23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Army. Is it a fact that a charitable organization called the Randwick Homes for the Aged Committee has been formed by a number of publicspirited citizens in the district of Randwick in the electorate of Kingsford-Smith? Is it a fact that the purpose of this body is to raise funds for the building of homes for the aged? Would the Minister favour a request from this organization seeking the release of 25 acres of the Long Bay rifle range to be used as a site for the erection of homes under the homes for the aged scheme which is subsidized by the Government?
-I must say that the honorable member is very persistent in relation to the Long Bay rifle range, and on this occasion he has made a very worthy proposal. However, we have investigated this matter very closely and, as I told the honorable member previously, unfortunately we need the rifle range for the purposes of the Army.
– I ask the Minister for Health: Has he had representations made to him from the Australian Optometrical Association alleging the existence of anomalies in the administration of the national health service? Has he considered the statement that unauthorized benefits are being paid in respect of eye treatment? If so, has he anything to say about the allegation? Furthermore, has he considered the statement that discriminatory subsidies are being made to medical benefit funds and, if so, is this a desirable feature of the system for treating eye patients?
– I am not quite sure what the honorable gentleman means by unauthorized subsidies. There are some benefit funds which make from their own resources payments that are not matched by Commonwealth benefits. It is entirely within the jurisdiction of the funds that do make those payments to decide whether they make them or not, and the Commonwealth would interfere only if a fund was a registered fund and it was considered that its financial stability might be endangered by making them. Otherwise it is not a matter in which the Commonwealth would exercise any jurisdiction at all.
Perhaps I can answer the rest of the honorable gentleman’s question by saying that the Government, since the introduction of the national health service, has steadily expanded that service in the fields of medical benefits, hospital benefits, pharmaceutical benefits, pensioner medical services and tuberculosis control; and, in fact, expenditure has risen from about £7,000,000 in 1950- in the early years of operation of the scheme - to an estimate of about £67,000,000 at the present time. This has been possible because of the Government’s handling of the economy. It must be obvious that in the end the taxpayer must find the money for all these expansions of social welfare - and these measures are social welfare measures. They have been expanded by the Government not only in the sphere of health, but in the total field of social welfare. As the honorable gentleman will be aware, my colleague, the Minister for Social Services, will introduce into this House to-night a very important measure to liberalize the means test. The Government has been able to do all these things without the imposition of heavy additional taxation to support them, and it has been able to do so because it has proceeded step by step.
Let me say this about the representations of the optometrists: The Government is perfectly aware of the great importance of the optometrical profession and of the honorable and important function it performs in the community, but if social welfare is to be expanded, it must be expanded step by step. The Government is not idle in considering any other measures that may be added to the present national health services. Unless the Government proceeds in this way, social welfare will become an incubus and not something to make the lives of citizens better. So the Government intends to proceed with the same method in the future as it has in the past, and to expand social services in accordance with the growth of the economy.
– I think the honorable gentleman will well know that the decision given by the commission was a comprehensive and fairly complicated one. However, the question raised by the honorable gentleman as to why the 28 per cent, increase was not generally applied should be answered because so many questions are asked about it. I think it can be best answered in the form of an example, if that will suffice. It was argued before the commission that when the question of increases of margins on the basis of capacity to pay alone is being considered, if a percentage increase of 28 per cent, is given to the man at the top of the Second Division as well as to the fitter and turner, then only a 6 per cent, increase on the total wage is given to the fitter and turner while a 23 per cent, increase on the total wage is given to the man at the top of the Second Division. That is the best way that I can explain it. This sort of argument was put to and accepted by the commission.
I take the explanation one stage further. The right to determine the problem of salaries and wages for the Public Service rests, in the first place, with the Public Service Board and, on reference, with the full commission. The full commission is an industrial authority and not a political body. In its wisdom, it decided that the tapered increase was the correct one to apply in the circumstances.
I want to emphasize that action taken by certain organizations to bring political pressure to bear in respect of questions that arise when industrial disputes have occurred - these industrial disputes being rightly matters for the Arbitration Commission - is something that cannot be of real effect.
The proper recourse in these matters is to the commission, which, in this case, has decided the matter.
– I wish to take a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Ten minutes of question time have gone, and only three questions have been asked and answered. If that continues, only about fourteen questions will be asked and answered by the time question time expires. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether you will ask Ministers to cut down the length of their replies so that more members may ask questions and receive answers to them.
– Order! All I want to say is that I am not prepared to give any direction to Ministers in this connexion. The way in which they answer questions is their responsibility, and the Chair recognizes that.
– My question without notice is directed to the Prime Minister and relates to the Australian victories in the Olympic Games, in particular to the victory of Mr. Herb Elliott, who performed probably the greatest athletic feat so far performed by an Australian. I ask the right honorable gentleman: Does he recall the type of welcome that was traditionally given, at the time of the original Olympic Games, to victorious athletes returning to their states from the games? Does he remember that national institutions then did not think it wrong to associate themselves with such welcomes? Will it be possible to give any official welcome to the winners of gold medals returning from the Rome Olympic Games, or in other ways to recognize the importance of their achievements?
– The honorable member asks me whether I remember the character of the welcome given to victors at the original Olympic Games. I regret to say that I was not there. That is the whole point. I have heard of these things, of course, but all my information is purely hearsay. I am delighted about Herb Elliott - I think he does the country great credit.
– What about Dawn Fraser and the others among the gold medalists?
– Quite. I am just answering the question. I am delighted about Herb Elliott. I am delighted with all our other competitors who have done so well. I am as delighted about some who got silver or bronze medals as about some who got gold medals, and when they come back here they will receive, no doubt, a very warm and appreciative welcome from the Australian people.
– Is the Minister for Trade aware that Australia’s adverse trade balance for July and August of this year is five and a half times as great as it was for July and August last year, and that the experts assert that the hump of imports has not yet been reached? What does the Government estimate will be the adverse balance of payments during the coming year, and how does the Government intend to finance it? Or, does the Government not know or estimate what the adverse balance of payments will be, and does it not care?
– It is customary that at this time of the year there is, on a monthly assessment, an adverse balance of payments for Australia. August has always been the worst month, which is quite understandable to any one who is familiar with the trends of trade and the items of trade. The Government is not perturbed about this situation, and it does no service to the country, to the stability of business at home, or to the reputation of the country overseas, to impute that there is something dangerous in the circumstances of Australia’s balance of payments. The Government was very careful to build up a very substantial overseas reserve of more than £500,000,000 before the step of relaxing import licensing was taken. There are other resources besides those. Overseas funds from other sources are currently coming to hand, such as overseas investment capital as well as actual trade receipts.
– I preface my question to the Postmaster-General by stating that in the more thinly settled parts of Australia there is a very keen interest in the development of television. People in those areas desire to know, for technical reasons, the proposed location of national television stations. Has any progress been made in determining the location of national stations, with a view to ensuring the most effective transmission of programmes? Can the Minister state when applications will be invited in relation to stage 4 of the programme, which covers the more thinly settled parts of Australia?
– Officers of both the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board have been engaged for some time in investigating various sites in the areas which are likely to be served by television in the near future. The choice of transmitter sites in country areas presents more difficulties than did the choice of sites in city areas because it is desired to give as great a coverage as possible. Quite often it is necessary to select a site that is a considerable distance from the actual city or town that is to be served in order to give the desired coverage. A great deal of attention has been paid to this aspect. The investigation has been concerned mainly with what is called phase 3, but in some cases it has included possible sites for further development when we commence phase 4.
As to the second part of the honorable gentleman’s question relating to the calling for applications for commercial stations in phase 4, it is not possible at present to set any date because, in the first place, we have to determine the granting of licences in phase 3. That will take a little time yet. However, I assure the honorable member that we will not delay unduly when we are able to proceed further with the development of television in country areas.
– My question, which relates to interstate road hauliers, is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. The honorable gentleman knows that hauliers travel only during the permissible number of hours in the State of departure and in the State of destination, but that in the course of a single interstate trip they can travel without a break for a number of hours that would not be permitted in either the State of departure or the State of destination. The honorable gentleman knows also that many accidents to drivers and others are believed to flow from this practice. Has the Minister considered introduring legislation on safety practices, carriers’ liability and workers’ compensation which would apply to interstate road transport, along the lines of the legislation which the Parliament has already passed with regard to interstate air and sea transport?
– Legislation of the nature mentioned by the honorable member is not contemplated at present. This is a matter of policy. I point out that uniform road traffic and standardization committees deal with the length of vehicles, overloading, speeds and so on in the States, and that those committees bring their recommendations to the Australian Transport Advisory Council, which deals with them in an endeavour to co-ordinate the various submissions that are made. The council has operated successfully in this regard, as will be seen from replies that have been made recently to questions on the noticepaper. The States themselves have passed various regulations, the validity of which has not been challenged, and those regulations are being applied rigidly by the States. For example, in Victoria there are certain regulations governing the number of hours during which a haulier may drive, and the interstate traveller mentioned by the honorable member is fairly well covered by industrial awards. In the case of the big companies, working conditions are policed by both the companies and the employees.
I should say that the biggest problem is the owner-driver, and while I cast no reflection upon the enterprise of the man who buys a vehicle and wishes to build up a business, I do feel that these ownerdrivers are the greatest offenders in that they are doing their utmost to obtain a speedy return on the capital they have invested. I can say in answer to the honorable member that his question relates to what is really a policy matter, and the Commonwealth is not contemplating any legislation at the moment.
– By way of preface to a question addressed to the Prime Minister, I point out that the distinguished chairman of the New South Wales Public Service Board has tabled his final report in Parliament, and in that report he points out that education in New South Wales has never had it so good. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether this is a tribute to the devotion of teachers, administrative staff and students in that substantial part of Australian education. I also ask whether he finds this refreshing after hearing so much to the contrary, and especially after the recent criticism of the Commonwealth-States financial arrangements.
– I can assure the honorable member that I do.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether agreement has yet been reached with the State Premiers on a civil defence programme for Australia. If agreement has not been reached, what progress is being made? Is it the Minister’s intention to have further discussions with State representatives? Having regard to the frustration felt by civil defence workers because of lack of a national policy, will the Minister take immediate steps to give a lead in this important national matter?
– Since the Commonwealth Government’s statement on its civil defence policy last September there have been two conferences with State Ministers for Civil Defence, and progress has been made. At the present time, the Commonwealth Government is considering proposals arising from those discussions, and when a firm decision has been reached it will be conveyed to the State Ministers for Civil Defence, and we hope that further progress will be made.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Social Services by saying that in the past the Department of Social Services has very properly paid pensions to applicants as from the date of the application, notwithstanding the fact that some time has been taken up in investigating all the circumstances connected with the application. For the information of the aged who will benefit from the tremendous liberalization of the means test as announced by the Treasurer, will the Minister issue a public statement to the effect that, provided an application is lodged before the promulgation of the relevant sections of the act dealing with the merged means test, applicants who will become eligible as a result of the merging of the means test will receive increased pensions as from the date of the promulgation of the legislation, notwithstanding the fact that it may take the department some time to investigate the 120,000 claims which it is expected will result from the amendment of the act?
– The honorable member for Sturt speaks with some authority on the subject of social services, since he is the chairman of the Government members social services committee. I shall be glad to give consideration to what he now proposes. This evening, I hope to introduce the amending legislation, and the provisions in that amending legislation relative to the merged means test will be proclaimed as soon as it is administratively possible for the Department of Social Services to put those provisions into effective operation. Some delay must unavoidably occur in making these administrative arrangements, but it is expected that the act will be proclaimed in March, 1961. I shall be happy to prepare a statement covering the points the honorable member for Sturt has raised.
– I ask the Minister for Trade whether, since the abolition of import licensing, there has been any decrease in the price of imported goods that were previously the subject of quantitative restrictions. I also ask the Minister: Has there been any reduction in the prices of the same kind of goods manufactured within Australia? If there has been a decrease, what is the extent of it?
– The question is so comprehensive that I am sure the honorable member does not expect me to answer in detail and to cite illustrative items.
– I do, and I think you could.
– I am not able to do so; but I believe that it could be shown that there has been a reduction in the prices of some goods. Certainly, there have been some complaints about the situation. I shall endeavour to secure some illustrations but, frankly, in the fluctuating circumstances of trade, I would not be prepared ever to attribute a rise or a fall in prices to any particular act of policy.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. During the week, this Parliament was honoured by the honorable member for Mallee in setting an attendance record which is probably unequalled in the British Commonwealth of Nations. The honorable member for Mallee has now attended over 1,000 days in this Parliament without missing a single day. In recognition of this meritorious service, will the Prime Minister give consideration to allocating special time to a debate on dried fruits, rabbits or, perhaps, skeleton weed?
– I think that is a very useful suggestion, and I will consider it; but I think in the meantime, one ought to take some steps to have conferred on the honorable member for Mallee an order, say, of purity - first class.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister, now that the honorable member for Mackellar is in the chamber, as it is supplementary to a question that was asked by that honorable member retarding victory celebrations in connexion with the Olympic Games. 1 ask the right honorable gentleman: Since the honorable member for Mackellar is going to the United Nations and so also is Mr. Khrushchev, would the honorable member for Mackellar strip into his shorts, light an Olympic torch and race across the country to meet his protagonist so that mutual goodwill might be established in the seat of the United Nations in New York?
– I must protest that I am not in charge of the athletic efforts of the honorable member for Mackellar or indeed of any other honorable member. So far as 1 am concerned, I am in charge of my own athletics and my time for the mile is fifteen minutes dead - or near enough.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Health, it supplementary to the question that was asked by the honorable member for Warringah. I remind the Minister that medical fund benefits are available only to patients who have been referred to an ophthalmologist by a general practitioner. In view of the fact that optical expenses paid to any legally qualified person for testing eyes or prescribing spectacles may be claimed as a deduction for income tax purposes, will he use his influence with the fund authorities to have the present discrimination against optometrists removed, and claims in respect of spectacles prescribed by legally qualified practitioners accepted for payment?
– Perhaps I am a little dull this morning, but I cannot follow the honorable member’s question. There are no medical benefits for optometrical services in which there is any Government component, but some benefit funds make payments for those services. That, as I endeavoured to explain earlier, is entirely within the discretion of the funds themselves. It would not be competent for the Government to direct the funds in this matter.
– The Minister must approve the funds.
– Order! This is not a general debate.
-I ask the Minister for Air whether he has considered the protests that have been sent to him in recent years regarding the aerial pageant held on a Sunday to celebrate Battle of Britain Week. Does he consider that such a celebration held on a Sunday is befitting in a Christian country? After the celebration in July this year the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ reported that Group Captain Susans had said -
We hope that the display will become another traditional South Australian picnic outing like the Oakbank race meeting.
Has the Minister considered the requests of church bodies that these celebrations should not be held on a Sunday, but on a Saturday or some other day of the week?
– From time to time I have received expressions of opinion from church bodies in South Australia on this subject. Most of them contend that Sunday is not a suitable day on which to hold large organized gatherings. That is a point of view that I understand and with which I am in general sympathy. I remind the honorable member, however, that it has been the practice throughout Australia, with few exceptions, every year since the end of the Second World War for the Air Force to throw open one of its major bases in each State to members of the general public on Battle of Britain Sunday afternoon. People come on to the bases as guests of the Air Force and a flying display is conducted. This has happened in South Australia as well as the other States. The displays are of great interest to large numbers of people. They take place at a time of the day when church services are not ordinarily held. The practice is long established, and after due consideration of the views that the honorable member has expressed I decided that I would not be justified in interfering with the practice.
– I direct my question to the Attorney-General. Has the Government received any complaints from new Australians concerning letters sent to them from the Department of Interior in Prague, asking them to return to Czechoslovakia within three months, and notifying them that non-compliance with this “ request “ order will make them criminals under paragraph 95, section 2, of the criminal code of Czechoslovakia? Does the Government know who supplies the Australian addresses to which these letters - I have at least one in my possession at the moment - are sent?
-I have no knowledge of the matter which the honorable gentleman very properly raises. I have received no complaint about the letters to which he refers. If I received a complaint. I would consider it singularly disquieting and I would wish to make some investigation, probably in collaboration with my colleague, the Minister for Immigration. If the honorable member will give me the paper he has, I shall discuss it with my colleague straightaway.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. Is it a fact that the Australian Army intends to take over control of the Rathmines Royal Australian Air Force base early in the new year? If so, approximately how many persons will be domiciled at the base after the take-over?
– There ds no finality about this matter as yet. It is under investigation, and I will let the honorable member know what progress is made.
– I address a question to the Minister for Trade. It refers to the recent visit of an Australian trade mission to Canada. Can the Minister say whether there has been an increase in our exports to Canada since the return of this mission? Further, can the Minister inform the House whether the leaders of the mission reported a favorable outlook for an increase of exports of primary produce to Canada?
– Taking the latter part of the question first, the leader of the delegation, Sir Douglas Copland, reported to me in very favorable terms upon the reception of the mission in Canada and the United States of America and also - this is perhaps more important - upon the fruitful results df the mission. Firm orders were secured, business contacts were made, and a basis of interest in investment in Australia by people in the United States of America and Canada was established. From this, nothing but good can result for Australia. I am afraid I cannot say positively whether ; there have already been additional exports as a result of the visit of the mission, but that there will be additional exports I have not the slightest doubt.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. It arises from the Government’s expressed intention to call tenders for a sister ship to the “ Princess of Tasmania “. Can the Minister give an assurance that when this new vessel comes into service the present sailing schedule will be revised to make Bell Bay a regular port of call?
– It is true that the new vessel will make a difference to the Tasmanian traffic, but it must be remembered that at this stage no sailing schedules can be prepared. Much depends on the amount of cargo and the number of passengers that will be available. I remind the honorable member that the “Bass Trader “ will be coming into service for the carriage of cargo. However, I can assure him that the schedules for the new vessel he mentioned and for the “ Bass Trader “ will be designed to give Tasmania the best possible overall service.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Territories. Have arrangements been made to continue the freight subsidy on certain types of breeding cattle imported into Papua and New Guinea? Is a similar subsidy being paid in the Northern Territory? Have many cattle been supplied to these areas under the subsidy scheme, and has there been any marked improvement in the quality of cattle as a result?
– The freight subsidy scheme for the introduction of cattle into Papua and New Guinea is continuing and revised rates of assistance were recently announced. A similar freight subsidy scheme for the Northern Territory is also continuing in operation. I should point out to the honorable member that there is a distinction between the two Territories, set by the needs of those Territories. The main object of the Northern Territory freight subsidy scheme is to improve the standard of the existing herds by introducing cattle of a superior kind for breeding purposes - stud bulls, good herd bulls, pedigreed cows, and so on. Our problem in Papua and New Guinea is set by the fact that as a result of the war almost every beast in Papua and New Guinea was exterminated, either by the hazards of war or by the appetites of the troops. So, after the war we started off with the necessity of trying to build up again the cattle population of the Territory.. The biggest difficulty was set by the cost of transporting breeding cattle from Australia to New Guinea. So our New Guinea scheme is mainly devoted towards building up the cattle population from nothing., whereas the Northern Territory scheme is for the improvement of the standards of the vast herds that already exist.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. Is it a fact that at the present time there are several thousands of secondary school Army cadets from all over New South Wales in camp at Singleton, whose ages range from fourteen to sixteen years? Are the 200 civilians, who are employed as cooks and camp attendants, engaged by contract or day labour? Has there been a considerable amount of drunken brawling in the camp, particularly on Saturday nights and pay nights? Have camp employees been dismissed because of brawling and drunkenness? Have some of them been dealt with in the Singleton court for the same reason? Was one man, who had previously been employed on this work and who had again been engaged, sentenced to nine months’ gaol in the past fourteen days for stealing-
-Order! The honorable member is giving information beyond reasonable limits. Will he direct his question to the Minister?
– Finally, who is responsible for selecting and screening camp labour? Does not the Minister think that schoolboy cadets should be given more protection than they are at present receiving?
– I have not heard anything at all about these charges, but I shall certainly make investigations. The cadets are in camp at Singleton and I shall investigate these charges and let the honorable member and the public know just what the position is.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister as Minister for External Affairs. Is it a fact that agreements have been signed between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Ghana under which a substantial loan will be made available to Ghana from the Russian nation? Does this arrangement give any indication of a breakdown in the sympathetic and practical assistance by British Commonwealth countries towards
Ghana? Does not the right honorable gentleman believe that it would be preferable for assistance of this nature to be restricted to the family circle rather than that it should be accepted from a Communist country?
– With reference to the last part of the question, the honorable member will understand that Ghana is a completely self-governing country - quire autonomous - and is therefore master of its own decisions on that point. But there is no breakdown of the kind that the honorable member fears. We gather that there has been a Soviet Union loan of about the equivalent of £18,000,000 to Ghana, but on the other hand there are substantial transactions as between Ghana and the Western powers and the other countries of the British Commonwealth. These do not show any sign of being set on one side by any new development. Indeed, the biggest industrial development in Ghana, as the honorable member knows, is the Volta River scheme and on that, as we understand it, negotiations are currently in hand between Ghana, various Western countries and the International Bank. So I do not think we should assume too hastily that Ghana is being drawn away into another orbit.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Is it a fact that it is now some four months or more since applications for the position of general manager of the Australian National Line closed? Has the Government yet considered the applications received and, if so, when is an announcement likely to be made naming the successful applicant?
– I shall look into that matter and see what the position is.
– by leave - It is my pleasure to inform the House that the Government intends within the next few days to open a diplomatic mission at Lagos, the capital of the Federation of Nigeria. As honorable members will know, Nigeria is to become. on 1st October next, an independent country within the Commonwealth. With the agreement of the Nigerian Government, Mr. Lionel Phillips, an officer of the Department of External Affairs, will open the Australian office in midSeptember, with the title of Acting Commissioner. The status of the post will be raised to that of High Commission after the proclamation of independence. An Australian High Commissioner will then be appointed. Australia will also be specially represented at the celebrations to be held in Lagos from 26th September to 3rd October to mark the attainment of independence. We received an invitation to send two representatives and an Australian services contingent. The Australian representatives will be the President of the Senate (Sir Alister McMullin) and Mr. D. O. Hay, D.S.O., M.B.E., an Assistant Secretary of the Department of External Affairs. The President of the Senate has already left Australia to attend meetings of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in Canada and Uganda before travelling to Lagos. The Australian Services will be represented at the celebrations by a Royal Australian Air Force contingent of three Canberra bombers supported by a Hercules transport aircraft. This contingent will be under the command of WingCommander J. P. Graney, A.F.C.
Nigeria has, of course, hitherto been a colony and protectorate of the United Kingdom. The proclamation of Nigerian independence on 1st October will be an occasion of great importance to Africa, to the Commonwealth, and to the world. A country with a population of 40,000,000 people, larger than that of any other African State, will be achieving its independence peacefully and in full co-operation and agreement with the United Kingdom. Though direct contacts between Nigeria and Australia in the past have not been frequent, Australia has great goodwill towards Nigeria and will look forward to developing close relations with its Government and people. 1 am sure that all honorable members will join me in warmly welcoming Nigeria into the community of nations in October. They will welcome still more warmly its desire, expressed earlier this year in a unanimous resolution of the Nigerian Legislature, to remain a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
– by leave - The Opposition wishes the people of Nigeria every success as an independent nation inside the British Commonwealth of Nations. We hope, too, with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and members of the Government parties, that the future of Nigeria and its people will be bright and that there will be mutual advantage for them and for all the other members of the British Commonwealth for the centuries ahead. It is good to know that the independence movements in Africa, at least in the former British protectorates, are proceeding without bloodshed and with goodwill on all sides.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) - by leave - agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of section 11 of the Australian National University Act 1946-1960, the House of Representatives extends the appointment of Mr. Beazley to the council of the Australian National University to the first day of sitting of the Twenty-fourth Parliament, and elects Mr. Bury to the council of the Australian National University from this date until the first day of sitting of the Twenty-fourth Parliament.
– by leave - The Governments of the United States of America and Australia have held informal discussions concerning the establishment of a naval radio communications station in Australia. A technical survey team will arrive in Australia on 18th September to study the feasibility of establishing the station in Australia. If the results of the technical survey are satisfactory, the two Governments will then consult with a view to reaching an agreement under which the station will be established.
– by leave - On 18th May, I presented to the House a bill for an act to amend the Patents Act 1952- 1955. I propose to explain the action that the Government has decided to take in relation to this bill following various representations that have been received.
Clause 7 of the bill provides for the repeal of section 43. This section provides that at the expiration of six months after a complete specification has been lodged at the Patent Office, the Commissioner of Patents shall publish in the Official Journal a notification that the complete specification is open to public inspection and, upon publication of the notification, the application, complete specification and provisional specification, if any, become open to public inspection. The section also goes on to say that when a complete specification has become open to public inspection under the section, the specification shall be deemed to have been published. It has always been recognized that publication under section 43 has certain advantages and certain disadvantages. The Patent Law Review Committee, which was appointed by my predecessor to review the first three years’ experience of the working of the Patents Act 1952, considered these advantages and disadvantages very carefully before it recommended the repeal of the section. This recommendation was to be given effect by clause 7 of the bill before the House.
Since I presented the bill to the House, I have received several representations asking for the withdrawal of the provision in the bill repealing section 43. In addition, I offered to receive, and did receive, a representative deputation from the Chambers of Manufactures and heard fully their point of view, an advantage which the review committee did not have. Having had the benefit of these representations and oral discussions, I remain of the view that section 43 should not remain in its present form. However, I realize that section 43, though not so intended, has been operating to reduce a disadvantage to which the Patents Act and its administration exposes the manufacturers. I have, therefore, formulated the outlines of a scheme which would, in my opinion, remove those disadvantages to the manufacturers and at the same time give some advantages to the inventor.
The main advantages of early publication under section 43 are, first, that an applicant’s right to protection from infringement dates from the date of publication; and secondly, that manufacturers are able to ascertain at an early date whether they are infringing, or likely to infringe, an invention which is the subject of an application for a patent. When publication does not take place until acceptance, and acceptance is delayed, a manufacturer setting up a plant, or tooling up to produce a new model, runs the risk of discovering later that he has unwittingly utilized an invention which was the subject of a current application for a patent, and thus finding himself at a distinct bargaining disadvantage in respect of obtaining a licence to use the invention.
On the other hand, the main disadvantages of early publication are, first, an applicant’s right to amend his complete specification is considerably restricted after publication; and secondly, early publication enables the competitors of applicants, particularly of overseas applicants, to ascertain, at a much earlier date than in overseas countries, inventions in fields in which the applicants are interested. It is believed that this disadvantage has deterred many overseas manufacturers from applying for patents in Australia, and consequently, possibly from establishing industries here, or from investing capital in Australian industry.
I come now to describe the approach that the Government has tentatively determined upon in an attempt to hold the balance fairly between the various interests concerned in these matters. In the first place it is, in my view, clear that the time for publication should be postponed beyond the present period of six months after lodgment of the complete specification. There are many factors - such as the work position in the Examination Branch of the Patent Office, and the date of publication of the invention in the convention country - which determine the most suitable date for the publication of any particular application. To allow for these, the scheme that has been evolved would provide that where acceptance of the application was likely to be unduly delayed the Commissioner of Patents would determine the date of publication, but that he could not publish before twelve months had elapsed from the date of lodging the complete specification, and in the case of a convention application, not before the date on which it was expected that the invention would be published in the convention country. He could be required by the applicant to publish after the expiration of the twelve-month period.
Such a provision would safeguard overseas applicants from the disadvantages of early publication and yet allow an applicant to acquire the right to protection against infringement from a reasonably early date after he had lodged his complete specification.
Secondly, the scheme would include a provision that a person who had innocently used an invention which was the subject of a successful application for a patent, could, in certain circumstances, obtain a compulsory licence in respect of that invention. Where an invention was disclosed in a specification accompanying an application for a patent, and a person had for all practical purposes committed himself beyond withdrawal to the use of that invention before the publication of the specification, then, whether or not the invention was actually claimed in the specification, if that person was unable to obtain by negotiation a licence on acceptable terms from the patentee, he would be able to apply in the first instance to the Commissioner and on appeal to the High Court, for a compulsory licence upon just terms and conditions. If, however, the person had so committed himself after the publication of the specification, he would only be able to get a compulsory licence if the invention was not within the scope of the claims in the specification.
This provision would substantially remove the disadvantage to a manufacturer of not being able to ascertain at an early date whether he was using innocently, or in a practical sense, was committing himself to the use of an invention which could ultimately be the subject of a patent.
Thirdly, the proposed scheme would provide that even where publication of the specification had taken place before acceptance of the application the applicant would, before acceptance, be able to claim a grant for any patentable matter which he had disclosed in the original specification. The scheme would further provide that it would not be competent for a person, in an action or proceeding after acceptance of the application, to take an objection to an amended specification on the ground that an amend ment had been made which was not allowable.
These last provisions would remove the disadvantage to applicants, that early publication restricts their right of amendment of the complete specification. Manufacturers would be protected against any adverse effects of such a right of amendment by the provisions for compulsory licences referred to earlier.
Accordingly, I intend to propose amendments of the Patents Bill which is before the House to incorporate the provisions of the scheme I have described. But before I do so I shall invite comment and discussion of my scheme from interested parties so that any adjustments that discussion may suggest as necessary or desirable could be incorporated in the present bill. However, if the proposed scheme cannot be settled in time to incorporate the necessary amendments in the present bill in this session, I intend to propose certain amendments as an interim measure so as not to delay the passage of the bill and to introduce a further bill next session to enact the balance of the scheme.
The amendments of the bill which I would propose as an interim step would include amendments which would give immediate effect to certain parts of the scheme which I have just outlined. In particular, I would substitute an amended section 43 for the repeal of section 43 as now proposed in clause 7 of the bill. This new section would implement the first part of the scheme exactly as I have outlined it above. I repeat the proposed provision regarding publication. Where acceptance of an application was likely to be unduly delayed, the Commissioner of Patents would determine the date of publication, but he could not publish before twelve months had elapsed from the date of lodging the complete specification, and in the case of a convention application, not before the date on which it was expected that the invention would be published in the convention country. He could be required by the applicant to publish after the expiration of the twelve-month period.
I would also amend the bill to give effect to that part of the scheme which would provide that it would not be competent for a person, in an action or proceeding after acceptance of the application, to take an objection to an amended specification on the ground that an amendment had been made which was not allowable.
In addition, the interim measure would necessitate certain consequential amendments of the bill. The most important of these would be an amendment to clause 15 - new section 78 - so as to provide that after publication, rather than after acceptance as in the bill, an amendment of the specification would not be allowable if a claim of the specification as amended would not in substance fall within the scope of the claims of the specification before amendment.
With such an interim measure, the proposed compulsory licensing provisions of the permanent scheme, and the part of that scheme that contemplates allowing an applicant to claim after publication patentable matter disclosed but not claimed in the original specification, would be left to be included, with any modifications that public discussions may show to be desirable, in a further bill next year.
I am having prepared a somewhat fuller and more technical statement of the proposed permanent scheme and I will circulate it to interested parties, particularly to all persons or groups who have made representations to me, as soon as possible.
May I now say something about the Marriage Bill? The course of discussion with those who are interested in the Marriage Bill and the administration of it has revealed the need to make various adjustments both in the manner of expression and, in one or two instances, in the substance of the bill now before the House. The course which I propose is to circulate the proposed amendments very soon - perhaps within a week - and then, when the committee stage of the bill is about to commence, to ask leave to withdraw the bill and replace it with a new bill which will incorporate the amendments in one print, proceed through the first and second readings of the new bill formally and go into committee on the print with the amendments in it. This course, I feel, will make the task of honorable members in following the amendments very much easier.
Motion (by Mr. Davidson) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 20th September, at 2.30 p.m.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).I have received a letter from the honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) proposing that a definite matter of urgent public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely -
The Government’s failure to give Professor Gluckman its reasons for refusing him entry to New Guinea and its failure to reconsider that refusal in the light of subsequent evidence from countries and universities where Professor Gluckman has worked.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
– Professor Gluckman is Professor of Social Anthropology at Manchester University in England. He was born in South Africa and was a South African Rhodes Scholar in 1934. This year, the Australian National University invited him to visit Australia and he is at the moment visiting Professor of Anthropology at the only post-graduate university in Australia. Professor Gluckman, so far as I have been able to ascertain - and I think this is indisputable - is not a Communist, and never was a Communist. His wife was a member of the Communist Party at one time, but she left that party before the Hungarian revolution of 1956. His wife was much more active than he was at any time in African affairs, and in England she has been very closely associated with an African organization over which the Bishop of Birmingham presided. I suggest that that would possibly help her, Sir, and does not harm her.
Professor Gluckman, in his present position, has received support from Professor Meyer Fortes of Cambridge University, who knew him for 30 years and specifically stated he had never been a Communist and never had been associated with communism. He has also had support from the Vice-Chancellor of Manchester University, Professor W. M. Cooper, who said he knew Gluckman intimately, trusted him absolutely, and had nothing but affection and respect for him. He said he could think of no activity by the professor which might arouse animosity, except his attack on apartheid.
In Australia, the Vice-Chancellor of the Monash University in Melbourne, and the Professor of Government at the University of Sydney, as well as the Professor of Anthropology of Sydney University, have all gone on record as saying that they cannot understand the Government’s attitude in this matter, and that as far as they know there is no justification for the Government’s action in refusing to permit Professor Gluckman to go to New Guinea.
The Australian National University invited Professor Gluckman to Australia, and if he were a dangerous character the Australian Government could have refused to allow him to enter Australia. It allowed* him in, but it said he could not visit Papua and New Guinea. The same information available to the Government was also available to the Dutch Government, but the Netherlands Embassy in Canberra, knowing exactly what the Australian Government knows, gave Professor Gluckman permission to enter Dutch New Guinea, though the professor says he may not be able to visit Dutch New Guinea because of lack of time. It was at that stage, we feel, that the Government should have decided to review the position. The action of the Dutch Government, and the reactions of the university professors, none of whom can be regarded as Communists or Communist sympathizers, should have convinced the Government that it had made a mistake in this matter.
The Australian University Staffs Association, representative of all the professional and lecturing staff throughout Australia, met last week and carried a long resolution which stated -
Professor Gluckman is widely acknowledged in academic circles as an outstanding scholar and contributor to the Meld of social anthropology.
No evidence has been adduced against his character or against the responsibility of his conduct towards the indigenous peoples whom he has studied.
He was head of a social research institute which got practically all its funds from sources under
British Colonial Office control, and as such, was entrusted by the Colonial Office with the direction of research into a whole range of sensitive social, economic and political problems there.
Nobody has even suggested that either in the conduct of the research programme or in the published results Gluckman ever showed himself an undesirable.
That resolution still leaves the Government unmoved. The Government takes the view that it has made up its mind and will not change. When the matter was first brought before the Parliament, the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) said that the Administrator of Papua and New Guinea - a gentleman for whom I have a very profound respect and a great personal liking - acting on certain information decided that Gluckman would be refused a vise to enter Papua and New Guinea. The Minister said that, having read the evidence which the Administrator had at his disposal, he agreed with him. Later, the Prime Minister said that, having seen the evidence which the Minister had he, too, would not intervene.
So the position has been allowed to continue to the point where the Australian people, as well as the Australian Government, are being held up to ridicule because the reasons - the broad reasons, not the detailed information behind the reasons - for the exclusion of Gluckman have never been stated. The Minister has hinted, or implied, that there are security reasons why this gentleman cannot be allowed to visit Papua and New Guinea. He said, “ I don’t propose to disclose any details of the case of this very eminent scientist”. He also said that the situation which the House had to resolve was not whether the information should be disclosed, “but whether we maintain the sense of responsibility which we have placed on the security service, the Administrator and the Government “. We feel, Sir, that the Government should now say to Professor Gluckman, “ We have re-examined the whole position and even if at one stage we did feel some doubt about you, we do not object to your visiting New Guinea now.”
I have been to New Guinea on quite a number of occasions, and I am certain that neither Professor Gluckman nor any other anthropologist - and I have met a few, including one professor who is a leading authority in this field in New Guineacould have any influence at all on the minds of the native people. I never saw a more vigorous anti-Communist group anywhere in Australia, or anywhere else, than the educated native peoples in New Guinea.
The Minister for Territories himself, in other days, when he was lecturing - and giving very fine lectures, too - stated the position quite admirably. We do not quarrel with the sentiments he expressed in the George Arlington Syme oration in 1958. I quote them back to him now with a recomendation that he put them into practice. This is what he said -
A free and intelligent judgment requires exact information on which the judgment can be made. Exact information requires a devotion to truth both in the giving and the receiving of it. The judgment on that information will be prone to error if it is not made with a clear and honest purpose of reaching the truth.
We all want to reach the truth of this matter. Nobody on this side of the House distrusts. the security service in the proper exercise of its duty.
– I do.
– I do not distrust the security service in the proper exercise of its duty. The Labour Party established the security organization, and security must be maintained. The point I am emphasizing is that somebody in the organization can give information and the wrong judgment can be arrived at. We say that it is most unfortunate in this case that Australia is being attacked in various countries because of what has happened - and countries which are far from being regarded as Communistic - and also by people who certainly have no sympathy for communism. The Manchester “ Guardian “ may be regarded as a liberal newspaper, but that certainly does not make it a Communist newspaper. In its editorials it has condemned very strongly the action of this Government over this matter.
Now, there is a paper published in Australia which I will not designate by name, which is becoming more and more the unofficial, official organ of the Government. Whether the Government knows that or takes too much notice of its existence or not, I do not know, but I read the charges upon which, it says, Gluckman should be kept out of New Guinea. It said that, first, he had been a member of the Manchester branch of the Society for Cultural Relations with Russia. I do not regard that as being. heinous. Secondly, he was vice-president of a committee which urged that Paul Robeson should receive a passport to visit England. I do not think that that is a justification for regarding Gluckman as a Communist. Thirdly, he was also a member of the committee which appealed against the death sentence which had been imposed on the Rosenbergs. I have a recollection that the late Pope Pius XII. did the same thing.
The fourth ground on which Gluckman is suspect, according to this paper, is that he worked for years as director of the RhodesLivingstone Institute and was alleged to have studied the question of what the system of government should be. The fifth ground is that he publicly opposed the formation of the Central African Federation, and also British policy in Nyasaland. So did every member of the British Labour Party; so did the Right Honorable James Griffiths, who was British Colonial Secretary in Mr. Attlee’s Government, and by no stretch of the imagination could be called a left-winger. The sixth around is that Gluckman has engaged in other activities which he described as “ liberal “.
This newspaper commented further that from Professor Gluckman’s general trend of public sympathies and associations it was not too hard to understand why the Minister for Territories and the Australian Government do not wish to permit him to enter New Guinea. The Government should destroy very quickly that line of argument, which purports to support its case.
– What is the paper from which you have been quoting?
– I shall tell you privately. I would not give it a plug.
– It would not amount to much of a plug.
– lt is “ News Weekly “ which, on the occasion of the Petrov case, claimed that it had predicted eighteen months previously in its columns that an official of the Russian Embassy was about to defect. I turned up a copy of the paper of eighteen months previously and there found the prediction to which I have referred. However, subsequently I learned that the official of the Russian Embassy was not Petrov but an earlier man. I mention that in passing because this newspaper seems to have some tie-ups which I do not think are good for the public health of Australia.
Professor Gluckman is one of the 130 leading men and women in British life sponsoring the fund organized by Christian action to raise funds for the defence of white and coloured defendants in the South African treason trials. Yet, despite this fact, the South African Government, through a spokesman in London, declared that it had nothing against Professor Gluckman. If any government would be prejudiced against a man because of his public activities, surely the South African Government would be anti-Gluckman on this score. The clearance of Gluckman by the South African Government in these circumstances is of double significance. I will admit that the paper to which I referred a moment ago did say that Professor Gluckman had signed a protest against the imprisonment of a Chinese anthropologist by the Peking Government. But even that is not weighed in his favour by the Australian Government.
The Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office in London are very powerful and very important departments of the United Kingdom Government. Both have stated, through spokesmen, that they have no complaint to make about Professor Gluckman’s activities as an anthropologist or as an individual in Africa.
When I raised this question with the Prime Minister on 6th September, he brushed it aside by stating -
You could get a dozen departments, all of which might have nothing to do with this matter, to say that they had no cause for complaint about Professor Gluckman.
But that evades the issue. As 1 have already indicated. Professor Gluckman worked successfully in South Africa with funds which had been provided by the British Colonial Office. It is the custom in England, and has been for a long time, for Ministers not to make statements directly but to make them through spokesmen or official spokesmen who are certain departmental officers. I think we can take it for granted that the statements which have been made by the spokesmen for the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office indicate the attitude of the
United Kingdom Government in this matter. Therefore, the Government’s decision should be reviewed. [Extension of time granted.] I thank the House for its generosity. I shall not trespass upon it for very long. I wish to refer to a speech which was made by the honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin) in relation to this matter. He seems to have become the spokesman for the Government. He received headline attention in the newspapers of Australia and is reported as having said -
British anthropologist Professor M. Gluckman had theories and ideals which would be dangerous if expressed to sensitive, primitive natives.
Apparently, the professor’s ideas are very unpalatable to one sensitive, primitive Liberal! He continued -
Some of these could undo work which had taken administration officials and missionaries many years to accomplish.
I do not think that the Minister for Territories, who knows New Guinea intimately and who has worked very hard in its interests, will agree with that kind of argument. But the honorable member for Ballaarat went on to say -
Professor Gluckman has some strange theories concerning the human race … At the moment we are doing very nicely in bringing many of the natives out of the darkness they have been living in for years . . . Much good work done In the past by patrol officers, administrators, and missionaries could be undone if the natives were not kept free from influences that were considered not in their best interests.
I do not think that any honorable member agrees with that line of argument. As the Minister knows very well, some people in New Guinea who belong to a pseudoreligious organization are far more dangerous to the natives with their strange views and their encouragement to disobedience of law and order than 1,000 Gluckmans ever could be. Neither I nor any member of the Opposition sees anything wrong at this stage in allowing Gluckman to enter New Guinea.
If the Government will not review its decision, at least it should give Gluckman the broad reasons why he has been kept out of New Guinea and afford him the opportunity to state a case in reply. At one stage the Minister did state that Gluckman had been given some reasons why he had been refused permission to enter the Territory.
Whether that information was given confidentially or not, we do not know. But if Gluckman can be given the information, every member of this House should be given the information. This is a public question, and not a matter of mere departmental routine, lt is a question of great public importance.
Recently we amended the Immigration Act to give to persons threatened with deportation the right of appeal to a court. We must do something along those lines in this instance, as has been suggested by “ Muster “ and some other papers which are not ordinary daily publications, but let it be said, they, too, are edited by responsible people. There should be some reappraisal of the position of security in our lives, and some safeguards should be introduced so that no person will suffer as a result of a blunder and so that no government will be so obstinate as to continue with its attitude after it has been revealed that it has committed a blunder.
– There was one word in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) that attracted my notice because it is heard in several places. It was also the word on which he relied a good deal in building up his case. That word was, “ spokesman “. The latest person whom he dignified with the title “ spokesman “ was my colleague, the honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin). I have the greatest personal regard for the honorable member for Ballaarat, and I am sure he will not contradict me, nor misunderstand me, when I say he is not, and has never pretended to be, the spokesman for the Government on this or other matters.
It is characteristic of the case that was built up by the Leader of the Opposition that he should have relied again and again on what some spokesman for somebody is supposed to have said. This reliance on spokesmen is rather flimsy. In this case, as honorable members know, the honorable member for Ballaarat rose in his place in this House the other night during the adjournment debate in order to make it quite clear that what he had said in relation to this particular matter had been misrepresented and distorted by the press. Yet the Leader of the Opposition continues to rely on a statement by a private member, which was not made on behalf of the Government, and which that private member himself points out was incorrectly reported! If the other spokesmen upon whom the Leader of the Opposition has relied have the same qualifications, then the evidence submitted by the Leader of the Opposition is open to question.
Before I proceed to discuss some of the other aspects, I should point out that it is necessary to see this whole question in the round, and to see it plainly and clearly from both the legal side and the administrative side. The point that has to be made quite clear because it has been overlooked is that the immigration laws of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea are separate from the immigration laws of the Commonwealth of Australia. The immigration laws of the Territory are contained in ordinances passed by the Legislative Council for the Territory, and those laws are administered by the Administrator of the Territory.
What those laws provide is that conditions of entry into Papua and New Guinea are not identical with conditions for entry into Australia. Tests are applied separately, having regard to the special circumstances existing in the Territory. I understand that, certainly among the academic critics outside this House - I should think ako by the Opposition because they tolerated this position when they were the government - it is admitted that there should be this distinction between immigration into Papua and New Guinea and immigration into Australia.
The second point I want to make clear is that in the administration of these laws the same procedure is being followed to-day as was followed under the previous Government and as has been- followed since the administrative union was created. 1 am sure those procedures would have been followed in exactly the same way as they were followed in this case if the Opposition had been the government and if the Leader of the Opposition had been the head of that government.
What happens is that any one wishing to enter the Territory of Papua and New Guinea applies for a permit. The granting of permits is the responsibility of the Administrator of the Territory. The main purpose behind this permit system is to ensure that non-indigenous persons going to the Territory have the means to support themselves there, do not become a charge upon the State, do not become a nuisance to the Administration and do not create conditions in the Territory which would make the great responsibilities of administration any more difficult than they are. That was the position under the previous Government, and it is the position under the present Government.
In the course of the last eleven years - that is, from 1 950, taking each calendar year up to this time - over 40,000 permits ofentry have been granted by the Administrator. According to the Statistician’s figures, annual arrivals into the Territory range from 29,000 to 30,000. Some of those would be persons who have gone away on leave and are returning on re-entry permits. Some would be new arrivals. In the last eleven years, over 40,000 permits have been granted, whilst only fifteen have been refused.
These figures are illustrative of one unchallengeable point and it is this: The Administrator of the Territory has clearly not exercised his powers in respect of permits of entry in any capricious or light way, and it is clear that he has not used his power of exclusion to excess. As I have said, fifteen persons have been excluded and 40,000 have been permitted to ente the Territory. That record shows quite clearly that this power of exclusion has been exercised responsibly and carefully and not in a fashion onerous to the applicants. When we examine the reasons for refusing permits in fifteen cases, we find that in six of those cases married couples were involved. Both the husband and wife were refused a permit of entry. So we really have twelve separate cases of refusal of permit of entry whereas 40,000 permits were granted. Of those refused entry, some were refused because they had a criminal record. Some were refused because of health reasons, such as the existence of a contagious or loathsome disease. Some were refused on grounds which would have led to their exclusion from Australia, and a total of five persons, including two married couples, or three separate cases, involved questions of security. 1 want to say something now and say it carefully so that it will not be misunderstood. Let us stand apart from the Pro fessor Gluckman case for the moment, and consider those cases where a permit of entry was refused. Let us consider this question of whether or not the Administrator or the Government should make public the reason for refusing a permit. Let us take the case of those four persons who were refused a permit of entry because they had a criminal record. I want it to be quite clear that I am not suggesting for a moment, and I do not want any one to misunderstand me or believe that Professor Gluckman has a criminal record. 1 am talking of hypothetical cases quite apart from the case we are discussing. Would any honorable member opposite say that if we excluded some person on the ground that he had a criminal record - and that would mean a bad criminal record - the Administrator should at once publish to the world the whole of the man’s criminal record? Take the case of a person excluded for health reasons such as a person infected with a contagious or even a loathsome disease. Do any honorable members suggest that the reasons for the refusal of the permit should be made public to the world so that every one might know the whole details of the story?
These are matters which surely are personal to the applicant for a permit. If the applicant who has been refused a permit chooses to publish the information to the world that is, of course, his concern; but surely it is not our function as a Government, or the function of the Administrator, having refused the permit, to tell every one the reasons? These are personal to the applicant and we should respect his right to privacy.
– Order! I ask honorable members on the Opposition side to stop persistently interjecting. The Opposition has put forward this matter as a matter of urgency and vital importance. The Leader of the Opposition was given the courtesy of presenting his case without constant interjections, and I ask members of the Opposition to extend the same courtesy to Government speakers.
– 1 have tried to speak broadly of the general situation. I have referred to the Administrator and his task of administration, the figures relating to refusal of permits to show that the power of the Administrator has been exercised with a sense of responsibility and not in a brutal or overriding way, and I have tried to show by examples other than the present case, the impropriety of the Administrator or the Government publishing to the world the personal information which led to a rejection of an application for a permit.
Turning from that to the particular case under notice, I want to remind the House again of the history of the matter. An application for a permit was received and was referred to the Administrator. The Administrator had certain information before him. The Administrator made a decision and was responsible for it. It was his duty to make that decision. Before Professor Gluckman was informed of the decision, the papers were brought under my notice by my own departmental officers, and it became my responsibility as Minister for Territories to decide, not whether I would refuse the permit, but whether I would overrule the decision of the Administrator. That would be a serious step to take. I looked at the information that had been before the Administrator and, having done so, I applied my mind to such questions as whether the Administrator had acted carelessly or capriciously without any warrant for so acting. Having consulted the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), I was clearly of the opinion that the case was not there for overruling a decision which the Administrator had taken. That judgment which he made has been upheld by the Government after it had considered the same set of information.
That is the position as the Government sees it. A decision was made by the Administrator in the exercise of a responsibility that was placed on him under the laws of the Territory. The question for the Government was whether it should overrule that decision; and the opinion reached by the Government, after careful deliberation, was that the decision should not be overruled. The broaching of this matter to the public was, of course, something that was done, I understand, not by Professor Gluckman. It became public information in some other way and then, after it had become public property that a permit had been refused. Professor Gluckman made statements. We still maintain our attitude that it is not within our province to disclose to the public at large the information that has come our way. These are solemn matters. They are not matters in which we act lightly or without due care, and it seems to me that the case made by the Opposition falls down because it has not taken sufficient account of the whole of the surrounding circumstances. The Opposition has tried to establish its point that it is part of the duty of the Government to disclose to the world at large the reasons for actions which affect a person and which are largely personal.
.- The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has dealt with arguments which we on the Opposition side have not put forward. There has been no allegation that the Administrator of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea broke the law. There was no allegation that the Minister, in refusing to override the Administrator, was breaking the law. We did not attack the Government for having broken the law. We did attack the Government for having failed to do justice and act with wisdom. The resolution which is before the House does not suggest that the reasons for excluding Professor Gluckman should be made public. It suggests that they should have been made available to Professor Gluckman in the normal traditions of British justice that a man should be given the opportunity of clearing himself and repudiating faceless and unbased allegations against him. We have brought the matter up at this stage because the Government has had the opportunity for many days - perhaps for many weeks - to reconsider its decision in the interests, not only of its own prestige or the Administrator’s status, but the standing of this country and this Parliament.
The Government has been resolute in refusing to reconsider its decision. The Minister is still resolute that he will not do the right thing by Professor Gluckman; that he will not do the right thing by the universities and the spirit of free inquiry which they represent; that he will not do the right thing by this Parliament, whose members have accepted a trust on behalf of the nation with respect to our wards in the Territory, and that he will not do the right thing by Australia, which stands more universally and vociferously condemned on this issue than on any other in our time.
The history of the matter is plain enough. Professor Gluckman made an application to visit New Guinea. He made that application to further studies which he was undertaking at the Australian National University at the request of the university. Four months later he received a four-line letter from the Secretary of the Department of Territories informing him that his application had been refused. In the meantime the Administrator of the Territory had consulted, apparently, with the security service. That seems to be an inference which nobody has disputed. The Administrator’s decision was reviewed by the Minister and endorsed by him. Apparently it was also referred to the Prime Minister, who endorsed it. When the matter became public on Tuesday of last week, Cabinet had a lengthy discussion and endorsed once again the decisions of the Administrator, the Minister and the Prime Minister.
There have subsequently been a great many testimonials to Professor Gluckman’s status in his profession and his general civic responsibility from every country in which he has worked and every university at which he has worked. The Government has had ample opportunity to check these testimonials. The Opposition’s motion therefore refers first to the Government’s failure to communicate to Professor Gluckman - not to the public - the reasons for excluding him and, secondly, to its failure to reconsider the matter in the light of subsequent evidence.
This is the evidence: On 30th of last month, the day that Cabinet made this decision, a newspaper report stated that the Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University - a man who has held high public office in Australia and is soon to become the Chairman of the Tariff Board - had described the professor as a very distinguished anthropologist. The Vice-Chancellor said -
That is what we are interested in and that is why we invited him to come to us as a visiting fellow.
On the following day Professor Fortes, Professor of Social Anthropology at Cambridge University, was reported as having said -
I have known him for 30 years and I can say bluntly that he is not a Communist and never was.
On 2nd September, the Vice-Chancellor of Manchester University said -
I know Professor Gluckman intimately and have nothing but affection and respect for him. 1 can think of no activity by Professor Gluckman that might arouse animosity except bis attack on apartheid in South Africa.
I would think that nobody in this House would not attack the policy of apartheid.
On 3rd September the Vice-Chancellor of Monash University said that he was a former colleague of Professor Gluckman at Manchester and had the highest regard for his ability and integrity. On the same day a letter appeared in the “Sydney Morning Herald “ from Professor Spann, Professor of Government at the University of Sydney, who succeeded the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland) in that post. He said that he had been a colleague of Professor Gluckman for over four years at Manchester and that they had become close friends. He said -
I attended all his seminars, was often at his house with students and belonged with him to many local societies. So I feel that I am in a special position to testify to his integrity.
Also, on the same day, Professor Barnes, head of the Department of Anthropology at the Australian National University, stated -
I have complete confidence in his integrity.
On 5th September, Professor Geddes, Professor of Social Anthropology at Sydney University, wrote to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ that social anthropologists -
Thus three vice-chancellors and four other professors who have worked with Professor Gluckman have testified to his standing in his profession and to his integrity. One would have hoped that these professional tributes would have persuaded the Government to reconsider its decision, but it has refused to do so.
Further, there have now been official statements by the British Home Office, Colonial Office and Commonwealth Relations Office about Professor Gluckman, as well as statements by the Governments of South Africa and Southern and Northern
Rhodesia. All have stated that they never had and still do not have any objections to the professor’s work in their countries or in the territories under their control. The Government’s decision should have been reviewed in the light of this official testimony.
The only check that has been made by the Government or the Prime Minister has been to contact the Netherlands Charge d’Affaires in Australia. With equal ease the Government could have checked with British Commonwealth governments that have testified on this matter. With ease a check could have been made with other professors and vice-chancellors of universities who have testified on the subject. Does anybody doubt that the letters that have appeared in the newspapers over the names of his colleagues are genuine letters?
There has been ample opportunity to review this decision, but that opportunity has now been lost. Therefore the Opposition has raised the matter in this House. The principal consideration from the beginning should have been: Could the professor do any harm to Australia or her wards while in New Guinea or after visiting New Guinea? The answer must show how ridiculous we have made ourselves in the eyes of the world. If the professor were in New Guinea the only harm that he could do that he cannot do now would be by making contact with the natives. Does anybody believe that in three weeks in the Territory he could instigate or sow the seeds of rebellion and disaffection in the Territory? If he were to go to New Guinea the only further damage he could do on his return would be to say that he had been there and observed things with his own eyes. For months he has been at the Australian National University. He has had access to files and has been able to make contact with people who have worked in New Guinea. He has had access to all the material concerning New Guinea that is in the possession of the Australian National University. If he were so disposed - all the records that have been testified to by governments and universities where he has worked suggest that he would not be so disposed - he could still put Australia in a bad posture overseas simply by making use of the information that has been available to him at the Australian National University. 1 repeat that we have made ourselves ridiculous in the eyes of the world over this, matter, but there are other aspects to be considered. There is the general aspect of security. The Australian Labour Party believes that if the security service had remained under civilian and judicial control, as it was when Mr. Justice Reed was in charge, this affair would never have happened. There have been subsequent procedures in Britain and Australia that show what should be done to avoid a repetition. In the United Kingdom there is a body known as the “ three advisers “, which hears and reports on security objections to the promotion of public servants. Metropolitan magistrates hear and advise on representations by aliens whom the Government seeks to deport. Two years ago the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer), who is a true liberal in this regard, amended the Immigration Act to provide that a commissioner, who must be a present or former federal judge or State Supreme Court judge, or barrister or solicitor eligible for appointment as such, should report on the deportation of aliens. Even in the heat of war the Curtin Government established the aliens* appeals tribunals. It is very high time that in our interests as a British community we had some procedure of appeal in matters such as the Gluckman case.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Sir, I do not propose to take very long over this matter because my colleague, the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has made, I think, a very comprehensive statement, with every word of which I agree. It might be quite adequate for me to say that I have heard the Minister’s statement, that I have nothing to add to it, that I agree with it, and then sit down.
– Why not do that?
– I will do the next best thing: I will stand.
One aspect of this matter which was referred to by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) deserves a little mention. The activities of the University Staffs
Association and certain comments that have been published rather suggest that academic freedom is involved in the exclusion of this man from the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. 1 want to refer to that because it exhibits a complete misconception of this problem. Academic freedom, yes. The Australian National University enjoys it in the fullest possible measure. We do not appoint people to the staff of that university. The university authorities do so according to their own untrammelled judgment. I am not asked, as the relevant Minister, to approve of any appointment made by the Australian National University authorities.
– It is just as well!
– Indeed it is just as well, because perhaps a few of the appointments that have been made would not have received my approval. ButI believe in academic freedom, and therefore I have maintained the view that when the university is appointing people - professors, lecturers, readers or whatever they may be - it is the university’s own business. However, academic freedom does not carry with it the right to enjoy immunity from the immigration restrictions of the Territory which apply to other people. Although academic people occasionally confuse the issue, it is quite clear that you do not rise above the law simply because you attain academic freedom. Whether a man is a free academic or not, when he desires to enter this Territory he must secure a permit to do so.I emphasize that point.
– No one put that proposition.
– On the contrary, it was put in the letter written by the Staffs Association to the Minister. It was put as a matter of academic freedom.
– I did not quote it.
– I know you did not, but it has been quoted, no doubt. I am referring to the way in which the proposition was put by the University Staffs Association. The speech of the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) contained whatI thought was a glancing reference to that topic.
– I was coming to it, in order to endorse it.
-I am glad to hear that, because now I have come to it in order to un-endorse it. The first law of physics, of course, is that action and reaction are equal and opposite.
The only other comment 1 wish to make is this: The honorable member for Werriwa has given us a great number of testimonials. 1 do not know what those testimonials have to do with the case. Honorable members opposite can produce a string of testimonials to say that this man is very able, as he undoubtedly must be. or that he is distinguished in his profession, as I willingly concede, or that the persons who gave the testimonials like him, but what have testimonials to do with the point at issue? To send newspaper representatives prowling around irrelevant departments in Great Britain, asking spokesmen - whoever those mysterious persons may be - whether they have certain things in mind, is to prepare the makings of a ludicrous case. The essence of this matter is not what somebody else thinks about this man or what his technical qualifications are; it is whether the Administrator was wrong in refusing hima permit, on the information that the Administrator had before him.
– What is the information he had before him?
– To find that out, of course, is one of the objects of the exercise. All we have to do is to publish the information, and then security can close up. That is the idea motivating some honorable members opposite. I do not mean all of them. I do not mean the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) or the Deputy Leader. They take a different view. But there are honorable members opposite who would dearly love to force the publication of information coming to the Government in relation to the proper security interests of this country or its Territory, in order that its sources of information would thereafter dry up. Let me say that I, accepting all the responsibility that attaches to my office, am not going to take any step which would involve us in the loss of access to information bearing on the security, the territorial integrity and the political integrity of Australia.
Mr. CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh)
Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the Deputy Leader (Mr. Whitlam) have proved beyond doubt that Professor Gluckman is a man of impeccable character. Indeed, those who have spoken on the Government side have not attempted to dispute the claim that he is a man of impeccable character. They have contented themselves with saying that they have a report which was given to the Administrator, and about which they will not say anything publicly. We do not blame them for that. We are not asking the Government to publish to the world at large the reasons why Professor Gluckman has been excluded from the Territory. We say that Professor Gluckman should be told privately by the Government the reasons why he was refused entry.
I think it is important for us to consider the viewpoints of some of the newspapers of Australia on this matter. This is an issue upon which all units of the Australian press, with one notable exception, are in complete and total agreement. The Australian Country Party members of this House should be interested to know that not only are the daily and weekly newspapers in total agreement, but also the newspapers representing the various sectional interests in the community. Let me quote a passage from “ Muster “, the official organ of the Graziers Association of New South Wales. In its editorial of 6th September, 1960, it said -
The Gluckman case has highlighted, again, the urgent need for a reappraisal of the role of a security organization in a free, democratic society, its capacity to assess the worth both of its sources of information and the information itself, and the political and constitutional controls that may exist or be needed to protect both Governments and individual citizens against blunders which can present the former in a most damaging light to the rest of the world and expose the latter to intolerable injustice against which there is no redress.
– Who made that statement?
– That was published in the official organ of the Graziers Association.
The position is that a grave injustice has been done to a man who has not been told, even privately, the reason for it. Surely Mere could be no objection to the Government privately telling a person the reason for his refusal of an entry permit. If, for instance, the reason was that the person >* a loathsome disease, then only the pcrin himself would be told and it would be his business whether he let the rest of the world know. But at least he himself would know why he was being kept out. What would be wrong with telling the person concerned now the reason why he is considered to be a security risk, no matter how damning the information may be upon which the conclusion has been reached that he is a security risk? He alone would then know the reasons, and he alone would be responsible for publishing them to the world at large. At least he would have an opportunity, which he has not legally got now, of ascertaining the charges against him and of refuting them if he could.
One of the troubles in Australia to-day - and it is getting worse - is that we have a security service that is able legitimately to tap telephones and intercept mails, and which can secretly deliver to the head of the Government damaging reports about people. Those people are never told the nature of the information upon which charges are made against them, and are never given an opportunity to defend themselves. Professor Gluckman is now damned for life. If he applied for a vise to enter another country one of the questions he would have to answer would be, “ Have you ever been refused a vise before?” He would have to answer, “ Yes, I was refused a vise in Australia “. If Professor Gluckman ever wanted to go to the United States of America he would have to tell the Government of that country that he was refused a vise by the Australian Government to enter New Guinea. This would mean in all probability, although not certainly, that Professor Gluckman would be damned in the eyes of the American State authorities and would never be allowed to enter the United States as long as he lived. Is that justice? Is it right that an individual can be damned by a secret security service on information, obtained sometimes by tapping gossip on telephones or sometimes by intercepting mischievous letters in the post, delivered to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) without any legal obligation to tell anybody the source of the information and without any legal obligation to confront the man who is affected? Why, these things would not be tolerated in any country in the world that calls itself a free democracy.
Let us hear what the Graziers Association has to say further on this particular aspect. In its official organ, “ Muster “, it says - and I agree with it -
Australia will need to be in a much more dangerous position than she is at present before those of its citizens who still spare a thought for their liberties and their democratic rights will accept a situation in which any one of them may be accused in secret, be subjected to treatment which might ruin his career and wreck his life and be denied both a specific statement of the nature of the allegations made against him and the opportunity, afforded to the most sordid criminal, to refute them.
That is the position - the most sordid criminal in this country is given more opportunity than Professor Gluckman has been given to clear his good name in this case. But “ Muster “ continues -
But the situation goes even beyond that: In the existing state of affairs, neither the victim nor anybody else knows where either the first or the final responsiblity for what is happening to him may be; whether a Security report is fair or unfair, a departmental officer has blundered or not, or even what minister has had the final say in deciding his fate.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) very correctly directed attention to the fact that the only newspaper in Australia which is supporting the Government on this issue is the official organ of the Democratic Labour Party - “ News Weekly “ - in Victoria, which had to admit that Professor Gluckman protested against the jailing of an anthropologist by the Peking Government. But in spite of that they still think the Government is right. The Leader of the Opposition was correct, also, in directing attention again to the fact that there is a strange link-up between the Democratic Labour Party organ and the security service - this service which we have now to rely upon in order to base our opinion as to whether a person is right or wrong. It is strange that the honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin), thanks to this shandygaff stupid little outfit called the security service, is able publicly to announce that he has seen the documents and that he is satisfied-
– That is not true.
– He said he would be breaking a confidence if he gave the source of the information; so, clearly it must be the security service. How can anybody have any faith in an outfit which can go to the member for Ballaarat with information, and which can inform “News
Weekly “ fifteen months before the event occurred that the secretary of the Russian Embassy proposed to defect. This outfit, therefore, must be under a cloud. In another case, it allowed a person who was a well-known Communist - a member of the Communist Party who stood for Parliament as a Communist Party candidate - after ten weeks’ investigation, to go into the Attorney-General’s Department and handle the most confidential top secret files affecting the External Affairs Department and our relations with other countries.
How can we allow a man like Gluckman to be condemned on the information of an outfit of that kind? I do not exactly blame the Government or the Minister for what has happened. I blame them up to a point, but not entirely. They are doing what has become the habit in all democracies to-day, and that is to support the bureaucracy. They feel that the Administrator having taken a decision, it is up to them to support him. In a sense one can perhaps admire them for sticking to the departmental officers, but in another way it would require more courage not to do so. I believe they have shown a lack of courage in not disagreeing with the decision of the Administrator. The security service has assumed a place now in our society where even Ministers are afraid to do anything contrary to its reports-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I think I have already indicated in this House my disquiet about the affair of Professor Gluckman. I hope to-day to make some constructive suggestions in regard not entirely to this incident but to this class of incident and, after all, that is even more important than this particular incident. I am disquieted on two grounds: First, I am not certain whether or not justice has been done to Professor Gluckman; and secondly, I am disquieted because out of this incident there has arisen loss to Australia and loss to the cause of the free world.
I do not know whether Professor Gluckman is a Communist or not, or whether he has any Communist connexions or not. I simply do not know. On the one hand, people whom I regard as genuine antiCommunists have said to me that in their opinion he is free from taint. On the other hand, the Government, acting on information of which I am entirely unaware, but which I presume has been considered in good faith, has come to the conclusion that he is a security risk. I am in doubt; 1 do not know.
Out of this affair, loss has been sustained to our position and to Australia in regard to New Guinea. We have nothing to hide in New Guinea. I know something of this, having recently been there, and I am certain that there is nothing there that we need hide. But our enemies will be representing over the world that we are trying to hide something. This is a position in which Australia has incurred loss.
Furthermore, the anti-Communist cause - which, I believe, most honorable members in this House, although not all of them have at heart - has sustained loss. Only a moment ago we heard the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) using this incident to tag on to it the abuse he loves to heap on the security service - this shandygaff organization, as, I think, he called it. Could we not see the gloating pleasure which he exhibited, because here was an opportunity to tie something on to the security service and make it appear that it was doing something wrong, to try to help our Communist enemies destroy one of our bulwarks against communism?
Here is the suggestion I make, and I am sorry I have to make it in such short compass because my time is limited. I suggest that when, as the result of a security report, Executive action is taken in any way, this course should be followed: First, the person concerned should be told in confidence of the proposed action before it is taken; and secondly, the person concerned should have a right of appeal to an established tribunal consisting of three eminent persons not in government employment. It is not an ad hoc tribunal for any particular case that T visualize, but a permanently established tribunal whose members are known in advance and who serve on all cases. I propose that on this appeal, which would be held in camera because we do not want the interests of an innocent man prejudiced, he should be informed of the nature of the charges and so much of the evidence as can be produced without a breach of security and should be given an opportunity to show cause why the proposed action should not be taken. That would happen in camera. But I further propose that if he be dissatisfied with the decision of this appeal held in camera, he should then have a right of appeal before a judge of the High Court in open court. It may be said that that would limit the ambit of government action, because obviously the government would not want to give away its sources of information, and where the sources are to be protected you cannot produce them in open court. That is true. But let it be remembered that in the present climate of public opinion, action under existing practice is also very circumscribed. So, in that case, we give away nothing. Nor do we subject an innocent person to the undeserved smears of publicity, because that person, before a matter comes into open court, has to make the decision that it shall come into open court. If he is innocent, that is his decision.
It will be said - the Government will say this - that we expose security. I think in some instances it is necessary and desirable to expose security. It is true that, in doing this, some part of the apparatus is given away. But some part of security is expendable in a cause. After all, if a battalion were never to be sent into action unless there was certainty that there would be no casualties, the battalion would have very little chance of engaging in a successful action. It may be that, because some part of security is judged to be expendable in a cause, you will not be able to engage in every type of action; but at least you will be able to engage in some action, weighing the expendability of a section against the benefit of the publicity to be obtained. I hope I have put forward a constructive suggestion which overcomes the possibility of injustice and, at the same time, overcomes the kind of dilemma in which the Government is now placed to the disadvantage of both Australia and the anti-Communist cause.
Sir, I say further that there are practical and positive merits in this suggestion. In the one minute that remains of my speaking time, 1 reiterate to the House the necessity of publicizing facts about Communists and communism. It is altogether wrong to leave the Security Service in its present position, because it is ineffectual. It is very like the Czarist Okhrana, which knew all about Lelin and Trotsky, knew all their personal associations, their comings and goings, and had it immured safely and securely - and entirely uselessly - in its files.
Motion (by Mr. Davidson) put -
That the business of the day be called on.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. T. F. Timson.)
Majority . . . . 34
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 12.49 to 2.15 p.m.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Crimes Act 1914-1959.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Social Services Act 1947-1959.
– Order! As it is now past the time provided for Grievance Day, Order of the Day No. 1 will not be called on. The Committee of Ways and Means will be set down for a later hour this day.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 7th September (vide page 926).
Proposed Vote, £2,943,000.
.- Unlike a number of other members who have participated in this debate 1 will endeavour to restrict my remarks to the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs. I associate myself with the remarks of my friend, the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon), who criticized the using of this debate by many members, particularly Opposition members, as a means of discussing policy and of trotting out party and individual philosophies.
I do not intend to traverse the remarks of the preceding speaker in the debate, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). After all, a day has elapsed since he spoke. I only wish to say that if ever there was an occasion on which a man’s political philosophy was exemplified that was it.
If the committee will bear with me for a moment I should like to analyse the proposed vote for this department. The amount is £2,943,000. Leaving on one side the total to be expended upon international relief through such avenues as the Colombo Plan and the World Refugee Organization, which is of the order of £7,750,000, the sum of £2,943,000 is not a very great figure for expenditure on the Department of External Affairs. That applies also when the amount is compared with the £36,328,514 estimated for expenditure on the Department of the Treasury and the £57,535,700 estimated for expenditure on the Department of National Development!
Of this amount of £2,943,000, £816,000 is allocated for home administration of the department. This means that only about £2,127,000 is allocated for overseas representation. In this figure there is a salary component of £1,360,200. I am sorry to have to analyse these figures in this way, but I am trying to show that the general expenses of this department for one year are only £766,000. Of this sum, again, about £120,000 covers overseas transfers, expenses of representation at regional conferences and so on. So, the actual amount paid each year for our overseas representation is only about £640,000. This figure covers all items, such as travelling expenses, office equipment, postage, cablegrams, telephones, maintenance of buildings, motor vehicles, rent and so on. This is the amount we pay per annum for representation in about 34 countries, with additional consular offices in various places such as New York and San Francisco.
In the past, the Government has purchased buildings for use as offices and residences in some countries, and in nearly every case where it has done so, the capital value of the buildings purchased has increased immensely. I need only recall to the minds of honorable members a few examples of this. One is the embassy and chancery in Paris, another is the embassy in Washington. My criticism of the present position regarding accommodation for our representatives overseas is that we still pay rent on 38 out of a total of 63 buildings used either as residences or offices. That is to say, 60 per cent, of those buildings are rented and cost us about £168,620 in rent out of the total of £647,000 spent on representation overseas. In other words, we are paying out in rent more than 26 per cent, of this present vote for our overseas representation. If we were running a commercial undertaking the capital accretion on the properties already purchased would provide funds more than sufficient to buy in other properties. I urge the Government to give more consideration, therefore, to purchasing all buildings that we occupy either as residences or offices overseas. We may not be able to do this in some instances, but we should do it where we can.
In this regard it is gratifying to see that the works vote for this department is to increase by £104,000 above last year’s appropriation, which was £247,000. In this year the estimate is for £351,000. There is no doubt that this increase of £104,000 spent on works and acquiring properties will be money well spent. Mr. Temporary Chairman, for too long has this country tried to operate abroad as what I heard described as a “ middle nation “. For too long have we been operating our overseas representations on a shoestring, and I think it is about time that the stranglehold which the Treasury, rightly or wrongly, exercises on the expenditure of this department was loosened a little to enable the department, which gives such great service to Australia, to operate to better advantage for us all. The fact that we have been so well represented overseas in the past is due undoubtedly to the loyalty and devotion of those officers of the department who have been charged with that task. It is about time that we gave them a better deal. In too many instances do we find a shortage of staff in our overseas posts, particularly on the intermediate and higher level. l t is not unusual to find that senior officers are unable to take their annual leave for two or three years. Do not tell me that efficiency is not impaired when a second secretary or an officer of similar grade is unable to take his annual leave.
Another matter which affects the officers of this department is the fear of high medical and hospital expenses. Particularly is this so in the United States of America. Practically the whole cost of these expenses devolves upon the officer. He does not receive even the same benefits as he would receive were he stationed in Australia.
Many of these officers, particularly if they are family men, also face the heartache associated with a lack of suitable accommodation. Sometimes they have to accept inferior accommodation in districts which are far from their place of employment. This entails a great deal of travel. Some of the accommodation which I have seen dispels completely the vision which, unfortunately, most people in Australia, and many honorable members in this place, have that the officers of the Department of External Affairs work very little, occupy ornate offices, attend lots of parties and live in plush homes with servants and cars at their disposal. Believe me, Mr. Temporary Chairman, nothing could be further from the truth. In the main, these men work under a lot of difficulties which should not be present. ‘ This is no glamour job. It is time that the Government acquired suitable accommodation for its officers abroad. This accommodation should be furnished so that when an officer is transferred from one post to another he can move into the premises without the stress and strain which normally fall upon a family which has to live in hotels for weeks while seeking accommodation elsewhere, sometimes only to find that it is not of the standard that would be enjoyed at home in Australia.
I strongly urge the Government to consider the purchase of premises in which the department’s officers can be accommodated. I refer not only to the ambassadors or the consuls, but to the general officers who are engaged at our overseas posts. If this were done, they would bs relieved of the stress and strain under which many of them now suffer. If it is good enough for commercial undertakings to provide suitable accommodation for their staffs, surely it is good enough for the Commonwealth of Australia to do likewise.
– Are all the offices cf a poor standard?
– Some chanceries are. The one at New Delhi is a positive disgrace, and I am pleased to learn that it is now planned to erect new offices there. In a downpour the roof of the present building, which is an old war-time communications building, leaks so badly that the people there work in water which reaches practically to their knees. I am trying to dissipate the idea which exists in the minds of many Australians that a job in the Department of External Affairs is a glamour job. I make the plea that a little more consideration be given to providing facilities which would be equivalent to those which the officers would enjoy if .they were stationed in Canberra.
The consular office in San Francisco is situated on the fourth floor of an obscure building in the downtown area, but Qantas Empire Airways Limited, which is practically a government undertaking, has a magnificent building facing Central Square. Portion of the ground floor is let to a bookshop at a rental of £12,500 a year. This would be an appropriate building in which to house our consular representatives. The ground floor and several upstairs floors could be used for this purpose. Some of these problems require a more realistic approach than has been made to them in the past.
I have not a great deal of time remaining at my disposal but I think that I should mention the Government’s tight-purse-strings attitude to the provision of cars. Outside London there are no cars apart from those which are allocated to the Consul or the High Commissioner as the case may be. If the consular car is in use at a time when people who have business with the High Commissioner or the Consul arrive at the airport, no other car is available to transport them.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I do not know what prompted the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to enter the chamber just now. I flatter myself that possibly it was to hear my speech because what I have tosay refers particularly to him. I, for one, am a little worried about his health. I have raised this matter before, and I hope he will not misunderstand my approach toit. In discussing the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs, let me again express my concern at the fact that he still’ retains personally the conduct and administration of a number of portfolios, the most important, other than the Prime Ministership, being the External Affairs portfolio.
Quite frankly, I do not think that it is possible for any man, no matter how great his capacity may be, to do full justice to the onerous responsibilities which are associated with the Department of External Affairs, while he is administering other portfolios. At this stage the Prime Minister is alsoAc’.ing Treasurer and Minister for External Affairs. All three portfolios entail heavy responsibilities and very important decisionsEach requires full-time attention.
If we study the history of the Department of External Affairs we will find that one of the major activities associated with it is representation abroad at very important conferences, including the United Nations General Assembly and other meetings of a somewhat similar nature. When Labour was in office, the then Minister for External Affairs, Dr. Evatt, had occasion to travel extensively. So did Mr. Casey and Mr. Spender as they were then, when they held that portfolio. Every Minister for External Affairs, particularly since the war, has had to spend a considerable amount of time outside Australia in order to attend to the duties associated with that position. I know that the Prime Minister will forgive me when I say that he is away from Australia, as Prime Minister, for a fair portion of the year. How can he, in addition to his travels as Prime Minister on Government business, fit in the travels which necessarily are associated with the External Affairs portfolio? I think that this is well nigh impossible.
In the immediate future a delegation will leave to attend the United Nations General Assembly - probably one of the most important meetings of the United Nations for many years. Mr. Khrushchev personally will lead the Soviet delegation; the premiers of a number of iron curtain countries will be present; Dr. Soekarno will attend, and we will be represented, not by the Minister for External Affairs who should be the person to represent Australia, but by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick). Of course, he will be supported by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and very ably, no doubt, by the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa). But the point I make is that having regard to the composition of the delegations from other countries, and bearing in mind the important part that Australia played under a Labour government in the setting up of the United Nations organization - the present honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) was a member of the initial Australian delegation to the United Nations - it is not unreasonable to expect that we should be represented by the Minister for External Affairs. We cannot possibly do that on this occasion because the Prime Minister is too busy in his own country to attend to this matter. We should not have a man who already holds an important portfolio filling the high office of Minister for External Affairs because it is impossible for him either to give full attention to it or to carry out efficiently the tasks pertaining to it.
Who is to be our spokesman at the United Nations? Will the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) be the man who speaks for Australia on the variety of matters associated with international affairs in the discussions at the United Nations? Even the Prime Minister will agree with me when I say that the honorable member’s views do not exactly agree with those of the Prime Minister, and it could well be that there will be an international incident when Khrushchev faces the honorable member for Mackellar across the table at the momentous meeting that is to be held.
That brings me to another point. We should be represented there by the Minister for External Affairs. I do not want it to be said that I am “ picking a box “ or anything of that kind, but I do think some one should be appointed immediately to fill this important post in order that we might have top-level representation at that conference, through our Minister for External Affairs. It is true that our delegation will be well led by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), and I am sure that he will put our case ably, but my fear is that when he returns he will continue as Attorney-General, so that whatever contacts he makes at the United Nations will be wasted in that he will not be occupying the External Affairs portfolio and the work will have to be commenced all over again.
I join with the criticism offered by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) last night who said that at these conferences there should be fewer officials and more parliamentarians. In my opinion, the Government tends to make its delegations top-heavy with administrative staff instead of sending the men who should really deal with these matters.
– Do you think you should go?
– I will say that I would be a vast improvement on many of the Liberals I have seen sent to these conferences. I noted with interest that it did not take the Prime Minister long to wake up to the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes).
I understand he took the honorable member for Barker to Indonesia on one occasion and has never taken him out of the country since. I think that was the honorable member’s trial run, and he did not prove successful as a stand-in for the Prime Minister in dealing with minor matters on that occasion. I repeat that I join with the honorable member for Scullin in saying that more parliamentarians should be sent to attend meetings of the United Nations Organization. After all, the findings of the United Nations constantly enter into the deliberations of every member of this Parliament, and I can see nothing wrong at all with increasing the number of members of Parliament attending its deliberations. Of course, I should be very sorry if one or two officials lost a good trip, but the important point is that it would be more beneficial for Australia if the politicians of this country, the men who have to face up to these issues, were given the opportunity to learn at first hand what is taking place in the United Nations’ discussions.
I emphasize, too, that, as has been mentioned by other honorable members, many nations with much smaller populations and probably of less importance in the international sphere than Australia will have larger delegations there. I therefore suggest to the Prime Minister that he would be well advised to appoint a Minister for External Affairs immediately and give consideration to enlarging the delegation on the parliamentary level so that this Parliament might be fully informed at first hand of what takes place there.
I should like now to refer to one or two matters connected with the Estimates which 1 notice total about £2,944,000. Honorable members opposite are interjecting. I do not mind that, and if they will wait until I have concluded my remarks I shall give intelligent answers to both their interjections and any questions they might like to ask. But I do not like honorable members on the Government side to sit in their places and interject when they have not the courage to rise and defend their Government’s policy and its proposed expenditure. I do not expect honorable members on the Government side to agree with what I have said about the Prime Minister’s portfolio and the filling of the External Affairs port folio, nor do I expect them to agree with my suggestion that a full-time Minister should be appointed to the Department of External Affairs, because, when all is said and done, every one of those honorable members sitting opposite to-day thinks he ought to have the position. When one looks at honorable members on the Government side, one appreciates why the Prime Minister has not appointed any one to fill the office of Minister for External Affairs and why honorable members opposite merely sit in their places and interject instead of speaking to these matters.
I notice that a fairly large sum is to be expended on the various ambassadorial centres in Asia. I should like to see more money spent on representation in Asia in preference to spending it on representation in other parts of the world. After all, the Asian centres are more important from our point of view than are those which are further afield. I think that the building up of able Australian representation right throughout Asia would make a great contribution towards the establishment of a better understanding of the problems of both Asia and Australia. After all, what happens in Asia possibly has a greater effect upon us than upon any other part of the world, and there is, therefore, a grave need for the establishment of the greatest goodwill and fullest understanding by the Asians in connexion with matters which are of mutual concern to Asian areas and Australia. It cannot be said by any stretch of the imagination that the Government’s policy in connexion with Asia is one calculated to promote goodwill and understanding. For instance, the sending of troops to Malaya hardly helped to promote the goodwill of the Asian people towards Australians. Again, the Government’s recent policy in connexion with South Africa could hardly be said to have added to the goodwill of the Asian people towards Australia.
– What is your policy on red China?
– I agree with the policy of the Labour Party on red China. We cannot ignore the millions in Communist China. They will have to be recognized ultimately, as they have been recognized by the governments of Great Britain and other places.
The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) and others who sell their wool to red China will admit that we shall have to recognize red China ultimately. 1 should like to hear what honorable members on the Government side have to say on these matters. I am saying that we should spend more money in Asia because this Government’s policy is destroying the goodwill that was built up by the Labour administration when it was in office. I mention these matters in the hope that the Government will appreciate the need, in Asia in particular, to build up goodwill and understanding and to encourage co-operation because many people in Asia misunderstand our approach to their problems. They also quite rightly misunderstand the attitude of the Australian people, and this misunderstanding has arisen only as a result of this Government’s policy. It is only by having good and able Australian representation in these centres, representation by people who know the country and understand it that we can hope to build up our prestige and promote understanding, goodwill and friendship with these people.
I hope that the Prime Minister will take careful note of the suggestions I have made. I hope that he will take particular note of my suggestion that a Minister for External Affairs should be appointed immediately and of my suggestion that we appoint as our representatives in Asia people who are capable of presenting Australia’s policy towards Asia in the most favorable light. If the Government takes a leaf out of the Labour Party’s book, if it will only realize the need for building up friendship and goodwill with Asia, it will do much towards bettering relations between the two countries. After making those few constructive suggestions, I hope that those honorable members on the Government side who have had so much to say by interjection will have the courage to rise and defend this Government’s policy.
.- The views of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) on Australia’s foreign policy are very interesting and amusing, but what appears to be the majority viewpoint of the Labour Party was given last night by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) in a very fluent exposition. The honorable member for Yarra charged the
Government with administering a foreign policy which was faulty on three counts. The first count was that it was based on an unwarranted fear of communism. The second was that it showed a lack of confidence in the integrity of the Australian people and the third was that it frequently showed lack of judgment in its dealings with other countries. I join issue with the honorable member for Yarra on this subject, not because I have any profound knowledge of day-to-day administration of our foreign policy but because I am deeply interested in the Australian attitude to world problems of this nature, and because we are voting a lot of money under these Estimates to support this policy. I would like to be assured that we are getting value for that money.
So far as fear of communism is concerned, of course, we have a fear of communism. To deny that communism presents a threat to our welfare, our security, our institutions and our freedom is to ignore the lessons of modern history. It is completely unreal to say that we do not face a threat - a very live threat - from communism in the world to-day.
– What is your answer’.’
– Our answer to the threat of communism is a typical Australian response - that is, to fight back. We have been fighting back, recognizing fully the perils that surround us, in most effective fashion. We have built up the strength of Australia in the past ten years by admitting immigrants and capital, and by encouraging our own people to become more productive and efficient at their work. They have responded magnificently. We have built up a powerful defence unit - a small but powerful defence unit - backed by the Security Service. All these are forms of response, and I claim that they are the right forms of response to a real fear that we have, quite rightly, of the overthrow of our way of life by subversion or by actual warfare.
As to the suggestion that the Government is showing, through its policy, a lack of confidence in the Australian people, 1 suggest that honorable members opposite look around them. The Government has encouraged individuals in all walks of life to express themselves to the fullest extent, and they have responded. The Government, of course, has not built Australia up to the present pitch of greatness by its own deeds, but it has prepared the field. It has been the individuals of the community and the way they have responded and seized their opportunities that have made Australia the great and powerful nation it is to-day. A lot of this individual, silent work that is done by people in all walks of life entails some degree of sacrifice, and sometimes it is a large degree. They have helped Australia through the medium of their work as men or women, or through their activities in unions or associations, or even in government. We are proud of the way the people are prepared to make sacrifices for their country and for the security and welfare of future generations of Australians.
The third charge that the honorable member for Yarra made against the Government was that judgments of some of the newly emerging countries were frequently faulty. That charge is easily dismissed. Of course, judgments in that context must have some weaknesses; we must be adaptable and be ready to change our views as circumstances change. In these days, they change rapidly. Many of the emerging countries are going through an extraordinarily difficult period. There is utter confusion in many countries. I would not like to name them now. but it is obvious to everybody to which countries I am referring. How can we form a firm judgment when conditions of chaos reign in these countries? Of course, we do not attempt to form a permanent judgment of their affairs. We form a tentative daybyday judgment, and that is the wisest and surely the most prudent way to arrange our affairs.
Surely there are only two ways of looking at the comments of the honorable member for Yarra, and I assume that he is speaking for the majority of the members of the Australian Labour Party. The honorable member is either ignoring the real danger that Australia faces in the world because he seeks to escape from this threat as so many people do - and it is wonderful to try to escape from realities to some mystical plane - or else he is deliberately trying to weaken the resolution of Australians and to weaken the security of Australia. I am confident that the determination and resolution of Australians to maintain the security and the independence of this nation will not be weakened by any efforts of that nature becauseI, like the Government, have confidence in the integrity of our people.
– I did not have the advantage of hearing all that the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) had to say, but he appears to be falling into the error made by most speakers on the Government side; that is, he advances his views in respect of external affairs on the basis that Australia is a great military power and that, therefore, we are justified in intruding ourselves into every major issue that arises throughout the world. 1 should imagine, first, that it is wrong to say that this Government has provided in the first instance adequate defence for Australia. If that premise were based on the amount of money the Government has spent on defence since it took office, it might be regarded as a valid argument; but in my opinion, and in the opinion of my colleagues, there has been tremendous waste of public expenditure in relation to the amount that is needed for the adequate defence of Australia.
I remember the honorable member for Gwydir speaking recently in this House when he criticized the Government on the immigration policy which he now says is one of the features of the Government’s campaign to improve the defence capacity of Australia. He argued that numbers count for nothing. He pointed to the near Asian countries and said that Australia should be more selective. He said we should be going for fewer numbers so that we would not place too much strain on our economic resources, and thus bring about a reduction of our living standards. That was his proposition, if I interpreted his speech correctly, and in my opinion that is a realistic approach to one of the problems of the nation to-day. But now, the honorable member for Gwydir relates the immigration programme to the proposition that it gives increased defence capacity to Australia. I do not believe anything of the kind. As a matter of fact, if we had to match some of the countries against whom it is suggested we might come into conflict at some time, we could not possibly match them in respect of numbers.
Let me turn to the question of our attitude in external affairs. It appears to me that whilst the Government often claims that it adopts an independent line of thought in its approach to major world problems, its attitude is determined by what happens in other world capitals and not as a result of our own deliberations. If there is any country that should be striving for the preservation of world peace it is Australia, because we have a tremendous expanse of territory with a sparse population, and I would say that, at the moment, it is almost defenceless.
What viewpoint has the Government expressed even in respect of recent major happenings? We all know how the Summit Conference broke down. Originally the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was opposed to any suggestion that the heads of state should meet to discuss the problems with which the world is confronted. He was a rather late convert to the idea that some of those problems might be resolved by having the heads of state discuss them. Following certain happenings, the Summit Conference broke down. I think that the Australian Government and the Prime Minister should not have echoed the viewpoint that was expressed overseas. This is not a matter of being anti-American. We all owe a great debt of gratitude to America for its aid in our defence during the last world war, but that does not mean that the viewpoint expressed by the present Government in the United States is always the correct one. It is strange that anybody in Australia who criticizes the decisions or actions of the American Government to-day is, in the eyes of this Government, antiAmerican, whereas in America itself stronger criticism has been levelled against the Government of that country for its decisions. In fact it has been alleged that those decisions have endangered world peace.
Let me say a little more about the Summit Conference. As an ordinary member of the Australian community it seemed to me that spy flights of the type engaged in by America on the eve of the Summit Conference were utterly stupid. It would appear as though somebody did not want the Summit Conference to succeed. What was the position in which the leader of the Soviet Government found himself? He would have entered the conference to confer with the American leader, who had taken full responsibility for the flight of the spy plane that was shot down over Russian territory. Not only did the leader of the American Government take full responsibility for the flight, but also he indicated that there would be no change of policy and that spy flights would continue. Looking at the matter reasonably, the head of the Russian Government had very little alternative but to withdraw from the conference. Under the circumstances he came to the conclusion that he could not continue negotiations. It was a dreadful set-back for the prospects of world peace that the Summit Conference did not take place, and I dare say that, in all justice, responsibility for the failure of the conference has to be accepted by the heads of all major powers, because I did not agree with the decision of the head of the Russian Government, although I appreciated his point of view. However, it must have been apparent to him that under the circumstances the conference was unlikely to succeed.
What has happened since that time? Shortly the United Nations General Assembly is to meet and the head of the Russian Government has decided that he will lead his country’s delegation to that meeting. The leader of any government is entitled to lead his country’s delegation to an international conference. The Russian leader’s move should have been welcomed because at last it will provide an opportunity for the leaders of Russia, America and other world powers to meet in conference and attempt to settle some of the world’s problems. What is the alternative? Let us look at the attitude of the press. The press in America seems to be attempting to whip up public feeling in order to bring about a repetition of what happened when President Eisenhower proposed visiting Japan. The press in America is attempting to arouse the public to give the leader of the Russian Government a hostile reception when he goes to America to attend the United Nations General Assembly meeting.
I am well aware that for many years the Prime Minister of Australia and many of his supporters were unfavorably disposed towards the United Nations and the work that it was performing, but I do not think that anybody in this chamber does not hope and pray, even if secretly, that the United
Nations will succeed. If the United Nations fails, what will happen to the world? Inevitably there will be a third world war and world destruction.
It would appear that the Australian Government’s attitude towards any nation is governed by the political colour of the government in charge of that nation at the time. I have heard Government supporters contend that a plebiscite should be held in Korea to determine the political future of the country. Undoubtedly their argument is based on the belief that as the majority of people who would be entitled to vote live in the southern portion of Korea, therefore a result favorable to them could be expected. When the suggestion was made, however, that a popular vote should be taken in Viet Nam to decide the future political control of that country, this Government claimed that it was not possible to hold a plebiscite in the whole of Viet Nam. The Government knew, of course, that the area in the north was the more populous and would no doubt be able to influence the result of the plebiscite. That approach to these problems is wrong.
Let us look at the Government’s attitude in the international sphere towards Spain. Spain is a fascist country. Its Government has been probably one of the most tyrannical in the world for many years past. Yet this Government does not raise any objection to Spain’s admission to membership of international bodies. This Government has supported the advancing of approximately £150,000,000 by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to revive the finances of the Spanish Fascist Government. The Menzies Government and its supporters strongly oppose every move that is made to recognize red China, Communist China or mainland China - call it what you will. I think that every sensible member of this place realizes that China is a great power and whether we approve or disapprove of the form of government there does not make a great deal of difference. The Government in China seems to be as firmly established as governments in other countries. We should recognize the Government of China as the government which is at present exercising authority in that part of the world. For the sake of world peace we should recognize red China. Even the Prime
Minister has admitted that eventually red China will have to be brought into the orbit of the United Nations. But I do not think that red China would accept admission to the United Nations under present circumstances. While Formosa is governed separately I do not think that China would accept admission to the United Nations. It is unreasonable to place the Government of China, which has control over about 600,000,000 people, on an equal footing with the Government of Formosa which China does not recognize and which controls such a relatively small population. Australia trades with China and I think it is a good thing for us to trade with any country that will reciprocate. Trade and intercourse with those countries not only help us economically but also help us to understand the difficulties confronting those countries. Trade is not merely an advantage to the country that buys; it is also an advantage to the country that sells. Recently graziers in Australia set out to expand markets for Australian wool in iron curtain countries because they recognize that if they can sell greater quantities of wool in those areas and if there is a greater demand for their product, they will achieve greater stability and better prices. I would hope that the Australian Government would approach all these problems from the point of view of making the best decision for our own country and our own people. We ought not to regard Australia as a great military power having the capacity to intervene and settle world-wide disputes, even if we desired to do so. I think that eventually such disputes are going to be settled on the basis of agreements between the major powers. It is a good thing for the small nations to express their points of view. I have no objection to their doing so, and I hope that when our nation speaks it will be from an Australian viewpoint, and that we will not be influenced by any other considerations than a desire to make the best decision for the Australian nation. Unfortunately we have not adopted such a policy in the past, and I am hoping there will be a change of attitude in the future.
As I have said, we are now endeavouring to increase our trade in Asian areas, and success in this direction could be of great advantage to Australia. Let us be sensible about this matter. We can recognize mainland China without sacrificing anything. The Government is not asked to express approval or disapproval of any of the actions of the Government of that country, any more than it is required to express approval or otherwise of the actions of the Government of Soviet Russia.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member’s time is expired.
.- This afternoon we have been listening to two Labour speakers who were supposed to be addressing themselves to the Estimates for the Department of External Affairs. I suggest that it would be well worth comparing their contributions to the debate, or lack of contributions, with the excellent speech made by another Labour speaker, last night, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). who made a most constructive and thoughtful approach to these Estimates.
Listening to the contribution or the suggestions made by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), it became quite apparent to everybody in this chamber that the honorable member had not even read the Estimates that were under discussion, and that he had no knowledge of the subject about which he was speaking. He spent most of the fifteen minutes of his speech in putting forward the suggestion that the Government should try to expand its influence in South-East Asia rather than undermine and destroy what the previous Labour government had done. How can any one be stupid enough to make such a suggestion when it is well known that at the time this Government took over from the Labour government there were about three diplomatic posts to represent this country in the whole of Asia. If we look at page 14 of the Estimates we find that we are now being asked to approve expenditure for the maintenance of embassies in the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, the Republic of Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, Viet Nam and Cambodia, a legation in Laos and high commissions in India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Malaya and Singapore. There has been a tremendous increase in the number of diplomatic posts in Asia, and our relationships with Asian countries to-day are of the highest possible order. There is the greatest degree of friendship and the situation is completely different from that which existed when the Labour government was in office in 1949. We well remember the very strained relationships at that time between Australia and certain Asian countries, particularly the Philippines.
We also have a diplomatic post in Hong Kong, in addition to those 1 have referred to, and I believe that that post should be strengthened. More personnel should be stationed there because it is the focal point for a wide area and it is a centre for the dissemination of information from mainland China. The embassies and diplomatic posts of various countries in Hong Kong have a great volume of information which they share with the Australian diplomatic personnel there, yet we have, so far as I know, only two officers - and not senior officers - of the Department of External Affairs stationed in Hong Kong. The volume of work that has to be done there is so great that more than two officers are required.
After the honorable member for Grayndler concluded his speech we heard the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) make the kind of contribution that we usually hear from him, far from constructive and even destructive, and based on false premises. The honorable member endeavoured to imply that it was the policy of this Government and other Western governments that caused the failure of efforts to re-unify North and South Korea. This is, of course, quite ridiculous. Anybody who has made any kind of study of the situation in Korea knows full well that it is completely impossible to undertake any kind of useful negotiations with those who represented1 the North Koreans and the Communists at the conferences held in Panmunjong. Honorable members will recall that I gave a description of the farce, supposed to be a conference, at which I was present in Panmunjong about eighteen months ago. I was privileged to attend this so-called conference, at which the Communist delegates, instead of discussing the subjects on the agenda, tried to talk about the history of the United States of America and find grounds for criticism of that country, refusing point blank to discuss any matter on the agenda.
The honorable member for East Sydney suggests that we are afraid to hold a free election in North rand South Viet Nam. How out of date is the information available to the honorable member? Mas he not heard of the great influx of refugees into southern Viet Nam from northern Viet Nam? Does he not know that a great many of .the people in northern Viet Nam would, if given the chance of a free election, most assuredly vote out the Ho Chi-minh Communist forces, and that in southern Viet Nam, because the government under Ngo Din Diem is struggling so hard to raise the standards of the people and give the Vietnamese some semblance of good government, the Communists have agreed that the terrorists should continue their efforts and sabotage the work of that government, because they realize that the raising of the living standards of the people in free Viet Nam constitutes a serious challenge to them? The Communists realize that they must do everything possible to sabotage any election that is held and to prevent the holding of any such election.
The honorable member for East Sydney has completely distorted the facts and altered the story. He went on to suggest that we should recognize Communist China in order that we may increase our trade. Denmark had a very salutary lesson in this regard. That country recognized Communist China in the hope of increasing its trade, and one of the Danish diplomats said, after he had been appointed to a post in China, that Denmark had given all there was to give, had nothing more to give, and therefore China could spurn every attempt Denmark made to increase its trade.
Let me remind the honorable member for East Sydney of one more fact. The Mao Tse-tung regime will accept de jure recognition of Communist China only on condition that it is given control of Formosa, where there are 10,000,000 people who have no desire to come under Mao Tsetung’s administration. They know full well the genocidal activities of the Communist Chinese in Tibet and they realize that they would meet the same fate. But the honorable member would sell the 10,000,000 people of Formosa and put them in just that kind of situation. There are 10,000,000 people in Australia, and we would not like to think that any nation in the world considered our 10,000,000 people expendable. The honorable member for East Sydney, however, is prepared .to consider those who live ‘in Formosa as expendable. I can imagine how the honorable member would change his attitude if ever Australia was put in a similar position to that in which the Formosan people now find themselves. It would be a completely different attitude altogether. From the matters mentioned by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) 1 would like to turn my attention to the estimates now before us. There are three items which I would like to query because I do not understand them. Under the heading of general expenses, administrative, we find the item, “Postage, telegrams and telephone services, £47,500 “, whereas last year the appropriation was £120,000 and the expenditure £119,612. That is a terrific drop of £70,000 odd in that item. It is rather confusing; it is hard to understand why an expenditure of £119,612 was necessary last year whilst this year we find it necessary to provide only £47,500. For the courier service last year the appropriation was £43,700 and the expenditure was within £5 of that figure, yet this year we have appropriated £105,400, which is a substantial increase. For cablegrams and radiograms last year the appropriation was £64,000 and the estimate this year is £92,000.
There is, no doubt, a good reason why these estimates have been altered so much. A substantial change must be proposed in administrative procedure, and I feel that the House might be interested - I know 1 would be - to know the changes in administration which would require such an alteration. When speaking last night the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) referred to the Colombo Plan. Last year our contribution to that plan was £6,250,000 and this year we have reduced the provision for this purpose to £5,500,000. 1, in common with the honorable member for Fremantle, feel some disappointment that we should find it necessary to reduce the amount of the appropriation which we are making to this most important facet of our work of building up good relations in Asia. The honorable member for Fremantle referred to a variation in our approach to the Colombo Plan and informed the House that he had been speaking to a number of Asian students on this matter. I too have had opportunities of discussions with Colombo Plan people in Australia and of discussing this particular problem with them.
A proposition was put to me which, I think, is worthy of close attention and consideration by the officers of the Department of External Affairs and by the Government. I am not in a position to recommend that this is a better method of applying the money under the Colombo Plan than that which now obtains, but I suggest that it is worthy of examination. These people informed me that they felt a much better return not only in goodwill but also in results would accrue in a great many of the countries of Asia if the money we are spending on major developmental projects were diverted to primary and secondary educational purposes. So many millions of people in these Asiatic countries have not the opportunity to obtain either primary or secondary education; but notwithstanding that fact in many of these countries thousands upon thousands of university graduates are unable to find employment of any kind. 1 think this is true of Japan, India, Pakistan, Ceylon and many other countries of Asia, where such great numbers of people of high intelligence and high academic qualifications are unable to find some niche in the work force of their own country that it must bring about a state of discontent in their minds regarding the method of government by which their countries are administered. If, by a different approach to the Colombo Plan, we put these people to some constructive work - that of being teachers of their own people in their own language, in primary and secondary schools - it is possible that the aid given in that direction would evoke far wider acclaim than is now being evoked as a result of expenditure on major developmental projects. I do not deny that both forms of assistance are vital if we are to lift the standards of living of these people, but I do ask that this suggestion be given further examination.
I would like now to refer to a suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) during this debate in regard to
West New Guinea and the situation which has developed there, since the Dutch have indicated their desire to internationalize West New Guinea. I want to make one comment so far as the claim of Indonesia to West New Guinea is concerned. 1 suggest that the United Nations must look at the claim of the people of Indonesia to West New Guinea on the basis of the United Nations Charter and consider how the Administration of a country which so far has been unable to solve the major problems in its own affairs could possibly advance the welfare and development of the people of West New Guinea. We know that the economy of Indonesia is in a shocking state at the moment and that the Government of that country has not the control that it would need to have-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) made a few good points in his speech; and one of them was the reduction in the estimates for the Department of External Affairs in respect of postage, telegrams and telephone services. It is a puzzling feature. I can only assume that in the past there was an extraordinary cost for postage, telegrams and telephone services between the Minister for External Affairs and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), but this year, because they are one and the same person, similar expenditure will not be incurred. The honorable member for Lilley, towards the end of his speech, appeared in some aspects of his political philosophy to be rather liberal; the further he gets from home the more liberal he is. In Viet Nam or Korea he is in favour of free elections. In those countries free elections might alter the government; and the same applies to South Australia. The honorable member has a great regard for the people of Formosa; they must not be expendable. But when the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was permitting it to appear that Australia considered that 10,000,000 native inhabitants in Africa were expendable on the threshold of apartheid, the honorable member was silent. I hope that this liberal viewpoint which he feels towards the people in far-distant places will eventually be brought into other aspects of his political philosophy. I agree that the people of West New Guinea must not be made expendable on the altar of power politics. Indonesia and the Netherlands cannot trade the people of New Guinea between each other. 1 deplore the tone of the honorable member’s remarks about Indonesia. If there is one aspect of Australia’s foreign policy over the last ten-and-a-half years which I think is a serious reflection on our approach to international affairs, it is our approach to Indonesia. In all those years Indonesia has been our closest foreign neighbour and the people most in need of sympathetic understanding and support. I agree that the honorable member did not offer criticism in this matter, as his colleagues on the other side of the chamber have done in the past; but if there is one free nation which needs sympathetic encouragement in overcoming extraordinary difficulties of administration with which it is faced as the result of the departure of the Dutch from its shores, it is Indonesia. The Indonesians are a people basically friendly, but they have great difficulties ahead of them and they are only a few hundred miles from our shores. Unfortunately, since I have been in the Parliament most foreign affairs debates have evoked hostile, critical or censorious references to Indonesia from the other side of the chamber. The Prime Minister has only in the last twelve months dropped in for a call to Indonesia in a friendly way; and that again is a serious reflection upon his approach to the needs of Australia’s foreign policy. . It would have been the proper thing for years past far him to have done that very thing in his numerous journeys back and forth.
These are aspects of our foreign policy which do not have much to do with the finer points of philosophy but have more to do with acts of kindness and goodwill. When we have discharged our duty in Commonwealth relations, I would say that our next duty is towards the people of Indonesia as such. I do not mean that we should influence their political philosophy, but that we should pay some regard to the difficulties that they face, difficulties which we in Australia cannot very easily understand.
Some aspects of foreign policy give the Opposition a good deal of concern. But the aspect that gives us most concern is that the Prime Minister assumed the high office of Minister for External Affairs on 4th February last - seven months ago - but has not made any statement on foreign affairs. I have checked, but I can find no trace of any statement as to the direction of Australia’s foreign policy made by him in that time. That is a serious discourtesy to members of this Parliament. If foreign policy is as important as we all agree it is, that discourtesy should not have been shown. This debate has now been proceeding for some four hours. Questions have been raised from both sides of the chamber and we have had various points of view expressed by honorable members on both sides. However, we have not heard anything from our Minister. I therefore raise the question that I raised during the term of his predecessor. In this important field, greater opportunities should be given to honorable members to debate foreign affairs. In the previous three or four years, very effective debates have taken place, on occasions for a whole day. But here, in 1960, no effective opportunity for discussion of foreign affairs has been given. We cannot carry on in this way. If Australia is to have any kind of influence in world affairs and if honorable members generally are to have any influence on foreign policy, the. Minister must take active steps to ensure that opportunities for debate are made available to us. That is the first criticism I make of the present incumbent of the high office of Minister for External Affairs.
Of course, the great difficulties facing the Minister for External Affairs are caused by his own associations with some very indifferent activities in external affairs in the past. We need go back only to the beginning of this year, to the discussion that we had on our attitude towards South Africa, to find an instance of this. In this matter, as indeed in many other matters where the freedom of the subject arises, the leader of the Government has placed himself on the side of the forces of reaction, I suppose I could call them, or the resistance to international progress, freedom and tolerance. This was crystallized by the discussion that took place here on the South African policy of apartheid and the unfortunate events that flowed from it.
Nothing, expresses our isolation in foreign affairs better than the votes cast at the United Nations on the question of South Africa. When this matter was discussed earlier in the year, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) gave details of this voting. We find that since 1952 our isolation has grown. We have had fewer and fewer friends who accept our point of view on the South African question. In 1952, 42 nations voted against South Africa, only one voted for South Africa and fourteen abstained, including Australia. In 1953, 38 were against South Africa, eleven, including Australia, for South Africa and eleven abstained. In 1954, 40 were against South Africa, ten, including Australia, for South Africa and ten abstained. In 1955, 41 were against South Africa, six for and eight abstained; Australia again voting for South Africa, In 1956, 56 were against, five for and twelve abstained; Australia voting for South: Africa. In 1958, 70 were against, five for and four abstained; Australia voting for South Africa. In 1959, 67 were against, only three for and seven abstained; and on this occasion Australia abstained. At least, we made some progress towards neutrality, if not towards a positive attitude in international affairs. Australia cannot afford to be in this position.
– What was that voting about?
– That was about the South African policy of apartheid.
– No, it was not!
– In foreign policy in the past ten years, we have continually associated ourselves with some of the nastiest people throughout, the world. We have continually aligned ourselves with policies which, looking back on them, have been proved to be wrong and were at the time held to be wrong by most people. This is exemplified in many ways. The voting at the United Nations to which I have referred gives adequate evidence of it. We have the historic incident of the Suez Canal crisis some four years ago. Against the feeling of almost the whole of the world, we were on the side of the aggressors. We were in such a position that we could not sustain our policy on the Russian aggression against Hungary. We constantly place ourselves in a position which eventually becomes untenable in the eyes of many people throughout the world. We have become another vote in power politics.
Australia, with its European background and its geographical position in relation to Asia has a special role to play in world affairs. But unfortunately, the Government has apparently designed its policy around basic assumptions with which we cannot possibly agree. Recently, the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) said that we live in a world of suspicion, fear and distrust. I do not believe that that should be a motive behind policies, domestic or foreign.
– You just ignore it, do you: forget about it?
– The honorable member for Barker should listen to what I am saying. He has an advantage in that he travelled abroad with the Prime Minister; he should know that there is a basic friendliness in human relations and that our job in this world requires that we should not try to destroy that friendliness. Over the past eight or ten years, we have continually supported some reactionary governments, such as that of South Korea. These policies have unfortunately aligned us with the creators of suspicion, fear and distrust.
There is another basic assumption in the policies pursued by this Government, and that is that power is the only answer. I do not agree that power is the only answer. I do not think that there is much danger in the future of a mass global war. Therefore. I believe that power as such should be disregarded in our deliberations on world affairs. We must step into the world councils not as another vote in power policies but as an influence for good. I believe that history can show, if it is studied closely enough, that nations have not alwayscontributed to the development of the world because of weight of numbers or the power of battleships, squadrons of aircraft and so on. I have mentioned this before. History shows that, whether it was Greece 2,500 years ago or England in the past 300 oi 400 years, the contribution of the nation to. world development is not really related to the weight of numbers. The contribution of England, a small island off the coast of Europe with only 3,000,000 or 4.000.000 people speaking the English language in 1600 or thereabouts, has been such that its institutions and language to-day pervade the whole of the world. Therefore, Australia need not step into the councils of the world feeling that it must align itself with those who have the biggest battalions.
These are the most serious criticisms that we, on this side of the chamber, have to offer. When foreign policy is discussed here, the Government is evasive. It is secretive. This is unreal, in the present day. It has an ostrich-like approach to such matters as trade and the recognition of China. I do not think it matters much whether we sell more or sell less to China; but 1 believe that the erection of barriers resulting from the non-recognition of all the post-war Communist countries of Europe - Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria and so on - is creating throughout the world the fear, suspicion and distrust of which the Government has spoken, and which flourish behind these barriers. We have to get away from that. The Labour Party’s view is that humanity is our first charge, that people must be developed towards freedom, and must be treated equally as human beings. This, of course, involves proper consideration of the destiny of the people of West New Guinea and Formosa. If our opinions are based on what we stand for, and where we have stood on the great issues which have been decided in the past ten years, it will be seen that on these great issues Australia has unfortunately blundered into lining itself up against all the principles of humanity.
The Labour Party faces the demands of world affairs with some realism. At its last annual conference in Victoria 350 delegates who attended agreed on a policy under which one per cent, of our national income would be spent in aiding the underdeveloped countries.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- I do not know whether there is anything very useful that can be said about the disc jockey-like speech just delivered by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant).
I think his cheap gibes at the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and his conduct of the external affairs policy of this country are completely undeserved, and will deceive nobody except those who want to be deceived. The honorable member felt himself driven to make a miserable reference to the Prime Minister’s role in the Suez Canal issue. The fact is that the Prime Minister went on a mission in extraordinarily difficult circumstances but, instead of his receiving some token of admiration from the honorable member for Wills on that account, all that honorable member does is direct some miserable gibe at the Prime Minister. If I may go back to Greek mythology for a paradigm, I can imagine the honorable member for Wills in the role of Jason wanting to steer his ship, the Argo, past the lure of the Sirens. However, I should not imagine that the honorable member for Wills would play Jason to perfection. I do not think he would use his brains at all. I can imagine the honorable gentleman himself panting with excitement instead of blocking up the ears of the Argonauts, and as a consequence falling victim to the lure of the Sirens. After all, the honorable gentleman’s speech does ignore completely all the realities that exist in this world.
Having said that, 1 should like now to make a fleeting reference to the speech delivered by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). I did not have the opportunity to listen to the honorable gentleman in the flesh, as it were, but I read him this morning in the cold. I am bound to say that I thought it was an impressive speech for a number of reasons. The honorable member for Yarra, to his credit, has a fine record of academic achievement. However, I think that the honorable gentleman would recognize the fact - he would, indeed, concede it - that he is not a particularly modest person intellectually. In fact his intellectual immodesty borders, on occasions, on intellectual arrogance. The speech that he delivered in this chamber last night is the sort of speech - and I say this after some consideration - that the leader of the Soviet people would have taken pride in having prepared. If you look at the central thesis of that speech made by the honorable member for Yarra you find that he says, in effect, that nobody has any cause to be fearful of communism. That is an extraordinary thing to say. If the honorable gentleman could pause for a moment from his wanderings here and there and look at some of the facts, he would find that some 12,383,000 people have fled from Communist-controlled countries. That is the one point I make for the honorable gentleman’s consideration, and I ask him, as a rational individual, to explain away, if he can, the fact that nearly twelve and a half million people have fled from Communist countries. Was it because they had a deep and abiding affection for the Communist system?
I want to turn now, Sir, to something that I regard as of crucial importance not only to the people of this country but also. I should imagine, to the rest of the world. It has been announced that the leader of the Soviet people, Mr. Khrushchev, is to lead the Soviet delegation to the United Nations General Assembly. It is no great surprise that that decision was made because, when the Geneva disarmament talks were tottering towards disaster - they ultimately broke up - Mr. Khrushchev publicly and quite plainly stated that he would take the disarmament issue to the United Nations and, to use his own words, “ that would be a more fruitful forum “. A more fruitful forum! Now, my fear, Mr. Temporary Chairman, is that the decision of Mr. Khrushchev to lead the Soviet delegation to the United Nations will mark the prelude to one of the most massive propaganda attacks ever witnessed by mankind. It is to no avail to try to ignore the significance and the possible consequences of such an attack. Already some editorial writers have been moved to express the view that the decision means the launching of a propaganda attack. Yet I am willing to lay a shade of odds that everything that Mr. Khrushchev does at the United Nations - every gesture, every sigh, every pause - will be faithfully reported in the press.
This brings one to very serious consideration of the authority of the United Nations. This afternoon, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) tried to make out something in the nature of a case for claiming that it had absolute authority. I wonder whether or not this is in accordance with the facts. I want to mention a few incidents, not necessarily in any order of priority of importance, and not necessarily in any calendar order, which I believe plainly illustrate the fact that the United Nations has no authority in the settling of serious international disputes. First, there is the catalogue of crime which rests on the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics - a catalogue unparalleled in human history. One example of lack of authority on the part of the United Nations is seen in the United Nations resolution on Hungary. The resolution was moved by Mr. Cabot Lodge, and it directed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Hungarian authorities to restore the independence of Hungary. The representative of the Kadar Government bluntly told the United Nations General Assembly that it intended to take no notice of the resolution. The vote on that resolution was 53 for, ten against, seventeen abstentions. Last year, there was a resolution on Korea calling for a unified, independent, democratic and representative form of government. That resolution was treated as a joke. Again we found that the representatives of 17 nations failed to vote.
The Arab countries have repeatedly treated the United Nations with contempt. The blockade of the Suez Canal is an example. Israel herself has flouted the authority of the United Nations with regard to the partition boundary of Palestine. Cuba, which led the hue and cry against the British and French in the Suez affair - when those two countries sought to protect their own property, mark you - is to-day sabotaging international law, is confiscating property on a national scale, and is breaching every precept of international justice. Cuba’s leader, Fidel Castro, who, presumably, is admired by the honorable member for Yarra, is nothing short of a little tin god in the eyes of those around him. Schemes such as the children’s fund, which have a charitable character about them, have not been supported by the Communist countries or, if they have been supported, they have not been supported generously.
Let us take the RB47 aircraft incident. What was Mr. Khrushchev’s reply to Mr. Macmillan’s very courteous note? It had a touch of the Mars and Moloch of old. 1 move now to the fact that the United Nations has not been able to dislodge the Communists from one inch of European territory that they have taken. Even to-day in Tibet there is a savagery reminescent of the most violent of early history. Chinese Communists are practising presumably widespread sterilization to wipe out the Tibetan people. It is of no avail to look at the record and say that it serves only to prove that the United Nations’ authority is futile. The great danger which at present confronts the world is the possibility of the United Nations being perverted into an instrument of Soviet policy. If you consider the pattern of self-government which is emerging throughout the world and ask yourself seriously whether many of those countries are equipped for the heavy responsibility of self-government, I believe that you must reply honestly that many of them are not equipped and fitted for self-government. But running hand in hand with that, the increased membership of the United Nations will involve the democratic Western countries in a kind of numbers game which, for sheer danger, will take a lot of beating.
That is a rather destructive and no doubt a critical reference to the United Nations, and it is quite valid for honorable members to ask what my proposals are. I shall recite two proposals very quickly. First, I simply cannot bring myself to believe that we have got away so far from the old idea of the British Commonwealth that we cannot revive some cohesion and some coherence of thought and action among British countries on these great issues. Secondly, I believe that there is a desperate need for a confederation of free nations to try to hammer out a common policy, and to try to secure a common and united approach to the great problems that confront the world. The divisions that exist among Western democracies - now that divisions are in the open - are nothing short of disastrous. Mr. Khrushchev has said that history is on his side. With great respect, he might add that the sentiments which have been expressed by the honorable member for Yarra, and the divisions which exist within the Western world, are also on his side.
The servants of peace work for the wrong master if they do not work with a united and common purpose. What peace we have in the world is very limited. It does not rest upon any balance of power; it rests inexorably upon a balance of mutual terror, and it would be completely unreal for any one of us to imagine that that kind of peace can long endure.
.- I accept with due humility the gasps of pleasure which came from the other side of the chamber when I rose to speak. I feel that it is appropriate to reply to the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). His speech was a direct attack upon the ideas and ideals of the United Nations. He outlined its failure to use its power in the trouble spots in the world and then, to cap it all, he advocated a confederacy of the free world. What does he mean by that? We know full well that you cannot define such terms as “ free world “. In fact, they ought not to be used in any context which involves any bind of accurate thinking. We on this side of the chamber have placed questions on the notice-paper asking which nations are parts of the free world and which are not. Of course, the term “ free world “ simply cannot be defined.
Let us go through the whole catalogue of nations to see which ones the honorable member for Moreton agrees are parts of the free world. Is Spain part of the free world? Is Portugal part of the free world? Was the South Korea of two years ago part of the free world? Is South Africa part of the free world? No, they are not parts of the free world if we mean by freedom acceptance of the ideas and ideals of democratic institutions to which we on this side of the chamber are accustomed.
Although the honorable member’s ideas are destructive, I believe that he has put them forth in good faith. I am one of those who believe that the increasing independence of smaller nations will prove to be the solution to the problems of the future. The solution will be found, not in fear but in sheer weight of numbers. The world is not in a state of desperation, as he seems to think it is. He appears to be so obsessed with Communist ideas and ideals that he finds them almost irresistible. He seems to believe that there is no way by which the people of the world can resist the avalanche of propaganda which he apparently expects to. flow from- Khruschchev and his offsiders. We on this side of the chamber resist that point of view. We do not agree that communism is the overriding power in the world today. We do not agree that peace rests on mutual terror.
Looking at the matter from the population aspect, we find that America with about 200,000,000 people and Russia with a similar number, have together only a small proportion of the world’s population. Even if you include China with its 600,000,000 people within the so-called Communist bloc, you still have only one-quarter or one-fifth of the world’s population. As the years go by, an increasing number of smaller nations will take an effective part in world affairs. The old idea of colonialism and the domination of one nation by another nation by conquest lis no way out. But that seems to be the basis not only of the honorable member’s thinking but also, unfortunately, of the thinking, of other honorable members on the Government side of the chamber.
This morning we announced that we were sending representation to. a country which has a population of 40,000,000. For that nation the next ten years will be a period of trial and struggle. For perhaps the next twenty or 30 years it will be confronted by serious difficulties, but in the years to come it will be a new nation the size of France. Dotted all over the map we see nations developing which, in our life-time, if we are spared, will be the equivalent of the present European powers. These are the things which honorable members opposite seem to ignore. All these problems of fear, and the domination of man by man and of nation by nation, will be resolved by the natural course of events and by the indepedence of an increasing number of nations. As the number of countries represented at the United Nations increases to near the century mark, so will the discussions be dominated to a lesser degree by one bloc or another.
The problem of Cuba is not so much a problem of fear but a problem of people trying to find a role in life for themselves. All Labour men - and all people with a socialist humanitarian attitude - must regret any resort to violence, but any realist will know that in many respects this is the only way in which freedom can be achieved.
Dotted through our own past are these revolutions and. these struggles for independence. Where would we be if it were not for the revolutions which took place in 1639 and. 16498 Some honorable members opposite accept revolutions in which they can claim to. be on. the side of the winner, but they do. not realize that some parts of the world are 300 years or 400 years behind ourselves in planning their development.
We must attempt to silence the outcry that is coming from these trouble spots in the world; to find an answer to the problems of the Israel border; to find an answer to the Congo troubles and to find an answer to the Suez canal problem.
– You tell us the answer.
– I did not rise in my place claiming to be able to tell you the answer. I can sympathize with honorable members opposite who cannot understand that it is possible to look at a problem without necessarily being able to give a dogmatic answer to if. We on this side of the chamber do not know the answers, but we know the problems. I certainly hope that the skill of the. “ Hansard “ staff is such that it is able to record in the archives of this Parliament the admission by honorable members on the Government side that there are some problems to which we have not got readymade answers. I do think that as one step towards solving the problem we should give the United Nations our full and absolute support when it comes to questions like the Congo situation. I believe that it would be of some help if the people in the United Nations who have great responsibilities placed upon them could look to us for absolute and unqualified support, if they could know that when they needed help in difficult situations at least there are some people on this earth who are prepared to support them.
But that is only a temporary answer to the question. Power and violence will not resolve it. Aid, humanity, tolerance and an understanding that the new nations of this world are going to be hard to get along with for the next generation because they are human beings like the rest of us and will not forget the immediate past too easily, will. It always seems miraculous that the people who come here from places that have been under the domination of certain European nations seem to bear no malice over the past, especially when we realize that tolerance and understanding have not been features of European history over the last 300 years. We on this side say that Australia has a duty to do, that the performance of this duty will certainly involve expenditure beyond the amount to which we are now committed. The Labour Party itself, an ordinary collection of ordinary mortals in Victoria, was prepared to face up to that. Even if the carrying out of the duty meant the finding of £60,000,000, they were prepared to find it. I think the Australian people are mature enough, humanitarian enough and tolerant enough, as well as wide enough in their outlook, to do their duty and to face up to these problems. Unfortunately, the Labour Party is not given the opportunity to do these things. The Government’s policy has been secretive, and evasive, and we have been ignored. Although there are many other questions I should like to ask, I conclude now by inviting the Leader of the Government to stand up and explain exactly where Australia’s foreign policy is going.
– Oddly enough, I had decided to accept that invitation before I heard it. Before proceeding to deal with some of the statements made by the honorable member who has just sat down, some of the things said from Yarra and some of the things said from East Sydney, I want to mention two or three particular points that have been raised with a rare sense of relevance by one or two honorable members, particularly my friend, the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight), who inquired about the discrepancies to be seen in the charges in the accounts for postage, telegrams and telephones, and in the following item relating to courier service and diplomatic mails. It is purely a matter of transferring certain amounts from one head to the other. If the honorable member looks at the totals, he will see that the total of the two is substantially the same as the total of the two for last year.
The honorable member for Lilley also said something with which, if he will allow me to say so, I warmly agree. That was that technical assistance is a side of the
Colombo Plan scheme which deserves increasing emphasis. I do agree with that. I think that we must devote more and more time to what I will call this increase in personal skill, the development of the capacity of the receiving countries.
Somebody else - I have forgotten who it was now - referred to the allegation that has appeared that the Netherlands had adopted a new policy in relation to Netherlands New Guinea. We made an inquiry about that, and we have been specifically and officially informed that there is no change in the Netherlands position; that, in point of fact, this last statement that has had some publicity does not vary from the position taken by Mr. Luns, the Foreign Secretary, in February of this year, and which was at that time widely reported.
Having said that, I want to come back, not in chronological order, but as 1 recall them, to three remarkable speeches that have been made from the Opposition side of the committee. I will begin, with proper courtesy, with the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), who has just sat down. He always fascinates me because, when he makes two speeches, I am never quite sure whether he remembers, when making the second speech, what he said in the first. His second speech was one in which he went to some pains to establish that you could be interested in a problem without knowing the answer, and he did not profess to know the answer. I think that is a very admirable attitude. But in his earlier speech, he knew the answers to the problems of South Africa! What he knows about the internal problems of South Africa could be written on a postage stamp, but there he is not troubled by those philosophic doubts that assailed him in his second edition. At that time he said: “The policies of South Africa are monstrous. We all know how wrong they are.” He did not give us the benefit of his opinion as to how they ought to be changed, in what way they ought to be changed, or what ought to be done about them. Obviously - and I think this does him no injustice - be thought the problem singularly easy to solve. I do not think I am unfair in saying that because, if it were not singularly easy to solve, he would not be comfortably solving it from a green cushioned seat in Canberra thousands of miles away. Therefore, I take it that in his first edition, in what one might call the authorized edition, he found South Africa’s problem very easy to solve. The honorable member perhaps might be invited to ponder over a few questions. Does he believe in our immigration policy?
– The honorable member for Wills. I am not expecting him to answer now because these are questions on which he will need to take advice, if he is wise, before he gives the answers. Does he believe in Australia’s immigration policy? If he does not, he is oddly placed in the Labour Party. If he does, why does he7 Does he believe in it because he does not want to have created in Australia multiracial problems? Is that the reason? lt must be the reason. He does not want to have set up in Australia the kind of problem which could arise if we broke down our immigration policy, and which has existed, and in fact now exists, in the Union of South Africa. Yet, if he is right, that is not a difficult problem! Why believe in our immigration policy if it could not matter less if we had a problem of mixed races and of large communities of people of different basic races in Australia?
The honorable member says: “ That is quite easy. I know what I would do.” I wonder whether he does? I wonder whether he knows what the answer is? I wonder whether he realizes what an impertinence it is for people with no experience of these problems or of the misery of these problems to be getting up, blowing out their chests and telling another country in the Commonwealth how it ought to manage its own affairs? I want to say no more about that. It is a matter that he can chew over to his heart’s content.
But I want to come back to a couple of speeches that have been made in the course of these discussions, and which really do deserves some attention. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) made, as always, a speech in which he valiantly expressed what he had in his mind, and he was attacked subsequently for what he had said. The honorable member for Hume said that the U2 incident was not a failure and that Khrushchev had not gained any propaganda value from it. He was scoffed at later on by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) who, though no doubt he is the most ardent of Labour men, has a singular spiritual consanguinity with the people who dictate the policy of the Kremlin. He never fails to deliver that particular line, and he made a speech in which he was prepared to say that the U2 incident was a colossal crash in public relations for the Western world. In fact, he appeared to me to take some pleasure out of his belief that it was such a crash in public relations.
What effect the U2 incident has in terms of propaganda depends on what side you are on. I am going to say something about it, because I was in London when this occurred and I was able to discuss it both there and in the United States of America. Anybody who knows anything about these things knows that it was Khrushchev who wanted to have a Summit Conference. It was he who put himself in the position of the advocate and inviter
– What about Macmillan?
– He was keen on it; but after some to and fro and some hesitation, an agreement was secured by de Gaulle and Eisenhower that they would attend a Summit Conference in Paris. As sensible men, they got together. They threshed out their general problems and arrived at what I shall call a broad community of mind on the matters that had to be considered. At that moment it appeared that Khrushchev, the great advocate of a summit meeting, was determined to frustrate it. There was no profit in it for him. He was going to meet three people whom he could not divide and conquer. He was going to meet three people against whom the characteristic Communist technique of the past ten years would fail: and he must have been the most delighted fellow in the world - I have always believed it - when they said, “ A U2 aircraft has come down. We have captured the pilot. We now have evidence that the United States of America is spying on us.” I am perfectly certain that Khrushchev was very pleased.
– Because this gave him the excuse he was looking for not to go on with that Summit Conference. I am not defending the timing of that particular U2 flight for a moment.
– You need not worry. 1 have told that to better men than you in the United States of America. I am not defending the time of the flight, but what 1 am saying is that this came to Khrushchev as glad tidings in the first place until, of course, he realized and was reminded by his assistants that after all the thing had come down over 1,000 miles inside the frontiers of the Soviet Union, and therefore the nuclear deterrent delivered by aircraft was more effective against his country than he had ever conceded. Therefore, his momentary joy was succeeded by a genuine passion, and that genuine passion was expressed when he spoke at his famous press conference in Paris.
The honorable member for Yarra has said that this was great propaganda for Khrushchev. Before anybody settles down to that idea, let me put this to him: Nobody with his five wits would believe that the Soviet Union does not engage in espionage. Of course it does; it has the master spies of our time. Does anybody believe that you can make a nuclear weapon a deterrent unless you know at what target to fire? You don’t poop off - to use that expression - a missile at the map of Russia. You have to aim it at a target, and it is one of the oddities of the world to-day that on our side - because after all the United States of America is on our side - anybody in the United States of America may discover where all the installations are and where the various firing points are, within pretty narrow limits, by subscribing to the illustrated papers. As a matter of fact, Khrushchev pointed that out to a very distinguished American last year - a man who happens to be a close friend of mine. Khrushchev said, “ You talk about open skies! I do not need them. 1 only have to subscribe to your journals. Do you think I am going to give away the advan tage I have by the secrecy of my installations? You must take me for a simpleton.” Therefore, of course I would have been bitterly disappointed if aircraft had not been spotting these places and giving the rest of us in the world a chance of survival in a global contest.
One aircraft was apprehended, and of course the friends of the Soviet Union seized on that. “ Ah “, they said, “ this is terrible stuff.” Only those who are instinctively predisposed to accept Soviet propaganda will fail to understand the basic truth that on this occasion Khrushchev preferred to score his debating point and frustrate the meeting at the Summit. He preferred that to the interests of ordinary men and women all over the world who had hoped that out of the Summit Conference there might come something at any rate - some little point settled, some gleam of hope, even some agreement about nuclear experiments or a moratorium on Berlin. These are the most tremendous issues in the world and these are things, whether Khrushchev knows it or not, that sound in the ears, the minds and the hearts of ordinary men and women all over the world; and ordinary men and women all over the world will not forgive him for taking his debating point and scattering a meeting of the heads of governments to the wind.
That is the first thing I want to say. The second is this: The honorable member for Hume made some reference to the cold war. He said we should try to win the cold war. By a monstruous perversion of the words of a gallant and respected gentleman in this House, the honorable member for Yarra said that this meant that the honorable member for Hume wanted to convert the cold war into a hot war. Those were the very words of the honorable member for Yarra. 1 wrote them down at the time. He said the honorable member for Hume wanted to convert the cold war into a hot war. That was a diabolical statement to make. If it had been made about a gentleman with a career less clear and distinguished than that of the honorable member for Hume it might have been a hurtful remark. The honorable member for Hume, of course, meant what we all mean. We did not start the cold war. We are not responsible for the preservation of tension in the world. There is not one single cause of tension in the world that does not lie squarely at the door of the Communist powers. We did not begin the cold war, but, since it has been commenced, we must win it. You win a cold war by maintaining every effort to remove tension and by maintaining every effort to confer and to discuss at any time. You win a cold war by maintaining every effort to keep up your defences and your strength and by maintaining every effort to keep your world friendships green. That is what is meant by winning a cold war. The honorable member for Yarra, by his contemptible perversion of what the honorable member for Hume said, alleged that we want to win the cold war by having a hot war - presumably a deterrent war.
There is another aspect of the speech made by the honorable member for Yarra. He can always be relied on to put the case of the free world in the worst possible way and the case of the Communist powers in the best way. He is quite famous for that. Consistent with that attitude of mind, he said that the Communist powers have taken the lead in disarmament talks and in talks on the suspension of nuclear tests.
– That is right.
– Of course, the honorable member continues to say that. All Communist propaganda is repeated again and again and the honorable member can be relied on to repeat it in this place. His statement is utterly untrue. One has only to refer to the last meeting of the Disarmament Commission at Geneva to discover that at a time when the two sides, particularly in relation to nuclear tests, were by no means 100 miles apart - a good deal had been agreed upon and, with a little exercise of control, other matters might have been agreed upon - the representatives of the Soviet Union walked out. They did that because they knew that on the next morning constructive proposals by the Western powers were to be placed on the table of the conference. These are the people who are honoured in this place by the gentleman from Yarra as having taken the lead in disarmament talks. I received a letter from Khrushchev himself about this matter and I replied to him. I was not specially favoured in receiving the letter, because I think similar letters were sent to all other leaders of government. No doubt my reply was frightfully oldfashioned. I am sure that it would not get the slightest accommodation in the mind and judgment of the honorable gentleman from Yarra. However, I propose to read a paragraph or two. I said -
I deeply regret, however, that the five Eastern European countries represented at the ten-nation Disarmament Committee, led by the Soviet Union, have seen fit to walk out of the Committee’s meetings without waiting even to hear, let alone discuss, the Western powers’ considered views of your proposals and the new proposals of their own, which it was known were being prepared for early submission to the Committee. I cannot see that the delegates’ action will help to further the general cause of disarmament.
I regret the latest development all the mare because I had been glad to note your assurance that your new proposals had taken into considers, lion some of the views of other Governments participating in the Disarmament Committee’s work. It had been our hope that careful stud) in the Disarmament Committee would have justified the expectations raised by news of your approach. We had hoped particularly that the proposals would be followed by the elaboration of concrete measures lor control related to each stage of the disarmament programme and effective from the very beginning of the disarmament process, so that disarmament and its control would proceed hand-in-hand.
Thai is not an unconstructive statement of our policy. I continued -
All these hopes have now been dashed. it was with concern that I noted in your letter the statement that the Soviet Government doubts whether the Western Powers represented in the Disarmament Committee really want disarmament; and I see that similar statements have been made even more forcibly recently by the Soviet delegate in Geneva. The policies followed by the Western Powers since 1946, including their record in the many disarmament conferences held over that period, are, however, sufficient to dispel any such doubts. For my own part, I am convinced from my experience and contact with Western Leaders over the years that these doubts are entirely misplaced. I am certain that the Western Powers, no less than Australia, stand ready to work out measures leading toward general and complete disarmament under effective international control, which was the aim of the unanimous resolution of the United Nations General Assembly last year. 1 venture to suggest that my reply represents the honest view of Australians on this matter. The other view is the view of Khrushchev. 1 now propose to say a word or two about the views of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). He is firmly of the opinion that Communist China should be recognized. He believes that recognition of Communist China would go a long way towards solving the problems of Asia. I wonder what reason he has for that belief. Oddly enough his attitude on this matter is completely academic because, in effect, he is saying that here is a country that has a settled government - a government in authority. He says that the country has all the earmarks of one that is entitled first to recognition de facto and secondly to recognition de jure. He asks why we do not recognize Communist China. Well, if the matter were as simple as that it would indeed be simple. But the honorable member must know that you will get nowhere with Communist China by recognizing it unless you recognize also Communist China’s control over Formosa. That is the simple truth of the matter. The United Kingdom Government years ago, when my friend Lord Attlee held the reins of office, recognized Communist China and has had some kind of diplomatic post there, but that has not had the slightest effect. That recognition has not made the slightest difference to United Kingdom relations with Communist China because Communist China, being a Communist power, being devoted to an expansion of its jurisdiction and being, as all Communist powers are, imperialist in its quality, must have Formosa. 1 have heard people say that Communist China should have Formosa. I do not want honorable members opposite to tell me that Chiang Kai-shek says that mainland China and Formosa are one country. I am not interested in that. What I am interested in is the fact that 10,000,000 people live on Formosa. A great many of them live there because they object to living under Communist rule. The simple truth of the proposal that we recognize Communist China is that we must also advocate a course of policy that will hand over those 10,000,000 people - now free - into Communist control. I invite honorable members to consider what that would mean. Nothing short of that would be of any interest to Communist China. What would it mean? First, it would mean, of course, the complete destruction of Seato. There are some people - people who did not have the responsibility for negotiating the South-East Asian Treaty - who think nothing of that organization. We think something of it. We think something of a treaty which results in the United States of America, Great Britain, France, Pakistan. New Zealand and Australia, the Philippines and Thailand, standing side by side. But if, cynically, we were prepared to hand over Formosa to the Communists in China, what effect would that have on the protocol countries - Laos, Cambodia, Thailand. South Vietnam and Malaya? They would say, “Well, if you can give away 10,000,000 people in Formosa, you can give away 1 0,000,000 people somewhere else “. It would utterly destroy the whole basis o( confidence on which Seato rests. 1 said so at the ministerial conference of Seato In Washington, with the unanimous approval of all the ministers there present.
There would be another effect of saying to Communist China, “ You may have Formosa “, quite apart from its effect on the general defensive structure of the Pacific. Such a move would represent the greatest diplomatic triumph, produced by voluntary concession, in the post-war history of communism. What its effect would be in any of the Asian and South-East Asian countries I leave to anybody’s imagination.
When people venture into the field ot foreign affairs I suggest to them that they should take a vow that before going to bed each night they will have a good, long, thoughtful look at the map and try to realize where we live and where our friends live. I have spoken at rather greater length than I intended, and I daresay that most of what I have said and what I have been answering is completely out of order. After all, as the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) reminded us yesterday, we are debating the Estimates. But since these matters have been raised, and since there is a chronic disposition on the part of honorable members opposite to believe that the Government has no point of view, I have stated the Government’s point of view, in, I hope, the most unambiguous terms.
.- We have seen a most remarkable display in the last few minutes - an aggressive, over-bearing and somewhat insolent display by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). Depending upon the authority of his office, he comes into this place and, instead of examining the reasonable case submitted to the Parliament, adopts a method that he has frequently adopted in the past. When he cannot answer an argument, he insults the man who puts forward that argument. He has been doing this up and down the country for a good many years. In my opinion, the argument that has been put before the committee in the debate on the Estimates during the last 24 hours is an argument upon which the Prime Minister has not touched in any way in the last twenty minutes.
Let us take in order the points that the Prime Minister endeavoured to make. First, he referred to the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), who, he said, made two speeches, one in which he demonstrated that he did not know the solution of any problems and the other in which he purported to provide the solution to the problem of South Africa. What the honorable member for Wills said was that he expected the Government of Australia and its leader to express an opinion about the policy of apartheid in South Africa, but that, although the Prime Minister had had an opportunity on many occasions to express such an opinion,, he had never done so, and had allowed the rest of the world to think that he associated himself with the Government of South Africa in that policy.
We have not asked the Prime Minister or any one else to solve this problem. We have merely asked him to express the opinion of the Australian people on the problem, so that the people of South Africa and their government may know what we think. We do not expect him, nor should he expect the honorable member for Wills, to provide a solution to the problem, but we do expect him to express an opinion on such matters as the incident at Sharpeville in which many people were ruthlessly shot down. We expect him to express an opinion on a policy which enforces upon the people of South Africa a condition little better than slavery. If the right honorable gentleman holds the view that he is entitled to speak for 25 minutes in this debate without expressing an opinion on that matter, then it is a view I do not support. Nor do I think that any other thinking person in Australia would support it.
Let me give another illustration of the way in which the Prime Minister misrepresents the position. He said that I had stated in my speech that the Soviet Union and the other Communist powers had taken the lead in disarmament. What I did say, as reported at page 922 of “ Hansard “, was -
The Communist powers . . . have taken a role in disarmament and in the abolition of nuclear tests, which the Western powers have not been prepared to match.
I did not say they had taken the lead. The Prime Minister, however, in order to underline his case, presents my statement in language far stronger than that which I had used. I had hoped that the right honorable gentleman would not take <he Hps that he has taken on so many other occasions, saying, “ Who started the cold war? “ He says always that it is the other side which is at fault. If we adopt that stand, we will solve none of the great problems facing the world to-day.
I adopt the position that has been taken up in the British House of Commons and in the American Congress. 1 suggest that there are faults on both sides and that it is important to rectify our faults before they do great damage to us. This point of view has been put, as I say, in the American Congress and in the House of Commons, but it may not be put here without taking the risk of being insulted as a traitor to one’s country. This is one of the few countries in which a Prime Minister would adopt such an attitude, destroying, by his insolent inferences, any opportunity that exists in the Parliament for a rational consideration of a different point of view on foreign policy. This must be made clear to the people. It is not something that I am prepared to sit down and accept. I will put my point of view, as I put it yesterday, even though it is later described by the Prime Minister as a distorted point of view.
The right honorable gentleman referred to my remarks about the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), whenI suggested that the honorable member, in saying that we wanted to win the cold war, was displayinga willingness to run the risk of a hot war, or that he would choose a hot war. I will give my reason for making those remarks. Just before I spoke yesterday the honorable member for Hume said in his speech -
I think the signs are good and that the United States of America has begun to realize that to try to ease the tension of the cold war is a mistake and that the thing to do is to win the cold war. I believe we are on the eve of doing so and, therefore, I regard the future with much confidence.
How did the honorable member suggest that this should be done? Earlier in his speech he had said -
Previously it was the practice to say that we should try to ease the cold war but I think that that is quite a wrong policy. I believe that our policy should be directed towards winning the cold war. Russia has her problems and we must not clothe the Russians with supernatural powers. Every satellite country of Russia is restless.
What the honorable member meant was that we should encourage that restlessness, that we should go into Europe and try to increase that restlessness, creating conditions like those that existed in Hungary, or helping to create them, and running the risk, to some extent, of war. He meant that we should continually risk the possibility of war in situations of that kind. When I say that this was the honorable member’s meaning, I think his own words support my contention.
Motion (by Mr. Osborne) put -
That the question be now put - (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. T. F. Timson.)
The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed vote agreed to.
.- I move- [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 15).]
[Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 16).]
[Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 17).]
[Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 18).]
[Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 19).]
[Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Amendment (No. 1).]
That, in these Proposals - “ Collector “ have the same meaning as in the Customs Act 1901-1960; “ goods to which these Proposals apply “ mean goods that -
[Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Amendment (No. 5.)]
Mr. Chairman, the Tariff Proposals which I have tabled relate to proposed amendments of the schedules to the Customs Tariff 1933-1960 and the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933-1960. They also propose the enactment of new legislation to replace the Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) 1931 and the Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) 1934-1960. The alterations will take effect to-morrow morning. The proposals include changes in duties on firearms, sensitized photographic papers and transfer media, laboratory and scientific glassware, and thiocarbamyl chemicals; and they arise from consideration of the Tariff Board reports on these commodities. I shall table the relevant Tariff Board reports shortly.
The tariff structure on firearms has been revised. The important changes provide for protective duties of 15 per cent. British preferential tariff and 25 per cent, otherwise on .22 calibre single-barrelled rim fire rifles and various parts and for a reduction in the British preferential tariff-intermediate tariff margin on other firearms to the minimum permitted under the United KingdomAustralia Trade Agreement. It is also proposed to raise from £5 to £30 the penalty for unproofed firearms. This penalty, I might add, is intended to operate as a deterrent to the importation of weapons which have not been subjected to proof testing approved by the Minister for Customs and Excise.
Tariff protection is now accorded to photographic papers and transfer media of the image transfer types when in sizes of 400 square inches or less. Larger sizes remain unprotected. The papers affected are those types used in the photocopying of documents. Ordinary photographic papers are not affected.
Following a review of the local industry by the Tariff Board, protective duties are being imposed on laboratory and scientific glassware. The new rates will be 20 per cent, under the British preferential tariff and 30 per cent, under the intermediate and general tariffs. However, those goods which the Tariff Board has found are not being manufactured locally will be admitted under customs by-law at concessional rates of duty.
Concerning certain thiocarbamyl chemicals, which are used principally as agricultural fungicides, protective duties of 12$ per cent. British preferential tariff, and 30 per cent, otherwise, are now proposed in accordance with the recommendations of the Tariff Board.
Honorable members will recall that I placed before the committee on 19th May proposed tariff changes in respect of static transformers. Some slight modifications of the duties then imposed under the British preferential tariff are necessary to adhere to Australia’s international commitments. The Tariff Board report on this subject was tabled on 19th May.
Customs Tariff Proposal No. 17 relates solely to certain administrative changes introduced to facilitate the preparation of statistical data. In no case is the level of duties disturbed or the incidence of the tariff changed in any way.
As honorable members know, Australia has recently revised1 its trade agreement with Canada. Although the new agreement does not involve any actual alteration in the rates of duty applicable to Canadian goods, it is proposed to take the opportunity to consolidate all the provisions in one preference tariff and to revoke the two existing acts. The Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Proposals No. 1 is introduced for this purpose.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand! Preference) Proposals No. 5 formally state certain new commitments to New Zealand. There is no variation in the existing rates of duty on the goods.
I commend the proposals to honorable members.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table the reports of the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Sensitized photographic papers and transfer media.
Laboratory and scientific glassware. Firearms.
I am also tabling two other Tariff Board reports on -
Roll film box-type cameras.
These do not call for any legislative action. The board’s findings have in both instances been adopted by the Government.
Ordered to be printed.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed (vide page 989).
Department of the Treasury.
Proposed Vote, £12,907,000
– There are one or two matters concerning the administration of the Department of the Treasury about which I should like to say a few words. A couple of weeks ago I asked the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) whether he would indicate why, in the Budget Papers and some of the other financial documents that are presented ostensibly for the information of honorable members, the rather quaint procedure has been adopted of quoting Australia’s debt to the United States of America in terms of dollars at the rate of 4.8665 dollars to the £1, that being the rate which obtained 30 or more years ago when the gold standard was operative. As we all know, the current rate of exchange is 2.24 dollars to the £A.l. Stating the figures in this way has the effect of understating by nearly £130,000,000 the amount that Australia owes to the United States.
A similar procedure is adopted in relation to Australia’s indebtedness to the United Kingdom. It is expressed in sterling. As we all know, the present rate of exchange between Australia and great Britain is 25s. Australian to the £1 sterling. The Budget Papers show the sterling debt as being £342,000,000, but in round figures the amount of indebtedness is understated to the extent of £85,000,000. So Australia’s total indebtedness to the United Kingdom and the United States of America is understated by more than £A.200,000,000.
The Treasurer undertook to look into the matter. He prepared a statement which he tabled and which is now available to honorable members. On page 1 of the statement the following passage appears: -
The manner of presentation of the oversea indebtedness of the Commonwealth and the States has been under consideration for some time.
I hope it will not be under consideration for very much longer and that in future the relevant figures will be quoted in terms of Australian currency to-day, as are all the other figures in the Budget. That is the only way in which one can make a proper appraisal of the picture. The practice to which I have referred apparently dates back to the Financial Agreement of 1927. Surely some better procedure could be adopted now than that of expressing our indebtedness to the United States in terms of the gold standard and our debt to the United Kingdom in terms of sterling rather than in terms of Australian currency. I hope immediate attention will be given to this matter.
There are some other matters concerning the presentation of the overall financial picture to which I should like to refer. The Government has been bragging about the fact that this year it has budgeted for a surplus and not for a deficit. It is not possible to tell from the Budget Papers whether in the overall picture there is to be a surplus or a deficiency on the public account. Because it is of some significance, some attempt should be made to present in a much more comprehensive way than is done, information as to the overall effect of public finance on the Australian economy. With nearly £1 in £4 of total expenditure being directly the result of Government action, whether the Government spends more or less is of great significance in the overall economic picture.
Tied up with this is the need to have clear information as to the actual amount and as to how that amount is distributed, to obtain some comprehensive picture of the role of the public debt in the Australian scene. I call the attention of the committee to paragraph 603 on page 224 of the printed report of the Radcliffe committee in the United Kingdom, which, reporting in August of last year, had this to say -
It is not merely that monetary action and debt management interact so that they ought to be under one control: they are one and indivisible; debt management lies at the heart of monetary control, and it is essential that this unity should be adequately reflected in our institutional arrangements.
Those words are of some significance to the Australian situation at the moment, because we cannot get certain information about the public debt which, I am sure, must be available to the Treasury and which is made public in other countries.
I shall refer now to page 26 of the latest issue of the Treasury Information Bulletin - No. 19 for July, 1960. This is a very useful document published by the Treasury. One should give credit where credit is due; this most informative document is printed four times a year, within a month or so of the currency of the figures. In the last issue, statistics are given as to the amount of public debt which falls due in the current financial year. In the last few Budget speeches that have been made by the Treasurer and his predecessor, reference has been made to what has been called the problem of debt maturity. The figures in the Treasury Information Bulletin highlight the fact that the Government has not faced up to the situation properly; it has merely fobbed off the problem for the time being and this is beginning to catch up with it. Of the total amount of debt falling due internally this year, £337,000,000, £179,000,000 or well over half is debt that was incurred in 1958 and 1959 - not more than two years ago. This was debt which had fallen due then and which the Government apparently could convert only on the short term because people would not take long-term securities. The short-term rate at the moment is about 4 per cent.
The real problem is that maturing government debt is for all practical purposes the equivalent of cash. It affects what is now called the liquidity situation of the community, because a person who has a government bond maturing can at any time obtain a cheque drawn on the Government. When this cheque is paid into the banking system, it increases the capacity of that system, which then has more funds to do with as it likes. It shifts the initiative in monetary control from the public sector to the private sector. I suggest that this is one of the real difficulties that the Government faces.
It would have been interesting if the Government had given some intimation - I hope that it may yet do so - as to who holds the major part of the £179,000,000 of debt converted in 1958 and 1959 into short-term securities. One cannot get an appraisal here of how much of the public debt is held by institutions. A new factor has intruded into this situation - the short-term money market, created by the policy of this Government. I suggest that much more adequate statistics ought to be published, showing who holds the short-term securities. I cannot see any reason at all why this information should not be published. It would at least assist those who have to make an assessment of what the situation is likely to be. This is another matter that deserves some attention.
A further factor that causes great confusion in the Australian scene is what might broadly be called the problems of Commonwealth and State relations. Last night, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) spoke at considerable length about the great job the Government is doing to assist the States. He said that larger sums were now being given to the States than had previously been given. Of course, it is necessary for the States in 1960 to have more money than they had in 1945 or 1950 or 1955. Their responsibilities are greater because their populations are growing by natural increase and by immigration. The Prime Minister last night gave figures on the expenditure on education in Victoria in 1946-47 compared with 1960. I should like to make another comparison, which I think is of some significance, and that is the amount of interest payable by the States in 1947 and the amount payable in 1960. These figures are given on page 95 of the Budget Papers. In round figures, the total annual interest burden on the debt ascribed to the States in 1947 was £31,000,000, but for the year ended June, 1960, it had risen to £105,000,000, an increase in thirteen years of £74,000,000. It would be very interesting, again as an exercise, if we could have presented to us information showing how much of the increased amount now paid to the States is due to this book-keeping transaction, by which the States receive money from taxation so that they can pay it back to the Commonwealth as interest. There is a lot of this duck-shoving going on inside the Australian economic picture at the moment. This makes it very difficult to obtain a clear picture.
It is easy enough to argue that the payments to the States have risen over the years, but it would be interesting to know how much of the increase is due to this peculiar policy of the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States. The Commonwealth pays for its capital works out of revenue. I support that policy and hope that it will continue, and even increase, in the future. In my view, the best way to pay for public works is out of current revenue. This eliminates any interest or other burdens in the future, which create this peculiar circulating book-keeping device arising from the payment of interest by the States. I doubt in the last analysis whether it makes much difference to the overall picture. This device causes a lot of confusion in attempting to assess the position and makes the Commonwealth Government appear much more generous than it really is. If one asks the State governments whether they have enough money on current account and capital account to do all they need to do, they will say that they have not. Education is flagging, hospitals are not being built and certain cultural facilities are being neglected because the States have not sufficient money to do all they need to do and to experiment in fields in which they would like to experiment. Their revenue is strictly limited by the Commonwealth Government. I believe the matters I have mentioned should be clarified.
– -Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I have the temerity to make certain suggestions in regard to income tax. I will not suggest great changes in the present methods of taxation, but I will suggest certain ways in which I believe our national revenue and our national stability can be improved. I postulate five propositions. The first is that there is not enough investment in government securities. The second is that Australia needs more money for national development. The third is that savings are a very desirable source of money for that purpose and, therefore, that we must encourage savings. My fourth proposition is that many teenagers do not save enough money. My fifth proposition is that the burden on the shoulders of the family man should be eased as much as possible.
I submit that one way in which we can encourage savings is by providing for deferred tax credits. I suggest that any person be permitted to deposit with the Government up to, say, £250 in any tax year and to have his tax assessed as if his taxable income for that year were reduced by that amount. A suggestion along somewhat similar lines has already been made by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). I suggest that interest be paid on the deposits at 3 per cent, per annum, or whatever is considered a fair rate, and that in any subsequent year the taxpayer may elect to have that amount included in his taxable income, after withdrawing it from the Treasury. The amount which he withdraws would form a part of his taxable income for that year and he would be taxed accordingly.
Critics may say that the tax on that amount would merely be deferred and that no inducement would be given to make such deposits. I point out that a prudent taxpayer would obviously withdraw the money from deposit in a year in which his income was much less than in other years. The eventual saving to a taxpayer who deposited £20 might be £10, or even £100. If he ceased work, withdrew his deposit of £250, included it in his taxable income for that year and paid tax on it, the tax might, in some circumstances, be negligible. So there would be an inducement to a taxpayer to adopt that method of depositing money with the Government. Let me assume that the tax on the amounts deposited average 5s. in £1 and that 200,000 people invested £250 each in a year. The Government would receive £50,000,000 in that year. At the rate of 5s. in the £1, the tax the depositors would save on that sum would be approximately £12,000,000. Although the Government would lose £12,000,000 in taxation in that year, it would have the use of £50,000,000 of the taxpayers’ money. This would be an excellent means of avoiding inflationary tendencies. If there were a possibility that so much money would be placed on deposit as to cause difficulties, arrangements could be made for a limit to be placed on the number of depositors in each tax year - say 50,000 depositors a quarter at £250 each. Time will not permit me to give further details. Obviously, the amount of the deposit, the number of depositors and the conditions would have to be considered.
I now mention another way of improving Australia’s financial position. I call it the teenage credit method. I suggest that the income in excess of £5 a week of a single person under 21 years of age be taxed at a higher rate under a deferred system. In addition to the normal income tax payments, one-third of the income in excess of £5 per week would be treated as a deferred credit, or a teenage credit, if you like that term. Interest would be paid on that amount at the rate of, say, 3 per cent, per annum. The sum standing to the credit of the teenager would increase each year. If he married at the age of, say, 21 years, he would be allowed to withdraw the deferred credit which had accumulated. If £100 a year for five years were taken by way of deferred credit from his wages, for which 1 have assumed an average of £11 a week, then on his marriage he would receive £545. I believe that would be a good way of helping him at a time when he needed help - when he was getting married. However, this suggestion, if implemented, would do more than help the teenager when he married; it would have the effect of preventing him from wasting his money. I think honorable members will readily agree, after seeing the way in which teenagers spend their money, that some of them spend far too much. On the other hand, many teenagers are careful with their money. Under the system I suggest, the tendency of some teenagers to spend too much money would be curbed and a teenager would save perhaps £100 a year, which would be returned to him with interest when he married.
The money would also be very useful for national purposes. Therefore, there would be both an individual benefit and a national benefit from such a system. I cannot go into any further details of the system of teenage credit which I suggest. I merely say that if 200,000 teenagers had deferred credits of £100 a year each, the Government would have £20,000,000 a year and that amount would not go down the drain, as some of it does at present. To meet the case of the teenager who did not marry at the age of 21 years, a scheme could be introduced under which deferred credits would be paid to a single adult on attaining the age of 25 years. The money would not be retained by the Government indefinitely, even if the depositor could not find a wife.
I have pointed out two ways - the teenage credit scheme and the deferred tax credit scheme - in which further finance could be raised from time to time, and which would also curtail unnecessary spending and thereby help to prevent inflation.
Turning to the other side of the picture, I believe that the family man to-day needs more consideration in regard to taxation. For a couple of years now the allowable deductions available to the family man have not been increased. I may say that I have no axe to grind in this matter, because my youngest child is over the age at which I benefit in tax rebates. The present taxation allowance in respect of a spouse or a daughter-housekeeper is £143. That amount has remained static for a couple of years. My argument is that if the allowance was just, two years ago, it is too low to-day. I suggest, therefore, that in order to bring the family man into relativity with other taxpayers, his taxation allowances should be increased. Other allowances applying to the family man are £91 for Che first child and £65 each for other children under 16 years of age. There are also allowances in respect of student children, invalid relatives, parents and housekeepers. They also should be increased.
It might be argued that if these allowances were increased it would be necessary to levy additional taxes to offset the resulting fall in the revenue. If, however, the allowances were increased at the same time as my other suggestions were put into operation, that might not apply, because the Government would have a great deal more money each year which would be withdrawn from circulation and which it could use for national investment. So the Government would be in a better position.
If, after the schemes I have suggested were put into effect, it were necessary to increase taxes, the increase in tax rates would be so slight as to be scarcely worth talking about. An increase of 3d. in the £1 would mean that a man’s liabilities would go up by only one-eightieth, yet this would yield another £8,500,000 a year to the Government. A taxpayer who paid £4 in tax would have to pay only another ls. If an increase in tax were necessary in order to increase the allowances available to the family man so as to bring him into relativity with other taxpayers, the amount involved would be so small that I think it would be very worthwhile to grant these increased allowances.
.- I shall take my second period, Mr. Temporary Chairman. I have made some mention of the internal debt of Australia as revealed in the last Treasury bulletin. That statement also contains some facts regarding the maturity dates of overseas loans in the current financial year. Two loans will be falling due in London for conversion, one in December, I960 and the other in June, 1961. The first is a loan of £14,000,000 sterling at 3 per cent., and the second is a loan of £20,500,000 sterling at 3i per cent. In order to get the Australian money equivalent it is only necessary to add another quarter to those figures.
The Government is pursuing a policy of not redeeming those debts, but of floating fresh loans in their stead. Of course, the money cannot be reborrowed on the same favourable terms as it was originally borrowed. The last two sterling loans that were converted had to be issued at a discount - one was issued at £97 10s. per cent, and the other at £98 per cent. These conversions can be floated only at an interest rate of 6 per cent. Apart even from sinking fund payments, the annual interest burden on a debt of £20,000,000 Australian - or £16,000,000 sterling - at 3 per cent, is £600,000. If you have to reconvert the loan at the terms now ruling on the market, the annual interest bill will increase from £600,000 to £1,200,000. I am quoting round figures. I doubt whether it is very sound economy, whatever views might be held about the shortage of foreign exchange, to convert these loans at all. I suggest that it would be more prudent to pay the loans off and so at least avoid the annual interest burden of £1,200,000 that I have mentioned.
What is happening illustrates how desperately this Government seeks round for foreign exchange. In conjunction with this search we have its relaxation of import controls, so as to allow to come into this country goods that are not really necessary. I do not mean to say that all imports are unnecessary, but there are many things being imported which the Australian economy could well do without. They could either be got here or we could be better off without them. An honorable member on this side of the chamber directed attention this afternoon to an item in the tariff schedule which, if it were not imported, would be no great loss to Australia. So desperate is the Government to conserve its foreign exchange holdings that it is refraining from paying off loans, even though the terms of refloating them are onerous, to say the least. Yet at the same time, as the result of the Government’s import policy, it is helping to exhaust our foreign exchange holdings, while it hopes that capital imports will bridge the gap. Again I suggest that it is not very good national housekeeping to incur capital debts which have to be met on very unfavourable terms, when at the same time we are importing many things which are immediately consumed, and which in many instances are not required by the economy. That is very foolish national housekeeping. These are the kinds of straws, however, at which this Government grasps in order to conserve its London balances. The Government conserves these balances in one direction and, because of its relaxation of import controls, runs them down in another direction. I suggest that there ought to be better co-ordination between the import policy and the policy of conserving our London funds.
On previous occasions in this chamber we have been told that, at Loan Council discussions, the Premiers have agreed to the Government’s financial policy. I suggest that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) does not really think that the State Premiers have a very serious say in this kind of thing. They are more or less rubber stamps at the Loan Council. They are glad to get anything they can get. They are not very worried about where the money they get comes from. As I stated before, we have that curious circulating problem whereby the interest bill of the States has risen from £30,000,000 to over £105,000,000 in a period of twelve or thirteen years. It is true, as the Prime Minister says, that the Commonwealth’s payments to the States this year will be greater than ever before. But so also are the needs of the States greater. Again I suggest there ought to be some kind of reappraisal of our , constitutional machinery insofar as the meeting of the Commonwealth and the States in the Loan Council is concerned. The Loan Council meetings have become an annual wrangle as to how much the Commonwealth will give measured against the growing demands of the States. Then we have the interplay of Commonwealth immigration policy and the development problems of the States. We ought to be dealing with all these problems as partners in a co-operative Commonwealth rather than in this wrangle, the meeting of the Loan Council, which occurs in May or June of each year. The Government should look at the many problems with which the Treasury is confronted.
The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bandidt) has advanced some fancy schemes for filling loans by making the returns from those loans tax-free, but the fact remains that the investors in the different income brackets carefully calculate the return that they will receive before they invest in these loans. The Commonwealth Government, in its advertisements relating to its new series of loans, has pointed out how much it is worth to individuals in particular income brackets to invest, having regard to the rebate of 2s. in the £1 which is given on the interest received from the investment. This does not seem to me to be an equitable or a practical way to secure money which is necessary to finance essential public development.
Our national debt at present is in the vicinity of £4,200,000,000. When you look at the figures which are published by the Treasury, it is surprising how much of this debt is held by public agencies of one kind or another. This entails merely a transfer of figures from one side of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the other. There are huge holdings of some hundreds of millions of pounds in the Note Issue Reserve and, according to the latest report of the National Debt Commission which was tabled in the Parliament recently, there are stocks worth something like £176,000,000 in the National Debt Sinking Fund. The Commonwealth Bank, which is a public agency, holds large amounts of government securities. Mutual insurance companies, which in essence are only investors by proxy for the people who make small weekly or quarterly payments in insurance premiums, hold large amounts of government securities. The various State savings banks, which are public institutions, also hold large amounts of the Public Debt. The amount that is held by individuals is a relatively declining proportion of the total.
It is true that very belatedly this Government did something that the Opposition had urged for a long time. It issued the new kind of bond that retains its capital value after it has been held for a minimum period of six months. This kind of bond has been reasonably successful in encouraging investment from the smaller individuals in the community. But I think that more serious consideration should be given to the problem of debt management because of its intimate relationship with monetary policy. The tendency now is for an increasing proportion of the debt to be held by institutions and for an increasing proportion of the debt to be held in short-term rather than long-term holdings. Of course, the shorter the term the more frequent do conversions become, and the individuals who hold those bonds exercise the choice of converting or drawing their cheques and putting the development in some other direction. This makes it increasingly difficult for the Government to exert the overall financial control which it should exert.
We on this side of the chamber believe that there should be more public investment or more public development relative to the private investment than exists at present. I think that at present about two-thirds of total investment is private and one-third is public. I suggest that honorable members look at the buildings which are being placed on the corner of Bourke and Queen streets in Melbourne and ask themselves whether those kind of buildings are more important to the needs of the Victorian people than are primary and high schools and hospitals. I do not think that people should have the most comfortable bank buildings imaginable in which to pay in their cheques while children are being educated in all kinds of temoprary premises. The only way in which you can alter that balance is to have more public investment. Whether it comes out of taxation or from increasing subscriptions to loans may be immaterial, but it would make for more spending in the public sector and less in the private sector. At present the initiative lies to a greater degree than it should with these private institutions as to how the pattern of development in Australia shall be determined.
In a year or two the Government will come head-on with this problem of public debt conversion. I commend to the Prime Minister and to the Treasury the remarks of the Radcliffe committee on this aspect. This committee was set up by a conservative - what we call a tory - government in
England, lt was composed mainly of commoners and bankers although a couple of trade union representatives were on it. The committee took the view that public investment should not be squeezed when credit retrictions become necessary. But that is what happens when you have the kind of financial policy which this Government has adopted in Australia. You get conditions of boom, and rather than impose the restriction in the private sphere it is imposed in the public sphere. To a great extent, we have not in Australia the capacity to restrict the private sphere effectively. That means that if the overall activity in the investment field is to decline, it is easier to do it in the public sphere than in the private sphere, although it might not be the most desirable or the most equitable choice to make in the pattern of development.
These problems must be grappled with in the next year or two. I have no doubt that the Prime Minister and his officers have contemplated them. I hope that more information will be given to honorable members. While the Prime Minister was absent from the chamber I commended the Treasury for the Treasury Information Bulletin.
– Although I was not in the chamber I heard your remarks.
– The survey which is published each year is very informative and helps to throw light on what are really complicated problems - problems which this Parliament has to endeavour to understand and comprehend.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I congratulate the Treasury upon the White Papers which now are presented with the Budget Papers. The National Income and Expenditure statement and the Treasury Information Bulletin are most valuable documents which assist honorable members and the public generally. However, I suggest that the Treasury accounts should be prepared in a form which the ordinary businessman and the public would be better able to understand. There is a tendency to write down the Australian financial position. I suggest that our economy has never been sounder than it is to-day. Australia should publish its accounts in a form readily understandable to the average citizen, both at home and abroad, and, because of Australia’s financial soundness, I believe that we will attract far more funds from overseas and entice far more money into Government bonds than we have over the last few years. I believe that this tendency to write down Australia instead of writing up its wonderfully sound position is having a depressing effect on the people who have money to invest.
I have reconstructed statement No. 1 of the Budget Papers in the form in which it would be presented by a public company carrying on business in Australia. The statement shows that the revenue of the Commonwealth from taxation and from its undertakings amounted to £1,432,000,000, and that expenditure was £1,260,000,000. The real surplus for the year 1959-60 was £172,000,000. That is a most satisfactory position for the Commonwealth and, I think, would be the envy of most countries of the world. I see no reason why we should not tell the world the true position. Why should we not say that, according to ordinary business accounting, our surplus for the year 1959-60 was £172,000,000? Instead of that, we tell the world that we had a cash deficit of £28,000,000.
Let us see how the Commonwealth expended its surplus of £172,000,000. First, we used £142,000,000 of it on Commonwealth capital works. I do not criticize the Commonwealth for doing so. It is wonderful that we are able to pay, out of revenue, for the whole of our capital works. It will be a very fortunate generation which inherits completely free of debt, all the post offices, the airports and the other facilities that have been provided during the last twelve months. But I do not see any reason why we should not let the people know the position. An amount of £7,000,000 has been used as advances to war service land settlers, all of which will be repaid in future years. Again, a fortunate generation will have that money coming in to help with its normal expenditure.
When we deduct the £142,000,000 for capital works and the £7,000,000 for war service land settlement, the surplus that still remains is £23,000,000. How, then, did the Government produce a so-called cash deficit of £28,000,000? This is how it was arrived at. An amount of £220,000,000 was lent to the States for State works.
The public at home and overseas lent £193,000,000, so that there was a shortage in that respect of £27,000,000. Also, we paid off our past debts, war-time and otherwise, to the extent of £77,000,000. We received from the sinking fund £53,000,000 against that figure, which left a shortage of £24,000,000. I am not criticizing the Government for paying off past debts out of revenue. I think it is most commendable that we are able to do so, notwithstanding the fact that we have established sinking funds which automatically pay off those debts over a period of years. In time of prosperity it is very proper that we should pay off our past debts as quickly as we are able. But again, I say, “ Why not let the people know? “
When we bring those figures into adjustment - that is, the £23,000,000 surplus that we arrived at after paying for our capital works out of revenue, the £27,000,000 that we had to pay to meet the shortage in borrowings of the States, and the £24,000,000 which was used to pay off our public debt - we arrive at the figure of £28,000,000, which is shown in the Budget as the cash deficiency.
When we come to the present year we find an even more favorable position. For 1960-61, receipts are estimated at £1,609,000,000, and expenditure, which any company or corporation would charge against those receipts, is estimated at £1,343,000,000. Therefore, the surplus, on which the Government would have to pay tax if it were a private corporation, will be £266,000,000. Again, I say, that indicates a financial position that must be the envy of every country of the world. We propose to use that surplus of £266,000,000, first, by paying £140,000,000 for capital works, all of which will be handed on to future generations completely free from debt. Secondly, we propose to redeem another £80,000,000 worth of war-time and other debts, which will bring the surplus down to £46,000,000. Thirdly, we propose to make advances to the States of £31,000,000 to meet the anticipated shortage in public borrowings. So, we arrive at the published surplus of £15,000,000. These are facts that we should tell the people. I do not think it is wise merely to say we have a cash deficit, or that we shall have only a small surplus. Why not say, “ To check this inflationary situation, we are going to pay off our past debts, and we are also going to pay for all our government works out of revenue “? I think the people are ready for a lead on counter-inflationary action. I congratulate the Government on the action that has been taken, and I think there is much more that we can do. We have to take the people completely into our confidence. We should say to them, “ We are living in a time of great prosperity, and because that is so, we propose to take this opportunity to pay off our past debts and at the same time check inflation “.
This problem of inflation is causing concern in every country, and I think it is quite obvious that different remedies are necessary in different circumstances. I believe it was the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) who once used the expressive phrase that inflation was a condition in which too much money was chasing too few goods. I think that was a completely correct diagnosis of the situation at the time, but in these days of abundance of goods and services it cannot possibly be said that there are shortages of goods, and we have to look to other causes of the present inflationary pressure.
I believe that the cause of the present inflationary situation is inadequacy of savings. In this time of great prosperity, the people are spending too much and saving too little. The only way in which we can control the present situation is to save greater amounts than are being saved now. I believe that we have to get more money into Government bonds so that we shall not perpetuate a situation in which we are paying for everything out of revenue. I congratulate the Treasurer on the introduction of special bonds. Some years ago, I suggested to the Government that more imagination should be shown in the floating of Government loans. I repeat that suggestion now. I believe there is still lack of imagination in meeting members of the investing public in ways that will attract them to invest their money in Government bonds rather than spend it.
Last year the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) put forward a very valuable suggestion which I believe would attract the investment of many millions of pounds in Government bonds. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bandidt) made several suggestions this afternoon. I do not think we should simply dismiss all these suggestions; nor do we necessarily need to adopt them. But we have to recognize that Government bonds have lost their attraction. They are met by very severe competition from organizations which are able to offer high rates of interest. 1 would not suggest for a moment that the interest on Government bonds should be raised, for I think that would only make the whole inflationary situation wilder than it is to-day, but I believe there are all sorts of things we can do to make Government bonds more attractive.
-(Mr. Chaney). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I shall deal later with the references by the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) to inflation, and give my reasons for it. I may say that the reasons offered by honorable members on this side are not those which the honorable member for Sturt suggests are responsible for the existence of the present high pressure of inflation. Nor do we agree that the remedies the honorable member would apply are those best calculated to effect a cure.
As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is sitting at the table, I should like to draw his attention to the practical side of taxation and point to an anomaly which now exists. Apparently it was adjusted in the years gone by, but it has crept up again. I refer to the income tax levied on Australian writers. These writers are not making a great deal of money, and the anomaly to which 1 refer relates to the practice of adding royalties to the author’s income. The average author in this country has another job. If he depended on writing, he would starve to death. The supplementary income he earns as a writer is added to his ordinary income in a lump sum for the purposes of assessment, and may even render him liable to the payment of provisional tax. It certainly prevents him from receiving the usual rebates that most workers enjoy. I have had this experience myself on several occasions.
I think that the present Prime Minister, together with a former Labour Prime Minister, the late J. H. Scullin, was a member of a taxation review committee which was responsible for the introduction of the system of assessment under which income was averaged over a period of three years. I think that spread was arrived at on the rather quaint reasoning that as the primary producer was allowed three years to fatten his bullocks, the artistic gentleman should be allowed three years to create his epic.
– I have never heard that explanation.
– It does seem rather bovine or bucolic, but I believe it to be true. I hope the Prime Minister will correct me if I am wrong, but I understand that now the primary producer is allowed five years in which to fatten his bullocks, whereas the author is now taxed on what he earns durin the year. I base that on inquiries I have made at the Sydney office of the Taxation branch. I should like the Prime Minister and Acting Treasurer to investigate this matter and, if I am rightly informed, to restore the old very useful system of spreading the income over three years.
– I will certainly look into it.
– I thank the right honorable gentleman. I think the situation has slipped and is now slightly out of hand.
The honorable member for Sturt is a very knowledgeable man on matters relating to finance. He sees the opportunities that have been won and lost by the Government. He spoke of inflation in pious and platitudinous terms. He said what a regrettable thing it was and that we would have to do something about it now or in the very near future, and so on and so on, ad nauseam. I think that we must be more potent, aggressive and savage in attacking inflation of the kind that affects the country at the present time. Without going into the old routine of blaming people - after all inflation is a world-wide problem - we should look at some of the causes of it. I have only to look at my own electorate to see some of the dramatic changes that inflation has brought into the lives of the people. First, they have an entirely different concept of working hours, wages, and indeed, of the future.
I think that we have to look to the psychological factors of inflation if we are to find a cure. In effect, the 40-hour week has disappeared now because of this Government’s policy. Overtime is rampant. Statistics published recently in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ disclose that, in secondary industry, which provides a tremendous amount of employment in Sydney, as it does in all capital cities, about one-third of the employees are on permanent overtime. Now, the way to attract staff or to keep staff contented is to ensure that overtime is turned on. Overtime to that extent is anti-union and certainly very proinflation. In essence, the 40-hour week is the maximum time in which employment should be pursued, but to-day, we find that overtime is added and this is a prolific cause of inflation. The extra money goes into circulation and is absorbed through another aspect of inflation - the free spending, induced by modern massive publicity campaigns, on the things that workers require to-day. Some of the most brilliant brains in Australia are trained in selling methods. Sales suggestibility has developed into almost an art and turnover has reached extraordinary proportions. Sales must be maintained if we are not to have a rundown in business with a consequential slackening of employment, the loss of overtime and the restoration of the 40-hour week. That is the plight we have created for ourselves. We are on the horns of a dilemma whichever way we turn.
Again, the basic wage does not exist any more as the notation of what a man earns, because the drift in the value of money - it is the same in other parts of the world, since inflation is world-wide - is such that usually, if there are no children of working age in the family, the wife is obliged to go out and seek employment in order to supplement her husband’s income. So, in effect, the basic wage to-day is earned by two people, not one.
So, the first plight of the worker is that the 40-hour week has been wiped out, although he does not realize it. He sees only the rainbow or the shimmering mirage of good times. We are told that “ We have never had it better “ - a low-grade Yankee slogan. I urge people to examine the position and ask themselves whether they have never had it better. They may have radio sets, television sets and other amenities that the worker never dreamed of having twenty years ago, but the structure on which our standards have been built has been weakened. We are now living in a framework that could collapse at any time simply because there is no stability in it. Inflation careers everywhere. Because of the need to work overtime, the 40-hour week has, in effect, gone. Nobody can say justly that a 40-hour week is operating to-day, be cause men have to work overtime in order to get enough money to pay their way.
When we talk about taxation we complain about the free spending of the worker and we tend to forget that many of the services that he uses have become, in effect, a tax upon him. He has to pay fivepence for a postage stamp and a very high tax, in the form of rates, on his little cottage. It ranges from £25 to £35 in the metropolitan area of Sydney. He has to pay another £20 in water rates, based on a fictitious valuation. All these things are charges on his salary, but we talk about curbing his extravagance and we look for a formula to enable us to do so. The worker is being got at in many other ways. At one time he paid a small amount for his telephone, but now his telephone bill is fantastically large. So with his insurance premiums and many other things. One thing is piled upon another. It is a case of piling Pelion upon Ossa. The weight of his commitments compels him to work overtime.
The honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) referred to the crux of the position when he said, rather naively, that government bonds have lost their attraction. Millions of pounds worth of advertisements have appeared in the metropolitan newspapers to make them lose their attraction. Alongside sober advertisements such as “ The State of Victoria is behind this loan “, “ The State of New South Wales is behind this Water Board loan “, “ Queensland guarantees this loan at 5 per cent. “, are flamboyant advertisements by trust companies and others. These companies say, “ We will get you 8 per cent. Roll out that spare cash to us; we will make it work. This is 1960. We will give you unit trust money for your investment.”
– It is investment inflation.
– As our expert, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, says, it is investment inflation, rioting amongst the savings of the people and taking from them the money they should be putting into government bonds or into savings banks. As a result, an extraordinary thing is happening. Labour made a frontal attack upon the trading banks of this country a decade ago, but now those banks do not matter a tinker’s dam. They have died of their own volition. They are the second line of attack so far as money is concerned. The bandit bankers are in front of them.
The bandit bankers are making millions of pounds, whereas the trading banks are making less than hundreds of thousands. The banks are having a bit of a battle. They are having something of a struggle to get their statutory 12 per cent., 13 per cent., and 14 per cent., because they have gone along with the bandit banks. I ask for leave to continue my remarks.
Sitting suspended from 5.59. to 8 p.m.
Bill presented by Mr. Roberton, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
It is my privilege to introduce a bill that will not only directly benefit almost 700,000 Australian citizens but will, in addition, clear away an anomaly which has bedevilled the application of the means test for more than half a century and, to that degree, alter the traditional pattern of pension entitlement in our country. Since the proclamation of the Commonwealth of Australia was signed on 17th September, 1900, this Parliament, in addition to all the six State parliaments, has discussed the question of social services with a frequency and a regularity which has never been exceeded by the consideration given to any other public and controversial question. Admittedly, our federation was eight years old before the Parliament approved of the first piece of social service legislation, but they were eight years of almost constant conflict of opinion and didactic disputation over the relative merits of a variety of proposals and, although great and far-reaching reforms have been effected since then, this Parliament has never been able to compose that conflict or reduce that disputation.
It must never be forgotten that Commonwealth social services are based on the willingness and the ability of the community as a whole to assist those who are in need of assistance and who are qualified in terms of residence, circumstances, age, invalidity, bereavement, maternity, the care and custody of children, sickness or unemployment, and it is left to the Executive Go vernment to determine the measure of that assistance within the limits of the Budget in each and every financial year.
Consistent with that basis, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has announced that the maximum general rate of age, invalid and widows’ pensions will be increased by 5s. a week. This will bring the new maximum genera] rates up to £5 a week for the aged and for invalids, up to £5 5s. a week for widows with children, and up to £4 7s. 6d. a week for widows without children.
I would remind the House that the actual maximum pension payable to invalid and widow pensioners and to permanently incapacitated age pensioners is increased by an additional 10s. a week for each child after the first and, for all pensioners who are qualified to receive supplementary assistance, the actual maximum pension payable is increased by a further 10s. a week. These additional payments were introduced by this Government in 1956 and 1958, respectively.
Since 1949, the maximum general rate has been increased from £2 2s. 6d. a week, without additional payments of any kind, to these new levels - varying, as they do, with the changing circumstances of those who qualify for them - and they are further increased by the free medical services and pharmaceutical benefits which were introduced by the present Government and are now available to the vast majority of pensioners.
The bill provides for the total abolition of the class D widows’ pension which visited great hardship on women with children whose husbands have been imprisoned for at least six months. Honorable members will know that women in these sad circumstances have been paid at the rate applicable to widows of 50 years of age who have no children. That grave additional penalty on the children will now be removed. In future their mothers will receive the same rate of pension, and will be subject to the same means test, as class A widows. Thus, the rate payable to them will be increased from the current £4 2s. 6d. a week to £5 5s. a week - an increase of £1 2s. 6d. a week - and, for the first time, they will become entitled to an additional 10s. a week for each child after the first. Women who are over 50 years of age, who have no children in their care and custody, and whose husbands have been imprisoned for at least six months, will, in future, be eligible for a class B widow’s pension under the usual conditions. There will be no financial advantage, but it is hoped that the change will be of some benefit to them in other ways.
A number of machinery amendments, not involving any additional cost but of importance to the community, have been included in the bill with the sole object of improving and clarifying certain provisions in the principal act in the light of departmental experience and advice received from the Commonwealth legal authorities. At this juncture, I propose to mention them briefly since they will be explained in more detail during the committee stage of the bill.
The first of these machinery amendments relates to the recovery of sickness benefit and also the cost of rehabilitation treatment and training where a person has received compensation or damages. In the interests of the community, it is only reasonable that where a person has received an award of compensation or damages he should be expected to repay to the Commonwealth the cost of the benefits and1 services received by him. The bill will improve the existing provisions by enabling recovery to be effected from the insurance company with whom the person liable to pay compensation or damages is insured.
The second machinery amendment is concerned with the provisions under which pensioners are required to notify the department of receipt of income or property and other changes in their circumstances which will affect their entitlement to a pension. The present provisions require a pensioner who has received certain income throughout a period of eight consecutive weeks to notify the department within fourteen days after the expiration of that period. As a direct result of the new merged means test, which I will refer to later, it will be necessary for the department to be notified, in some cases, at shorter notice. The relevant provisions have been amended to cover cases of the kind, and the opportunity has been taken, at the same time, to clarify and improve the provisions in the light of advice received from the Attorney-General’s Department.
The bill also amends the provisions relating to prosecution for offences against the act, the object being to simplify the pro cedures in accordance with suggestions made by the Crown Solicitor’s Office. Provision is also being made for persons authorized by the director-general to give the actual written consent to a prosecution for an offence. In practice, administrative instructions will be given so that the State directors will give this consent, but only after the Minister or the director-general has approved of the prosecution in the particular case concerned.
A further amendment will enable an over-payment of pension, allowance, endowment or benefit to be adjusted by deductions from future instalments of the same pension, allowance or benefit. I may say that power already exists in separate provisions of the act to make these deductions, and the amendment only places that power in its proper context. There is an amendment which will allow small items of capital expenditure under the Commonwealth rehabilitation service which do not exceed £200 to be charged to the National Welfare Fund. This proposal will simplify accounting procedures and is the outcome of discussions with the Treasury and the Commonwealth Audit Office.
I now come to the most important structural change in our social services which has ever been devised since the introduction of the legislation, in 1908, for the payment of pensions by the Commonwealth. I refer to the complete alteration of the application of the means test with respect to property and/ or savings in assessing the full entitlement of those who qualify for age, invalid and widows’ pensions. For more than 50 years we have had two means tests and, where it has been appropriate, both have been applied separately and variously to determine the rate of pension payable or to preclude the payment of a pension.
The income means test operates to permit of the payment of a full pension until income exceeds what came to be called the permissible limit and, at that point, income in excess of the permissible limit reduces the pension payable by the amount of the excess until no pension is payable. It follows that every increase in permissible income and/ or every increase in the maximum rate of pension extends the limit beyond which there is no pension entitlement. In that way, and for these purposes, the income means test can be said to be entirely satisfactory. But the property means test operates in a different way. For age and invalid pensions, for every increase in the value of property above an exempt limit, which now stands at £200, the pension is reduced by £1 for each £10 of the value of excess property until the value of property reaches a fixed and arbitrary figure, which now stands at £2,250, beyond which no pension is payable. Thus a person with property, other than property that is disregarded, in excess of £2,250 in value, and no income, is deprived of a pension entitlement. In that way, and for these reasons, the property means test has always been entirely unsatisfactory.
For more than half a century successive Governments have attempted to correct the faults in the property means test. From time to time the categories of property disregarded have been extended in a variety of ways, from time to time the initial exemption has been increased, and from time to time the limit of property beyond which no pension is payable has been pushed out to higher levels by deliberate attempts to correct these faults, or by progressive increases in the maximum general rate of pension, but the inherent disabilities have remained to the prejudice of thousands of innocent people who have struggled valiantly to make some provision for their old age, their infirmities and the normal hazards of life and living.
This bill is designed, inter alia, to sweep away the traditional faults inseparable from the application of two means tests, frequently applied to the same people, for entirely conflicting purposes - the income means test to encourage people to engage their energies and employ their resources, and the property means test which, in its present form, can only serve to discourage saving and the acquisition and retention of property. The bill provides for the introduction of a composite means test of two components, an income component and a property component, with but one single purpose, to assess pension entitlement on a common and interchangeable basis. To that end, the income means test and the property means test have been merged for the first time in our social service history and, appropriately enough, will now be referred to as the merged means test.
Under the merged means test the income component will be calculated in precisely the same way as it is to-day, subject to any variation in the exemption limit and any variation in the maximum general rate of age, invalid and widows’ pensions, but the property component will take a different form. Income from property will continue to be excluded, and the property exemptions will remain unchanged, but £1 in £10 of the value of property above £200 will comprise the property component which, when added to other income, if any, will allow a pension or a part pension to be paid to a qualified person until the property component and other income, if any, exceeds the sum total of permissible income - £182 - and the current maximum pension rate - £260 - that is, an aggregate of £442 for age and invalid pensions.
Honorable members will, perhaps, appreciate that I have had some difficulty in reducing the explanation to a few words, and there are many variations, but the one I have given appears to me to be comparatively simple. The way to determine the annual rate of pension payable in any particular case is to deduct the means as assessed, that is, the property component and income, if any, from the sum of the maximum general rate of pension and the present permissible income. Therefore, in the case of an age or invalid pensioner, the means as asesssed should be deducted from £442, but in the case of a class A widow with children the deduction should be made from £455, due to a difference in the maximum general rate, and from £409 10s. in the case of other widows for the same reason. Of course, the actual rate payable cannot exceed the maximum rate fixed by the act.
The House will be interested to know that the phrase “ permissible income “, which, incidentally, is not now in the act, will cease to represent a fixed income in all cases. The rate of income that may be received for any given rate of pension payable will depend on the amount of property owned. That is an essential feature of the merged means test under which there is an interchange between property and income to bring the two into balance. On the property side, the present provision whereby a person is disqualified if the value of his property exceeds £2,250 will now be abolished. The pensioner’s home and per sonal effects will, as I have said, continue to be disregarded and, in the case of age, invalid and class B widow pensioners, the property exemption of £200 will remain.
With the concurrence of honorable members I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the chart and table that have been circulated.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 September 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19600908_reps_23_hor28/>.