). There is something very significant about his choosing that night to raise the matter. The honorable member for East Sydney did not bother to inquire whether the honorable member for Capricornia was in Canberra. When the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) rose on that occasion and mentioned that the honorable member for Capricornia was in Sydney receiving medical treatment, did the honorable member for East Sydney apologize for his scandalous behaviour in seeking to attack a person who was not here to defend himself? No, he did not! He adopted the coward’s way out, and that has characterized his actions in the whole of this miserable business.
Again to-night, the honorable member for East Sydney does not bother to inquire why the honorable member for Capricornia does not rise in his place to defend himself. There are gentlemen sitting on the same side of the chamber as the honorable member for East Sydney who, I should imagine, are feeling very sad about the behaviour of the honorable member to-night. They happen to know why the honorable member for Capricornia cannot rise to defend himself. One would need to be blind not to see what the honorable member for Capricornia has under his neck. But once again the honorable member for East Sydney does not bother to inquire. He does not bother to ask any of his colleagues why the honorable member for Capricornia does not rise to defend himself.
To-night, the honorable member for East Sydney, in order to support his miserable and contemptible case, produces a telegram. Has he checked the authenticity of that telegram? Am I to understand, Sir, that if the honorable member received a telegram couched in such terms as “ Am holding an at-home on Sunday night; would welcome you as a guest. Signed Jim Killen “, included in the guests who arrived at my home would be the honorable member for East Sydney? Such a display of gullibility is hardly consistent with the honorable gentleman’s record. Then, with this simulated respect for parliamentary tradition, and this synthetic idea of upholding the dignity of the Parliament, the honorable member asks, “ Is this in opposition to the provisions of the Constitution? “ It ill becomes the honorable gentleman to pose as the custodian of the Constitution. Similarly, it ill becomes him to pose as the guardian of public morality. Last night, he took up the time of the House by reciting in detail the afflictions suffered by some unfortunate people. I am. prevented from giving my diagnosis of what is wrong with the honorable member for East Sydney - a diagnosis that would befit his behaviour and his capacity for displaying courage. I simply content myself with saying that if the honorable member could have his mind scrubbed with common soap and a hard brush, the Parliament and the country would be the better for it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.48 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are asfollows: -
The commission feels that it has an obligation under its charter to make available to the country special services such as news, school broadcasts, kindergarten sessions, and entertainment programmes for children &c, which restricts the time available for other types of material in the daytime. However, on special occasions, e.g. test cricket, Davis Cup tennis &c, the regional programme is adjusted so that as much as possible of the sporting event concerned is made available to regional listeners. This was done, for example, during the recent England/ Australia test series.
s asked the Postmaster-General,, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as. follows: -
y asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
Will he consider setting up a committee to enquire into the advisability of increasing agc, invalid and other pensions?
– I do not see that the setting up of such a committee would serve any useful purpose. It is the responsibility of the Government to decide whether the rates of social service pensions should be increased having regard to the needs of the pensioners and the finance available for that purpose. It has been the practice for many years for successive Commonwealth Governments to review the rates and conditions of pensions and other social service benefits each year in connexion with the Budget. Our huge outlay for social services, almost £221,000,000 for the current financial year, makes it a major budget item and, as such, it cannot be considered except in the light of the Government’s overall expenditure. The usual review of social service payments and other benefit items will be made this year.
y asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 April 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1959/19590430_reps_23_hor23/>.