23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the Minister had time to examine the attack made upon the constitution of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission by the honorable member for Bradfield, in which he claimed that the decisions handed down by the commission since the 1950 basic wage case portray an exceedingly muddled state of mind in the members of the commission? If the Minister has examined the statement of the honorable member, will he take early action to protect the integrity of members of the commission? Will he say what action he proposes to take if the Communist Party uses the speech of the honorable member for Bradfield in its consistent attack upon the principle of conciliation and arbitration?
– The honorable gentleman for Bradfield has a perfect right to express his opinions in this House on a motion for the adjournment; and the Opposition has a perfect right, if it feels he is out of order, to raise a point of order and have it decided by you, Mr. Speaker. I heard the speech of the honorable gentleman, and naturally I had some personal regret that he made that statement about the members of the commission. However, whilst I felt that personally, I had no hesitation in conceding that it was a matter for the honorable gentleman himself to express his opinions. I was not aware that he intended to make such a statement, and I listened with interest to what he had to say. One or two of his suggestions will, of course, bear examination. Having said that, I can only repeat that it was a matter for the honorable gentleman himself.
As to the last part of the question, I think that in saying what I have said I have done as much as I can to protect the integrity of the members of the commision. I am quite certain that they will make their decisions without being influenced by what is said outside the commission’s rooms. That has already been made abundantly clear by Mr. Justice Kirby, the president of the commission, who has said that the commission bases its opinions and judgments on the evidence given before it, not on what is said outside. The honorable member for Blaxland mentioned the Communist Party. Naturally, I cannot say what I would do in a hypothetical situation. If the honorable gentleman finds that the Communist Party is attempting to take advantage of this speech, I would be very obliged if he would let me know.
– I direct my question to the Treasurer. As the Government is at present considering the rates of pay of servicemen with a view to encouraging volunteers, and as the taxation of the pay of part-time servicemen has been a constant source of irritation, will the Treasurer consider an amendment to the income tax legislation which would exempt from taxation, first, all pay to members of the forces on active service, and secondly, all pay of volunteer members of the forces serving part-time?
– The honorable member’s question can, I think, be considered from two points of view. It can be considered, first, as a request for tax relief. As the honorable member knows, during the course of a year some hundreds of requests, of one kind or another, for tax relief are received by the Government, and are analysed and considered before budget decisions are made. The second point of view involves the question whether, quite apart from tax relief generally, there should be some special inducement held out to members of the services, whether on part-time or regular duty, which would put them in a category different from that of other sections of taxpayers. I am not persuaded that in the present circumstances this would be justified. The Government has already announced revisions of pay arrangements in respect of members of both the regular services and the Citizen Military Forces, which should considerably increase the remuneration received by those service personnel. I do not feel that a case has been made out for carrying further the process of increasing remuneration in the way proposed by the honorable member.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. Has any estimate been made of the number of ancillary workers who would be displaced if there were a considerable reduction in the armed forces, and has any consideration been given to compensating or rehabilitating such workers?
– I am afraid that I did not hear the honorable member’s question very clearly, but if he. will, pass it on to me I will give him a full answer.
– I address a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. It concerns deficiency payments on lamb exported to the United Kingdom. By way of preface I would like to point out that during the flush of the lamb export season last spring, prices were being paid on the Australian market for lamb to be exported to the United Kingdom considerably below the minimum price fixed under the fifteenyear meat agreement with the United Kingdom. At that time there was some pressure brought to bear on the Australian Meat Board by the growers’ organizations for recognition of this fact and for the making of some deficiency payment, similar to that which was granted some years ago in the case of beef exports. I know that prices have since increased considerably, and I ask the Minister: What is the present outlook for the overall seasonal price, and does it appear that any deficiency payment will be made for lamb sales as a result of operations during the last export season?
– I am aware that prices for lamb were depressed from July last year onwards, but before Christmas they had improved to such an extent that the prices being paid were then higher than the guaranteed minimum stipulated in the agreement with the United Kingdom. Those prices have been maintained since then, and it is now certain that we shall have no claim for deficiency payments with regard to operations during this financial year.
– Has the Minister for Immigration any further information on the aims and set-up of the migrant union in Sydney? Does the Government plan to take any action to restrict the growth, of such regrettable organizations, either on the migrant ships coming- to Australia, or among migrant groups in Australia, or both? I might mention that migrants in my electorate have expressed- to me their complete opposition to, and disgust at, the move in Sydney.
– As the honorable member for Wilmot may recall, I have already made three statements, in all, on this matter. I think that the migrant movement to which he refers - and I assume he as talking about the New Citizens Council - is obviously an incipient body. So far it has not attracted a very large membership or really a great deal of attention. The Government is well aware of the dangers of the growth of such a body so far as the future of migrant assimilation is concerned and naturally we will watch very carefully any further developments in that respect.
– My question is addressed to the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Can the Minister now answer my request that he arrange for one or more appropriate scientists from the C.S.LR.O. to visit Victorian wheatlands infested with skeleton weed, with a view to making inspections and advising, wheatgrowers on the problem? If the answer is in the- negative, will he ask the C.S.LR.O. to experiment on* skeleton weed in Canberra in an endeavour to find means to eradicate it? Such means, if successful, could be applied elsewhere. I display a healthy sample secured this morning within 200 yards of this chamber.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. Is it possible to have this sample incorporated in “ Hansard “?
– No point of order is involved.
– Some time ago the C.S.LR.O. did investigate the problem of skeleton weed in areas of New
South Wales and developed techniques which resulted in quite useful control of the weed .there. The same methods were found .to be not applicable in .the Wimmera and Mallee areas of Victoria and the problem there has been taken up by the Victorian Department of Agriculture. If that department wants assistance from the C.S.I.R.O. and asks for it, of course the matter can be immediately considered. I will invite the organization to see what can be done regarding the skeleton weed in the Australian Capital Territory.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Did the Government discard the incomefromproperty means test and did it disregard the financial assistance to pensioner parents by their children, simply to assist the pensioners? If that is so, and in view of the fact that pensioners are allowed to own the home in which they reside without reduction of pension, is the Prime Minister aware that many pensioners are receiving reduced pensions simply because parents providing accommodation for their married children structurally alter their homes even though the property is “being rated by municipal authorities as a single dwelling? Will the Prime Minister obtain a ruling from the Crown Solicitor in this regard, as was done when the question arose whether a pensioner was allowed to own a motor car for his own use without having his pension reduced?
– As the honorable member well knows, I do not administer this act, but I will refer his question to the appropriate Minister.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Can the Minister inform the House whether it is a fact that under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme at present some medicines are more costly than if prescribed as not being on the free -list? I have in mind ephedrobarbital which can be prescribed and bought privately for 12s. per 100 tablets, but when it is taken under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, the cost is 5s. for ;the first prescription for 25 tablets, with repeat prescriptions at 5s. each. This makes a total of £1 for 100 tablets. I understand that the normal price of thephorin is 7.s. for 50 tablets, but, under the scheme, -there is a charge of 5s. for 25 tablets. Is there any way in which these anomalies can be adjusted?
– The honorable gentleman will appreciate, I am sure, that I cannot carry the details of all the drugs on the list and their prices and quantities in my mind. In a number of cases such as those to which he has referred, in which there are apparent anomalies, allowance has to be made for the dispensing fee. If the honorable gentleman will let me have details of the drugs about which he is asking, I shall have inquiries made and supply him with a full answer.
– Is the Minister for Air aware of widespread dissatisfaction :among servicemen, especially those at the Richmond Royal Australian Air Force Station, regarding the operations of the Armed Services Canteens Organization? Is it a fact that complaints and requests by local canteen committees to representatives of Asco, as it is called, have been completely ignored? Is ‘it a fact that since Asco took over from the R.A.A.F. canteen service, prices, including the prices of welfare sporting equipment, have risen to such an extent that they exceed the prices of similar goods in .private shops in the local community? In order to sustain these practices, has Asco insisted upon monopoly rights within camp establishments and, accordingly, have private newsagencies, dry cleaners, and other businesses been given notice to quit?
– Order! The honorable member is giving a lot of information. I suggest that he ask a question.
– Finally, who insists on these profits being made, and for what purposes are they used?
– It is true that there is some dissatisfaction at one or two Air Force stations about the prices charged in the canteens at the present time. I think that this arises primarily from a misunderstanding of the nature and the purposes of the new integrated services canteen organization, which was introduced last July. The old
Air Force canteens had a pricing policy which was aimed at selling goods to the airmen at the cheapest prices possible and making virtually no profits for service welfare, canteen amenities and matters of that sort. The new canteens organization has a different pricing policy, which is to charge at all stations the general retail prices in capital cities, with only a small loading for freight in very distant stations such as those at Woomera and Darwin. In this way, considerable profits will be accumulated over a long period, the whole of which will be used for the benefit of the servicemen themselves.
This is in line with the policy adopted for many years by the old Army canteens. They had funds from which they provided very good amenities in their canteens. They could also make loans to servicemen to buy furniture and homes, and do other things of that sort. They ran a medical benefits scheme which was the envy of the Air Force. I hope very much that, in the course of time, the Air Force canteens will be able to accumulate enough profits to do the same sort of thing for airmen. That is long overdue. The honorable member will not be surprised, perhaps, to know that an increase in the price of beer in the canteen at Richmond is the immediate cause of this difficulty. Even so, since Richmond is some distance from Sydney, and the capital city price is applied, beer is available in the Air Force canteens at Richmond at about Id. a glass less than in the hotels outside the station.
– I should like to ask a question without notice of the Minister for Health. In January last the Minister announced that the importation of pigs from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would no longer be permitted, due to some evidence of the existence in Ireland of a form of rhinitis. At that time several Stud pig breeders in my electorate had placed orders for the importation of pedigreed stock which they were obliged to cancel. Can the Minister say whether this ban is likely to continue, and what is the position generally?
– The position is that it was not the appearance of the disease in Ireland which caused the imposition of the ban on imports, but the appearance of the disease in South Australia. The ban on the importation of pigs had been in force until October of last year, when information which we have no reason to doubt was received that the disease was non-existent in Ireland, and importations were thereupon permitted, though with the warning that if there was any evidence that the disease would reappear, the ban would be reimposed. About the end of last year - I am precise about the exact date - some case of rhinitis in pigs occurred in South Australia, and the South Australian Government immediately instituted an eradication programme. A meeting was held of the chief veterinary officers of the States and the Commonwealth, with a representative of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, which unanimously recommended the reimposition of the ban. Accordingly, the ban on the importation of pigs was reimposed, and so far as is known is likely to remain in force indefinitely. I should point out to the honorable gentleman that, irrespective of the ban, the various State governments would, of course, pursue such eradication programmes or other measures as they thought proper.
– I ask the Minister for Health: Is the Victorian Government increasing hospital fees from 36s. to 60s. a day - which is an increase of sixty-six and two-thirds per cent. - in public and intermediate wards, because he and the Government have refused to provide adequate funds for the Victorian Liberal Party Government to enable it properly to maintain beds in both the public and the intermediate sections of Victorian hospitals? If not, what is the reason for such an immense increase?
Speaker, the reasons why the Victorian Government or, indeed, why any State government takes certain action, can of course, be ascertained only from that government itself. I cannot speak on behalf of the Victorian Government, but I must point out to the honorable gentleman that at no time in the history of the Commonwealth has the Federal Government made more money available to State governments than it does now.
– My question is to the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and is supplementary to one that was asked earlier. The Minister is aware that the threat of skeleton weed now extends to the famous Wimmera wheat growing plains. Does he also realize that unless some action, preferably by a combination of Federal and State authorities, is taken immediately, wheat production will be reduced, and owners of cereal growing land in this area will have no option except to return to grazing? As Australia’s need is for maximum production, will he treat this as a matter of national importance?
– I do not know that I can add very much to what I have already said to the honorable member for Mallee. This problem in Victoria is, I understand, being actively tackled by the Victorian Government. If that government wishes some action to be taken by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, of course the position can be considered as soon as the application is made.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Air by saying that modern civil jet airliners travel at the same altitudes as modern military aircraft. I ask the Minister: Has the Royal Australian Air Force taken any steps to co-operate with civil operators to prevent the possibility of collisions between civil and military aircraft such as sometimes occur overseas?
– Yes, the most careful and painstaking steps have been taken to avoid this possibility. I refer the honorable member particularly to a statement made quite recently by my colleague the Minister for Civil Aviation about new rules for the control of all aircraft, civil and military, flying at all altitudes throughout Australia.
– Will the Minister for the Army consider a suggestion agreed to by the honorary colonels of all existing South Australian Citizen Military Forces units, that the new South Australian regiment should be called the Tenth South Australian Regiment and should inherit the traditions, colours and battle honours of the tenth battalion, while at the same time the traditions, colours and battle honours of the other South Australian units be put into cold storage pending the day, if it ever comes, when additional battle groups are raised in this State?
– Yes. This is a very interesting suggestion and one that is being investigated, the desire being to preserve whatever traditions we can in the new setup. I will certainly give very close consideration to the honorable member’s suggestion.
– When does the Minister for Primary Industry expect to be in a position to answer the question I asked last week regarding barley and barley exports?
– No ban at all has been imposed by the Commonwealth upon the export of barley. As the honorable member knows, there are State boards operating with regard to domestic supplies. I think that in certain instances shortages exist in particular States, but the Commonwealth has imposed no ban on exports.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration: Is it a fact that certain information brochures relating to Australia, together with some colour slides, are made available for the information of migrants on board chartered migrant ships travelling between the United Kingdom and Australia? 1 understand that in some cases information and colour slides made available are restricted to two of the major States. Will the Minister investigate this matter to ensure that this very useful educational assistance provided by the Department of Immigration is extended to cover all States of Australia in the future?
– It is perfectly true that the Department of Immigration tries to have quite a variety of colour slides on the principal migrant ships, and certainly on the chartered migrant’ ships travelling between England and the Continent and Australia. These slides serve a very useful purpose. I do not think that the honorable member is correct in suggesting that they are perhaps rather narrowly restricted to two or three States. From my own knowledge, the slides are as embracive as possible. They cover, of course, every State and as many facets of Australian life as fs expedient. Naturally, there is some tendency to concentrate upon the more highly industrialized or the more densely populated parts of Australia. If my friend, although he has been charitable enough not to say so, has at the back of his mind that we might do a little more for Queensland, and perhaps also that there have been no colour slides of that delectable city of Toowoomba which he represents here with such assiduity, I shall do my best to repair that deficiency if, in fact, it exists.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. I desire to know whether he is aware that in an address delivered in the Lyceum Theatre, Sydney, the Reverend Alan Walker said -
Some methods of making money in Australia cannot be endorsed by a Christian conscience. Every £1 earned in wages is taxed, but capital gains from shares, land speculation and gambling escape:
Does the Prime Minister agree with the views which have been expressed by this reverend gentleman? If so, will he examine the question of introducing a capital gains tax on the enormous profits which are being made by big business, in the- manner described by the Reverend Alan Walker?
– As the honorable member well knows, I have not seen the statement to which he has referred. Presumably, he has just read it in a newspaper. I am- not surprised to find that the reverend gentleman is offering some political opinions. I very seldom find myself in the happy position of being able to agree with him.
– I ask the Minister for the Army a- question. Is it a fact that some time ago designs for new uniforms for the Australian Army were prepared? Have the user trials of the new dress been completed? When is it expected that consideration will be given to the results of the trials?
– It is true that investigations have been taking place into proposed new combat, summer and winter uniforms. The user trials of the summer uniform, have been going- on for a considerable’ time; and it is hoped that by the- end of next month, or early in May, the trials will have been completed. The results of the trials will then be considered’ by the Military Board. Combat clothing and equipment are undergoing user trials at Canungra, and further trials will be carried out in the tropical area in Malaya. The user trials of the winter uniform will commence this winter and will- proceed through the season. At the end of the winter, consideration will be given to the question of the new winter uniform to be adopted.
– By way of preface to my question, which is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, I wish to say that “ Princess of Tasmania “ has more than fulfilled our hopes and expectations in the job that it is doing. Will the Minister investigate the freight handling equipment at Devonport in an endeavour to speed up delivery of a giant fork lift truck which, I understand, has been in Melbourne for some time? In addition, in view of heavy bookings through the winter months and the waiting list of about 300 for the next summer months, will the Minister consider whether the provision of a second vessel on this route would be practicable?
– I appreciate the interest of the honorable member. I shall consider the matters which he has brought forward’ and give him a reply later.
- Mr. Speaker, I desireto make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I claim to have been misrepresented by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) in a question which he asked a short time ago. Last night, on the motion to adjourn, I spoke about what I considered to be a desirable reform in the composition of the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission. My speech was a measured speech. By no means could it be called an attack on the integrity of the bench, or upon any member of it’. Indeed, I think that all members of this House know that I am not in the habit of attacking individuals and they will believe, even those who did not hear my speech, that last night I did not attack any individual member of the commission. The whole basis of my speech-
– Order! The honorable member should devote himself to that portion of his speech in respect of which he claims to have been misrepresented-.
– Very well, Sir. The allegation by the honorable member for Blaxland was that I had attacked the integrity of the bench. I say that I did nothing of the kind, that I suggested a reform of the composition of the commission by including in its membership a person who had some background of economics, in order that the issues coming before the commission could be better understood by it. So I say that the honorable member’s allegation was a complete misrepresentation of my speech.
May I simply add, Sir, that I had no intention whatever of trying to influence any decision, to which the commission may be coming at this moment. I was not aware that the commission: proposed to come to a decision in the near, future. I was dealing with this matter-
– Order! The honorable member is now debating the matter.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt)- by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the consideration of
Notice of Motion No. 1, General Business, being continued until 12.45 p.m. and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), speaking on the motion for a period not exceeding 30 minutes.
– I move -
That this House -
expresses its abhorrence at the shooting down of native men, women and children at several places in South Africa, and its. sense of outrage that a great number of people were killed in such circumstances in a member country of the British Commonwealth of Nations;
expresses its sympathy with the relatives of the victims of these unfortunate occurences;
regrets that the opinions expressed by the Prime Minister will be construed as Australian condonation of the South African Prime Minister’s statements and attitude;
repudiates the parallel that the Prime Minister drew between South Africa’s treatment of the natives in the Union of South Africa and SouthWest Africa, and. Australia’s treatment of the indigenous inhabitants of the Commonwealth and its territories because Australia’s policy in Australia and Papua-New Guinea- is not apartheid nor does it require and never has required the carriage of passports governing their movements inside their country by indigenous peoples;
emphasizes that the Prime Minister’s gratuitous and maladroit references to the policies of Australia in regard’ to its native peoples may be construed in Asia and Africa in a manner most damaging to this country, and
agrees that all’ the circumstances of this tragic incident should be brought before the notice of the United Nations as speedily as possible, and should also be listed for discussion at the forthcoming Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference.
The present unfortunate and terrible position in South Africa was first brought to the notice of this House by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart), who last week addressed a question on the subject to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). The matter was raised again this week by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney). The Prime Minister, in his reply to the later question-, agreed with our views, at least in part. Speaking, I presume, not only for himself and his colleagues, but for the Parliament, he said -
There can be no objection to or criticism of those sentiments. The right honorable gentleman then went on to say that he welcomed the institution by the Government of South Africa of judicial investigations into the two more recent major incidents, and he argued that we should await the result of that judicial inquiry before expressing our views about what should be done in South Africa, if we cared to express any opinions at all. A judicial inquiry can only establish certain facts, and most of the facts of this matter are well known. We know that, of the victims of the incidents, some have died and many are in hospital, although probably most of those in hospital will recover. It may transpire that somebody gave a wrong order and that possibly the Government of South Africa did not approve of the order given in a particular incident; but that, to us, seems to be all by the way. Something greater than the actual shootings at these times is involved, because the shootings are symptomatic of a condition of affairs which, in our view, should not be allowed to pass without some attempt being made to remedy it.
The Prime Minister said that the Australian Government had two points in mind. One was that we should not say or do anything that would exacerbate the existing situation. We do not wish to do that, but we are not going to avoid offering our criticism because somebody might say that it would have been better had we made no criticism at all. The second point made by the Prime Minister related to a matter of principle. He argued that the greatest principle is that one government does not interfere in matters which are within the domestic jurisdiction of another, but that principle, of course, does not have universal application by this Government. We say that brutality is brutality wherever and by whomsoever committed. We are just as much opposed to what was done in Hungary three or four years ago, to what was done more recently in Tibet, to what was done in Cuba and to what was done in Algeria as we are to what is being done to-day in South Africa.
The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) followed up the matter on Tuesday last with a further question addressed to the Prime Minister. He re ceived what seemed to us a most extraordinary answer. The honorable member asked the Prime Minister -
In view of his statement that the South African killings are a domestic matter, is it a fact that the United Nations has already decided to consider this matter, which would indicate that it is of international significance?
Later in his question, the honorable member asked -
Is it further a fact that South Africa has agreed to such consideration by the Security Council, but that this has been deferred . . . because South Africa wishes to submit certain information to the council?
The Prime Minister said, very shortly -
The suggestions made by the honorable member are all news to me.
They were news to everybody else, but it is important to bear in mind that South Africa has no objection to the matter being discussed by the council, or at least it did not oppose-
– On what authority do you say that? On the authority of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro?
– By virtue of the fact that when the matter came before the Security Council, South Africa asked for an adjournment of a day because it wished to submit certain information to the council. It did not say that it proposed to boycott the hearing by the Security Council. It apparently was prepared to allow the matter, brought to the notice of the council by the powerful Afro-Asian bloc, to be discussed.
The Opposition has not lightly moved this resolution, which places on record its views on certain recent events in South Africa. We do it with a deep sense of urgency and with a full sense of responsibility. The crisis which faces the Government and the peoples of South Africa today did not have its beginnings yesterday, or last year, or even ten years ago. The bitter feelings which exist between the white and coloured residents of that unhappy country have been worsened by the divisions among the English and Afrikander sections of the South African community. These divisions have existed since the Boer War between the English and the Afrikander communities. They go back to the time of the concentration camps for Boer women and children, of the prolonged war and the introduction of Asian people - Chinese, principally, as coolie labourers - to work. It was the possession of the diamond mines of Kimberley and the gold mines of Johannesburg which was the primary cause of the South African war. It is notorious that the white community in South Africa is divided into two sections. These two groups, not being able to reconcile their differences, are confronted by 12,000,000 other people, against their 3,000,000, who feel that they are being denied elementary justice in their own land at a time when everybody throughout the world proclaims support for the charter of the United Nations, for respect for human dignity and for the promotion of self-government amongst people who, not being of European origin or descent, have for many hundreds of years lived under dictatorships or tribal institutions of one sort or another. People throughout the world want freedom, and the people of South Africa want their fair share of the government of their own country.
Regrettable as are the hostile feelings created by that war of 60 years ago, they are as nothing compared with the feelings of hatred, helplessness and hopelessness experienced to-day by the 10,000,000 native peoples and by 2,000,000 of mixed race, because of the policy of apartheid pursued with fanatical zeal by the South African Government. That policy relegates these unfortunate human beings to the position of second-class and inferior citizens without any political power whatever and not possessed of even the elementary right to vote in national or local elections. The recent explosion, long simmering, has burst at last over an issue involving the carrying of internal passports. It would have burst at some time; it might have burst earlier or it might have burst forth later, but the explosion has now occurred. From what we can ascertain, the passport system was intended by the Government of South Africa to regulate the flow of coloured peoples from country areas into the settled and more developed areas because it was felt that any influx of bush natives would threaten the employment of the more sophisticated members of the Bantu race, who normally live close to the Europeans in settled areas.
The resentment of the disfranchised native people, as indignity was heaped upon indignity, was matched by the stubborn, misguided refusal of the Afrikanders to relax their policies of trying to segregate 12,000,000 people into a superior class, representing one section of 3,000,000 white people, and a subject helot class of 9,000,000 native people. We are not alone in expressing our views so strongly on this question. The London “ Times “ has expressed its views. It is certainly not a socialist paper; it is not even a radical paper. It is the organ of the “ establishment “ and seeks to preserve the existing position in England at all times and in all circumstances.
– It does not speak for the British Government.
– It mildly criticizes the British Government when that Government is wrong. It is a most authoritative paper. It is a splendidly edited paper, and England would be poorer without it. The “ Times “ had this to say on 22nd March last -
The pass-books are the visible signs of a highly complicated and frankly tyrannical network of control.
The “ New York Times “ is no more radical than the London “Times”. On the same date it said this -
The evil of the policy of apartheid could not help bearing evil fruits.
– It is easy to solve a problem that is not yours, isn’t it?
– Of course the honorable member for Perth offers many opinions at times on matters with which he is not very concerned, either. We, as human beings, are concerned with tragedies similar to those that have occurred in South Africa, wherever they occur. The honorable member for Perth was very vocal about Hungary - and rightly so - but about South Africa it is a different story. We stand on a principle on these matters. The principle was very well expressed by Abraham Lincoln over 100 years ago, when he said -
This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.
That is our belief. Edmund Burke in 1777 said: -
People crushed by laws have no hopes but from power. If laws are their enemies, they ‘will be enemies to laws; and those, who have much to hope, and nothing to lose, will always be dangerous, more or less.
To the Afrikaanders it seems that the only way in which the problem of association of white and coloured peoples can be solved and such a society maintained is by the policy of segregation. Nobody outside Africa agrees with this system, and everybody wonders why it is supported with such extraordinary zeal by the Government of South Africa and its supporters, and why the Australian Government, alone amongst the governments of the Commonwealth of Nations, has offered no concrete suggestions for an improvement of the situation, but merely stands aside and says, “It is none of our business and we will do nothing to help in any way “.
Every one with any understanding of South Africa’s problems knows that the presence of the white man in that country is indispensable at the present time, and will be for many years to .come, for the well-being and progress of the native peoples and for the development of the country. We have no sympathy with those who say that the .white man must go. We have no sympathy with those who say that South Africa must be removed from the Commonwealth of Nations. That would not solve any of the problems of to-day. It is far better that a proper relationship should exist between the races that are living together in South Africa, and have lived together there for 300 years or more.
Every well-wisher of South Africa would like to see another and more humane relationship between Europeans and natives established. It seems to us that without a coming together of the white and coloured peoples at all levels of association - political, educational, commercial, industrial, social and religious - on a basis of equality, there is and never can be any prospect of peace in South Africa, and no way by which the conflicting interests of the two cultures, the old and the new, can be reconciled.
What has happened in South Africa has sparked a world-wide reaction of horror and shame. It has generated a feeling that the killing df several scores of men, women and children in two places, and others elsewhere, by machine-gun fire because they were -allegedly rioting against the order to carry passports, was. so insane and purposeless that it can neither be explained nor understood. “If those who control the destinies of South Africa to-day will not listen to appeals for justice, humanity and reason by their own citizens - and there are many of them proclaiming their belief that the recent happenings should never have occurred and should never be repeated - then surely those who control the destinies of a fellow member nation of the Commonwealth of Nations cannot remain unaffected and untouched by the growing storm of deeply aroused opinion, which to-day finds expression in both hemispheres and in all continents by those who love and cherish freedom and who are opposed to any form of government which permits the domination and subjection of a majority by a selfconstituted elite, privileged minority.
As I have said, we want to see South Africa remain within the Commonwealth of Nations and develop a proper multi-racial form of society, which must be established if there is to be peace, understanding and tolerance in that actually and potentially prosperous land.
The reason for our criticism of the Government, as we have said in our motion, is that whilst the Prime Minister is prepared to express abhorrence and regret at what has happened, he is not prepared to do anything more about it. He has made no representations to the Government of South Africa, and he does not propose to make any. He is apparently not prepared to go as far as the British Government has gone in expressing its views. In Great Britain the Foreign Secretary, Mr. Selwyn Lloyd, said within the last couple of days, in answer to a question by a Labour member -
I assure you that we have very much in mind the feeling in regard to these matters. I am fully aware of the deep feelings on both sides of the House and the Opposition are not alone in deeply regretting the loss of life in these tragic incidents.
The United States State Department had this to say -
It cannot help but regret the tragic loss of life taken against demonstrators in South Africa. The
United States deplores violence in all its forms and hopes that the African people will be able to obtain redress for legitimate grievances by peaceful means.
Why does not the Prime Minister of Australia affirm his adherence to those sentiments? Why does he not say that the Australian Government deplores violence in all its forms? Why does he not express the hope that the African people will be able to obtain redress for legitimate grievances by peaceful means?
In the second part of our motion we invite the House to express its sympathy with the relatives of the victims of these unfortunate occurrences. The Prime Minister might at least have gone that far. We then invite the House to declare its regret that the opinions expressed by the Prime Minister will be construed as Australian condonation of the South African Prime Minister’s statements and attitudes. The Prim; Minister will go just so far and no farther. We believe he has gone a shorter distance along the road towards helping to solve this problem than the Prime Ministers or the representatives of governments of all other countries in the Commonwealth of Nations. We say - and we are most emphatic about this - that the House should repudiate the parallel that the Prime Minister has drawn between what has happened in South Africa and the manner in which we have treated out own Australian citizens. He says, “ Keep away from the United Nations, because if you support an attempt to discuss South Africa’s position in the United Nations to-day, that time will come when perhaps the Afro-Asian bloc, or the Communist bloc, or perhaps the LatinAmerican bloc, will bring forward a resolution concerning Australia’s administration of the trust territory of New Guinea “. By comparison with other countries charged with the responsibility of helping to educate and train native peoples for freedom, Australia has .a better record than that which is or has been enjoyed by any other country at any time.
– I am glad to hear you say so.
– The Prime Minister says he is glad I have said .this. I am sorry, however, that he confounded the position in such a way as to encourage people to believe that our treatment of our native people could be criticized in the same way as South Africa’s treatment of her native people can be criticized.
– You will be confounded in about ten minutes.
– I know the Prime Minister is very eager to have his say, and he will be heard in silence. We hope that when he does speak he will adopt a much more Australian attitude on this matter, one much more in consonance with the feelings of the Australian people, than he has expressed to date. I have not read any newspaper editorial, even in any of his favourite newspapers, supporting his attitude. Let me quote the Melbourne “ Herald “. Honorable members opposite may laugh, but the Melbourne “ Herald “ is no enemy of the Prime Minister. After all, he did award a knighthood to the managing director of that newspaper.
– I did not!
– Didn’t you? Well, the identity of the person who awarded him the knighthood must remain one of the sweet mysteries of life. The Melbourne “ Herald “ had this to say -
Not many people will agree with the Prime Minister that the terrible outbreaks of violence and suppression in South Africa can be described as a matter of domestic concern to South Africans. These outbreaks aTe not isolated local incidents that can be left to the judgment of the local authorities and the guns of the local police.
And, of course, the Prime Minister would not dare repudiate the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, which had this to say -
If the South African Government persists in the philosophy of social discrimination, which is unreal, impracticable and unjust and which can be sustained only by repression and increasingly brute force, it must learn its lesson the hard way.
The Prime Minister will not repudiate the ultra-conservative newspaper in England known as the “ Daily Mail “. The “ Daily Mail “ of London has never found anything to criticize in the Australian Prime Minister.
– Get the “War Cry”. You will get some sound stuff in it.
– I will hear some time of some newspaper in which the Prime Minister has some confidence. The ultraconservative London paper said the shooting down of the Africans is the greatest indictment yet of the racial policy of the nationalist government. We say that if people outside, and Australian newspaper editors inside, Australia are prepared to go on speaking in such strong language there cannot be any justification for the Prime Minister refusing to take some steps other than to say, “ Well, we are sympathetic with the people, and we are sorry for the things that have happened, and we hope that somehow or other South Africa will overcome its problems and its troubles “.
In the fifth paragraph of our resolution, we ask the House to say that the Prime Minister’s gratuitous and maladroit references to the policy of Australia in regard to its native people may be construed in Asia and Africa in a manner most damaging to this country. There is not the slightest comparison between our treatment of our native people and the treatment of the people of South Africa. We, at least, do encourage our people, who are much nearer the stone age man than the African native is, to be self-governing. We do appoint their representatives to our Legislative Council in Papua-New Guinea, and we do not deny them the right to be represented by their own people. At the local government level, we have councils completely controlled by Papuan and New Guinea natives. What the Prime Minister said, in trying to frighten the country off expressing an opinion in regard to intervention by the United Nations, can have a damaging effect on Australia.
Finally, we say, in our resolution, that all the circumstances of this tragic incident should be brought to the notice of the United Nations as speedily as possible. It is already there, although the Prime Minister on Tuesday last did not know it was there; and I think he ought to know, because he is the new Minister for External Affairs. I do not know whether Lord Richard stole his notes when he was leaving his office, but the Prime Minister should be better informed upon a matter that everybody else in the country knows about. We suggest that the matter should be brought to the notice of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The Prime Minister will go soon to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference. He will be there, if he is not at the summit conference. He will have discussions, no doubt, on this matter. But he must know that the Prime Minister of Malaya has said -
I am going there (London) to speak in the name of our people and our country. I have taken the initiative because I was so disgusted with the massacre.
The matter will be before the British Commonwealth of Nations and we want to know whether the Prime Minister will exercise some sort of vote. Is he going to suggest that we should do nothing about the matter there? There are two agencies through which we can help South Africa to-day - the United Nations and the British Commonwealth of Nations. There are other governments which have already said South Africa should appear before the Security Council of the United Nations. One of them is India, and India, Pakistan and Ceylon will also be at the British Commonwealth of Nations Conference. I say, finally, on behalf of the Opposition, that we hope that peace will come to South Africa but, as we see it, peace can never come to South Africa until this horrible, terrible, wretched policy of apartheid is relegated to the limbo of forgotten things.
– I second the motion.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) sentenced himself to half an hour’s hard labour and has now performed the sentence. He began and ended by, I suppose he would say, twitting me for being so ignorant of the alleged fact that this matter was before the United Nations a week ago and implied that I am as out of date as I can be. It is a great pity for the honorable member to become too eloquent about a matter of that kind unless he gets his facts right. The fact is that the Security Council sat for the first time to deal with this matter, or to determine whether it would deal with it, at 5.30 o’clock this morning, Australian time; and the first business which had to be discussed by it would be whether this item should be inscribed and then discussed in substance. We have, as yet, no opportunity to know since 5.30 this morning, Australian time, what the result has been - as to whether it was inscribed - but we do know that that was the first appearance on the United Nations stage of this matter. So it is a pity that a great deal of this rhetoric turns out to have been wasted.
As to South Africa’s attitude, I would have thought that every schoolboy knew that South Africa’s attitude is one of complete objection to this matter being dealt with by the United Nations. Somebody says the South Africans are agreeable. That is a remarkable effort of imagination. The fact is that they have opposed this matter coming before the United Nations from beginning to end. I have no doubt they have once more stated the view which their Prime Minister stated only yesterday in the Parliament at Capetown, that this is a domestic matter and that they do not recognize the jurisdiction of the United Nations in relation to it. Incidentally, since the honorable gentleman now says that it is not the shootings so much, but the policy of apartheid that we want to deal with, I may tell him that yesterday, in the Parliament at Capetown, the Prime Minister stated the position of the Government in relation to jurisdiction, which is the great question that I was addressing myself to. He stated the views of the government, and those views were specifically concurred in by Sir de Villiers Graaf, the Leader of the Opposition; so there is a bi-partisan position in the South African Parliament on this question of jurisdiction. In those circumstances, where the party of the present administration and the party which was the party of Smuts are of one mind on this question of jurisdiction - though by no means of one mind, probably, on internal policies - I simply say that this Parliament as a parliament and this Government as a government would be accepting a grievous responsibility if it sought to invade these policies of a domestic kind in another country of the British Commonwealth. That, after all, is the essence of what I have said from beginning to end.
I will not take up too much time on these little imaginary exercises in which the honorable member engaged. I just want to say this; the motion is much more violent than the speech. The speech was almost tender at times. The motion, which has already had great publicity, was deliberately designed to stir up all sorts of feelings of hatred in this community.
The essence of the motion is, of course, its purely political quality. That is shown by the fact that at no time during the massacres in Hungary, during the wide spread killings in Cyprus or during the Mau Mau attacks in Kenya, where 13.000 lives were lost, did the members of the Opposition ever think fit to submit a resolution, or even to ask for one. Now, however, they think they see an opportunity of embarrassing the Government by fanning hatred where there is already too much and by encouraging differences in the Commonwealth at a time when mutual understanding was never more important. That, Sir, is a broad statement, but it is completely demonstrated by clauses 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the motion, about which I propose to say something.
Clause 3 says that the opinions expressed by me in this House - quite plainly and temperately, I thought - will be construed as Australian condonation of the South African Prime Minister’s statements and attitude. That is a most remarkable proposition. Even as a piece of English, it has fantasy in it. I do not know what are these statements and this attitude that have been referred to. I have heard a variety of statements by the Prime Minister of South Africa. I have heard or read of other things attributed to him. What the statements and the attitude are that are referred to in the motion is not made clear, but one thing is perfectly clear, and that is that the South African Prime Minister has done what I venture to say an Australian Prime Minister would do under similar circumstances. He has promptly ordered a judicial investigation of these incidents and has appointed two supreme court judges of the highest repute to conduct the investigation.
The Leader of the Opposition says, “ We know all that we need to be told; we know how many people were killed or wounded “. But what do we know about the circumstances? What do we know that enables us, at a comfortable distance, to sit in judgment on the events in this particular town on this particular day or night? How can we propose to say, “We know everything; we understand the facts perfectly. We sit in judgment. We condemn! “ That is exactly what the judicial investigation will be for.
What I said in this House was not that the Australian Government was condoning the events in South Africa. I said the very opposite. I said’ that we were following a policy of non-intervention in what is, though tragic and terrible, a domestic problem for the Union of South Africa. It is, to me, a novel and a very twisted use of words to say that non-intervention implies condonation. The words, of course, are almost exactly opposite in their significance. When, as a government, we decide not to intervene, that means that we are not expressing a judgment on domestic policies. We may, as individuals, with the very limited information available to us, think those policies disputable, but as a government we are not taking upon ourselves the grievous responsibility of sitting in judgmen on policies and on events of which we in Australia, happily, have no experience, being, as they are, matters of political dispute in South Africa itself.
I now refer to the policies or some of their manifestations. I emphasize that what I tried to indicate on Tuesday - and looking at the “ Hansard “ record I think I did - was that we are all entitled to our own personal feelings, which, in the case of most of the people of Australia, are feelings of horror and apprehension’. But one of the inhibitions that is laid upon the man who is the head of the Government of Australia is that his personal feelings are a luxury in which he cannot publicly indulge when the real problem is what political attitude the Government should take and express. This is a great responsibility. It requires calm judgment and a sense of responsibility to the future as well as to the present. That is why we agree with the statement which was made by the Prime Minister of Canada a few days ago in his own Parliament. He said that the conclusion of his Government was that at this time no beneficial purpose would be served by diplomatic protest nor by even more extreme measures of intervention.
Turning to clause 4 of the motion, I ex, press myself with restraint when I say that this clause is proof of an absolutely scruffy political manoeuvre, and, in. itself, is a monstrous perversion of the truth. You have only to read the clause to see that that is so. The clause states that I drew a parallel between South Africa’s treatment of the natives in South Africa and Australia’s treatment of the indigenous inhabitants of Australia and its Territories. Every mem ber on this- side- of the House” knows that that is an utter invention. At no stage did I say anything of the kind.
I know that there are people - some of them in Australia - who constantly foment the idea that this nation has ill-treated its aborigines. I deny this. It is a charge, not only against the Commonwealth Government, but against the various State governments. The facts reject it. I did not, in my statement, talk about our treatment of aborigines in terms of what goes on in some other countries. What I said - let me remind everybody of it - was that if the domestic jurisdiction principle is abandoned in the heat of the moment, so to speak,, we may live to see the day when other nations, whether in the United Nations or otherwise, will seek to discuss our aboriginal policies and claim as a precedent whatever action occurs in relation to South Africa. That is what. I said. We hope and believe that we will never have incidents of the kind now under discussion, but all these things are matters of degree; and a point of principle, once surrendered, is not easily recaptured-.
So far as our Territories are concerned we believe in this Parliament - and I think that most objective onlookers agree - that our policies and administration have been enlightened and progressive. We have clean hands in respect of our Territories. But it is not difficult to imagine that, with the passage of time, some people who have no interest in orderly progression towards rising living standards and self-government will proceed to stir up trouble in those Territories, and, having stirred it up, invite the intervention of other countries, treating the domestic jurisdiction principle as having been abandoned.
The clause is, therefore, grossly dishonest in its statement and deliberately damaging in its implication-. I merely add that the reference to the carriage- of passports by indigenous peoples, passports governing their’ movements inside their country, shows the lengths to- which: the Opposition will go in order- to secure what it believes to be a point. The fact is that in the Soviet Union such passports are required, but the Opposition in this Parliament has never, to my knowledge, commented” upon that or proposed a resolution about it.
– Do you approve of it?
– Of course I do not approve of it, but I do not interfere in the domestic affairs of the Soviet Union. If that is the way in which the Russians want to run their country, well and good. There are a few people who think that it is a very good way, but I am- not one of them-. The Opposition cannot squirm off this hook. Not one word has ever been said by a member of the Opposition in protest against the carriage’ of domestic passports in the Soviet Union. And yet they have the strictest rules applying over a. great area of the Soviet Union, and these rules have, if anything, been more and more intensified during the last four years. It is interesting to notice that the penalites for infringement of the passport rules in the- Soviet Union range from six months’ “ corrective “ labour to two years-‘ deprivation of freedom.
Now- I come to clause 5 of the motion. Clause 5 emphasizes that my gratuitous and maladroit references to the policies- of Australia in regard to its native peoples may be construed in Asia and Africa in a manner most- damaging to this countryNow, Sir, that is just about as unpatriotic and damaging a clause to put- in a motion as I have ever read in my life. What were these references by me to the policies of Australia- in regard to its native peoples? The Leader of the Opposition will be hard put to it to find” them in my answers in this House. My references to. our own problem - I have already said something about this - were made in the setting which I have just elaborated. These policies are, I repeat, honorable and’ good, and I have yet to learn” that they are the subject of criticism either in- Africa or in Asia. The Opposition here, while piously expressing its fear’ that my references to these policies may be construed, in Asia and Africa in a manner most damaging to this country, is plainly expressing its hopes that they will be. How could they possibly be construed in any other country in a damaging sense, unless other, countries are persuaded’ by people in- this House that they are damaging?
Sir, our policies in relation to native peoples, either inside Australia or in the territories, are - and let me emphasize this - our business and our responsibility, and they have been pursued, as even the Opposition would scarcely care to deny, in ;a clear and honorable fashion. May I, having regard to the eagerness of some people to become engaged in South African politics, repeat what I have said about our policies? Our policies are our business and our responsibility, and we are not transferring that responsibility to other people. My answer-, Sir, on- Thursday was - and I quote itf -
If we are too free in asserting that what happens in South Africa is a matter for international jurisdiction, we may well step out of the light into the darkness on this matter. We may well find that, the door having been opened in that way, somebody will be willing to assert at some- time or other, in- some circumstances, that we,, in relation either to our own internal population or to the population of our territories, are also subject to international condemnation and international jurisdiction.
This is what the honorable gentleman professes to- fear, but his near-deputy leader, at once interjected, when I had made that remark, and said -
And so we should be!
– If we do wrong.
- Oh, if we do wrong. Mark, the words that I used - and I think I was quite audible. I said that somebody, might be willing to assert- that we are “ also subject, to international condemnation and international jurisdiction “. And immediately I said those words a prominent member of the Labour. Party said, “And so we should, be “. Of all. the pieces- of humbug that I have met with in a long experience of politics, this is the supreme example. One of the- most prominent members of the Opposition has said publicly in this House that we ought to be condemned for our administration of our policies in regard to native peoples, that we ought to be dragged before an international jurisdiction. This very same Opposition, brushes that to one side and says, “ How terrible that the Prime Minister should even hint that there is a subject of this kind and so should attract the hostile, attention of other countries”.
Now, Sir; we come: to. clause 6 of the motion. Clause 6 is the one that refers to the United” Nations and” the forthcoming Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference. Australia- is not a member of the Security Council. Therefore, the decision as to whether the South African question should be there debated and made the subject of some decision or direction, is not ours. I have stated in public, on behalf of this Government, our view on that matter; but it is not our decision. The Security Council, as I say, sat early this morning our time, and is presumably discussing the matter at this moment. I have also, Sir, stated as dispassionately as possible the principle to which we have adhered for years in relation to the internal affairs of other countries. This is not a matter that has suddenly cropped up. This is a problem which has come up time after time, almost year after year, and we have consistently taken the view that we are not going to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries; and, so far as I know, Sir, our actions on all those occasions have never been seriously challenged in this Parliament.
I think that I might have been able to regard this policy of non-interference as the accepted national policy of Australia, for I had never heard it challenged until the Opposition saw, in these moving, dreadful, dramatic events in South Africa, an opportunity for cashing-in on a natural emotional reaction in the minds of most of us. But, Sir, the clause goes on to suppose that the events in South Africa - not the policy of apartheid which the honorable gentleman has talked about this morning, but the circumstances of this incident - should be taken to the meeting of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers. Really, can anybody suppose anything more fantastic? In the first place, the motion indicates no understanding of what a Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference is and how it works.
– Nobody else has such an understanding either.
– No, and you will be deprived of that experience forever. But, Sir, Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conferences do not have matters listed for discussion. They do not have an agenda. They do not have votes taken. They do not have majorities. They consist of, say, nine people sitting together, each of them the head of the government of his own country, discussing matters of common inte-est, informing each other’s minds, learning from each other’s experience, getting to know something more about the problems of other men. These are not meetings where votes are taken. Indeed, I should like to tell honorable members that even the communiqué which emerges at the end of a Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference - and it is always a harmless enough document, as you know - cannot contain anything to the inclusion of which even one Prime Minister objects.
Now, there is a system that has gone on, and which I, and other people too, think is one of the most important elements in the present Commonwealth structure - these regular meetings between the heads of governments of the Commonwealth. Yet the Leader of the Opposition, who at one time had ambitions to be represented at a Prime Ministers’ Conference, seriously says that this matter ought to be listed. The Opposition says, “ Put it down on the agenda. Bring along the Prime Minister of South Africa. Let him be put into the dock, and let us all try to cross-examine him “. How long does anybody suppose the Commonwealth would last if that was the way we went on? How long do they suppose the structure itself would endure if every time the head of a Commonwealth government, or a parliament in the Commonwealth, or somebody in a Commonwealth government or parliament, disagreed with something going on inside another Commonwealth country and said, “ I want that listed for the next Prime Ministers’ Conference”?
As a matter of fact, I just remind honorable members that in the past there have been tremendous problems in the Indian sub-continent - tremendous problems of refugees and vast loss of life after partition - grievous problems. One problem was left unsolved, the problem of Kashmir, a problem which has bedevilled the relations between India and Pakistan for years. I proposed at one stage, in London, that we might have some talks about it among Prime Ministers, just informally. But it was not listed. It could not have been listed because at least two or three heads of governments objected to this matter being made one for formal discussion by a Prime Ministers’ Conference. The reason they did that was that they put on one side whatever their own views might be on the particular problem. They realized that when a meeting of the British Commonwealth Prime Ministers sets itself up as an adjudicator on disputes inside the Commonwealth then, as I say, the end of the whole structure is in sight.
It has been said - I do not know with what authority - that the Prime Minister of South Africa would, himself, have liked an opportunity to explain his policies to his brother Prime Ministers under suitable circumstances. I have heard that said - 1 cannot vouch for it - but it is primarily a matter for him. Personally, I would welcome hearing something on the matter because I appear to be in a hopeless minority as I look at the Opposition on this matter. I confess that I do not know all about South Africa’s domestic policies. I do not know all the implications of what has been called apartheid and I should like to be better informed.
My time has almost expired, so I shall sum up by saying that this resolution is crude, it is misleading, it is dangerous. It will, I hope and believe, be utterly rejected in this House and by all thoughtful people with a sense of responsibility. But if, in all the circumstances which confront us and in view of the honest indignation and shock in the minds of our people, some resolution is required so that misleading comments may not be made on the outright rejection of the one now before us, I say, “Very well, let us have a resolution “. It will need to be of an entirely different kind. I shall move the following amendment: -
That all words after “ that “ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “this House profoundly regrets the loss of human lives occasioned in the recent incidents in South Africa: is distressed that such events should have occurred in a member country of the Commonwealth of Nations: expresses its sympathy with those who have suffered: profoundly hopes that order may be re-established as soon as possible: and earnestly hopes that the adjustment of all disputes and differences will be achieved by orderly and lawful processes for the common benefit of the people of South Africa.”
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had half an hour in which to correct the unfortunate impression created in the world by his lengthy reply to the question asked by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) two days ago. He has referred to the events in South Africa, he is prepared to deplore them, he is prepared to express horror and apprehension at them but he will not express any opinion in half an hour’s opportunity on the policy which gave rise to these events, this policy which is a reproach to any member of the British Common wealth, this policy which is doing more to divide and disrupt the British Commonwealth than any other issue, this policy which, in the Government’s handling, is doing more to make us misunderstood and disliked in the whole of Africa and Asia than any other single issue.
This matter has come before the House because we of the Opposition brought it here. The Prime Minister had hoped to hush it up. He believed that the less said the soonest mended. He should know quite well that this matter is going to come up with ever-increasing frequency and in evergraver form in Africa throughout the next decade and throughout our lives. Somebody has to deal with it; but we do not deal with it by this bowdlerized aseptic amendment which the Prime Minister has moved.
South Africa’s native policy has come before the United Nations every year over the last decade and we are among the few countries which still hide behind the legal technicality that it is a matter of domestic jurisdiction.
Sir, the Prime Minister sought to avoid criticism first of all by dealing with the technical matter of whether this had come before the United Nations. He would have us believe that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) did not know the facts when he asked his question two days ago. The Prime Minister said that all the matters in the honorable member’s question were news to him. The Prime Minister did not know the facts at that time.
If we want to be technical, let us be clear that the honorable member for EdenMonaro did not suggest that there had been a meeting of the Security Council at that time. What actually happened - and it happened as long ago as last Sunday - was this: The American representative on the Security Council, Mr. Henry Cabot Lodge, who is this month’s president of the council, postponed the meeting of the council from Tuesday to Wednesday to deal with this question, at the request of the South African delegate. He consulted with ten other members of the council before arranging the postponement from Tuesday to Wednesday. He arranged for that postponement because the South African delegate said that he wanted it so postponed so that he could give arguments to the council why it should not deal -with .the matter. .But the council is .dealing with the matter.
If the Prime Minister -had been on -top of his new -portfolio ‘he would have known that this matter was going to be dealt with by the Security Council to-day. Secondly, the Prime Minister .sought to strengthen his argument on the question .of domestic jurisdiction by -saying that Australia had always supported the British attitude on Cyprus .on this ground - that Cyprus should not come before the United Nations because it was a matter .of .domestic .jurisdiction. In actual fact, in 1957, and again in 1958, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed resolutions on Cyprus. They were passed unanimously, Britain and Australia and all the other members supporting those resolutions. The United Nations did not regard Cyprus .as .a matter of domestic jurisdiction and we .did -not regard it as such and the United Kingdom did not regard it as such.
The Prime Minister’s next evasive tactic was to say that this great question of jurisdiction - that ‘is the great question in his mind, not the .policy nor the morality, not the principle, but <the legalism - had been treated on a -bi-partisan basis in the South African Parliament, and that Sir de Villiers Graaf, the heir of Smuts, had supported Dr. Verwoer.d’s .attitude upon it. That is the whole question. Only one-fifth of the adults in South Africa are represented in the South African Parliament, and not all of them are, in fact, represented by -the two parties in that Parliament. The party which Smuts led - and Smuts, be it remembered, was regarded as a greater humanitarian outside his country than inside it - has been rift by schism, and the Progressive Party has been formed. The leaders of *he Liberal Party, another new party established by Europeans, were among those who were arrested in the .raids of the last few days.
The third point to which the Prime Minister referred is that the Opposition did not make any statement on Hungary when that country was invaded at the end of 1956. That is completely inaccurate, and I believe that he knows it to be inaccurate. We were among the first to speak in this Parliament on the question of Hungary. The then Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Evatt, who is now the Chief Justice of
New South Wales, gave .good reasons, which had not occurred to , the Prime Minister, ‘or to the Minister for External Affairs, -for -saying that what was happening -in Hungary was not .a .question for ‘domestic jurisdiction. The then Leader of the Opposition was the first to point out on -that -occasion that Australia was a signatory to the peace treaty with Hungary which made such incidents directly a matter of international concern. We supported -the suggestion that the question of Hungary should be dealt with by the United ‘Nations.
The Prime Minister then blithely went on to the point that we should wait until a judicial inquiry has been held in South Africa to ascertain the facts. He never suggested that course of action in relation to Hungary. We knew the facts about Hungary. We know the facts now about South Africa. Did the Prime Minister suggest that we should wait until two judges of impeccable reputation had been appointed by the Hungarian Government to report on the events in Hungary? Of course not! If we wait until royal commissions have been held or judicial determinations have been made, the opportunity for action will have passed.
The Prime Minister deplores the fact that we have referred to the position in Australia, with our aborigines, and in New Guinea, with its indigenous inhabitants. He was the first to make reference to that matter. He does not want the South African question to be discussed in the United Nations because he believes that if it were discussed, then, at some future time, the position of the indigenous inhabitants of Australia or New Guinea also might be discussed in the United Nations. The difference is that we have nothing to feaT if our treatment of our indigenous inhabitants is discussed in the United Nations. The fortunes of two-thirds of the indigenous inhabitants of New Guinea - the old German territory - are reviewed every year by the United Nations Trusteeship Council, and every two years by a visiting mission to New Guinea. There is nothing to show that our treatment of the indigenous inhabitants of Papua differs from our treatment of the indigenous inhabitants of the trust territories. We do not fear such international annual supervision, and we would’ have nothing to fear if the question of the aborigines was raised in the United Nations.
I hope that no Australian Government would try to prevent the subject of our management of the territories being raised in the United Nations, because that would lend colour to the suggestion that there was something to be concealed and something to fear if the matter were ventilated and brought into the light of day. But in South Africa there is something to fear, and the South African Government knows it. Our Government is one of the few governments in the world, and the only government in the British Commonwealth, which desires to keep the matter out of the light of day.
There is- no doubt that the Prime Minister made the reference to the aborigines and the indigenous inhabitants of New Guinea, not only in reply to a question which was asked by the honorable member tor Perth (Mr. Chaney), but also in reply to a supplementary question which was asked by the Leader of the Opposition.
The Prime Minister tried to obfuscate the issue further by referring to the Mau Mau. What is the relevance of that issue? Is the Prime Minister suggesting that’ the Africans in South Africa have at any stage committed the atrocities or reverted to the barbarism of the Mau Mau? That is one of those side issues which he is so expert at raising. In this instance, he must be condemned for doing so. The Africans in South Africa have not committed any atrocities in any way comparable with those which were committed by the Mau Mau. One- would have to go back to the last century, to some of the Zulu* massacres, to find any atrocities similar to those which were committed by the Mau Mau. The number of deaths in South Africa is the largest number of deaths resulting from any police, action since the days of Hitler. Accordingly, the conscience of the world is revolted by it, and every government in the British Commonwealth, in Asia and in Africa has expressed abhorrence of it, but in a half-hour’s speech the Prime Minister has not dissociated himself from the policy of the South African Government.
As I have said, the matter has been raised frequently in the United Nations where we> are- getting further out on a limb on this subject. Three questions concerning South Africa have, come before the General Assembly of the United Nations regularly. The first is the question of South-West Africa-. South Africa, under Smuts, abrogated the old League, of Nations mandate and refused to accept South-West Africa as a trust territory. The United Nations has never accepted that position. South Africa continues, to defy the United Nations and the ruling of the World Court on that matter.
The second question relates to the treatment of Indian nationals. I am not quite sure whether they are Indians only by race or by citizenship as well. I believe that matter is in dispute. Their treatment in Durban and’ Natal, in particular, and in other parts of the Union in general, is regularly brought before the United Nations by India and Pakistan. Whatever may be the case on Kashmir, India and Pakistan are vociferously unanimous in bringing to the attention of the United Nations, and in condemning, the treatment of Indians, Pakistanis, Ceylonese and Malayan citizens or nationals in South Africa by the South African Government.
The third question relates- to the treatment by the South African Government of that 80. per cent, of the South African population which has no vote and no freedom of education or occupation in that unhappy land. Until last year this Government had always said that the third question to which I have referred was a matter of domestic jurisdiction with which the United Nations should not deal.
In 1952, when this matter- was first before the Assembly, 42 countries voted against South Africa;, one country voted for it and fourteen countries, including Australia, abstained. In 1953, the votes were 38 against, and eleven for - including Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand. Eleven countries abstained from voting. In 1954, the voting was 40-10-10, and on that occasion Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand still supported South Africa. In 1955, the voting was 41-6-8. On that occasion, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand still supported South Africa. However, in 1956 the voting was. 56-5-12.
Of the Commonwealth countries, only Australia and the United Kingdom still supported South Africa. Canada and New Zealand no longer did so. In 1958, the voting was 70-5-4. On that occasion, only Australia and the United Kingdom, among the British Commonwealth countries, supported South Africa. Canada no longer abstained from voting and supported the United States in condemning South Africa. In 1959, the voting was 67-3-7. I am happy to say that last year, when the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) was acting as Minister for External Affairs, Australia, for the first time since 1952, did not support South Africa. We abstained from voting. Of the British Commonwealth countries only the United Kingdom supported South Africa and she was joined by France and Portugal, which have as much to be ashamed of in relation to their dependent peoples as has South Africa. The United States and Canada, once again, forthrightly condemned South Africa. It is well for Australians to understand that this Government has manoeuvred our country into a smaller and smaller minority on this problem.
The question of domestic jurisdiction arises under clause 7 of Article 2 of the United Nations Charter, which states -
Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; . . .
Two other Articles of the Charter directly arise when South Africa’s racial policy is raised in the United Nations. Article 55 provides -
With a view to the creation of conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary foi peaceful and friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, the United Nations shall promote- among other things - universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.
It is quite obvious that South Africa’s policy, which the Prime Minister condones, is based on distinction as to race. Article 56 of the United Nations Charter reads -
All Members pledge themselves to take joint and separate action in cooperation with the Organization for the achievement of the purposes set forth in Article 55.
South Africa is pledged to observe the principle of abolishing discrimination on the basis of race. It has failed to do so, and the whole of Africa, most of Asia and the whole of the British Commonwealth of Nations are in turmoil as a result of this failure. This matter is clearly one of international concern. It is sheer and monstrous legalism to suggest that matters such as these are purely matters of domestic jurisdiction. The disfranchised majority of South Africans have the sympathy of all the emergent peoples in Africa and of all the self-governing peoples of Asia. International relations are disturbed because of South Africa’s breach of the United Nations Charter and of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is quite clearly a matter of international concern. It cannot be bottled up in South Africa alone.
I have mentioned the Declaration of Human Rights, Sir. The Declaration was adopted by the United Nations in 1948, with eight abstentions. The abstaining countries were those of the Soviet bloc, South Africa and Saudi Arabia - those countries which, for various reasons, would have been regarded as the slave states then in the United Nations. Nevertheless, South Africa is bound by that Declaration, and it is bound by the Charter of the United Nations.
Australia is pursuing a fatal course in suggesting that we can bottle this up and regard it as a domestic issue which the races of the world will ignore. The matter is before the United Nations. Obviously, the Prime Minister’s arguments have not carried weight there. This subject will be before the British Commonwealth Prime Ministers. The Prime Minister of India has said that he will see that it is brought before them. The Prime Minister of Malaya, also, has said this. Can any one doubt that the Prime Ministers of Pakistan, Ceylon and Ghana, also, will see that this matter is discussed at the conference of British Commonwealth Prime Ministers? It is true that, if the Prime Minister of South Africa attends that conference, no reference to this matter will be made in the communique with which the conference will end, for the communique will be as bowdlerized and as aseptic as is the amendment which the Prime Minister has moved, and it would not do anything to solve this problem which is dividing Africa and Asia, which is isolating Australia, which is disrupting the British Commonwealth and which is a reproach to all people who believe in the British way of life, with its tenets of freedom of expression, movement and franchise for all, and the equal opportunity for every man to participate in the administrative, legislative and judicial processes of his own country.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, it appears from the speech just made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), in which he roamed the world, that the Australian Government is culpable and wrong, that France is culpable and wrong and that Portugal is culpable and wrong. We heard no word about any Communist country. No; it is our own friends, our own allies and our own nation who always are wrong! The only thing of substance that has come out of the honorable member’s speech is that we must abandon the stand which Australia has taken - a stand which I am completely sure the Australian nation has wished this Government to take. That is the stand that our internal domestic affairs are not to be subjected to international jurisdiction.
It is inevitable, it is right, that In a world in which the United Nations exists, our internal policies and the internal policies of other countries shall be subjected to the influence of world opinion, but the honorable member does not want the influence of world op’nion. He wants duress. He does not want the internal affairs of a nation to be taken to the General Assembly of the United Nations where, indeed, it is very difficult to prevent any issue from being raised for discussion. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition wants a nation’s internal affairs to be taken to the place of decision - the Security Council - where sanctions can be imposed and where real duress can be applied to a nation. He wants this to be the rule in respect of the internal affairs of a sovereign state.
The first implication of this is that the honorable member would expose our own country to duress in the Security Council, where there may be judgments which are genuine and which differ from our own judgment of our policy - a place where, much more likely, for political reasons of sinister motive, duress may be applied to us in respect of our policy. It is clear - one broaches no secret in saying it - that Australia’s immigration policies do not have universal approbation. They are discussed in the General Assembly of the United Nations. We defend them. We have never protested about their being discussed there. But to advocate the transfer of discussion of these policies to the Security Council, where decisions can be taken and sanctions applied, is, surely, to do the greatest disservice that any public man in Australia could do to this nation. Yet, this is the only clear and constructive proposal that emerges from the remarks of this spokesman for the Australian Labour Party in the Australian National Parliament.
It is a matter of shame that policies that are sacred to us, such as the one that I have just mentioned, are the subject of proposals such as this based on a proposition emerging, in our own National Parliament, from a party which itself has been proud to defend our immigration policies. This proposal would expose these policies to condemnation, decision and duress in the Security Council. I say quite plainly that the present Government will have nothing whatever to do with that idea, whatever may be the policy of the Australian Labour Party. We believe that the principle of noninterference in the domestic jurisdiction of a country is right in the present circumstances of world organzation, and no sneering at that principle by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition - who described it as a legal stratagem, as a monstrous legalism - or anything else will cause us to depart by a fraction of an inch from the lines of our defence of our own autonomy and our own sovereign rights. That is where we stand on the only constructive issue raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition as a spokesman for Labour.
But this is not an occasion on which I want to devote my brief opportunities to speaking only of the Labour Party. I observe, in passing, that that party seems to generate its best indignation on matters of human relations when they can be raised in circumstances in which the Opposition hopes to score off the Government. Circumstances of human relations should not be involved in mean party politics.
I should like to turn from the level of discussion which has been established by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in launching and supporting this motion respectively. I am sure that, in this National Parliament - this place of debate - we shall best fulfil our functions as members of the Parliament of a respected country if we confine ourselves to discussion of the situation which has developed and which is still evolving in South Africa, and to the consideration of what, if anything, we can contribute helpfully and usefully to the solution of the problem presented by a great human tragedy caused by growing racial tension in that country. The matter is too tragic for us to seize upon to secure political points as between Opposition and Government. We live in this world in a state of constant concern at international tensions and there is a substantial purpose in the United Nations to help the world to avoid these tensions from flaring into war. This requires an atmosphere in which nations can feel that they can express themselves on international issues without jeopardizing their sovereign rights, and rules and procedures are devised to enable this safety to be felt by nations which engage in discussions on international tensions. However, tensions all round the world are not found only in international differences. Great tensions exist within national groups and within racial groups. Up to the present, world leaders in striving for .peace have clearly felt that problems internal to a nation should not be subject to international judgment or sanctions. World leaders differ in this from the Australian Labour Party.
The published reports on the South African incidents have been read with horror in countries where law, order and equality prevail. But we must remember that not all countries enjoy a condition of law, order and equality as we are accustomed to it. There is no surer foundation for an unrealistic conclusion about events in other countries than a comparison of such events with our circumstances or standards. This is a happy country and our problems are of the utmost simplicity when compared with the tormenting problems that bedevil other countries where race, religion and ideologies divide people, where a great gulf exists between a privileged class and an underprivileged class. These things contain the germs of .fear, hatred and prejudice which happily are unknown to us in Australia. It would be quite wrong for us in our circumstances hastily to compare our standards with the standards of a country where some incident has occurred. That is a mistake to be avoided.
No word uttered by me or the Prime Minister can be said to approve of or support or justify the apartheid policies of the South African Government. On the standards of universal Australian thinking, these .policies appear repugnant; but can any one say what would be the attitude of individuals in this House, on either the Government or the Opposition side, if they were carrying the burden of governing a country with the inherited problems of South Africa? I say frankly that I am not bold enough to judge what my conduct would be in .the .circumstances. I hope it would be proper, but to judge by Australian standards, to feel that we can apply our standards to this situation, is to take an utterly false stance from which to exercise a judgment. To be tolerant is not to condone. Surely tolerance is a worthy human attitude of mind; yet it is a word that I, as a political person, recognize as almost dangerous to utter. Some one will allege that tolerance means approval. To be respected by the person with whom one differs requires that he must feel that you are taking at least an objective view of his problem. To be intolerant is to destroy any hope of exercising an influence upon any party. Surely, intolerance is never helpful where any human problem exists. Even the democratic, sophisticated, wealthy United States of America has an unsolved problem of differences between white and coloured people. But America is far more advanced than countries where internal tensions are of terrifying dimensions.
Is this Parliament to condemn the Government of South Africa but to be silent in the face of other incidents such as the horrible murder of the King of Iraq, his family, Prime Minister and members of his government? To be completely silent on that incident but quickly to attack a sister Commonwealth country when something terrible, but far less terrible by comparison, has happened, is not quite reasonable. The
Government of South Africa does not necessarily approve of these .incidents. If it did, its .Prime Minister would not set afoot a judicial inquiry. If we remain silent on incidents in foreign countries but attack a sister Commonwealth country, we will surely destroy any hope of sympathetic understanding between countries of the Queen’s Commonwealth. The United Nations did not interfere in Iraq, not because there was indifference but because there was clear recognition of the fact that we will do well in our day to bring within manageable proportions the problems created by international tensions. We must be careful not to establish such fear in the minds of governments of a great proportion of the countries which comprise the United Nations that there may be set a regular pattern of intervention in matters within the jurisdiction of a national state.
In South Africa, white and coloured people are of the same nationality. The democracy of South Africa, even on the restricted franchise that has been mentioned, is still capable of expressing itself and of changing a government. In recent times, the Government of South Africa has been elected by a narrow margin. We who speak so much of democracy should recognize that this situation presents an opportunity for democracy to express itself in South Africa. We are all appalled at what has happened, but we should be careful not to seize the occasion, deliberately or even unthinkingly, merely to parade our own virtues or to advance ourselves by jumping on the bandwagon of public dismay at the incidents. This may well be the time when a lasting impression of the position of other countries is made on the minds of responsible persons in South Africa. It has been made clear that the South African Government and Opposition have a common opinion on this issue of sovereignty. In their time of torment now they could well decide whether Australia is an objective friend of a fellow Commonwealth country or whether Australia is a country which adopts a positive, unfriendly attitude on the first issue of provocation or disputation. Surely to refrain from the temptation, and to forego the popularity, of joining the band of those denouncing the elected government of our sister Commonwealth country is a real act of restraint in this situation.
But what should our object be? Surely what we want to do, surely what is our duty, is to preserve the integrity of the Queen’s Commonwealth and to contribute towards a settlement of this South African racial problem. Any step which fans the flames by encouraging one side and condemning the other is no contribution.
What is our objective? Is it to win publicacclaim by denouncing South Africa? Is that the objective sought by the Opposition?
– No, it is to get justice and a fair go for the African people.
– Order! The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) will remain silent.
– He was silent on Hungary, Mr. Speaker. Or is it suggested that we should go further by joining in the demand that South Africa be sent for trial to the United Nations? Perhaps the question should not be, “ What is our objective?” Perhaps it should be, “ What is our responsibility?” Our responsibility is to state our attitude .on .the moral and human issues of this tragic situation. This we do. Our attitude is that we deeply deplore the incident. We extend our full sympathy to those who have suffered. I state in the plainest , terms that the practice of apartheid is entirely repugnant to .us as a basis of relationships between fellow nationals.
That is where we stand. Now, what should we do? Should the Australian Parliament act on a motion which in every line bears the imprint of an attempt to score party political advantage and to take the initiative in sending a sister Commonwealth government for trial before the United Nations and before Commonwealth Prime Ministers? If wisdom is applied to this problem, surely it will be evident that the motion submitted by the Leader of the Opposition envisages action that could wreck the Commonwealth of Nations. The motion, almost in its opening words, recounts that the shooting occurred in a “ member country of the British Commonwealth of Nations “ - “ Put your finger on that”, says the Opposition - and it finishes with a proposal that South Africa should, in effect, be brought for trial before the United Nations, and that the South African happenings should also be listed for discussion at the forthcoming Prime Ministers’ Conference - and both on the decision of this Parliament.
That is the proposition that is put to us. Whatever may or may not happen in the United Nations, it would be a deplorable contribution to the most stable and peaceloving group of nations in the world - our own group of Commonwealth countries - if one of that group were to take the initiative in sending another for trial. Whatever might be the end result, one could be quite certain that the Communist propagandists would seize the opportunity to make hay. If anything could be calculated to embitter our sister country against us, it would be the fact that we had taken the initiative in condemning her to such a humiliating experience.
What has the Labour Party in mind in wanting the South African situation - already pre-judged by Labour, and the South African Government condemned by it - to come up for judgment by Mr. Macmillan and Dr. Nkrumah, by the new Prime Minister of Ceylon, the history of whose country is characterized by racial tensions, and by Mr. Nehru and the Prime Minister of Pakistan, between whom tensions are happily receding from what was for years a flashpoint? Does the Australian Labour Party seriously think that this would make any contribution to the solution of the problems of the South African natives or to the strengthening of the Queen’s Commonwealth? I would much prefer to believe that this motion is designed as a cheap scoring point against the Government than that it represents considered thinking by those who constitute the alternative government of Australia. If it is a cheap scoring point, let us assess it as a very cheap one and dismiss it. If the motion really represents considered thinking by the Australian Labour Party,let us hope that that party will have second and wiser thoughts.
– Order! The time allotted for discussion of this motion to-day has expired.
The resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Debate resumed from 29th March (vide page 654), on motion by Mr. Townley -
That the following paper -
Defence Review - Ministerial Statement, 29th March, 1960- be printed.
.- The Labour Party sought and welcomes the statement by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley). It brings up to date the statement which the Minister made on the last Thursday on which Parliament sat last year and when, accordingly, there was no opportunity to debate the statement. The Labour Party believes that the Australian Parliament should have the same regular opportunity to debate matters of defence as is given in the British Parliament when the government tables a White Paper on defence every February.
The four months which have passed since the Minister’s earlier statement have seen a reduction in tension between the nations. Arrangements are now well advanced for a meeting at the summit between the Big Four powers. There is thus an opportunity for middle powers, such as Australia, to re-assess their position, to reduce or consolidate their armaments and to direct their energies into more productive and humanitarian fields.
No country can yet afford to dispense with its armaments; even the greatest powers seek to make arrangements for collective defence. For a country with the great area, sparse population and extended communications of Australia, collective defence is exceptionally necessary.
The Labour Party regrets that the Minister contemplates collective defence solely in the terms of Seato, Anzus and Anzam. He makes no reference to the majority of Commonwealth countries which are not in these three organizations, and no reference to the United Nations to which all our national neighbours give respect and support.
The Government’s strategic concepts have led it to make great changes in the role of the Australian Army and in particular to bring about the diminution and integration of the Citizen Military Forces. Its object is to make the Australian Army henceforth more mobile, mechanized and compact but also more professional. The
Government’s strategic concepts have led many persons to believe that the role of the Australian Army is to be that of an expeditionary force to South-East Asia. It seems to the Labour Party, however, that such a force will also now belatedly become available for transport to any part of Australia which is threatened from overseas or to any part of the world where the United Nations is willing or anxious to have an Australian component in a world police force or peace force. In fact, we may hope that the nuclear stalemate among the great powers will bring nearer the day when the middle powers, such as Australia and Sweden and the Netherlands, will be able to have the confidence of the world body in maintaining law and order in the troubled parts of the world.
Three points must be made about the Government’s analysis of the strategic basis of Australia’s defence policy. The first point is that the Government is gambling on the unlikelihood of Australia being invaded by a maritime power. It relies on a permanent change from the inter-war situation when the great maritime power of Japan was likely and able to invade Australia and its territories.
The second point is that the Government gambles on the probability of Australia not being engaged in war without having allies beside her. It should be pointed out, however, that none of the members of Seato in the North Pacific has supported Australia’s arguments concerning the title to West New Guinea or has done anything to indicate Australia would be supported if she were engaged in hostilities in that area.
The third point is that Australia has made no formal arrangement with independent Malaya for the stationing and training of Australian troops in that country. The Commonwealth strategic reserve, as it is known, is not welcome in any Seato member country and Malaya declines to become a member of Seato. Malaya is regarded as a suitable training ground for Australian troops. At least, however, the Government should seek to allay the misunderstanding and illwill with which the presence of Australian troops in Malaya is regarded by many of our Asian neighbours by seeking a formal understanding with the friendly Malayan Government.
Until 1956 the Menzies Government was content to make an annual expenditure of £200,000,000 on defence without revealing or, apparently, having any plan to co-ordinate the Army, Navy and Air Force, research facilities and national development, and without establishing any schedule of priorities between these various features of defence. In August, 1956, however, Sir Frederick Shedden, the Secretary of the Department of Defence, told the Public Accounts Committee that Australia had not been ready for war in 1953, the target year which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had set in 1950, and was still not ready. He thus brought to a head the dissatisfaction which had been expressed on this side of the House, particularly by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), at an aimless expenditure of which more than 70 per cent, went to maintenance and not equipment.
When the Suez crisis late in 1956 found the Government posturing but powerless, reform could not be much longer delayed. Accordingly, on 4th April, 1957, the Prime Minister himself took over from the Minister for Defence and gave the House an overall review of Government policy on Australia’s defence. He acknowledged that the Government had for some time been greatly disturbed by the fact that an undue proportion of annual expenditure had been laid out upon the maintenance of existing forces, the bulk of whom were only partially trained, while too small a proportion of our expenditure had been available for equipment. He went on to say -
We have now concluded that we should reduce the proportion of our defence vote which goes to manpower and increase the proportion which goes to modern equipment.
He then outlined the proposals on the membership and equipment of the three service arms for the ensuing three-year period. Half of this equipment has now been secured, the other half is still to commence.
In his statements of last November and this week the Minister for Defence has outlined the extent ot our defence changes during the last three years and the projected developments of the next three. It is still quite uncertain how the Navy and the Air Force are to be equipped and until a decision is made on these matters there will continue to be serious gaps in the defence of our continent and territories. The Navy will abandon its air arm and will probably acquire a submarine arm. As recently as June, 1956, the previous Minister for the Navy told the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) that the Royal Australian Navy does not have submarines because its role in war is primarily defence of our allied and mercantile shipping and because modern submarines had a high cost compared with their limited application in the primary role of the R.A.N. Last November the Minister for Defence stated that the new Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) had been directed to make further investigations into a proposal to introduce submarines. He now tells us that the Chief of the Naval Staff and his expert team have completed their investigation in the United Kingdom and the United States into this proposal. He gives, however, no indication when a decision will be made. At least the Government is recognizing the role the submarine can perform in its natural element in protecting the sea communications of an exposed trading nation like Australia and, in particular, by intercepting other submarines.
The same enthusiasm but lack of decision is seen in regard to the projected guided weapons destroyer and mine sweepers. The only craft in respect of which we have some more precise indication of the extent to which the Navy’s hopes must be deferred are the two anti-submarine frigates which the Minister announced last November and reiterated this week would come into service during the present three-year programme. We know the delay in respect of this craft because the Minister told the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) last October that the first would be finished at the end of 1960 and the second at the end of 1961 and that both of them would be in actual commission in 1961.
It is in respect of the Air Force that our defence is most clearly shown to be inadequate and has been known to be so for the longest time. The FI 04 Starfighter was recommended as a possible replacement for the Avon Sabre by a mission headed by Air Vice-Marshal Murdoch in 1955.
In April, 1957, in his defence statement, the Prime Minister announced -
We are planning to re-arm with fighter aircraft of a performance equivalent to the Lockheed F104.
The former Minister for Defence, Sir Philip McBride, told the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) in September, 1957, that, as a result of his investigations, it had been decided that “ we would not purchase the F.104 “.
Last November, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) announced that provision had been made to commence the acquisition of new fighter aircraft in the latter part of the three-year period - that is, in the second half of 1961 or in 1962. This week, he could still do no better than assure us that a statement would be made as soon as the Government was in a position to do so. For five years, therefore, the Government has been unable to decide on a new fighter aircraft, and it still does not anticipate securing any new fighter aircraft until the financial year after next. Our neighbours, of course, have not been similarly indecisive and dilatory.
The other great defence project which is to be entrusted to the Air Force is the Bristol Blood Hound Mark I. surface-to-air guided weapons unit. Last November, the Minister revealed that the Government had decided to purchase this system. This week, he told us that a technical team from the manufacturers had visited Australia last month and that an initial provisioning team had left for the United Kingdom. This is the first fruit of the Prime Minister’s announcement in April, 1957, that a guided weapons unit would be located in the Sydney defence area. The Minister is still quite vague on how many years will elapse between the Prime Minister’s promise and his Government’s performance.
The greatest and most nearly complete of the Government’s defence changes has been in relation to the personnel of the Army. The size of the problem is shown by the Minister’s admission last November that maintenance expenditure now absorbs 80 per cent, of the total Army vote. Quite plainly, it is necessary to secure a better ratio between equipment and maintenance if the Army is to be quickly mobilized and fully mobile. In the two world wars, Australia had a corps of professional officers, a large number of enthusiastic citizen officers and men, and a population which was prepared to volunteer in a good cause. In each case, however, many months were required to mobilize or despatch an army.
In the conditions which one must envisage to-day, however, it is important to have an army which is more rapidly available. It must be available, not only for expeditions to South-East Asia - which seems to be the sole role contemplated by the Government - but also to make an immediate and effective contribution to the United Nations peace or police forces and to move to any part of the Australian mainland or territories which is attacked. The Labour Party has sought the present defence debate because of the Government’s confusion and uncertainty in carrying out the Army changes forecast by the Minister for Defence in his statement last November.
As the representative in this Parliament of the Liverpool district, which is the military capital of Australia, I am well aware of the resentment which all ranks of the Regular Army feel at the Government’s cavalier treatment of them and of their own Minister’s comments about them to his party. It is basic to Australian defence that men should be prepared to make their careers in the Permanent Army until the early retiring age which is regularly enforced there and that other men should be prepared to devote much of their holidays and leisure activity to service in the Citizen Military Force. The Minister’s statement this week has revealed the Government’s general plans, for better or for worse, to our regular and citizen soldiers. It is to be hoped that the ancillary statements by the Minister for the Army will be prompt and frank and will reassure those who are being prematurely retired that justice will be done to them and their dependants, and will reassure younger men that their services are still required and appreciated.
The Minister stated, this week, that the re-equipment of the Army is proceeding satisfactorily. First, he stated that the F.N. rifle had been issued to the regular field force since his statement last November. The Minister has now told us that issues to the C.M.F. will commence in July next. He has not told us when this issue will be complete. The then Minister for Defence Production, Sir Eric Harrison, told the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), as far back as September, 1954, that orders had been placed for the F.N. rifle. In May, 1956, Sir Eric told the honorable member -
The Government is pushing ahead with all speed the manufacture of the F.N. rifle.
In April, 1957, the new Minister, Mr. Beale, told him -
We are immediately proceeding to take the steps necessary to go into production of these rifles.
In October, 1957, speaking on the estimates for this department, the Minister for the Army said -
We are getting ready for its production at the present time.
In March, 1958, in a defence debate, the Minister stated -
We are at present getting ready to produce the F.N. rifle and it will come off the production line next year.
In September, 1958, the Prime Minister told the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward)-
It is anticipated that the first delivery of the Australian manufactured F.N. rifle will be made early in 1959.
In actual fact, no troops received them until late in 1959, and all troops will not receive them until an unspecified date.
The other equipment with which the Minister dealt was the 105-m.m. howitzers, which he expected to be completely issued by next July. The Prime Minister outlined the plans for this equipment in his defence statement of 1957. In March, 1958, the Minister for the Army, in the defence debate, stated -
Negotiations are at present proceeding between the Commonwealth of Australia and the United States of America in connexion with the provision of 105 m.m. weapons.
In October, 1958, the Prime Minister told the honorable member for East Sydney -
The Army is now engaged in technical discussions with the United States Army regarding equipping the Australian Army with the 105 m.m. gun.
The United States discontinued the manufacture of the 105-m.m. howitzer after the Korean war. It has been replaced in the United States army by the model 2, 4.2-in. mortar, which has a range of 4,700 yards, and is extremely accurate. This mortar is made by the United States, and it could be made by Australia with existing equipment. The model 2 can be carried by pack and readily transported by air. A whole battery could be equipped with these mortars at a cost less than that of a single howitzer. The mortar’s ammunition is cheap by contrast with that for the howitzer. The howitzer’s recuperatory system is so complex that it cannot be repaired in the field, but only in an arsenal. The Australian Army is thus being equipped with expensive and obsolete equipment, although Australia could readily produce more modern and cheaper equipment.
To this stage I have reviewed the Minister’s statement as regards the equipment of the three services and the personnel of the Army. Clearly, the time-table for all these changes is still quite uncertain. The importance of a time-table in the new three-year defence plan is to be seen by noting the Government’s failure to carry out the Prime Minister’s projects of April, 1957, within the three years then covered. During the initial three-year period, the Army received neither the rifles nor the howitzers which the Prime Minister promised, and the Air Force neither the fighters nor the ground-to-air guided missiles which he promised. Nor did the Army succeed in correcting the ratio of its expenditure on equipment and maintenance.
The Prime Minister belatedly promised some system and order in our defence planning. The Government’s performance fell far short of it. The Minister for Defence should ensure that the House is regularly informed on the degree of performance during the coming three years. Apart from the equipment and personnel of the three services, the Minister has made no reference to this country’s defence responsibilities and potential. Since the days of the Chifley Government, Australia has spent and achieved much in defence scientific work.
The Government’s indecision on the application of new weapons is well illustrated by the events surrounding the production, use and supply of the Malkara anti-tank missile. The Minister for Defence, when Minister for Supply, in August, 1958, claimed that the weapon was almost 100 per cent, accurate and showed a very high probability of a kill with the first shot. He claimed that besides being highly lethal against heavy tanks, it would be highly effective against bridges, bunkers, strongpoints and landing barges. The weapon would thus be ideal for Australia’s home defence, because any invasion from the sea would require the use of landing barges. The new Minister for Supply (Mr. Hume), in August last, announced that the British Government had decided to accept the Malkara as standard equipment for its Army. Nevertheless the Minister for Supply confessed last November, in answering a question by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), that the Army was examining the practicability of certain modifications to the weapon to meet the possible requirements of the Australian Army, having regard to the areas of likely operations. When pressed by the honorable member, he stated -
It is not practicable as yet to state the nature of any modifications likely to be required.
Since the Minister for Defence omitted any reference to the Malkara in his statement this week, we must accept the ironical position that the Malkara, despite its excellence for Mediterranean conditions, has still not been adopted for use in the country which pioneered and developed it. Australians realize that the Government’s colossal expenditure of £1,700,000,000 or £1,800,000,000 in the 1950’s has not been used to provide or develop installations in the northern half of the continent. There is a splendid aerodrome at Darwin, and an improved aerodrome at Townsville. [Extension of time granted.] Few others of the aerodromes provided in the Pacific war could now be used by military aircraft. The Barkly and Stuart Highways are in worse condition than they were at the end of the war. No improvement has been made in rail and port facilities. Sea or land transport around our continent would be as difficult as it was twenty years ago.
Australians should also note that the Minister propounds no plans for maintaining those industries on which the armed forces particularly depend. Our aircraft factories are not assured of future orders, and our shipyards have only one-third of the orders which their present facilities would permit them to satisfy. The St. Mary’s project is not used for the manufacture of equipment for Australian forces to any discernible degree, and has secured no orders for equipment for Seato or Commonwealth countries. Its annual wages bill exceeds the value of its annual production.
What is to be the future of our tropical ports, of our railways, roads and aerodromes, which are of prime defence significance? What is to be the role of Woomera, Maralinga and St. Mary’s? On this, the Minister has given no information. When are we to learn of the proposals for a submarine force or for guided weapons destroyers for the Navy? When are we to learn that the Army is to be fully equipped with the FN rifle? When will we learn that orders have been taken for the new U.S. general purpose machine-gun and the new recoilless rifle? When will the new Neptunes arrive for the Royal Australian Air Force? When will the Bristol Bloodhound Mark I. surface-to-air guided weapons be installed in the Sydney defence area? When will the R.A.A.F. be equipped with the new fighter aircraft promised by the Prime Minister in 1957, equipping with which had been recommended two years before? When will the Allison committee report on the terminal grants to regular soldiers who have been prematurely retired? On these matters the Minister has deferred giving information.
The Australian people and the Australian armed forces are entitled to be taken into the Government’s confidence, and the Opposition will press for regular ministerial statements to the Parliament on all aspects of defence. The Australian people are also entitled to an assurance that their taxes are better spent now than they were in the past on this most vital of activities, and that the Government will give them performances as well as promises.
.- Mr. Speaker, in view of the action of the Australian Labour Party in sabotaging, or attempting to sabotage, our defence effort in the past, and the sabotage which actually took place, in peace-time anyway, when honorable members opposite were in government, and which has been attempted in this House consistently while they have been in Opposition, I regard the speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) - if you can call it a speech - as the greatest compliment to the Government’s defence effort that I have ever heard. I make that statement, Sir, because for the first time since I have been in this Parliament, and I believe for the first time since this Government has been in office, the Australian Labour Party has come out, through one of its senior spokesmen, and made a statement in a major defence debate which largely supports, in essentials, the policy laid down by the Government. So I, Sir - and I am sure I am joined by all honorable members on this side of the House - compliment the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) and the service ministers generally, on the statements made by the Minister for Defence, which we are now debating, and on the policy which has been produced.
Defence is a subject which is so bound up with our future security and existence as a nation that it comes, or should come, into a very different category from many of the other things that are discussed in this House. In particular, I believe that any one who denigrates, or pours cold water on, or ridicules, our defence effort, should have very good reasons indeed for doing so before doing so. I believe this, Sir, because, first, the criticism’ itself inevitably undermines confidence in our defence effort at home and impairs confidence in its effectiveness here in Australia and in the services as well and, secondly, because it cannot help but give comfort to our possible enemies abroad against whom our defence policy is directed. Thus, any major party attack on defence policy should, I believe, be motivated by a sincere and informed belief that the situation is so bad that for the sake of reform it is worth incurring the consequences I have mentioned. Certainly such criticism should not, in my view, be motivated by a desire to make party political capital out of our defence preparations.
Now, how does the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition measure up to this particular criterion? Despite all the furore, all the noise that honorable members opposite have made, both in asking questions and in applying the pressure that they applied to get this debate, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has not offered one single major criticism of the Government’s defence policy. Yet, prior to this occasion to-day, honorable members opposite gave the impression that they would come into this House and suggest that the country was literally undefended.
– You have heard only one Opposition speaker, so far.
– Yes, but I have heard what your first, and major, spokesman has had to say on the subject. That spokesman is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who presumably has the confidence of the Labour Party. I am basing my remarks on what he said. If some of the people who sit behind him buck their deputy leader later on, I am quite sure some of my colleagues will deal with that.
What are some of the points in this major indictment that we were to have from the Opposition? What are some of the points which the honorable gentleman made in this debate? I was delighted to hear him say, and this is the first time I have heard it said from that side of the House, that the defence of Australia depended on collective defence arrangements - the very policy that this Government has been attempting to implement ever since it came into office. The Opposition has regularly and consistently poured cold water on that policy. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition says to-day that the Opposition believes in collective defence. Admittedly, he went on to say that the Opposition was critical of the Government because in our collective defence arrangements we do not include certain other nations in this area, which we believe is the area most important to us. Why do we not have them in? We do not have them in because they will not come in. We would be happy to have other nations of South-East Asia as part of the SouthEast Asia Treaty Organization. We would be delighted to have them in that organization, but until they enter the organization we will make our collective defence arrangements with the United States and with the countries in this area that want to join us in our policy of deflecting Communist aggression from Australia. The honorable gentleman said that the Government, in its appreciation of strategy, was gambling on the fact that Austalia would not be invaded. What an argument to come from the Opposition, the party which, for years, has been telling us that we have been spending far too much money on defence! For years Labour members have been accusing us of wasting money in this direction. Now it comes out and says that the Government, with limited resources and the responsibility for developing our country in many ways, should pursue a policy which would involve a defence effort many times the size of the one we have at present. That is what they mean. That is a policy of self-sufficiency - the capacity to defend ourselves on our own.
One of the problems which a country with limited resources such as Australia has to consider is the most likely threat - the strategic situation - and shape its defence policy accordingly. That is why Government supporters do not believe that it is possible for a country in our position to pursue a policy of self-sufficiency. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said we were gambling on the fact that we would receive support from our allies. Of course we are gambling on that fact, and it is a pretty good gamble too! No people can be certain that in times of crisis they will receive the assistance of others with whom they are in agreement, but we are as sure as we possibly can be in such circumstances.
At least, unlike the Australian Labour Party, the Government has undertaken a substantial defence effort in spite of constant criticism from honorable members opposite over the years. The Government has demonstrated to our allies that we are prepared to do our bit. Unless we can make such a demonstration to them we certainly cannot expect their support in time of crisis.
The honorable member accused us of aimless expenditure. The implication was that we had changed our policy over the years and had now gone in for what he described as aimless expenditure. I want to emphasize what has been inadequately realized by honorable members opposite, the newspapers and many people who should know better in the country at large and that is the complete and utter dependence of the level, shape and direction of our defence effort on our appreciation of the strategic situation. It is even more important, as I have just said, for a small country such as ours to shape its policy on the basis of the best possible assessment of the strategic situation than it is for a larger one which has the resources to prepare for all eventualities - certainly for more eventualities than we can.
I should have thought that this was elementary. It is one of the earliest things which people learn in the Army. You make an appreciation of the situation and shape the conduct and the size of your forces, and your plans, on your assessment of the threat to you and the plan which the enemy is likely to pursue. What the Government is now doing is no more than an extension of that principle. Maybe it is because the Deputy Leader of the Opposition served in the Royal Australian Air Force that he has not realized this elementary principle.
Let me suggest to honorable members some of the consequences of the dependence of the defence effort upon an assessment of the strategic situation. This will answer many of these pin-pricking minor criticisms that were made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The first is that the situation changes. There is nothing remarkable about that. What is remarkable is that when the Government re-orientates its defence policy in response to changed strategic circumstances it is always met with cheap gibes such as those which came from the honorable member this afternoon. That has frequently been our experience. Labour members in the past have suggested that the earlier policies were wrong and that all money spent was wasted and they have implied that the mere existence of a new policy is proof that the previous one was wrong. It has always seemed extraordinary to me that this sort of gibe should come from the Labour Party which prides itself on being a party of progress.
Let me remind honorable members of the strategic situation which existed in the early 1950’s. It was thought then that a global war was likely in the immediate future and as a consequence we had to shape our defence policy to prepare for it. We had to provide the basis for a rapid expansion of the mass army such as we had in World War I. and World War II. That led to such things as the National Service Training Scheme, and a top-heavy command and staff structure so that we could cater, if it meant a rapid expansion in war, for the large numbers of people who would come into the services. It meant St. Mary’s; it meant a disproportionate amount spent on allowances, maintenance and so on; it meant ships in mothballs to which honorable members opposite have referred.
All this laid the Government open to cheap gibes from ill-informed and illintentioned people. They talked about the disproportionate number of brass bats - officers - to men in the Army. They pointed to the disproportionate relationship between the fighting component of the Army and the services in general and the administrative tail. They complained about the partial training given in national service. All these and many other things provided a field day for the critics.
Yet, in the light of the strategic situation as assessed at the time, the policy proved to be the right one. lt could not be said that it was wasted. It was tailored to meet the needs of the moment. At that period we had to calculate what might be on our hands at any moment and we had to provide for that situation.
Later, with the introduction of the nuclear deterrent, the assessment of the strategic situation changed. The possibility of global war began to recede. In 1957, in preparing the defence programme for the next three years, the Commonwealth Government took the first steps to design and re-orientate the Australian defence effort. In response to the changed’ strategic situation the Government suggested that the limited war and cold war situations were what we had to prepare against. This placed the emphasis on highly mobile regular forces, ready to move at a moment’s notice. This was reinforced by the growth of our arrangements with our allies and participation in the Seato, Anzam and Anzus pacts.
I want to emphasize that if there is a constant response to the changing needs of the strategic situation, as the Government has responded, inevitably it will be said that what has gone before has been wasted. Much of what was needed in the previous situation is not now required. In the petty, carping criticism of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition this afternoon we have heard that the Government has not acquired this piece of equipment or certain aircraft or FN rifles and so on, and has given no definite assurance of when and how a particular piece of equipment will be acquired. How can a complete assurance be given? When a decision of this sort is made, how can the Government immediately acquire complicated and expensive equipment such as aircraft and tanks? The circumstances of the strategic situation five years or three years ago did not involve submarines and the sort of thing which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned were required in the situation at this stage. Submarines only came into the picture when the strategic situation was re-assessed two or three years ago. They are extremely expensive. The general tendency of the Opposition has been to suggest that we should cut down on our defence expenditure, and to criticize all along the line everything that has been done in the realm of defence. I should have thought that it would not criticize us for trying to save money.
– Tell us about the strategic situation.
– I have told you about the strategic situation, but you would not know anything about it. At any rate, that is the situation in which the decisions relating to the last three-year programme were taken. That is why the brigade group was raised and was highly trained. I am sure that honorable gentlemen who were present at the exercises in Mackay will agree that the group has reached a high state of training. That is why the group was made mobile by the acquisition of the Hercules aircraft. That is why the group was armed with the FN rifle, and shortly will receive the 105-mm. howitzer. Those results were achieved by the end of the three-year period.
The Government must have been greatly heartened, when considering the new threeyear programme, to find that the decisions which it had taken three years previously, in the light of purely Australian circumstances and needs, were similar to decisions which were taken by the major countries in the Western world, particularly the United States of America and the United Kingdom, in the light of the circumstances which faced them. Whereas previously nuclear weapons had been regarded as a deterrent against war, later, in the face of the growing Russian predominance in international ballistic missiles, they came to be regarded as a deterrent only against nuclear war. This left a much greater possibility of a limited war fought with conventional weapons. In the face of that situation, the United States commenced hurriedly to prepare for this eventuality.
Australia had started preparing for it two years previously.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) has asked this side of the House to be specific in its criticism of the Government on the question of defence. He has suggested that there are two points of view which we should consider, first, that all is right with the Navy, the Army and the Air Force - which contention we reject entirely - and secondly, that there is a case for us to answer. He has asked for our points of criticism, and we shall give them to him. Since each speaker in this debate is allowed only twenty minutes, there is not time for a rhetorical approach to the matter, so we shall hammer, hammer, hammer along the hard, high road of defence to see if we can get something that is useful to the community. We shall criticize, with all the strength that we have, to ensure that Australia is really defended in a world where chaos reigns.
Let us go back to 1950. The events of that time highlight, in a way, the whole attitude of this Government to defence, and the doodling, don’t-give-a-damn attitude of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) himself. I shall quote from the official record of a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers which was held in Canberra on 2nd March, 1950. The Prime Minister said -
My conclusion is this - I state it right away - that the possibilities of war are so real and so serious that Australia cannot, with justice to itself or its allies, grant itself a day more than three years in which to get ready. That view is not peculiar to me - and I am not regarded, by my colleagues in the Cabinet at any rate, as an excitable person.
That was a solemn statement which shook the nation. Everybody said, “ AH right, let us get ready. If we have three years to D-day, let us get on with it.”
We on this side of the House want to analyse what the Government has done, not in three years, but in ten years. We shall give categorical evidence of what the Government has, and has not, done. What a formidable case it is against the Government! The Opposition cannot be charged with disloyalty in bringing our state of defence before the Australian people. What have we got for ten years’ effort? What have we got for an expenditure of £1,750,000,000 over ten years? We have, in this new order, two pentropic divisions of 13,000 men each, which will be out of the country supporting Seato or some other sectional agreement or pact in the event of a war, and we have wrecked the proper forces for home defence. I hope to prove that in good company. I hope to prove it in the company of many Citizen Military Forces officers - brigadiers and others. In a written statement which was published in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, Mr. Dick Lewis, secretary of the returned servicemen’s league in New South Wales said-
– He does not know everything.
– He does not know everything, and he may not be any more of an expert than you are, but he is an intensely patriotic man and a man of feeling. You must, as I must, listen to his words, which I shall read to you later. But what have we got? What has the Government produced with nearly £2,000,000,000? We have this curiously named pentropic force. I understand the name comes from the Greek word meaning five-sided. Each division contains a group of battalions, and the force will be used overseas. We have a badly mauled and shattered C.M.F. We have a Navy of eight ships, with 300 cooks. We have an Air Force of 450 planes, comprising sixteen squadrons, most of which are obsolete or obsolescent. Is that not true? Of course it is! But what have we at the top of the heap? We have the incompetent Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), who will not even sit at the table to answer these charges, and we have the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley), who does not think it worth while to come into the chamber and stand up to the charges which we are making.
– Those two Ministers are not able to be present.
– The Attorney-General has said that those two Ministers are not able to handle the debate. There is the position. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ has said that the Minister has been more gallant than competent in handling this matter.
What has happened has amazed most Australians who read and understand these things. We build up our new Army - our striking force, our strategic force, this little thrusting force of which we are so proud - by dismissing not the volunteers of the C.M.F., but 1,600 men, officers and noncommissioned officers from the Regular Army itself. We do not want them, apparently. We tell them, “ You are redundant because you were training the kids in the call-up “. We told the Government that the national service training scheme was futile, and that you could not have the C.M.F. and the trainees intermingled. That was a hopeless military situation, but it took the Government ten years - or nine years, at any rate - to find it out. But when we do try to reform and we build up a force - which, incidentally, could not take Yass on a hot day - the Government says, “We will sack 1,600 of these men. We will sack many of the top brass.” I have the names of the men who have been sacked. I shall read them to the Minister later and ask him why he called them incompetent, and why he dismissed them in view of their war records and their records of achievement during the last few years.
– I thought that you were always opposed to the top brass in the Army.
– I am not opposed to any man who is doing a good job in the general sense, but I am as opposed to over-loaded Liberals as I am to over-loaded brass. In no other sense am I opposed to a man having a top job. Getting back to our case, we build up our new Army by sacking 1,600 officers and n.c.o’s., not from the C.M.F. but from the Regular Army. What is the explanation of that? We told the Government that the C.M.F., which has been viscerated - de-gutted in our language - would have to assist the new force. The Government looks at the old regiments, the old drill halls and the old trusties - who do not belong to this generation - and says that they are not wanted. Well, I say that if we have not got them, we have not got any defence. The Government may think that it can wave a magic wand and take a percentage of the C.M.F. into the pentropic force, leaving the others to die on the vine, and then say, “Give us 10,000 volunteers for the C.M.F.” It will not get them.
We on this side of the House argue as laymen, not as military experts. We are deeply concerned at the position. When we turn to the C.M.F. units, we see that their old regimental ties have been broken and that even their battle honours have been dispersed into a new, composite and scrabbled unit of the A.R.A. and the C.M.F. Then we ask the C.M.F., which has been bisected, dissected and scrabbled, to find 10,000 new recruits. The Minister said triumphantly, the other night, that the Government will put on a publicity campaign to get the recruits. I do not think that he will get them. If he does not get them, his massive point about his pentropic force falls to the ground, because he will not have reinforcements. There is at this moment a crisis in the Citizen Military Forces. But more of this later. In order to illustrate just what has happened, if I may repeat myself, I should like to tell the Minister for Defence that we disagree with the planning in this matter which produces the small, active overseas force and then moves in on the C.M.F. and partially destroys their autonomy. This planning then lays down, as the new order, that there shall be a powerful new, modern striking force, properly armed and ready for anything. We agree with that idea. We think there is something in that. But then what happens with the C.M.F.? Half of them are integrated into the new pentropic battalions, and half of them are left, as I said, to hang on the vine and die, and finally to disintegrate.
The secretary of the New South Wales Branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia has mentioned the problem of defending, for example, the Butterworth aerodrome, in Malaya. This would require two pentropic divisions. But what will those divisions do for reinforcements? They will depend on the existing C.M.F. units. We know how reinforcements are soaked up in action. If the Government contemplates an Army capable of action and not just an Army on paper, it will have left Australia destitute of proper protection.
Since 1904, the Australian Labour Party has declared that there must be a citizen Army. This party created the Australian Navy. I am perfectly right when I assert, going back to first plans and first causes, that a home-defence army in this country must never be dissipated by any new plan and must never be talked out of existence by a Minister for Defence or some other individual who is bent on a pentropic force which will be only a police force. We intended to do something about this matter before the former leader of the Australian Labour Party in this House went to the bench of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. We envisaged, as a police force for the United Nations, a larger force than the Government has created. It was to be, not a sectional force, but a police force for the United Nations, for we admit freely that we cannot protect ourselves. The Minister has said so; the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has said so; and the honorable member for Barker has agreed. So you have to approach these things from the stand-point of what can be done with these small numbers.
I say that the C.M.F. have been very badly treated in this matter. We want to get away from mere talk about this subject. I consider that the C.M.F. are the vital element in this debate. We are tired of talking to the Government about the debacle of St. Mary’s - the bullets that were not made and the shells that were not filled. We are tired of telling the Government, on a yah-yah-yah basis, about the cruiser “Hobart” and the £1,700,000 that has been wasted on it. We are tired of talking “ Mothball Bight “, where it lay at anchor for many years, and about the fact that this gallant old cruiser was destined eventually to finish as a backdrop for a film called “ On the Beach “. That is about the limit of the defence planning of this country, and we are tired of hearing the Minister foi Defence talk about the delay in re-equipping the Royal Australian Air Force. We now hear his final despairing statement that the re-equipment programme is not ready yet, although he promised it in 1954 when he assured us that the R.A.A.F. would be re-geared and re-planned in due course. We are tired of telling the Government about the naval schemozzle in which everything is rapidly becoming obsolete or obsolescent, with the big boys of the Navy huddling together and saying, “ By gad, boys, we may have to take to the submarines “, although every other country in the world has taken to the submarines years ago. Or, if you do not have the submarines, you could have a noble corps of skin-divers-
We have to build our defences and build them strongly. In this, the Government will have the co-operation of the Opposition, and the first thing that the Government needs to do is to be honest with us about these things. It cannot deny the horrible history of the last ten years, as I reiterate it. We can almost see the monoliths to the disgraceful incompetence of the last ten years appearing before us - St. Mary’s, the cruiser “ Hobart “, the delay with the FN rifle, the delay in re-fitting and re-equipping the R.A.A.F., the delay over naval personnel, submarines and what have you. That is the sorry story. Upon this is superimposed this new dream picture. We accept at least one section of it, as has been said by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, but we direct the Government’s attention to what is happening in the Citizen Military Forces.
I now turn to the R.A.A.F. I see that, in 1917, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made a statement about its being re-armed with new fighter aircraft.
– In 1917!
– The year was 1957. The Minister was a naval officer, and I am sorry if we have bombarded his ears so much that they are now out of action. The Prime Minister stated in 1957 that the Government was planning to re-arm the R.A.A.F. with new fighter aircraft. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “, which the Prime Minister himself said to-day was one of the newspapers which are friendly to him, stated that the revelation, in March, 1960, that the Government is still unable to indicate when it will make a final selection of aircraft for re-equipping the Air Force is, to say the least of it, disturbing.
The honorable member for Barker has asked, “ What answer has the Opposition? “ We are asking the Government all these questions one after another. We want to know why the Government did not pay attention to what the Opposition has said so earnestly and sincerely about compulsory military training. Why has the Government let it go down-hill? Why has it been considered necessary to spend £150,000,000 or £160,000,000 of tax moneys contributed by the people, in order to prove that the call-up of the kids was fatuous, foolish and utterly stupid - a dream of the brass that would not work because the Government did not provide the training forces and did not hare an amalgamated army to do it? It had C.M.F. officers and youngsters, and it developed a higgledy-piggledy thing that never worked. On the other hand, other forces in the country were at work trying to get the youngsters back into industry. Why did the Government allow these things to happen? It ignored the information that it was given. It ignored the debates in the Parliament. It rejected all the suggestions made by Opposition members in this Parliament. We were told that we were reds and commos who were obstructing the war effort. Then the Government had, in effect, to crawl in here one dreary morning and say, after ten years, that all its planning for the Army was utterly futile and useless and that it would be abandoned from 30th June, 1960. This is another monument to incompetence. Yet the Government talks about the defence of this country!
Turning to a matter of timing in relation to this subject, the Minister for Defence came to this House and read a statement about a general defence review in a loud, clear voice. He told us all the things that we should know about defence. But, on browsing through my papers, I found that stuff he gave us had been published in full in the Army journal on 12th December, 1959. So the only people who did not know about it were those members of this Parliament who had not received the Army review.
The Minister for Defence is himself responsible for this classic concept of the Army. He has written this stuff. He has told us of this. This is where he has brought up two points. First of all, you have the general stuff that appeared in any Army, Air Force or Navy magazine, with a little re-vamping for the benefit of the Parliament. That is not good enough. Then we come to this question of the Citizen Military Forces. The secretary of the New South
Wales branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia has warned the Government that it is leaving Australia without solid defences and that the country is being left to depend on the Government’s dream that it has a thrusting force - a tiny thrusting force - which can go into Laos, Viet Nam or some of the other countries which are members of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization and in which there may be trouble. The remainder of the existing forces will be dissipated. But, once our forces are imperilled in the South-East Asia area, we shall be in trouble, because our reinforcements must come from the C.M.F.
This is not just my view. I ask Government supporters, and especially the exservicemen among them, to heed the words of the secretary of the New South Wales branch of the Returned Soldiers League. He said -
Not only has the C.M.F. been given its death warrant, but the defence of Australia has been dissipated to the point of rendering it negligible. No one who has the defence of this country at heart can agree that two divisions to defend it in time of war are sufficient, even in presentday circumstances with the modern equipment that is available.
The Butterworth aerodrome in Malaya has cost Australia fi, 250,000, and to defend it adequately would require the two divisions of the Australian Army, thus leaving the continent of Australia without defence.
That is the charge that we make against the Government in this matter. The secretary of the New South Wales branch of the R.S.L. said also - and this is his concluding remark -
The fact is that the 1950 Army as conceived was for the direct defence of Australia.
The Army as conceived to-day is for the direct defence of some other country under the Seato plan, and the Government envisages the complete evacuation from Australia of our military forces, which will be overseas looking after somebody else or fighting somebody else’s war. The thing to remember in regard to the Citizen Military Forces and the defence of this country is that men have an old-fashioned habit of defending their own hearths and homes. Why do we not do that? I remind honorable members that the national service trainees have gone. The C.M.F. are just a rabble of reinforcements for the pentropic force. Nothing else remains. That is the warning that we give to the Government.
In the few minutes left at my disposal, I shall give the Minister for the Army the names of the gallant officers he has sacked and ask him why he is replacing them and calling them incompetent. I refer to Brigadier A. D. Molloy, Brigadier R. J. Barham, D.S.O., Brigadier C. N. Peters, Brigadier D. F. Hussey, Colonel F. L. Gilchrist, Colonel N. R. Forrest, Colonel M. R. Buring and Lieutenant-Colonel E. L. Cook. They were called incompetent at a party meeting. The Minister came into the House and apologized, but I believe that libel actions are still proceeding against him for his charges against these gallant officers. The decision to commence these actions has been upheld in Sydney by an eminent Queens Counsel. The Minister has brought himself trouble both generally and politically for his comments about the efficiency of these officers.
The point we make is that in 1950 the Prime Minister oozled into the House and warned of imminent war, but the following ten years are years that the locusts have eaten. We have had no planning for ten years. We have had ten years of stupidity and immoral laziness by a government that has failed to ensure that we are properly defended. After having been prodded into activity by the Australian Labour Party, the Government has brought in a par-boiled1 plan which means, in effect, that we will disarm. I have already shown that we have lost many of our effective soldiers. The Prime Minister is at one with Khrushchev, at any rate in this matter. He believes that there should be fewer armaments and fewer men at arms. That is not entirely an untenable proposition, but it is untenable when it comes from the Prime Minister. In the interests of planning to get an expeditionary force, some thrusting force, and to try to sell some sort of a line to our powerful allies, we have left our country defenceless.
The question of the future of the Citizen Military Forces has to be answered. The Minister has not been able to do so, or does not have the information, and, so far, neither have the members of the Opposition. This new defence scheme is halfbaked. It is par-boiled. It contains a proposition that must be rejected by people who think of the safety of Australia, and who fear for their hearths and homes. While we have a breath of life, we must still defend our shores, our hearths and our homes. Under a Labour government, or any other patriotic government, home defence would be the first requirement. This Government has denied the country the right to defend itself. Overseas commitments have been considered to be enough, and this community has been left to sing for its defence.
– The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has made a somewhat lighthearted speech in which he has leapt from point to point without very much consistency. He has used a number of catch phrases and has attempted to excite feeling. He said something about the function of the services being to defend hearth and home. But where should we defend hearth and home? If the phrase he used had any point at all in this context, it was intended by him to suggest that the defence efforts of Australia ought to be kept entirely within our continent. If such a concept were ever adopted by any government, the cause would have been lost before an Australian could have raised his hand in defence of his own country. Nothing could more clearly illustrate the complete lack of understanding by the Opposition, and particularly by the honorable member for Parkes, of the strategic situation in which this country stands than that remark and the inference that he intended to be drawn from it. Of course, the object of our services is to defend our hearth and our home at places as far as possible from these shores. If the day comes when they must be defended in our cities and our streets, we will be in a sorry plight indeed.
The present re-organization of the services is intended to produce forces which are more able to meet Australia’s needs and obligations in the present strategic situation. As the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) said, our estimate of the situation is that global war, though not impossible, is unlikely. Our first aim is to be able to act promptly with our allies in limited wars in our own strategic area, and at the same time to make an effective contribution to the cold war. This requires from the services readiness in time of peace, mobility and equipment suitable for the task. The Minister for Defence, in his statement, dealt with these needs from a joint service viewpoint, and spoke in detail of the plans for re-organization of the Army. I intend now to show how the Royal Australian Air Force has planned over the years past, and is planning now, to fit itself for its part.
I have said that the needs are readiness, mobility and equipment suited to the role. Equipment is the major problem of all air forces to-day. For us, it has particular complexities which arise from our geography, from the great distances to be covered both in our strategic area and within Australia itself. In addition, there are comparatively few airfields in Australia and in SouthEast Asia which are capable of withstanding sustained operations by modern military aircraft. Their high take-off and landing speeds, their weight and their small tyres with high pressures can inflict unacceptable damage on any airfield pavements which are not specially constructed to withstand them. To discharge its task properly, the Air Force must first have strikereconnaissance aircraft of adequate speed, range and hitting power. “Strike-reconnaissance” is the term used nowadays to describe the sort of aircraft which are probably more familiar to honorable members under the former names of light or tactical bombers. This role is now met by our three squadrons of Canberra bombers, one of which is stationed in Malaya.
The Australian-built Canberra first came into service some eight years ago. There is no doubt in the minds of those responsible for the direction of the Air Force that the most difficult re-equipment problem we face, and probably the most important, is to find a future replacement for the Canberra. What is needed is a light bomber, with supersonic speed and long range, with precise navigation and bomb-aiming equipment and other electronic aids to enable it to operate with accuracy through cloud or at night. Such an aircraft does not at present exist, nor is one in sight for some years to come. The great powers have concentrated on inter-continental bombers. That is not our role, and the aircraft that they have developed are too specialized, too expensive and too demanding in airfield requirements to be within the reach of a small power.
– What do they cost?
– Enormous sums of money- 5,000,000 to 10,000,000 dollars. More than once in the past five years, my department considered the adoption of British V-bombers, but rejected the idea for sound economic and technical reasons, including those that I have mentioned. So, for some years more, we will keep to our Canberras, increasing their effectiveness by improvements in navigational and bombing equipment and techiques. No air force on either side of the iron curtain, except those of the three great powers, the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom, has a better bomber than the Canberra. It is significant that two other nations, India and New Zealand, have quite recently equipped themselves with them.
As I have said, a suitable replacement for the Canberra is not yet in sight and is not likely to be for some years. Fortunately, the question of a replacement for our Avon Sabre fighters is likely to be resolved much earlier. The time is approaching when my department should be able to give firm advice to the Government on the choice of a new fighter. Much work has been done by the Air Staff in analysing the technical data of many fighters, and we have never lacked information or advice from the travelling sales teams of most of the aircraft manufacturers of the free world on the excellence of their products. When we choose an aircraft, we will be committed to it for a long time. Again, our geography and the scarcity and cost of modern military airfields come into the picture. A fighter which will suit the Nato powers, or Canada, which also has a Nato commitment, will not necessarily suit us. In Europe and North America, modern airfields abound and distances between them are short.
I will give the House an illustration of our special difficulties. In Operation Sabre Ferry, last year, two of our Sabre squadrons flew from their home base at Williamtown, near Newcastle, to Butterworth, in Malaya. They made six long flights, four of them over the ocean, but the longest flight of all was inside Australia, from Townsville to Darwin. It was nearly 1,200 miles.
When considering its many requirements, we must be sure that the fighter chosen can reach our strategic area in easy stages, and can operate successfully from the airfields available to it. It must also be versatile enough to give ground support to the Army as well as high performance in its primary air defence role. In 1957, the Government was contemplating the selection of a particular American fighter, the FI 04, but postponed a decision as the aircraft was too specialized for our particular needs.
– Was that the Starfighter?
– Yes. It was considered advisable to wait until later developments produced aircraft of greater versatility. This caution has been fully justified. The F104 that was being considered was a daylight superiority fighter with limited capacity for ground support. If we had adopted it in 1957, we would have been committed to it in its earliest and most limited version. Later developments of the same aircraft, which it would not be practicable to incorporate by modification of the orginal airframe - and I emphasize that point - are making it a long-range allweather fighter, with a strong ground support capacity, and other aircraft are now becoming available which can compete with it.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) asked me whether the F104 was the Starfighter, and I said that it was. The latest version of this aircraft will be the F104G. It has been reported that this aircraft has been adopted by some European powers and by Canada. It is structurally a different aircraft from the earlier F104A, which was being considered in 1957. In fact, the F104G has not yet made its first flight.
There are specific questions to be answered, and the time is only now approaching when our experts can find the answers for themselves. Our critics have considered that progress has been slow, but we will not gamble on this issue, and it has been necessary to wait. Air ViceMarshal V. E. Hancock, the Air Officer Commanding Operational Command, accompanied by two experienced specialist officers of the R.A.A.F., and by Mr. I. B. Fleming, of the Department of Supply, will leave in a few weeks’ time to visit the United Kingdom, France and the
United States to find the answers to their questions. I wish to emphasize that they are not embarking on a general survey of the world’s aircraft, but will satisfy themselves, in a short space of time, concerning certain particulars of a small number of aircraft.
In the meantime, the Sabre is well able to meet our needs. The days of dog-fights between fleets of fighters more or less equally matched are in the past.
– Do you think that is right?
– I do think it is right. The modern fighter is required, primarily, to deal with intruding bombers. Our two Sabre squadrons in Malaya have been fitted with the Sidewinder air-to-air missile, and the home squadrons will be fitted, in turn, with these missiles. On the advice available to me, our Sabres will now be able to deal effectively with any opponent they are likely to meet in our strategic area for some time to come.
A fourth fighter squadron has been formed at Williamtown, largely from the Permanent Air Force personnel formerly engaged on instructional and maintenance duties with the Citizen Air Force squadrons which are now giving up their flying role. This squadron will add to our front-line strength, and will make it easier to relieve the members of the squadrons in Malaya after they have had periods of service there.
The fighter capacity of the R.A.A.F., or the air defence capacity as it is called nowadays, will be strengthened by the Bloodhound surface-to-air guided weapon which we are now buying. Transition to a new field like that of the surface-to-air guided weapon is a painstaking process, and it takes time. People have been training, both at home and in England, for some years for this new activity, and the preparations will now be intensified. The surfacetoair guided weapon squadron, the House may be interested to know, will be called No. 30 squadron after the famous war-time Beaufighter squadron. At least one honorable member says, “ Hear, hear! “, so it seems I have struck an echo in some one’s heart. This squadron will begin to form, as far as personnel are concerned, at the fighter base at Williamtown next September. On the latest information, the delivery of equipment will not be completed until
October next year, and the extent to which it will be assembled at Williamtown and its ultimate peacetime destination have not yet been decided.
Improvements are being made in the tactical reconnaissance capacity of the R.A.A.F. by developing a camera pod for fitting to the Sabres.
In the maritime role, ah order has been placed for twelve Lockheed P.2.V.7’s, an improvement on the Neptunes or P.2.V.5’s of No. 11 squadron with which the R.A.A.F. is so Well acquainted. The new aircraft are still being built, so we will not have them until about the end of next year. They will be used to re-equip No. 10 squadron, which will remain based at Townsville. The long-nosed Lincolns of No. 10 squadron, which are now outmoded, will be phased out in the interval.
I believe many members of the House realize that the R.A.A.F. is now splendidly equipped in the sphere of transport. The twelve C.l 30 Lockheed transports have fully proved their capacity and have brought a new era of mobility to the Army and the R.A.A.F. They do much to meet the needs of the other services, and one of them is now engaged in transporting equipment from the United Kingdom to Woomera for the British Ministry of Supply, equipment which cannot be carried by any other aircraft in the air forces of the Commonwealth.
We still retain a squadron of Dakotas, the ubiquitous DC3’s of World War II. They have a continuing function for the transport of lighter loads on shorter hauls.
I spoke earlier of our airfield needs. About two years ago the Government approved of a programme to improve and develop our military airfields. This is proceeding satisfactorily. The R.A.A.F. is developing a ring of operational airfields around Australia, and, for ferrying purposes, across the continent. We will probably never be able to afford all the airfields we would like, but the essentials are being laid down. The great base at Darwin has a runway two and a half miles long and more than three feet thick. Through it any air movement to SouthEast Asia will probably have to pass. It is nearing completion, and in the three-year programme we will begin on another airfield in the far north. To the east and west we have Townsville and Learmonth. The latter is a bare airfield with the minimum of supporting buildings. It has been reconstructed from a wartime field and is now suitable for ferrying or operational use.
I would like to give the House some idea of the domestic arrangements that we are developing for the future R.A.A.F. The Air Force will be raised and trained, and its aircraft overhauled, in the home bases which, with the exception of the Applied Flying Training School at Perth, are in the south-east of our continent. Point Cook and East Sale in Victoria, Wagga in New South Wales and the Applied Flying Training School near Perth will be the training bases. As for home operational bases, there will be Amberley for bombers, Williamtown for fighters, Richmond for transports, and Richmond and Townsville for maritime aircraft. That is the plan.
The House will remember that I announced recently that some eight Air Force bases will soon be closed. Their activities will be transferred to the permanent bases. These changes will fit into the future pattern I have described this afternoon, and will save a great deal in annual costs and in man-power. From these home bases the squadrons will move out or abroad for exercises and operations. They are practising the tactics of mobility and learning to exercise away from home with a minimum of fixed installations. The other day, No. 75 squadron moved to Darwin at eight hours’ notice and carried out an exercise which lasted three days - something which we could never have dreamed of in the past - and more, I hope, will be achieved.
I can give the House an interesting example of what can be done with this concept of home bases and moving out and mobility. The plans for the development of Learmonth in Exmouth Gulf in the northwest originally provided for buildings and other fixed installations costing about £230,000 in addition to the cost of the airfield itself. In operation “ Sabre Ferry “ to which I had referred before, the Air Force learnt that it could move its own navigational and guidance equipment and its necessary operational staff more readily than it previously believed. As a result the fixed installations at Learmonth, excluding the airfield, can be considerably reduced and will now only cost about £80,000. Transportable equipment will be flown in when it is needed.
To keep up with the demands of modern technology, the Air Force is raising its standards of technical and academic education. Candidates for the R.A.A.F. College must have matriculated before entry and are now being taught to the standard of the second year of a university degree course in science. Higher standards are being required right through the service. Notwithstanding this, or perhaps partly as a result, recruiting is good and the rate of re-engagement is high. In the next two years, before the heavy cost of reequipment begins to drain the Air Force vote efforts are to be made to improve the conditions of work and living on the home bases. Old temporary war-time huts are being replaced with permanent “buildings. Living and messing accommodation, which has often been, from necessity, of a lower standard than one would wish, is being improved and homes for married personnel are being provided at a rate which I hope will soon solve the difficult accommodation problems of families.
– At Darwin?
– At Darwin, too. The building rate at Darwin has been doubled and I think the figure is 35 or 40 houses this year.
On the Australian-built airfield at Butterworth and in the station buildings, the cost of which we shared with the Royal Air Force, about 1,000 Australian Air Force personnel are working. Most married men have their families with them at Butterworth or on nearby Penang Island. Our two squadrons of Sabres at Butterworth, now fitted with the “ Sidewinder “, provide the front line of the fighter defence of the Far East Air Force of the Commonwealth, and the Canberra Squadron makes up a substantial part of the striking force. By their work in the air and on the ground, and by the demeanour of their families in their private lives, our Air Force personnel in Malaya are making a contribution to a close understanding with one of our most important neighbours and friends.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- The Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) has just made it quite clear that modern war is too expensive for Australia. He then went on to tell us how he wanted to play soldiers, sailors and airmen; because the truth is that this Government is just playing at this game. It is a sham government, and I will explain, in figures, the significance of that statement. The Minister said that mobility was of the essence of the defence policy of this Government. I want to quote a statement by a distinguished ex-serviceman who was a supporter of this Government in this House until the last general election. I refer to Air Vice-Marshal Bostock, and I quote from “Hansard” of 22nd April, 1955-
Even if we had this Army corps fully established and fully trained before we were faced with the catastrophe of war, we should be faced with the major problem of moving it to where it was required. At present it is beyond the ability of this country to move an Army corps in the short time that will be available if it is to be employed effectively.
The fact is that this Government has not got a co-ordinated defence force. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), earlier to-day, said that the Australian Labour Party had sabotaged the defence effort in peace-time. We, on this side o’ the House, have always said that we are a peace-loving nation. We do not believe in war and we have always wanted to spread goodwill. We have always said that we are in favour of disarmament. But this Government has been a war-mongering government. In 1950 the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said “ War by 1953 “. The Government rattles the sabre on every possible occasion. I wish to tell to the honorable member for Barker what the record of this so-called Tory government is. This Government, which represents the status quo, is not prepared to take from the “ haves “ and give anything to the “ havenots “. In the year 1938-39- the year of Czechoslovakia, a time of crisis - the gross national product was £949,000,000 and the expenditure on war and defence was £13,000,000. The defence expenditure at that time was 1.4 per cent, of the gross national product. Now we come to the time of the Labour government. In the first year after the war the gross national product was £1,591,000.000 and the defence expenditure was £86,000,000, which was 5.4 per cent, of the gross national product.
In the last year of the Chifley Administration, 1949-50, the gross national product was £2,929,000,000 and the defence expenditure was £54,000,000, which was 2 per cent, of the gross national product.
After the present Government came into power, the defence expenditure in 1950-51 was 2.8 per cent, of the gross national product and last year it was only 2.9 per cent. But let us examine the position in the meantime with this great build-up of fear. In 1951-52, defence expenditure rose to 4.3 per cent, of the gross national product and in 1952-53 it rose still further, to 4.8 per cent. In 1953-54 it dropped to 3.7 per cent. In 1954-55 it was 3.5 per cent.; in 1955-56 it was 3.6 per cent.; in 1956-57 it was 3.2 per cent., and in 1957-58 it was 2.9 per cent. I quote again last year’s figure of 2.9 per cent. That is the result of this Government’s so-called defence policy. The figures are quite conclusive and I invite the honorable member for Barker to refute them if he can.
This Government has been a government of disarmament; it is a sham government which likes to rattle the sabre and let the people think it is a “ defence “ government. If it were honest the Government would say, “ We are in favour of disarmament “. If it did, I would congratulate it as I did a little time ago on its change in foreign policy in accepting the Summit Conference. I notice among honorable members in the back benches the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), who does not agree with his Government’s policy on the Summit Conference, and there are many others, also, in the back benches who were not in favour of the Government’s policy in this matter. I believe that the world should disarm, because we never gain anything from war.
Let us not have a sham government. Let us be honest about this issue of the retrenchment of Army personnel. We on the Opposition side want to see a reduction in the armed forces but we want, to see an orderly, progressive reduction in manpower. If the armed forces are to be reduced, we want to see the change made correctly. The technical know-how of the men in the armed forces should be transferred from the uses of war to the uses of peace. The men should be absorbed directly into private industry or other government departments. The personnel who are retrenched should not be sacked overnight and put on the breadline. The Government and this House should face up to these problems.
What are the chances of war? The Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) indicated in his speech that there is not much chance of a world war. The dangers have receded because world leaders are struggling to maintain peace, and we, members of this Parliament, should give them all our support. We must ask ourselves also: What sort of war are we likely to have if there is a war? We are told that it would be a limited war. But what is the Government’s proposition? It believes that we should be tied up with the South-East Asia Treaty Organization in a military pact. Such an arrangement means Australian forces should go to some portion of South-East Asia, if required, to defend Asian countries. If Seato is to be a military alliance, I believe that Australia should not be a party to it. In my opinion, Seato should be an economic pact. What nations form this organization? One of the partners is France, a colonial power. Then there is Great Britain, which is another colonial power, and the United States of America, which also is a colonial power.
– Oh, no!
– Of course, the United States of America is a colonial power. It is out to protect its economic investments as it has in other countries. If it is not a colonial power, I would like to know what is. Australia and New Zealand are partners in Seato; and of the Asian powers, we are associated with Pakistan, Thailand and the Philippines. Of those three nations, two are semi-dictatorships. They are not democratic nations but military powers. The only one of the three that could be described as a democratic power is the Philippines. Some time ago, back bench supporters of the Government wanted to drive Australia and the rest of the Seato powers into a war over the disturbances in Laos.
– It is not nonsense. There was an agitation in that direction by the back bench members on the Government side. Our policy should be to contribute to Seato if it is an economic organization; but we should look further into the position of Seato. Even the United States of America has strings attached to its membership of Seato. America will go to the aid of the member nations only if they are attacked by a Communist aggressor.
Let us consider Australia’s position if it is the object of aggression in the future. What nation do we have to fear? Some time ago, I attended Army manoeuvres in Queensland with some of my colleagues. The Australian Army was supposed to be fighting a phantom force, but in my opinion it was not fighting a phantom force but the Chinese. The Army leaders were virtually deciding who would be our future enemy, and they decided our enemy would be Communist China. That is the truth. They were saying that we were likely to be faced with M.I.G. aircraft. I asked the officer who was showing us around, “ Who would that be? “ He said that it could be not only Communist China but also Indonesia. Some “ prisoners “ were brought in and I said to one of them in the presence of an officer, “ What is your rank?” He said in Chinese, “ Second Lieutenant “. I said to the officer, “ I think that is pretty conclusive. In the minds of these men, they are fighting the Chinese.” I do not believe that we will ever have to fight the Chinese. I do not say that the Chinese will not spread their ideology in South-East Asia, because I believe they will do so; but I do not believe that we will ever have to fight China on the Australian mainland.
The point in relation to defence is this: Are we prepared to face up to the problems of the near north? Are we prepared to try to lift the standard of living of those Asian peoples? Are we prepared to make any contribution to the welfare of the people in the near north? Supporters of the Government will say that we are facing up to our obligations under the Colombo Plan. This Government has been in office for ten years and in that time it has spent nearly £1.800,000,000 on defence. Yet its contribution to the Colombo Plan has been a mere £30,000,000.
The Government has decided now that national development has been a major part of its defence plan. Has not the Australian Labour Party always said that the true defence of this nation lies in its development? In 1950, when this Government introduced national service training, we said the money spent on it would be wasted. What has happened? In ten years, this Government has spent £153,000,000 on national service training, and by comparison it has spent only £150,000,000 on the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric project which is one major phase of national development. Which is the greatest contribution to national defence - the wasted man-hours and the money wasted on national service training or the money spent on the Snowy Mountains project? Of course, the Snowy Mountains project is the most valuable asset.
If we want to develop Australia and defend it, we should build a super-highway between Melbourne and Sydney. In wet weather, you get bogged down now on the Hume Highway. What has the Government done about roads? Only recently the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe), who is a member of the Australian Country Party, said he would like to see more roads leading to and from his electorate. He said roads were needed to solve the problems of drought and flooding rains. The honorable member said that roads would save us millions of pounds in Queensland. Those are the major problems confronting Australia. What about the standardization of railway gauges? What has this Government done in the past ten years towards the standardization of railway gauges, flood mitigation and water conservation? What has it done to house the people? Are not all these phases of national development really defence measures? As I said earlier, £1,800,000,000 has been spent on defence, but during the same period only £680,000,000 has been spent on education. Is not education one of the greatest defence weapons that we can have in this nation? Of course it is. This sham government, this government of hypocrisy, is not facing up to the real issues of defence and development. I agree with the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) that we should have a defence force so that we can make our contribution to the United Nations and play our part in a police force established to maintain world peace. We should make sure that we face up to our obligations. We must contribute to the United Nations, because that is the only way in which everlasting peace will come to this country and the world.
.- We have heard speeches on several aspects of defence policy from Labour members, and I think that the several voices with which they spoke will cause alarm and confusion in the caucus room. Obviously, the last speaker, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) regards himself as a future Minister for Defence or Minister for External Affairs. The case for the Opposition was led by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), who is usually a very effective speaker, but on this occasion he was, for some reason, ineffective. I gathered from his remarks that, at last, Labour had agreed with collective security, but the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) did not seem to take that view, because he criticized the policy of using our forces overseas. How can you reconcile collective defence with a policy which would not permit you to use your forces together with those of your friends? The policy of Labour on defence is, as usual, completely haywire.
The Government has had some very difficult decisions to make in the reorganization of our defence forces. There is no government in the world to-day which is completely competent to solve many of its defence problems. Defence presents many tremendous problems that may never be solved. There are many alternative plans. Eisenhower had one plan for the conquest of Europe and Montgomery had another, but that does not mean that either of those plans was wrong. Once the Government has made a plan, after considering every single factor, including cost and its effect on our economic development, I think that the best thing we can do is to try to strengthen the plan where we think it is weak, but otherwise to give wholehearted support to it. One of the difficulties of framing an adequate plan is that the Government cannot send conscripted troops overseas beyond a certain distance.
I approach this matter from the viewpoint of the Army. In every war, armies are the decisive factors. I do not say that in disparagement of the other forces. We cannot get anywhere without a navy, and we cannot fight without an air force, but the final decision in every war depends on the holding of vital ground, and vital ground has to be held by an army. I have some small knowledge of the Army, so I shall confine my remarks to that subject. Frederick Stern, a former German general now living in America, has made a very interesting survey of the different types of armies used in modern times. There is the professional army, which is the most expensive of all. It is a highly trained force but it is very expensive. Then there is the type of army raised in Europe, which he calls the cadre-conscript army. In an army of that type, the leaders are generally professional, regular soldiers and the mass of the troops is made up of conscripts serving with the colours for two or three years. This is the type of army which was used by the Germans in the first world war, and the type of army which the French adopted. However, the cadre-conscript army has proved to be a failure.
The most successful army of all in modem times, because of the enormous cost of professional armies, has been the citizen conscript army. That is the type of army used by the United States, by ourselves and by Canada. In such an army, the leaders and the soldiers all come from the same class. The country concerned employs the talent, the initiative and the leadership of its own people, who are usually drawn from areas common both to the leaders and to the troops. That has been very successful.
Australia, unfortunately, because of its limitations, has adopted the volunteer army - something which I do not like. I would much rather have a conscript army. In order to find reinforcements for volunteer armies, it is sometimes necessary to go down to the bottom of the barrel, as occurred in 1917. In a democracy, it is right that all should make equal sacrifice. However, in this re-organization of our defence forces we have decided on a volunteer citizen army.
Any re-organization of our defence forces must be made in the light of our treaty obligations. In dealing with the Army, I look at the role of the new, re-organized Army. In what role can it be used? The Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley), in his speech, said that the role of the Australian Army would be that of an emergency force, capable of rapid deployment for the execution of our commitments under treaties. An emergency force must be a force which can be used in any area in which we think our defence requires it. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) felt that our defences should be on our own shores. Do you try to stop a bushfire only when it reaches your property? Surely the further you can keep an aggressor from your own shores, the better it is. That is why it is in our interests to have collective security - so that we can defend our country away from its shores, with the aid of our friends.
The re-organization proposed by the Government involves strengthing the professional army and reconstructing the Citizen Military Forces. The Australian Army has always been a citizen force, because we could never afford a large professional army. Professional armies are very powerful and are always ready for immediate deployment. They are highly trained, and they provide a cadre to assist in the training of civilian soldiers. However, in two wars we have used armies made up largely of civilian soldiers, because such armies are more economical and cheaper. They are based on the national duty of our citizens.
The present re-organization has taken the form of establishing two pentropic divisions, and it is on the establishment of those divisions that I should like to make a few remarks. The divisions will be made up of battle groups. That gives a certain amount of flexibility, which is very necessary in a nuclear age. We may or may not fight with nuclear weapons, but dispersion will be necessary. Therefore, a flexible, fully armed force is a great advantage. A pentropic division is based on five battle groups. As I understand it, a battle group is the equivalent of what was called a brigade group in the old days, and the core of a battle group is a strengthened infantry battalion.
In designing an establishment for a body of troops, you have to take into account the nature of the country in which the troops may be employed. The only place in which we are likely to employ a pentropic group is the Far East. It is not likely that in future wars we would be called to the European area, but it is likely, in the event of a limited war, that Australian troops would be employed in the Far East. If so, they would be engaged in tropical warfare - jungle warfare. Therefore, the establishment of the battle groups must be such that the groups would be effective in those conditions and in that terrain. I feel that an understanding of the use of armies is necessary in assessing what is required.
Jungle fighting is more difficult than open fighting such as was conducted in Korea or Europe. Jungle fighting is similar to night fighting, because one is fighting in close country. When fighting in close country, very highly-trained men are needed. In open country, such as was encountered in Korea and Europe, the fire-power of an army unit is of great importance. The greater the mechanical fire-power that a unit has, the greater is its strength. But in close conditions automatic weapons become a menace. In fighting at short range, a rapid burst of machine gun fire or the noise of a mortar discloses the presence of a unit, and highly-trained troops will very quickly put that unit out of action. Therefore, we have to consider man-power as against fire-power. Whereas a unit with high fire-power may have an advantage in open country, in close country man-power is needed.
Another feature of close country is that the enemy is able to approach undetected from every direction. Consequently, when a force is deployed, as it will be deployed, in battle groups in isolation, not only must the troops be in contact and combat with the enemy, but also all around the troops continuously must be battle groups for protection against infiltration from the left or right. Those were the big problems that were encountered in the war in Malaya and New Guinea, and in every other theatre where the war was conducted in close country. There is therefore, in tropical warfare, a tremendous drain on man-power. Consequently, the commander who has to use his infantry for tactical purposes, to contact the enemy, to pursue the enemy, and to fulfil his task of destroying the enemy, is constantly having to find infantry. In combat under tropical conditions troops become combat weary. The defence of a unit and of supporting arms calls for the employment of a large number of infantry, and my criticism of the battle group of the pentropic divisions is that the infantry core in the battle group is too small. There is, of course, a field squadron that can be employed as infantry, but that is also too small. Anyhow, that is a question purely of adaptation and improvement as we go along. The principle of flexibility is quite sound. It is now only a matter of trying to improve on what has been decided upon. To my mind the infantry component is most important.
I am very pleased to note that members of the Citizen Military Forces, the civilian army, from the lowest to the highest will have the right to command, and upon that I commend the Minister for the Army. No doubt he has taken quite a strong stand on this point. We are graced with very fine professional soldiers but the numbers in our army ultimately will always be made up by ex-civilians. If the inducement of promotion is offered, the best type will be attracted. The re-organized C.M.F. comprises 21,000 members and the target is 30,000. This will be only sufficient to fill the two pentropic divisions. Consequently, to my mind, there is an urgent need for recruiting. I am quite satisfied that not sufficient inducement has been given to prospective recruits for the C.M.F. The Minister said that it was proposed to improve pay and allowances and bring them up to the standards of those of the regular troops. I do not think that that is sufficient.
The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) asked the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) why the Government would not give tax concessions on the army pay of men who devote their recreation time to the protection of their country. I have asked this question many times, and the argument in reply, of course, is that it is felt that no differentiation should be made. I cannot accept that argument, because there is no comparison between a person who is receiving income for profit and a person who is training himself for the defence of his country. Not only is the latter engaged in the defence of his country but also he is pledged to travel overseas at a moment’s notice. The amount of tax that a C.M.F. soldier pays on his military pay is not significant. That is a minor detail. It is the principle that is important. He is giving his time and is prepared to serve his country in any capacity overseas in war, but this stupid little deduction is made from his pay.
The Minister says that jobs will be found for all civilian soldiers; none will be discharged. I commend that, because we have trained a large number of very fine officers, non-commissioned officers and men. I am very pleased that an effort will be made to retain their services in spite of the closing down of certain depots. I think that the study groups could be dangerous. I should much rather see intense recruiting so that all officers, n.c.o.’s and men would have training in man management. There cannot be training by theory alone. I think it was the 32nd American Division that did not at first perform very favourably in the Pacific War. It was later ascertained that all of its officers and n.c.o.’s had been trained largely in study groups. Efficient man management, and confidence in man and officer, are vital to the success and morale of any army.
We heard several times from the Australian Labour Party the extraordinary statement that national service training was wasted. Nothing could be further from the fact. It was a Labour government that sent over 2,000 men overseas right into battle, although they could not even load their rifles. Let honorable members make no mistake about it; that is true. The last men sent to Malaya had not even completed the rifle-fife course. They did not know how the charger guide of the magazine operated. They were landed on 24th January and were in action on 1st February. That will never happen again. We shall have 200,000 men who will have received basic training. If the whole pentropic division were sent overseas, within two months we would have a new army. Here is the basis of an army, and it is well trained. These will be the recruits for the citizen force if it is made attractive for them to join. Two hundred thousand basically-trained men are of immense military value to this country.
I should like to see more encouragement given to school cadets. I think it is important for citizens to feel a duty to learn how to defend themselves and their country. I cannot understand the attitude of any young man who will not devote some little time to fitting himself for the task of defending those things for which he stands. If any one on either side wishes to make political capital out of this matter, let him do so. The one fundamental point all of us should remember is that the defence of Australia must finally be by Australians. We can strengthen ourselves by making treaties overseas but the Australian is finally responsible for defending his own country.
Great changes are to be made. Being old traditionalists, we do not like those changes, but I believe that the Government has presented a very sound solution for the tremendous problems it faces. I do not agree with all the features of the plan. There are always differing points of view and it is quite conceivable that I could be wrong. I think consideration should be given to improving the organization by more careful study. I commend the Government on the very difficult task it has done. It will cause a certain amount of unhappiness to units that have traditions, but I think that the system of territorial grouping in regiments of the various States will enable the carrying on of the names of very fine regiments of two world wars.
.- I am somewhat reluctant to offer criticism of the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), for I recognize the very distinguished service that he gave during the last war, but one statement he made was, I think, possibly made in error. He said that the Labour Government sent to Malaya a number of men who were not effectively trained as a fighting force. During the last war I was a member of the War Cabinet, and I have some knowledge of what transpired in that period. I remember very clearly General Sturdee being asked how long it would take to train men effectively as fighting men. The shortest time necessary for such training was given by General Sturdee as nine months. So I cannot understand how the statement made by the honorable member for Hume has any sense in it when my recollection of the position during the last war is so clear.
– But he was there at the time. Surely he should know.
– Let me just develop the statement I wish to make on this matter. I remember very well how a government formed from the parties opposite left this country practically without defence. There were neither trained personnel nor the equipment capable of defending this country effectively at the time when Labour was called to office to take over the responsibility of conducting our war effort. As soon as we came to office, we showed that we were capable of mobilizing the resources of the nation for war, and Australia’s record in the defence of the cause for which we all fought was one of the best among the Allies.
To-day’s debate brings to my mind very vividly the debate that occurred in this very chamber in 1937 or 1938. We were discussing then the very matters that engage our attention to-day, and the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr. John Curtin, stressed to the government of the day the urgency of certain revisions of the defence services and of the methods by which those services could be used to maintain the security of this country. He outlined a policy which was ridiculed at the time, but which ultimately proved to be the very policy that was responsible, in substantial part, for the salvation of Australia during the war. That policy was the development of the strongest possible air arm, capable of assisting in giving this country the defence cover essential in war-time. The same situation presents itself at this moment, because I have no doubt that air defence is still regarded as one of the more important means of meeting the emergencies that would arise from a sudden attack on Australia.
Unfortunately, the statement made by the Minister for Defence yesterday contained no definite ideas about what is needed to make our Air Force an effective striking force. We do not know what kind of equipment is to be made available to the Air Force. The Government has not yet decided - it still has the matter under consideration - the type of fighter aircraft with which our Air Force is to be equipped. I feel that there is far too much hesitation and indecision on the part of the Government in regard to major matters of defence policy. That has always been the case with Liberal and Country Party governments. Indecision, inability to find a common idea, and failure to give effect to a constructive policy in relation to important matters, have always marked governments from the other side of the Parliament. So I think that when it comes to the question of what are our essential defence needs, members of the Labour Opposition have more justification to claim that they speak on behalf of the people of this country than honorable gentlemen opposite have.
The Australian people desire to promote, in every possible way, good understanding and peaceful relations with all the countries with which we have associations, and to assure those countries of our peaceful purposes. It was for that very reason that we co-operated in establishing the United Nations organization. Although the preservation of peace is still somewhat uncertain, I feel that the United Nations has made a marked contribution to the peace of the world. Its contribution to the reconciling of differences among nations, to the promotion of peaceful relations between nations which have had great and important differences with one another, has been magnificent. It is not only to the work of preserving peace that this organization has made its contribution, but also to the work of increasing the education, health and living standards of backward countries. Its work in this direction, and in imbuing the nations of the world with higher motives of policy, has been a marked contribution to world peace and world betterment. To that extent, I feel that Australia can rightly take some credit for having made a valuable contribution.
When making his statement to the House, the Minister neglected to mention certain important factors. I join with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and other honorable members on this side who have stressed the great need for the development in this country of the services essential to facilitating the movement of our defence forces in time of war. I refer to communications and transport in particular. It is essential that we have a road system adequate for the transportation of goods, munitions and personnel from one part of the country to another. At the moment, many of the principal roads of this country are far from that condition necessary to meet the demands likely to be made upon them during war-time. Our bridges are in a similar position. It is essential that we be able to move our forces rapidly and effectively should the need arise.
I remember only too well the great need there was for good roads throughout the northern parts of Australia when the last war broke out. At that time, the position was so desperate that we found it necessary to borrow heavy road-making machinery from the American forces to construct roads with the greatest possible speed. It is essential that this important factor in our defences be given immediate consideration, for to neglect it until war is upon us would be extremely dangerous. I emphasize that in the northern parts of Australia there are many places where these facilities are urgently needed even now because their provision would serve a dual purpose in that as well as fulfilling an important defence need they would be of incalculable benefit to people who go out to develop the isolated parts of Australia. I am afraid that this Government is unmindful of these urgent needs and pays too little attention to what is of vital importance to the defence and welfare of the Commonwealth. The Minister referred to the landing strip that has been laid down at Darwin to meet the urgent needs of air traffic there and to aid in the defence of the area. Darwin is not the only place in northern Australia that must be defended. Much more must be done in the construction of landing strips in the north. i
I should like to refer now to the Cinderella section of our defence for which still no provision is made. I refer to civil defence. No consideration whatever has been given to the defence of civilian communities. It is of extreme importance that we make some attempt to remedy that position, although I do not suppose we have either the trained medical personnel or the supply of drugs and other medical equipment essential to meet an emergency. It would seem that the Government’s policy is to neglect these matters until a crisis is upon us; and then, of course, it would be too late. We of the Opposition are not unmindful of the dangers confronting every man, woman and child in Australia to-day. These people have a right to some protection; it is our duty to provide for their defence in the event of enemy attack. 1 sincerely hope that more will be done in our capital cities to provide some protection against air raids. I remember the last war. I remember that in Melbourne there was virtually no anti-aircraft equipment. A similar position obtained in Brisbane and most other cities. We do not want to see a repetition of that.
It was fortunate that at that time the Labour Government had the energy and the ability to mobilize available equipment and the resources of the nation, with the aid of the great industrial organizations, to act quickly and restore in the people some confidence that they were safe. Labour’s record at that time is such that we require no commendation from honorable members on the Government side. In any case, we know that we shall not receive it; but the fact that we do not receive it does not mean that we do not deserve it. Our actions during the last war more than justify Labour’s claim to be the one party that can govern effectively, ensure that Australia is properly prepared to defend herself at all times and make full and effective use of man-power and materials in any emergency. Honorable members on the Government side may speak as they like, but, as I have indicated, the action on the part of a former leader of this party, the late John Curtin-
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It is significant that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) did not open the debate for his party despite the fact that on quite a number of occasions in this House he has been very vocal on defence matters. It was interesting to notice that the prepared statement which his deputy read to the House showed a complete reversal of the previous policy of the Australian Labour Party in that it offered no real opposition to the present policy enunciated by the Government in relation to defence.
However, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and some subsequent speakers on the Opposition side have indicated as part of their case that some additional moneys should be spent on roads and other services of that type. But they have not stated whether the total defence vote should be increased to cover this additional spending. Perhaps if we are to take as a guide the criticism that has been directed at the Government during Budget and Estimates debates and on other occasions in this House, we must assume that they do not wish that vote to be increased. If that is so, they must mean that a reduction should be made in the existing armed services in accordance with the policy laid down by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) in this House a few days ago. If they so intend, I think they should make their policy on that matter quite clear.
What services do they wish to reduce? Do they wish to reduce the pay of servicemen? Do they wish to cut down on armour, arms and equipment? Do they wish to reduce the existing defence establishments, as has already been outlined by the Minister for Defence? They should make their policy clear on this matter. Unfortunately, as has already been indicated in this debate, they have not made their policy clear.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition stated also that Australia has no firm arrangement with the Government of Malaya for the training of Australian troops in that area. He and other members of the Opposition know that there is an agreement between the Malayan Government and the Government of the United Kingdom in relation to the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve which is operating in Malaya at the moment. The Australian battalion group there is part of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve and comes under the conditions of that particular agreement. Training conditions will be controlled by that agreement and, as has already been announced in this House, some additional training areas will be made available to that reserve in North Borneo in the future.
In his rather quickly read speech the Deputy Leader of the Opposition stated quite categorically that it was evident to him that the sole role of the Australian defence policy was devoted to the South-East Asian sphere and not to the Australian territory or our other territories or to any other overseas commitments. That, of course, is entirely incorrect because, as has been indicated in previous defence statements by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the Minister for Defence, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) and other Ministers in this House, we have a commitment beyond the existing South-East Asian consideration. Of course we hope that that is a long-term commitment and one which we will not have to face in the near future. But there is planning for it. Obviously our defence commitments include our own territory of Australia and Australian territories beyond our shores.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition went on to criticize production, particularly that of the FN.30 rifle in Australia. Perhaps he does not know - and if he does not know he should be told - that the production is ahead of schedule in Australia. At the present time the Australian Regular Army has been equipped with this rifle and as from 1st July this year the Australian Military Forces will be equipped with it. In addition, we have accepted orders for these rifles from New Zealand, which have been won against competition from other countries. That is sufficient indication that the first production programme is up to date. It is also a tribute to the Commonwealth factory which is producing this rifle and the people employed in it. I do not think the criticism that has been levelled at them by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is in any way deserved.
He criticized also the present equipment and weapons of the Australian Army and the proposed new equipment and new weapons saying that they are out of date and slow in coming forward. I think it should be made quite clear to honorable members that the arms and equipment of the Australian Army are equivalent to those of any other army in the world to-day. Of course, with the new equipment that is being brought in, the standard will be higher still. We must remember that we have a small army here and our commitments in other directions mean that we must reduce our spending to a level which may mean a slower delivery in volume and quantity of these items which is not exactly in keeping with our own particular ideas. Nevertheless, it is quite true that the Australian standard is equal to that of any equivalent army in the world to-day.
In addition we should not overlook the fact - indeed, it was referred to by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition - that we have produced in Australia an anti-tank weapon known as the Malkara, which has received the acclaim of other countries. As a matter of fact, we are manufacturing this weapon for supply to the United Kingdom through the Department of Supply. Experiments are continuing for the adaptation of this weapon to make it suitable for areas in which the Australian Army may have to operate in the future.
We should also be proud of the fact that we have produced in Australia a target aircraft known as the Jindivik which has been a most useful adjunct to the developments in our rocket range at Woomera and in other areas. Orders for this aircraft have been received from overseas. It is at present in use in connexion with the defence services in a number of overseas countries.
Although the speech of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) was difficult to understand, nevertheless it was a semihumorous contribution to this debate. On one hand the honorable member appeared to claim that the Government was not spending enough money on defence, but at the same time he claimed that the Opposition was rigidly opposed to war. The answer can be found by making a comparison of the defence estimates in the last year that the Labour Government was in office with that of the present financial year. The increase will be most obvious and will show the importance that has been placed on defence by this Government. In 1948-49 the amount set aside for defence was £60,500,000. In this financial year, 1959-60, the amount allocated for defence is £192,800,000.
The honorable and gallant member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) made a very thoughtful and constructive contribution to the debate. I noted that he constructively criticized the establishment of these new battle groups and made some comment which indicated that he thought the infantry component of the groups was too small, in view of the particular tasks in which they would possibly be engaged. As the Minister for the Army has indicated and other people have stated in expressing the policy on behalf of this Government, it has been made quite clear that there is still a degree of flexibility within the existing organization. This particular re-organization is still subject to field tests by way of field exercises. There is no doubt that, following the results over a period of the next year or so, emerging from those exercises and tests some minor adjustments will be made to the pristine re-organization.
I shall refer briefly to the speech of the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin), or rather to that part in which he dealt with defence because most of it seemed to deal with other matters. He referred to a statement by the honorable member for Hume that certain troops who had been sent to the Malayan theatre of war early in World War II. were not trained. He claimed that that was not so and that they were fully trained when they left Australia. I know the sincerity of the honorable member for Bonython and he was probably sincere in making that statement but unfortunately for him, I must refute it. I was in Malaya at that time and so was the honorable member for Hume and we actually saw the reinforcement group arriving. The men were completely untrained and could not handle the existing equipment and weapons with which they were armed.
– Order! I suspend the sitting until 8 o’clock p.m. in order that I may present the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General at Government House. I shall be glad if the mover and seconder, together with other honorable members will accompany me.
Sitting suspended from 4.45 to 8 p.m.
- Mr. Speaker, before the suspension of the sitting, I dealt with points which have been raised by the Opposition in this debate. I now wish to refer to a number of aspects, with particular relation to the Army, as far as our defence set-up to-day is concerned. There is much talk of peace in the world to-day, and as a peaceful and freedom loving people we believe in this simple philosophy. But when this talk is used as an instrument of propaganda by the Soviet Union and by red China, let us beware that the peace we talk of is not one which we observe towards these countries and not one that these countries observe towards us.
I am sure that Australia, together with the major powers of the Western world, whilst planning for full-scale defence, supports the alternative of disarmament and looks forward with hope to some practical lead emerging from the disarmament and summit conferences. However, until some practical and controlled results are achieved, we have a collective responsibility for defence, particularly in the South-East Asian sphere.
In the broader concept of world strategy, the greatest danger remains the risk of miscalculation by an aggressor - a risk that he might think that certain action on his part would not be met with resolute opposition. The Western powers have made a resolute stand and it has been accepted that because of the nuclear deterrent there is a greater possibility of limited or local conflicts than of a total or global war in the immediate future.
Mr. Speaker, Australia as a young developing nation with a small population and relatively limited resources, must of necessity have some definite limitations on commitments for defence expenditure. It is therefore essential that our defence services are utilized in such a way as to fulfil our likely role speedily and in co-operation with the allied forces. At the same time, our defence planning includes longer term preparedness for larger scale war, even though we do not anticipate that this is likely in the immediate future.
The new divisional organization called the pentropic division has been designed to reduce the vulnerability of our field forces to nuclear attack, and to improve the capacity to meet the particular requirements of limited war in South-East Asia. The new organization derives its name from its pentagonal or five-sided basic structure and the fact, also, that it is specially designed for employment in tropical areas. It resembles the United States pentomic divisional organization, which has now been adopted as standard throughout the United States Army and has been tried extensively in field manoeuvres. The overall numerical strength of the pentropic division is below that of the existing tropical division but despite this reduction in numbers it has more rifle sections, more tanks, more field guns, more medium mortars, an aircraft unit, and a vastly improved communications system.
Atomic warfare, as has been stated in this House by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), demands greater mobility and dispersion and, therefore, better control and communications together with stronger units and sub-units. The operational environment in which Australian field forces are likely to be employed imposes similar demands by the nature of terrain and conditions. The new organization has been designed to meet these demands.
The pentropic division is built around five infantry battalions which are much larger and stronger than existing battalions and which have, indeed, twice the existing fire power. Combat support will be provided by armed units, reconnaissance units, field regiments, field engineers and signal units, while logistic support will be provided by medical, supply and transport, ordnance and R.A.E.M.E. units. At the same time, there is a light aircraft company provided with fixed and rotary wing aircraft. The transport provided for the new organization will have good cross-country performance, and, in addition, some amphibious watercraft will be provided.
For operational purposes, a pentropic division can be organized into five strong battle groups which are based on infantry battalions with supporting arms and services to enable them to operate independently. Two or more battle groups combined form a task force which can operate either under divisional control or independently. For the first time under peace-time conditions, Australia will in the future have a fully integrated army consisting of Australian Regular Army and Citizen Military Forces personnel, totalling 51,000 personnel in the new organization.
Whilst the termination of national service training is regrettable from many angles, it is consistent with the development of a modern army designed to meet modern conditions. Many national service trainees have already indicated that they will volunteer for the C.M.F. after 30th June next, and an appeal has been made to other national service trainees in Australia fully to consider this matter and help to establish this modern army.
The objective of the C.M.F. is to raise 30,000 volunteers. Some pessimism has been expressed in certain quarters regarding this target, but after examining the situation I am fully confident that, with the additional incentives, the target can be achieved. An additional 9,000 personnel, approximately, throughout Australia are required to bring the C.M.F. up to the target.
As a serving officer of the C.M.F., I should like to pay a tribute to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), who has done a lot of work concerning the proposed re-organization. A lot of the ideas that are being implemented in the re-organization were his ideas.
The re-organization will increase the strength of the operational forces in the Australian Regular Army by 33 per cent. Details of the two pentropic divisions will be clearly outlined by the Minister for the Army when he delivers his speech later this evening.
It is planned to expend £30,000,000 on the re-equipment of the Army over the next three years. FN rifles, which have been already provided to the A.R.A., will be provided to the C.M.F., and by the end of this financial year, 105 mm. howitzers will have been provided to the Regular artillery. A complete new range of field wireless sets is now available to A.R.A. and C.M.F. units. At the same time, landing ships medium and landing craft have been purchased from the United States of America and are also under construction in Australia. Orders have been placed in the United States for general purpose machine guns and recoilless rifles. Aircraft and other modern weapons, ammunition, armed vehicles and equipment will be provided.
The re-organization of the Australian Army in accordance with the Government’s policy has introduced a new and modern concept in Australia. I hope that this can be pursued to the extent of ensuring that the training of the A.R.A. and the C.M.F. personnel can be integrated to the point where C.M.F. annual camp training will be carried out in conjunction with A.R.A. units.
As the pentropic division can be readily adapted for nuclear warfare, I suggest that a definite part of the training of A.R.A. and C.M.F. unit personnel each year be devoted to the basic principles involved in this type of warfare. I also suggest that the exchange system in relation to officers and N.C.O.’s that operates between the allied countries be expanded in the future.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I point out that the pentropic divisions provide something that all countries have been striving for, that is, more combat power in smaller divisions. This new basic organization provides the flexibility necessary to handle situations which may arise in the South-East
Asian area. Furthermore, modern developments are taking place in the re-organization of the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Australian Navy. The people of this country can be assured that the defence forces of Australia are being organized, equipped and trained efficiently to carry out any role that may be allotted to them in the future.
.- Mr. Speaker, I have listened with a great deal of interest and, I hope, with very close attention to the speech of the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz). The honorable member has a distinguished war record, and has taken a great deal of interest in the Army in recent years. Therefore, some weight must be given to whatever he proposes in relation to the Army. But, having heard the contributions that have been made to this debate from both sides of the House, I remain convinced that what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) this afternoon was pleased to refer to as the taxpayers’ money, has been largely misdirected by this Government in its handling of our defence problem.
This debate is upon a statement to the House by the Minister* for Defence (Mr. Townley). It was, I believe, the second such statement which he has presented to us. His first statement in 1957 and, indeed, the other statements on defence which have been made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and by other senior Ministers, have in practically all cases been an apology for the serious state of our defence services. For example, on 26th November, 1959, the Minister for Defence soon after assuming office presented his first defence review to the Parliament, and we were told then that it was a further analysis of the three-year plan which had been evolved in 1957. We were also told on that occasion that the statement was based on Australia’s immediate requirements, the international situation and the possible threats to our security. But at this early stage of 1960 there is every indication that there is something drastically wrong with the Government’s administration of its three-year plan, particularly in regard to the Army. The recent announcement by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), who now sits at the table, that the services of certain senior
Army officers were no longer required because they were inefficient, was, in my opinion, tactless, particularly in view of the Minister’s later apology to this House and to the officers concerned.
According to the defence statement which we are now debating, between 1,600 and 1,700 officers, non-commissioned officers and other ranks are to be compulsorily retired from the Regular Army. I assume that the Minister will have the opportunity to join in the debate, and I hope that he will give some assurance that the future of these serving members of the Army, who have given good service to this country and who accepted positions of responsibility in the Regular Army because they had been asked to do so by the Government, will not be impaired as a result of the Government’s decision.
Right from the inception of the national service training scheme the Opposition consistently maintained that it would serve little or no purpose as a defence measure. In 1957 the scheme was abolished in respect of the Navy and the Air Force. In that year the intake of trainees was reduced substantially. But at that stage the Government was not prepared to take the final plunge. In the defence statement of 1959 an indication was given that the Government would discontinue further call-ups in June, 1960, but to date the scheme has cost approximately £9,000,000 a year. About £100,000,000, therefore, has been expended on a defence service which this Government now realizes was of very little value.
– That is a lot of rot.
– The honorable member is entitled to his opinion, and I have no doubt that he will have an opportunity to expound his point of view. We have consistently maintained that as a defence measure the scheme was of little benefit. The Government has now confirmed that point of view and has discontinued national service training. However, as I have said, an enormous amount of money has been wasted.
We were told in the defence statement that the Government must find much more money in the future than it has in the past to develop our natural resources as well as to encourage the expansion of industry generally. But that has not been the Go vernment’s attitude in the past. No one, least of all myself, would disagree with the Government’s contention in that regard, because I believe that the defence of this country should not be measured merely in terms of the number of men that we can put into the field, the number of ships that can be placed at the disposal of the Navy or the number of aircraft that can be maintained in the air. They are all intrinsically bound up with our economy.
I have made a careful analysis of this matter, and I have found that where a country has given consideration to the first aspect and has neglected the second - the development and the care of the economy - it has inevitably suffered defeat in wartime. But this Government has not made any attempt to encourage industry. I need refer only to the Bell Bay aluminium project which was initiated and developed by a Labour administration as a defence measure. This Government has not only consistently refused to develop the industry and increase the insignificant output of aluminium ingots from Bell Bay but, on the contrary, has been more concerned with its disposal. This Government’s great sin has been that it has given very little attention to Australia’s immediate requirements and has concerned itself largely with situations which might have been applicable to the past.
If the Government’s policy on defence is to be seen in its proper perspective, it must be viewed in the light of the enormous expenditure on defence in recent years. Between and including the financial years 1950-51 to 1958-59, the Government has expended £1,700,000,000 in this way.
– That would have lifted the means test twice.
– It would most certainly have lifted the means test. The Government’s defence policy can be judged only in the light of the enormous expenditure which has been incurred. Where, then, has the Government blundered? The Government has blundered because it has failed to give due consideration to the trend of scientific achievement in these matters as well as probable future development. The Government’s new three-year defence plan almost certainly will be out of date before it has been completed.
When it assumed office in 19S0 this Government accepted the responsibility of preparing our defence system. That was a responsibility and a duty which had been accepted by both the Curtin and Chifley Governments.
The honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz) referred a moment ago to disarmament. Disarmament has always been a major part of the Labour Party’s policy. We have stated on other occasions that all governments in Australia should ensure the maintenance of this country as an integral part of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and we have always asserted that Australia should take an active part within the United Nations organization to maintain international peace and security. I see no reason why I should not emphasize at this point that the Charter of the United Nations imposes a definite obligation on all member nations to settle international disputes by peaceful means. That unquestionably should be Australia’s approach in these matters.
But if this Government has accepted certain obligations for the defence of the country, and if it has agreed to certain commitments under Seato and the Anzus pact - the Opposition has never been informed of those commitments - it certainly has a duty to honour those obligations. What does the Government propose to do? I believe that any defence plan that we adopt should be based on the answer that is given to what I acknowledge is a difficult question to answer at this stage. What kind of a war will we be faced with in the future? Other speakers in this debate, including the Minister for Defence, and the Prime Minister on other occasions, have said that a third world war involving the use of nuclear weapons is most unlikely. I presume that by that they mean that in the event of war Australia will not use nuclear weapons. But the question that remains unanswered is whether Australia will be regarded by a potential enemy as a nuclear power. There is a testing ground in this country for nuclear weapons, and if intercontinental ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads were tested there, surely that testing ground would be one of the first objectives of an enemy in time of war. But this Government completely ignores the situation that might develop in that respect.
I believe that the ministerial statements that are made so frequently arise out of complacency or ignorance, or probably both. They are presented to us every few months by responsible Ministers in this House. The Government has failed to give due consideration to the trend that future wars may take. The Government refers to limited wars, but I emphasize that it is not possible to divide wars into little wars, nuclear wars, or even the cold wars to which the Government refers. All those types of wars are closely related. It is impossible for the Government to say that in the event of a third world war involving nuclear weapons, one part of the globe will be bombarded with those weapons but another part will not. Such wars are always closely related. The use of nuclear weapons will not be the result of mere accident but will probably be brought about by fear, tension, panic or other factors, depending on the circumstances of the time.
We know that in all branches of the armed services there have been frequent changes of plans. Even to-day, I believe, in many respects there is complete confusion over changes of plans. I think that many of the ministerial statements made here are made with an incomplete knowledge of the circumstances. The Government’s thinking on defence is directed, probably, to one matter only. It believes that in the final analysis - in the event of nuclear warfare, for example - we will be able to rely implicitly on our allies. For the sake of this country, I hope that the Government will not be proved tragically wrong in that belief.
The Government has taken ten years to make the decision that it has now made in respect of the Army. We are told that the new Army will comprise two pentropic divisions. The first division will be made up of two regular battle groups and three C.M.F. battle groups. The second division will comprise five C.M.F. battle groups. That is a total of eight C.M.F. battle groups. Two of those C.M.F. battle groups will be raised in Queensland, two in Victoria and two in New South Wales. One C.M.F. battle group will be raised in South Australia and another in Western Australia. Tasmania will provide a reduced group. I have no idea what is meant by a reduced group.
To obtain a clear example of sheer neglect in defence matters, the Parliament need only examine the situation in Tasmania. I have referred to this matter on other occasions and I do not propose to say much about it now. The Minister for Defence is a Tasmanian and he is aware of the position in Tasmania. We are told that £30,000,000 is to be made available to the Army groups for the purchase of new equipment, but I remind the Minister for Defence that almost 60 times that amount has been expended on defence in this country in the last ten years - slightly more than three times the period in which the Army will be required to re-equip on the basis of the allocation of £30,000,000. We hope that the Government is at least sincere in this matter and that the Army will be equipped. If the Army must be re-equipped, I hope that the Government will provide a type of equipment that bears some special relation to Australia’s immediate requirements.
I need hardly refer to civil defence. Everybody is well aware of our limitations in that regard. This Government could have had the advantage of advice in civil defence from men of responsibility and integrity. It has failed to take advantage of the availability of that advice, and as a consequence civil defence in this country is virtually non-existent.
I want to refer briefly to the plans that have been formulated for the Royal Australian Air Force, which now has a limited number of aircraft - a number completely out of proportion to the importance of the Air Force as a branch of the armed services. I have always believed in the importance of the Air Force to Australia because of the peculiar and difficult geographical problems associated with the defence of this country. If we were engaged in a major conflict now, our fighter squadrons would be in the same position as those squadrons during the last war which were compelled to use Wirraways against much superior aircraft. To date we have had no assurance from the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) that a suitable front-line fighter aircraft has been chosen. Two years ago we were told that the then Minister for Defence was going to the United States to select the Lockheed FI 04 fighter, but that aircraft never eventuated. This Government has much to answer for with regard to the deficiencies that now exist in the Royal Australian Air Force.
Could any honorable member deny that there are disturbing deficiencies on the equipment side of our defence forces? This Government has had every opportunity to build up an adequate defence system. It has been voted all the money that it has sought for defence purposes. The sum of £1,700,000,000 that has been spent on defence in the last ten years is far more than we ever thought could be raised for defence during peace-time. Although the Government now seems to be adopting new attitudes towards defence, at least as far as the Army is concerned, there is no excuse for the continued bungling and gross incompetence that have characterized its defence policies in recent years. The deficiencies that I have referred to in the Army apply with equal force to the Navy. Under this Government our naval units have been disappearing. That is why we are very much unprepared in this country to-day. Our defence services have been neglected by this Government.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I feel sure, Mr. Speaker, that my colleague, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley), in his statement on Tuesday completely reassured those people who are genuinely interested in the Army and the defence of our country. There are many detailed aspects of the Army re-organization which I could mention, but time will permit me to touch on only the more important ones.
The Minister for Defence referred to the new strategic concept. As this is the whole basis of our present thinking and the reason underlying the re-organization, 1 think it deserves further emphasis. To put it briefly, the concept previously held was of desert-type warfare in Middle Eastern countries, but that has changed, and there is now an entirely new concept of limited war in a tropical area. As a result of long study by the Australian Army, the pentropic organization has been developed to meet the requirements of the new strategic concept. Although the Australian organization was specially designed to suit tropical warfare, it parallels the United States pentomic organization which, however, was developed to meet the world-wide commitments of the United States.
Several years ago the Government decided on a policy which required that our equipment should be compatible with that of the United States forces. Now, our organizations will also be in line with those of the United States. The interest shown in this development by our other Anzus partner, New Zealand, is most gratifying.
There has been criticism of the reorganization as it affects national service training and the Citizen Military Forces. Let us be quite clear on one point. The introduction of the pentropic organization did not dictate the cessation of national service training and the consequent reduction of the strength of the C.M.F.; these steps were taken because of considerations of finance and man-power. The Government was certainly not opposed to national service training, which, it realizes, has been a great success both militarily and socially. The new strategic concept, with its emphasis on immediate availability of a field force, dictated an increase in the Regular Army element and the provision of the most modern equipment obtainable for both the Australian Regular Army and the Citizen Military Forces. It was clearly impracticable to provide for both these essential objectives and at the same time to continue national service training, which engaged the full-time services of some 3,000 members of the A.R.A.
I want to refer for a moment to some broad details of the pentropic division so that honorable members may understand some of the new terminology. The infantry element of the division comprises five battalions, but these battalions are about 1,300 men strong, as compared with the previous strength of 850. Each battalion is divided into five rifle companies, each with about 200 men, plus administrative and support companies. Honorable members will note that although the strength has increased the traditional title “battalion “ has been retained.
I have referred only to the infantry element. Generally speaking, with the exception of the Armoured Corps, the Army Service Corps and medical units, the main supporting arms, for example the artillery and the engineers, are also to be re-orga nized on a pentagonal basis. For example, there will be five field squadrons in a field engineers regiment instead of three squadrons, as was the case previously. The tactical flexibility of the five-sided organization will be obvious. When supporting arms and services are attached to the infantry battalion, it becomes known as a battle group, and the organization has been so arranged so that five such battle groups, capable of independent operations, form the basic components of the division.
We will have two divisions, the First Division with its head-quarters in New South Wales, and the other, retaining the title of Third Division, with its head-quarters in Victoria. The First Division will comprise two Regular Army and three C.M.F. battle groups. Of the two Regular Army battle groups, one is to be located at Holsworthy and the other at Enoggera in Queensland. Of the C.M.F. battle groups, two will have their head-quarters, administrative support and four rifle companies in Sydney, while six of their rifle companies will be deployed in widespread country areas. Similarly, the remaining battle group, which will have its head-quarters in Brisbane, will have country companies. Of the five battle groups of the Third Division, which will all be C.M.F., two will be disposed in Victoria and one each in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. In addition, a restricted battle group will be located in Tasmania. I might mention at this point that, for reasons of ease of command and administrative economy, units located north of the Richmond River will come within Northern Command. Before deciding upon this, consultations were held with local authorities and with the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony).
Although, for reasons mentioned earlier, the two Regular Army battle groups of the First Division will form the spearhead, this does not necessarily mean that the three C.M.F. battle groups of the First Division will be the first follow-up forces. This will depend entirely on the state of training and readiness of each battle group at the time, irrespective of their current grouping. The First Division will be commanded by a Regular Army major-general, who will have a C.M.F. brigadier and a Regular Army brigadier as deputies. The two
Regular Army battle groups will be commanded by Regular Army colonels, while C.M.F. colonels will command the remainder. In the Third Division, the General Officer Commanding will be a C.M.F. major-general, with a C.M.F. brigadier as deputy, and provision has been made for all the battle groups to be commanded by C.M.F. colonels.
I turn now to the effects of the reduction of the C.M.F. from their present strength of 50,000. No existing C.M.F. officer or other rank will be retired because of the re-organization. It will not be possible, of course, to place a number of officers in the field force units, but arrangements are being made for the employment of these officers in staff groups which are being re-organized as to both numbers and duties, and which will provide an avenue in which these officers may continue to serve in a most valuable way. It is intended that these staff groups will be really live, active organizations. They will facilitate the provision of officers to form command coaching cadres for the purpose of preparing C.M.F. candidates for promotion, and they will provide officers for special study teams and for the control and umpiring of exercises. They will also be used for temporarily augmenting unit establishments for field exercises and annual camps. As to warrant officers and N.C.O.’s, special arrangements are being made for them to continue in an active training role, attached to the new units but technically supernumerary to establishments.
Right through the planning stages of the re-organization I have insisted on two basic principles. First, that worth-while jobs must be available for all present volunteers who desire to serve on, and secondly, that the door must not be shut to any future volunteer. These principles have been maintained. A particular problem arose in regard to the need to close certain C.M.F. centres for the reasons already outlined by the Minister for Defence - basically, economic employment of manpower and finance. It was only after the most searching examination that I approved of the closing of 54 of the 292 centres throughout Australia, details of which I have already announced. Many which were borderline cases I directed should be retained because they appear to have a potential and, with enthusiastic local support, could become worth-while centres.
To ensure that no present volunteeris prevented from continuing to serve by virtue of the centre he has been attending being closed, the following formula has been approved: -
If a member is resident within a radius of 10 miles - he will attend all the prescribed home-training parades and the annual camp with his unit.
If a member is resident within a radius of 10-25 miles - he will attend the annual camp and a minimum of four days home-training parades;
If a member is resident beyond a radius of 25 miles - he will attend at least the annual camp with his unit.
There has been criticism of the reduced opportunities in the C.M.F. for advancement. Naturally, when we come down from a C.M.F. strength, including national servicemen, of 50,000-odd to the volunteer element only - at present around 21,000 - there must be reductions in officer, N.C.O. and warrant officer appointments irrespective of the pentropic organization. . Very great care has been taken to ensure that satisfactory promotion avenues are still open.
I think it was the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) who asked recently: To what extent have the C.M.F. themselves been brought into the discussions? So far as formal consultation is concerned, the Citizen Forces member of the Military Board has been fully associated in his capacity as the representative and voice of the C.M.F. On an informal basis, I have had almost daytoday discussions with the C.M.F. member, and also I have talked with most of the other C.M.F. leaders in Australia. Next month, I intend to hold a conference over which I will personally preside, as I have previously. It will be attended by senior C.M.F. representatives from all over Australia, General Officers Commanding and the Military Board, to discuss and resolve those problems, resulting from this comprehensive re-organization, which are still outstanding. The broad structure is firm, but many of the minor details upon which the successful implementation of the project rests, can only be settled after further full discussion.
The traditions of the C.M.F. battalions will be preserved, because the new regiments will inherit all the battle honours of the old C.M.F. battalions. Moreover, the titles of those battalions and the battle honours they have won will appear for all time in the Australian Army list. When alliances with regiments of the United Kingdom and of other Commonwealth countries are arranged, the interests of the old battalions will be the major consideration. All the new C.M.F. State regiments have been granted the title “ Royal “ by Her Majesty the Queen. This great honour should do much to maintain the present high morale of the C.M.F.
Territorial affiliations will not be lost. Every endeavour will be made to maintain these and other affiliations and unit identities within the framework of each State regiment. Citizen Military Forces commanders have been brought fully into this question, and a decision as to the best means of preserving these close ties will be made after full consideration of their views. As an example of how this may be effected, and I stress that this is only a proposal at present, it has been recommended that the 11/44 Infantry Battalion, City of Perth Regiment, become the 11 City of Perth Company of the 1st Battalion, the Royal West Australian Regiment. The numerical designation, 44, of the original regiment is still being considered for one of the other companies of the battalion.
The Minister for Defence has already dealt with the likely retrenchments in the Regular Army, and I shall now highlight some aspects that may have escaped the attention of honorable members. The retrenchments stem basically from the cessation of national service and a desire to effect man-power economies throughout the Army, particularly in the command and administrative structure. One cannot have one’s cake and eat it. We cannot cut down our administrative tail and still continue to employ every one. However, no one will be retrenched if he can be gainfully employed.
Honorable members should note that although about 3,000 regular soldiers are to be released from their national service tasks, only, 1,600 or 1,700 men are to be retrenched, and I hope it may be less. This is being achieved by the exercise of the greatest care in placing as many as possible of the 3,000 in the field force, if they are suitable, or in the administrative structure, thereby releasing more suitable men for the increased field force. Retrenchment presents a very real problem in personal relations, and the Army is most anxious to avoid hardship. The re-organization must take place progressively over many months, and so must retrenchment. Factors such as the circumstances of each individual at any one time, minor changes in establishment, &c, also dictate that notices should be given progressively.
Although full records are held, every member is being asked whether there are any personal circumstances, particularly of recent origin, which should be taken into sympathetic consideration. Adequate notice of the intended date of discharge will be given to each man - in general, at least three months. Any member who wishes to leave before the expiration of the notice may, of course, do so. I wish to emphasize that this retrenchment must not be hurried. If it is, individuals will be hurt. Notices will be given as quickly as possible, the majority within a short time of the Government’s decision on the Allison committee’s recommendations. But those handling this matter must be permitted to carry out their task in adequate detail.’ They will have my full support in ensuring that fair and full consideration is given to each member.
The Minister for Defence has referred to integration of training of C.M.F. and regular troops. This is taking place already and more and more will be done. Already in the period from January up to last week, more than 30 exercises or activities have been conducted throughout all commands on an integrated basis. It is my intention, when the re-organization is completed, that some realistic and larger-scale integrated exercises will be held. A further development in this integration theme is the creation of integrated units. For example, in the First Division, itself an integrated formation, the head-quarters of the division, its artilllery, and such units as the Field Engineer Regiment with two regular and three C.M.F. squadrons, and the Divisional Column, Royal Australian Army Service Corps, among others, will all be integrated. Many non-divisional units are likewise integrated. Typical examples are 32
Small Ships Squadron and 3 Lines of Communication Signal Regiment. All such units naturally will carry out training on an integrated basis.
I am certain that this integration of, and in many cases within, units, will serve to further emphasize our determination to train and equip one, and only one, Army in Australia. The progress we make with the C.M.F. will depend largely on the assistance of members of this Parliament, State governments, local government authorities, employers and the press, in encouraging the young men of this country to volunteer. As the Minister for Defence announced yesterday, the Commonwealth Government has decided to increase C.M.F. pay and to give Commonwealth public servants their full, civil pay whilst attending specified continuous training periods. The New South Wales Government has agreed to similar provisions for public servants in that State.
I just want to say, because my time is just about expired, that the unbelievable amount of detailed planning that has been necessary since the re-organization was approved in November has placed a heavy burden on officers, both military and civil, in Army head-quarters and commands. I wish to place on record my appreciation of their devotion to duty during this busy and difficult period.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- About the only part of the address of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) which had complete agreement on this side of the House was his statement that you cannot have your cake and eat it. We want to see what the Government has done with the Australian cake - slice after slice of it over the last ten years. We are considering two things: First, we are discussing the policies of the last ten years and the almost unbelievable resources of man-power and treasure which have been expended upon them. Secondly, we want to see whether the new organization and the new plans in any way measure up to the demands of modern warfare and Australia’s own defence.
On the first question, the Government is particularly indictable. The sum of £1,700,000,000 is an awful lot of money.
It is two and a half times the total capital investment in the Australian railways system since the first sleeper was laid 100 years ago. It is over four times the amount of capital investment required for the completion of the Snowy Mountains scheme. It is probably more money than all the States have invested in education since federation. Therefore, we are considering a policy of the Government which has called for the devotion and dedication of no fewer than five Ministers of State for the last eight or ten years, and has necessitated the deployment of thousands of personnel. What have we out of all this?
We on this side of the House have forced this debate. It is three or four months since the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) came into the House, quietly read his paper on defence, and then faded from this place for the Christmas recess. Now, three months later the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) is able to give us some details of the formation of the Army. These are details which were published in the “ Army Fortnightly “ on 17th December, 1959. That is a rather cavalier way in which to treat this Parliament. Unfortunately, this attitude to Parliament is one both of principle and of detail.
I refer honorable members to what might be regarded as a typical example of the Minister’s trivial approach to defence matters. A few months ago, I started to ask questions about the Army, its structure, and its role in defence. In one question I asked him with how many Centurion tanks we were equipped. This was the answer -
The Army is equipped with Centurion tanks Mark 5. It is not in the public interest to disclose the precise number of tanks.
Yet only twelve months earlier the then Minister for Defence had indicated with some pride, before retiring from this Parliament, how many pieces of equipment we had received. On 10th September, 1958, he said -
That is symbolic of the approach of all the Ministers - I do not blame the Minister for the Army particularly - to the problem of defence.
This is the first full-scale defence debate we have had for some time. We say that the Government is indictable purely from the point of view of the parliamentarian for not having provided more opportunities to discuss these matters. There is one thing which impresses me as I study the defence system of the last ten years. It seems to me to be something that you might term strategy by salesmanship. Ten years ago, there came into this House as members of the Liberal Party a number of distinguished former servicemen. They came here dedicated to the proposition that every young Australian was better off if he served in the services, and that Australia should be defended only by a mass compulsory call-up. So we had national service training.
As the years have gone by this conscriptionist ardour has relaxed a bit. Three or four years ago the Government decided that national service training was failing in its usefulness, and started to reduce the intake of trainees. It abolished national service training in the Navy and the Air Force and started to introduce the birthday ballots. What has national service training cost us? Originally the cost was £40,000 a day and then, at the reduced scale of training, £25,000 a day. Twenty-five thousand pounds a day of dithering! I have often quoted in this House the cost of a high school at £100,000. So national service training in the last few years has meant one high school down the drain every four days! I say that because, if the Government was able to decide three or four months ago that national service training was out of date, it probably had the plans in hand twelve months ago.
This is indicative of the whole defence system. This is the principle that prevails throughout the whole of the Minister’s defence statement. Although the Government has made some sort of approach to the military question, clearly it has made no approach to the naval one or to the one of air. It has a policy of dithering and it is dithering at an awfully expensive rate. Perhaps some pundits from the other side of the House, such as the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) who is interjecting can explain this sweet mystery of finance: Over all the years, despite the changes in strategic concepts, despite the fact that we are now to fight not in the Middle East but in the jungle somewhere, defence preparation has cost us a steady £180,000,000 or £190,000,000 a year. There is a mystery! Try to solve that one for us. How is it that with all the changes of equipment and the changes in military concepts, the Government still demands this extraordinary public expenditure? National service is, unfortunately the clearest symbol, and the most expensive, one of this Government’s behaviour.
The naval college was brought from Victoria to Jervis Bay to train more easily with the Fleet Air Arm. This was one of the reasons for expenditure of something over £1,000,000. But now, 20 or 30 months later, we are to abolish the Fleet Air Arm! That was somebody else’s salesmanship - some internal service dispute or demand for prestige.
The next matter is St. Mary’s. I am not the only critic of St. Mary’s which has cost £27,000,000 or £28,000,000. Answers to questions that I have placed on the noticepaper seem to reveal that it has hardly turned out even a boomerang. These are matters of great public concern. I have raised the matter of the Centurion tank during the four years that I have been in this place. It is probably the best tank available but the Government took no steps to ensure its mobility around this country. It was just as important to replace the bridge over the Goulburn River at Seymour so that the tank could be moved across the river as it was to put tracks on the tank. The Government has not faced any of these considerations. Therefore it is heavily indicted also for its failure to ensure the national development that is the background of an efficient defence system. This is not just a matter for the Minister for the Army. It is a matter of Government policy.
The Government has now purchased the 105-mm. howitzer. I have here the “ Army News” which shows what appears to me to be a better and more suitable Italian model that is available. But we are going to spend £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 to reequip with the 105-mm. howitzer. All this fuss and furore! One would think from the way that the Minister speaks and from articles in the newspapers that at last we were a power in world affairs. I remind honorable members that the Government is facing something completely beyond our resources if it attempts to step into world affairs with a powerful military force. The first preoccupation of any Australian Government should be the defence of the homeland. Then, from the Minister’s own “ Australian Army Journal “ comes the following information: -
That makes our 120 tanks appear to be of doubtful effect in a global war. Therefore, we cannot participate in a global war. But the Minister and the Defence Department and the defence chiefs say we are training for limited war. What does that mean in the defence of Australia? Let us consider, for a moment, what this new defence system means. We have moved mountains of paper. We have transferred, we have removed, and we have created new designations. All regiments are going to be “ Royal “, and we are all going to have, I suppose, new and more expensive shoulder patches. But what does it mean when you put those regular forces on the ground? Four infantry battalions or four battle groups, as you call them! What if we put them1 here in Canberra? What if we brought all the Permanent Army and placed it here to defend Canberra, placed it along the road to Yass, as the honorable member for Parkes suggested this afternoon. We could put one group out at the wireless station, one out towards the Australian National University, one out towards Duntroon, one towards Queanbeyan, with the armour somewhere out on the flanks, and the artillery a little further back. And that is the total force that the Australian Regular Army can supply!
I say that by no stretch of imagination can that be considered an Australian home defence force. I look at the question only as another Australian. I am not a strategist. I do not claim to be a tactician. It could easily be admitted that in all this, none of us is a strategist, but we are discussing something that might be vital to Australia. We on this side of the House are members of a party of peace and world co-operation, but we regard defence as Australia’s insurance policy and we want value for our money. I say that, considering respective military strengths, we cannot contribute anything to fighting a world war. I claim that all we have done on this occasion is that we have accepted holus bolus, and without criticism, an American organization which may have no relevance whatsoever to Australia’s position. What are our requirements? Australia is a country of great space and long distances, with very difficult and very complicated transport problems. America is an especially wealthy and powerful country. Its military problems are different, absolutely and completely, from those facing Australia. All we have done, to judge from the Minister’s remarks, which I read very carefully, is to decide that we can supply a small force to fit in somewhere under somebody else’s command, along a great line in, perhaps, some EastWest conflict. That is not our proper role, because in such a strategy we may well be deemed to be expendable.
All my reading leads me to believe that the things that we need have no relation to this kind of organization. The disbandment of the C.M.F. may well mean the disbandment of our home defence. We are to have 30,000 men in the C.M.F. I would rather see them in units of ISO to 200 men, scattered round the country, as was the case with the old infantry and cavalry regiments, and at call when required for the defence of the country. It is a simple enough proposition. It is not a matter for great expenditure. After all, the thing you have to remember about the C.M.F. is that they are a remarkably economic form of defence. One thousand C.M.F. soldiers cost about £90,000 a year; 1,000 regular soldiers cost perhaps £1,000,000 a year - and I do not think that they are over-well paid or over-well equipped. Therefore, you get from the C.M.F. ten times more than you get from the Regular Army for the same expenditure.
The C.M.F. could play an important role in Australia’s defence, but we have decided to abandon absolutely home defence. That is the first point on which people on this side of the House are in complete disagreement with the Government. We have used reams of paper, we have moved all sorts of formations on paper, but we have not created anything that we did not have before. We have just re-organized. As an exercise in re-organization, it might be remarkable in the extreme, but as an exercise in the provision of a defence system for Australia, I do not think it fits the bill.
There was a masterpiece of understatement in the Minister’s speech. He said -
From this side of the House, there is a good deal of argument about the strategic assessments. Let us see what the strategic considerations are. We are lining up with Seato - with the United Kingdom, France, the United States of America, Thailand, the Philippines and Pakistan. We have commitments. They are secret commitments, because when I asked the Minister what they were, he would not tell us in the House, and he does not tell the nation, what they are. Australia is in no position to take on secret commitments, and we on this side of the House oppose our doing so.
This is a limited liability company of which we are a part. Our major allies do not commit themselves to the same extent as we do, and I am not the only one that says that. It is well known that America has a limited liability in this relationship. That means, therefore, that we are prepared to make sacrifices, but the Americans are not prepared to go all the way with us. We on this side disagree about becoming part of such a one-sided scheme. From the point of view of strategic commitments, we are in disagreement with this new concept, or new organization - it is hardly a concept. After all, I suppose the organization is not greatly different from the organization of the Roman legion of 2,000 years ago, which seemed to revolve round 1,000 men, with adjustments to meet local situations.
We say that Australia will not be committed to another war under secret treaties, that Australians will not go abroad to fight in anybody else’s war under somebody else’s command. That has been the history of two wars. In the First World War it took us four years to get command of our own forces, and in the Second World War there was a classic and historic struggle by the Australian Prime Minister to bring Australian forces under our own command so that they could be disposed of in accordance with Australian policy. In this case, we on this side of the House are satisfied - and unless some senior member of the Government can dispel our concern we will remain satisfied - that Australia is committed to other people’s wars, to fight other people’s battles in accordance with other people’s decisions, and under other people’s commanders. Australia will not stand for that.
When we raise this question, we raise it as Australians. The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) asked me by interjection what I would do. Well, I look at Australia, to start with. I see the extraordinary difficulties of dispersal and of distances which are involved in the defence of this country. We sympathize with anybody who has this problem on his hands. All my reading leads me to believe that in the development of arms people such as ourselves should move towards light equipment and mobile forces, and the equipping of fewer men with more firepower. What steps are we taking in this regard? Is the 105-mm. howitzer the new and most grand weapon of all time? Of course it is not! It does not fire any further than the old 25-pounder. It fires a shell perhaps 5 lb. heavier. Therefore, it is not a contribution.
In the last few years we have seen remarkable developments in rocketry. I believe that with the resources at our disposal, and with Australian know-how, as shown, for example, in the production of the Malkara weapon, we can do a lot for ourselves. But judging from what the Minister said, the Government has not given any consideration to equipping Australian forces with the Malkara. Here is an Australian weapon, produced by Australian scientists in Australian conditions, but it has to be modified for Australia’s use. Perhaps rockets could be used instead of the old artillery pieces. There is a lot to be said for marking time on this question of re-equipment, and waiting to see what the scientists can do. There are tons of material here on the subject. It is in the Library. It is published in digests put out by the American departments, and so on. In both America and Russia there have been great advances in rocketry. The projectile may be superseded by the missile. The launching platform for a rocket is much simpler, lighter and easier to transport than an artillery piece.
– Professor Bryant!
– Thank you very much, i believe that Australia’s forces ought to be grouped in units of 100 men or thereabouts, as they were before. We had 55 infantry battalions alone in 1939. Our forces ought to be grouped in small units so that they could be transported easily oy a squadron of Hercules aircraft. They ought to be equipped with rocket apparatus and such other light equipment as it is possible to design, and we ought to develop the system on the basis of home defence. The Minister can rest assured that on this side of the House we are volunteers. We believe in the volunteer system, and we will give every encouragement to people to join the forces if those forces are based on that kind of concept.
– 1 do not propose to waste time talking about how the money has been expended. We know on what it has been expended. We know that a large proportion of it has gone on wages, salaries and things of that nature, and I do not think any good purpose is served by having any argument about it. I want to try to deal with one or two basic matters relating to the Government’s present proposal. What I have to say may not be palatable to some honorable members, but I hope that at least I will be given credit for having stated an honest opinion in the interests of the security of our people and our country.
I do not mind if I am called an armchair general, or an old dug-out, or even if I am accused of engaging in the cheap gibes of the ill-informed, to use the words of one honorable member in this debate. One can answer that type of criticism. I invite criticism as long as it is open, but I hope there will not be any more of these whispering campaigns as to why I did not say so and so when I was a member of the Cabinet. Matters in Cabinet are classified and therefore are not open for discussion and cannot be proved or disproved, and to make such suggestions is to adopt smear tactics which I hope will not be engaged in. The same thing applies to the Military Board. We know that there are certain smear tactics being engaged in about supposed leaks from the Military Board - it is a sad and sorry thing if there are leaks - which vitally affect the reputations of certain members of that board. If we are going to have any criticism, let us have it free and open in this House. Subsequent events will prove who is right and who is wrong.
As for the Labour Party now in opposition, it seems to be so racked by internal dissension and fights that its members do not quite know where they are going or what they are doing. Do they really believe that the social security, development and prosperity of this country are worth anything without national security? We all hope for and we will all work for disarmament; but, in the meantime, it seems to me futile and stupid to suggest that we should in any way weaken our defence services in the hope of gaining better national security any more than the abolition of the police force would help with civil security or abolish crime.
What really astounds me about the Labour Party in connexion with this debate is that its members do not seem to recognize that the Government’s new policy is almost identical with the old Chifley Government’s defence policy.
– Have a look at it. Except for the troops who are in Malaya at the request of the Malayan Government, it is identical. Members of the Labour Party do not seem to know where they are going or what they are doing when they do not recognize that, and when they all get up and criticize the proposal. To the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who is a literary man, I suggest that he rewrite Ernest Dowson’s famous poem, and I suggest these three lines to him -
And I was desolate and sick of an old passion, Yea I was desolate and bowed my head, I have been faithful to thee, Mr. Chifley, in my fashion.
Examine the proposal. It suggests a small efficient navy, a small efficient air force and a small efficient permanent military force. That was basically the Chifley Government’s proposal. It also suggests a small permanent military force which might have to go overseas, and a voluntary C.M.F. Under the Chifley scheme that was to consist of 50,000 troops. Under the present proposal the number is 30,000; but this is probably due to increased fire-power and changes in modern techniques and equipment. Under the Chifley Government’s scheme there were only 18,000 - some people said less than 15,000 - recruits obtained. I understand that to-day the C.M.F. number 17,600. Neither figure is near the required 30,000. Will anybody contest that, basically, this is almost the Chifley Government’s defence policy?
Where are all the Ministers and members on this side of the House who pulled that policy to pieces?
– You have forgotten that it was fifteen years ago.
– It was not; it was in November, 1950, that the national service training scheme first came into operation. Except as far as Korea is concerned, what else has changed? I can appreciate the situation as well as the honorable gentleman, and I cannot see why there is this sudden switchback to what I think is basically unfair. The Minister for Air at that time was the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne). In November, 1950, he said -
The voluntary system takes the cream of our manhood and leaves the rest.
Is there any alteration in that to-day? The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) who was then the honorable member for Angus, said -
I say at once, without any qualification, I am not a believer in the voluntary system^
The Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson), as the honorable member for Dawson, said at that time -
The system has failed dismally to provide proper defence. Recruits are insufficient in the voluntary system.
He then went on to refer to the Australian Imperial Forces and the chockos. Has anything altered in the international situation to change any of those statements? The honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz) said that every country hi the world had national service training in some form. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) who was then honorable member for Lowe quoted figures to prove that the voluntary system had failed. Honorable members can read those figures for themselves if they care to turn to page 3447 of “ Hansard “ for that year. The honorable member for Hume (Mr.
Anderson) has not changed his opinion, if we are to judge from what he said this afternoon. In 1950, he said -
The voluntary system is obsolete. We must have more than six months training.
Therefore, I ask: What has happened? I can only express my sincerest sympathy for those members of the Government whose opinions apparently have been overruled, because I do not believe they have changed.
As to the Army and Navy, I congratulate the Government on what it has done. 1 congratulate it upon the equipment it has bought for those arms of the forces, and I wait with interest to see what is going to be done. That, at present, is still in the lap of the gods. But as to the proposal for the Army, excuse me if I differ very widely and considerably from what the Government proposes. I am not going to argue about the re-organization - as to whether it is a pentropic or pentomic unit, or what difference there is from the old brigade groups in troops, equipment or anything else. I am not capable of doing that. But give me any appreciation with regard to local war, Seato, Anzus or Anzam, and I would still feel that the Government is just as confused as the Opposition. After all, Anzus has teeth; Seato at least has a few Woolworth clickers which are very useful in certain circumstances, but Anzam never was anything more than something on paper.
I say the Government seems to be confused, because I think there is nothing new in the strategic concept that we did not know basically with regard to jungle fighting when we were in Malaya; but times have changed with regard to equipment. When the Minister made his statement in November, 1959, he referred to the permanent military forces as being re-organized to consist of a brigade group of 4,500 to 5,000 men of three battalions stationed in Australia and one battalion of troops in Malaya. Now, apparently, there is a change for the Minister says there will be two battle groups in Australia and one battle group in Malaya. I presume that the second statement is right. In November last, he said that the C.M.F. was a mixed force and, therefore, not very efficient. That could have been cured. He said that it was to consist of six brigade groups instead of three divisions. Now, it is eight battle groups.
I presume the latter is right. I am glad to see that twenty of the 28 higher ranks are to be reserved for the C.M.F., but the P.M.F. is to have I understand all seconds.incommand and at head-quarters - the D.A.Q.M.G., G.S.0.2, and A.Q. However, let us leave those as being relatively unimportant in the scheme of things.
Until November last, all defence statements were made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). The last two have been made by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) and I can guess the reason why, as I find that basically the scheme is the same as that instituted by the Chifley Government. I said that the Ministers have my sincere sympathy, but the Minister for the Army has my greatest sympathy because apparently he has been cast in the role of undertaker and I am more interested in knowing who is the murderer. National service training is to be abolished. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), speaking on the National Service Training Bill on 11th May, 1957, said -
Indeed the whole of our advice-
That is the advice given the Government by its experts - and the conclusion the Government arrived at was that the continuation of national service training in a modified form was necessary for the maintenance of the army as an effective force.
As a result of that bill many Citizen Military Forces units in country areas were disbanded. Slightly over two years later - on 26th November last - the Minister for Defence said -
At the present time, however, national service training greatly handicaps the development of a more effective army because of the excessive demands it makes on both manpower and money,, without adequate compensatory military advantages.
Can any one tell me of anything that has happened in the last two years which would cause such an alteration? I think we are entitled to know what advice was given in both cases. Almost 3,000 regulars, he said, were engaged on C.M.F. training and now, of course, 1,600 or 1,700 of them will go. It never did have any compensatory advantages, as far as I am concerned, because I do not think it was effective as a military force. But, if we do not know what advice was given how can we form an opinion? Even the report of the late General Morshead was kept classified. It was not given to any one except, I presume, to the serving chiefs of staff. No one would have known about it if the Cabinet had not headlined it; but I think that in those circumstances it was a document that this House was entitled to see.
My disagreement with this new plan for the army is basic. I do not believe that the voluntary system in this day and age is either just, fair or reasonable. I have been a volunteer and I am just as proud as any one else of the old volunteer system and what the volunteers have done. Why should we ask only volunteers to serve overseas when it is the duty of everybody who is fit to serve if the crisis, which we hope will never arise, does arise? Why, in the words of the Minister for Air, should we take only the cream? Why take the best? Because we will not make a proper decision, although I think if we told the people why it was done they would support it. We should amend the Defence Act so that service is both for home and overseas. But we will not face up to that responsibility. Is this the age of volunteers anywhere else in the world? Do other countries rely on volunteers and a territorial army? In America? No. In Britain? No. But we are relying on these young people for overseas service. We are relying on the two-years-or-more national service trainees, in America, Korea and Taiwan, to provide the largest share of our defence at the present time, yet we are possibly the most posperous country in the world. Are we shouldering our share of the financial responsibility? In 1957 defence cost America £109 per head of population. Well, America is a big country and possibly can afford more. Defence cost Canada £50 to £53 per head, but in Australia it was only £20 per head.
Let us ask ourselves whether on these figures we are shouldering our fair share of the financial responsibility. I feel that this step with respect to the Army is a backward step. It is wrong in principle and - I hope I am wrong in tins - I do not believe it will work out in practice. After the war, when it was thought there would have been a rush of recruits for the C.M.F.. 18.000 was the highest figure reached up to 1949; at present, it is 17,600. My feeling is that the final form of our national service training was - as I said when the Government altered it - useless except as a training for civilian life. Honorable members will remember my saying that here, and fighting the measure in committee for about 24 hours on my own; so no one can say that I have altered my opinion in the matter. I think that the old national service training, as far as military effectiveness was concerned, was useless, particularly when its scope was reduced. The Prime Minister said that the partially trained man was not a defence potential in this day and age.
I believe and always have believed and advocated that national service training should have been extended and not expended. The numbers required could be decided. Those who are in the call-up and wish to volunteer should be allowed to do so and the rest should be decided by ballot, as is done in America. Service should be for both home and overseas. I believe the period of service, under present conditions in this world, should be at least eighteen months to two years, as it is in America. I believe that all future officers should serve in the ranks for about six months - including those from Duntroon.
On the organization of the training I am not competent to speak, but I do think the senior officers - down to the rank of brigadier anyhow, in the C.M.F. could have been consulted before the final decision was taken and the reorganization went into operation. In spite of a lot of what is being said, I believe the vast majority of them were not told much about it, if anything at all. 1 may be speaking subject to correction there, but I have investigated the matter fairly widely. Why I say this extended form of national service training should be put into operation is that I believe that the period of service - whether the men are volunteers or men selected by ballot - should be eighteen months or two years. Finally, there must be proper rehabilitation for those who have completed the job which has to be done, so that the men do not return to civil life with a feeling of frustration, as so many people did in Britain after the end of the First World War. This did not apply quite so much to Australia, where rehabilitation benefits were very much better. The feelings of many people were most adequately expressed by Vera Brittain in her book “ The
Testament of Youth “, published in the late twenties - “ Four years “ some say consolingly. Oh well,
What’s that. You’re young. And then it must have been a very fine experience for you!
And they forget
How others stayed behind and just got on;
Got on the better since we were away,
And we came home and found they had achieved, and men revered their names . . .
And no one talks heroics now and we must just go back and start again once more.
I do not want any one who goes into the C.M.F. via national service training for perhaps two years to feel like that or to feel on his return to civil life -
So passing through the careless crowd alone.
Ghosts of a time no future can restore,
We desperately roam for evermore
An empty shore.
That sort of thing should not happen and it is not necessary. In America all servicemen get rehabilitation benefits and I believe a great many men volunteer for that very reason. A relation of mine volunteered for that reason - because he received his college or university course free after he had done his service and he felt that he would be a better man for having done the service.
It is up to us to introduce that system and not just ask for volunteers. We should institute a system which has proved workable in other countries and which is fair and just. Let us not be cowards. Let us face up to the situation and say that service should be for both overseas and home!
.- This House is debating one of the numerous defence statements that have been made in recent times - statements that from time to time have indicated quite distinct variations in the policy being pursued by the Government. I should like to quote a few words which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) used only two years ago - two years almost to the day - on the 19th March, 1958, when he introduced a defence statement. He quoted with approval the words used by President Eisenhower when he had addressed Congress shortly before -
One requirement of military organization is a clear subordination of the Military Services to duly constituted civilian authority. This control must be real, not merely on the surface.
The Prime Minister went on to paraphrase what he thought that meant in the Australian context. He said -
This statement expresses the traditional and sound view in Australia. Parliament votes
Defence monies on behalf of the people who have elected it. Parliament is entitled to control that expenditure.
Of course, the method by which Parliament controls that expenditure is by the machinery of the Estimates presented when the Budget is brought down each year. In August or September of last year we considered Estimates which purported to indicate how the sum of £192,800,000 would be expended on defence from July, 1959, to June, 1960. I believe that the statement that has been made by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) makes a fundamental difference in the way in which that £192,800,000 is to be expended, and if the Parliament is supposed to be the controlling authority, I suggest that, as well as a defence statement, there should have been a fresh set of Estimates because the whole basis of defence spending has been changed. The fact is that we are still going on the set of Estimates brought down in July or August last year.
If honorable members look at the statistics that were submitted by the Minister for Defence in September, 1959, they will see there figures relating to the number of permanent members of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force and the number of volunteers in the Citizen Military Forces. These forces, as we know now, are to be fundamentally changed. It was indicated then that there were to be 48,700 in the permanent forces - that is the Army, the Navy and the Air Force - and 64,576 members of the citizen forces, a total of 113,276 in military service of one kind or another during the curent year. All that is to be changed, at least fundamentally, so far as the Army is concerned, and the Army makes up the bulk of those forces with a total of 76,000 persons - 22,000 in the permanent forces and 53,750 in the citizen forces. It is to be changed drastically as the result of the new policy that has been evolved by the Government.
At times it is difficult to know - as the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) hinted - whose bright ideas are in the ascendency with the Government. One year we are told that the emphasis will be on the Royal Australian Air Force. The next time we are told the emphasis is to be on the Air Force in conjunction with the Navy. This time we are told - and some curious words have been used by the Minister for Defence in announcing the change in policy - that we are to have what is called a free Army.
The Australian Labour Party has been chided for not having a defence policy. Of course, at the moment the Labour Party is the Opposition, and its job is to criticize the policy of the present Government. We say, briefly, that we believe Australia should be adequately defended, but there can be a lot of argument about the meaning of “ adequately “ in that context. Even the Minister for Defence admitted that the other evening. He said that in terms of your total national resources, you cannot spend as much on defence as you might like. He reminded us that the more is spent on defence, the less is left over for something else.
I suggest that the vast majority of the Australian people believe that there has been a colossal waste in expenditure on defence by this Government. The figures are astronomical. They were conveniently gathered together again by the Minister for Defence last September. They showed that, in the period from 1950-51 to 1958-59, there had been a total expenditure of £1,574,634,000, to which another £192,800,000 must be added for expenditure from July, 1959, to June, 1960. The Minister was also good enough to break down that expenditure and show how it had been spent on the various activities which come within the ambit of the term “ defence “. Of that colossal sum of £1,574,634,000, £1,116,191,000 was spent on what might be called expendable items. It was spent on pay and allowances and food and clothing for the members of the forces. But what of the things that are supposed to frighten the enemy? Only £292,000,000 of that colossal sum of £1,574,634,000 was spent on what are called the material requirements of the Army, Navy and Air Force - ships, aircraft, weapons, vehicles and other equipment. In other words, a little less than 20 per cent, of the total was spent on those material needs.
The statements produced on behalf of the Government show that £131,000,000 was spent on buildings and works, and I suppose the great folly of St. Mary’s, with an expenditure of £28,000,000 was the biggest single contributing item. The people of Australia are entitled to know whether, as the honorable member for Chisholm has said, the policy of the Government on defence is now turning back to what it was when the Government was elected to office. If that is the situation in i960, after this Government has been in office for ten years and has expended, or plans to spend, a grand total of £1,767,434,000 on defence, the Government is indictable before the people of Australia for gross extravagance and folly in relation to its defence policy.
I am not a strategist, but at least I am seriously concerned at the expenditure that is involved. Every £1 that is expended wastefully on defence is £1 that has been diverted, possibly, from some worthy social purpose. That is the sort of thing about which the Labour Party is seriously concerned. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) put it in these terms: Even £100,000 wasted on defence could have built a high school in any one of the six States, all of which are crying out for high schools.
The Opposition believes in adequate defence of the nation, but I do not think that anybody in this House can say whether Australia is adequately defended or whether current expenditure on defence should be £100,000,000, £192,800,000, as suggested, or £300,000,000. That is the sort of thing about which we could argue at length. We were told that £192,800,000 was to be expended this year on defence. The fact that the Government has changed its plans in the middle of the year indicates that there has been some re-thinking, or some bad planning in the past, and there is no great confidence on the part of the public that there will be good planning in the future. One of the leading Government supporters, I suggest, in this field, the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), has just criticized this fundamental about-turn. He does not think that the new plan will be a good plan. He hopes for the sake of Australia that it will work out all right, but he does not believe that it will.
We, for our part, believe that there is much to be criticized in the policy that has been pursued by the Government. We have always said that we believed that the Go vernment construed defence too narrowly when it thought only of the Army, the Air Force and the Navy. We said that it should think also in terms of railways, roads, ports and harbours, and all the other things that are important, not only for defence, but also for the basic development of the Australian community. More of this basic public development should be taking place in Australia to-day. It may be that a great strain is placed on our total resources by expending £192,000,000 a year on defence according to this narrow construction, and that that money is expended to the detriment of all the other things that could be really regarded as a part of Australia’s overall defence strategy.
We believe also that when the Government talks about defence it should have an idea at the back of its mind as to the enemy against whom an attack would be launched, in the unfortunate event of war, or against whom we would have to defend ourselves. We suggest that it is equally essential, taking a realistic view, to cultivate good relationships with our neighbours. The Government should say who it thinks the enemy of the future will be. My friend, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), gave an interesting example of an Army exercise where the phantom enemy was apparently the Chinese. Does the Government believe that Australia will be at war with China, Indonesia, Russia or Japan? What is it doing to encourage friendly relationships with any of those countries? I suggest that it is doing very little.
One of Australia’s prominent economists, Professor Sir Douglas Copland, has from time to time stated that it would be a good thing if all the richer or better endowed countries were to devote approximately 1 per cent, of their gross national product to assist the poorer countries. That would mean that Australia would contribute about £60,000,000 a year, not entirely in money, but also in technical assistance and goods that we could supply. Surely it is just as sensible to send boat loads of technicians to do something useful as it is to send boat loads of troops when a war breaks out. Some expenditure is involved in both cases, but it is a question of meeting an emergency in the event of war, and of precaution, I would say, or common sense, in the other event.
The Governor-General, in his Speech upon the opening of the Parliament recently, referred to the fact that Australia was participating financially in the Indus waters scheme on the borders of India and Pakistan. That is a good thing. The Colombo Plan is another example of this kind of activity. But Australia’s contributions for these purposes is very inadequate, in the light of its defence expenditure of nearly £200,000,000 a year and the great demands of under-developed countries for basic development. I suggest that if Government supporters really think that we must have defence forces for the overthrow of communism, they should do something to overcome communism by removing the economic discontent in which communism flourishes. Communism flourishes principally where people are inadequately fed, inadequately housed, and unsatisfactorily clothed. That is the kind of discontent that makes for the conditions that produce the political phenomenon known as communism. The way to combat communism, in the view of those on this side of the House, is not by having battalions waiting to defend us agains’t attack, but by doing something to remove the seeds df discontent. That would, at the same time, remove the need for armaments.
I think that the majority of people in the civilized world to-day are apprehensive about the outbreak of a world-wide conflagration. The destructive power of the new atomic weapons is so great that the heaviest casualties would be not amongst the soldiers, but amongst the civilians on the home front’, against whom the nuclear weapons would be launched. We believe that Australians cannot possibly afford expenditure on the scale that’ is necessary for the’ provision of nuclear weapons. Australia’s defence can drily be ancillary to the defence of some other place, and we are very suspicious lest there be some secret arrangement, of” which the Parliament is never told, about Australia’s role in the kind of war that everybody fears. The greater the number of powers having nuclear weapons, the greater is the likelihood that something disastrous will happen some day. If might be difficult to find the prime cause’ of a nuclear war, but perhaps in the end it would not matter very much, because very few would survive.
We on this side of the House say that the Government has bungled in its defence effort. We say that there has been a colossal waste of essential man-power and materials that could have been devoted to better use somewhere else. We believe also that the meaning of defence is too narrowly construed by the Government, and that our best defence would be the cementing of good relationships with the 1,000,000,000 or more people living not far from our shores under conditions that we would not tolerate here. As we would not tolerate those conditions here, surely it is incumbent upon us to do something to remove them where they do exist. If we have the resources, technical skill, manpower and know-how, the sensible thing, as I have said, is not to send boatloads of troops in war-time, but to send boatloads of peaceful ambassadors as a precaution against danger in the future.
’.- I know that my very good friend, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), will hot take offence if 1 say that he is well known both on this side of the House and on the other side as being a very mild-mannered gentleman, one given to temperance in his expressions and moderation in his ways.
– That’ is more thin can be said about you.
Mir. KILLEN. - I notice that my ebullient cousin, the bold centurion from Parkes, with his armour somewhat dented after yesterday’s clash in the battle of caucus in the cold war, wants to” join in the general confusion.
– Look out’ that we do not boil your leg at the family conference.
Mf. KILLEN.- If ever you turned up at a family conference, I think a wake’ would immediately be ordered. I return to my muttons in this business because the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, despite his well-known,- wellaccepted and well-identified manners, used what I may describe as extravagant language. He referred to “ the great folly of St. Mary’s “ and the “ bungling of the Government “. That is language that does not become the honorable member, because he is given to temperate ways and to moderation in his language - two qualities which, of course, are completely foreign to the honorable member for Parkes, who is given to that racy language which finds such eloquent exposition in that well-known journal, “The Century”.
– Does he write it?
– Of course he writes it; and if I may say so, he writes it with all the well-known qualifications of an indifferent composer.
– Get off that subject and on to defence.
– I am about to get off it, if I am allowed to do so. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports brought this debate into what one may describe as its proper perspective. He very pointedly directed the attention of the House, and 1 would hope of the nation, to the difficulties associated with defence planning. One could go back 50 years and speak with all the genuine authority of one who was at the siege of Mafeking and say, “ If I were in control of defence planning, 1 would propose so and so “. But, as my very distinguished and able friend, the honorable and gallant member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), said this afternoon, there is one fundamental in defence planning that must be recognized and must be conceded. Unfortunately, the honorable member for Parkes is unable to recognize anything but his own limited capacity and is unable to concede anything but the fact that he was defeated a few days ago. The honorable member for Barker pointed out that the strategic concept of defence planning is that it is not something that is permanent or stationary; it is not something that remains fast, solid and unchangeable. Of course, it does change. It is something that moves and, on occasions, it moves very rapidly. It is within the concept and the framework of that dilemma that the Government - and this Parliament, if I may say so, Sirmust attend to its defence responsibility.
Then, to put this into some measure of perspective, my friend, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, referred to the rather solemn and melancholy fact that no longer in war do we have anything such as men in the front line. Every one is involved in it. There is a totality of conflict, a totality of warfare to-day that possibly is peculiar to this age and cannot be found in any age in the past. Having said that, may I say this: In the course of any parliamentary debate, if ever there arises a time when a person must speak as he feels and as he believes, it is in the course of a debate on defence. Though we may hold some old-fashioned and, I suppose to some minds, somewhat sentimental ideas, the first responsibility of government is to secure the safety of the people. I hope that nobody, on this occasion, looking at the arguments which I will present, and finding them out of harmony with the broad sentiment of argument presented by the Government, will say, “This fellow is out to attack his Government or to secure some sort of political kudos “. As I see it - I may be in error, but I hope that I am not - honesty in a debate on a defence statement is the first prerequisite.
The Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) said in his statement, inter alia, “I think there will be little argument over the strategic assessments on which our defence policy is based If I may say so to the distinguished and gallant gentleman, I think there is room for considerable argument about the strategic assessments on which the Australian defence system is based. I do not know who it was expressed the view that war is merely an extension of existing policies; it may have been Marshal Foch
– It was Clausewitz.
– I am indebted to my honorable and gallant friend, the member for Barker, for his redoubtable knowledge of military history. Clausewitz said that war is merely an extension of existing policies. The view that I find incredible to-day is that held in this country, unhappily in this Parliament, and more particularly in the Cabinet, that we are not at war. If that view is correct, then possibly some one will explain to me how the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in the ten years following World War II. has conquered territory at the rate of 44 square miles an hour. I defy the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), I defy any honorable member sitting on the Opposition side, and I defy any honorable member sitting on the Government side of this House to point to one comparable example in the whole of history - a nation conquering 44 square miles an hour for ten years. To add a touch of irony to the circumstance, this has been without any formal declaration of war.
Recent events in the Parliament and outside the Parliament prompt one to recall the nature of another facet of the war that is raging and has been waged with such a persistence and such an intensity that one is hard put to find an example. I refer to the ideological war. It is rather strange that a few months ago ISO Hungarian boys were taken out and shot. They were aged eighteen years. The civilized world may ask, “ What was wrong with that? “ The fact is that they had been kept in gaol since they were fourteen. They were participants in the expression of views by people against those in control. I refer, of course, to the Hungarian revolution. If I am to take any notice of the arguments that have been use in this House, and outside it, in recent weeks, all I can say, Sir, is that if the civilized world can accept with equanimity the murder of 150 boys, then there is neither health in it nor hope for it. That, Sir, is merely another example of the ideological war that is being waged against us. We are prepared time and time again to accept things, to accept circumstances and to approve of things and to approve of circumstances which, in our saner moments, and in more rational times, we would condemn. I look through the defence statement made on behalf of the Government and I find no illustration of this consideration.
I turn to another aspect. I think of the trade war. Am I to understand that the trade war being waged by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has no connexion at all with the defence of this country? By what means was it that in the ten years following World War II., 44 square miles per hour on an average was conquered, not by guns, not by battalions, not by squadrons of aircraft equipped with nuclear weapons, but by and large, by the two methods to which I have adverted - ideological warfare and trade warfare. Coupled with those two methods are a whole host of ancillary movements.
I believe that this country has a tryst with destiny but I do not believe that that tryst will be fulfilled while we are prepared to think along what passes for orthodox lines. I think it is high time that we looked at what in reality is orthodoxy, and dismiss what in my view is contemptible unorthodoxy.
It is pointed out in the defence statement that this country’s defence is based primarily upon collective security. That is a notable phrase, and to many people it may be a comforting phrase. I find no nobility in it and I find no comfort in it because we have by the sheer force, the inexorable logic of events been brought to a point of time where we are no longer at liberty to look to others to defend or protect us. Yet rather strangely we are in a position to protect and defend ourselves. There may be some in the House and some outside it who say: In view of the massive array of conventional weapons that are arrayed against us, how can we defend or protect ourselves? Well, Sir, quite apart from the pertinent nature of that question it is the central question that is involved. I put it to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I put it to the House: What western nation involved in a conventional conflict with the potential enemy could defend itself along conventional lines? That, to my mind, is an essential question. I am reminded of what Field Marshal Montgomery had to say some two or possibly three years ago. He said that those at S.H. A. P.E.- Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Powers, Europe - considered the whole of their defence planing along the line of the deterrent, and along the line involving nuclear considerations.
– You say that-
– The honorable member for Reid, who is attempting to interject, has a number of engaging qualities but I ask him to listen to me for a few moments. What would be the position if this country should by some circumstances be involved in a conflict in which it could not count conclusively upon help from either the United Kingdom or the United States of America? The fact of the matter is that we would be submerged. Mao-Tse-tung has said that by 1965 he will have 5,000 divisions of troops. What sort of simpleton is it who says that 5,000 divisions of troops are going to be gathered in homage to the dove of peace? What sort of simple mind is it that is going to try to run away from the fact that Communist China ranks within the first five of the air powers of the world?
There could be a set of circumstances in which the United Kingdom and the United States of America could be so heavily engaged that they would be unable to assist Australia. I hope that the point will be honestly and genuinely considered by those who sit in this Parliament that if this country will not become a nuclear power it will run the risk of becoming a servile power. Somebody may reply that only a small percentage risk is involved. I concede that such is the case, but are we at liberty to take risks with the safety ;and the future of our pepole? 1 may be wrong, but 1 take the view that we are not entitled to do so. The Minister for Defence said to-day that his department had considered equipping the Army with nuclear weapons, but for financial and technical reasons that consideration had been overruled. Let us forget about the financial reasons. We can overcome the technical reasons. There is no reason why this country, for an expenditure of £25,000,000 on a nuclear power reactor, cannot reach the stage where it can provide itself with nuclear weapons, if need be.
China to-day is in the position where it can be regarded as a nuclear power. Mr. Khrushchev recently went to Indonesia and within a few years Indonesia will be a nuclear power. These are the massive considerations that must weigh upon the minds of every member of this Parliament and of all people who hope for peace. Even though it may be impossible to see what lies ahead, we can pray and hope, and we must work to see that in those years there is peace. However, it will not be simply by prayer, hope or work that we will find that peace. It will be achieved only as a result of what we do - by our sense of dedication and by a realistic appraisement of our circumstances and position. We face a dreadful dilemma. It is a dilemma that, in my view, however wrong I may be, the Government and people of this country must accept with pride and with a will.
.- Any debate involving the defence of this country is necessarily of prime importance, because the preservation of Australia’s sovereignty may depend on our defence policy. Honorable members from both sides of the House should discuss this subject with the one objective in mind, that our defence system should be devised so as to enable this country to survive. Whilst the Labour Party supports to the utmost the provision of an adequate and modern military defence system there are naturally a number of other important matters to be considered in any comprehensive defence scheme. One of the most important requirements in a proper defence scheme is clear and inspired leadership on the part of the Government. Any defence scheme that does not get a positive and practical lead from the nation’s leaders must, of necessity, be innocuous.
It is, unfortunately, incontrovertible that for years there has been widespread and well-informed criticism from many sections of the community of the lack of leadership on defence matters given by the present Menzies Government. The Government has meandered on from year to year and has given no practical satisfaction to anybody. There has never been a defence debate in this House since I have been here that has not included a lot of criticism from the Government’s own ranks. I regret to say that the Government’s defence policy over the last ten years has been a chain of shifts and uncertainties. It has been pitched and tossed by circumstances and the Government has steadfastly refused to take a steady view of what should constitute the defence role of Australia in an uneasy world.
However, we have now reached the stage in Australia’s history when we should ensure that the most effective use is made of our limited resources and that we get the best possible value from our defence expenditure. Because of this, we want assurances from the Government that we are not using too much of our financial resources to obtain armaments that will quickly become obsolete. What is required from this Government - and, unfortunately, the defence statement that we are debating at present does not produce that requirement - is a more economical and purposeful administration of our defence policy and services deemed to be vital for current requirements. There are far too many defence departments and too much duplication of facilities in relation to the number of men we can put into first-class fighting shape.
Having made a preamble along those lines I want to direct the rest of my remarks to the Royal Australian Air Force and the necessity for its re-equipment with aircraft. I am glad that the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) is present. I consider that this matter is of prime importance, but it did not receive much consideration from the Minister for Defence. Not one page of his statement was devoted to the reequipment of the Air Force. Tied up with re-equipment, which is a most essential and vital constituent of any defence policy, is the future of the aircraft construction industry.
The whole future of this industry is enveloped in a cloud of obscurity. The Minister’s statement does nothing to give confidence to those who think that the continuance of this industry is essential. The Minister quite definitely kept right away from the subject of where the aircraft are to be made once a decision on the type to be used is arrived at. I regret that delay and procrastination have been the policy of the Government in regard to the aircraft industry.
It is understandable why leaders in the aircraft industry both private and government do not know where they stand. In 1957 the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) announced plans to re-equip the Royal Australian Air Force with fighter aircraft of a performance equivalent to that of the American Lockheed FI 04 Starfighter. The aircraft industry was just being kept alive, depending on orders from the Government for fifteen or twenty Avon Sabres. It was a hand-to-mouth existence and all those engaged in that industry were very disstressed. But the plans announced by the Prime Minister were dropped and since then a great silence has descended whenever anybody has tried to discover the Government’s plans for the future of the aircraft industry.
Once again we have been informed that the Government is giving consideration to re-equipping the Royal Australian Air Force with a new fighter aircraft to replace the Avon Sabre. Naturally that statement has met with general agreement because members on both sides of the House agree that, as the Minister for Air said this afternoon, although the Avon Sabre is doing a good job at present, very shortly it will be obsolete and will no longer meet the requirements of a modern fighter aircraft.
I understand that at the moment the Government is considering three fighters - the French Mirage, the United States Lockheed FI 04 and the United States Northrop Nl 56. In the near future a Royal Australian Air Force mission will go abroad to test-fly these fighters and decide which one of the three will be the most suitable to re-equip the Royal Australian Air Force. It is not the first time that such a mission has gone overseas for this purpose and I hope it will come back with a very good recommendation which will be adopted by the Government. If it does not adopt such a recommendation it is possible that the aircraft industry will fade out completely.
The first qualification for the new fighter aircraft must be suitability for Australian operational needs. I think that goes without any argument. That having been decided the question will then be: Where will they be made - overseas or in Australia under licence? We can get no indication of this from the Government and this lack of information is having a very deleterious effect upon personnel in the aircraft industry. The technicians and other experts are very concerned about their future and they are naturally looking around for other jobs. They do not know when their employment will be terminated - in one or two years’ time - and they naturally have to consider the welfare of their families and look ahead.
I suggest that the Government should give the utmost consideration to the construction of new aircraft locally. I know that it will be said that this is a matter of cost. As against that, the cost of local manufacture will depend upon the total number of fighters which the Government will require and also the scheduled rate of production. Those are factors to be taken into consideration. I understand, from extensive inquiries which I have made from people who ought to know, that if an order for about 100 fighters were given to local industry to be built at the rate of four or five a month, they could be produced at a reasonable price. This may not be as cheap as the overseas figure but it would be near enough to make production in this country more or less an economical proposition.
I understand that at the present time the R.A.A.F. has three squadrons each of sixteen Avon Sabre fighters in the field and has recently acquired a further squadron from the citizen forces. Therefore there are practically four squadrons in the field.
– Not the machines, the personnel.
– I understand that there are three squadrons of fighters in operation, and the fourth squadron is the personnel only; is that so?
– No, we have the aircraft.
– I understand that there are about 64 aircraft in the four squadrons, plus aircraft to replace them from time to time. I should say that to replace the present machines, we need about 100 new fighters. An order for 100 new aircraft would mean that we would have sufficient machines for training and reserve, plus the squadrons in the air. An order for those aircraft placed with the local industry seems to be a very reasonable proposition. I believe that if the order for the 100 aircraft were given to local industry, they could be made at a reasonable price. They might be a little dearer than the price we would pay for aircraft made overseas, but I emphasize that we have to pay for insurance. By that statement I mean that we have to ensure that this industry is carried on efficiently. If it is allowed to wither on the vine and fade away, obviously we shall not have an efficient aircraft industry in four or five years.
I want to suggest some valid reasons why the Government should build the new fighters here. Although the aircraft industry has unfortunately run down somewhat, it is still an efficient industrial enterprise up to a point and it has already proved its capacity to measure up to requirements. Over the years the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation has produced Wirraway, Mustang and Boomerang fighters and the present Avon Sabre jets. No one can decry their performances even when measured by world standards. The Government aircraft factories have produced Beaufort fighters and bombers, Lincoln bombers,
Canberra bombers and, recently, Jindiviks. The Jindivik is a target plane and has proved so successful that the Government has received orders from overseas for the manufacture and supply of considerable numbers of them. This has been a great encouragement to the local industry. It proves that we have men of the necessary technical skill to build these first-class machines. As a consequence everybody from the head down to the billy boy - if there is a billy boy - has been greatly encouraged. The Government should remove all indefiniteness and ambiguity about whether the new aircraft for the R.A.A.F. will be manufactured here. If the Government will make a definite decision to have them built here this will give the industry some idea of what its future may be. It is absolutely vital that the industry shall not be allowed to decay by a process of stagnation, but, unfortunately, that is what is happening to-day. We must face the incontrovertible fact that the Australian aircraft industry cannot survive unless it is reinforced by the knowledge that the Government will not let it fade out, but up to the present time the Government has not given such a guarantee to the industry. To-day, the industry is managing to exist by nibbling at the small orders that are given to it from time to time, because the Government has not made up its mind on what the future of the industry will be.
Aircraft production is a costly business and has numerous ramifications. The aircraft industry cannot hope to attain success on hopes that alternately rise and fall, according to the Government’s views, and on irregular orders. In order to get more efficiency from the aircraft industry in this country, the process of production must be planned with a knowledge of future requirements. That is not being done at the present time. If the industry is not informed of future requirements, the labour force will be dislocated. Indeed, as anybody who knows anything about the industry will concede, that is happening to-day. Skilled men have been dispensed with, and later on, when there is a temporary resurgence, or a small order has to be fulfilled, unskilled men have to be trained to perform the work. This is an expensive and an unsatisfactory process.
I point out that the aircraft industry is a specialized industry. An ordinary tradesman - a fitter and turner or a sheet metal worker - does not acquire the skill needed until he goes into an aircraft factory. I am speaking as a practical engineer, and I assure honorable members that I know what I am talking about. When a tradesman goes into an aircraft factory, he finds that he has a lot to learn, because this is a specialized form of engineering. The training that is required cannot be obtained in any factory other than an aircraft factory. Any tradesman who goes for the first time into an aircraft factory is, for the first three or four months, really undergoing a brief apprenticeship in aircraft engineering, although he may be a good general engineer outside. Because of this, the aircraft industry should not be subjected to the upsets that it has experienced over the last three or four years, due to uncertainty about its future. The volume of aircraft production in Australia is not very high at any time. Therefore, we should ensure that the qualified skilled men we have in the industry are retained in it, if that is humanly possible.
Consider the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. Anybody who visits the corporation’s factory at Fishermen’s Bend in Victoria must be agreeably surprised when he sees the great range of modern equipment in it. It will be an absolute shame if this equipment has to be discarded because the Government decides, in order to save a few hundreds of thousands of pounds, to purchase new fighter planes from overseas. The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation has reduced its staff from 5,000 - the number employed at the height of the Sabre jet programme - to about 2,700. I think that this loss of trained personnel to the industry is to be greatly deplored.
The Government should realize that Australia may not be able to get first-class aircraft from overseas just when she wants them, in an emergency, because the countries from which we would normally be able to procure the aircraft may themselves be faced with an emergency and need the planes for their own use. That was the position in the last war. Australia’s representatives went overseas and literally had to plead for aircraft from countries that badly needed aircraft themselves. It is probable that we shall have to fend for ourselves during emergencies in the future.
From the point of view of spare parts and servicing, it is absolutely essential that we have a first-class aircraft industry staffed by a sufficient number of technicians to carry out all servicing that is required. The original airframes and engines are only two of the many requirements needed to keep military aircraft at peak efficiency. Airframes are damaged and become worn, engines need overhauling, and modifications have frequently to be undertaken. The local industry, provided it is maintained at sufficient strength, is the only body in Australia capable of doing this important work. It has been frequently found that aircraft imported into this country have had to be modified to make them suitable for Australian conditions. Some of our Canberra bombers that were made in Melbourne had to be modified, in the construction stage, to make them suitable for weather conditions in Malaya, and some of the earlier models that came from overseas had to be modified here. It was only due to the fact that we had a competent aircraft industry that we were able to carry out the modifications needed efficiently and at a reasonable price.
What is needed - and it has not been forthcoming up to the present time - is a long-term plan to place the industry on a firm basis. A great deal of uninformed criticism has been levelled at the cost of production in the industry. Anybody who has any knowledge of this subject should know perfectly well that it is very difficult to keep down the costs of production in this industry because of the circumstances peculiar to it. In order to achieve the most economic result, it is necessary for the industry to spread its work during peacetime. Unfortunately for the industry, when the Royal Australian Air Force decides what it wants, it asks the industry to execute the order speedily. Naturally, in those circumstances, costs jump considerably. Therefore, the Government should give close consideration to stabilizing the industry. When military requirements are not great, the Government should consider asking the industry to build aircraft for civilian use in this country. That would make the local industry strong and selfreliant. In present circumstances, the defence needs of Australia demand that an efficient aircraft industry shall be maintained, even at heavy cost, in the interests of self-preservation. This industry must not languish; it must be placed on a stable basis, to enable it to expand.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, the Government’s defence statement marks the end of an era. Basically, the statement means that defence is so longer the defence of the country against possible invasion. It has become the maintenance of an international police force. Whether this is right for the future is doubtful, but it undoubtedly accords with the Government’s experience in the immediate past in Malaya and Korea. The Government is not gearing its defence expenditure to nuclear war. It is gearing its defence expenditure to police action abroad to counter war by subversion, on the models of the Malayan and Korean campaigns. An attempt to invade this country or its neighbours would have to be an operation in a world war, which would be a nuclear war. Any attempt at such invasion without nuclear forces would invite defeat the moment the great powers interested in maintaining Australia’s independence could deploy nuclear forces. A nuclear attack - the only form of attack that could possibly be successful against Australia - could not be met by the defence forces envisaged in the Government’s statement. This is not necessarily to say that the Government is wrong in considering that a nuclear attack incidental to a global war is unlikely. It is merely to note that the Government’s concept is that the force which it is creating is basically a police force, not a force to repel an attack on the Commonwealth.
In 1949, when the Government first took office, it believed that there would be a world war by 1952. Now it believes that there will be no global war. A police force is effective only against a technically backward enemy. If this proposed Australian force met a force of equal strength, the build-up of weapons to over-trump one another would, as a result of increasing competition, turn nuclear. The proposed force is a force for an action like Suez. Suez at least showed that a well-trained air force, conventionally armed, can deva state a technically backward enemy and very greatly assist a small well-trained army. In a limited war involving a few formations, the sudden arrival of a striking force by air may achieve decisive surprise, but the power of a limited force to resist air attacks depends on its own air backing, and also on rocket fire-power in the hands of its ground forces.
The lack of adequate provision of rockets is the weakness in the Government’s concept of the Army in a limited war. Bloodhounds have been mentioned, but their incorporation in any equipment, the decision as to what units are to handle them and how they are to be developed in the Army, is all vague m the statement.
The lack of an adequate provision of fighters is the weakness in the Government’s concept of the Air Force in a limited war. The Starfighters were ordered and then cancelled, and now we have been informed that the Sabres which we have had for some years are adequate.
The lack of a programme of submarine building is the weakness in the Government’s concept of the Navy in any sort of war, limited or global. There is no concept in the Government’s statement of the defence of merchant shipping by merchant shipping itself. The Fleet Air Arm is to be liquidated, but an anti-submarine escort force of surface ships has been built and more ships are building. This shows very surprisingly that the Government conceives that ships will be defended by other ships against submarines; but a helicopter antisubmarine force is a realistic way of dealing with modern submarines, and helicopters can be carried by the merchant ships themselves.
Even in conventional warfare without nuclear weapons, there has been a considerable development of stand-off bombers - bombers which from miles away aim radio-controlled bombs at the target. Fighters will continue to be needed to deal with these, to prevent enemy reconnaissance and to investigate unidentified movements. Germany in the Second World War provides a lesson in the reduction in efficiency when a naval force does not have an aerial reconnaissance force under its own control. With the Government’s conception of a limited war, the abolition of the Fleet Air Arm seems hard to understand. Of course, in a global war where the targets would not be ships but cities, the case for the abolition of the Fleet Air Arm is much stronger.
The Government’s programme of naval construction is qualitatively very weak, particularly in the lack of provision of submarines. In a nuclear war these are the only waships which are likely to survive. In a limited war, nuclear-powered submarines of indefinite sea-keeping qualities are the most dangerous threat to sea communications. If you still conceive that the role of a submarine is to fire torpedoes at ships, then nuclear-powered submarines still constitute the most dangerous threat to sea communications; but of course, in nuclear warfare the submarine is not an attacker of ships - it is a destroyer of cities by firing atomic rockets. It is fantastic that the Government’s whole naval policy apparently does not include one kind of warship that really matters to-day.
The Government’s naval programme is also qualitatively weak in the kind of surface warships which it is building. All Commonwealth Governments have been mistaken in using, for the defence of Australia in the vast Pacific and Indian Oceans, the kind of British warships which were evolved for the North Sea. Within their types, they never have had a big enough cruising radius for Australian purposes. They are rarely adequately equipped for the health of the crews in tropical conditions, and they are too small. We are at it again with the class of frigate which the Government is building. These vessels have scarcely more than a 2,000 mile cruising radius, which means that they cannot travel from Fremantle to Colombo without refuelling. You will have what purports to be an antisubmarine force heavily dependent on repeated refuelling from large tankers. If there is a submarine threat - and the existence of this frigate force can only be justified if there is a submarine threat - then the tankers themselves will be most vulnerable. The United States is building 3,800-ton destroyers, and destroyer type ships, as submarine hunter-killers for service in the Pacific. Australia is unrealistically building 2,000-ton frigates which are admirable for the North Sea but inadequate for the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean or the tropics.
Why they go on with the unimaginative policy of taking Admirality designs and dumping them in Australia, which is entirely differently located from the United Kingdom, nobody knows. But that kind of ship construction is something from which Australia has suffered for a very long time. Let me illustrate the kind of position which arises. Sailors from one of our Tribal class destroyers told me how the particular ship on which they were serving displayed a notice reading, “ Petty officers will shower once a week as an example to the men “. If you are off the Norwegian coast in the winter, you probably want to shower only once a week. But the ordinary Australian sailor wants to shower once a day, and here was this British Tribal class destroyer which was incapable of providing sufficient accommodation for the men to have a daily shower. The sailors also told me that while they were serving in tropical areas their sleeping quarters at night were a fug. Obviously, it had never been envisaged that these ships, which had been designed for service in the North Sea, would be serving in the tropics. Our aircraft carriers also had no air-conditioning, and when they were on service in the tropics the health of the crews suffered. These instances show how unimaginative has been the policy of constantly taking British ships for service in this area without recognizing that the coast of Australia is washed by the Indian and the Pacific Oceans, and that the conditions here constitute entirely different problems from those encountered in the North Sea.
The Government in its basic conceptionslong ago came down on the side of limited war. But only if the Government considers, global war to be impossible does its total neglect of civil defence, decentralization or dispersal - as in the siting of the St. Mary’s, factory - make any sense. Since it has. believed for so long that only a limited waris possible, its vacillation over the equipment of the Royal Australian Air Force with fighters becomes hard to understand. Thisafternoon the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) told us that the Sabre fighter is. equal to anything that can be deployed against Australia. I knew quite well a. wing commander in Melbourne who told me that in 1939 it was his job to lecturemembers of the Air Force and to tell them, “ The Wirraway is as good an aircraft as. anything that the Japanese can bring here on aircraft carriers “. That was perfectly true. But the Japanese turned Java and all the islands to the north of Australia into an aircraft carrier. The Minister’s statement that the Sabre is as good as any fighter that can be deployed against us seems very strange in view of the fact that Indonesia, for example, is equipped with M.I.G. fighters. The Minister’s statement is an echo of the argument in relation to the Wirraways, and apparently it is an attempt to justify the Government’s vacillation over the purchase of the Starfighter.
The weapons and engineering conceptions of the Government are very largely slurred over in the defence statement. The United States of America is building a nuclear-powered frigate capable of a speed of 45 to 50 knots. It has a surface speed which is sufficient to cope with modern fast submarines. The cost of a United States manufactured nuclear propulsion unit for ships varies between £3,000,000 and £5,000,000 sterling so it is not beyond the resources of this Government, but the types of engines to be used in ships are not even mentioned in the statement. Rocketpropelled torpedoes in the United States are most advanced and an underwater guided missile called the Subroc is a powerful antisubmarine weapon.
The Government may be pardoned for lagging in some of these things, but its total neglect of nuclear propulsion units and its failure to recognize that the helicopter is established as the anti-submarine aircraft of the future constitute inexcusable neglect. The hovercraft may replace the helicopter as an anti-submarine weapon in the future, but at the moment the helicopter is the only satisfactory anti-submarine weapon. There is no indication of any more distant thinking with regard to this problem on the part of the Government.
If the Government were realistic about defence it would increase the level of technical education in this country. The Minister’s statement says that cuts must be made in defence expenditure in the interests of national development. I congratulate the Minister on echoing the remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), but he is ten years late! In the scientific projects being undertaken at Woomera the Government further recognizes the need for scientists. But a highly proficient small force needs a number of technically skilful men and the backing of technically skilful industry. The physical structure of industry in Australia is developing satisfactorily, but the technical training of people is lagging. For example, consider the complete neglect of the Canberra Technical College compared with the more academic kinds of school and there you have a pretty fair picture of the structure of Australian education.
Every defence statement can be represented as a disappointing statement. This statement is strong on indications of changed organization, weaker on indications of changes in equipment and very weak in any indication of the Government’s policy to provide over the years the skilled men who constitute small forces of high fire power and high quality equipment.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Hulme) adjourned.
Address-in-Reply: Presentation to the Governor-General.
– I desire to inform the House that, accompanied by honorable members, I waited to-day upon His Excellency the Governor-General at Government House, and presented to him the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech on the opening of the second session of the Twenty-third Parliament, agreed to by the House on 22nd March. His Excellency was pleased to thank me for the Address and said that he would see that Her Majesty the Queen was speedily informed of the Message of Loyalty expressed in the Address.
Motion (by Mr. Hulme) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Australia to-day stands on the threshold of a very great advance in telephone communications with the introduction of extended local service areas. That will be a great boon to certain people. We are also moving into trunk line dialling and that represents one of the most modern advances in telephone technology. At the same time as I commend the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) for the foresight being shown by his department, I should like to foreshadow a danger that I see arising from this situation.
The danger is that we shall create two classes of telephone users. We will get the telephone rich at one end of the scale and the telephone poor at the other end. Those two classes necessarily represent city and country. Anything that happens in this country to pit the interests of city against country I hold to be a bad thing. I know that technical advances of this nature can be made only at enormous cost and I am very concerned that the money necessary to produce extended local service areas and trunk line dialling will, in fact, result in a net decrease in the amount of money available for telephone services in country areas.
I am well aware that in a matter of this kind the Postmaster-General’s Department is required to give some thought to the cost of serving a given number of people. We well understand that if the greatest good for the greatest number is to be the formula, and £l-for-£l it is possible to serve perhaps ten people in a city area for every one that you can serve in a country area, inevitably the money will be siphoned off to give better service to the city areas and poorer service to the country areas. If we accept this idea that the PostmasterGeneral’s work has to be governed by the formula of the greatest good for the greatest number, I think we can rest assured that nothing at all will be done in the country areas. I know, of course, that we do not carry the formula to that extent and that some priority is given to telephone extensions and services to country areas.
My plea to the Postmaster-General this evening is to see that the priority for country services is raised just a little. I do not want to be parochial about this matter, and I am not always referring to what happens in my own electorate, but I have one or two perfect illustrations of the kind of thing that I would like to bring to the attention of the Postmaster-General.
There is a timber mill in the foothills of the ranges in my electorate on the Allen River. About 70 people live in the mill settlement. They are well housed, well catered for and well accommodated, but they are putting up with the most povertystricken telephone service one could imagine. This settlement is in a valley in the foothills of the mountains. A fast-flowing mountain stream runs through the valley. That stream is given to flooding at intervals. When it does, the mill settlement is cut off from the rest of the world for three or four days or perhaps even a fortnight. In the timber-milling industry there is always the possibility of accident in the mill itself or in the forests. That threat of accident always hangs over this community and the people know that if there is need for assistance, often their telephone service to the outside world will be out of action because the line, instead of being well-constructed, is, in fact, a single line strung up on trees and fence posts. I know that it is expensive to rewire an entire valley, but that is what must be done.
I do not think this work has been neglected because of any lack of interest on the part of the local officers of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department because any number of projects have been developed and put on paper by the district telephone engineers in the area and submitted to Sydney, but unhappily those projects are always vetoed in Sydney in favour, I presume, of some city proposal. At one stage matters even got to the point where the local residents - not only those involved in the milling industry but also those involved in farming pursuits throughout the valley - commenced to drop telephone poles along the proposed pole route. Unfortunately the entire project was vetoed by Sydney once again. It seems to me that the people in the capital city office - in this case Sydney - who had the responsibility of approving or denying expenditure of this kind just have not a clue about what happens in country areas. A whole valley is denied reasonable telephone facilities because there is a great need to siphon off money for better facilities in the city areas.
Let me turn now to another matter that concerns the Goulburn Valley in my electorate. That is a wool-producing area and is sparsely settled. The people of the area have telephone difficulties of another kind. In this case, there is a well-constructed pole route, but the trunk line channels are insufficient. The situation is that there are not enough trunk lines and there are too many local telephone exchanges. Consequently, fantastic delays occur in originating trunk calls from those areas.
Another area in my electorate is a cattle area. People in these country areas never have enough time to be able to spend hours on a telephone waiting to receive the latest market information. Farmers cannot waste time waiting to make telephone calls to their stock and station agents about cattle deals and things of that nature. Yet once again we find an insufficiency of trunk-line channels and inordinate delays in making trunk-line calls.
– What would be the length of these delays?
– They might easily be of two or three hours’ duration, but in places where telephone exchanges operate only part-time, as they do in many country areas, an exchange may close down at 6 or 8 o’clock at night, at the very time when the man in the country wants to transact his business by telephone. He is on the range, or around the fences, or looking at the dams all day, and he wants to do his talking and arranging at night. It is then that telephone exchanges are closed, so he must waste valuable time sitting by his telephone during the daylight hours.
This situation can be avoided, I believe, if the Postmaster-General’s Department will give higher priority to the provision of adequate telephone services for people in country areas. We should remember that these people do not live there by choice; they live there because that is where the cattle, the wool and the timber can be produced. If we want cattle and wool and timber we must make it possible for those producing them to settle down in country areas and enjoy something like a reasonable service from these utilities that are under government control.
I have pointed out on previous occasions the splendid service being given by the operators of these non-official exchanges in country areas. But they find themselves tied to telephones to an ever-increasing extent and receiving very poor remuneration. There is scant incentive for them to sit for long hours at their telephones giving what are purely district services - although that is just what many of them do.
I hope the Postmaster-General’s Department will take a more realistic view of this problem, because if it does not there will be a danger of building up a modern and convenient civilization in the city areas, while people in the country will be living in frontier conditions.
There is one other point I would like to mention while I am on my feet. Earlier in the week, I asked the Postmaster-General whether it was a fact that in some country areas the telephone rentals will be doubled when the extended local areas come into operation on 1st May. I have in mind the principal city in my own electorate, Maitland. I can give an example of a telephone subscriber in that city with a hand-set telephone.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- A week ago, during an adjournment debate, in my absence and without having given prior notice , to me, the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) disputed some figures I had quoted during the adjournment debate on the previous evening. I regret that the honorable member is not in the chamber to-night. I told him last night that I was surprised that he had not extended to me the courtesy that an honorable member usually extends to another of letting him know that he intends to disparage him. I also told him that I would take the opportunity, during the adjournment debate to-night, to justify myself.
– Did you let him know to-night?
– I told him last night, and again this morning I gave him, in anticipation, some figures.
I have just been informed by one of my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, that the honorable member is ill. There is nothing personal in what I intended to say, but in the circumstances, I shall defer my remarks until another occasion.
.- I would like to refer briefly to a very cruel and ill-informed editorial which appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, on Friday, 25th March. It was headed, “ ‘ Democracy ‘ in South Korea “. The word “ democracy “ was enclosed in quotation marks, in such a way as to imply that democracy in Korea was a joke. The editorial referred to the current elections in the Republic of Korea as “ murder elections “. These words were again enclosed in quotation marks, implying that this was the description that the writer of the editorial would apply to the elections.
One does not expect the ordinary journalist to accept all the responsibility for the publication of an article of this description. If correspondents in Korea send stories to their editors, that is their job, but it is the responsibility of an editor to ensure that when stories are published he has a full knowledge of the facts. The editor must realize that the newspaper is conveying information to the people, and that such information must be factual, and must be published fairly.
In this editorial the term “ murder elections “ was used because during the election campaign in Korea two men were killed. However, I have been able to obtain a report from Korea which indicates that the murder or killing of neither of these men was in any way associated with the election campaign.
– In the previous election eleven were killed.
– The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith should remember, Mr. Speaker, that the Republic of Korea introduced a democratic system of government only a little more than a decade ago. It was only then that Korea was given an opportunity to govern itself.
– By whom?
– The attitude of the editorial I have mentioned, and the attitude of the honorable member for KingsfordSmith are so smug and complacent as to suggest that in Australia1 we have reached a stage of democratic development in which bloodshed’ is impossible. I remind the honorable member that as recently as 1949 in Queensland,, when a Labour government was in power, there was bloodshed during a political disturbance. I ask him to reflect upon the fact that it was a Labour government in Queensland that ordered the police to make an attack on striking railway workers.
It ill-becomes an Australian newspaper to adopt this smug and complacent attitude towards the government of Korea. The writer of that editorial should remember that we have been born into a system of democracy, and have, for many years, enjoyed its privileges. Until the end of World War II. the people of Korea did not know the meaning of democracy. The fact is that during that period of a little more than a decade the people of Korea have made great progress towards the establishment of a democratic system. Therefore, it ill-becomes any newspaper editor, or any other smug gentleman in this country who is able to publish articles which may be read by a great many people, to sneer at a country which is striving desperately, while on the very verge of a seething political volcano, to maintain its freedom and to establish a system of democracy.
I believe the whole free world owes a great debt to the President of the Republic of Korea, because he was the man who led the fight, and who stirred the whole free world to fight to ensure the freedom of 20,000,000 people in South Korea. Had it not been for President Syngman Rhee, more than 20,000,000 people now enjoying freedom and democracy in South Korea would have been dragged behind the iron curtain.
A newspaper in Korea has published a very fair report which I think ought to be known to the members of this Parliament and to the people of Australia. The article in this English-language newspaper, under the heading “Election Press Reports Misleading”, begins -
Korea hurt seriously overseas.
It is true that Korea was seriously hurt. The article proceeds -
These false,, groundless assertions may have originated with an opposition that has lost hope, but foreign correspondents-
I think even the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith will agree with’ this- still have the obligation to check hurtful rumour against the facts.
Does the honorable member dispute that it is the responsibility of journalists to check and to make sure that their statements are true?
In regard to the murders that occurred, the Korean newspaper report stated that in one of the cases the slayer, a man by the name of In Suk Chung, had confessed that he killed a man by the name of Kim because of grudges growing out of an article that appeared in a newspaper of which Kim was an editor. In the other case, the victim, a man named Lee, was actually a member of the Liberal Party, the Government Party, and was not a member of the Democratic Party, as foreign newspaper correspondents had led people to believe. He was stabbed by a neighbour who also was affiliated with the same party. The dispute arose over the possession of certain farm land, and therefore had no relation to the election campaign then in progress.
It seems strange that newspapers both in the United Kingdom and in Australia should publish a pro-communist version - I say that it was pro-Communist - instead of recognizing that South Korea is struggling to maintain a system of democracy against pressures that are operating to bring the country behind the iron curtain. The newspapers in Australia and the United Kingdom failed to publish the factual report forwarded by the ScrippsHoward writer, which was published in New York. He stated -
The opposition Democratic Party in Korea seemed to be attempting to convince the outside world this election is rigged and thus acquire a certain measure of international martyrdom. In this effort, they had the co-operation of certain segments of the American press . . . Actually, this election campaign has been less violent than others in the past and there is evidence Korean voters are showing maturity. There have been deaths and violence but not all of them are properly ascribed to the election.
– From what newspaper is the honorable member reading?
– The “ Korean Republic “. The whole purpose of my rising to-night is to say that it is time that we in Australia, particularly the press and members of this Parliament, gained a more intimate knowledge of the desperate problems of our friends in Asia. We should be less inclined to be destructively critical of people who are struggling to evolve a system of government such as that which we are able to enjoy. Destructive criticism will in no way help to convince the masses in Asia that the democratic process is the best form of government and in the best interests of the people.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.5 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has furnished the following replies: -
d asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Government within the first three years of the agreement with a view to exploring the possibility and examining the basis of applying the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade between the two countries.
s asked the Minister for Social Service’s, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows:-
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 31 March 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19600331_reps_23_hor26/>.