23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. J. R. FRASER presented a petition from certain citizens of the Australian Capital Territory praying that the Government will take immediate action to defer the implementation of rental increases of Government-owned dwellings in Canberra and will conduct an inquiry into Canberra rentals at which evidence may be taken both from individuals and from community organizations.
Petition received and read.
Mr. 3. R. FRASER also presented a petition in similar terms from certain residents of the Currong Flats in the Australian Capital Territory.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior a question. Will he withdraw the Commonwealth Electoral Bill 1961, which is on the notice-paper, and which is in virtually the same terms as was the bill which he introduced last year, and will he introduce another measure which will in the meantime ensure that Australian aborigines will have the same right to enrol and vote at federal elections as is given to all other Australians? I ask the Minister whether he now acknowledges the damage which would be done to our country if the present bill were to re-enact, even temporarily, a provision in direct defiance of our protestations and declarations under the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
– Order! I think that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is now entering into a great deal of comment.
– I was speaking of the bill which is at present on the notice-paper and not of the motion of which the Minister for the Interior has just given notice.
– At question time, some latitude is allowed to those honorable members who sit at the table. I do not think that that latitude should be abused. Their questions should be kept within reason and close to the requirements of the Standing Orders. I feel that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is now intruding debate into his question.
– May I finish, Sir? I was dealing purely with the bill and not with the motion of which notice has been given. I was asking whether the Minister for the Interior would acknowledge the damage which could be done to us all if the bill at present on the notice-paper-
-Order! I ask the honorable gentleman to direct his question.
– I do not propose to withdraw the bill that is on the noticepaper. The honorable gentleman will have an opportunity to debate it in due course.
– I direct to the Minister for Trade a question concerning reports that after discussions between the textile industry and the Department of Trade, the department has stated that there are four firms engaged in the manufacture of manmade fibre piece-goods, that two of the firms are doing well and that the other two are not. It is reported, also, that the Minister this week will be having discussions with the department about the position of this important industry. Will the right honorable gentleman inform the House whether these reports are correct?
– Officials of the Department of Trade have had a whole series of panel meetings with representatives of various branches of the textile industry, including representatives of those companies which are engaged in the manufacture and processing of man-made fibre piece-goods. I am aware of the report to which the honorable member refers. It has been published in respect of a limited area of the industry, 1 believe. That report does not set out the position accurately. It is true that some manufacturers in the textile industry have experienced quite drastic reductions in sales, and as a result have had to reduce their production to a serious degree. It appears that some persons have drawn from this fact the inference that some manufacturers have carried the whole burden of the reduction in demand, while others have been unaffected. That is not correct. It is quite clear to the Department of Trade that in the textile industry there are few, if any, who have been unaffected by the reduction in demand experienced quite recently.
As to my own interest in this matter, I assure the honorable member that for a month or so recently I have had daily consultations on it with officers of the Department of Trade, who are themselves in almost constant consultation, through the panel system, with all sections of the textile industry. As I said in answer to a question yesterday, from time to time, as a result of representations made, references have been made to the Tariff Board for temporary protection, and when the Tariff Board recommends such protection, arrangements of a protective nature, such as I mentioned yesterday, are made.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Snipping and Transport. Has the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, either throughits own officers or through its Sydney agent, the Southern Shipping Company, requested an increase in the freight rates on potatoes transported from Tasmanian north-west coast ports to Sydney? If such a request has been made, can the Minister advise me of the Government’s decision and of what prompted the request for the increase? I further ask the Minister whether, in the interest of the Tasmanian potato industry, he will make every endeavour to prevent any attempt by the shipping companies to introduce wholesale block stacking of potatoes, if requests for freight rate increases are refused by the Government, until he has obtained the views of all sections of the industry, especially representatives of the growers and the Sydney merchants?
– I have heard that some concern has been expressed by growers in Tasmania, particularly in Burnie, concerning the shipping of potatoes to Sydney, but I do not know of any reason for assum ing that there will be an increase in freight rates. It appears that the growers have, from time to time, had discussions with the Australian National Line on the question of growers’ marks. At one stage it was considered that a rate of 30s. a ton would meet the extra cost of separating the potatoes according to the growers who consigned them. At the present time the consignees pay 7s. 4d. a ton to have consignments addressed to them. I can assure the honorable member that the Australian National Line will be only too pleased to have discussions as soon as possible on any suggested alteration of freight rates or on growers’ marks, but at the present time there is no suggestion of any alteration in freights.
– Mr. Speaker, I desire to ask you a question. Have you had an opportunity to consider the comments made by the honorable member for Moreton during the debate on the motion to adjourn the House last night, in which he referred to coarse and vulgar threats made by persons in the gallery to members in this House?
– I think the position should be made quite clear. If any incident occurs involving persons sitting in the galleries, and it is brought to the notice of the Chair, it can be dealt with immediately.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. Is the Minister aware of the large number of unemployed persons registered for employment with the district employment office at Bankstown? Will he personally investigate the position? Will he undertake to obtain for me immediately a list of the vacancies for unskilled and semi-skilled labour to which these men can be directed? Finally, if the Minister declines my challenge, will he cease issuing periodical statements on the employment position which are false? If the Minister can find me one vacancy, I can assure–
– Order! I think the honorable member should now ask his question.
– I can assure the Minister that if he can find me one vacancy, I will be able to find him hundreds of unemployed workers willing to fill it.
– Early next week, the usual monthly statement relating to the employment figures will be published. If any special circumstances are associated with Bankstown, they will be referred to in that statement. I think it is correct to say that the Commonwealth Employment Service has done a really worthwhile job during recent months in placing something like 30,000 to 40,000 people in jobs each month or transferring them from one job to another. Consequently, I take strong exception to the statement of the honorable gentleman that there is any falseness in the statements issued by the department, which after all are prepared by members of the Public Service.
I think the House will know that I cannot keep in my mind the details relating to each employment office, but I will have a look at the figures and if I find there is something exceptional associated with Bankstown I will discuss the matter with my departmental head and let the honorable gentleman know the result of our discussion.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Territories. Is the Minister aware that there is widespread approval in and out of Papua and New Guinea of the way in which Australia is developing the Territory? Can the Minister give an assurance that the interests of all minorities, both white and non-white, will always be safeguarded so that those who have made and will make the Territory their home may have the utmost confidence in the future?
– As the honorable member for Wide Bay has recently visited the Territory, it is very encouraging to hear that he himself formed a favorable impression and apparently gathered favorable reports from those with whom he spoke. Regarding the second part of his question, the view that we have always taken as a government, and which we have announced, is that when the Charter of the United Nations refers to the inhabitants of a territory, it means all the inhabitants of the territory. In our administration we have attempted, and will continue to attempt, to see that justice and fair dealing apply to all the inhabitants.
On the question of respect for rights, I think the honorable member and the House will admit the proposition that if we look for respect for our own rights we must at the same time respect the rights of others. That is a principle which we are attempting to apply there in our administration. By dealing justly with the indigenous people and respecting their rights, we hope fo establish in their minds - and we have some confidence that we can establish in their minds - respect for the rights of all those who live in the Territory and serve its interests. We maintain the rule of law in the Territory so that any individual of any race in any situation can rely upon the courts and the rule of law to protect his individual interests, and we want that sort of tradition to be continued after the date of self-determination.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. Has he seen reports that executives of major electrical firms in the United States of America have been fined and imprisoned for what are here known as restrictive trade practices; and, further, that action is being taken against eleven more firms? Will he say what has been done to give effect to the undertaking in the Governor-General’s Speech of 18th March, 1959, that legislation would be introduced to deal with restrictive trade practices in Australia?
– The press stories about the convictions in America are now a little stale; I have seen them. The honorable member is quite wrong to say that any undertaking was given, as to legislation, in the Governor-General’s Speech on the date he mentioned. The Government said it would look into the matter. It has done so, and has fully honored that obligation. In the GovernorGeneral’s more recent Speech the Government said that the matter had progressed to the point where the States ought to be consulted and that this could now be done.
They are being consulted, and very good progress is being made.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Trade, is supplementary to a question asked yesterday by the honorable member for Richmond, but refers to the aspect of employment in the timber industry. On 21st March, in answer to a question by me, the right honorable gentleman said that the matter was regarded as urgent, and that he expected a report from officers of his department in the next day or two touching upon representations made in the previous week. Can he inform me now whether this report has yet been received and, if so, what course of action is being followed to alleviate the unemployment which by now has assumed very grave proportions in country milling centres?
– As I said yesterday, it is quite clear that the timber industry and the plywood industry are experiencing some trouble, but it is by no means quite clear that this is attributable to competition from imports. I mentioned yesterday that imports of timber have fallen quite steeply over the last four months. A panel of the timber industry, which; interviewed very senior officers of the Department of Trade some considerable time ago, did not have a clear consciousness of the downward trend in the range of imports, nor were they at that time able to present to the Department of Trade all the factual information which was really relevant to the request they were making; and they accepted the necessity to assemble that material. It is my impression that it has been assembled by the industry in the last few days. Yesterday, I asked senior officers of the department when they would be in a position to supply me with this information, and to offer me their advice on the application. I expect that they will be able to do so within a day or two.
– I ask the Treasurer: In view of the Government’s reported intention to reduce the excise duty on export coal by Sd. per ton, will he consider calling a conference of representatives of coalexporting nations so that a common agreement may be reached, whereby a uniform tax on coal may be imposed so that buyers cannot intensify the price-cutting war among the producers which, if permitted to continue, must ultimately affect the overall working conditions of the men employed in the industry?
– The question asked by the honorable gentleman not only raises a substantial question of policy, but really enters into an area of the Government’s administration which more appropriately comes within the province of my colleague, the Minister for Trade. No doubt he will study, as I shall, the terms of the honorable member’s question and see whether some further useful action or examination can proceed from it.
– I address a question to the Minister for Trade concerning his reported statement that increased promotion is essential for the wool industry, and that if the growers cannot make up their minds on the Wool Bureau’s unanimous recommendation, then some aid might be given to them in reaching a decision. What did the Minister have in mind when making those statements?
– My statements have had the effect that I intended them to have. They have stimulated some thinking within the organizations of wool growers upon both the desirability of promotion and the timing of a decision on this matter. I wished to bring out two points. The first was that if the wool industry did intend to ask the Government to increase the levy for wool promotion then the time had already passed when it would be possible to introduce legislation during this sessional period, and therefore it was no longer possible to apply the increased levy at the moment of the commencement of the new wool selling season, which is early in July. I remind honorable members that this Government’s policy has always been that in these matters we act only upon the request of the wool industry, and I pointed out to the industry that the earliest point at which it could now secure legislative action, if it decided that it wanted such action in the forthcoming wool selling season, would be during the Budget sittings, by which time several wool sales would have already occurred. I pointed out to the industry that, in my opinion, it was quite unthinkable to alter the rate of levy substantially in the midst of a wool selling season, and therefore if a decision were not reached early enough to obtain legislative action during the Budget period a full year would be lost. That was the first nudge - if I may use that expression - which I gave to the wool industry to concentrate on this issue.
In the second place - I shall not take long on this matter, but it is important that I explain it - I was pointing out to the industry that, irrespective of the method of marketing pursued, whether it be the present untrammelled auction system, whether it be an auction system accompanied by a reserve price, as is advocated by some, or whether, in the extremity, it be an appraisement system under which a price is set by somebody for every grade of wool, the price that the growers will get finally will depend not on the marketing system, but on the strength of the demand for wool throughout the world.
In my statements I pointed out that, quite apart from marketing, the necessity for a most vigorous promotion campaign ought to be recognized by everybody who has the interests of the wool industry at heart.
– I address a question to the Minister for External Affairs. Yesterday, in answer to a question, the Minister said that he did not propose to take any action to implement the spirit of the United Nations recommendation on South Africa. Some four years ago, on the occasion of the Suez crisis, he advocated full-blooded sanctions against Egypt. I ask the Minister why it is that he was so forthright and vigorous where economic considerations were concerned, yet so pussy-footed where human freedom it at stake.
– As both the allegations of fact made by the honorable member are false, no question arises.
– Owing to the very heavy financial burden imposed upon most families who are forced to buy exercise books and other essential stationery for their children attending schools, I ask the Treasurer whether he will consider abolishing the 21 i per cent, sales tax on this costly but essential material, thus placing it on the same exempt basis as school textbooks.
– The honorable gentleman will be aware that this Government already has shown its awareness of the expense in which parents are involved in sending their children to school, and has given evidence of its practical sympathy by introducing for the first time in the history of this Commonwealth the system of deduction of school expenses for income tax purposes. The limit of this deduction has been increased periodically after review by the Government.
As the honorable gentleman will appreciate, the matter which he has raised is of the kind that normally is examined when the Government is determining the details of its Budget. I assure him that it will not be overlooked, but will receive careful consideration then.
– I direct my question to the Treasurer. Were the loans recently raised in New York and Switzerland for the purpose of paying for specific goods purchased by the Government to promote Australia’s development, or were they to finance private purchases of such goods? Are arrangements being made to raise a loan in London for similar purposes? If the loans are not for the purpose of purchasing specific goods, are they to repair temporarily the wastage of overseas funds which has occurred as a result of the Government’s disastrous economic policies? Will the Government give the House the details of how loan moneys have been spent and how future overseas loans will be spent?
– I shall try to cover the various aspects of detail that have been raised in the honorable gentleman’s question. In the first place, the two most recent loans were not raised1 in Switzerland and New York; they were raised in Switzerland and Canada. Earlier in the year we had raised a loan in New York. Secondly, all loans raised by the Commonwealth Government have the approval of the Australian Loan Council, which body consists of representatives not only of the Commonwealth Government, but also of the six State governments, and the terms, conditions and amounts of loan raisings must be approved by the Loan Council.
Thirdly, the works programmes of the States amounted to a total of £230,000,000. The Commonwealth was well aware that it was not practicable to raise this amount by borrowing either in Australia or overseas, or by combined borrowings in Australia and overseas. In the Budget we stated our estimate that £150,000,000 would be raised by borrowings. The total amount of £230,000,000 is devoted entirely to the works programmes of the States - not to any private interests, not to finance our imports from overseas, but for the purposes of the State governments in their own works programmes.
The borrowing programme has been proceeding satisfactorily and very much in line with the Budget estimate. An amount of £40,000,000 remains to be collected to reach the total set out in the Budget, and I am confident that this will be done.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Is there any truth in the rumour that the Leader of the Opposition and his immediate predecessor are disputing Russia’s claims of having the first man in space?
– I try to administer a lot of things but space is not one of them.
– After the previous question, I should like to bring the Leader of the Country Party down to earth. I ask the right honorable gentleman in his capacity as Minister for Trade whether it is a fact that the British Prime Minister, Mr. Macmillan, forecast in Toronto that Britain might have to join the
European trade bloc, and warned the
British Commonwealth countries that they might have to consider whether their present market in Great Britain could actually decline if Britain took this course. Does this mean that the United Kingdom is considering new trade associations which would prejudice the British market for Commonwealth countries? Has the Commonwealth Government considered the consequences of any such happening? If so, what course of action does it propose to take to safeguard Australia’s external markets? Has any consideration been given to the possibility of re-casting Australia’s trade agreement with Great Britain so that, if the free trade area of Europe grows in extent and importance because of Britain’s admission to the European Common Market, Australia can negotiate alternative marketing arrangements with other countries?
– The honorable gentleman has raised quite an important matter. [ do not think that he correctly interpreted what Mr. Macmillan is reported to have said in Canada; but the factual position is that it is well known that the United Kingdom believes it to be desirable that there should be a wide trading association in Europe in which the United Kingdom would wish to be associated with all the west European countries. She is already associated in an agreement with six of the west European countries in the so-called Bloc of Seven, and it is well known that she would wish to be associated with the Six on terms that would be acceptable to the United Kingdom and which the United Kingdom would be satisfied would not impair the real interests of Commonwealth countries. This Government has always said that we believe that it would be desirable, in the interests of greater political cohesion in Europe, that the United Kingdom should be joined with the great western European industrial and trading countries; but we have added that we believe this should be done only on terms that would not impair the vital interests of Australia.
So, we have given our support there, but at all times we have said to the United Kingdom that we want to be consulted by the United Kingdom Government. We want to be kept informed by the United Kingdom before the event of what she has in mind. We have had a succession of assurances that we will be consulted and that we will be informed before a definitive point is reached. The Australian Prime Minister himself made it clear in his speech on Tuesday night that he had discussed this matter with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Lloyd, the Lord Privy Seal, Mr. Heath, and the Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Soames, and that we were in no doubt about the reality of consultation. Indeed, at the meeting with those Ministers at which Ministers of other countries were present, it was agreed that a meeting of senior officials should take place about May, I think, to explore the situation. As to Australia getting into a position to amend our trade agreement with the United Kingdom and make bi-lateral deals with other countries-
– I was thinking not of European countries but Asian countries.
– With countries without limit, I might say. The Australian-United Kingdom Trade Agreement negotiated in 1956 stands for five years and is due to be reviewed in the next twelve months. It will be reviewed in the circumstances that exist; but the very modifications of our trading relationships which were negotiated in 1956 were made, as I have stated, for the purpose of giving us greater freedom to negotiate with other countries. Subsequently, with that added freedom, we have negotiated a series of trade deals with other countries as the House will know. That represents the policy of the Government.
– My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask the Minister whether he knows who initiated the move to have the Australian Workers Union consider reaffiliating with the Labour Party in Queensland? If he knows who initiated the move, can he tell the House what reasons were given for asking that reaffiliation should be considered?
– Order! I do not think that that matter comes under the con trol of the Minister for Labour and National Service.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Minister for Labour and National Service has a direct relationship with the policies of the trade unions, and the actions-
– Order! I rule that the question is out of order.
– I direct a question to you, Mr. Speaker, supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for La Trobe. What redress have persons sitting in your gallery, and who are there with your permission, against an honorable member or honorable members of this House who direct abusive, uncomplimentary and unparliamentary remarks to them?
– If such remarks were made in the circumstances indicated it would be unfortunate. The forms of the House provide for appropriate action to be taken when the attention of the Chair has been directed to such an occurrence.
– My question is without notice and is addressed to the Prime Minister. In a recent debate members of the Opposition said that the Government’s foreign policy should, to a greater extent, favour the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Malaya. I therefore ask what was, and is, the attitude of the Opposition to this Government’s policy of providing service personnel to join the United Kingdom and New Zealand in a strategic force to assist Malaya in its fight against Communist terrorists?
– I wish to take a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is the Prime Minister entitled to interpret to this House the policy of the Opposition?
– The Prime Minister will be in order in replying to the question.
– I agree with the honorable gentleman who has just sat down. Who am I to explain the policy of the Opposition on anything?
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the Australian Labour Party organizing committee has decided that Australian Labour Party members who join organizations such as the Country Women’s Association will not in future be viewed as near-criminals? Can he say whether, as head of the Australian Government, he welcomes this evidence of a liberal spirit sweeping through the Labour Party?
– Mr. Speaker, we seem to be in a very cheerful mood this morning. Naturally, I would welcome any signs of liberalism in the Labour Party - even of ordinary intelligence.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Is the Minister aware that thousands of pensioners and part-pensioners are deprived of the benefits of the pensioner medical service as the result of a means test introduced by this Government in 1955? Does he recognize that, as no adjustment to that means test, so as to compensate for increased living costs and the general inflationary spiral, has been made for nearly six years the effect has been to make the means test increasingly severe? Finally, in order to remove a major cause of worry and insecurity to these elderly people, who are more prone to sickness at their time of life, will the Minister make the abolition of this particular means tests a matter of top priority?
– The honorable gentleman will doubtless be aware that while over 700,000 pensioners and their dependants enjoy the benefits of the pensioner medical service it is necessary to limit the number of entrants to that service. In reply to the honorable member’s question as to whether I am aware that people are excluded from the service I ask him whether he is aware that, under a Labour government, there was no pensioner medical service at all.
Motion (by Mr. Downer) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the consideration of
Notice of Motion No. 1, General Business, being continued until 12.45 p.m.
– I move -
That this House is of opinion that the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review, which was established in 19S6 and which reported to both Houses in 1958 and 1959, should be submitted to the people for their approval.
Our federation has existed for 60 years and the document that we know as the Australian Constitution was the best that was obtainable at the time that it was accepted. It is a remarkable document in many ways considering the existing jealousies and rivalries of those colonial days, even taking into account its inadequacies and deficiencies. The Government, realizing this, decided in 1951 to set up a joint committee to review the Constitution and made its announcement in its policy speech of that year. Nothing was done until 1954 when, in the Governor-General’s Speech at the opening of the new Parliament, it was stated that such a committee would be set up. After a good deal of questioning, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) agreed to fulfil his promise.
The committee was eventually set up in 1956. It sat on 89 days, taking evidence and deliberating. It reported to this Parliament at the end of 1958, before the dissolution of the Parliament and prior to the election of the twenty-third Parliament which is currently in session. The committee’s recommendations were unanimous in practically every respect. The present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) dissented in regard to industrial power and Senator Wright, another member of the committee, dissented in respect of economic powers, but only because the committee could not reach agreement on a constitutional division of powers between the Commonwealth and the States to govern their financial relationships.
In respect of other matters, the committee was unanimous in its findings. It was remarkable that twelve men - four senators and eight members of this House, with strong views on many questions, could sit down and, after much deliberation and discussion, eventually reach the lowest common multiple of agreement on such a wide range of subjects. There were many things, of course, on which the committee could not reach agreement. They were set aside. But the body of agreement that was reached would have been thought impossible when the committee first undertook its work.
I was a member of that committee and so were my colleagues, the honorable members for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), Lalor (Mr. Pollard), and Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam). We did not always agree among ourselves as to what emphasis we should place on certain suggestions that were put forward. Neither did our two colleagues in the Senate, Senator McKenna and Senator Kennelly, agree with us at all times. But eventually, without caucussing among ourselves on one single point, we did, in open discussion with the other members of the committee, reach the agreement of which I have spoken.
In a very limited time it is not possible to canvass the recommendations nor to do other than adumbrate the reasons, in one or two instances, for the committee’s recommendations. In our report, we considered subjects under three headings: First, the Parliament; second, concurrent powers; and third, economic powers. We made certain sundry recommendations. In connexion with the Parliament, we recommended that the present provisions of the Constitution, whereby disagreement between the two Houses can be resolved, only by double dissolution, should be altered so that there could be a joint sitting of both Houses in the event of a disagreement, whilst retaining the provision for a double dissolution if the government of the day desired to pursue that course.
We set out to break the nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives so that the House of Representatives should not necessarily be twice the size of the Senate. We recommended that the Senate should be limited in membership to 60 and that a new provision should be made for determining the membership of the House of Representatives. But we did not suggest any interference with the provision in the Constitution safeguarding the establishment of a quota and we did not recommend any alteration in respect of the election of members of this House.
There were some other matters in respect of the terms of office of senators and other things which I do not need to go into. We suggested that this Parliament, whatever the political complexion of the government of the day, should have concurrent powers with the States in respect of navigation and shipping, aviation, scientific and industrial research, nuclear energy, radio broadcasting and television, industrial relations, corporations, restrictive trade practices and the marketing of primary products. With respect to economic powers, we recommended that the Parliament should have power over capital issues, consumer credit, and interest on loans.
I have enumerated the concurrent powers which we think this Parliament should have but which it does not have. Some of those which it does not have were powers that could not have been foreseen when our founding fathers wrote the Constitution. Aviation was then unknown. Nuclear energy was unknown. Radio broadcasting and television were both unknown in those times. At the time of federation it was never thought that the Commonwealth Parliament or any State parliament could play any part in regulating the affairs of the economy. We had not gone through two world wars. We had not been involved in a major depression. The impact of the Parliament on the life of the community was not envisaged- as assuming the magnitude which it subsequently did. The establishment of the welfare State was not envisaged, nor was the alteration of the Constitution to enable the establishment of the Australian Loan Council which deprived the States of certain powers. The decision of the High Court of Australia interpreting the Constitution in regard to uniform taxation was another event which had not been thought of by the founders of our Constitution. Indeed, the power to levy income tax was a sort of reserve power which was placed in the Constitution, and the Commonwealth Parliament never used it until Australia participated in World War I.
So, in 60 years, vast changes have taken place. It is therefore necessary that this Parliament have power to protect the interests of the people and advance their wellbeing. That is the purpose of a written constitution. It is the document that guards our liberties. It protects our interests. As the Constitutional Review Committee unanimously found that the Constitution was deficient in the matters to which I have referred, we consider that the Government, having appointed the committee and having received so many strong recommendations backed by such cogent arguments and with a unanimous opinion in support of so many items, should now proceed to give the people an opportunity to pass judgment on what the committee has recommended.
Under the heading of sundry recommendations, the committee recommended some alterations in the provisions of the Constitution with respect to interstate road transport, new States and the alteration of the Constitution. My colleagues on the committee will speak in this debate, and by arrangement, instead of all of us taking up our allotted time, we have agreed to limit our time in order that as many speakers as possible may make a contribution to this discussion.
Under the heading of sundry recommendations, the committee recommended that an alteration of the Constitution shall be validated if a majority of the voters in each of three States as well as a majority of the whole of the people of Australia vote affirmatively. We regard the requirement of a majority for the affirmative in each of four States as an undemocratic proposition.
In respect of new States, we say that it is ridiculous that, if the people of the area concerned want to establish a new State and the people of the whole of the State concerned want a new State to be established, the Parliament of the original State shall have the right to veto the people’s wishes. We say that the Parliament of the particular State should now be deprived of that right.
I am afraid that I shall have to hurry somewhat over these matters, Sir. I come now to interstate road transport. There is provision in the Constitution for an InterState Commission, and we want to constitute that commission again. The original InterState Commission functioned for quite a number of years until the High Court of Australia declared that it had not judicial powers. This is a matter of vital importance to the States and the Commonwealth and to the economy generally, and we recommend that the Constitution be altered in order that the Inter-State Commission may function properly. We propose that the Constitution be altered to authorize a State, nothwithstanding section 92 of the Constitution, to impose charges in respect of the carriage interstate by road of persons and goods, provided that the charges are approved by the Inter-State Commission as being fair and reasonable having regard to the promotion of interstate trade and commerce and the public interest, and provided that the charges, in their application to road transport, do not discriminate against the carriage of persons or goods interstate. The proposal is to confer on the States a power to make charges deemed reasonable by the Inter-State Commission. There will be no question of depriving the States of powers. The Constitutional Review Committee, in the terms of its report, sought to work with the States. In some respects, we seek to give the States more power than they have at the present time, because the States as well as the Commonwealth are put at a disadvantage by the operation of section 92 of the Constitution.
I ask the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), who is handling this matter, to do something about it. Several times, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has been asked, “ What is to happen? “ He has said on each occasion, “ I will examine the document with loving care “. Unfortunately, his affection has seemingly vanished. We ask the Attorney-General to stir his emotions a little and to increase his interest in the matter, because the report of the Constitutional Review Committee has been on his table now for eighteen months. We ask him to give the people of Australia an opportunity to vote on each of the recommendations made in this report. We of the Opposition say that we will support every one of those recommendations without reservation or qualification. Everything to which we have put our signature, we will support. We do not want to pick out the things which suit us and forget about the other things which we agreed with our colleagues to support in order to get a unanimous report. We have put our signatures to it, and we shall honour our word. We ask the Government to give us an opportunity to help it to give Australia a constitution which will enable the Commonwealth Parliament to function as it ought to be able to function in 1961.
– Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.
– Mr. Speaker, I am not quite sure what is the purpose of the motion. If it is to give us an opportunity to discuss the Constitutional Review Committee’s report with any good sense and the benefit of preparation, the purpose is an idle one. because that cannot be done within the confines of the time allowed for debate on a motion of this kind. If, of course, the purpose is to do what the motion suggests as it reads literally - to ask this House to express an opinion that the recommendations, meaning all of them, of the committee should be submitted to the people for their approval - I can hardly imagine a more impracticable and foolish suggestion. For the moment, I have not added up the number of recommendations, but there are more than twelve in relation to concurrent powers.
Proposals in relation to the committee’s report are undrafted. No sections have been drafted and no provisions are ready for submission to a referendum. But even assuming that provisions were ready for submission, what rs the proposition? Is it that we afford the people an opportunity to vote at a referendum on the amendment of twelve, fourteen or fifteen powers, give them a document somewhat akin to the committee’s report, together with all the contrary documents which will be circulated, and ask them to pass upon these things with any show of good sense and reason? That would be utter folly. That would be foolish. It would not be fair to the people of this country to ask them to vote on a great number of disparate matters in such a fashion. If the purpose of the motion is. for some political motive, to indicate that the Opposition is anxious to increase the powers of this Parliament, I understand it. The Opposition finds it very easy to suggest that the powers of this Par liament be greatly increased, because the Australian Labour Party is interested in gathering as much power as possible into as few hands as possible wherever it can do so.
– That is basic Labour policy, whether in local government, in the State sphere or anywhere else. It is very easy for the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to say: “ The more the merrier. Let us have more power.” He says, “We will support the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee “. Who is “ we “? Who can speak for the Australian Labour Party in this House? What sort of an undertaking is this?
-“ Humbug “ is the right word to use in respect of the statement, “ We will support the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee “.
Let me follow that up with this point: The Leader of the Opposition constantly says that because the report is a unanimous or nearly unanimous report by Commonwealth parliamentarians, Australia will accept it. What of the States? They have not been consulted about this. What do you think the States will say about it? What do they think of the suggestion that twelve or fourteen additional powers be given to the Commonwealth?
– Concurrent powers.
– I thought the Leader of the Opposition would fall for that. He says that these are concurrent powers. That is the silliest idea of the lot. When the Commonwealth has concurrent power, it has paramount power, because, by virtue of section 109 of the Constitution, as soon as it legislates it displaces the States from the field. To say that these are merely concurrent powers is to perpetrate a thimbleandpea trick on the States and the Australian people, because giving the Commonwealth concurrent powers means giving it more permanent power.
The report of the Constitutional Review Committee is a remarkable document and
I pay tribute to the energy and industry of those who prepared it. But my task is to see whether I can make recommendations to a government which, when it suggests an amendment of the Constitution, has a responsibility to consider various basic factors. Let me enumerate some of them. The first is that the Government must be sure that the amendment it proposes is not designed merely to make the task of the Federal Parliament easier. The test is: Will this amendment be for the benefit of the people as a whole, and will it improve the instrument as a means of securing the freedom and the liberty of the people?
– That is the test.
– Exactly. It is not to be considered merely from the point of view that it would be nicer or easier if the Parliament had more power.
The next thing the Government must have in mind is the matter of form. We must consider whether the people, when these matters are presented to them, will be able to understand them and pass judgment upon them sensibly, with sufficient knowledge and understanding. It is not consistent with that consideration to suggest that we should put a whole number of propositions together in a referendum paper.
Lastly, the Government must consider practicalities. You do not run a referendum for threepence, you know. There is a question of expense to be considered in connexion with referenda, and we must determine whether a particular referendum is a practical proposition, and whether there is or is not some tolerable chance of the proposals being accepted by the people. We have all had some experience of these things, and we can gauge what the likelihood is of the public accepting referendum proposals.
When we turn to the report of the Constitutional Review Committee, using the criteria I have mentioned, we should, I think, say to ourselves, “ Is this addition to the power indispensably necessary? “ We should not say, simply, “ Is it convenient? “, but rather, “ Is it necessary? Has there been a demonstrated need for this change? “ If we found that there was a demonstrated need, and that there was no other way of achieving the desired result, then we would be warranted in putting the country to the expense and the difficulty of a referendum.
This report is a very lengthy document It has to be gone through very carefully, and it is being gone through very carefully. I do not want to do more than take a couple of illustrations from it, because I think I can make my points very clearly with them. I will take them in a field in which I have been doing quite a deal of work during the past months. 1 refer to the subjects of company law and of restrictive trade practices. What the Leader of the Opposition suggests is that we put the country to the expense of a referendum with respect to the corporation power. The convenient place to find the recommendations of the committee is in Appendix C of the report. On page 204 we find the following paragraph: - 134. The Committee is of opinion that the National Parliament should have a power over corporations sufficient to enable it to enact a uniform companies law applying throughout the Commonwealth. At the same time the necessary constitutional alteration should be so framed as not to confer a power to regulate the business activities of corporations.
The committee, of course, did not get to the point of drafting the provision that would be needed. It simply made the recommendation that the Commonwealth should have power to make laws with respect to corporations. It said, further, in paragraph 135, sub-paragraph (2): -
The power to make laws with respect to corporations should not authorize the Parliament to make laws with respect to the trade, commerce or industry of corporations or which apply to corporations of a Stale, including municipal corporations, formed for governmental purposes.
I pause there to say that when the draftsman settles down to frame something for inclusion in an organic document he finds himself faced with a very different task from putting a similar provision in a statute. When he puts it into an organic document it is then in the hands of the courts for interpretation, and it cannot be changed without another referendum and a further constitutional change. In the case of a statute a draftsman’s error or miscalculation can be cured by the Parliament, but an error in an organic instrument cannot be corrected in this way.
If the draftsman were set the task of hedging around this power to the extent described he would take many months to do the necessary drafting in relation to that matter alone. Those of you who have had experience of drafting will know that I do not exaggerate. Let us put this against my criteria - is it indispensably necessary and is there no alternative way of achieving the desired result? All honorable members know what has been achieved already. We are about to bring down uniform company laws throughout the country, without the expense of a referendum and without the risks attendant upon putting qualifying words in a constitution to be interpreted by courts, words which cannot be altered except by means of a referendum.
There is an alternative way of achieving the desired result. The House knows that we have entered upon a new phase of CommonwealthState relations, and thar we have been able to get together a standing committee of Attorneys-General, who will endeavour to achieve uniformity in one field after another. The task of formulating a new company law was attacked, and very successfully attacked. The AttorneysGeneral have now agreed upon the provisions of a very comprehensive company law which will be enacted by each State, and also by this Parliament for operation in the Territories. There will be a standing committee of Attorneys-General to see that it is kept in line and that we do not have aberrations in one State’ or another in matters of principle, brought about by amendment.
I should have thought that this was an eminently practical and sensible way of achieving a very desirable result. Why should we put the people to the expense of a referendum if we can achieve the result otherwise?
– You know it is a useless procedure.
– I know nothing of the kind. It will be very beneficial.
Let me now turn to the matter of restrictive trade practices. The suggestion of the Constitutional Review Committee is that we should re-establish the Inter-State Commission, which was never a success. In the few minutes I have left I will try to explain what limitations on the power of the Parliament are suggested in this recommendation. It would not give the Parliament an effective power at all. I, for one, would want to ensure, if I were making a change, that the Parliament’s power with respect to these practices was much more significant than this committee suggests. The committee recommends in paragraph 142 -
Once you put those words into the Constitution the Parliament would be no longer in control of their meaning. The control would pass to the courts. That is the kind of thing that happened in America, where, after the passage of the Sherman Act, volumes of decisions and judge-made law accumulated. This has made the provisions in America governing restrictive practices and monopolies top-heavy, and the Justice Department, because of the great cost of litigation, is able to enforce rules which, perhaps, were not orginally intended. The committee further recommended, in paragraph 142, sub-paragraph (2) -
For the purposes of the power described in subparagraph (1) above, the Parliament should have power Vo make laws for referring questions to the Inter-State Commission for inquiry and report, and the Commission should be vested with power to make its inquiries and report to the Parliament.
The suggestion is that the power of this Parliament to make laws should depend on what the Inter-State Commission thinks and does. That is back to front. Why should this Parliament be at the mercy of the Inter-State Commission, both as to the interpretation of public interest and as to what should be done in a particular case? This recommendation makes the power to make laws contingent on what the Inter-State Commission thinks. It is a surprising recommendation, really.
I am chided here because I will not slavishly put to the people the proposals that are suggesed in this report. What I have been doing - and, I would have thought, rightly doing - is considering this report, together with my officers, and endeavouring to make up my mind - not in haste, I will agree, because it would be foolish to do it in haste - on whether these recommendations measure up to what I would think are basic requirements. Although I pay, as we are bound to pay, great tribute to the energy and the work of this committee, it must not be thought that because the members of the committee said something unanimously, it must be so right that the Government is bound to launch a series of referenda. In considering what is right in relation to this document we must always apply this test: What will best protect the freedom and the liberty of the people? That, after all, is the basic consideration.
.- We have just heard an extraordinary speech from the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick). He commenced by saying that this was a foolish suggestion being put forward by the Opposition. But the Opposition has not asked that its viewpoint be submitted to the people. What he overlooked is that the Constitutional Review Committee was appointed by his own Government. He is such an egotist that he thinks he can brush aside the unanimous decisions of this committee, on which the Government had equal representation with the Opposition.
Let us look at the membership of the committee and see where some of these men are to-day, because the AttorneyGeneral sets himself up as the pre-eminent legal authority of this country. Senator Wright, who is a legal luminary in his own State, is, I understand, shortly to be given some preferment in regard to a judicial appointment. Senator McKenna was a member of the committee. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) is now the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. In the initial stages of the committee, Mr. Justice Spicer co-operated and helped it and acted as chairman. Mr. Joske was a member and he has now been elevated by the Government to the bench. He is another eminent legal authority. Yet this AttorneyGeneral, who has always been known as being against the extension of Federal powers, puts his knowledge and his ability as a lawyer in opposition to the knowledge and ability of these men, and he tries to ridicule the decisions that they have made. However, he gave the game away and showed what he is afraid of and what some of his colleagues are afraid of. He said that the Opposition wanted these powers. It is not the Opposition which will exercise these powers. If the Attorney-General knew anything about the constitutional problems, he would know that the powers are given to this Parliament and whatever Government is in office at the time has the opportunity to exercise them.
The Attorney-General said that there is no need for referenda, that we can achieve our objective by agreement with the States. He spoke about the progress that had been made in obtaining a uniform company law. I had some experience as a federal Minister of trying to obtain agreement with the States on rail standarization some years ago and I can say that there is no better chance of getting agreement in a substantial way with the State governments than there is of getting agreement with the Balkan States of Europe. In my opinion, there is no possibility of getting a satisfactory uniform company law or any other type of uniform legislation by agreement with the States.
I hope that the Attorney-General, with his great legal knowledge, will realize that there is no possibility of permanency with such an arrangement. The agreement would be with sovereign State governments, and succeeding State governments could vary the uniform company legislation that is now proposed to be introduced. The only way to put uniform legislation on a permanent and satisfactory basis is for the Commonwealth itself to pass the necessary legislation. Time after time, we hear Ministers of this Government in this chamber excuse their failure to carry out proposals demanded by the people by saying that they lack the constitutional power. Recently, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in making his economic proposals to the Parliament, spoke about the indirect methods that had to be employed, though they were not entirely satisfactory, to try to deal with what he called the fringe financial institutions.
When the Constitutional Review Committee says that it wants to give the Parliament - not any particular government but the Commonwealth Parliament - an extension of its power, the Attorney-General objects. Let me put this to him as a democrat - or as a proclaimed democrat, because I do not think he believes in democracy any more than many of his colleagues do. They regard the Constitution as an instrument that at present provides a number of obstructions to the implementation of Labour policy. If a majority of electors at the ballot-box declare that they want Labour policy to be implemented, why should this Government attempt in an undemocratic way to shackle a Labour government and prevent it from implementing the policy approved by the people at the ballotbox? That is what it hopes to do.
The Attorney-General is at present trying to shuffle out of doing something about restrictive trade practices and monopolies. He talks about the difficulties of the constitutional position and he is now conferring with the States. I will give a guarantee here and now that there will be no effective legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices and monopolies arising out of negotiations with the State governments, because Government parties are determined that the elected representatives of the people will never be in a position, if they can help it, to do anything to control these monopolies. Before the AttorneyGeneral came into the Parliament, he was their highest-paid legal representative, appearing in courts to defend the private banks, to defend the great monopolies and to protect their right to exploit the community and to continue with their restrictive trade practices. This is the gentleman who to-day tries to ridicule the efforts of his colleagues. He knows that the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) has decided not to contest his seat at the next election and that Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan is also retiring. I understand that their action is largely based on their disgust and dissatisfaction at the Government doing nothing to adopt the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee.
The committee put a great deal of effort into its work. But it appears to me that the Government was never serious about making any substantial change in the constitutional position, because the present position suits them. The result is that to-day Australia does not really have democratic government. When any of the major issues have to be decided, the Government says it lacks the constitutional power, and the final decision as to what shall be done to solve our great national problems is not made by the elected representatives of the people but by the justices of the High Court of Australia. In my opinion, the High Court should be a judicial body only; it should not be a legislative body. It is not an elected body and it is not directly answerable to the Parliament. Therefore, anybody who to-day speaks against extending the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament is acting undemocratically. I hope that the majority of the Australian people will realize that this is so.
Let me return to a consideration of the powers that are being sought in the recommendations of the committee. The AttorneyGeneral says that these powers are unnecessary, that we can do this in other ways, that we can confer with the States. Restrictive trade practices, monopolies, uniform company law, interest rates, hire purchase - the Attorney-General does not want the Parliament to have the power to deal with these matters, so he intends to obstruct and delay. He has had the committee’s report for eighteen months. If the Government had intended to do anything and if it had wanted a full discussion on the recommendations, it would have acted long ago. The committee sat for 89 days. It went to every State. The Attorney-General said that the States were not consulted, but every Premier and every leader of a State opposition party was invited to come before the committee and state his views. Public organizations of various types sent their representatives. Individuals came before the committee and gave their evidence. Is all this great effort merely to result in a report that is to be left in a pigeon-hole without any action being taken by the Government?
The Attorney-General spoke about the expense of holding a referendum on the recommendations. But what about the expense of this worthless committee, as it will turn out to be if nothing is done about its recommendations? If the expense is calculated, it will be found that the cost involved in the loss of time of members of the committee, the loss of time of those who appeared before it and the work of collecting the evidence would be much greater than the infinitesimal cost of holding a referendum on these proposals. In any event, are we to accept the decision of the Attorney-General- on the recommenda-tions? This was a committee set up by the Government and on it the Government had. equal representation with the Opposition. All that the Australian Labour Party asks for, as a democratic party, is that these matters be submitted to the people for their decision and that, whatever their decision may be, we will accept it.
.- Mr. Speaker, 1 very deeply deplore the lines upon which this discussion has taken place and I think it ill becomes this Parliament to have a discussion of this sort at this time. For that reason I wish first of all to congratulate the Constitutional Review Committee on the extraordinary job of work it did. I think its report is one of the best documents ever presented to this Parliament during its history and it is one which compares very favorably indeed with the reports of royal commissions held, previously by Sir John Peden and others in connexion with this matter. It cannot be dismissed on one or two points but must be looked at as a whole and in the light of its overall effect.
I would like to congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) for having brought this matter forward to-day, because I am satisfied that in common justice to the people of this country - of all parties - we must discuss these matters fully in this Parliament. We waste plenty of time in dealing with all sorts of minor things and I think we should set aside weeks in which to discuss the propositions which have been put forward by this committee, which sat for many months and went to a great deal of trouble to get all its data so that it could really deal with this problem of putting Australia on proper lines. Everybody must admit that 60 years ago, when the Constitution was brought into being the world was a completely different world from that of to-day. At that time there were no internal combustion engines, there was no semblance of aviation, no motor cars were in existence, roads were primitive and the use of electricity had scarcely come into being. As a result there was no mention of all those things in the Constitution, and yet il is so drawn up that the things which can be dealt with by this Parliament are only those allotted to the Commonwealth in the
Constitution. We are limited to those matters. The big powers really lie in. the hands of the States. They have: the powers of development and all sorts of other powers, but have not the money with which to implement them. The result is that to-day we see this continent threatened by many millions - hundreds of millions - of people elsewhere who are growing and increasing, their numbers while we are developing slowly; and more than threequarters of our country is still not developed at all.
The reason why so much of our country is not developed is that we are not governing from this Parliament in the way we should be and are not doing something to deal with matters as they arise. To-day we have heard of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics putting a man into space. Surely, we should put our Constitution on modern lines. That is the most important thing to do at the present time in order to get the best advantage from every modern invention which comes along, instead of having for a Constitution something which puts us in the cart. What is it that really prevents us from securing amendments to the Constitution? I have seen all parties agree in this Parliament; and on one particular occasion, on an industrial matter, we had voting of 63 to 2, and those two were Gregory of the Country Party and Rodgers of the Nationalist Party. All members of the Labour Party and every one else voted with us, but because of that dissension we found we could not get a majority of the States. We had a majority of the people, but could not secure a majority of the States, with the result that we could not clean up the industrial tangle.
The first thing we have to do is to make certain that there are more States. With six States, to get a majority it must be four to two, or of two to one but not a simple majority. We can get all the people of this country voting for us and, as we found in the matter of aviation, when the question was defeated by the people in three States, all the States came along and said to the Commonwealth, “We cannot handle this. For God’s sake take it over.” A nd as every one remembers, at that time it could not work. If we had only one more State we could have a majority of four to three, and if we had eleven, the majority could be six to five, whilst if we had 21 States the majority could be eleven to ten. Ten or 15 or 20 per cent, would be the majority that we would have to fight against. Anybody who does not look at it in that way is quite blind.
When thinking of this question of delay I recall quite well what happened in regard to the financial agreement. That was carried by a three-to-one majority in every State in the Commonwealth, although every State government opposed it. Sir Edward Mitchell, the greatest legal luminary at that time, brought out a book entitled “What Every Australian Should Know “. In it he said of the Constitution change -
Here you have put a chain around your necks which cannot be altered in any degree.
The first meeting of the Federal Loan Council altered it, because the act made provision that this could be done by the unanimous decision of the governments of Australia sitting in the Australian Loan Council. They altered it. In the first five years they altered it about five times, during the period when the depression was so bad that we had to deal with it. Therefore I beg the Government to let this debate be just a pipe-opener and to arrange for a full discussion on this question. If the Government thinks some of these things are wrong, let us discuss them; and if we cannot get unanimity on all of them, let us put what we can to the people so that we will get the power to enable us to do what is necessary.
Take the question of navigation. Sir John Peden said the navigation power should be a federal power. Chief Justice Marshall, of the United States of America, said navigation should be a federal power, and in that country they are able to deal with water from the tops of the mountains right down to the sea. Because of that fact the American authorities have been able to harness their great rivers. Here we have the most miserable showing of any country in the world on what we have done in the last 60 years in regard to the harnessing of our rivers - just a few. Recently we have dealt with the Snowy River and two or three others; but seven-eighths of our country is practically without dams at all, because we have no proper control. Here we have our own Government saying, within the last few weeks, that we must find money to overcome this position to some degree - money which
I think will be spent ultra vires the Constitution, except that we could use section 96, which would make us dependent entirely upon the consent of the States. In New South Wales the State Government has closed all the coastal rivers for navigation, and yet Sir George Buchanan said that the river Clarence should be the first one made available for overseas traffic. He pointed out that we are the only continent with an ocean all around us, with all our good country within 300 miles of the sea and with the shortest land haul possible. He said we should open the rivers in order to get the stuff away and cut the cost of transport. If we did that we could cut the cost of transport tremendously and be able to do ever so much better and get more production away.
When I examined the question the other day for the dairy people I found that there was a loss on half the dairy cattle in Australia north of the thirty-second parallel of 1 50 lb. of butter every year, simply because there is no irrigation in those places; and there never will be until we get something like this done to deal with the matter. In the United States of America the authorities have dealt with the question of water in the proper way. Since we have taken over the powers of taxation - we have practically all the indirect powers and now we have taken over the direct powers - the States have not the money; so we should come into the ring, as America has done, and find the money for the big and costly headworks. The American authorities are finding that money free of interest and are letting the States do the minor works and the local bodies the rest. The alternative to that is to keep on messing around with little result.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) knows as well as I do, because he was once Minister for Commerce, that we have to work the Australian Agricultural Council illegally and unconstitutionally, because we have not the requisite power. The council functions only because during war-time we were able to get it completely imbedded in the minds of the people so that at the present time nobody questions it, because not only the primary producers who send their stuff away but every one who depends on it would lose his purchasing power if it did not function. I beg the Parliament to see about this matter. Let us go on with it. Do not let us just sit here as if we were blind, dumb and deaf and say that everything is all right. It is not. It is all wrong, and we will lose this country unless we do something to bring the Constitution up to date. In my profession, no doctor can live to-day if he is not using modern instruments, and yet we say, “Let the legislator have something which is 60 years old and which was brought into being before these modern instruments were known “. It is too absurd for words.
.- In 1901, my mother had the great privilege of being a guest, in the Melbourne Exhibition buildings, when the Commonwealth of Australia was inaugurated. Because of that, it probably followed naturally that, as I reached an age of understanding and learned of this great occasion in the history of Australia, I should have devoted myself to taking at least some interest in the Constitution of Australia and its usefulness in serving the needs of the people of Australia from time to time. In applying myself to a study of these matters over a fairly long parliamentary experience in both State and Commonwealth spheres, I found that one thing has stood out conspicuously - the fact that, because of internecine strife between political parties, because of the policy of objecting to a proposal simply because the opposing political party has submitted it, essential amendments to the Constitution that have been submitted to the people over the years have been in the main rejected.
Now, at long last, thanks to the initiative taken by the leader of the very Government now in office, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), a man of considerable constitutional knowledge, an all-party committee was appointed to inquire into the need for amending the Constitution. As a result of that, what might be considered to be almost a miracle happened. Twelve good men and true, some of them now Ministers in this Government which was responsible for referring the matter to the all-party committee I have mentioned, said to the Government: “We have deliberated for a period of nearly two years. We have sat for 89 days. We have examined witnesses from every sector of Australian life, political, economic and industrial, and we come to you with an almost unanimous recom mendation that certain specific amendments be made to the Constitution.” And to-day, we have the spectacle of the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick), a member of that same Government, standing in his place in the Parliament and raising a series of difficulties, completely false in character, as to why no action has been taken by the Government so far, and saying in effect that the Government does not intend to take any action! Why did the Government humbug the people in connexion with this matter? Why did it waste the time of an intelligent committee? Why does the Government now fail to take action? Why does it persist in misleading the people of Australia? The Attorney-General rises in his place and says, “Think of the terrific cost of a referendum! “ Did not the Government think of that at the time it appointed the committee? The Attorney-General also said, “ Think of the dangers and disabilities that could result from handing to the Commonwealth Government increased economic powers that could be abused should the Labour Party, in the course of time, attain office in Australia “. He makes no mention whatever of the fact that the so-called vesting of increased economic powers in the Commonwealth Government would simply be the transference of the powers now vested in private interests which are not responsible to the Parliament of Australia.
The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) made a magnificent speech in which he roundly condemned the Attorney-General, the Prime Minister and the whole of the present Ministry for ineptitude and falsity in connexion with these matters. I, too, have become disgusted. Let me say to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that when it comes to word spinning and evasion the members of the legal profession - and perhaps this includes my colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) - are past masters, and it is time the public woke up to them. It is also time the members of the Government parties woke up to the legal gentlemen in their Cabinet. Let me given an example of what I mean. When I was a member of the Victorian Parliament over 30 years ago, after having listened to a speech delivered by the present Prime Minister, who was then the honorable member for Nunawading in the Victorian Parliament, I said to the then Speaker of that Parliament, “ Mr. Speaker, what notice can one take of the honorable gentleman? Last week, he appeared in the Arbitration Court of Australia on behalf of the tramways employees advocating that they be granted reduced working hours and increased wages. This week, he appeared in the Arbitration Court on behalf of the employers opposing increased wages and reduced hours.” The then honorable member for Nunawading, with all his picturesque appearance, then stood, waved his arms and said, “ Well, Mr. Speaker, I won both ways, did 1 not? “ And that is what the right honorable gentleman is doing in connexion with this particular problem. He is trying to win both ways. He is trying so to befog the minds of the people that they will believe that the Government is seriously endeavouring to amend the Constitution in order to give to this Parliament the power it should have, and at the same time his spokesman on this matter - the Attorney-General - is saying, in effect, to the people of Australia: “ This thing is impracticable. The drafting problems are very great.” He knows full well that each recommendation made by the Constitutional Review Committee contains a simple instruction to a competent daftsman to draft a proposed amendment that will give effect to the expressed intention of the committee. Why, the AttorneyGeneral could draft such a proposal himself within a week because we know that he, like the Prime Minister, can argue a case both ways
The right honorable member for Cowper has pointed out some of the difficulties confronting this country because of the lack of powers required by the Commonwealth Government, and I shall deal with only one of them. The right honorable member for Cowper has had practical experience, and so have I. Because the Commonwealth Parliament lacks the powers necessary in connexion with organized marketing, we now find that every time it is thought desirable to take action to protect the primary producers - at their own wish, mark you - we have to follow the circuitous procedure of trying to get legislation passed through not only the Commonwealth Par liament, but also the six State Parliaments, and this is tremendously costly.
Let me quote my own experience to illustrate my point. At the end of World War II., it was clearly demonstrated that it was essential that the wheat-growers of Australia should be protected against the exploitation which they had been suffering at the hands of the wheat dealers and traders, not only of Australia, but of the world generally. At that time, it was clearly demonstrated that organized marketing was essential in the interests of Australian wheat-growers. The Commonwealth Parliament had no power to legislate for organized marketing. In those circumstances, it became my duty to contact the six State Ministers for Agriculture, to call meetings of the Australian Agricultural Council and to have discussions at Premiers Conferences in an endeavour to persuade the six State governments that they should all pass legislation complementary to Commonwealth legislation in order that a system of organized marketing might be set up. That took a long time to do, and it was only by a miracle that eventually the six State Parliaments and the Commonwealth passed the legislation which has been the means of protecting the wheat-growers of Australia in the last few years against the rapacity of the wheat-dealers and traders throughout the world. To give some idea of how they have been protected, I mention that when attending a recent convention in connexion with the wheat industry, I was introduced to a certain gentleman who looked at me and said, “Oh, yes, I am pleased to meet you, but if you could hear what I said about you many times when you were a Federal Minister, your ears would burn”. I said to him, “ Yes, you represent a great wheat trading firm “, which I named. I said: “Now I understand. I was the individual who, after a very difficult experience owing to constitutional problems, made it possible for the wheat-growers of Australia to be protected against the speculation and gambling of those who in the past lived on the wheat-growers and on the industry.”
The Constitutional Review Committee has suggested an amendment to the Constitution which would make it quite easy for legislation to be passed within a very short time to protect the interests of primary producers, but first of all, mark you, they would have to indicate by an affirmative vote at a ballot that they wanted organized marketing. The dairying industry has stood for years on the brink of economic disaster and at the mercy of certain interested proprietary bodies. Were these organizations to take certain economic action, the present dairy industry stabilization could be wrecked overnight, and there is no Commonwealth power existent at present which could be used to prevent that very serious state of affairs arising. Surely at this stage of our political development, in view of the unanimous recommendation of the committee, and in spite of the excuses of the AttorneyGeneral, this Parliament should take a hold on its own business and indicate to the Government by an affirmative vote that no longer will we tolerate evasion, delay and excuses such as were contained in the Attorney-General’s speech.
.- The report of the Constitutional Review Committee is most interesting. I am sure that honorable members who have read it will have been aware of the difficulties that confronted the committee not only when it set out upon its task but also, it appears to me from a reading of the report, after completion of its deliberations. The difficulty was that the committee had to look at the Constitution as a general document and seek out deficiencies in isolation and without reference to a great number of other problems. Those problems ought properly to be considered now in relation to the report because the terms of the inquiry did not empower the committee to consider the whole range of ramifications.
For instance, the committee put down its recommendations in the report in the simplest form. About ten recommendations relate to what are called the joint powers and each of those recommendations seems to be merely a proposal for the addition of a separate placitum to section 51. which, as the House will know, is the section containing the existing placitum. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) sought to point out the very serious drafting difficulties that stand in the way.
It is not my purpose at this time to dealwith the report as a document. I want to commend the gentlemen who served on the. committee for the very good work that they have done. I regret that I did not have the opportunity to assist them because I regard the report as an historic document which will be of advantage to the people of Australia for many years. One ought not to regard the committee as a failure or as a waste of money or anything of that nature merely because there has been no referendum to date or even if there is no referendum in the future.
I want to direct my comments in the broad to the essence of the problems, “ Should the recommendations be accepted? “ and “ Could the recommendations be accepted? “ Dealing first with the question “ Should the recommendations be accepted? “ let us take this as a clear unequivocal fact: The powers of the Commonwealth Government - let us call it the central government - have grown constantly since the Commonwealth was proclaimed. This process will and must continue. That is recognized by all constitutional authorities. In a federation there are two forces that can operate, and one of them will operate at all times. Those forces are the movement of power out from the central government and the movement of power in to the central government. The movement of power in to the central government is called the centripetal force. That is the force which is operating in the Australian Constitution to-day. It is inevitable that the Commonwealth Government will obtain additional powers as time goes on. That this- is true has been recognized by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who, in a debate in this place about eighteen months ago, said that it is inevitable that this process will continue. There is no doubt that it will continue.
My attitude - I want to make this clear to those who are interested - is that as this growth of power in the central government will and must continue, I have no wish to hasten it. I stand behind the Constitution as a federalist. I believe in the necessity for the retention of the State governments and in the sovereignty of the State governments. To put to the people by way of referendum all the recommendations contained: in this, report would be destructive of that federal Constitution. I do not want to see in Australia a single unitary form of government. I know that there are arguments that a single unitary form of government will be more efficient than any other kind. As the very distinguished right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) has said, we must work with modern instruments, but the age of a written Constitution does not bear any relation whatever to its efficacy. We need only to look at the Constitution of the United States of America or, indeed, to the British North America Act of 1867, I think it was, under which Canada operates, to realize that mere age has nothing to do with the position.
I disagree with the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who said that the High Court should be merely a judicial and not a legislative body. The High Court does, and must, exercise the function of interpreting the Constitution to adapt it to the demands of to-day. It does this, but it does it in an atmosphere of judicial examination and interpretation. I think this is the proper function for the High Court, and I am sure that it could be in no better hands than those of the judiciary of the present High Court. I cannot agree with the statement of the right honorable member for Cowper that- we must have these changes in the Constitution to make it a modern document.
Other aspects of this matter have been brought forward. One of the things which disturbed me very greatly to-day was the statement by the Leader of the Opposition to the effect that the Opposition would support all the recommendations in the report, even including those which were agreed to only to obtain unanimity. This is the first indication I have had that there was horse trading in this- committee.
– Was not the whole purpose of the committee to endeavour to obtain unanimity?
– If the Opposition’s attitude is that the whole purpose of the committee was merely to obtain unanimity, that in itself destroys almost entirely the committee’s effectiveness. I do not believe what the honorable member for Lalor has said. I am sure he said it without thinking. He could not have meant it. He served on this committee during the course of its sittings, and I am sure that on reflection he would withdraw that statement.
The situation then is this: Are we to put before the people by way of referendum this document, or are we to take out of this document merely the recommendations? Are we to put the recommendations and then say to the people, “ Read the document”? Are we then going to say to the people of Australia, “But of course, it is true that you must look at the contrary arguments “ and then have somebody else construct a document of this size and even a document of this size cannot be understood unless you have a sound knowledge of the Constitution before you read it.
For all these reasons, the suggestion which is encompassed in this motion cannot be accepted. I believe the motion was put forward by the Opposition principally with the intention of doing one of two things or probably both. It was put forward not in any true spirit of constitutional inquiry but to embarrass the Government on the one hand, or with the idea that until constitutional reform is carried out then the fundamental principle of the Opposition - that is the complete socialization of this country - cannot be achieved. For those reasons, this motion has been sponsored to-day.
Like the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), I deprecate the atmosphere into which this debate has descended: It would be beneficial to the House if we could sweep aside the morass of conflicting political opinions and conflicting personal attitudes and have a proper debate on these matters so that people who have looked at the report and have given consideration to it would have the opportunity to- state their attitudes towards it. The Attorney-General has highlighted, for example, the matter of restrictive trade practices. That subject has occupied some honorable members for some time. They have been examining the need for dealing with this matter and the way in which it could best be dealt with. An examination of this committee’s report indicates clearly to me that its recommendations in relation to restrictive trade practices are quite inadequate for the purposes the committee sought to achieve, having regard to the arguments which preceded the actual recommendations. As an example of the difficulties that are involved, I ask: How can this Government as a responsible government - and I believe it to be a responsible government - put forward at a referendum a recommendation in relation to restrictive trade practices such as is contained in the document?
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) promised the people in his election speeches in 1951, 1954, 1955 and 1958 that he would give them an opportunity to modernize the Australian Constitution. After he was returned to office in 1955, he promoted the resolution of this House pursuant to which the Constitutional Review Committee was appointed, and it reported before the 1958 election. After he was returned at that election, the committee, on his resolution, was again reappointed, and it reported by the end of 1959. If Mr. Justice Spicer or Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan had still been Attorney-General, the people would have had the opportunity to modernize the Constitution which the Prime Minister has promised them on four separate occasions. If the present Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) had made his officers as readily available as he made them to the States for the preparation of a uniform company law - they have now been made available in conferences extending over between 50 and 60 days - all the submissions would have been drafted and all the difficulties overcome long ago.
We have brought this motion before the House because a year and a half has elapsed since the final report of the committee was given to the Parliament. We are criticizing the Government, not for its action but for its inaction. Apparently, the Cabinet has not discussed the report. The Government parties have not discussed the report. It is not a question of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party having rejected this report; they have not considered it. I regret that the two members of the committee from the Government side who are in Canberra to-day and are members of this chamber have not participated in this debate. One of them is the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer), the son of one of the founding fathers of the Australian Constitution. He is a man with legal training and a man whose administration of his portfolio has never been criticized but has invariably been praised and supported by every member of the Commonwealth Parliament. The other-
– The other member has been blocked from speaking.
– I regret that my friend the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) is not speaking on this occasion.
– So do I.
– I speak of him with affection that flows not only from the fact that my education entirely took place while he was Minister for Education in New South Wales, but also from the fact that he was a colleague, as were all the other ten members of the committee, for three solid unremitting years of work. Some might say that they were the three best years of their lives.
I am sure a great number of people in the community will support the remarks made by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). There is no man in the history of this country, other than perhaps the late Mr. W. M. Hughes, whose experience in time and range approaches that of the right honorable member for Cowper. He still, in retirement as an elder statesman, has the vision which can make Australia great, but will make Australia great only if we modernize the instruments of Australian government. We members of the Commonwealth Parliament are the only persons who have the responsibility and opportunity to initiate reform of the Australian Constitution. The States were not ignored; they were consulted. But under the Constitution, the Commonwealth Parliament has the sole power to initiate reform, and the Australian people have the obligation of saying whether they approve the reforms which this Parliament suggests. There were on the committee three former State Ministers and one former Deputy Leader of a State parliamentary party as well as the son of a former State Premier and the foundation President of the Senate.
The committee’s report did not deal only with powers for the Commonwealth, it deals with one very real problem - the matter of road taxes - where the State powers have been abridged or negatived by interpretations of the Constitution. It deals with a great many other matters upon which at the moment no effective law can be passed by Australian Parliaments even if they act in concert and every member of every House of a Parliament - State, Federal and Territorial - supports the law. What law other than our Constitution, I ask honorable members, has been amended so rarely and was last amended so long ago? And in answer to the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden), who was the last speaker, 1 point out that there is no proposal of the committee which makes socialization, let alone complete socialization, any easier. I regret to say that the Government members of the committee were invariably conservative and antisocialist, and the position remains as it has been, as we have learned from court decisions over the last fifteen years. That is, if socialization in the sense of public monopoly is to be brought about in Australia it can be brought about only by this Parliament passing a law, and the people approving that law at a referendum. You cannot bring about public monopoly or socialization in that sense except by the will of the people expressed at a referendum.
Some of the committee’s recommendations are urgent because, after the next general election, the Commonwealth Parliament may be unworkable. The Labour Party would need to elect seventeen senators at the next election to have the support of the Senate. The present Government parties would need to elect sixteen senators to retain control of the business of the Parliament. And a double dissolution will henceforth be no solution, because then the splinter parties would control the Senate, but would still be unable to secure a foothold in this place. Among these recommendations there is another urgent proposal for the removal of that provision in the Constitution which excludes aborigines from the census on which the Commonwealth electoral distributions are based. We can no longer tolerate such a provision in our Constitution in this part of the world, or in this> period of time.
Then there are, Sir, the committee’s recommendations between Commonwealth and States for concurrent powers such as navigation and shipping, aviation, scientific and industrial research, nuclear energy, radio broadcasting and television, on all of which the Commonwealth Parliament, alone among Australian parliaments, spends money. It spends tens of millions of pounds on these subjects, but in fact cannot implement international agreements relative to them - cannot regulate them satisfactorily. If I had time I could give many instances of delays in carrying out policies and proposals in regard to them. Then there are the other matters of concurrent power such as industrial relations, corporations, restrictive trade practices and the marketing of primary products, which are all matters in relation to which Commonwealth and States together cannot dovetail their present powers. The AttorneyGeneral is aiming to achieve uniform State laws on corporations and restrictive trade practices. Such uniformity can be achieved only at the pace of the slowest House of any of the State parliaments, and there is no guarantee that uniformity will be preserved. It is quite unrealistic and it is undemocratic to grant Legislative Councils in the States the right to veto and impede these reforms, which we all say are the responsibility of government under modern conditions. If the Constitution is not amended in these and other matters trie Commonwealth Parliament is precluded from passing laws on them.
Then there are matters concerning economic powers in regard to which it is impossible for Australia, alone among the trading and industrialized countries of the world, to pass laws through its national Parliament. There is no proposal in this report which would vest in the national Parliament any power which is not already reposed in and, when appropriate, exercised by every other trading and industrialized country in the world. Australia is unable to compete, it is unable to preserve its own part of the world, it is unable to develop itself, without further powers for this Parliament. That was the considered opinion of never fewer than eleven of the twelve men whom the parties in this Parliament chose, and who reported to this Parliament on constitutional review. In fact, the committee was appointed largely as a result of the little horror Budget proposals, because the Prime Minister conceded that it might be desirable for the National Parliament to have powers in respect of consumer credit and capital issues. It is any wonder, then, that the committee made recommendations on these subjects? The Liberal Party chose the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer), then a private member, to be a member of the committee, after he had spoken in favour of vesting such powers in the Commonwealth. He was appointed a member of the committee by a government which knew his views on these matters. 1 know very well the devotion of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) to the cause of development of this country and his luminous illustrations of how we, the driest continent, are in fact unable to conserve what water resources we have. We cannot develop this country with the present distribution of powers. The development of the country, under the direction of the six States, is too uneven. The financial resources of the States are too unequal. The tragedy is that the States which are the least developed are those which are the weakest financially. If we are to develop this country, even, maybe, if we are to hold it - but I would rather say, if we Australians are to play our part in the world and put our inherited opportunities to the benefit of our neighbours and the rest of the world, and not only for our own preservation - we must modernize the instrument of government under which all parliaments in Australia operate. It is our obligation, as well as our opportunity. It is solely our obligation as members of the Commonwealth Parliament to give the Australian people an opportunity to modernize the Australian Constitution. Nobody can make the proposal other than this Parliament, and nobody can endorse it other than the Australian people. All that we ask, as members of this Commonwealth Parliament, is that the Australian people be given the opportunity to decide whether their instrument of government shall be brought out of the last century, when it was drafted by State parliamentarians, and out of the century before, when its ancestor, the United States Constitution, was born and brought into the present age. Australia cannot play its part in this part of the world, and in this period of time, until its Constitution is modernized.
.- With but four minutes of the time for this debate left, I wish to say briefly that I believe that the debate has been very profitable. It has at least highlighted the report which, I venture to say, has not been read thoroughly by many honorable members on both sides of the House. It is a large report. Back-bench members of the Opposition are now interjecting. They do not want me to have even the remaining four minutes in which to speak. The report covers 173 pages, not counting 70 pages of appendices, and is a very comprehensive document. I venture to suggest that it has been generally approved, and the problem which now confronts the Parliament is whether the recommendations should be implemented, and if so, when and why.
May I point out that there are political aspects connected with amendment of the Constitution and there are also practical aspects. The question is whether the States will agree to amend the Constitution, lt has been said that the States were invited to participate in the inquiry made by the committee. It is noticeable that only three of the States chose to submit evidence to the committee. Then there is the question of presentation, which has been very fairly dealt with by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick). It would obviously be impossible to submit to the people in a referendum all the recommendations made in the report, but the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) has made what I believe to be the only constructive proposal put forward in this debate. He suggests that time should be set aside for this report to be considered in some detail. The fact of the matter is that there are many points in the report and many recommendations which will not be accepted generally, either in this place or outside, but there are quite a lot of recommendations that require consideration and which, I believe, would be accepted by the people. In considering the political aspects of the matter as well as the practical aspects, we must be careful not to overlook the national aspect. The rabble in the Opposition back benches is determined not to give me the opportunity to use the few minutes at my disposal in order to say that I believe that the time will come when the recommendations in thisreport will be implemented, with the approval of the people.
– Order! The time allotted to precedence of general business has expired. The honorable member for Lawson will have leave to continue his speech when the debate is resumed. The resumption of the debate will be made an Order of the Day under “ General Business” for the next sitting.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Over recent months, the Government has announced a series of policy measures designed to encourage Australian exporters and to strengthen both the immediate and longer-term export-earning capacity of our primary and secondary industries.
The Government’s decision to amend the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Act, in the terms of this bill, is one of these measures. The extension of the facilities available as a result of the amendment now proposed will give further inducement to Australian exporters to investigate export possibilities and to gain new business.
The purpose of the bill is to enable export payments insurance cover to be extended to transactions which the corporation would not, or could not, ordinarily cover. Under the bill, the Government would be empowered to authorize cover in such cases where it considered that it would be in the national interest to take such action. Quite deliberately, no attempt is made to give a definition of what would constitute “ national interest “ in this connexion, although 1 will indicate some broad considerations which could influence the Government’s determination as to whether particular transactions should be covered in the national interest.
At present, under the act, the corporation is charged to conduct its operations on a no profit-no loss basis. This means that, over a period of yearsthe corporation must secure sufficient revenue to meet all expenses properly chargeable torevenue. To carry out this policy effectively, the commissioner is obliged to observe orthodox insurance principles where these are applicable. One of these is an acceptable spread of risks between markets. Another is that the payment term involved in a transaction must be such that the risk can be assessed with some confidence.
The bill provides that the commissioner would refer to the Minister for Trade proposals which the corporation would not normally cover but which would merit consideration as national interest propositions. The responsibility for referring cases to the Government will therefore rest with the corporation. Every case so referred will be considered on its merits by Cabinet Ministers including, of course,_ the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Minister for Trade. It will be for Ministers to approve or reject each and every individual proposal referred to them.
Some important considerations which would influence the Government in deciding whether cover should be granted, on national interest grounds, to a particular transaction may be stated as follows: -
Whether the proposition holds promise of opening up worthwhile new export markets for Australian products;
Whether an industry with high export potential would be stimulated;
Whether the transaction was important for a particular Australian area or industry from the point of view of development; and
Whether the transaction would confer some obvious and significant benefits for our trade relations with the country concerned.
Let me, Mr. Speaker, illustrate types of problems which this provision is designed to overcome. I have referred to the necessity for the commissioner to observe a spread of risks between markets. The corporation’s cover could become so concentrated in a particular market that to take on more business in that market - even apparently sound business - could so unbalance the corporation’s spread of risks that this basic principle would be breached. On the other hand, the Governmentmight decide that, on national interest grounds, cover should be granted to further transactions with that market. Each such transaction would be examined on its merits.
Again, a particular proposal might involve payment terms which, in relation to the size of the proposition and the market concerned, are such that the corporation would not accept the proposal as part of its normal business. The Government, under this bill, could examine such cases to see whether there were circumstances justifying acceptance on national interest grounds. Where cover is granted in the national interest the corporation, in effect, will act as the agent of the Government in matters such as the issuing of contracts, collection of premiums and payment of claims.
It is envisaged that the premiums payable under the national interest provision will vary with the assessment of the risks involved in each case. Business written under the national interest clause will be treated entirely separately from the normal operations of the corporation. Separate accounts will be maintained and presented annually to Parliament. Such business will not be included within the ceiling on the corporation’s outstanding liabilities, which is at present fixed in the legislation at £50,000,000.
In reaching its decision to amend the act, the Government was influenced by the fact that similar provisions have operated successfully in countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada. In both cases, the claims experience has been satisfactory. In fact, Canada has yet to pay a claim, although business of over 300,000,000 dollars has been written. The United Kingdom is also showing a substantial surplus on its national interest operations since their inception some ten years ago.
On previous occasions I have pointed out to the House that export payments insurance cover, because it gives to the exporter a guarantee of payment, is of considerable assistance to him in arranging finance. This benefit will, of course, apply equally to transactions insured under the national interest provision.
In examining this matter, the Government had before it the recommendations of the Consultative Council of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation and the Export
Development Council. Both of these councils are composed of very prominent and experienced businessmen. They considered that the Commonwealth should insert a national interest clause in the legislation. Support for this action also came from the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, and the Railway Rolling Stock Manufacturers Association.
Since the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Act was passed in 1956, 1 have twice placed before the House amendments which experience had shown would improve the facilities which the corporation offers Australian exporters. On each of those occasions I indicated that the Government would continue to keep the facilities of this still relatively new authority under review, to ensure that the reasonable requirements of Australian exporters were met with respect to export payments insurance.
The corporation has been in operation now for less than four years but has already issued policies to a face value of over £75,000,000. At the present time current policies amount in value to over £24,000,000. This measure, Mr. Speaker, is further proof of the Government’s determination to keep abreast of exporters’ requirements in this field of export payments insurance. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1959.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill which I now introduce proposes several amendments to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1959 which provided a comprehensive revision of the retiring benefits for members of the defence forces. Honorable members will recall that in 1957 the Government decided to establish a committee under the chairmanship of Sir John Allison to review the pay and retirement benefit conditions of members of the services. The act, which commenced on 14th December, 1959, provided new rates of pensions and other retiring benefits which were substantially in excess of the benefits previously payable. The act provided also, for amended rates of contributions for the increased benefits. It was necessary to make special provisions to cover members of the forces who were serving at the date of commencement of the act and who had been contributing for the previous benefits.
Two of the proposed amendments provide a further period of time within which members may exercise a right of election granted by the 1959 act, and a third amendment deals with the gratuity entitlement of a limited number of serving officers. These three amendments have been recommended by the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board and the remaining amendments are the product of experience in the administration of the act.
Members of the defence forces who were contributing to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund at the date of commencement of that act could elect within four months not to contribute for all or part of the additional pension provided by the act. A number of members made an election but had second thoughts and requested approval to withdraw that election and to contribute for an increased pension. This bill grants a further period of two months during which members who elected not to contribute for all or part of the additional pension may revoke that election and become contributors for additional pension.
The 1959 act also provides that a member who had elected in 1948 not to become a contributor to the fund may revoke that election and elect to become a contributor for full benefits as from 2nd July, 1948. Under the act, such a revocation and election had to be made before 14th April, 1960, but because of the large number of men involved it was not possible to complete all administrative action by that date. The bill extends to 1st August, 1960, the period during which an election may be made and will thus permit the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board to deal with elections received up to that date.
The bill also preserves the rate of gratuity payable on retirement to officers who were serving at 14th December, 1959. Previously, the entitlement was at the rate of one and one-half times the amount of their contributions, and the 1959 act provides gratuity at a fixed amount for each year of service. This fixed amount proved, in some cases, to be less than the previous entitlement and this bill will continue, in those cases, the one and one-half times formula in respect of contributions being paid at 13th December, 1959. It also provides, for officers who were serving as other rank members on 14th December, 1959, the continuation of the one and onehalf times formula in respect of their service in the ranks if the formula provides a greater benefit than the fixed amount.
A member who is prematurely retired and who is contributing for additional pension for his rank at 14th December, 1959, will not have paid to the fund sufficient to pay for his share of the additional pension. In these circumstances, the 1959 act provides for a lesser pension, or full entitlement on payment of a lump sum. The bill applies this provision to a member who is contributing for additional widow’s pension or for the additional pension due as a result of a promotion.
The 1959 act provides that the reduced pension and the lump sum payment shall be determined by the board on the advice of the Commonwealth Actuary, and that the board in making a determination and the Commonwealth Actuary in advising the board shall have regard to certain factors. Since it is the Actuary who makes the calculation, the bill provides that he only shall have regard to these factors.
Other provisions of the bill are minor drafting amendments or are consequential to the provisions I have outlined. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Haylen) adjourned.
Motion (by Dr. Donald Cameron) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the National Health Act 1953-1959, and for other purposes.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
.- by leaveI move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to introduce a number of amendments to the National Health Act. The amendments do not affect the basic principles of the act, but are in the nature of machinery amendments to enable certain aspects of the scheme to operate more smoothly.
The first of the matters dealt with in the bill is the definition of “contributor” for medical benefit purposes. The new definition in clause 3 substantially restates the existing definition and adds a further provision to the effect that the eligibility of a person who was a contributor, as previously defined, shall continue unchanged. The effect will be that persons who become contributors after 1stJuly next will be eligible for Commonwealth benefits provided they contribute for fund benefits equal in range and amounts to the benefits in the First Schedule to the National Health Act. All contributors who are at present eligible for Commonwealth benefits will continue to be eligible provided that they continue their present membership of a registered fund.
A further amendment will have the effect of easing a limitation on the payment of hospital benefits from special accounts. At present, special-account hospital benefits are limited to the gross fees charged by the hospital for the accommodation and nursing care of the patient. Hospitals in some cases charge extra amounts by way of theatre fees and charges for drugs, dressings, special nursing and laundry. The amendment effected by clauses 6 and 7 of this bill will allow these extra charges to be covered by benefits paid from the special account in cases where the patients’ insurance coverage is high enough to meet the extra charges as well as the gross fees.
The bill also provides for an amendment of the constitution of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. This is the expert committee which advises the Government on what drugs and medicines are to be listed as pharmaceutical benefits. The committee has done valuable work for the Government in a difficult field. The work of the committee has become extremely onerous, more particularly since the range of pharmaceutical benefits was considerably widened a year or so ago. With a view to strengthening the committee, it is proposed to increase by two the representation of medical practitioners nominated by the Federal Council of the British Medical Association. The panel of names to be submitted by the association for this purpose is to be increased from six to ten.
The remaining clauses of the bill are merely machinery provisions and I shall be pleased to supply at the committee stage any further information desired by honorable members. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Allan Fraser) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 12th April (vide page 773), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the following paper: -
Overseas Visit by Prime Minister - Ministerial Statement - be printed.
Upon which Mr. Calwell had moved by way of amendment -
That all words after “ That “ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ in the opinion of this House, the speeches and statements made by the Prime Minister on the question of South Africa, following the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, have done great harm to Australia’s relations with other member States of the Commonwealth, and with the nations of South-Bast Asia; have aggravated the position he created at the United Nations meeting in October last year; and do not represent the views of the Australian people.
The House resolves, therefore, that the right honorable gentleman should be censured and removed from the office of Minister of State for External Affairs “.
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made statements on international affairs in October and December of last year, and again last Tuesday evening. These statements are welcomed, because they provide honorable members with an opportunity to discuss world affairs. The censure on the Prime Minister implicit in the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) is necessary and timely. The Prime Minister has a very poor record as Minister for External Affairs. For evidence of this one has only to look at his performances at the time of the Suez crisis, in the United Nations last, year and at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference when the crisis arose over the South African policy of apartheid. To sum the position up in a few words, one can say simply that he has been a woeful, calamitous dabbler in international affairs.
Before dealing further with these matters I wish to make some observations concerning my attendance as an Australian delegate at the United Nations last year. I arrived in New York in time for the opening of the session on Tuesday, 17th September, and I remained until the end of the fifteenth session on Saturday, 17th December. I think I proved my forbearance by listening to speeches by 98 leaders of member nations of the United Nations, including one by Dr. Castro which lasted for four and a half hours, and one by Mr. Khrushchev which was of two and a half hours’ duration. There were some short speeches of up to two hours. However, the speeches were very interesting and I learned much from them.
I take this opportunity also to thank the Australian Ambassador and the other members of the Australian mission to the United Nations for the help and courtesy they extended to me. I congratulate them also on their efficiency. It is most important that Australia’s representatives be efficient and experienced in international affairs. Continuity of employment of personnel is also important and necessary, so that they may acquire knowledge in the art of negotiation and consultation. The necessity for this was shown by the failure of the Prime Minister at the United Nations in 1960. At that time the right honorable gentleman was all at sea in the new atmosphere.
I would like to comment at this stage on the way in which I think Australia fits into the United Nations. I believe that until our National Parliament is given full constitutional powers, Australia cannot adequately or effectively fit into a world organization such as the United Nations. Our representatives are frequently at a disadvantage and are compelled to abstain from debating and voting upon certain issues, because the Australian Government, which they represent, does not have constitutional power over the particular matters under discussion. Such matters include education, health, native affairs and women’s rights. Power over such matters remains with the States. There are many smaller and less important nations than Australia in the United Nations, and when they learn of the inadequate powers of our National Parliament they tend to regard Australia as a backward place with backward people. Certain matters connected with education cannot be discussed by Australia’s representatives at the United Nations because of the remote control over the education system in Australia. When matters of this kind are raised, Australia is powerless to give an opinion on them until the six States have been consulted. Because of the lack of co-ordination between the States and because of their different educational standards, it sometimes happens that years elapse before Australia is in a position to speak on such matters in the United Nations.
There are also many matters on which the State governments cannot give a direct answer, because many governments are subject to the control of undemocratically established Upper Houses. For instance, the Upper House in New South Wales is not even elected by the vote of the people. At the moment that assembly is in the hands of a junta of eight, whose powers are so great that they can dictate any terms they wish, and can also decide who shall fill vacancies in that institution when they occur. Recently a State Liberal member of the- New South Wales Legislative Council said that the situation was completely farcical. I say it is even- ridiculous and absurd. In fact I believe it is even worse than that; it is a threat to our national progress and a negation of democracy. If the Upper House is not abolished by the vote of the people of New South Wales on 29th April, it will remain as an impediment to progress for many years to come. A successful “ Yes “ vote on 29th April would be a victory for democracy and for Australia.
In New Zealand and the United Kingdom these impediments do not exist. Those countries do not have Upper Houses of the kind that operates in New South Wales. Certainly there is a House of Lords in England, but it has no real power to legislate or to amend. For this reason the United Kingdom is able to play a far more effective part in international affairs at the United Nations than Australia can, and it commands far more respect than Australia does.
The present Australian Government appears to be quite satisfied to remain a minor in international affairs or, to use a colloquial expression, to be a woodandwater joey in international affairs. I noticed on several occasions that Australia’s representatives voted or abstained from voting on important matters, not because they thought it was right to do so, but simply because the United Kingdom and the United States of America had voted or abstained from voting. I believe that Australia should follow an independent course, a real Australian course, and not allow its decisions always to be influenced by what the United Kingdom and the United States do.
Let me mention two occasions during the session when I believe Australia should have acted differently. One was the occasion when our Prime Minister moved an amendment to a five-power draft resolution sponsored by India, Ghana, the United Arab Republic, Yugoslavia and Indonesia, which was designed to bring Mr. Khrushchev and President Eisenhower together to discuss world peace and the means to achieve it - disarmament. The Prime Minister arrived at the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, 30th September, just in time to hear the terms of the five-power draft resolution. In less than 48 hours he was consulting the President of the United States in Washington. We all know the sorry events that arose from that consultation. The Prime Minister moved an amendment to the fivepower draft resolution, and we know the fatal result. Australia’s amendment attracted only four votes.
While on this matter I wish to correct an impression given by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), who was in New York at the time of these important discussions, that the move by the Australian Prime Minister had my endorsement. I wish to deny this. I did not get an opportunity to endorse or disapprove. I feel that if the Australians on the spot had been taken into confidence the amendment to the five-power draft resolution would not have been moved. It appeared to me that Mr. Beale, Australia’sAmbassador to Washington, was the only other Australian whose advice was sought. In this regard I refer honorable members to the Prime Minister’s own statement at page 2265 of “ Hansard “.
The Prime Minister clearly indicated that he was invited to Washington, and he went there in company with Mr. Beale. Others present at the discussions there were the President of the United States and his Secretary of State, and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and his Foreign Secretary. Our Prime Minister acted contrary to normal practice at the UnitedNations. He should have conferred with Mr. Nehru, the Prime Minister of India, who moved the draft resolution. Mr. Nehru is a good friend of Australia and a most distinguished and influential world figure. There was also our near neighbour, President Soekarno of Indonesia. We had more to gain by conferring with them and securing their friendship than by voting in the way we did with only four other powers. The Prime Minister, as I have said, was inexperienced. He should have followed the normal practice at the United Nations. If a draft resolution is moved by one power or a group of powers, the normal practice is to confer with them before proposing amendments. If you differ from them, consult and try to reach agreement on a resolution; but an amendment should not be moved without some consultation with people who are your mates.
Another matter which I think the Australian Government should have supported was an amendment to a draft resolution moved and sponsored by 25 Afro-Asian nations. Russia moved a resolution - I disagreed with it - relating to trusteeship and other such territories. The effect of the resolution was that these people should have immediate independence and the immediate right to self-government, whether or not they were prepared for it. The 25 Afro-Asian nations, having experienced the difficulties of colonialism, did not believe that this was the correct procedure and moved an amendment which provided in effect for exactly what we are doing in New Guinea now - that is, that self-government should not be given to these people until they are ready for it and until they ask for it. Instead of Australia abstaining, we should have joined with 89 other nations who would have, been our friends and voted for the amendment.
The Prime Minister in his statement did not mention anything about Latin America. This is one of the most important areas. It is a continent of twenty nations. The way they go will decide the. world balance of power. Brazil is the largest of them in area; it is bigger in area than Australia. It has a population of 65,000,000 and has a sound economy. The other nations have living standards which descend to very low levels. Illiteracy, poor housing and unemployment are commonplace. There is a growing restlessness amongst them and this is good soil on which to work to whip up revolutionary feelings.
All eyes are on Cuba. The President of the United States of America, Mr. Kennedy, has often made plain his fears that the Castro revolution in Cuba will be the spark that will set off similar fires in a number of other Latin American countries where Communist trade and diplomatic missions are suspected of having been busy. One can understand President Kennedy’s fears. An examination of the structure of most of these governments in Latin America shows that they are juntas kept in office by military power and not by democratic power. I always think that such governments as these are suspect and could fall by revolution at any time. This undoubtedly gives rise to President Kennedy’s fears.
The question of Cuba was frequently discussed in the United Nations General Assembly and elsewhere in the United States of America. Not every member of the United Nations was against Cuba or Castro’s action in Cuba. Some believe that he will win because he has the weapon of justice on his side. Many claim that the revolution in Cuba sprang from the great mass of the people, who wished to stamp out poverty and illiteracy. More than 80 per cent, of the people are affected by these factors. These are fertile grounds for revolution and Castro had little difficulty in organizing the Cuban people to his side. He claimed that too much of the national economy was in the hands of absentee land-owners and foreign investors.
The wealth of the country was going out of Cuba at the expense of the standard of living of its people. The Castro government has changed this. It has expelled all foreign investors. It has nationalized the big industries and divided the agricultural land amongst the peasants, who now farm the land for the benefit of themselves and the Cuban people instead of for the benefit of absentee landlords. The peasants can now possess the land. In short, the vast wealth that previously went out of Cuba is retained for the benefit of the Cuban people.
Already wages have doubled. There is little inflation. Provision is being made to provide education for all instead of for 20 per cent. There is a national housing scheme, which will enable every family to own a home within a maximum period of 30 years at a maximum repayment instalment of 15 per cent, of the base wage. This will be financed partly by lottery funds which previously went to private sources. If Castro succeeds, and indications are that he will, President Kennedy’s concern is understandable. President Kennedy believes that quite a number of other Latin American countries close to Cuba will do as Castro has done, and the crucial question is whether they will be of a Mexican model or the Cuban model. Mexico is anti-Communist; Cuba is Communist suspect. The Castro regime from its inception has consistently voted with the Soviet bloc at the United Nations. If Castro succeeds, I hope he will observe the covenant of freedom of religion, conscience and thought for which the Cuban delegate voted recently at the United Nations. If he does, I think he will continue in power in Cuba.
There are other trouble spots. I hope time will permit me to say something about each. The Congo is the danger spot at the moment. It has been in a state of chaos from the very first day of the granting of its independence, and I think the Belgian Government must take its share of the blame for this chaos. It failed to prepare the Congolese people for the responsibilities of self-government. Few were trained in the profession of public administration. I understand that Congolese natives were not permitted to hold any job in the public service above that of foreman. Their unpreparedness and resentment is understandable. Similarly, Belgian citizens who were outnumbered by millions had jobs, homes and investments at stake and were given no guarantees by the Belgian Government of security or compensation. Their resistance was only natural. A Belgian born in the Congo is just as much a Congolese as is a Congolese born there.
I believe the Belgian Government made the first errors. But I think the continued chaos in the Congo is due to interference coming from outside intruders who have no right in the Congo. The only outside body entitled to be in the Congo is the United Nations. It was invited there by the responsible authority to restore Jaw and order and to assist in the re-assembling of the legitimate government and parliament. I think the United Nations command should be left alone and given all the authority and power needed to fulfil the task allotted to it. The politics of other countries should be kept out of the Congo.
There is not the slightest doubt that the Communists wanted the Congo for communism and the capitalists wanted it for capitalism. I hope it will be possible for the Congolese to avoid both these evils. The Prime Minister of India, Mr. Nehru, said -
The people of the Congo will have to produce their own leadership. Whether it is good or bad, leadership cannot be imposed.
I agree. It is a matter for a democratic vote of the Congolese people. Nor can the way of life of other peoples be imposed. The Congolese people should be given the right and the necessary assistance to work out their own destiny. The United Nations Charter provides that all nations should join together to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, and to these ends to practise tolerance and to live together in peace with one another as good neighbours. Had the Security Council given the United Nations command sufficient power in the first place to deal fully with the situation, many of the frightful murders and atrocities that occurred would have been avoided. I think that every person who believes in human rights and dignity deplores the murder of Lumumba, his parliamentary colleagues and other Congolese citizens. Ravages and horrible inhuman atrocities are never justified.
Russia has not helped to bring peace to the Congo. Its representatives have opposed the giving of increased authority and power to the United Nations forces on each occasion that this matter has been raised in the Security Council. But I am pleased to say that a resolution, sponsored by twenty Afro-Asian powers, has been recently moved in the Security Council by the United Arab Republic and Ceylon to give the United Nations command in the Congo power to impose by force if necessary the peace which is the first step towards convening Parliament and the organization of representative government, and I believe that this is a correct step. I hope the reactionary, refractory element in the Congo will calm down and leave their destiny in the hands of the United Nations. The pre-requisite to peace in the Congo is disarmament, the same as it is everywhere else. Entry into the Congo should be policed in order to prevent arms reaching any faction except the United Nations command. The United Nations forces are charged with the responsibility of carrying out the Charter of the United Nations. The reason for United Nations forces being in the Congo is understandable; they are there in the common interest. The twenty Afro-Asian powers are to be applauded for sponsoring the amendment to the Russian resolution which proposed dismissing the Secretary-General and the United Nations forces from the Congo. That would have been a very wrong step.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, in this debate we have wandered all over the universe, and the principal point of the debate has been the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). I think we should get back to sanity and clarity in analysing that statement. It involves, in my considered opinion, three distinct issues: First, his leadership; secondly, matters of a constitutional nature: and thirdly, matters of a political nature. On the question of leadership the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) pre-supposes that the Prime Minister is completely incompetent to lead Australia in world affairs in any set of circumstances. Indeed, the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) said that the
Prime Minister was all at sea in the big atmosphere of the United Nations. He blamed the Prime Minister for not following the United Kingdom. He said that in less than 48 hours in the United Nations, in New York, the Prime Minister had formed an opinion and had taken action. In contrast, we have to look at the alternative leadership which is indicated by the nature of the amendment, because the Opposition claims that it can offer alternative leaders who can fulfil all the great ideals of leadership.
The plain fact of the matter is that on several occasions in this House - and most noticeably in yesterday’s debate - the Leader of the Opposition proved for all time his complete incompetence to lead this nation, because he could not stand up even to opposition from the back benchers on the Government side without completely and utterly losing his temper. The first principle of leadership is that one must never lose one’s temper, and on that score alone the alternative Prime Minister proved his incapacity to lead this country in the United Nations. The exhibition we had from both the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) yesterday clearly indicated that neither of them would be capable of standing among the giants who gather at the United Nations or the giants who gather at Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conferences. They proved themselves to be completely unable to do so, because they could not stand up to opposition from the back benchers on the Government side of the House without losing their tempers; and on that basis we can wipe them off.
I sum up the alternative leadership offered to us in this debate - if I may be pardoned for doing so - in the following bit of Cockney doggerel: -
They’re the ash bin of the ‘opeless and the dustbin of the damned -
They’ve exhibited every temper ‘neath the sun, T’aint their glamour nor their glitter nor their kisses sweet or bitter -
They’re the God knows what it is; but still they am.
That is the type of leadership that the Australian Labour Party is offering to the Australian people. If we put those two leaders alongside our Prime: Minister on the platforms of Australia, there would be no doubt whom the people of Australia would pre fer; they would vote with the Prime Minister. On the question of leadership alone the Opposition must fail deplorably, because since- Dr. Evattleft that side of the House and went out of politics, the Opposition has had no one comparable with him. It has no one with his constitutional knowledge. Who are their prospects? Would the people have the poet from Parkes as their Prime Minister? Do they visualize Australia being led at the United Nations by the lord from East Sydney or the red ambassador from Yarra?
– What about me?
– You do not even come within the scope of this. There is no leadership offering on the Labour benches capable of measuring up even to Dr. Evatt’s standard. Until honorable members opposite find a real leader all their talk that they can do this, that or the other in the United Nations is just so much political eye-wash; and it clearly indicates a desperate attempt to gain the Government benches by saying anything they can think of in order to create a division between the Leader of the Government and his supporters and the people of Australia - an objective which honorable members opposite can never achieve.
I turn now to the constitutional aspect. In all these attacks nearly every speaker on the Opposition side has followed the line that the Prime Minister of Australia stood on his own and refused to budge, that he did not follow the United Kingdom and fell out with Mr. Macmillan, and all that sort of thing. If the Prime Minister stands fast to what he believes to be a principle, he is following in the wake of a great Labour leader, who said -
If I think a thing is worth fighting for, no matter what the penalty is, I will fight for the right, and truth and justice will always prevail. You cannot afford to be in the middle of the road. You have to be quite clear about what you believe in, whether popular or unpopular, and you have to fight for it.
That was said by the late Ben Chifley, my authority for the quotation being the official Australian Labour Party booklet. The Prime Minister is being lambasted by the A.L.P. because he believes that on the constitutional issues involved he is right. I have not seen any evidence yet submitted by any member of the Opposition to show that before South Africa withdrew from the Commonwealth there was any cleavage of opinion between the Prime Minister of Australia and the Prime Minister of Great Britain on these issues. Before the withdrawal of South Africa there was, in that respect, complete unanimity between these leaders. No one can deny that fact. What was the position after the withdrawal of South Africa? The Prime Minister of Great Britain and our Prime Minister each expressed constitutional opinions which differed only slightly as to the possible consequences, constitutionally, of South Africa’s decision. Yet the A.L.P. is representing that position as something dreadful - that our Prime Minister has let Australia down. Not one of his critics on the other side of the. House - certainly neither of the two alternative leaders - has any possible hope of achieving the Prime Minister’s eminence as a constitutional authority or his standing in international affairs.
Let me deal now with the stand taken by the Prime Minister of Australia and that taken by Mr. Macmillan on this constitutional question. The Prime Minister of Australia said, in effect, that this thing which we call the Commonwealth of Nations is a magnificent thing, something that has been built up on certain understandings and agreements between the Prime Ministers of the nations that go to make up the British Commonwealth. He also said, in effect, that we have never at any time visualized that we should sit one in judgment of the other. Up to the time of the withdrawal of South Africa from the Commonwealth: nowhere in any statement by the Prime Minister of Great Britain can be found anything which disagrees with what the Australian Prime Minister had said on that point. Up to that time, there was complete unanimity between the two Prime Ministers on that constitutional point.
On 22nd March of this year, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) made a very interesting statement, and I ask those of the Opposition who oppose the stand taken by our Prime Minister to note carefully what their own leader said on tha* occasion. On page 453 of “ Hansard “, the Leader of the Opposition is reported as having said -
The question of apartheid would never have arisen at the conference if South Africa had not decided last year to become an independent i«public. Had it decided to remain a dominion inside the Commonwealth, the discussion that took place at the recent Prime Ministers’ Conference would never have arisen and could never have arisen.
I emphasize to honorable members opposite that this is their own leader’s statement, and that during this debate he has attempted to deny it. The Leader of the Opposition went on to say -
South Africa had been practising this policy -of apartheid for a number of years and the issue had never previously been raised at these annual conferences of Prime Ministers. I want to make that point at the beginning.
I shall come back to that when dealing with the political issue. Here I emphasize that from the lips of the Leader of the Opposition we have an admission on the 22nd March that the question of South Africa”s racial policy would never have arisen if South Africa had not decided to become a republic. Yet, in face of that admission, honorable members opposite would have us believe that all this discussion has arise” out of the Sharpeville incident. I shall come back to Sharpeville in a moment.
Let me come back to the communique issued by the Prime Ministers in Great Britain last year. In that communique they said -
The Commonwealth is an association of independent sovereign States, each responsible for its own policies. Whilst reaffirming the traditional practice that Commonwealth Conferences do not discuss the internal affairs of member countries- and that was the unanimous decision of all the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth -
Ministers availed themselves of Mr. Louw’s presence in London to have informal discussions with him about the racial situation in South Africa.
And the Leader of the Opposition agrees with that!
Let me now sum up the constitutional position. And the Opposition must answer what I have to say because its members are confusing politics and constitutional matters in this debate. Both these matters must be kept in separate compartments if we are to have a true appreciation of the events that have taken place over the last two or three years. I reiterate that on the constitutional issue there was not one instance of disagreement or difference of opinion between the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the Prime Minister of Australia prior to the withdrawal of South Africa. Since the withdrawal of South Africa, the two leading Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth, namely, Mr. Menzies and Mr. Macmillan, have issued statements setting out what they believe to be the consequences of certain constitutional actions, and there was a slight difference - a very slight difference - in the opinions they expressed as to what they believed could happen. But that does not constitute the great tragedy that honorable members opposite would have us believe it is.
Now let me come back to the political side. Prior to the withdraw of South Africa, there was no difference of opinion between the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the Prime Minister of Australia politically. Both maintained a discreet political silence with relation to the internal policy of South Africa, although it was obvious that neither approved of it. After the withdrawal of South Africa from the Commonwealth, both Prime Ministers were unanimous in their beliefs about the particular policy being pursued by South Africa. It would seem, therefore, that the Labour Party is labouring to bring forth the proverbial mouse. It has no case. It is trying to hang everything on the one point - the right of a good man, a big man, a strong man in the field of Commonwealth affairs, to express an opinion about the possible results of certain constitutional actions. I repeat that the Labour Party has no case; it has no leadership, and it has nothing to offer the people of Australia as an alternative. Despite all these screams, groans and moans that we hear from the Opposition, I am satisfied that if the Labour Party placed its two leaders alongside ours on the platform and asked the people to choose between them, both Mr. Menzies and Mr. McEwen would be returned with overwhelming majorities.
.- The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Chresby) started off by suggesting that this debate on international affairs had developed into a sort of paper chase, with Opposition speakers rushing hither and thither and getting nowhere. That amuses me, especially when I remember that the honorable member for Griffith spent almost half of his time in launching a tirade of abuse against Labour leaders and the Labour Party. Many times during his speech he said, “ Let me come back “. I suggest that he was a perfect example of a man who did not know what he was talking about, of a man who was rushing hither and thither and getting nowhere.
I do not propose to waste my time in that fashion. I rise to support the amendment so ably moved by my leader (Mr. Calwell). First I should like to say that out of this debate must come a realization on the part of us all of the vital importance of foreign affairs to Australia, especially of such foreign affairs as relate to Asia and the under-developed nations of the world. It would be a mistake of the greatest magnitude to treat with indifference any matter affecting the emancipation of the people of the under-developed countries, especially of the people of South-East Asia. In my opinion, indeed in the opinion of every honorable member of the Opposition, far too little of the time of this House is devoted to a consideration of foreign affairs. To emphasize perhaps more forcibly Mr. Macmillan’s view and to put it into my own words, the winds of change are blowing at hurricane force in the countries of our less fortunate brothers and sisters. If this debate does nothing but show the people of Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, India and China that we have a genuine concern about their problems and a genuine desire to help them to overcome those problems, the time spent in it will have been worth while. I have the courage to say that many of the statements made in foreign affairs debates about under-developed countries tend too much to the political and not sufficiently to the human side. I have in mind an article written by Osmar White which appeared in the Melbourne “Herald” of 11th July, 1959. It is headed, “ Death on the Dum Dum Road “ and reads -
Between teeming Calcutta City and congested Dum Dum airport runs 15 miles of road along which all westerners who wish to express an opinion on present-day India should be required to make an unhurried pilgrimage, preferably on foot.
On the Dum Dum Road you can learn more about the facts of Indian life in an hour than you can in a year of temple-crawling, big game hunting, and listening to the weary wisdom of political analysts.
Mr. White then described some of the sights that were pointed out to him as he went along the Dum Dum Road, which I have travelled, such as the Dum Dum small arms factory, the relics of war and the mansion where Clive of India lived. Then he stated that he was shocked to have pointed out to him a man dying of starvation on the footpath. He spoke of the multitude of people who passed by this man with apparent indifference, the policeman on point duty nearby and the hundreds of pavement dwellers squatting on the pavement quite unconcerned. He went on to say -
Not one of all these people acknowledged the presence among them of a man dying of starvation. His plight was too commonplace for remark. . . . Every year the Indian population rises by 8,000,000 or 9,000,000 without anything like a proportionate rise in the nation’s natural or acquired ability to sustain the increase above starvation level.
Only when one realizes that India is threatened by the catastrophe of a population explosion should one start to speculate about the adequacy of the nation’s present leadership, its political future or the .chance it has of staying, with foreign aid and native discretion, on the sweetnessandlight side of the iron curtain.
White stated further -
The man whom I saw dying of starvation on the Dum Dum Road would hardly, I think, have been impressed if someone had described to him the horrors of communism and the slave State.
He is more likely to have asked, “ But tell me - is there anything to eat in the slave State? “ This is the question tens of millions of Indians will be asking if democratic tehnocracy loses its race with human fertility in South Asia.
The conditions described in that article are the pattern of conditions in most of the under-developed countries of the world. They represent the very basis of the first problem that should be tackled - a need far more vital to the people of those countries than war and the horrors of war. These are the matters that are blithely overlooked by members of the Government. They believe that any uprisings in these countries, any protests against living conditions, should be crushed by force.
I, and honorable members on my side of the House, note with some satisfaction the second paragraph in the Seato resolution which is in these terms -
The Council once more makes it clear that Seato is a defensive organization with no aggressive intentions and reiterates, in the words of the Treaty “ its desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments “.
That is a very laudable objective. But how can one expect people to live in peace unless one gives them the will to live, the will to strive to better their conditions and the promise of a brighter future even, as Osmar White puts it, if that means only an extra loaf of bread or an additional shirt to put on their back? They must be given the promise of a future in which the standard of living for themselves and their children will be worth fighting for, a future that will resist the attempts at infiltration by isms of any kind.
Perhaps one of the worst features of colonialism has been exploitation. It has been the keynote in the past and, in many cases, it is the keynote at present. This has been amply illustrated by events in the Congo to which reference has already been made. Such was the pillage in that country that when a barricade was thrown across the stream of wealth pouring from the Congo into Belgium the Belgian economy practically collapsed. It may be argued - rightly, I would say - that Belgium, in view of the investments that it had in the Congo, was entitled to some adequate return, but it can be argued also with equal force and with equal fervour that the people who produced this wealth were entitled to a fair share of the production of their labour. Their share could and should have been reflected in improved living standards somewhat comparable to what we in the privileged countries enjoy to-day. No or.e can say that this is impossible. No one can say it was beyond the reach of Belgium to give the people of the Congo improved living standards. The rule of colonial powers, including Britain, France, Belgium, Holland or America, has been such that they have had the time, the money, the material and the labour to lift the colonies out of their miserable plight and so to foster an everlasting loyalty and friendship towards themselves, but they have failed to do so.
The apartheid policy of South Africa is a classic example of the desire of some people to perpetuate existing conditions. Such a policy can never succeed. The less privileged people of the world are on the march. Their sights are and will continue to be levelled at the abolition of apartheid in South Africa. The pressure of their opinions will not be denied and our policies, our approaches and our statements of necessity must be of such a nature as to inspire confidence, trust and willingness at all times to extend the hand of friendship, not to create distrust and hostility such as has been created by the Prime Minister’s statement. I am one of the many people in this country who hopes that the performance of the Prime Minister and the statements he has made will never be repeated.
Much has been said during this debate about the somersault in policy on South Africa by the Prime Minister and the Government. Not one member of the Government has tried to explain the reason for the switch. We on this side of the House are pleased that the Government has seen fit to alter its policy. The Government has vindicated the Opposition’s policy and everything that members of the Opposition have said on this matter. We are just as pleased at the apparent reversal of form on disarmament and peace that is evident in Government policy to-day. I recall a time not so long ago when members on the Opposition side and other very reputable people were charged with being a front for the Communists because they advocated the cessation of nuclear and atomic tests and demanded that these great scientific discoveries be used for the benefit of mankind throughout the world and not for the destruction of the universe. But to-day we find the Government openly advocating the very things that the Australian Labour Party has stood for in the past and will stand for in the future.
I fortify that statement by the pronouncement of policy made by the Australian Labour Party after its federal conference in Hobart in 1955. A pronouncement was made in these words -
In addition to calling the Australian people to a more direct and a greater acceptance of responsibility for the raising of living standards, the eradication of illiteracy and disease, among the Asian peoples, the Labour Movement insists that all this will be as naught if the policy of massive retaliation through nuclear weapons is retained as the corner-stone of our democratic foreign policy.
The federal conference of the Australian Labour Party made this clear statement among others -
The development of atomic weapons has reached such dimensions that the peoples of the world are now faced with the stark and terrifying spectacle of a possible atomic world war causing a danger to the very fabric of the earth, its atmosphere and all its inhabitants which is so real that distinguished scientists refer to the prospect with a sense of “ desperation “. This desperation is partly due to the vacillation and delay in arranging high level political talks .aiming at the very effective prevention of the use of atomic and hydrogen bombs by any nation, whether for purposes of ‘war or experimental purposes.
The House will remember the advocacy of members on this side of the chamber of a Summit conference and the attitude of the Prime Minister and supporters of the Government to that proposal. The declaration following the Hobart conference of the Australian Labour Party referred to the South-East Asia Treaty Organization. The A.L.P. is proud of its hand in foreign affairs and its policy. After the Hobart conference, the Labour Party announced its views in these words -
The S.E.A.T.O. Organization must devote special attention to the peaceful development of international disputes in ‘South-East Asia. S.E.A.T.O. as a regional organization .within the United Nations has a positive duty to try and lessen international tension in South-East Asia and the Pacific. It should discharge that duty.
We hope that it will do so. We in the Australian Labour Party claim that we have stood by that policy in the past and will stand, for it in the future. We are proud of our record. We have had to face up to character assassination, half-truths and innuendoes; but time, conditions and world affairs have vindicated the stand of the A.L.P. and it can justly claim that it has played, and will continue to play, its part in the emancipation of the less fortunate people. We believe that peace on earth will prevail in a true sense and not as a mockery. Presidents and Prime Ministers meet, Russia returns a man safely from space, more missiles are made, more atomic and hydrogen bombs are stockpiled. Billions of pounds are being spent in the mad race for atomic and space superiority while in the world every hour of the day people are dying of starvation and disease. I will believe the sincerity of those who talk about the conditions of those who are not so fortunate when I hear them raise their voices demanding food, money and organization to eliminate want, misery and disease and when I hear them demand that a portion of the fifty billion pounds a year that is spent on nuclear and atomic preparations be diverted for the emancipation of the people and the elimination of misery.
I support the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) in stating that the murder of Patrice Lumumba was one of the greatest tragedies and one of the most tragic mistakes the world has witnessed in recent times. The echo of the shot that killed Lumumba will be heard throughout the length and breadth of the world for many years to come. I hope that when the day of reckoning comes, Australia will not be found wanting in its attitude on this matter. The question of the Congo has tested the United Nations to the utmost. We on this side of the House support the United Nations, and we hope that the problems of the Congo can be settled with credit to the United Nations and Australia in particular. We hope that the United Nations Organization can fulfil the functions for which it was established - to settle by peaceful means all disputes between nations. I hope that in the future there will be no more of the muddling and misunderstanding that have been made manifest by the statements of the Prime Minister on South Africa. The problems of the undeveloped nations are such that they require all the tact and wisdom that can be summoned. I hope that tact and wisdom and not irresponsibility will be our motto in the future.
.- I am sorry for the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor) who claims that, as members of the Australian Labour Party, he and his colleagues have been consistently misrepresented in respect of their foreign policy. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) must be smiling rather wryly at that statement because never in Australia’s history has an Australian leader been so misrepresented in such a short space of time as has our Prime Minister in relation to his actions during his recent trip abroad, despite the fact that he came into this House and gave, in my opinion one of the most masterly analyses of international affairs that I have heard for a long time. In his speech, the Prime Minister answered all the charges of the critics which were made, incidentally, when he was overseas and could not then answer for himself. Despite that fact, the Opposition has continued through this debate to act in the manner of Goebbels, working on the principle that if you say something untrue often enough, the people will eventually come to believe it. This debate provides us with a rare opportunity to discuss the British Commonwealth of Nations, the direction of its development and its value to Australia. It is most unfortunate that on the first occasion for many years on which this House has discussed the British Commonwealth of Nations, the debate should take place as the result of the loss of a founder member of the Commonwealth. It is still more unfortunate that that occasion should be marred by attempts to make party political capital out of these events by attempts to over-simplify the problem, and by attempts to label people for or against apartheid, even when the morality of apartheid is not relevant to what they are discussing.
We sit in the Australian Parliament. Membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations is one of the ways by which we traditionally safeguard and further Australia’s interests in the world. Surely we should be looking at the implications of these events from the point of view of Australia’s interests, and not be wallowing in a sea of moral self-gratification that South Africa has departed. I have no doubt that the Labour Party feels morally uplifted by its condemnation of South Africa’s policy; but surely its members have an obligation to show where their state of moral elevation and Australia’s interests coincide. Only, I would submit, if it can be shown that the Commonwealth is a better vehicle for furthering Australia’s interests, now that South Africa has gone, are we entitled to rejoice at South Africa’s departure, as the Opposition has obviously done in this debate. That is the criterion by which we should judge the actions of Australia’s representative, the Prime Minister, in the events which took place in London. That is the criterion by which the Opposition, whose members are always boasting loudly that the Labour Party has a monopoly of Australianism, should judge the position. That is exactly the criterion by which honorable members opposite have not judged the position, as they have shown in this debate. We cannot determine the effect of South Africa’s defection from the Commonwealth, and the usefulness of the Commonwealth to Australia, without being clear in our minds as to precisely what the modern Commonwealth has become. In this respect, I have been interested in the fact that not one single member of the Opposition - and I think I have heard every one of them who has spoken in this debate - has attempted to state what, in the view of the Opposition, the British Commonwealth is to-day. I hope that future speakers on the Opposition side will do that.
It amuses me that some members of the Opposition - and I refer particularly to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), who is asleep over there at the present moment - and some newspapers have accused the Prime Minister of holding an anachronistic and old-fashioned view of the British Commonwealth. This, of course, is nonsense. The Prime Minister’s attitude to the British Commonwealth is the exact opposite of that, as I hope to show. The form of the British Commonwealth, as it has developed since 1946, makes the question of domestic jurisdiction important to its working and its continued existence. Under the old form of Commonwealth, which we could expect the Prime Minister to espouse if he had an anachronistic view of these things, the greater legal ties made this particular aspect of the Commonwealth not quite so important as it is now. Indeed, there are recorded resolutions of the old Imperial Conferences which quite definitely impinged on the domestic affairs of member countries. But it is the developments in the Commonwealth since those days which make this question of domestic jurisdiction and interference in the internal affairs of member countries so important. We have come a long way from the days when the Commonwealth was prized because it was able to speak with one voice on the great questions of the day, and when it was a definite constitutional entity, identifiable in international law. To some, the fact that that position has altered is a matter for regret. Indeed, many people regard the former state of affairs as an idyllic state of affairs to which they hope that one day the Commonwealth will return. But it was inevitable, Sir, from the day in 1926 when it was decided that the Commonwealth would consist of a group of independent States which, to quote from the Balfour Declaration, would be “ equal in status and in no way subordinate one to another”, whose members would pursue policies dictated by their own interests - that such policies would be pursued. It was inevitable, therefore, that on occasions some members would differ from their fellow members and that the constitutional links would disappear until only the recognition of the British monarch as Head of the Commonwealth remained.
In the post-war years we have had the spectacle of Commonwealth nations on opposite sides on practically every great international issue, particularly those which stem from the cold war. This is practical proof, if it were needed, of the independence which members of the Commonwealth enjoy. It also leads many people to question the value of an organization the members of which are so deeply divided on questions fundamental to the peace of the world.
What is it, then, that gives the Commonwealth its value to the different member nations? We know that membership of it is worth while, because there is hardly a person who has had practical experience of the Commonwealth in action, from Prime Minister to the humblest official, who does not testify to its value. Why else are busy Prime Ministers prepared to journey to the other side of the world, with increasing frequency, in order to take part in weeks of discussion? Why else do the Commonwealth Finance Ministers meet every year? Why else do ambassadors of the Commonwealth countries in important posts like Washington meet regularly every week in order to talk things over? Why else are former British colonies, even those with the bitterest memories of colonial dominance, eager to become members of the Commonwealth of Nations after they have achieved their independence? The list could be amplified indefinitely, but I have said enough to make my point that the Commonwealth is something that is highly prized by its members, despite its failure to reach a consensus and a common view on great world problems. I believe that it is the system of consultation and co-operation which has grown up pragmatically over the years which gives the Commonwealth its value. Certainly this is true from Australia’s point of view. All over the world Australian diplomats, trade representatives and service officers have a special and intimate relationship with their opposite numbers in other Commonwealth countries, because of our membership of the Commonwealth. Our departments of government have access to a vast stream of confidential information which flows through
Commonwealth channels. By virtue of our membership of the Commonwealth we have the right to nominate people to- such diverse bodies as the Imperial Defence College, the Commonwealth Economic Committee, the Commonwealth Liaison Committee, the Commonwealth Shipping Committee and so on. Even in fields where all members do not wish to participate the system is flexible enough to permit us to have an almost organic relationship with those countries which are active with us in pursuit of a common purpose. An example of this is our participation in the Anzam treaty with the United States and New Zealand. This system of consultation and co-operation, in short, which has at its apex the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, and which extends its tentacles into every branch, of everyday activity, is the. core of the Commonwealth relationship. There is no doubt in my mind that, if Australia were not a member of the Commonwealth our influence in the world, as a country of 10,000,000 people, would be very much less than it is, and the means available for achieving our international objectives would be greatly reduced. Our security would also be more precarious. We should never forget that because of the Commonwealth system Australia has the unique opportunity of influencing to our advantage some of the most important and strategically placed nations on earth. Nowhere is that more important than in our part of the world - in Asia and South-East Asia.. So it can be said that the maintenance of the Commonwealth in its present form, with this system of consultation and co-operation, assumes the character of a vital interest of Australia. For this reason we must examine very carefully any change which may affect the usefulness of the Commonwealth to us.
Before we attempt to answer this question against the background of events surrounding the expulsion of South Africa, there rs one further question which needs to be answered. What is it that makes this system of consultation and co-operation work? What is it which makes it the undoubted and uniquely satisfying experience which it obviously rs. After all, there are scores of other organizations outside the Commonwealth through which States consult and co-operate. The United Nations, with all its ramifications,, is an excellent example. What is the difference? This is something which, can only be determined pragmatically, by experience.
I have questioned many people who have had that experience and, generally speaking, they are agreed on what gives the Commonwealth relationship its. essential quality. It is an intimacy and frankness which springs from a belief that members of the Commonwealth can trust one another; that what one representative says in private will not be used against him in public; that heads of government can communicate directly as they regularly do in the Commonwealth and that they do not have to assume publication as they do in communicating with almost any other state. People agree also that the- fact that the Commonwealth does not make decisions binding on its members plays a major part in the quality of the relationships because members can speak freely and without the inhibitions which are inevitable if a group of states are working towards a decision binding on them all.
Lastly, and perhaps more important to those of experience who have talked or written about the essence of the Commonwealth relationship, they agree that the tradition that members do not sit in judgment upon one another is fundamental to a continuance of this system of consultation and co-operation that has been built up over the years. They agree that this requires the exercise of self-restraint and self-discipline on. the part of Commonwealth members - a self-discipline and selfrestraint which, in the past, members have been only too glad to exercise because it was obvious to every one who could look a little below the surface that it was essential to the quality of the relationship. Why this should be so, Mr. Speaker, is not difficult to see. How can you have intimacy and frankness in the relationship between nations if you feel that anything you say or do will be recorded and used against you? How can you have free and independent nations co-operating as equals if they feel that what they do within their borders will be the subject of accusation, criticism and public rancour? All of us know, Sir, that such a state of affairs would poison relations between individuals. Still more is it likely to do so between nations. It is not a question of formal legal enactment, but of plain common sense.
When Dr. Evatt led the fight for article 2(7) of the United Nations Charter he did so, not because it was customary in international law to exclude matters of domestic jurisdiction from the purview of the organizations, but because he knew that the organization just did not have a chance unless it did so. Still more is that so in a body like the Commonwealth, where the relationship is at once more intimate and the ties less formal and binding. It is on this point that the Commonwealth Prime Ministers made a departure from precedent last month.
If I am right in saying this - and I am sure I am - then we must hope that these events will not be regarded as a precedent and that the self-restraint which has characterized Commonwealth relations in the past will continue to be recognized for what it is - the lynch pin of the whole system. How much justification have we for the assumption that there was something in South Africa’s racial policies which led many of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers to act in a way in which they would not normally act in their relations with their fellow Commonwealth members? Was there anything to suggest to us that the South African problem was unique and that discussion of it did not constitute a precedent which could destroy the Commonwealth?
I must confess, Mr. Acting Speaker, that from the point of view of my own particular approach to morality, I find it difficult to distinguish between the immorality of apartheid and the immorality of other policies practised by other members of the Commonwealth. After all, the thing that revolts us about apartheid is that it represents a form of cruelty practised by a group of human beings on their fellow human beings. I am equally revolted by the cruelties inflicted, for instance, by some Ghanians on their fellows in Ghana. The fact that in one case the cruelty is practised by white on black and, in the other, by black on black does not seem to me to make the slightest difference to the morality of the situation. Although that is the way I see it, I am perfectly prepared to believe that others see it differently, particularly our
Asian and African friends in the Commonwealth. History has possibly dictated in those countries an emotional attitude which could not be gainsaid - emotions of such force that the normal restraints implicit in and essential to the Commonwealth relationship could not bear the strain. If this is so, then perhaps we can regard these events as unique and not likely to be repeated except in similar unique circumstances. We can only hope and pray that it is so because there is not the slightest shadow of doubt that the Commonwealth will be destroyed if it is not so. As has been stated in the London “ Economist “ - . . the Commonwealth bridge may not have been able to withstand the weight of Dr. Verwoerd’s racialism. But there are limits to the extent to which bridges can be built by pulling girders away.
So important is this to Australia, Sir, that I do not believe that we should leave anything to chance. I believe, as I have already said, that the maintenance of the Commonwealth is in itself a vital interest of this country. To this end, I believe that we should immediately initiate a round of discussions amongst Commonwealth members, designed to ensure explicit acceptance of the principle that, except in exceptional circumstances, members do not sit in judgment upon one another. That is essential to the continued existence of the Commonwealth itself.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. T have been shockingly misrepresented by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), who reflected on my performance of my parliamentary duties. I understood the honorable member to say that I was asleep. That was about the only part of his remarks that was comprehensible. Honorable members will know how desperately difficult it is to keep awake while the honorable member is speaking. However, that I was wide awake is shown by the fact that I heard what the honorable member said. That is proof that I was awake, no matter how much the mercy of sleep while he was speaking would have been appreciated by me. I finally state, in explanation of the situation, that all honorable members will clearly understand that one would have one’s eyes shut so that one would not have to see the honorable member as well as hear him.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, at the outset of his speech, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) referred to what he regarded as unwarranted attacks made on the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in his absence. It will not require much effort on the part of members to remember that when Dr. Evatt, as Australian Minister for External Affairs, had to go abroad in time of stress, he was severely criticized by honorable members opposite many times during his absence. They did not reserve their criticism until the right honorable gentleman was present in this place. However, I do not want to dwell on matters raised by the honorable member for Barker.
It seems to me that three main issues have been raised in respect of South Africa in this debate. In the first place, the Opposition particularly, although it has no monopoly in this, has drawn attention to what it regards as the incompetence of the Prime Minister as Minister for External Affairs, especially his exhibition of incompetence in injuring our relations with other nations. The second issue involved in the South African affair is the whole modern concept of national sovereignty. The third issue - one to which I intend to refer only briefly - is the advantages and disadvantages of South Africa’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth.
Taking the first issue of the Prime Minister’s gross incompetence. as I will call it, in his part-time task as Minister for External Affairs. I believe that the most grave criticism that can be made against him is that he has undermined respect for this country among other nations, especially the new nations of Asia and Africa. In this regard it is not necessary to rely on the testimony of the Opposition. It is all very well to get up and talk about the political motives that might prompt criticism from this side of the House, but I wonder what judgment honorable members opposite will pass on the criticism offered by one of their own members. I refer to the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) - a most significant member of this Parliament - who is the chairman of the Government’s own Foreign Affairs Committee. If any honorable member thinks that anything that the Opposition has done has been actuated by political considerations, let him ask himself what were the motives of the honorable member for Chisholm - I repeat that he is the chairman of the Government’s Foreign Affairs Committee - who, only yesterday in this House, referred to the Prime Minister in these terms -
I think that he is to be congratulated on the statement that he made to this House. Unfortunately, however, the document cannot be treated as a separate statement entirely, because it is really only a further chapter in a book much of which has already been written. Again, unfortunately, in my opinion, the earlier chapters have done far more damage than this latest one can repair. It is our job to repair the rest of the damage as soon as possible.
Speaking of the earlier statements made by the Prime Minister at the Australia Club dinner in London and at his press conference in London on 19th March, the honorable member went on to say -
That is the very thing about which the Opposition is concerned - and very genuinely concerned. We are not making a personal attack on the Prime Minister. This is not the first occasion on which the Opposition, as well as other organs in the community, has had to direct attention to the lamentable failure of the Prime Minister in his excursions abroad - and especially to his failures in the field of external affairs. Still vivid is our recollection of the time just a few years ago when the right honorable gentleman lent himself to an excursion to see President Nasser of Egypt over the Suez Canal crisis. He followed that up a few years later by his excursion last year to the United Nations, when he lent himself to the proposal before the General Assembly of an amendment that gave affront to all Asian nations and, indeed, was able to enlist the support of only four nations apart from Australia. We all have vivid recollections of the severe criticism directed at our Prime Minister on that occasion by Pandit Nehru.
So this is not just an isolated instance. I am sure that the honorable member for Chisholm had that in mind. But I suggest, in all honesty, that the thing which he had most in mind was the behaviour of our Prime Minister subsequent to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference held in London recently. The honorable member had in mind vivid recollections of the Prime Minister’s petulance when he was frustrated and rebuffed in the carrying out of his ideas about what should be done concerning South Africa. These are the things that have moved not only the Australian Labour Party but also many people outside this Parliament and, indeed, as I have said, even members of the Government parties within the Parliament. Is it suggested that the honorable member for Chisholm is interested in getting rid of our Prime Minister? That is the sort of suggestion to which honorable members opposite appear to be lending themselves.
In all our consideration of this matter, we remember and respect the law of primacy by which first impressions are the ones that usually have the most effect. The honorable member for Chisholm was quite right when he said that a lot more effort is required to get rid of an impression of this kind than is required to create the impression in the first place. That is the great regret that members of the Australian Labour Party and, I am sure, the Australian community generally have about this matter. However, that is not to say anything about the somersaults that occurred afterwards and the impression of utter cynicism and expediency that was given by the Prime Minister on many occasions when he talked about the policy of apartheid being a domestic affair. Having done that, in almost the next breath he instructed our delegate to the United Nations to support sanctions against South Africa. That is the sort of thing that moved even the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, which began its editorial in the issue of 10th April in this fashion -
Nobody can doubt now that our Prime Minister is a political acrobat of awe-inspiring virtuosity.
The last two sentences of this editorial also are worth quoting. They read -
Last week our critics could say that we were wrong but honest. Now, belatedly, we are right, but for the worst possible reasons.
Our Asian neighbours and, indeed, many other countries of the world must have gained an impression of complete cynicism on this Government’s part. One would almost believe that the Government got the word right at the last minute that more than 90 other nations intended to support in the United Nations the resolution condemning apartheid and that only Portugal and perhaps Australia intended to vote against it. Having heard that, of course, the Prime Minister went against all his earlier affirmations, ducked for cover and pulled in, perhaps for the first time in this unhappy affair, other senior Cabinet Ministers to share the somersault with him. This sort of thing is commonplace. The Prime Minister brings in his Cabinet Ministers when something unpopular is to be done, but he takes the popular measures upon himself.
– That is a complete misrepresentation.
– I suggest that the Prime Minister’s incompetence in this respect derives, first of all, from the fact that he has too many responsibilities. I do not say this in a spirit of personal venom. I am concerned here with our representation abroad, which is a most important matter and will probably never in our history be more important than it is now. The acceptance of too many responsibilities, of course, is a particular trait of the Prime Minister’s character. Apparently, even with a record majority in this Parliament, he is not able to delegate to other members some of the responsibilities that he has taken upon himself to the detriment of Australia’s representation abroad. He is out of contact with external affairs. That is patent. As a result, he gets himself into these awkward situations.
The Prime Minister is out of contact also with a number of the responsibilities that he has at home. I am talking now not just about the general economic issues but about some of the right honorable gentleman’s specific responsibilities. He is the Minister responsible for the Public Service. We all have seen the anguish among some of the public servants in this community as a result of the raw deal that they are still getting after two years or more of agitation. The Prime Minister also administers the Office of Education, which should be doing a tremendous amount of work in order to bring education in Australia up to scratch.
These matters are not getting the attention that they deserve. I am sure that they could not get it from a man who accepts all these responsibilities in - I hesitate to say it - what appears to be an arrogant manner which gives an impression that the Prime Minister has an exaggerated sense of his own importance. The effect of this is accentuated by the fact that he cannot delegate responsibilities to other people.
– The honorable member is like a snarling terrier.
– Why has not the
Prime Minister been prepared to allow other people to share these responsibilities? Perhaps the honorable member who has just interjected will dwell on that.
I suggest, secondly, that the Prime Minister’s incompetence derives from his own out-of-date attitudes and prejudices. He lives still in the days of the old-world diplomacy, when it was all very nice because the traditionally recognized powers were present at the conferences and there was more or less a homogeneity of outlook, of race and of background, and when there were not the sharp issues that now arise at these conferences with the attendance of people of new aspirations, different backgrounds and different racial origins. The Prime Minister has not been able to adjust himself to the new order of things. He still brings to bear in international affairs this old-world outlook - this idea that you can, at the end of a conference, release a statement that contains a whole lot of platitudes but suggests only the minimum of commitment to action. That is another difficulty for our Prime Minister.
I suggest, thirdly, that his own temperament makes him unsatisfactory for this job of Minister for External Affairs. I have already mentioned his petulance in the face of opposition and rebuff. We have seen his woeful indiscretions. Knowing that there were present at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference people with strong feelings who had racial kinship with the natives in South Africa, who are being treated as they are treated under the policy of apartheid, our Prime Minister went out of his way to praise the Prime Minister of South Africa. At his press conference in London on 19th March, he said -
The South African Prime Minister says and with great sincerity - he is a man of singular integrity, a most impressive man . . .
I wonder what integrity really means in this connotation. Does it mean a lack of self-deception? Does it mean honesty of purpose? Suppose it does. Using the criteria of honesty of purpose, lack of selfdeception as to one’s purpose, and selfconsistency, I suppose one could have said the same about Hitler and about Stalin as the Prime Minister has said about Dr. Verwoerd. They also had honesty of purpose, lack of self-deception and consistency of aim, if that is what integrity means. But to the people I have spoken about those words of the Prime Minister were provocative and they cannot, I am sure, have done otherwise than prejudice this country’s relations with the peoples of those other nations.
The Prime Minister, in his petulance and frustration, had to go on and taunt these people. Having said that he thought apartheid would not work because he believed it to be impracticable, he went on to say, “ I have not, like some, moralized about this matter “. If ever there was a matter deserving of moral judgment, surely this is such a matter. However, I leave the Prime Minister and his alleged incompetence to the judgment of the Australian people.
The next issue I wanted to raise was that of the whole concept of national sovereignty, of a country being able to run itself in the way it sees fit, without reference to other countries. This has been an issue right through history, even as far back as the days of the ancient Greeks. There has always been the question of the right of sovereign states to act without reference to other people. On this occasion the question arose, of course, from the Prime Minister’s insistence that what has been done in South Africa is a domestic issue. Right up to the last minute he has stuck to this assertion, and I think he sincerely believes that he is right, despite the kind of vote that was registered in the United Nations. This raises in my mind, as it must do in the minds of others, the question of what are going to be the criteria to determine whether an issue is a domestic one or is not. We all subscribe, nominally at any rate, to the United Nations charter, in which figures prominently the code of human rights. One wonders just when this code of human rights applies. If a country is to retain to itself the right to run itself in just the way it likes, how can the code of human rights be applied to people in that country?
– That is not in the charter.
– The code of human rights gives freedom of belief, freedom of faith, freedom of religion, freedom of worship and freedom of congregation, and these things are all guaranteed under the Charter of the United Nations. In the face of this insistence upon domestic sovereignty, how can those rights be effectively secured? How can sanctions be imposed upon people who insist upon such sovereign rights and regard everything done within their own country as a domestic issue? If one follows this kind of principle of national sovereignty, then one must say that Hitler’s extermination of the Jews, so long as it took place within Germany, was a domestic matter, in which the councils of the world had no right to intervene. That is the kind of proposition that we might have to concede. I admit that it is putting the matter to a fairly extreme test, but one of the questions with which we must confront ourselves is: Just where is this line of demarcation to be drawn? Just how far can a nation exercise sovereign rights without acknowledging any adherence to any kind of universal code of human rights or any kind of world authority or code of law?
This is the kind of question that was raised even back in 1943 - and, of course, it was raised many times prior to that. But at that time, when we were involved in war, Dr. Friedman, Lecturer in Laws, University College, London, wrote an important book, “ The Crisis of the National State “, in which he raised this very issue. He said -
Unless there is international agreement and a concerted international policy on fundamentals, and unless the agreement on policy is supported by a corresponding internal policy and organization, chaos will again triumph in the name of the sovereign and self-determining State.
I remember interjecting during a speech made by the Prime Minister last year, when he asked what right other countries had to judge us on our white Australia policy. I believe, quite frankly, that they have every right. Whether we concede that they have such a right or not, I am sure that they believe they have it and that they are going to exercise it. In fact, they are exercising it at the present time. We must realize that this is a world of change. It is a shrinking world. No longer is it a world in which it is remarkable to journey “ around the world in 80 days “; yesterday we had the spectacle of a person going around the world in 80 minutes. It is a shrinking world, in which people move readily over international barriers. In social affairs there is always this inter-flux with other nations. It is in this context that we must have some code of law that will override, in particular respects, the domestically determined laws or policies of particular countries. If this is not achieved we will not have international peace. We can never hope for continuing international peace while each nation makes up its mind what policies it will pursue, without consideration for any world authority.
The whole trend of developments in the world has been towards world government. People have been working everywhere for a world code of laws, a world code of ethics. The Prime Minister and the Government, apparently, are having great difficulty in making their way in this kind of transitional stage in which so many new nations are coming into being, so many socalled independent sovereign states are being formed. It is in these circumstances, with so many new states coming into being, all with their sovereign powers, that it becomes so necessary for nations to give up some of their sovereignty in the cause of some kind of universal law and universal jurisdiction.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The first thing I would like to do is congratulate the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) on the excellent contribution he made to this debate. It was one of the most thoughtful of all the speeches that have been made during the whole debate.
It is rather interesting to note that until a very few weeks ago, and over quite :i long period of time before that, the members of the Opposition have consistently claimed that there is no value whatsoever in the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. All of a sudden they have discovered that this committee has some great authority, that it has far greater authority, in fact, than it ever actually had. It has suddenly assumed an importance which honorable members opposite could not see a couple of weeks ago.
The members of the Opposition have attributed great importance to the speech made by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) - and in my opinion they have over-estimated that importance - because he is the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. I would like to say a word about this because I disagree with a number of the remarks made by the very gallant and honorable member for Chisholm. I differ from him quite considerably, to start with, on the question whether the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) should have foreshadowed an amendment to the motion that the document be printed. I believe that such an amendment is necessary in the interests of Australia, and I certainly intend to support it wholeheartedly. There are times when people criticize the Government. There are times when people criticize the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). I have never been backward in doing so when I have thought it was necessary. I believe it is equal!’’ my duty to give the Prime Minister my full support when I am convinced that what he is doing and has done is in the best interests of Australia.
There has not been sufficient emphasis given in this debate to the things that the Prime Minister did outside the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference in. London. Insufficient emphasis has been placed on the very important work hi performed with President Kennedy, at the Seato Conference in Bangkok, and during the discussions on disarmament at the Prime Ministers’ Conference.
To return for a moment to the importance of the speech made by the honorable member for Chisholm, it is my opinion from watching the events of a number of years, that there possibly is some truth in what the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) has said; the honorable member for Chisholm would not necessarily be heartbroken if the Prime Minister was not doing his job. I think the House realizes that there is considerable personal feeling in some directions and I believe that some times colours the utterances of the very gallant and honorable member for Chisholm. I do not think that undue importance should be attached to his statements merely because he is the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. If this is done, equal importance should be given to the remarks of the honorable member for Perth, who foreshadowed that he would move an amendment, merely because he is ViceChairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Some very rude and unnecessary remarks have been made about the way in which the amendment of the honorable member for Perth has been brought before the House, but I know that the honorable member for Perth has been completely right in the whole matter and that the substance of his amendment is right.
I shall deal with one or two of the matters raised by the honorable member for Barton. He commenced his speech by saying that he wanted to talk about the gross incompetence of the Prime Minister in his capacity of Minister for External Affairs and went on to say that the right honorable gentleman had undermined the confidence of African and Asian nations. Apart from having quoted from the speech of the honorable member for Chisholm, I do not know where he could have found that statement, unless it was in the newspapers.
– Of course it was.
– I think it was the honorable and gallant member for Hume who said that the whole of the argument presented by the Opposition has been based on statements made in newspapers. It is a pity that Opposition members cannot make themselves better informed, because I am sure that all honorable members, including the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), know only too well that the newspapers for a considerable period have been conducting a campaign not only against the Government but against the Parliament. Some of the articles published in newspapers are equally as scurrilous as some of the statements made by Opposition members in this debate. There is such a similarity between the statements in the newspapers and the statements made by Opposition members that they must have a common source of information. These statements in the main are completely untrue and, as I say, some of them are scurrilous.
– Which ones are you talking about?
– Quite frankly, there have been so many that 1 could not read them all in the time available to me. I shall refer to one that appeared in the Brisbane “ Telegraph “ on Monday last. It was a leading article, headed “ Time to Get Out “. It attacked the Prime Minister for holding the dual portfolios and alleged that by his actions Australia had been harmed in SouthEast Asia and other areas. Without the slightest doubt, that is exactly what Opposition members have been saying, but it is completely untrue and is without foundation. That is proven by the statement made by the Prime Minister in this House. The Opposition’s amendment is scurrilous. A previous amendment relating to international affairs, which was moved by the Opposition, was of such a nature that I would not have accepted it had I been in charge of the House; the wording of it was completely wrong.
The honorable member for Barton and other honorable members have touched on one of the important points emerging from the Prime Ministers’ Conference, and that is whether such conferences in future will deal with matters which some countries may consider are within their own domestic jurisdiction. I gather that some Opposition members - not all of them - are more or less prepared to accept the idea that in future the Prime Ministers will have the right to discuss these domestic matters. I agree with the honorable member for Barker, who said that he hoped this would have been a unique occasion. I think the Prime Minister was completely right when he deliberately warned the other Prime Ministers that Australia would not tolerate interference in its domestic affairs. The honorable member for Barton a moment ago almost agreed that other countries should have the right to decide matters which are considered to be of a domestic nature, but I would like to see the honorable gentleman who would stand up and say: “ I agree with this. I am quite prepared to have the governments of other countries tell the Australian Government what it will do in Australia.” That will be the result of the pressures that can be brought to bear on these matters at Prime Ministers’ Conferences.
I do not know, but I feel sure that the Prime Minister had in mind the inevitability of discussions at future Prime Ministers’ Conferences on what is commonly called the white Australia policy. I wish we would call it a restricted immigration policy. The term “ white Australia policy “ is offensive to me and to many others. The Prime Minister could conclude only that this policy would be a subject for discussion at future Prime Ministers’ Conferences. Those of us who attended the meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association held here in November, 1959, know very well that some visiting delegates did their utmost to have the white Australia policy discussed. To my mind, it is inevitable, therefore, that this subject will be raised at a Prime Ministers’ Conference at some time in the future. The Prime Minister’s comment was very necessary, but at best it has only delayed a discussion of this policy for a few years.
I think the House knows that I have never been completely in agreement with the socalled white Australia policy. I was very much opposed to it until this Government liberalized it. However, not sufficient publicity has been given to this liberalization. I do not believe that we have told enough nations that within the last few years Asians have been able to become naturalized Australians. Many people do not know this and do not believe it. This liberalization was a very big step in the right direction, but it did not go far enough. As I have said before, I believe it is inevitable that at some time in the future we will have a very limited quota system. Nobody believes that we should open the flood-gates and bring in vast numbers of people. This would not help them and it would add tremendously to our problems. But I believe that a time must come when we will say to other nations: “ There is not a country in the world whose people are denied the right to live in Australia. The numbers that we will let in will be very small, but we wish to take away from your minds completely the thought that because of colour or creed you cannot come to Australia.”
I believe that will happen. I think that one of the tragedies of what happened at the Prime Ministers’ Conference is that, in the future, pressure will be brought to bear which might influence an Australian government to adopt that policy. And the Australian government of that day, regardless of party, will lose the tremendous advantage that we could have had in the last few years by bringing in such a policy ourselves. That, to me, is one of saddest things about this conference, because I do not think that members of this House underestimate the tremendous emotion, not controlled by logic, which is inherent in our white Australia policy, as it is known. There is an ignorance about it; there is no question about that. I confirmed that fact to my own satisfaction last year in South-East Asia.
I have been told that when you go to these countries people do not raise the subject of the white Australia policy unless you first bring it up; and I think that, within limits, that could be accurate. They do not want to hurt your feelings, and that is why they do not mention it. But that does not mean to say that they are not thinking about it. I found that they are thinking about it in Korea, Japan, Formosa, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaya. The statement which Tunku Abdul Rahman made at the Prime Ministers’ Conference about there being a differentiation between race discrimination and our white Australia policy is, I believe, in his own case completely true. But the fact that he has said it does not mean that other people within the British Commonwealth will also say it or believe it. As I say, in 1959, we had a clear-cut indication at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference here that there are other people in the West Indies and in the African countries who have got this very much in mind. There is not the slightest doubt that it will be whipped up in their minds in the years which lie ahead, and I hope that we will press on with liberalizing our immigration laws and policies at a more rapid pace than we perhaps might have intended. I still believe it is inevitable and I congratulate the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) and the previous Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) for the great easing which has already come about in those laws in more recent years.
In the minds of the Australian people there has been some doubt not largely created but certainly largely fostered by certain sections of the press concerning the sincerity of the Prime Minister in his approach to some of his work overseas. I feel quite confident that after the statement he made in the House the other night, there is no such doubt in the mind of any thinking, honest Australian, which makes all the worse the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition. To suggest at this time that -
In the opinion of this House, the speeches and statements made by the Prime Minister on the question of South Africa, following the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, have done great harm to Australia’s relations with other member States in the Commonwealth, and with the nations of South-East Asia; have aggravated the position he created at the United Nations meeting in October last year; and do not represent the views of the Australian people - is, I believe, completely to disregard the true nature of the responsibility of members of the Opposition. That attitude on the part of honorable members of the Opposition is not surprising when we recall the ideas of the present Leader of the Opposition in respect of foreign affairs, which he so ably, for himself, exemplified in the cases of the Manila girls, Sergeant Gamboa, Mrs. O’Keefe and the infamous statement that “ two Wongs do not make a white “. That is the foundation upon which the Opposition obviously wishes to base its future international policy. I shall have the greatest pleasure in wholeheartedly supporting the amendment that has been foreshadowed by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney).
.- I have been interested to hear the views of the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm) regarding the white Australia policy. We on this side of the House have always been extremely proud of the fact that it was the Australian Labour Party which initiated Australia’s immigration programme, a programme which brought people en masse to this country from many parts of the world - a humanitarian programme designed to alleviate the great distress which prevailed in war-torn countries. It is important to recall as well that the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) was the initiator of that scheme. He may not have subscribed to all the high standards which revolve about the question of immigration at this time, but when he introduced his scheme he did so in the face of very solid opposition from many members of the community and from many sections of the community that are represented by those who sit opposite us. So we have no apology to make about our great record in respect of racial impartiality. I hope that what the honorable member for Bowman has said is true - there has got to be a very rational attitude in respect of these things.
I am sorry that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) has just left the chamber, because I am anxiously awaiting his decision on the matter of a particular application which was referred to him very recently, I believe, by his own department, after it had rejected an application from Hollandia. I know this case so well. It is that of a very fine agriculturist, accustomed to good standards in every respect, who came to Australia to visit his daughter, who is at present studying medicine at a university. Having arrived here, those people applied to stay here. This family is 75 per cent. Dutch and 25 per cent. Asiatic, and no one could quibble about this man’s excellent standards in respect of citizenship, his accomplishments in life, and so on, but because of the colour content - I am satisfied there is no other consideration - he has been rejected. I sincerely hope that the Minister’s administration of this department is as the honorable member for Bowman hopes it will be, and I am anxiously waiting to see what sort of attitude is manifested by the Government in this particular case. If it is a favorable one, I will be the first to compliment the Minister.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has delivered a report on foreign affairs following his visit to the Commonwealth Conference of Prime Ministers and other leaders of state. The Opposition has moved an amendment and, as has been pointed out, has declared its profound disappointment with the Government’s attitude about a number of world trouble spots. Quite a number of them have been mentioned during this afternoon’s debate. The Opposition contends that the best interests of the Australian people are not being served by a part-time Minister for External Affairs, who is not giving sufficient time to that work in the first place and who has not shown any outstanding ability in that direction. His attitude in respect of racial matters has been most provocative to coloured nations and can certainly not be described as being conducive to world peace. I was interested to hear the Prime Minister’s brief references to the problem in Laos. Unfortunately, in his attitude towards Laos he seems to be following in the wake of the late Mr. John Foster Dulles, that discredited political giant who brought the world almost to the brink of disaster on so many occasions. Most of us in this chamber had hoped that the area around Laos, including Cambodia, would become a buffer area, a neutral area, an area which would separate the people who are pursuing different ideologies. Most of us would like to feel that it is an area in which emphasis is placed on conciliation, friendship, and mutual aid, an area in which the indigenous people would be free to plan their political destiny over whatever period they considered necessary, without pressure from the blocs that exist in the international political sphere.
The present difficulty in Laos has been precipitated by a very serious mistake on the part of the United States of America. All honorable members will recall that for some considerable time the United States of America had been pursuing a policy of encouraging the neutralist regime. Then the Eisenhower Administration became dissatisfied with that. It felt that the United States of America should be using Laos for its own purposes in connexion with the cold war. The United States of America wanted ;o take advantage of Laos, and so abandon:. j its support of the neutralist forces and threw its weight behind the right wing forces in Laos. As a consequence, this very substantial neutralist group moved closer to the left. The left wing forces then gathered strength quickly, and it was not long before trouble was brewing on a very substantial scale.
The United States of America has had the idea that Laos could well become a Seato base, and has been working towards that end. The Americans themselves do not deny now that over the last five years they have poured into Laos something like 250,000,000 dollars - some put the figure as high as 300,000,000 dollars - and that most of this money has been spent on armaments. The Americans have seen Laos as a bridge to China. They have never been satisfied with the situation in China, and have always had the idea that they would some day take active steps to retrieve the position. For that reason, they have been pouring armaments into Laos at a fabulous rate. They do not deny that in recent times they have been responsible for political coups in tha. country. And after having accomplished all these things, the United States has the temerity to accuse the Soviet Union of having taken provocative action in the Laos area! It is true that there has been some Soviet military aid, but that aid has been infinitesimal compared to the substantial amount of American aid which had pre.ceeded it. 1 understand that near the end of November last Russia did send in consignments of petrol, flour and sugar to Viet Nam, which was the subject of a blockade by Thailand at that time. 1 understand that three or four howitzers were also included in the consignment, but it was ascertained later that no one was able to operate these howitzers, and they were never put into service. But what is that amount of aid compared with the 250,000,000 o- 300,000,000 dollars’ worth of American aid which had been poured into Laos over the long period before that?
We are wondering what is to happen about Laos, and we on this side see in the Prime Minister’s attitude something that is typical of the stand he usually takes in connexion with these matters - a stimulation of the old Seato arrangement, the old sabre-rattling policy. We of the Opposition favour an alternative proposal which we believe will be more conducive to the attainment and maintenance of peace in the Pacific area. We hope to see established in this area, commissions similar to those established in connexion with Viet Nam and Cambodia in 1954 under the Geneva agreements. T point out here that those commissions have not met since 1958. and the United States of America has been most reluctant to encourage them to meet because they could operate as a brake upon the implementation of America’s discreditable policy in those areas. Nehru of India, along with the Soviet Union, has been advocating the reestablishment of international commissions for some time, and has been endeavouring to induce the western powers to agree on this policy. Recently, he had some success in that he persuaded the United Kingdom to submit this proposal to the United States of America.
We on this side do not favour Seato action in connexion with Laos; we favour negotiation. We do not want sabre rattling. We do not want to open up the probability of an atomic war. We say that the sensible attitude is to re-establish the international commission which, after all, is an integral part of the policy of the United Nations.
We suggest that the first duty of the international commission should be to bring about a cessation of hostilities. After that, it should look into the facts, realizing that a satisfactory solution can never be obtained until China is taken into consideration. Whatever commission is established, whether it be of the type of those set up under the Geneva agreements, or whether it be set up under some other arrangement, it must realize that the Chinese Government represents 600,000,000 people, who live in an area that is of vital concern to Australia. No solution of the Laos problem which could be satisfactory to Australia can be arrived at until it is admitted by all sides that the Chinese Government is entitled to have some say in arriving at that solution. Steps should be taken also to ensure that the United States of America ceases to equate neutralism with communism, as it has been tending to do over recent years. Such a commission should also be. concerned with the need to channel all economic aid through the United Nations organization, because too often in the past we have seen that assistance to neutralist countries, such as Cambodia, takes the form of persuasion. No country should be allowed to offer assistance, whether it be economic or otherwise, merely to gain kudos for itself. In order to avoid this, such aid should be channelled through the United Nations organization, and for that reason we are looking to this Government to adopt a realistic attitude towards Laos.
We on this side are interested in the whole question of Seato. We are not prepared to rely completely on Seato in the future, for we feel that in the past there has been a tendency to over-militarize it, and to reduce to a minimum the provision of economic aid. After all, we must remember that we are living in an era of potential devastation. We cannot tolerate any situation under which international conflict could become possible. Only a moment ago, I was interested to glance at a statement which was signed by 720 of the leading scientists of the world. Included in those 720 were 39 Nobel prize winners. That statement was an appeal to all nations to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, to abandon the testing of nuclear weapons, and so on, for to continue with them could lead to the extermination of mankind. In all these circumstances, it is obvious that Seato is outmoded. It bristles with aggressiveness. We must all recognize that in the next five years nuclear club membership, even in the Pacific and Asiatic areas, could extend considerably. Australia no longer can depend on Seato if it is concerned with survival because we are well aware of our inability to defend ourselves even against conventional arms let alone the new techniques which have been evolved.
We would like to see a new treaty between Pacific and Asiatic countries providing for the establishment of a zone of disengagement. This arrangement could be developed even now while Seato is in operation and gradually Seato could be allowed to peter out as the new organization took over. The arrangement would have no interest in war but would be devoted to the idea of peace. It would be an agreement involving a number of signatory nations with the proposal that they exclude from the area all military bases, whether of the Western bloc or the Communist bloc. We would devote ourselves to the idea of peace and mutual aid and we would declare the Pacific and Asiatic region as a non-nuclear area. That would be an extremely desirable thing. Would not Australia be held in high esteem among the Asiatic countries such as Indonesia, India and our other neighbours if we went forward with a proposal of this kind? Australia could say to them, “ None of us can afford to meet the high expense of preparation for war which could lead to our annihilation, so let us encourage the idea of this Pacific-Asiatic treaty, involving all countries in the area and nominating it as a zone of disarmament “. This could be done, and we could prevail upon the United States, the Soviet Union, China and all the great powers to respect the new arrangement. We would hope that they would become honest brokers in this matter. The Prime Minister would have served a more worth-while purpose overseas if he had pursued an idea of this kind.
If we are to have regard for the seriousness of some of the crises which have arisen around Australia and which concern us, we must look at some of the recent precedents. There is the Congo situation, which is a very good example of a national disaster of the kind that could beset countries in close proximity to Australia. The Congo situation quite easily could have precipitated a world war. It is similar in many respects to the situation in Laos, which also was exploited by all and sundry, both the Western bloc and the Communist bloc. We should be able to learn some lessons from it.
We know the way in which Belgian commercial interests exploited the unfortunate people of the Congo. The United Nations did not fulfil its responsibilities in that country and the Belgians walked out in 1960, but when they walked out they felt that they had left behind a stooge who would be able to take their place. Unfortunately, the Belgian plan failed. They had not prepared the area for selfgovernment or for independence. Among the 12,000,000 native people in the Congo, there was not one commissioned officer in any of the defence forces; there were only sixteen African university graduates; there was not one doctor, one engineer or one lawyer. The Belgians walked out in the face of gathering world pressure because they thought that they had a stooge who would take their place and serve their purposes. However, the stooge failed when the elections were held.
The Congo has six provinces. The wealthy ones are Katanga, which has great deposits of copper and uranium, and Kasai, which has great deposits of metals and diamonds. In the area also were two potential Nato bases, and this fact gave rise to grave concern. The Belgians nominated their stooge, Kasavubu, but when the elections were held he did not come anywhere near Lumumba, the outsider, who won the race. The Belgians had tried to put down Lumumba by burning his newspaper, but despite all kinds of unprecedented actions by the Belgians he won the day. In the elections Kasavubu, the Belgian stooge, won only twelve seats and Lumumba won 40. When Lumumba was elected Prime Minister the rot set in. Katanga declared its independence. Lumumba appealed to the United Nations and the country was flooded within a week with 10,000 African soldiers. The Congolese were called on to surrender. Their radio station was closed down and Mobutu, an agent of the Belgian Government, moved into Leopoldville with an army. Eventually Kasavubu became the President. The United Nations failed to sustain the democratically elected government in the Congo and big business interests from Belgium prevailed.
The possibility of a similar situation arising in Laos and in many other places exists, and we must ensure that we create an atmosphere and an environment which is conducive to a far more satisfactory solution of these problems than the dreadful blood-bath which took place in the Congo. Many issues of the Congo variety can develop very quickly unless we create a national atmosphere and environment which is distinctly different from that which existed in bygone days.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– A debate on international affairs naturally is as wide as the world, so any speaker whose time is limited has to choose between trying to make a very rapid survey of the whole scene, as the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) has done, or selecting one or two questions for particular attention. For my part, I propose to talk only on two questions. The first of these is the impact of racial issues on international affairs.
The objective of all of us surely is to prevent differences of race from becoming an issue between nations and a cause of conflict in the world. If we look at this aspect not simply from the point of view of Australia, but having regard to the interests of all the people of the world, we can surely see any division of the world along racial lines as being an impediment to the welfare of mankind and an obstacle to the achievement of international peace.
On reflection, too, I am sure that all of us will agree that there is no substantial reason or principle for dividing one nation from another or from joining one nation in alliance with another simply because their peoples happen to be of the same colour or of the same race. Surely the reasons why nations join in alliance with one another, or, regrettably, oppose one another, derive from the fact that they hold the same or opposing principles. Nations that seek the same purpose or resist the same dangers will tend to become allies.
Within the borders of any single country a division along racial lines is objectionable to all of us, and in the world at large a division of nations on racial lines is equally objectionable. That is my first proposition. From it I want to proceed to the proposition that part of the special value of the Commonwealth of Nations - what used to be called the British Commonwealth of Nations - is that it is a multi-racial association of independent sovereign States each responsible for its own policies. Because it is a multi-racial association and because of the special spirit and structure which have been evident in the Commonwealth of Nations, it has been one of the few places in the world in which racial issues have been of less importance than elsewhere, and where it has been possible to resolve these issues and to compose any differences that might arise from them in an intelligent, reasoned and calm way.
The great service which our Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has done for the Commonwealth and all its peoples, and the great service which we believe he can continue to render, is in the preserving of the Commonwealth of Nations and its spirit and structure so that it can continue to serve this purpose in the world, a purpose which unfortunately cannot be served by any other international organization to-day. Are his efforts to preserve the spirit and structure of the Commonwealth of Nations to be made the ground for criticism? Surely it is a purpose upon which all parties in Australia can unite. Instead of us trying to stir up racial issues, surely we can see that, in spite of present difficulties, we Australians can agree that the
Commonwealth of Nations, both for us and our fellow members of that multiracial association, offers hope of composing differences greater than the hope that is offered anywhere else; because in the Commonwealth of Nations, people of many races can and do share a common purpose. They can and do reach a common understanding with complete respect for each other on many of the great issues before the world to-day.
What are those great issues? Honorable members will recall that one of the practical matters for discussion at the recent Prime Ministers’ Conference was disarmament. Is race of any relevance to the question of disarmament? We know quite well that an Indian, an Australian or a Ghanian will die the same death in an atomic explosion. We know that atomic fall-out makes no difference to an Asian, an African or a European, for biologically we are all the same. We know that disarmament is a process that does not belong to any chosen race. This is a great world issue to-day, and it is an issue on which race is completely unimportant and to which race should have no relevant application.
Let us look at the great goals we all seek in international affairs - peace and prosperity, all that can be summed up in the welfare of societies, all that can be summed up in the hopes and aspirations of individuals, and in human rights. None of these things is peculiar to the inhabitants of any one continent. None can be achieved except by the concerted efforts of people of all continents. .Not one of them can be helped in the slightest by a racial line-up and, indeed, most can be impeded and destroyed if racial divisions become a principle for political decision, either domestically or internationally, in the modern world.
Having said that, one can understand, of course, that because of historical events and circumstances in some parts of the globe, there will be strong feelings among peoples. There will be a feeling of resentment. There will be felt a need to make a protest or a struggle to overcome a present disability. That sort of situation, due to historical causes, may lead the nations of Asia or Africa to combine on no other ground than that of race; but One hopes that they and the other nations such as ourselves will realize that racial division is not the key which opens the door to peace and prosperity or a fuller life for the individual of any continent. We can understand that they make a protest. We have to pin all our endeavours and all our hopes in ensuring that the people of the other continents will take care not to widen the gulf by making that protest their only goal in international affairs.
I regret that in some of its aspects this debate might not have helped the point I am trying to make. The real issues in international affairs to-day are those concerning the terms and methods by which we find peace and prosperity. In my view, those issues present themselves most clearly in a contest for power in which the Soviet bloc, the Western democracies and mainland China are the chief contenders. They also present themselves in a contest of ideologies; but I am myself inclined to believe that the ideological conflict is not the originator but is rather one of the aggravators of the power conflict.
We have no doubt that there is in the world to-day something equivalent to a religious war. That religious war, I think, is being used for national and imperialistic ambitions by the Soviet Union. It is a regrettable fact. Much more regrettable and much more unfortunate in its effect on the sufferings of human beings is the fact that now a racial war as well as a religious war is starting to aggravate pert of the over-all power contest. One cannot escape seeing the signs in various parts of the world that this racial issue is being stirred up and fomented and is being used deliberately in order to aggravate and make more difficult the resolution of the great contest of power that is taking place in the world. It is one of those things that we who hope for peace and work for peace and who have dedicated ourselves to the advancement and the welfare of all peoples should try to remove from the field of international affairs. We should try to avert this racial war which seems so imminent.
It may seem that I have been trying to preach to the peoples of other countries. I would, of course, rather preach to my fellow Australians, and as an Australian I have some title to do so. I would urge on my fellow Australians the importance of keeping our minds clear and unclouded and free from passion and sentimentality on these questions. I think that very happily to-day most Australians are free from race prejudice. Any one reading the report of the debate that has taken place in this House will find that occasional foolishness has come chiefly from speakers who, in professing warm sympathy for Africans, have distorted the issue. I would ask them to remember one very simple thing - the rights of these people do not arise from the fact that they are black; their rights arise from the fact that they are human beings. We, in our sentimentality and sometimes in our passion, place too much emphasis on colour and not enough emphasis on humanity. Their humanity and human rights are not of a special kind; they are the same as our humanity and our human rights. Those speakers who keep harping on race, race, race, are revealing a silly sentimentality that is neither creditable to their own thinking nor fs likely to be acceptable to the people who live on the Asian and African continents. I do not want myself to insult any Asian or African by showing tolerance to him. I want to show respect to him by accepting him as he is - not a coloured person but a fellow human being. I think we would see these things more clearly if we saw them in those terms.
The second point to which I wish to turn in the few minutes remaining to me concerns the issue of domestic jurisdiction. This has, of course, a long history in international affairs, but I think the discussion of it came to a head most acutely of recent years in the circumstances of the founding of the United Nations Organization. If one goes back to the debate of the San Francisco conference, one will find that the Australian delegation, particularly the Minister for External Affairs of that day, Dr. H. V. Evatt who was then the right honorable member for Barton, did take a leading part in the discussion on this issue. As he has passed from our midst, I want to express what may be a qualified admiration for the contribution Dr. Evatt did make at that time in the resolving of this issue. He has, as we all know, a great capacity for seeing an issue. It may be regrettable that, because he walks through life by the flashes of his own ambition rather than by any other illumination, he does not always see various issues steadily, or see them in their relation ship one to another, but in the detecting of a single issue he has a mind that is both brilliant and perspicacious.
The dilemma at the San Francisco conference was something like this: The participating nations said to themselves, “We are creating an international organization which has, broadly, to do two things. It has to try to preserve the peace of the world by enforcement measures, and it has also to try to promote the welfare of the peoples of the world by economic, social, cultural and other measures. In order to do both of these things the organization needs to have some right of binding the nations to do things, not by their own choice but in response to international agreement. It also has the task of trying to find some way in which the organs of the international organization may be able to intervene to some extent in the affairs of members.” The position was that on matters of enforcement measures the great powers wanted rights of intervention, and the small and middle powers, which did not possess the veto in order to protect themselves, resisted intervention for enforcement of peace. On the other hand, in the preparation of the proposals for the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council the smaller and middle powers urged intervention in domestic affairs and the great powers were nervous about it. If I have time to do so I should like to make two or three rapid quotations which show the Australian attitude at that time in facing this question. On the question of the powers of the Security Council, the Australian point of view was stated as follows: -
If a situation calling for preventive or enforcement action . . . has arisen out of a matter which, by international law, is solely within the domestic jurisdiction of the State concerned, the Security Council shall not make any recommendation or decision which would curtail that State’s lawful freedom of action.
Passing from consideration of the Security Council to consideration of the powers of the General Assembly, Dr. Evatt made the point that nothing “should deprive the Assembly of the right of free discussion “. He saw the right of the General Assembly for discussion as being almost unlimited. But then, at a later stage, when some possible outcomes of such discussion were presented to him, he is also recorded as expressing the view that the “prohibition against intervention in matters of domestic jurisdiction overrides all other powers granted to the General Assembly “. One could make similar quotations in respect of discussions on the Economic and Social Council. So you see the dilemma - the desire to make advancement in international affairs, to give powers to an international organization which would make it effective, and yet at the same time to protect the responsibility of each member nation and to prevent an intrusion into its domestic affairs which would be dangerous to its sovereignty. The way out Of that particular dilemma was expressed by the Australian delegation in this way -
The line between matters of domestic jurisdiction and matters of international concern is not fixed and immutable. It is being altered all the time as States agree, formally or informally, to handle more and more of their affairs in concert.
The lesson of that - and this is the point which is relative to our present situation - is that there will be, and necessarily should be, a gradual expansion of the field of international concern and international action, but unless there is to be an abrupt and altogether undesirable breach of all the principles of national sovereignty, that can only take place by the agreement of the States to act in concert. It cannot take place by the coercion of other nations saying, “ This is what we want you to do “. It can take place only by the agreement of a national State, in matters within its own jurisdiction, to accept new obligations.
In conclusion, I want to make, this point: These principles are of supreme importance to the preservation of international peace and to the growth of international relations. One of the great services that our Prime Minister has done during the whole period of his occupancy of the Prime Ministership, and before, has been to maintain, through thick and thin, these international principles of conduct which are our chief safeguard in the world to-day.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- The thing that counts is not a man’s colour but his character, and that appeared to be the underlying theme of the speech made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). With that, one must agree. If we look at the constructive figures in Africa to-day we see a constant factor. In Si Bekkai, Masmoudi President Bourguiba of Tunisia and Namdi Azikiwe, the Governor-General of Nigeria, we see men who have decided that they will not be motivated by hate. In the lives of some of them, particularly Dr. Azikiwe, that was a struggle. Dr. Azikiwe had at one stage determined to launch Mau Mau in Nigeria, but he came to be dedicated to the proposition that what was needed was a hate-free, fear-free and greedfree Africa, peopled by free men and women, and he saw that that could not be achieved on the basis of racial hate. He saw that if he lent himself to racial hate he would play into the hands of forces which sought to use Africa as a means to world power.
I think that that is the question of substance which has underlain the British dilemma in Africa. The position is that if Africa, through race war, is led to communism, then Europe will be surrounded on the east and the south. Anybody who looks at the world realistically to-day will know that communism is not advancing by Marxist theories, but is advancing primarily by race war. It is advancing in some areas by propounding class war, but more often by saying, as in Africa, that class war is race war. Quite clearly, if we look at the history of Europe and the recent history of Africa we can see two things. They are that the class war was waged downwards long before it was waged upwards, and that the race war was waged downwards on the coloured people before somebody began to preach that it should be waged upwards. I feel that the true situation of Britain is that if she does not disentangle herself, in the minds of the Nigerians, the Ghanians the Indians, the Pakistanis and the people of Ceylon, quite clearly from apartheid, she will drive them towards the Eastern camp, away from the West, and endanger the whole of Europe. Frankly, I feel that the first inadequacy of the Prime Minister’s thinking has been a failure to realize that; the second inadequacy of his thinking is his failure to recognize that Dr. Verwoerd has been moving to the position of converting Africa to apartheid. Let me explain myself carefully. The highest definition given by Dr. Verwoerd to apartheid is “separate destiny of the races “. If the Africans accept that - and many of them have begun to accept it - it clearly means in their minds: “ That is right. We believe in a separate destiny too. The Europeans must get out. Africa is for the Africans.” I believe that the 3,000,000 Europeans in South Africa to-day, controlling all the weapons, the police and the armed forces, can hold on, but by heightening racial tension throughout Africa they have made the position of the Europeans in Rhodesia, Nyasaland and Kenya almost untenable. Whether or not Dr. Verwoerd chooses to call apartheid a domestic issue, it is in fact having effects all the way round the world.
Of course, there were some statesmen in Africa who also decided to renounce hate. One of them was Jan Christiaan Smuts. Smuts’s wife had relatives who died in British concentration camps. The great Kitchener rounded up 150,000 Boer women and children. He forgot to think out the problems of supplies, and 26,000 of them starved to death or died from diseases. That has never been forgotten. lt is quite foolish to talk in this House, as has been done persistently, as though the mental outlook of the Afrikaaners towards the British Empire and its successor, the British Commonwealth of Nations, is identical with this country’s outlook. Had the British, by inadvertence or inefficiency, or in any other way, done to death 26,000 Australians, we would be considerably less enthusiastic for the British Commonwealth. Smuts’s most distinguished biographer tells how Smuts used to shake his finger at his wife and say: “ God will punish you for your hatred of the English. All your daughters will marry Englishmen.” All of them, except one, did marry Englishmen. Mrs. Smuts also became a great constructive figure because she renounced hate. That was not our deserving. It was our good fortune, just as we have had the good fortune to encounter a good many people who sometimes have sought to limit the effects of our blunders. In common with most other nations, we need to have some humility in that respect.
I do not forget that in 1951, when the South African delegation came to Australia for our jubilee celebrations, the leader of the delegation, with flashing eyes, said that he had always wanted to come to see where
Australians came from because in his village, when the people looked at the town hall clock they remembered Australians because the clock was full of bullet holes. The Australians had come into the village, shot all the men, all the women, and all the children, and when there was nothing left to shoot they shot the town hall clock. I do not know whether or not that is true, but if that is the Afrikaaner thinking on the Boer war and its history, we can understand quite clearly why they got rid of the national anthem, the flag and the monarchy and why there has been a history of unenthusiasm for the British Commonwealth.
The gravamen of the Prime Minister’s charges against Dr. Evatt, as Minister for External Affairs, was always that Dr. Evatt mistook questions of substance for questions of procedure. I believe that when the Prime Minister said that had he been Dr. Verwoerd he would have left the conference a couple of rounds earlier, he himself was mistaking questions of substance for questions of procedure. If the Prime Minister had attempted to walk Australia out of the British Commonwealth he would have walked himself out of the Prime Ministership, but backing Dr. Verwoerd’s action in walking South Africa out of the British Commonwealth there is a powerful strand of Afrikaaner sentiment and that is the question of substance. South Africa has not left the Commonwealth just because Dr. Verwoerd felt that he was offended at the Prime Ministers’ Conference. It has left the Commonwealth because in substance there was a powerful strand of sentiment that always favoured that course.
The British Broadcasting Corporation took a microphone around Cape Town and interviewed Afrikaaner nationalists, who said, “We have been trekking for years to get away from the British and now we have done it “. Surely, if we are realists we must realize that there is that sentiment among the Afrikaaners. I am not standing in judgment on them, pointing the finger at them or saying that they shoud have risen above the hatreds of the Boer war. Their outlook is inadequate, but it is understandable. I do not intend to justify either side in the Boer war, but it is still a factor in South African politics.
That Marquess of Salisbury, who was Disraeli’s Foreign Minister and later Prime
Minister of Great Britain in the late nineteenth century, said -
Home policy is like navigating a ship out on the ocean. You can turn in any direction you choose. Foreign policy is like navigating a ship down the river. You may not turn as you choose. You must take account of the embankments. The embankments are the interests, the power, the sentiments and the sensibilities of other nations.
We may contrast the speech of the Prime Minister in opening this debate with his speech when foreshadowing the Suez expedition, in which he advocated force and said that the policy would be what he called “ enlightened self-interest “. Dulles and Eisenhower said, “ We will not shoot our way through the canal. For that policy to succeed it had to have American support.” It is of no moment to me to try to prove whether the Prime Minister was right and Dulles and Eisenhower were wrong. The embankments were the sensibilities, the sentiments and the power of the United States which would not support the policy. So, the boat rammed the embankment and the course chosen had to be abandoned.
It is equally true that the sensibilities of Nigeria, Ghana, Ceylon, India and Pakistan must be taken into account on a matter such as apartheid. The boat has again rammed the embankment and the policy has had to be changed to the new attitude which the Government is taking in making it quite clear at the United Nations that it do;:, not support apartheid. However, if thc Government had not suspected that its pievious policy had given rise to that misunderstanding, it would not have been necesary for it to make it so clear to-day that it does not support apartheid.
I come back to the other proposition on domestic matters. This is something which is constantly changing. Holland said that her relations with Indonesia were a domestic matter, but that argument was swept aside. France repeatedly said that her relations with Tunisia and Morocco were domestic matters, and she now says that her relations with Algeria is a domestic matter. In the first two cases that argument has been swept aside, and in the case of Algeria it is ir the process of being swept aside. At one stage when Greece was raising the Cyprus question, Britain said that it was a domestic matter and then ceased to take that stand. When Dr. Evatt was chairman of the Security Council he permitted a debate on the slave labour camps in the Soviet Union although that country said that it was a domestic matter. At that time certain aborigines were chained in the north-west of Western Australia and within 24 hours Molotov was using that in the United Nations and we were saying, “ Our aboriginal policy is a domestic matter “.
If the situation arises that Ghana tells us in the British Commonwealth of Nations - I do not think this will be so because I give the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) credit for very great advances in our aboriginal policy - that our aboriginal policy is wrong and a disgrace, will we say that it is a domestic matter or will we have the courage to say: “ Come and have a look at it and tell us_what you think is wrong. If we believe that you are correct about what is wrong, we will put it right.” It is much better to cure a disease than to plead that it should not be discussed because it is a domestic matter. That has been really one of the tragedies throughout this discussion of apartheid.
Gandhi made his name fighting in South Africa for the rights of Indians. He went to see Paul Kruger before the beginning of this century and Kruger said to him -
You are a descendant of Ham; we are descendants of Shem and Japheth. You are destined to be the hewers of wood and the drawers of water for us until the end of time.
Ghandi was fascinated by the frankness ot that statement and he said that he felt that the British in South Africa really thought that way but did not have the courage to articulate it in the way that Kruger did. That shows that the issue was alive then. One of the ostensible causes of the Boer war was the treatment of the Uitlanders - the treatment by the Boer republic of people from outside. If the British went to war with the Afrikaaner states over the treat ment of their nationals, do we think that India, with about 400,000 Indians in South Africa, would stand aside unconcerned all the time and say, “Well, it is a domestic matter “. It is an unreal approach that wmake.
In 1940, 1941 and 1942 Gandhi and Nehru were going in and out of prison in India. The spokesman of India at that time was not an Indian but the Viceroy, the Marquis of Linlithgow. But such was the sentiment in India at that time that the Marquis of Linlithgow said -
The sympathy of India, deep and burning, is with the maltreated Indians of South Africa.
That was not said when Dr. Malan was in power. That was not said when Dr. Verwoerd was in power. That was said when Jan Christiaan Smuts was the Prime Minister of South Africa. It was an Englishman who spoke on behalf of India at that time. How much more must we expect that India to-day would entertain the same sentiments?
The tragedy of the situation in South Africa is the way in which the Englishspeaking South Africans have constantly surrendered their values. Before this century began there were black members of Parliament in Cape Province and a franchise for the natives of South Africa. When, after the Boer War, the British Cabinet directed that the four provinces should negotiate terms of union, the delegates - not all British, but some Afrikaaners - from the Cape Province went to advocate an extension of the franchise. Smuts, Hertzog and Steyn who represented the Transvaal and the Orange Free State said that they would not accept that. Their actual words were, “ Our republics are dedicated to the proposition that there is no equality between black and white in church or State “. The British gave way and Africans ceased to be members of Parliament but they entrenched the Cape franchise and said, “ This must not be removed except by a two-thirds majority “. Dr. Malan removed that franchise. His first legislation doing so was declared invalid in court. Then, with new powers under the Statute of Westminster, he altered the constitution and got rid of the Cape franchise.
The Prime Minister gave us the fiction taught in schools that the 1909 settlement was a great settlement of the Liberals in Britain. But from 1901 to 1909 Milner, who was the Administrator of South Africa, warned that if Britain granted what the Transvaal and the Orange Free State were asking, the interests of 80 per cent, of the population would be sacrificed. He said that it might last for 50 years but after that it must break. This is the point to which we are coming. The British govern ment of the day was warned. Milner said that the solution was not a close union in which Afrikaaner nationalism would triumph over the English-speaking viewpoint, but a loose federation in which the Cape could maintain its franchise and in which the franchise would be extended to Natal and inevitably, if the natives were really participating in government, would spread farther.
Because the British abandoned the native participation in the government, the Afrikaaner nationalist viewpoint spread and that is the tragedy of the settlement of 1909 which the Prime Minister commended. But having sold out on that, the British Government could not bring itself to sell out further. The British had and still have to-day, surrounded by South African territory, the High Commission territories of Bechuanaland, Basutoland and Swaziland. They will not hand the natives of those territories over to South African administration. They could not face such a thing to-day.
Although the Prime Minister rather accepted the viewpoint of Dr. Verwoerd that apartheid is a domestic issue, it always has had international implications whether you go right back to the very early days when Gandhi was making his name or to more recent events. I feel that the Prime Minister asked Dr. Verwoerd the wrong question. He asked Dr. Verwoerd, “Will it work? “. Obviously the only reply for Dr. Verwoerd to make was “ I think it will work “. That was really the end of the discussion. If the Prime Minister had said to Dr. Verwoerd, “ Will your policy answer the hate and fear that is tearing Africa to pieces at the present time? “, and Dr. Verwoerd had said, “ Yes “, in his own mind Dr. Verwoerd would have known that apartheid does not do that. If it does not do that it is clearly the wrong policy for Africa. That would have faced Dr. Verwoerd with the real moral challenge with which his policy ought to be faced.
One thing which the Prime Minister said I cannot understand. He said, in effect, “ I cannot understand why Dr. Verwoerd will not have diplomatic representatives from the other Commonwealth nations who are coloured “. Having started off with apartheid, from Dr. Verwoerd’s point of view, that policy of no exchange of diplomatic representatives is the plainest common sense. An Indian High Commissioner in South Africa was ordered out of lifts, ordered off buses, and told to get out of restaurants. The South Africans did not recognize whether he was a local Indian or the Indian representative.
Imagine Ghanian or Nigerian diplomats entering quarters in which coloured peoples are not allowed to be and being pasted by police with bamboos as natives are under this policy when they are in the wrong quarters! There would be a diplomatic crisis every day as there was between India and South Africa when there was an Indian representative in the latter country. In coloured countries, South African embassies would never have their windows intact. If we are not prepared to accept people as human beings as the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) was asking us to, we cannot have any sort of relationship with them. You may pretend that a policy such as that pursued by South Africa is a local question but inevitably it has international effects.
.- I am sure that the House will agree that the last two honorable members who have spoken have studied their subject and have put their case humanely and well to this House. I would like to say how much I enjoyed the speech of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) except when politics occasionally had to come into it and references to the motion of censure on the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) were made. I no longer regard this as a debate on foreign affairs, but purely as a debate on the motion of censure on the Prime Minister and the Government for its actions over recent months.
On Wednesday night the Parliament and the Australian people had a very clear example of the choice confronting Australia at the present time, not only as to foreign policy but as to the calibre of the alternative government. One can compare only regretfully the Opposition in this House with that in the United Kingdom where, on foreign affairs, the Labour Party assists and co-operates with the Government to a very high degree. There one finds the Prime Minister, on returning to the House, being applauded by the Labour Party for the work that he did, whether he succeeded or not.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has spoken of the feelings of the Australian people in regard to the actions of the Prime Minister in international affairs. He expressed an opinion with which I emphatically disagree. But even if he were correct, I doubt whether the Leader of the Opposition or his party can gain much confidence for themselves as, most tragically for the Australian people, the alternative government is considered by most people, both for its policies and associations, to be completely unacceptable.
The Prime Minister in his speech very logically and clearly explained the circumstances leading up to and arising from the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference. Most thinking listeners will be convinced that we in Australia are honoured to have a Prime Minister of high courage and with the moral fibre to fight for the retention of the Commonwealth and to do everything to prevent the decimation of what has been, throughout the ages, the greatest institution for peace and understanding throughout the world. That fight was not just for South Africa, not just for the Government of South Africa, but for the Commonwealth of Nations of which we are proud to be foundation members and, indeed, for Australia itself.
The Opposition’s amendment and the speeches supporting it by the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) show clearly that their case and their knowledge of overseas events as a whole is based solely on newspaper reports, accurate or inaccurate. One can imagine the picture in the Opposition party room when the Leader of the Opposition received a copy of the Prime Minister’s draft speech. The clear statement of disagreement with the South African policy of apartheid and the strong and concise reasons why, in his opinion, it would fail must have left the Labour Party floundering for some method of attack. The Opposition is seeking to attack the Government, not for the good of the Australian people, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but to gain political advantage for the Labour movement. To illustrate my point, I wish to state that during the debate of a similar motion of censure moved by the Leader of the Opposition in relation to the Prime Minister’s visit to the United Nations, I discussed the motion with a member of the Opposition, a very fine man and a fine Australian. He said to me, “This motion should never have been moved. It does harm to the Labour Party, it does harm to the Parliament and harm to Australia.” Does any one honestly think that the statements and inferences about racial intolerance carelessly made by some members of the Opposition are not used by our enemies overseas, and that they are not quoted in newspapers as the views of the Australian people and the Australian Government?
The main criticism in certain quarters in recent months has been that the Prime Minister, first by his lack of comment, and later by his statements, has placed Australia in an embarrassing position with the United Kingdom, our sister countries of the Commonwealth and the Afro-Asian nations. That assertion, I firmly believe, is quite untrue and gives a wrong and indeed dangerous impression. It provides a basis for our enemies to attack and divide the Commonwealth even further. Before discussing that matter, I suggest that we must accept the undeniable fact that the enemies of the Western world have been insidious in their attempts, by every means at their disposal, to divide and conquer us. We of the Western world are being divided and are becoming more and more likely to be conquered than ever before. The Communist countries are undivided. Few of the critics of the Government have raised their voices against the atrocities in Hungary, Tibet and other places.
The Prime Minister, both at and after the recent Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, strongly pointed out - and indeed this, I think, is the tragic and clear crux of the whole argument in relation to South Africa - that the question was whether the South African people, black and white, and not the government of that country, should be forced from the Commonwealth. Governments come and go, but the people, whether they be black or white, are the basis of the Commonwealth. In this case we have a complete nation. There are those who oppose the policy of apartheid. There are many, both natives and white people, who are not supporters of the present South African Government, as well as the supporters of the Government, but are no longer in the Commonwealth.
Perhaps I may read here, Mr. Deputy Speaker, an article published in “ Round Table “, a British Commonwealth Affairs journal which comes out at quarterly intervals. The article, which is to be found in the issue of December, 1960, criticizes strongly and, I think, rightly, the whole policy of the South African Government. In my opinion, it brings us to a very pertinent question. In referring to the possibility of the expulsion of South Africa, the article states -
But at whose expense would the gesture be made? It is not possible to expel the Nationalist Government, or even the white electorate; that which is to be expelled or retained is the whole South African nation, of which its ten million disfranchised non-whites are, in the eyes of the Commonwealth at large if not of their own rulers, as fully members as any others. Once the Union is dissociated from the Commonwealth the chance of using Commonwealth influence to help these is gone.
In referring to the request of the South African Government to remain a member of the Commonwealth, although a republic, the article states -
Nevertheless they have shown that they value their rights of access to a forum in which leaders of all races meet in intimacy and talk on equal terms; and so long as Dr. Verwoerd is ready to sit at the table with Dr. Nkrumah and President Ayub there is better hope that even he may be persuaded to modify his opinions than if communications were cut off; to say nothing of the importance of keeping the way of consultation open against the day when a different party may come to power at Pretoria.
The question of whether the expulsion of South Africa was decided rightly or wrongly, time alone will prove. I feel that none of us knows the answers to that question. None of us can look into the crystal ball. The Prime Minister - and I support him - firmly believes that the action taken at the conference was wrong from the point of view that it has set a precedent in the Commonwealth of Nations which could affect all the members of it at some future date. I think we must understand that with so many problems, such as those involving Kenya and Rhodesia, as yet unsolved, the United Kingdom Prime Minister has difficulties to which there seems to be no answer as yet. I think that he had to make the statement that he in fact made in London after the conference. Nevertheless, I say emphatically as an Australian that the decision does not restrict us from either having an opinion or stating it. Australia is a sovereign State within the Commonwealth.
The British Commonwealth has always been and, we hope, will always continue to be, an association of brothers, assisting, advising, and discussing problems, either individually or collectively, but not interfering with the policies of individual members or forcing policies on them. We have heard suggestions of disagreement with the United Kingdom, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but if we look at the United Kingdom Information Service Bulletin of 2nd March last, we see that it stated, in referring to the subject of forthcoming Commonwealth Prime Ministers meetings -
Each member nation enjoys unfettered control of its own affairs, internal and external. None is under any obligation to underwrite the responsibilities undertaken by any other . . . The Prime Ministers of the member countries represent sovereign states and are responsible to their own parliaments.
I do not think that the Prime Minister is in disagreement with that view or that other Prime Ministers disagree with it.
The family of the Commonwealth, to our very great pride and indeed joy, has been enlarged by some younger brothers, younger perhaps in experience of world affairs and the pressures with which we are confronted, whatever our race or colour may be. We shall gain much from their association with us. As one of the foundation members of the Commonwealth and, I suggest, one of the strongest supporters of it, we must make plain our opinion of the dangers which confront us to every man, woman and child. We must make plain now, and not when it is too late, our feelings in this matter. We stand very clearly for the Commonwealth, but with each nation having control of and responsibility for its own policies. If that were not so, many things could happen. It is not unrealistic to assume that the pressures on -some of the new nations, both in and out of the Commonwealth, could result in their governments becoming communistic. There are other circumstances which we as Australians must consider in the light of the pressures that exist to-day.
It is possible that before very long Kenya -will be granted full nationhood, and it appears at the moment that Mr. Kenyatta, the leader of the Mau Mau risings, may be the Prime Minister of that country. As such, he will be entitled to sit at conferences of Commonwealth Prime Ministers. He will be received by Her Majesty the Queen and will be capable, if he so desires, of moving motions which may affect us and other Commonwealth countries. The Mau Mau oaths have never been publicized. I sometimes think that the failure to do so is wrong. The horror of the Mau Mau rites is quite unbelievable. I strongly suggest that certain gentlemen, not in this Parliament, but outside it, should read those oaths and then have a very good look at their families. A precedent has been created in the Commonwealth which means that our affairs, as with those of any other Commonwealth country, may now be raised and discussed at Prime Ministers’ Conferences.
We clearly and properly despise the present policy of the South African Government. We consider that it can end only in the most bloody slaughter. What of those people - I am not speaking of the Government or of the Afrikaanders - but of the people, black and white, left in South Africa who are on our side? What of the native people in the country areas who do not know what this is all about and who, if things go on as I feel they will, eventually will be involved in the slaughter that I have mentioned? We might have been able to help them; perhaps we will be able to help them even yet. Dr. Verwoerd and his supporters, to my way of thinking, are the least important people in this situation; the South African people, both black and white, are the most important. As the Prime Minister has said, three-quarters of them are men of colour, to whom we have a great and brotherly responsibility. They might reasonably presume to find some of their future hopes of emancipation in the membership of the great Commonwealth.
We in Australia are not and never have been colour conscious, and I feel that this fact is accepted throughout the world. I refuse to believe that our Afro-Asian friends are as immature and unimformed as some Opposition speakers have suggested. I am sure, too, that many of the Prime Ministers, after a consideration of the internal affairs of their own countries, will be grateful to the Prime Minister of Australia for having had the courage to say what needed to be said, because this issue concerns the whole character and future of the greatest voluntary international partnership the world has ever seen. Many Australians over the years - and this is a matter on which I feel strongly, as I know many others do - have died for this country on many distant fields, have died, indeed, for the Commonwealth. I wonder what their thoughts would be if they could read some of the recent newspaper articles and hear some of the speeches made to-day in this, their country. I support the Prime Minister, and I am proud to be an Australian standing squarely behind his actions in this crisis.
.- I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to the motion that the document containing the Prime Minister’s report to this House be printed. I think it is worth while repeating the amendment, which is in the following terms: -
That all word’s after “ That “ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ in the opinion of this House, the speeches and statements made by the Prime Minister on the question of South Africa, following the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, have done great harm to Australia’s relations with other member States of the Commonwealth, and with the nations of South-East Asia; have aggravated the position he created at the United Nations meeting in October last year; and do not represent the views of the Australian people.
The House resolves, therefore, that the right honorable gentleman should be censured and removed from the office of Minister of State for External Affairs “.
– He will not be, of course.
– No, of course he will not be, because he has the numbers in this Parliament. But at least the Opposition will show not only to the Australian people but to the world, with, I can safely say, the support of the majority of the people of Australia, just where it stands on the question of South Africa. We will show how we disagree with the statements made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), both in London and in this country on his return. We will show to the other members of the Commonwealth of Nations, which disagree with our Prime Minister, that we have some sympathy with them, that we are prepared to treat them as equals, that we are prepared to discuss their problems, and that we do not agree that the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference should be treated merely as a meeting of members of a club, at which one should speak only of the nice things of life, the things that are not really of much importance, but at which there should be no discussion on the fundamental issues that affect mankind. The Prime Minister himself has referred to the conference as a kind of gentlemen’s meeting, whereas, on the other hand, the United Nations is a different kind of gathering, where the members talk roundly and discuss matters that would not be discussed in the club.
The Prime Minister showed clearly, in the statement he made in this House a few nights ago, that he still adheres to the opinions he expressed in London and in Australia after he returned here. Any one who watched the television broadcasts of interviews with the right honorable gentleman could appreciate his arrogant attitude, and must have come to the conclusion that he was still of the same opinions, that he was still unconcerned about the people of South Africa as a whole, and that he still firmly believed in the South African Prime Minister. It is true that in his statement the other night he did not use such strong language and was not so lavish in his praise of the Prime Minister of South Africa. For all that, however, he showed that he still disagreed with the views expressed by the British Prime Minister, Mr. Macmillan. He showed that he still believed the Commonwealth had been weakened and not strengthened by the withdrawal of South Africa - and let me say, despite what some Government supporters have maintained in their speeches in this debate, that South Africa left the Commonwealth of its own accord.
The Prime Minister says that we have been weakened. He shows both by his attitude and by his remarks that he believes this to be so. Well, Lord Casey has expressed his opinion about the matter. He thinks the Commonwealth has been strengthened, and he stated that he always thought it would be rather embarrassing if South Africa remained in the Commonwealth. The British Prime Minister has given his view on the matter, and it is contrary to that expressed by the Australian Prime Minister.
To-day the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm) joined with the Prime Minister in suggesting that sooner or later we will see our restricted immigrant policy, and our white Australia policy, brought up for discussion. These policies were thrown into the ring in London by the Prime Minister himself, because he found that he had again lost a battle overseas and that his stocks were low. So he decided to throw in these issues in the hope that they might raise another problem. One would almost think that he threw them in deliberately to break up the Commonwealth, because he was, in fact, inviting the other members of the Commonwealth to bring the matters forward for discussion. It was left to the Malayan Prime Minister to put the position correctly and to show that there was no comparison between Australia’s immigration policy and the South African policy of apartheid.
This afternoon the honorable member for Bowman said it was inevitable that the white Australia policy would be brought up in the future. He said that when the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association met in this very chamber the matter was raised by certain delegates. It is quite true that it was raised, but was any harm done by its being raised? In fact, a lot of good was done by it. It was left to the leader of the Australian Labour Party, who has moved the amendment that we are now debating, to speak on the matter at that conference, and he received the applause of the Asian peoples, who had been, perhaps, a little critical of our policy. A lot of good came out of its being discussed.
But what the honorable member for Bowman did not say was that the South Africans have created problems at many conferences of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. I would not have adverted to this to-day if the honorable member had not mentioned the matter in relation to the Asian members of the Commonwealth. The attitude adopted by South African delegations to such gatherings in the past, and the problems they have created, are well known. It is well known that they have boycotted functions at which representatives of Asian countries were to move votes of thanks. I remember that in Delhi members of a South African delegation would not attend a function organized by the English-speaking Union because, they said, they did not speak English. They would not go to the Asian show because they said they would not have anything to do with it. The honorable member for Bowman need not be worried about what the Asian countries might do.
South Africa has been a problem for a long time. I believe that we should not be concerned that the flag of South Africa has been pulled half-way down the mast. The withdrawal of South Africa simply means that the flags of the Commonwealth nations will be flying more proudly than they have been for a long time. If we have to choose between countries that believe it their duty to demand equality between races, on the one hand, and a country that categorizes certain of its people as second-class citizens, on the other hand, then our duty is clear. There is no room in the Commonwealth of Nations, or even in the world, for any country that seeks to deny natural justice and political rights and freedom to its people. The Prime Minister has shown that despite his statement the other night he still supports the Prime Minister of South Africa and still believes that a discussion of South Africa’s affairs should not have taken place within the confines of the Prime Ministers’ Conference. It is true that he did show more discretion in his speech the other night and did tone down his statements, because he found that public opinion was against him in this country. Government members have said that the Opposition is saying what the newspapers have said. They could also say that the Opposition is saying what the people of Australia - the men and women in the streets - are saying. We are all standing together in condemnation of the Prime Minister for the discredit he has brought upon this nation.
The present position would never have arisen if the South African Government had, in the words of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, given even the slightest hint that it would change its policy in the future. It refused to do so, but clearly a change must come, despite what certain people have said. The coloured races - I use the expression for want of a better one - have reached the stage when they are demanding to be treated as equals. Is there anything wrong with that? Can anybody say that they should not be treated as equals? Can anybody say that their problems should not be discussed in the confines of the Prime Ministers’ Conference?
The Opposition submits that the Prime Minister should be relieved of the External Affairs portfolio. He is completely out of touch with Asia. He has probably flown over that continent more times than any other man in Australia, but on very few occasions has he taken the trouble to come down and get in touch with the Asian people. Is it any wonder that he is out of touch with things, and does not know the views of the people in Asian countries? It is time that this portfolio was taken from him and a full-time Minister appointed.
How could South Africa expect any other situation to arise when it refuses even to exchange diplomatic representatives with some of the nations whose leaders sit in the Prime Ministers’ Conference? If these people are good enough to sit at Prime Ministers’ conferences and at other Commonwealth conferences, their diplomatic representatives should be accepted. A West Indian cricket team is not allowed to play cricket in South Africa, and New Zealand is not allowed to select coloured people to play football there. Is it any wonder that the tide of public opinion has turned against the South African people? The coloured people have feelings; they are human beings. They are entitled to have their views heard, and the Labour Party wishes to make it clear that it stands with the people who insist that these matters should be discussed.
We are sorry, of course, that South Africa has withdrawn from the Commonwealth. We would have liked to see it change its policy, or at least intimate that it was prepared to consider such a change. We cannot sit idly by and say that it is purely a domestic issue when natives are shot in a Commonwealth country, when people are denied their rights and classified as second-class citizens. If it is contended that we should not discuss these things, we have reached the stage where we have no right to call ourselves a democracy.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting, I was speaking to the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition to the motion that the statement of the Prime Minister be printed. In its amendment, the Opposition submitted that- in the opinion of this House, the speeches and statements made by the Prime Minister on the question of South Africa, following the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, have done great harm to Australia’s relations with other member States of the Commonwealth, and with the nations of South-East Asia; have aggravated the position he created at the United Nations meeting in October last year; and do not represent the views of the Australian people.
The House resolves, therefore, that the right honorable gentleman should be censured and removed from the office of Minister of State for External Affairs.
I had made the. point that the Opposition felt it was necessary to make its views known not only to the people of Australia but also to the people of other member nations of the Commonwealth and to the world in general. As I said before, honorable members on the other side of the House say that the Labour Party is repeating statements that have been made in the newspapers. I repeat that we are also putting the views of the ordinary men and women of Australia. We are placing on record what we believe to be their thoughts. We wish to make it clear to our neighbours, particularly those in South-East Asia, that we do not share the views expressed by the Prime Minister, that we believe the withdrawal of South Africa could not be avoided and that there was no reason why South Africa’s policy should not have been discussed at the conference. We believe that South Africa’s action in leaving the Commonwealth was an action for which South Africa alone was responsible, because it had failed to act in a way that fitted in with the general views of the member nations of the Commonwealth.
The winds of change have moved fast in the last few years. In fact, some honorable members opposite still forget and talk about the Empire. Then they lapse and refer to the British Commonwealth of Nations. But to-day it is the Commonwealth of Nations. The Asian members of the Commonwealth, with others, claim the right to speak as members of this family and they claim the right to be treated as members. Their voice will be heard, and we assure them that any action we take will be to ensure that political rights and justice are preserved for the peoples not only of the Commonwealth but of the world.
We are grateful to the Prime Minister of Malaya, who corrected a mistake made by the Prime Minister of Australia. Because of his disappointment, our Prime Minister raised the question of the white Australia policy or our restricted immigration policy. It was left to the Prime Minister of Malaya to say that our Prime Minister was not correct, that there was nothing at all wrong with our policy and that it could not be tied up with the apartheid policy of South Africa.
The opportunity has been taken to move this amendment, because we believe that a full-time Minister for External Affairs should be appointed. We need a man who can make real contact particularly with the nations in South-East Asia. Every time the Prime Minister goes abroad, he flies over these countries, but we need a man who will come down often enough to make real contact with them. A lot of work must be done in the future to right the wrongs done by our Prime Minister. I believe that much good could be done by inviting members of Parliament of the Commonwealth countries and others to come to Australia and get to know us better. The Opposition by its stand in this Parliament has shown clearly that it disagrees with the Prime Minister and dissociates itself from his remarks. We believe that we are supported by the vast majority of people and we are comforted because for the first time for a long while, on every highway and byway and in every hamlet, the voice of condemnation can be heard against the action of the Prime Minister, and this opportunity
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was completely comprehensive. It was lucid and it was documented. It recounted the story of his personal handling of Government policy. Cabinet, of course, was completely privy to the policy line he was following. There were discussions before he left and daily cable consultations whilst he was engaged on his mission.
Let me recall some of the incidents of his mission. Let me recall to the House, for instance, the usefulness, to use a modest word, of his visit to President Kennedy. This surely must be recognized. The issues of the Prime Ministers’ Conference were really epoch-making, and I shall give a short account of them. They covered disarmament, the ban on nuclear tests and, of course, the South African situation. The Prime Minister discussed at the very top level in London Australia’s trading interests, and finally he made his contribution to the quite vital meeting of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization in Bangkok. This meeting was held in an atmosphere ominous with dangers for the peace of the world.
Here I enumerate a number of the issues, most comprehensive in themselves and of top-level importance for the Parliament, for the Government and, may I say, for the Opposition. The Prime Minister’s statement affords an opportunity to the Opposition to debate these issues which are critical to Australia’s security, and discuss the issues raised in the Prime Ministers’ Conference. These issues, if pursued on certain lines, could result in a subtraction from our own sovereignty. Here is the occasion for the Parliament to deal with issues affecting our treaty relations with both foreign countries and Commonwealth countries. It is an occasion for the Parliament to debate the internal relations of the Commonwealth of Nations and, of course, the Prime Minister was himself engaged on his mission at a most explosive moment. The situation in Laos bore a real relationship to the continuance of world peace.
The Prime Minister in his statement discussed at length and in detail the issues that I have mentioned. When he had done that, parliamentary procedure enabled the matter to pass to the responsibility of the Opposition and enabled the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to give shape and character to the subsequent debate. Here was the Opposition’s opportunity to reveal its character - solid, realistic, facing the problems of Australia, recognizing the problems of the Commonwealth and discussing our own great alliances in Anzus and Seato. Here was the Opposition’s opportunity to be critical, if need be, of the Government’s policies and certainly to be constructive. Here was an opportunity for Parliament to operate at its very best in the interests of the Australian people; to make a contribution to the stability and solidarity of the Commonwealth; to make a contribution in respect of our responsibilities to Seato and to express the voice of Australian democracy on the sovereignty and security of small South-East Asian countries. Here was an opportunity for the Opposition to make clear the weight that it attached to the danger of Communist encroachment into South-East Asia - an area so vital to Australia. Here was an opportunity for the Opposition to exhibit the solidarity of the Australian people in the face of this threat to peace in South-East Asia. Here was an opportunity for the Opposition to exhibit a non-partisan Australian policy on peace, a non-partisan policy on disarmament and a non-partisan policy for the integrity of the Commonwealth of Nations under the Queen. Here was an opportunity to exhibit impenetrable Australian solidarity at a time when an attempt was made in an international - although Commonwealth - meeting to apply compulsive measures to one country to change its internal policies as the price of remaining in the Commonwealth. Here was an opportunity to contribute constructively to the problem of whether there shall be war or peace in South-East Asia. Here was an opportunity in this Parliament to widen the whole basis of Australia’s influence on the attitude of the Seato nations.
What an opportunity for statesmanship to be exhibited! That is the shape that the debate may have been expected to take had the Opposition pursued an analysis of these issues, had it criticized when there was scope for criticism and had it exhibited real Australian solidarity. The Parliament would have gained respect. The Opposition could have made a contribution, critical though it may have been. It could have dealt with issues on which the Australian people are indivisible. The Opposition could have enhanced its reputation and certainly that of its leading members. That was its responsibility and it had the opportunity. But what has happened? The Opposition has exercised its right to choose the point to which it will give emphasis.
What of our relations with the great United States of America - our most powerful ally - our natural and very necessary friend? What of the connexion established with the great new President of the United States by the visit of our Prime Minister? On this aspect Opposition members have remained silent. We have not heard a sound from them about it. What of the meeting of Prime Ministers in London, where a completely new phase of history was to be shaped? Here was a situation with the highly emotional and human issues of apartheid in South Africa inevitably in the minds of all. The actual issue for decision, involving cohesion of the Commonwealth, was the continued membership of South Africa.
There are two highly important aspects of that issue. The first aspect was the examination of the problems of human rights. The second aspect was the problem of sustaining the unity of membership of this great Commonwealth. Each aspect was tremendously important, but each was capable of being considered separately. That was the Prime Minister’s line in London - to have each aspect considered separately, to be prepared to discuss, persuade and talk frankly on apartheid. He was prepared to state his Government’s, his country’s and his own abhorrence of apartheid. He was prepared to join with other Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth in reasoning with the South African Prime Minister on this difficult and most serious matter.
What our Prime Minister sought to prevent was having this most serious matter, affecting as it did the emotions of all present, from being confused with the completely separate issue of South Africa’s membership of the Commonwealth. He documented his record. There is no need for me to repeat it. Time and again the Prime Minister has stated where he stood on apartheid - where his Government and his country stood. At the same time he has argued, as a matter of his and his Government’s judgment, the right of South Africa to be a member of the Commonwealth, clearly perceiving at all times that that was the type of argument upon the decision of which laws are made just as judicial decisions create precedents which courts will follow in applying the law. Could a country be expelled from the Commonwealth because other members of the Commonwealth disapproved of that country’s policies or, if you like, felt their consciences irreconcilable with the policies pursued by that country?
We who sit in this Parliament, particularly we who are members of the Government, carry great moral responsibilities. Within our country and whenever we are able to exercise influence throughout the world our opportunities and our responsibilities for good or ill are tremendous. But without subtracting from that declaration, what is our prime purpose in being here? Surely it is to preserve the security of Australia from external aggression and to see that her sovereignty is unimpaired by non-Asian influences and pressures. That is our first responsibility. We maintain a constant consciousness of it. We will at all times act accordingly.
To serve and safeguard Australia’s interests is our first duty. It was with that duty in mind that our Prime Minister took his stand in London. He did not want - and he tried to avoid it - the question of South Africa remaining in the Commonwealth as a republic to be debated in an atmosphere of a concurrent discussion of South Africa’s apartheid practices. If he had allowed his emotions to sway him, if he had been conscious only of the shortterm reaction to his attitude, it would have been easy for him to join the “ Boot Her Out “ group. But his mind was clear and his Government’s policy in this regard was equally clear. He condemned apartheid. But, having an acute consciousness of the precedent that might be created and of the eventual implications for any country, but particularly his own country, of criticisms of its policies, he stated that it was wrong and particularly dangerous to establish the principle that in the Queen’s Commonwealth membership for each separate country depended on that country’s willingness - that is, its parliament’s willingness - to conform to the views, prejudices or pressures of the Prime Ministers of the other member countries as a group. Our Prime Minister saw clearly, as we in Australia saw clearly, that here was an issue really vital to the unimpaired sovereignty of each country and to the independence of the Parliaments of each country. Our
Prime Minister sought to protect that sovereignty. That is what he acted to protect in London.
Now the scene switches to the Australian Parliament in Canberra. Where does the Opposition - the alternative government - stand on these great issues? Stripped of glib, cheap, rude and propaganda comments, the Opposition identifies this debate as no more than an occasion to criticize the Prime Minister and to parade the empty proposal that he should, in the words of the amendment, “be . . . removed from the office of Minister of State for External Affairs “. In short, on one of the greatest occasions offered to the Opposition in this Parliament, the Labour Party has shown its incapacity to measure up to its responsibilities or to take advantage of its opportunities. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition is merely a device. It exhibits politics at its cheapest when there was an opportunity to display statesmanship at its very best.
This Parliament represents the Australian people, Mr. Speaker. This Parliament is the voice of the Australian people. In this place is concentrated the authority of the Australian sovereign nation. Australian men have died in Europe, in North Africa and in South-East Asia to preserve the unqualified freedom of this country. Is it to be tolerated that, having retained our freedom by their sacrifice, that freedom shall be surrendered - surrendered by politicians accepting a new order? Is it to be tolerated that the policies which this Parliament may approve are to be contingent upon being ratified by a London meeting of Prime Ministers? Are we to accept that as the price of our continuing membership of the Commonwealth of Nations? This is what our Prime Minister was fighting against, and it is an unhappy day when we find that those who constitute the alternative government of Australia not only have failed to perceive these things but have actually been willing to proclaim the application of this new rule to one member of the Commonwealth. The Opposition has blindly refused to see that a rule so established may, with respect to some issues on some occasion, be applied to our own country or to other countries.
I have not the slightest doubt that the Parliament, perceiving the reality of this, will reject the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition. I believe that the Opposition itself will be sorry that it ever proposed it and that it took so mean and cheap a political line on an occasion when issues vital to the security of Australia - issues of peace or war - were available for debate. Look at the matters that were introduced in the Prime Minister’s statement: The banning of tests of nuclear weapons, disarmament, the internal relationships within the Commonwealth of Nations, the attitude of the powers which comprise the South-East Asia Treaty Organization, our great alliances and our first contact through the Prime Minister with the new President of the United States of America. All of them have been passed over by those who constitute the alternative government of Australia. They have passed over these issues merely in order to attempt to gain a cheap advantage by having a crack at the Prime Minister. All I can say is that the Opposition has itself established in the minds of the Australian people where it stands. I conclude, Mr. Speaker, by observing that the Australian people will not be inspired with any confidence by the Opposition’s performance on this occasion. That performance will not inspire them to feel that this Opposition could provide for Australia a government that could be trusted in dangerous days.
.- Mr. Speaker, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has said that the prime purpose of our presence in this Parliament is to protect our national security and safeguard Australia’s interests. With that statement I entirely agree, and that is why I propose to vote for the amendment submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). At present, I know of no better way to protect Australia’s national security and our interests generally than by removing the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) from the position which he at present occupies. Speaker after speaker on the Government side of the House has talked about this great figure in international affairs. If words could make him great, he would be probably the greatest man that this or any other country has ever produced. But when you look for specific evidence of the achievements of the Prime Minister in international affairs, you have to admit that in every respect he has been a colossal failure.
Twenty minutes is not sufficient time for me to say all that I should like to say about the right honorable gentleman and his activities, but I think that the time allowed to me will be adequate to enable me to convince everybody who is listening to the debate this evening that the greatest danger to the Australian community is the form of dictatorship which at present exists in Australia. This is only a one-man government. It is a government of one man who expresses, not the will of the Parliament or of his party, but his own personal opinion, in both domestic matters and international affairs.
Let us look at the Prime Minister’s performance with respect to South Africa. I want to pay a good deal of attention to this aspect of his recent activities. It is only now that Ministers and other Government supporters talk about their opposition to the apartheid policy of the South African Government. Let them produce evidence on record in this Parliament or anywhere else that the Prime Minister, prior to the defeat of his efforts to support this policy at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, had ever said that he was opposed to the policy being followed by the South African Government. As late as 12th April, after the right honorable gentleman had made his statement in this Parliament, the “Sydney Morning Herald “ declared -
There will be disappointment . . . that he touched only very lightly on the reasons why Australia made such a remarkable switch of policy in the United Nations.
Surely nobody argues that there has not been a switch of policy on the Government’s part. On 31st March of last year, when this House was discussing the massacre that occurred at Sharpeville in South Africa, the Prime Minister said - . . this Parliament as a parliament and this Government as a government would be accepting a grievous responsibility if it sought to invade these policies of a domestic kind in another country of the British Commonwealth. That, after all, is the essence of what I have said from beginning to end.
At the United Nations, just as at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, it has repeatedly been said on the Government’s behalf that it did not want this matter even discussed, because the Government regarded it as a matter of domestic concern to South Africa. This has been said at the United Nations since the South African policy of apartheid was first raised there in 1952. The Government first of all supported the South Africans in their attitude by preventing a discussion. Australia later abstained from voting on the issue. The Government has now declared at the United Nations that it is opposed to the South African policy.
This Government was long opposed to discussion of the policy of apartheid, and at a meeting of the Special Political Committee of the United Nations on 4th April last it gave the first indication we had seen that it was in any way opposed to this policy. Last Tuesday, referring to the speech made by Mr. Hood, the Australian representative, at this meeting, the Prime Minister said -
Our representative, Mr. Hood, made a speech which accurately expressed our ideas . . .
He said this - “… apartheid is repugnant to Charter principles . . . The provisions concerning human rights are one of the most notable objectives set out in the Charter, and any failure in their observance wherever it may occur is indeed legitimately a matter for the concern of all. . . . “
That was the first occasion on which the Prime Minister admitted that this was not a domestic matter of concern to South Africa alone and that this ill-treatment of the native peoples of South Africa was a matter of concern to humanitarian nations and statesmen all over the world. On 31st March of last year, the right honorable gentleman moved an amendment to a motion which had been proposed by the Opposition. That amendment was designed to omit certain words and to insert the following words: -
There was not one word of condemnation of the policy of apartheid. How was law and order to be re-established in South Africa? Were the whip, the bludgeon and the oppressive tactics of the South African
Government to be the means employed to restore law and order in that country? The right honorable gentleman had not one word of comfort for the unfortunate natives and the non-whites in South Africa who were fighting for their very existence.
When the Prime Minister went to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference he tried to prove beyond doubt that he had never expressed any opposition to this policy - and he had not, until he made his statement in this House on Tuesday evening last. Just before the conference of Prime Ministers, he said -
I am the only Prime Minister who, until this Conference, had never publicly offered an opinion on South African policy.
So it ought to be beyond doubt that he had never regarded himself as an opponent or a critic of that policy. He did not even refer to it as apartheid, but said that it is a policy of separate development. Then, when he decided that world opinion was against him, and he had suffered another ignominious defeat in the international sphere, he came to this Parliament and said -
I am opposed to apartheid,It offends my conscience; it will not work.
At page 13 of his statement, he said -
I criticise what South Africa does about a problem which is its problem, not ours.
But he had never offered any criticism up to that point. Does the Prime Minister really oppose the policy of apartheid? I do not think he does, because apartheid in South Africa is supported by only 55 per cent of the white population of 3,000,000 and there are 9,000,000 or 10,000,000 nonwhites in the country - natives of the country who have no say in its government and no vote - and this Government has not offered one word of hope for the future success of their activities to secure for themselves the rights which every Australian citizen exercises here. The Prime Minister said he was concerned about the maintenance of the Commonwealth of Nations and that he regretted the withdrawal of South Africa. So does every other member of this Parliament regret the withdrawal of South Africa. But if you are concerned about the maintenance of the Commonwealth of Nations, would it not have been worse if South Africa had remained in and millions of these native people, who wanted to remain within the
British Commonwealth, found it impossible to do so? But according to this Government, it did not matter about the others - these new and rising non-white nations that were getting representation for the first time.
Although the Prime Minister said that he and his very dear friend, Mr. Macmillan, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, had no differences of opinion on the matter, the British Prime Minister said that South Africa cannot be a member of the Commonwealth of Nations until it alters its racial policy. Lord Casey, who was previously a Minister for External Affairs in this Parliament, said, “ It is best that South Africa is out of it “, referring to the Commonwealth of Nations. So, evidently the opinion advanced by the Labour Party is shared in other quarters, by people other than members of our organization. I want to put a proposition to members of this Parliament. If they believe that anything which occurs within the boundaries of one country, which is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, is a matter for that nation alone, I ask any one of them, in either the Country Party or the Liberal Party, to declare that if any British Commonwealth nation becomes Communist and decides to have a Communist government it should still remain in the British Commonwealth without any objection from any of this Government’s representatives, on the basis that it has the right to determine its kind of government as a purely domestic matter. Of course they would not agree. They would be protesting and threatening to walk out of the British Commonwealth if another member of the Commonwealth which had decided upon a Communist government was allowed to remain.
In any case, the decision of the Prime Minister now to utter opposition to the policy of apartheid does not mean that he has changed his attitude. He is still unrepentant. Those words expressing opposition have simply gone out for public consumption because the great volume of Australian opinion is against the initial attitude of this Government in regard to the South African position. In a recent statement the Prime Minister said -
I know of nothing which has happened since May,1960, to convert the internal affairs of
South Africa into a matter warranting intervention by the Commonwealth.
Mr. Hood, speaking for the Government, referred to it, as I have said, as - a violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the Declaration of Human Rights.
Let us turn now to the Savoy Hotel address in which the Prime Minister said -
The whole genius of the British Commonwealth - and I believe in the British Commonwealth with a faith in my guts - has been that we are tolerant.
That was rather peculiar language to come from a Prime Minister of Australia representing us overseas. I believe that the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) was right when he referred to it as a mixture of old brandy and arrogance.
– Order! The honorable member is not in order in making a reference of that kind. I ask him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it. The Prime Minister went on to say -
I am old-fashioned enough to believe in tolerance, and in living and let live and in the virtues of Christian faith, hope and charity.
Fancy a statement like that by the Prime Minister of Australia when he is dealing with the intolerable situation which exists in South Africa. He said -
I don’t moralize about South Africa’s policy. All I say is that I don’t think apartheid will work.
He did not have anything to say about the system of registration cards, where men and women who do not have the right to exercise a vote in the government of their country have to register and cannot move fromone point to another in regard to where they live or work without gettirg a government stamp on their registration card. He did not say anything about the arresting and imprisonment of people without charge and without fair trial. He did not say anything in regard to the enforced native labour on the white farm, properties by natives arrested for alleged offences, the nature of which they are unaware. Dr. Verwoerd is reported, in the Sydney “ Sun “ of 21st March last, as saying -
We did what God wanted us to do.
T wonder whether the Prime Minister agrees with that statement of his friend, Dr. Verwoerd. Does he agree that what Dr. Verwoerd regarded as the will of God conforms to his own beliefs as a simple Presbyterian, as he once described himself in this Parliament?
Let me turn once again to the statement by Mr. Hood to the United Nations Political Committee. He said -
The Australian Government has stated that it feels a most serious disquiet at the racial policies which have been practised in South Africa.
If it did feel a serious disquiet, why did it not express it? Why did not the Prime Minister have something to say about that policy? We know now that this Government switched its policy and where previously it said this was not a matter to bt. discussed in this Parliament or at the Commonwealth Conference of Prime Ministers, and that it was not a matter to be discussed at the United Nations, Australia has now voted to support a resolution put forward by Ceylon, India and Malaya, but did so with certain qualifications. The resolution also deplored South Africa’s racial policy of discrimination and affirmed that such a policy violates the United Nations Charter and Declaration of Human Rights. But when the committee called for action te bring about the abandonment of the apartheid policy, the Australian representative strongly opposed those sections of the resolution which he had already supported by his vote. The Prime Minister was against the application of sanctions against South Africa; but, as members on the Labour side of the House have pointed out, he adopted an entirely different attitude when he wanted sanctions against the Egyptians over the Suez position, because there it was property and investments which were concerned - property and investments which are so dear to the heart of the Prime Minister. But when it is a matter of deciding to take some action to assist human beings and relieve their suffering, he says that is a matter of domestic concern only.
The Government has not changed its attitude. The Prime Minister has done a distinct disservice to this country. Let me tell the House what he is doing. Here we have a great continent with a little over 10,000,000 people and surrounding us are non-white neighbours numbering 1,500,000,000. The Prime Minister has antagonized and insulted those people by his eulogy of that racial fanatic, Dr.
Verwoerd, the Prime Minister of South Africa. His concern is not only about human beings who are involved in this struggle in South Africa; he is worried only, as he always is, about the private investor- the £1,000,000,000 invested in diamond and gold and other mines in South Africa which depend for their profits on the ruthless exploitation of non-white labour. That is all the Prime Minister has ever been concerned about.
Let me turn to the Opposition’s amendment, because the Government would have people believe we are the only people in this country who believe that the Prime Minister is unfitted for the position he now occupies. I shall quote a passage from a church journal, the “ Anglican “, of 7th April, which in my opinion describes very faithfully the views that I and other members of the Labour Opposition hold. It reads -
The more speedily Mr. Menzies is removed as far as possible from public life the better . . .
Our view arises . . . from a gnawing anxiety about the future of Australia under the near dictatorship of one who truly terrifies us every time he utters a word on economics, or on British Commonwealth or international affairs . . .
Some might ask whether a Christian newspaper is an appropriate forum for the expression of such views as these and those that follow. The answer is that even a Christian is entitled to try to save his life and beliefs if they are menaced, and it would appear to many Christians that Mr. Menzies is perhaps a more lively threat to both than certain forces and powers abroad . . .
His conduct of external affairs must be considered as humorous in the extreme.
The journal refers to the Prime Minister as being emotional and confused. It continues -
Who could seriously hold that the policy of apartheid was a matter of domestic concern to the Union of South Africa?
Only our Mr. Menzies.
This preposterous poseur is not only uninformed on the substantial issues of international relations, but he is hopelessly contemptuous of Australian public opinion.
That just about describes the situation.
Now let me turn to the viewpoint of some of his colleagues. Here is an opinion expressed by one honorable gentleman, with which I agree -
Having reached an impeccable conclusion by faultless logic, and demonstrated the argument clearly to the public, he had a sense of achievement, and an expectation that from that conclusion the inescapably correct consequences would flow. Of course they seldom did.
That opinion was expressed by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) in a history of World War II, which he wrote. A gentleman who represented the electorate of Martin in this House referred to the Prime Minister as being a man of eloquent inaction.
I now wish to give the House an illustration of the effect of his work overseas and the kind of speech that he makes. At an Australian Club dinner at the Savoy Hotel in London on 31st January, 1955, the Prime Minister said - . . in your-
He was referring to the Duke of Gloucester - sight and presence and hearing, Sir, I believe I made a speech.
You looked at me rather incredulously throughout the entire performance-
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker-
– Mr. Speaker, may I move that the honorable member for East Sydney be granted an extension of time?
– Order! The honorable member is not in order. The honorable member for Corangamite has been given the call.
– During this week we have been debating probably one of the most important foreign affairs statements that have been made since I became a member of this eminent House. As the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) mentioned, an opportunity has been afforded to honorable members on both sides of the House to express some constructive and thoughtprovoking ideas about the development and direction of Australia’s foreign policy. Unfortunately, however, members of the Opposition, with the exception of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who have spoken so far, have, following the lead of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), devoted themselves to a personal attack on the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies).
Following the delivery of the Prime Minister’s speech, a censure motion was proposed by the Leader of the Opposition. Following that an amendment was foreshadowed by my friend the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney), the terms of which were almost the reverse of those contained in the Opposition’s censure motion. Quite frankly, I believe that the amendment moved by my friend was unnecessary, because the public of Australia and members of this House will judge this debate on the failure of the Opposition to support its censure motion. Every one who has had the opportunity to listen to practically all this debate and who has done so, as I have, will realize the weakness of the Opposition’s argument, how little honorable members opposite have done to support Australia’s case in the eyes of the world, and just how little of a constructive nature they have added to the direction of Australia’s foreign policy. In other words, all they have attempted to do has been to take a weak party political trick.
An unfortunate, feature of Australian political life and public life generally is the tendency to attempt to undermine or, even worse, to delight in undermining or pulling down our leading figures. Let me quote a case in point. Quite recently the famous cricketer Neil Harvey passed through a phase when he was not making 100 runs every time he went in to bat. The press immediately came out with the story that he was over the hill, that his eyesight had gone and that we could not send him to England. I guarantee that he will still produce in the future the results that he has produced in the past.
The same thing applies, but perhaps even more so, in the political field. It has become the habit - ^doubtless it flows from normal party political conflict - to pull some one down if he is big. If ever I have seen an instance of that in this House it was when I watched the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) to-night delivering a speech in which he. excelled himself in making a vicious attack on his great political opponent. He was like a mongrel cur yapping around the heels of a thoroughbred horse. If ever there has been an occasion when the incapacity of the honorable member for East Sydney to rise to his responsibility as a senior member of the Queen’s Opposition in this House and to produce something really constructive for the benefit of the people of Australia has been displayed, it has been to-night.
It is usual for the Opposition, when we are discussing foreign policy, to go out of its way to attack a friendly government in another part of the British Commonwealth or of the world. It is very easy for the Opposition to do that, because honorable members opposite have not the responsibility of answering as a government in terms of satisfaction when the moment arises. I hope that that moment will not arise for a long time yet. It is quite obvious that the intemperate approach of members of the Opposition and their indeterminate leadership would not encourage another country to have much respect for what is sometimes described by the press as being the alternative government of Australia. The censure motion that has been proposed by the Opposition will not have any effect in Australia. The position of the Prime Minister is assured. There is so much confidence in his ability to handle these problems that the countries not only of the Commonwealth but also of the Western world, and the other main countries with which he has had an opportunity to make contact, remain friendly to us. There is a constant effort on the part of the Opposition to imply that the Prime Minister has some sympathy with, or was prepared to condone, the racial policy of apartheid. Such statements are so far from the truth that they are wilfully mischievous. They are only calculated to damage our good relations with the South-East Asian people, which the Opposition constantly emphasizes are of major consideration to Australia. Where is the consistency in the Opposition’s attitude?
It has been said to-day that we are living in a time of changing winds. I believe, as the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) explained this afternoon in a very learned speech, that we would be wise to cling to our British Commonwealth relations. Emphasis is constantly laid on the necessity for Australia to cement good relations with our South-East Asian neighbours. No one will seriously dispute or reject that proposition. But over and above that immediate consideration, our old ties with true, trusted and long-standing friends cannot be readily severed. In this connexion,
I wish to refer to the comments of Professor Hugh Seton Watson in a very erudite and recent history of the modern world entitled “ Neither War Nor Peace “. He was discussing the difficulty of avoiding issues which would arouse resentment on racial or other grounds in the minds of Afro-Asian people. He wrote -
It is difficult to see how in the predictable future solutions can be found which will satisfy Arabs and Israelis in the Middle East, Frenchmen and Moslems in Algeria, Europeans and Africans in Kenya or the Rhodesias. Spectacular anticolonial gestures by the western governments - such as the expulsion of South Africa from the Commonwealth, or the declaration in favour of Dutch evacuation of New Guinea which radical publicists on both sides of the Atlantic sometimes urge - might win some words of praise from Asian governments-
Note the word “ governments “ - but they would bitterly wound millions of loyal friends of the west without doing any good to the Bantu or the Papuans.
One of the main points made in the savage remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney was the suggestion that the Australian Government should lend its support to clause 3 of the proposed resolution relating to South Africa, the clause dealing with the invocation of sanctions against that country. Does he, any other member of the Opposition, any one in this place or any one in Australia seriously believe that the imposing of the economic sanctions on South Africa will help the lot of the Bantu? Does he seriously believe that to create a series of conditions in South Africa which would, bring about a cessation of employment, a cessation of industry and limitation of trade will help the Bantu, who form the main working section of that community? lt is an insult to the intelligence of every one in this House and of every one in Australia even to suggest that the invocation of sanctions is a good thing for the people who we believe should be helped.
I pass now to my next point. The Prime Minister has never attempted to disguise his profound respect for, and loyalty to, the British Crown. Although there may be some in this place who at times adopt a pretence that those old loyalties do not really mean much and that they can be discarded lightly in our Commonwealth relations, I sincerely believe - I hope this is correct - that” that is only a facade put on for the benefit of the more undesirable type of electorate, the type of electorate which we in our minds associate with unity tickets. I sincerely hope that this attitude is purely a political pose and does not really express the feelings of any friend that I have on the Opposition side of this Parliament.
– Are you trying to suggest that there are better Australians in one electorate than there are in another?
– I know that you have to do it. I understand your attitude; I am not criticising it. I should like to stress in this atmosphere the importance to the Prime Minister of this attitude of affection and respect for the Crown. Is it any wonder that he has shown his feelings so strongly? Is it any wonder that he has done everything in his power to retain South Africa within the Commonwealth and that, when the breach occurred, he expressed his despair at the turn of events? I believe that there are few Australians who would not have expected or demanded that he should act in this way. Is it any wonder that once the precedent had been established he expressed himself in terms of foreboding about the developments that could occur in Commonwealth relations?
When the people of Australia remember this fact I am sure that they will accept with gratitude the superhuman efforts that the Prime Minister made in trying to retain South Africa within the Commonwealth, despite the policies of the South African Government which formed the basis of disagreement. It might be said that the tie to the Crown already had been weakened by South Africa’s decision to become a republic, but this inference is not supported at all when one considers the relationship existing between India, Pakistan and the Mother Country. The recent Royal Visit to Pakistan and India was an outstanding exemplification of the theory and philosophy that I am trying to present to the House. The spontaneous show of loyalty and affection by the humble people of India and Pakistan to the visiting royalty was sufficient to illustrate to my mind - and I believe to the densest person in this House - the inestimable value of continued Commonwealth relationship, even between republics and the Crown.
Menzies is a Commonwealth man, a man of tremendous loyalty to and with a deep and abiding affection for the Crown. Although he does not need me to say this on his behalf, 1 believe that every one in Australia will realize that his actions were based on very deep feelings, and that history probably will show that he was correct.
.- I have sympathy for the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon), because I know of his very deep affection for the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). The honorable member has found it necessary to defend his leader in the present situation, and it must have been a very painful experience for him. It is the duty of the Opposition to criticize the leaders of the Government, and I can understand that a person who has such a deep affection for the Prime Minister as the honorable member has might think it necessary to answer that criticism with such cheap jibes as “ a cheap political trick “ and “ a danger to the security of Australia “. However, it was a little unreasonable for the honorable member to use those terms in association with his description of his leader’s work. He referred to the “ superhuman efforts “ of the Prime Minister.
I remind the House and the people of the attitude adopted by supporters of the Government towards the leaders of the Australian Labour Party. Government criticism has been extreme, bitter and exaggerated at all times, but when Opposition criticism is levelled at the leader of the Government who has made a mess of things, that criticism is referred to as a cheap political trick and a danger to the security of Australia. The Parliament and the people of Australia must examine critically the work of their leaders, who are not perfect by any means. We of the Opposition have a duty to make our criticism overt and clear.
By way of amendment to the motion that is now being discussed, the Opposition has moved that the speeches and statements made by the Prime Minister in relation to South Africa have harmed Australia; that they do not represent the views of the Australian people and that, because of this, he should occupy no longer the position of Minister for External Affairs. There has been some concern for a long time about the Prime Minister exercising these two most important functions, and people in all walks of life have felt that no man, not even a superhuman one, can discharge properly the tasks associated with the two portfolios. In its amendment the Labour Party points clearly to the position that has been taken up by people all over Australia in the last few months. The substance of the Labour Party’s proposal is consistent with the position of Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and other members of the Commonwealth of Nations. In this sense, only Australia is out of step, and Australia is out of step because it has been in step too long with the Government of South Africa.
We are concerned with Commonwealth affairs. Perhaps the most important organization of nations in the world to-day for the good of mankind is the Commonwealth of Nations. If the Commonwealth of Nations is to be founded upon an empty formal principle of sovereignty, and if it refuses to be concerned with the principles of humanity and morals, it will amount to nothing. That is the issue which to-day is before the people of Australia.
The House and the people are being asked to test the Prime Minister on the South African issue. What has he said and done? I submit that the Opposition has proved its case. It has proved that the Prime Minister has allowed Australia to become associated with the racial policy of the Government of South Africa. I do not claim that the Prime Minister is sympathetic towards that policy, but by his conduct he has permitted Australia in the minds of the people who know of this situation, to become associated with the Government of South Africa and its policy of apartheid. I submit that the Opposition has proved that he maintained that position until he was forced, only last week, by a change in the attitude of the United Kingdom to depart from that position. I submit that the Opposition has proved that hp continued “ bitter and intemperate recriminations “ - I am quoting the London “ Times “ - following the defeat of his legalistic defence of the South African Government’s right to continue its racial policy free even of criticism among the British Commonwealth Prime Ministers.
I submit that the Opposition has proved that the Prime Minister refused to face constructively the task of the Commonwealth of Nations in this new world, because the task involves the abandonment of legalistic obstructions to the operation of great human principles. The Commonwealth of Nations will survive, and against the unrelenting resistance of those who take the position of the the Prime Minister of Australia. It has refused to adopt legalism as a foundation. Instead, it has adopted humanity as a foundation. The Commonwealth of Nations is a far greater organization to-day because it has made that decision.
Now let me try to sum up the evidence of this association with the racial policy of South Africa. It is not only just now. There have been votes in the United Nations for some years on this question of apartheid. Australia supported South Africa on this question from 1953 to 1956, until the number of votes in the United Nations in favour of South Africa had fallen to five. Australia abstained from voting on this question in 1959 and 1960, when the number of votes had fallen to four.
– What did the United Kingdom do?
– She learned a bit sooner than we did. In 1961 Australian intended to abstain again. It made a last-minute, dramatic switch to avoid association with only Portugal on this matter. The Prime Minister implied that there was no switch the other day in the United Nations. I suggest that this is an action which is very close to political dishonesty. He has been backed in this, in interjection and in speeches, by practically every supporter on the other side. The question is: Did Australia switch? I want to devote just a moment or two to that question. If Australia did not switch, why did Mr. Hood attack the resolution against South Africa? If Australia did not switch, why did Mr. Hood repeat the declaration against intervention? His speech was quoted by the Prime Minister himself, and I read it from “ Hansard “. This is what Mr. Hood said -
It must be pointed out in this connexion that the Charter does expressly set a limit to intervention by the United Nations in a field of essentially domestic jurisdiction.
Why repeat that, if we were not going to rely upon that once more? Mr. Hood continued -
In addition to those limits, there are further limits set by the Charter to the powers of the General Assembly. While there may be marginal ground here, many times fought over and contested, we should still pause before embarking on any course which would in effect throw away the whole intent and purpose of the limitations specifically put into the Charter.
– What is wrong with that?
– He was denning the position of abstaining from voting. That was clearly the case. If he was not in that position, why was there a special Cabinet meeting last week? Why was it called? It followed the decision by the United Kingdom Government not to abstain. Why was that meeting held? If that Cabinet meeting can be explained in any other way, why did Mr. Plimsoll make a second speech, which is something that I do not think was ever done before by Australia on a resolution of this kind. He had to make the second speech because he was going to say what Australia’s voting record was to be. So I think that the evidence establishes a continuity of association since 1953, by Australia’s voting record in the United Nations.
Then we can have a look at the Prime Minister’s own speeches. The massacre at Sharpeville occurred early in 1960, but the Prime Minister continued to refuse, even at his press conference at Mascot the other day, to express any judgment on Sharpeville, and he has not expressed it yet. He has expressed no view as to the responsibility for this terrible massacre. How long are we to wait? He refused to express any moral judgment on apartheid until last Tuesday, in this place. Take his own statement in London at face value. He said that what was wrong with apartheid was that apartheid would not work. That was the first day that he came onto the moral ground.
So I think the case has been established. The Australian Prime Minister has been identified as the last, most persistent, and most emotional defender of Dr. Verwoerd, South Africa and apartheid. Australia has changed her vote, but the Prime Minister has not changed his attitude. I shall quote the Melbourne “ Age “ upon that point.
This is a newspaper that has always been able to put the case fairly for the Prime Minister of Australia. This is what the Melbourne !” Age “ stated -
In his explanation to Parliament of his public statements on South Africa’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth, Mr. Menzies has opened fire in all directions, but he has not retreated from the position he selected two weeks ago. He is unrepentant in his disagreement with Mr. Macmillan; he still believes that “ the Commonwealth has been injured and not strengthened “ by the departure of South Africa, and he still believes that in reaffirming the view that apartheid should have been left as domestic to South Africa he was defending the interests of his own country.
He is still in that position. The Prime Minister has chosen to associate himself with protecting South Africa on apartheid. I am not going to say that he has any sympathy with apartheid but he has associated Australia with it. But what is this thing with which ‘he is associated? He says himself that it is separation of the African people for independent development. He implies that self-government will some day come to them. The facts are that the African people are not separate. They are forced to be integrated into the South African economy. What is this condition of apartheid? First, it is a separation of the landed area of South Africa so that 12 per cent, of the land is occupied by 66 per cent, of the people - the African people, the black people. That 12 per cent, of the land is called reserves. On those reserves, the poorest land in the whole of Africa, with no mineral resources, that which has been left over after three centuries of European selection of the best land in Africa, the African people are obliged to try to live. It is described as rural slums, quite inadequate to maintain any kind of a standard of living.
The Africans are forced to live upon these reserves until they can be forced out of the reserves to take employment in the European areas on low wages. There are about 440,000 of them employed in the mining industry, which has an annual production valued at £500,000,000. Those 440,000 work in that industry for an average wage of £44 a year, An amount of £17,500.000 goes in their wages out of the £500,000,000, which is the value of the gold and coal that are taken out. Any one who disputes those figures should have a look at this book entitled, “ The People and
Policies of South Africa “, a most temperate and logical examination of the situation by Leo Marquard. Then there are about 480,000 people who are dragged out of the reserves to work in industry at a wage that averages £2 a week and who live in slum, industrial conditions. Another 2,150,000 people are employed in agriculture under three systems. The first is the system of the monthly wage. The family wage for an average of six-and-a-half persons is not more than £2 a week.
The second system is one of labour tenancy where they have a bit of land on European farms. On the average, these conditions are slightly better than the monthly wage system when the land is :good. The third system is the employment of prison labour on African farms. People who have been imprisoned for offences can be employed by farmers. There is a wide network of offences in South Africa. Farmers are magistrates, :and they are able to employ labour on a system which is parallel with the Australian system of assigned convict labour which came to an end in 1843. The whole position of the African people is based on an .act .of Parliament which requires them to register as though they were cattle. Having been registered, if they are Africans, they lose all rights to vote. They can move from place to place only during the course of their work.
This then is apartheid. Apartheid is not a system of separate development. It is a system of forced integration of the African people into a miserable, slave, low-wage economy. It is time the people of Australia knew the truth about this system that we have been protecting in the United Nations for so many years. We have a Prime Minister who sees no moral implications in this situation. He made no statement of a moral kind on this matter until 11th April. Honorable members on the Government side who are interjecting cannot point to any place in the record where the Prime Minister made a moral statement about apartheid until he spoke in this House on Tuesday last. In London, in his Savoy Hotel speech, he said that he was not going to moralize on the situation. He said apartheid was something that would not work and that was what was wrong with it. Of course it will not work! He sees only the legal question of sovereignty. Aus tralia has a nineteenth century ‘Prime Minister and we -cannot afford to ‘have one any longer.
What about examining this .argument within its logic just for a while? When we have finished that we will study Tibet if honorable members on the Government side want to raise that question. The position is this: We have had a lot of recriminations on this situation. I think we should bring an end to recriminations. The Opposition is trying to influence the situation in which your Prime Minister - not ours - has placed us.
– He is Australia’s Prime Minister.
– We support very little of what the right honorable gentleman stands for. He is the one who recriminated all over the world on this situation. But we -must have no further support, implied or in any other way, for the policy of apartheid in South Africa. The Melbourne “ Age “, a newspaper that has been more than fair to the right honorable gentleman throughout his political career, has said of this matter something which is well worth considering.
– There are plenty of favorable .press comments. Why not quote them?
– Has the Melbourne “ Age “ not been fair to the Prime Minister? Is it not reasonable to quote the “ Age “ ? This is what that newspaper had to say of this situation -
Our relations with the Afro-Asian world have suffered a severe setback, and patient labour will be required to restore our previous goodwill.
Let us begin now with this patient labour of restoring goodwill. Let us be concerned with the strengthening of Commonwealth relations on a multi-racial basis, not on the old basis of the Carlton Club for which the right honorable gentleman stands. Unlike the former Minister for External Affairs, now Lord Casey, the Prime Minister has never shown any real sympathy with the under-dog. He has never shown any real sympathy for the coloured people of the world or for those who have fought their way free of colonialism. Let us see that the Commonwealth of Nations is established on a basis of moral principles of equality, human dignity and welfare and not on the dry legal bones of the doctrine of sovereignty so dear to the Prime Minister. There is not any conflict between these two doctrines as the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) endeavoured to argue in this House to-night. There is no conflict between the doctrines of sovereignty and justice. They mutually condition and determine each other. If they do not do so, those who have founded themselves on the doctrine of sovereignty will fall. That has been the history of the world. We cannot avoid the application of the doctrine of justice by any kind of legal formula.
Australia will have to stand up also to that test. Australia will not be able to shelter behind any artificial barrier of the doctrine of sovereignty. But Australia does not need to shelter behind that barrier. On the contrary, we can see things as the best people in South Africa see them, and as they are seen by those who wrote this book, “ South Africa - the Road Ahead “, edited by Spotswood, which shows that the great truth of the century is that the old order has gone.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has given the House a valuable, convincing and impressive account of his recent mission overseas. It is an historic statement of the historic events which he has recorded so accurately for us and which he has analysed with such clarity for the Australian people. Most of his fellowAustralians feel grateful for the distinguished representation he has thus once again given to this country. They appreciate his effective representation of Australia at these great events.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) is not, however, included in that company, nor are those who sit behind him. They have invited this House to add to the formal motion “ That the paper be printed “ words that would serve as a censure of the Prime Minister. They ask that he be removed from the office of Minister for External Affairs. They purport to give as the reason for the latter proposition, at least in part, that the right honorable gentle man is over-burdened by his dual duties. It is rather interesting to learn of that point of view because when honorable gentlemen opposite were in office, I seem to recall that their two leading spokesmen held several portfolios. The Labour Prime Minister of that day, Mr. Chifley, somehow managed to conduct the two portfolios of Prime Minister and Treasurer throughout the whole term of his Prime Ministership. His deputy, Dr. H. V. Evatt, conducted the two portfolios of Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs. I think the present Prime Minister at least has the same capacity and energy as those two gentlemen had. 1 have never heard Opposition members suggest that the distinguished Prime Minister of India, Mr. Nehru, who has held the two portfolios of Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs for so many years is incapable of doing these jobs, or that the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr. Holyoake, who also holds those portfolios cannot manage them. This is a very specious argument. Members of the Opposition know that much of the work of Administration in connexion with the portfolio of External Affairs is conducted by my colleague the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton). They also know that in this modern age with so much international activity, the Prime Minister of any country is heavily involved in international affairs, whatever other duties he may have to perform. One has only to read of what goes on around the world to see that this is so.
In earlier days when Lord Casey conducted the portfolio of External Affairs, the Prime Minister found no necessity to attend to it himself, but at a time when Australia’s prestige abroad can be assisted so much by his unmatched range of contacts and his prestige and authority around the world, Australia can get the best results from the kind of representation he can give.
But let us not devote too much time to what is not a major matter in this debate. The Opposition is suggesting in effect that the Prime Minister be removed from office. Further, the Opposition suggests also that the Government go with him and that a government from the other side of the House take office to administer Australia’s affairs. I wish I had very much more than twenty minutes available to me for this discussion. It might be worth while to conjecture for two or three minutes on how Australia might have been represented at these conferences had the wishes of honorable gentlemen opposite come true by some miracle and one of their leading figures been Australia’s spokesman overseas. Let us picture the first interview with President Kennedy, with whom the Prime Minister has established such cordial and satisfactory relations. We can imagine that a well-informed President Kennedy, suitably advised and briefed by his Department of State, would have before him some information about what honorable gentlemen opposite stand for.
He would know that he was speaking to the spokesman of a government which had denied the United States the use of Manus Island for a great base in the Pacific. He would also know that he was speaking to somebody who represented a party which, when in Opposition, had persistently attacked the former American Administration led by President Eisenhower, with the late John Foster Dulles as Secretary of State. That would not be any great comfort to President Kennedy, although he belongs to a different party from former President Eisenhower’s party, because happily for the American people on practically every major foreign issue in that country there is a bi-partisan policy. One needs only to listen to this debate to-night to see what a gulf divides honorable gentlemen opposite from those on this side of the House who speak for Australia. President Kennedy would be talking to a man whose party had opposed the sending of forces to Malaya. The Labour Party knows that we rely very heavily on America for our security in the Pacific, yet it said to America, “ We oppose the sending of forces to Malaya. We propose to slash the Australian defence vote by £40,000,000 to £50,000,000.”
– When did we say that?
– You said it in your election policy speech. Do not try to deny it. The Labour spokesman would be saying, “ We do not support Seato. We regard Seato as a bolstering-up of reactionary regimes in Asia.” That is a state ment from the Hobart conference uttered by honorable gentlemen opposite. Altogether, such an interview would be very interesting.
When they went on to the Seato conference^ - I will depart from the chronological order for a moment - and the American Secretary of State sat in with this Australian representative and the spokesmen for the allegedly reactionary regimes in Asia, how would Australia fare? Would Australia be able to exercise a significant influence on the deliberations of Seato at a time when our security in South-East Asia and indeed the position of the free world was gravely threatened, as it has been in recent times? How would we have fared if honorable gentlemen opposite had been claiming to he the true voice of Australia?
I do not need to dwell on these matters because the particular subject of discussion in this debate is what arose at the conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers and the bearing it has had upon a foundation member of our Commonwealth of Nations. I do not quite know how the spokesman for the, Labour Party would have conducted himself at that Commonwealth gathering because I have read the Leader of the Opposition’s statements-
– He would not have performed like an acrobat. He would not have had two voices.
– Let us have a look at that for a moment. I have read the statements of the Leader of the Opposition on this matter and I think they are worth quoting so that we will have a balanced perspective. On 31st March, 1960, after the Sharpeville episode, when emotions were running high on this and other issues, speaking for his party in this House the honorable gentleman said -
We have no sympathy with those who say that South Africa must be removed from the Commonwealth of Nations. That would not solve any of the problems of to-day. It is far better that a proper relationship should exist between the races that are living together in South Africa, and have lived together there for 300 years or more . . .
As I have said, we want to see South Africa remain within the Commonwealth of Nations and develop a proper multi-racial form of society, which must be established if there is to be peace, understanding and tolerance in that actually and potentially prosperous land.
Up to this point there- is no difference of policy between what was said by the Leader of the Opposition and what this Government stands for in relation to South Africa.
I come now to his more recent statement om 22nd. March when he moved the adjournment o£ this Mouse. This is a very illuminating, comment by the honorable gentleman because from this comment it becomes apparent that had South Africa itself not raised the question of apartheid there would have. been, neither the danger nor the effect of South Africa being expelled from the Commonwealth, which is in substance what has happened - at least in the view of honorable gentlemen opposite. The Leader of the Opposition said -
The question of apartheid would never have arisen at the conference if South Africa had not decided last year to become an independent republic. Had it decided to remain a dominion inside the Commonwealth, the discussion that took, place at the recent. Prime Ministers’ Conference would, never have, arisen and could never have arisen. South Africa had been practising this policy of apartheid for a number of years and the issue had never previously been raised at these annual conferences of Prime Ministers.. I want to make that point at the beginning . . .
If those words mean anything they mean that the Leader of the Opposition agrees with the Prime Minister that domestic matters should not be made a basis for the disciplining of fellow members of the Commonwealth of Nations. He concedes that had South Africa not raised the matter by its action in applying to remain a member of the Commonwealth of Nations as a republic, this issue would not have arisen at all. Is not that what our Prime Minister has been saying? So, I find it difficult to know just where the Opposition stands.
I should like to turn to one or two other aspects which have not been dwelt upon to the same extent as have other elements of the discussion in the course of this debate. Most thoughtful people in this House, around Australia, and indeed around the Commonwealth nations and the friendly countries of the free, world, are troubled, as we are, by this development. There are those, perhaps partly as a product of their emotional reaction to the situation and perhaps as the product of solid thought, who have said that our Commonwealth of Nations will be strengthened as a result of this development. Of course, we all want to see our Commonwealth strengthened and we must all do what we can to keep it strong. But there will be differences of opinion on whether it has been strengthened or weakened. 1 do not ask that a judgment be expressed on this matter to-night. What I do put to the House is that in my view this situation has produced grave weaknesses which call for effective action on our part if our Commonwealth is not to be gravely weakened.
In the first place, I put it to the House that the jettisoning - I use that word because that is in effect what has occurred - of a foundation member of our Commonwealth is itself a sign of weakness causing disquiet and uncertainty in the Commonwealth countries generally. The fact that the action was taken on a domestic matter, however distasteful and however much its ramifications might fairly be argued to have spread outside the borders of South Africa,, raises the question of where the line is to be drawn in- the future. There are other policies which are distasteful to some members of the Commonwealth and which themselves can have influences outside the countries in which they operate.
A policy of racial dictatorship in one country can have influence beyond ite boundaries. A policy of abolition of parliamentary institutions, a policy of the suppression of the press and the abandonment of the rule of law, a policy of discrimination against people, not necessarily of different colour, but of different race inside one country, can be abhorrent to us and have ramifications outside the borders of that country. Yet I am not overstating the position when I say that, somewhere or other, around our Commonwealth at this time, each and every one of these things is happening to a greater or less degree. If we should go on a series of witch hunts and look for those who should be ejected from our company where would the process end? That is a fair query.
Our Prime Minister did a service not only to Australia but also to the Commonwealth by raising this matter. After he had raised it the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom gave a most forthright assurance in the House of Commons that the South African episode was not to be treated by Commonwealth countries as a precedent.
That was a valuable gain. I wonder whether Mr. Macmillan would have felt it necessary to be so forthright and so prompt as he was bad our own Prime Minister not drawn attention vigorously to the danger which existed. Again, our friend from Malaya, the Tunku Abdul Rahman, gave a most forthright and friendly assurance that his country did not read into our immigration policy anything which was distasteful to his country or which made Australia undesirable as a member of the Commonwealth in the eyes of that country. That, too, was a valuable and welcome statement. Again, would it have come forward so promptly and in such clear and emphatic terms had the Prime Minister not drawn attention to the serious danger which could exist?
The third weakness to which I would like to point is that, in my opinion, never again can there be the same kind of Prime Ministers’ Conference that we knew before. I say that not only because the number of those attending has grown to such an extent that the same friendly, frank and intimate discussion is no longer possible
– The honorable gentleman knows how difficult it is to get frank, friendly and intimate discussion inside his own caucus. The smaller the number of persons concerned, the more readily that process can be achieved. But that is not a matter of argument. What is a matter of deep regret, however, is that what were formerly highly confidential discussions in which there could be the most frank exchange of views no longer can be regarded as confidential discussions. If frank views are expressed, they can be expected to appear in some newspaper in a distorted version on the following day. I believe, Sir, that this result was one of the most distressing features of this conference in London.
The fourth weakness that 1 want to mention is the ramifications of this matter, going far beyond South Africa itself. I do not take away anything from the sentiments expressed by Mr. Macmillan when he used his imaginative phrase about the winds of change. He would be the first to admit that the winds of change did not start when he made his speech. There has been an evolutionary process towards multiracial government going on for years in
Africa, and not only in South Africa where the apartheid policy is abhorred by us and is so different from policies in other countries of British influence in Africa. I believe that one of the best speeches in this debate was made by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) who related how these African countries with British influence have been steadily moving towards a greater degree of multi-racial government. It is the small communities, largely of British origin, which have changed a situation of barbarism, wilderness and jungle into one of civilization, enlightenment and advancement. They have improved conditions of life, of education and of health in a great variety of ways for the people of Africa. We want winds of change, of course, but we want steady, favorable winds, not the gales and the gusts which fluctuate from time to time. We do not want the hurricane which could sweep away the best influence developed in Africa and which would leave the kind of disastrous chaos that we see in the Congo. These are matters which have been thrown up as a result of the conference in London. I hope that we shall all have the statesmanship and the goodwill towards our Commonwealth to try to combine to meet these weaknesses as they show themselves.
– The House has devoted most of its time, so far, to the question of apartheid in South Africa. Although, if time permits, I hope to refer to it as well, I feel that a debate on foreign affairs that confines itself to South Africa falls far short of the kind of thing with which we in the Australian Parliament ought to be concerning ourselves if we have the best interests of the Australian people at heart. Therefore, I want to direct my remarks, in the main, to what is going on in SouthEast Asia, particularly Laos, at present.
I remind the House that when it passed the Seato legislation in 1954, the Opposition made it perfectly clear by way of criticism and by way of an amendment moved in committee, that the Seato pact would not, and could not, be an effective weapon against the kind of thing that, it sought to prevent in Asia. The Seato pact was aimed at preventing aggression by Communist countries against any of the members of Seato. The Labour Party expressed the view through its leader at the time, Dr. Evatt, that aggression should be equally abhorred whether it was from Communist or fascist countries, whether from American or Western countries, whether from imperialistic or colonialist countries. It was stupid, futile and silly in the extreme for the Seato pact to be designed solely to prevent Communist aggression. Any other kind of aggression was to be permitted. This indicated clearly that our only concern for South-East Asia was not the independence of its people but to prevent the people of South-East Asia from coming under the yoke of communism. The Opposition failed to bring about an amendment of the Seato legislation.
Now we see the situation in Laos, where there is a civil war. It is nothing but an internal affair between two groups of people inside Laos. It is a civil war which was started for the purpose of getting rid of a rotten, corrupt government, propped up by American imperialism. It had no concern for the little people - the leprechauns, as they might be termed - of Laos. The Government was a mere puppet of American imperialism, propped up by American gun boats, for the purpose of keeping the country as a kind of American jumping-off ground for defence purposes. The American Government had no concern at all for the welfare of the little people and the mass of the Laotian population.
– What nonsense!
– It is not nonsense. Let me read the following extract from the Manchester “ Guardian “ of 17th December last year: -
Tt has taken a long time to bring the Laotians to this pitch of violence, and what is distressing is that the battle for Vientiane need not have happened. Most of the blame for it must be put squarely on the United States Government and its agencies: it is the price they have been willing to pay - or to let the Laotians pay - to avoid the risk of a neutralist government in the kingdom.
The Manchester “ Guardian “ was not alone in expressing such views. I turn to the London “ Daily Express “ of 4th January last, which stated -
The reported “ invasion “ of Laos was a fantasy dreamed up by the Government to save face. Laos is a land of lies and exaggeration. The Prime Minister knows that his Government is unpopular, and was hoping to win support by presenting Laos as a victim of outside aggression. The Government reckons that the tighter the tension the more United States aid it can pull in. More than one member of the Government has a reputation tarnished with allegations of racketeering or grafting.
– On what date was that statement published?
– On 4th
January, 1961, in the respectable newspaper, the London “ Daily Express “.
Mr. Lester Pearson, who was Secretary of State for External Affairs in the Canadian Government not so long ago, and is still a highly respected member of the Canadian Parliament, stated -
The danger in Laos arises from a civil war in which the United States is backing one side and the Soviet and Communist China the other.
No statement has put more clearly than that the position of Laos. There is in that country a civil war between a corrupt government and the people who want to get rid of the corruption that they can stand no longer, with the United States backing the corrupt government and the Communists backing the rebels who are trying to overthrow it.
The “ Sydney Morning Herald “, on 14th January last, reported that the United States had approved the use by the Laotian Government of planes supplied by the United States, to strike at the left wing rebels. What arrant nonsense it is for anybody to suggest that this interference in Laotian affairs is confined to the Soviet Union and Communist China! What sheer rubbish, nonsense and hypocrisy it is for anybody to say that this is a one-sided kind of thing! The Americans are up to their back teeth in it. They started it by first of all throwing out the neutralist government and then having to support the corrupt government that is in office there now.
I refer also to the Melbourne “ Herald “ of 23rd January last, in which John Williams had the following comment to make -
Much United States aid had lined the pockets of the already rich and corrupt temporary proAmericans.
So, the position is as I have stated it. The Australian Government has merely acted as a ventriloquist’s dummy for current United States foreign policy, whatever it has happened to be. Let me give an example. First of all, it supported brinkmanship and rejected Laotian neutrality under the policy of Dulles. Now, the Government is turning a complete somersault, which is nothing unusual for it, by supporting Laotian neutrality under the Kennedy Administration. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) stated in December last - . . neutrality, as distinct from military alliances, has seemed the only practical course for the country.
What did this same person say in 1954, when America had a different policy from that which it has now? Let me quote the following words that he used in this Parliament: -
We respect all the high-minded men and women who believe that neutrality is in itself a contribution to peace, but for ourselves we believe that in this century neutralism will invite aggression but will never defeat it.
The plain fact of the matter is that subversion is not military aggression and is therefore not actionable within the terms of the Seato pact. The word “ subversion “, I think, is nothing but an abbreviation for what is more properly described as the battle of ideas in the world-wide struggle for the minds of men. After all, ideas are more potent than bombs. They always have been and always will be. I believe that force will never triumph over ideals. If force could triumph over ideals, there would not be a Christian religion alive to-day. Force cannot continually or perpetually defeat an idea. Therefore, surely our job should be to try to re-think our ideals and to re-think our ideas. It is of no use to talk in abstract terms of civil liberties, freedom, the rule of law and other such principles, when what the starving people of Asia want more than anything else is bread. They want it now. In Asia there are millions of people who are starving, and what starving people want in their stomachs is something that will give them strength to carry on. It is no good filling their heads with platitudes about civil liberties and all the other things we talk about, when what they want is something in their stomachs.
The Communists, realizing that hungry people need bread more than they need liberty, are willing to oblige them and give them bread, even at the expense of refusing to give them their liberty. I almost said, “ of taking their liberty.” The fact is that in the majority of the Asian countries the people have no liberty to lose. When the Communists come along and offer them bread, what have they to lose? They have everything to gain and nothing to lose, because they have no liberties and civil rights as it is. I believe that while the West offers the underprivileged peoples of Asia nothing better than colonialism, imperialism and capitalist exploitation of their natural resources and man-power, communism will always win. The hungry and underprivileged people of Asia will always turn to communism if the only alternative to that is to be the kind of corruption and exploitation that seems to be the order of the day and the only other thing that the Western powers at the moment can offer them.
We have to look for the cause of communism before we start to rattle sabres and threaten to shoot our way into South-East Asia. We have to remember that the cause of communism is injustice, corruption, undeserved poverty in the midst of plenty, and disease alongside fabulous wealth. Those are the things that give rise to communism. Until we can rectify that situation we shall never succeed in finding a permanent cure for the troubles in Asia to-day. I think of continental China. Incidentally, I am pleased to note that the Prime Minister now calls that country “ continental “ China and not Communist or red China. What sent continental China into the lap of the Communists, or into the Communist orbit?
Can anybody tell me that 600,000,000 illiterate coolies adopted communism out of conviction, because they thought that the theories of Karl Marx were better than some other theories? Was it because they understood dialectical materialism or the theory of surplus value? Of course not! They had never heard of Karl Marx; but they were so completely disgusted with the rotten, corrupt government of Chiang Kaishek that they were prepared to accept any alternative as being no worse, and possibly a lot better, than the system of government they had. Therefore, it was only out of utter despair that they turned from the government of Chiang Kai-shek to the unknown quantity of communism which they have now accepted. Communism has given them what Chiang Kai-shek could not give them, lt i& true, as everybody acknowledges, that the people of China, are solidly behind their Communist government: and that it will, be perhaps, centuries before that form of government Ls overthrown. Idle talk, and wishful thinking about- the possibility of an. internal revolution can now be forgotten.
In speaking of China I think we come to one of the chief obstacles to a settlement of the South-East Asian problems. The trouble in Laos is that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is not the chief obstacle, but China is, for the simple reason that she has nothing to lose and everything to gain. She believes that certain territories ought to be re-absorbed by her. Whether she is right or not, of course, is another matter which I have not time to debate here. She believes that until she can re-absorb Formosa, and, perhaps, other parts of Asia which she claims to be Chinese, her task will not be completed.
Soviet Russia, of course, has too much to lose by war. She has more to gain by peace than by war. She realizes that this is the age of nuclear weapons, and her lead in the space race places her in .’ position of special advantage over the capitalist powers. It is to her advantage to maintain this advantage, and peace will enable her to build up her internal economy and thus to compete economically with the other powers.
How can you possibly expect China to abide by the decisions- of the United Nations when that country is prohibited from becoming a member of the United Nations? I am glad to see that you agree, with my remark, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Position - is, of course; that you cannot expect China to agree to the decisions of the. United Nations when you refuse to. give her a seat in that body. Nothing could be- more absurd than this Government’s decision not to recognize continental China,, and nothing could be more absurd than for the United Nations to say that a little island called Formosa, with 10,000,000 people, in fact is representative of the 600,000.000 people of continental China. Until you rectify thi? situation you will continue’ to; accept an unreal position, and you will not be able ‘.- find a solution to the South-East Asian problem. 1 will, go. further and L will say this: U there is, an- outbreak of open warfare between the two groups in Laos, with the Chinese Communists backing the rebel forces, and the United States and the United Kingdom and other European powers backing; the Government of Laos, the Chinese will, win. You cannot defeat an Asian power with, white troops, when the people you are fighting have been backed by Asian troops.
Every member of the Commonwealth o£ Nations now accepts the fact that recognition of continental China is absolutely imperative. We are feeding the people of continental China, and if they are involved in war with the Seato powers- over Laos, we will know that the Chinese soldiers wil! have Australian wheat in their stomachs, anc! that they will have Australian wool, supplied by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) and his friends, on their backs, keeping them warm. How hypocritical can a person become? Honorable members opposite say that they are opposed to the Communists in China, but that they will le* them have, as much wheat as they like and as much wool as they like. They say, as the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) once pointed out, “ We do not care whether it is red wool, yellow wool, Chinese wool or bull’s wool, as long as we get the money. That is all we are concerned about.” So it is with the honorable member for Hume. He does not care where his wool goes, whether it goes to Russia or China, as long as it commands a good price. The principles of honorable members opposite can be measured in terms of pounds, shillings and pence.
I have concentrated on the Asian side of our foreign policy, because it is in that part of the world that we live and in which we have to find common agreement with the other people who live in it. Some 2,000,000,000 people live in that part of the world, and here we are, on a tiny little white spot in what is geographically the Asian part of the world. It is because we have to live with the Asian people that I am more disappointed than ever at the Prime Minister’s lamentable attitude on the South African question. What has he done? He has turned the whole of the Asian peoples against us, because they believe that the Australian Government endorses apartheid. This Government refuses to condemn apartheid and has entirely supported the South African Government.
The Commonwealth of Nations would not be worth two bob if we did not oppose that kind of policy. The Commonwealth of Nations consists of countries in which there are 494,000,000 coloured people and about 81,000,000 white people. Mr. Macmillan did the correct and statesmanlike thing when he took the attitude that he did with regard to this problem. If the Commonwealth of Nations means anything at all, its members must agree that the Afro-Asian section of it is as much entitled to justice as the white section - and even more entitled if we like to consider the matter in terms of numbers, because they outnumber the whites by something like six to one.
I believe that the decision of the South African people to break away from the Commonwealth of Nations and become a republic was not a real decision of the African people. If the coloured people of Africa had been given their democratic right to exercise a vote, I am sure they would have overwhelmingly supported a move to remain a part of the Commonwealth of Nations. If ever the coloured people of South Africa are given the right to vote, as they should be, and as we should try to ensure, by using our influence in the United Nations, that they are given, then 1 venture to say that before very long they will reverse the decision made by the white people of South Africa and return to the fold.
I regret, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that time does not permit one to cover all the points one ought to discuss, or to direct attention to the number of occasions on which the Prime Minister has performed a political somersault.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The speech that has just fallen from the lips of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) will surprise nobody. It was, of course, a leftist speech. That is to be expected, because the honorable member’s intellect and sympathy are both directed perceptibly and willingly towards the left. He finished his speech by referring fleetingly to the problems of South Africa, having devoted most of his time to what he is pleased to call an analysis of South-East Asia. Having considered what the honorable member has said about South-East Asia, I suggest that one could say quite accurately and quite simply that he has vamped the theme of colonialism. According to him, all the countries of the world that have ever had any interest in South-East Asia have been rotten and corrupt. It is strange to hear this suggestion, which is not, of course, in accord with the facts. If there is one thing that has appalled me during the course of this debate, it is the way in which the facts, the record and the history of events have been trampled upon, disposed of and dismissed and not even acknowledged.
What are the facts about colonialism? Let me give them to the honorable gentleman. Between 1945 and 1960 the Western Powers brought 38 nations to full independence. In the years between 1920 and 1958 the Soviet Union extended its complete control over seventeen countries and in eight regions. This is the colonial record that should be examined by the honorable gentleman.
The amendment that has been proposed by Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) is. as ruthless an expression of political cannibalism as I can imagine. The honorable gentleman set out to belittle the record of the Prime Minister. Let me say this to honorable members opposite: When their leader moved this miserable, contemptible little amendment, it was their unworthiest hour. Their battle cry in this debate, as it seems to be in any debate, is, “Anything for a vote “. That is the battle cry of the Labour Party. Few in this century have worked with such a sense of devotion and a sense of understanding, in the interests of the Commonwealth, as has the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). I do not believe in indulging unnecessarily in flattery. I believe in supporting the sturdy qualities of candour. However, that is my belief, and even though some may think I am in error, when the eye and the mind of the historian look back on the record, I believe he will come to the conclusion that I have already arrived at. But a fundamental truth, of course, is that great ideas are never understood by those who have little minds.
The Labour Party has said in this debate that the South African policy of apartheid is a non-domestic matter. Very well, concede that argument for the time being. What is the formula by the use of which you can say that one policy is domestic and another policy is not? Am I to understand that the policies pursued by Archbishop Makarios in Cyprus - the leader, sponsor and inspirer of the wretched Eoka movement that killed men, women and children - are a domestic issue? Am I to understand that the policies of the Prime Ministerapparent of an emerging, independent Kenya - Jomo Kenyatta - are domestic? Is there any person in this House or in the fourth estate who can go to his womenfolk and without batting an eye-lid recite the oath of the Mau Mau? Am I to understand that the wretched form of blasphemy of Dr. Nkrumah in Ghana, who during the course of the last election styled himself greater than Jesus Christ, is non-domestic? It offends me.
What of some of the policies of Ceylon and of India? The fact of the matter - and I would hope that the House and the country clearly understand this by now - is that there is no formula devisable to determine what is domestic and what is nondomestic. But in the case of the Commonwealth it has been the settled convention that no discussion upon domestic issues would take place. I am going to summon this evening in support of my contention that the policies of South Africa were domestic, the most violent and consistent opponent of apartheid in the world. I summon, not a person in this Parliament, but Mr. Nehru, whose whole life, history and being have been involved in the detestation of apartheid. This is what Mr. Nehru had to say speaking in the Indian Constituent Assembly on 16th May, 1949 - r am often asked how we can join a Common wealth in which there is racial discrimination, in which there are other things happening to which we object. That, I think, is a fair question, and it is a matter which must necessarily give us some trouble in our thinking. Nevertheless it is a question which does not really arise . . .
This House knows that in the last few yeaTS one of the major questions before the United Nations, at the instance of India, has been the position of Indians in South Africa. One of the pillars of our foreign policy, repeatedly stated, is to fight against racial discrimination, to fight for the freedom of suppressed nationalities. Are you compromising on that issue by remaining in the Commonwealth? We have been fighting on the South African-Indian issue and on other issues even though we have thus far been a Dominion of the Commonwealth.
He continued -
It was a dangerous thing for us to bring that matter within the purview of the Commonwealth, because then the very thing to which you and I object might have taken place. That is, the Commonwealth might have been considered as some kind of a superior body which sometimes acts as a tribunal, or judges, or in a1 sense supervises the activities of its principal nations. That certainly would have meant a diminution in our independence and sovereignty if we had once accepted that principle.
Therefore, we were not prepared and we are not prepared to treat the Commonwealth as such or even to bring disputes between principal nations of the Commonwealth before the Commonwealth body. We may, of course, in a friendly way discuss the matter; that is a different matter.
Now who has turned the somersault? In 1949, when India was admitted to membership of the Commonwealth, Mr. Nehru said that South African policies were not to be taken before the Commonwealth for consideration.
The British Prime Minister has contended that the concept of the Commonwealth has changed. Let that be conceded. He has gone on to describe the Commonwealth as being an association now. He said -
This association must therefore depend not upon the cold concept of common allegiance but on the new principle of common idealism.
The words “ common idealism “ are the important ones. Let us assume that Mr. Macmillan is completely correct. What is the common idealism? I want to put three questions to the House. First, is that common idealism represented by a common support for parliamentary democracy? The answer plainly is “ No “, because some Commonwealth countries do not vaguely parallel our concept of parliamentary democracy, and this, mark you, in some cases after years of effort. Secondly, is the common idealism a common support for the principles of justice, the maintenance of order, the protection of the weak and the discipline of the unruly? That could hardly be the case because contemporary experience simply does not confirm the existence of these qualities in some Commonwealth countries, nor as yet any affection for them.
Thirdly, is the common idealism referred to by Mr. Macmillan as being the core, the heart and soul of the Commonwealth to-day, common support for the onward march of man towards a new dignity, towards fresh and compelling pursuits of human endeavour and towards a lasting and genuine peace? The fact of the matter is that some Commonwealth countries are still manacled by the forces of ignorance, superstition and a solemn stolidity.
Having dismissed the idealism in that way, we ask: What is it? I say plainly that the idealism has gone. The common idealism of the Commonwealth was to be found in a brotherhood which was certainly unique and which strove to give meaning to its belief through a steady practice of tolerance of the weaknesses of its members. The brotherhood sought enlightenment not through resolution, but through persuasiveness. Patience and restraint were its virtues and its plea. You will not find the ambitions of the Commonwealth detailed in minutes. It has been content to let its achievements find a firm place in the chronicles of free men. For good reason the Commonwealth did not lay down the rights and responsibilities of its members, realizing that the integrity of man is never won by the flourish of pen on paper, but only when both mind and heart will it.
The great strength of the Commonwealth hitherto has been found in the fact that it did not resort to rules, preferring to promote, change by encouragement and quiet inducement without caprice and bitterness intervening. Agreement appeared, not by the boisterous winds of argument, but by the steady assuring winds of influence with centuries of respectable tradition behind it. Now the Commonwealth has been swept by the winds of change. Gone is the old sturdy unwillingness to propound a code of ethics, a charter of rights, or canons of conduct. That is gone. Each and every Commonwealth country now has a clear right to bring into debate the actions of any other member.
Many people have watched the changing structure of the British Empire with anxiety and regret. From Empire we passed to British Commonwealth and then to Commonwealth. Now, in the light of the last Prime Ministers’ Conference, what do we pass to? There was a time when, in the words of Pitt, we could say that we were one people. “ Be one people “, was Pitt’s great cry. We no longer have anything approaching a voice in world affairs that has any unity about it at all. One of the supreme follies of this century, apparently not to be conceded by the Labour Party, is that so many people have accepted the view that the instinct for selfgovernment can be claimed in the same way as a chattel under a will. The genius of the British world in history was found in the reluctance of our people to base their policies on mere legalism. Our people established their principles inductively, not deductively. Even so, their behaviour had a strong oneness about it.
From the Balfour Declaration we progressed to the Statute of Westminster and now to the Prime Ministers’ Conference of 1961. Sir, I believe that the old concept of the Commonwealth has gone for ever because of the conference. In its present form the Commonwealth is utterly useless. Having passed that judgment on the domestic policies of a member country, the old concept has gone and the significance of it cannot be easily exaggerated. I believe that those who are interested in the heritage of their people must re-think furiously their concept of Commonwealth.
I suggest that a focal point for a new Commonwealth could be a Crown Commonwealth, consisting of countries that accept the Crown as a living part of their parliamentary system. A Crown Commonwealth with a unity founded upon a common allegiance and taking up again some of the old sense of direction, purpose and vigour, could restore to a world threatened with calamity a tranquility that would last. Whatever faults may have possessed the British Empire of old, it did have moral and intellectual qualities not to be denied, and it has profoundly benefited mankind. Everywhere in the world where parliamentary democracy is found, something of those qualities can also be found, and just as it was our forebears who nurtured and cultivated parliamentary democracy, so too did the same breed defend it whenever it was assailed.
It is impossible, to my mind, to examine critically contemporary events without feeling that the world desperately needs a third force that is not only dedicated to the cause of peace and that has a moral resolve but also one that has a vision that has been stimulated and steadied by experience. If this civilization is not to disappear, then some authority must come between the world-wide political design of Moscow and the well-meaning contentiousness of Washington. To look to the United Nations for that authority is to look for fish in the desert sands, for that body now encompasses some nations barely out of the cradle of independence and, unfortunately, some nations utterly incapable of following the natural law.
A Crown Commonwealth could, with high hope for all, undertake the mission I have outlined. Little now separates the world from disaster. The establishment of peace on earth and goodwill towards men is no mean ambition. A Crown Commonwealth would immeasurably enable that end to be gained.
.- What a shocking speech! To think that a member of the Australian Parliament could stand here and mouth such platitudinous nonsense about a great and searing issue! That is what the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) has done. He spoke of the old Commonwealth founded upon the old sturdy unwillingness to propound a principle. What on earth does that mean? He said that the Commonwealth is now rendered useless because South Africa has departed from it. He also said that the Commonwealth ought to be reduced to the point where it consisted only of those who accepted allegiance to the Crown as a binding principle. What does that me?n? Tt would mean an immediate casting forth from the Commonwealth of those great nations that have declared themselves republics and. of course, a breaking of the very bonds that have been established by the great principles of the British Commonwealth in the past. These principles have given much to the member nations, and outstanding amongst them is the parliamentary system of government.
We on this side of the House regret that any great concourse of nations should be fragmented bv issues such as that which has led to the withdrawal of South Africa. But unfortunately we had reached the cross roads and it was impossible for South Africa to sit in the same assembly, discussing matters in friendly tones, with nations with whom it refused to have any diplomatic transactions. How can you sit around the table with nations that you refuse to recognize by ordinary diplomatic courtesies? Of course, the honorable member for Moreton this evening propounded hatred of one section of the world and I am very much afraid, from the terms of his speech, the phrases he used, and the platitudes he chose to wind into it, that he was preaching a kind of colour and racial prejudice. That of course is a serious matter to be raised in the Australian Parliament.
The honorable member for Moreton had a lot to say, as he always has, but he did not say much of substance. However, he did say that the record of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was second to none and he was proud of it. Let us consider for a moment the record of the Prime Minister in the world of international affairs. Let us consider what he said some fourteen or fifteen years ago when independence for India was pronounced. At page 854 of “ Hansard “ of 19th March, 1947, the Prime Minister is reported as having said -
When I read in my newspaper that on the 20th February last the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Attlee, had made his dramatic and historic statement about India, my first feeling was one almost of shock.
He said later -
It may seem to me, as indeed it does, that to abandon control of a people who have not yet shown a real and broad capacity for popular self-government is to do a disservice to them.
So, he thought then that India was not ready for independence. But history reveals India as one of the great civilizations of this earth. To-day, it has a great international role to play and plays it nobly with its strong and sturdy sense of neutralism. Yet our Prime Minister was shocked at the thought of independence for India!
If we turn back to the time when the question of the veto in the United Nations was being considered - this is the very question that has bedevilled the United Nations since its inception, and particularly the Security Council - we find that the Prime Minister was in favour of the veto. He is a power politician when it comes to world affairs. Then, of course, we have the tragic episode of the Suez crisis of only three or four years ago. This was potentially one of the most disastrous episodes in modern history and one that brought us closer to the brink of war than has any other episode in the past twelve or thirteen years. The Prime Minister was the mastermind who said, “ We must be robust, we must be firm, we must consider full-blooded economic sanctions against Egypt “. By his encouragement of the French, and particularly of the British, he brought to their actions an irresponsibility that could have destroyed civilization itself.
The honorable member for Moreton and all other members on his side of the House cannot dissociate themselves from these affairs. What is the history of our relations with the rest of the world on the South African problem? For the last ten years at least, the question of South Africa has been raised in the United Nations, and we have consistently voted with South Africa. We have continually associated ourselves with it and with its monstrous policies.
– That is not quite right.
– The records are here; you can find them in “ Hansard “. The honorable member for Perth has had his say. I am, of course, interested to see that he is in the chamber. If he has some information in his hands, we will be pleased to accept it later. However, my reading is that if we go to the United Nations and continually vote on the side of South Africa, we are associating ourselves with its policies.
– That is not so.
– These facts have been quoted so frequently, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you must know them by heart, but, of course, the honorable member for Perth may not have noted them. We have continually associated ourselves with South Africa and its policy in the United Nations, though the rest of the world has given decreasing support to South Africa. In the eyes of all nations of the world, we have associated ourselves with South Africa’s policy, and there is no denying that. Every member of the Government parties must accept responsibility for it. Last year, we had the tragic episode of Sharpeville. Which :great political parties of th» free world, if I may use that term, remained silent while the whole world was shocked? Foremost among them were the Liberal Party, led by the Prime Minister of whom honorable members opposite speak in such flattering terms, and its satellite, the Australian Country Party.
This is his record. Now we have this latest episode. Of course, it is a somersault by the Prime Minister. Of course, it is a change-about that has been caused by public opinion, and do not think that there is no public opinion. I received this telegram a moment ago -
This meeting of students SOO strong having marched from Melbourne University to State Parliament House urges the Federal Parliament not to vote for the motion of confidence in tha Prime Minister’s action moved in the House on the grounds that they were totally unrepresentative of Australian public opinion.
The telegram is signed on behalf of the protest committee. That was a march of protest by 500 university students in Melbourne. The march was referred to in the press which keeps the honorable member for Perth in his seat in this place. Those students aTe fairly representative of the Australian public.
At this time when the world is in turmoil our Prime Minister accepts South Africa’s withdrawal from the British Commonwealth as inevitable but later he spends his time wrapping up that withdrawal with apologia, legalisms and platitudes. That was the tenor of his speech on Tuesday night. The speech was negative in its approach to questions that bedevil the world. Our Prime Minister was legalistic as only he can be legalistic. I remind honorable members of the arguments that he advanced at the time of the Suez crisis. He claimed that it was right and proper for the British and French to use bombers to kill hundreds of Arabs and Egyptians - as they did. That is undisputed. He said that such action was justified because the British and the French had a legal right to the Suez Canal. Whenever humanity calls for assistance our Prime Minister turns to books or law. So his speech on Tuesday night was legalistic. It was also pessimistic. The Prime Minister’s references to disarmament and .the abandonment of nuclear tests were superficial and platitudinous. He said -
We do not deal with the domestic political policies of any one of us, for we know that political policies come or go with governments and that we are not concerned with governments and their policies so much as we are with nations and their peoples.
What on earth does that sentence mean? What does the Prime Minister mean when he says that we are not so much concerned with governments as we are with people? How can you have any consideration for people if you ignore their government? The Prime Minister’s remark was typical of the platitudinous nonsense that he placed before the Parliament as his excuse for the dreadful position in which his disastrous policies have placed, us. No honorable member opposite can dissociate himself from those policies. We are indelibly associated in the eyes of the world with the policies that have been expounded by our Prime Minister. He has brought the Commonwealth of Nations into disrepute. There is no gainsaying that he is one of its senior members. He could be one of its most prominent and formative members but whenever a mischievous, dangerous and bellicose policy is advanced he chooses to support it. If America decides to adopt a tough approach to China, he will support America, despite the attitude adopted by the United Kingdom. When the British adopted a bellicose attitude in the Suez crisis he supported them. Unfortunately when it comes to South Africa we are slow to fall in with the attitude of the rest of the world.
We cannot afford to be in this position. Honorable members opposite have continually claimed that Australia’s security is the main consideration. Our security lies in the hearts and minds of the millions of people to our immediate north. If we support policies that are offensive to those people we will have to pay the penalty in the future. We are not concerned so much with the legalisms as with the Government’s responsibility towards the welfare of this and future generations of Australians. This matter about which I have been speaking is a matter of common humanity crying out for recognition - recognition that has been ignored on every possible occasion by honorable gentlemen opposite. I remind Government supporters of the people whom they have chosen for their friends. I remind them of Syngman Rhee. We have heard honorable members opposite singing the praises of the former leader of South
Korea. He is the friend of the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) and the confidant of the honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin). What of the policies of Chiang Kai-shek? They are common knowledge to anybody who cares to turn back the pages of history, particularly to the events that took place in 1946, 1947 and 1948 when that gentleman occupied Formosa for the first time. Now we have the Prime Minister’s praise of Dr. Verwoerd. The Prime Minister said that Dr. Verwoerd expressed his own case very proudly and he acted with very great dignity.
– The United Kingdom Prime Minister said the same thing.
– The United Kingdom Prime Minister would not be admitted to any Labour Party branch in Wills. The United Kingdom Prime Minister must accept his share of responsibility for what happened at Suez. Fortunately, the United Kingdom Prime Minister wakes up a little quicker than our own Prime Minister. The United Kingdom Prime Minister comes in with the tide but our Prime Minister gets caught in the undertow. The Prime Minister said that Dr. Verwoerd is a man of singular integrity; a most impressive man. What pompous poppycock! What rot and rubbish to say of a man whose policy is offensive to all humanity! If we turn back the pages of history far enough we find what our Prime Minister said on 24th October, 1938, in an address to the Sydney Constitutional Association. He said -
If you and I were Germans sitting beside our own fires in Berlin, we would not be critical of the leadership that has produced such results.
Those results are now being closely examined to-day in a court in Israel. Our Prime Minister has associated us with all the world’s nasty characters of the last 20 or 30 years. He always wakes up too late. He is prepared to fight to the last gasp as he did for commercial interests in connexion with Suez, but he is pussy-footing, cautious and tolerant where 10,000,000 human beings in South Africa are crying out for help. It is disturbing to think of the way our Prime Minister’s actions will be interpreted by India, Pakistan, Ghana, Nigeria, Ceylon and Malaya, which are the corner-stones of this great Commonwealth. South Africa has refused to have anything to do with those countries. How can Australia continue to sit in a club, to use a term which must be dear to honorable members opposite, which excludes from active membership so many other countries?
Africa has been ripped, ruined and bedevilled by racial strife over the last three of four centuries in particular. Policies of racial discrimination and racial persecution make up the blackest pages in history. We must not have a bar of those policies. As British people, we cannot fail to be proud of Britain’s stand in relation to slavery. The principle of common humanity is one of the treasured ideals in British history. The British Parliament some 120 or 130 years ago took steps to abolish slavery. That was one of the great humanitarian moves of history. While other nations were ravaging the coast of Africa and carrying shiploads of slaves to North America for sale, the British Parliament was prepared to spend, I think, £30,000,000 to liberate slaves in the world. That is a tradition that we should be expounding in this Parliament, not the tradition of sticking together just because the dead hand of history has written it that way. Our Prime Minister has associated us with one of the worst political policies of modern times. He sees no moral issue in that policy.
What does apartheid mean in human terms? It means a denial of civil rights and all the indignity, suffering and humiliation that flow from that denial. Imagine what it means to a fully grown man to be treated as less than a man. That is happening to something like 10,000,000 people of South Africa to-day. They are being treated as inferiors and placed in a humiliating social position. Why should grown people be treated that way? How can we remain silent when our voices should be raised to encourage the South African Government to change its policies? Apartheid means the isolation of the African people to the remotest parts of the Union - to reserves set aside for them in the worst parts of the country. They are given the worst working conditions, the worst housing conditions, and the worst educational facilities. Above all, they are placed in an inferior and humiliating social condition - a condition in which no human being can be allowed to exist if we mean what we say when we talk of the Charter of the United Nations.
Where ought Australia to stand in these things? Ought we not to be leaders in the world of thought when it comes to humanity and co-operation? Is not this the nation of Eureka, of adult suffrage and of the common man? Is not the present the time of the common man and of the small nations and people speaking together at the United Nations free of all these oppressive and humiliating social attitudes? Unfortunately, the great political parties which constitute the present Government of this country have put every one of us in a position in which in the eyes of the world wc are associated with oppression and humiliating social attitudes. We cannot afford to continue in that way.
There has been raised the question: What is a domestic issue? We on this side of the House say that there is no such thing as a domestic issue when human beings are being oppressed and persecuted and their wellbeing is at stake. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) asked this evening what we would do if representatives of other countries or the United Nations came to scrutinize our affairs. He did not put it quite that way, but that is what he meant.
– They would have good reason to scrutinize compulsory unionism as it operates here.
– The honorable member for Hume seems to be ashamed for Australia at the thought of anybody examining our policies. Apparently, he would be afraid of international commissions visiting this country. If they have something to offer, we should welcome them. If we have something to learn, we should look for the learning. We ought not to stand upon pride, upon prestige or upon status. Those things are gone. This is a new world in which some 100 nations now speak for themselves in the United Nations. Some of them may be small, but some of the new nations will be powerful in the years to come because of the weight of their numbers. Australia must learn to speak with an independent humanitarian voice in world affairs.
The Prime Minister, having chosen to take upon himself the office of Minister for External Affairs and to be our spokesman both in that capacity and as the titular leader of this nation, has put us in a disastrous position. Therefore, we on this, side of the House honestly and conscientiously believe that the Prime Minister can no longer b allowed to play the dual roles of Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs. We can do very little about his position Prime Minister until the next general election, but we can make clear what we consider is the honest, the expressed opinion of the Australian people. That opinion is that this man does not stand for us and speak for us, that he is against the Australian spirit and that he talks so much poppycock when he speaks of tradition and prestige and status and the immense integrity of D.. Verwoerd, that he must be removed from his office of Minister for External Affairs.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, on Tuesday evening last, this House and, I believe, the nation listened to a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) concerning his tour abroad, the various conferences which he attended and his discussions with the President of the United States of America - a statement which. I am. sure, added further to the prestige that the right honorable gentleman has gathered in the time during which he has been Prime Minister of this country. Whether or not the Opposition agrees with some of the- things that he said, it should not twist the facts in attacking him. The truth of the facts should be stated in substantiation of any criticism that is made in such a debate as this.
The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) talked about the employment of natives in South Africa and said that some received an income of only £44 a year. When he was challenged on that statement, he said that he based it on a most reliable book written in moderate terms. I should like to read from the “ State of the Union Year-Book for South Africa” for 1959-60 an extract from an article which refers to the employment of natives and states -
The change in their outlook towards regular employment was accelerated by the revolutionary industrial development that took place in the Union during and after the second world war. Because of an amazing resistance to boredom the average Native has proved especially good at repetitive work. In addition, many thousands entered semi-skilled trades and a number are today doing skilled work. In the majority of industries, minimum, conditions of employment are governed by wage-regulating measures which apply to the occupations and do not discriminate on a colour or race basis. In the Southern Transvaal for instance, a great number of semiskilled Native workers receive an average weekly wage of between £4 and £5 inclusive. Natives are also being increasingly employed in occupations which were once the preserve of Europeans. They drive motor cars and lorries, operate bulldozers, excavators and mechanical shovels. Thousands of them are being paid more than £60 a month.
The gold-mining industry was mentioned particularly by Opposition members as an industry in which tremendous profits are said to be made by the exploitation of the natives. This article continues -
In the precious metal industry some who have attained artisan skill receive over £80 a month.
That puts in a completely different light what has been said during this debate about the employment of natives in South Africa.
I should now like to mention universities. This year-book states -
The only university devoted entirely to the interests of non-Whites is the South African Native College at Fort Hare.
Bantu and other non-Whites are also admitted to the Universities of Cape Town, Natal, Witwaters and the University of South Africa.
The year-book gives the numbers of students enrolled at the universities in South Africa in 1957. At the various universities, including those of Cape Town, Natal and the Orange Free State, a total of 29,775 whites, 1,637 Bantu, 607 coloureds and 1,218 Asiatics were enrolled.
A comment that the problem in South Africa does not lend itself to an easy solution does not mean that a person who makes such a comment must be taken immediately as supporting the policy of apartheid. I think that any one with any experience at all would say that the policy of apartheid in South Africa is unworkable. I had the privilege of being in that country during the Second World War, Sir. I told quite a number of South Africans, “What I fear is that by taking up the position which you are taking up- you will create the very situation which you fear”. 1 think that that is something that has been obvious to many of us for some time.
To- accuse the Prime Minister of supporting the policy of apartheid seems to me to be to say one of the most ridiculous things that could ever be said in this House. What the Prime Minister said on a number of occasions- was: “ This is a tremendous problem. Although we do not agree with the way in which it is being dealt with and although we regret to the utmost what has happened, we consider that this problem, if it: is ever to be solved, will not be solved by the mere fact of condemnation. What you, have to do is work out at solution to it.” The Prime Minister said also that the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference presented an opportunity to discuss the matter with the Prime Minister of South Africa and- with other Prime Ministers. He stated that the occasion of that conference was the time to work out a solution to the problem.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mi. Ward) asked what would happen if a country which was, a: member of the Commonwealth of Nations became Communist. He asked whether we would still support a vote to retain- such a country within the Commonwealth. I believe that that would be- a. situation different from the one relating to South Africa. A country which became Communist would immediately be subject to outside interference-, and because it was subject to such interference it would no longer be a sovereign and independent state, and that, would make impossible, an application by it to continue as a member of the Commonwealth- of Nations.
The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) said that every time we took a particular position in a vote at the United Nations we associated ourselves with South Africa. I suggest to the honorable member that that does not give much credit to the various representatives and delegates from other nations at the United Nations. The honorable member’s statement implies that those representatives were not able to work out what Australia’s representatives at the United Nations were saying, and I suggest that that implication does not give them much credit for their intelligence and understanding. The fact that the honorable member for Wills and other Opposition members have not been able to understand the position stated by the Prime Minister and other Ministers in this House does not mean that the representatives of other countries at the United Nations are not able to understand what is said by the Australian representatives there. In that regard, I would point out that every time Australia has voted, the reasons for the vote have been given and statements have been made in regard to Australia’s position. He also asked, was the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) ashamed of having Australia’s policy looked at because the danger of this was that it was opening the door to interference with domestic policy? But that is not so at all. We have seen, in. the international sphere in the last few years, what can be done by nations deliberately endeavouring to mislead the world in regard to the situation and policy of another nation. We have seen that happen in the United Nations in relation to our policy in New Guinea. That is a thing which we desire to avoid, and should avoid with the utmost possible force.
My own leader, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), during his speech gave a clue in regard to this debate on the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) when he mentioned - as has been mentioned by other members on this side of the House - that many of the major matters dealt with in the Prime Minister’s statement have been ignored by members of the Opposition, who have been merely getting on the band wagon of those responsible for the propaganda attack on the Prime Minister which has been made in certain quarters. Honorable members have done this because they fear that it is not possible for them to win the forthcoming election by any means other than destroying the Prime Minister. They are trying to gain votes from this debate.
The criticisms made by members of the Opposition who have spoken in this debate all fall by the wayside in the light of the record of the right honorable gentleman as Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs. If they had said that they thought the Minister for External Affairs and the Prime Minister should not be one and the same person, because of the physical imposition of that double task upon a single person, it might have been a different matter; but they have been attacking what they call the incompetence of the Prime Minister. I would say just one thing in this regard: I was rather amused - perhaps that is the right word - to hear some of the comments by members of the Opposition in regard to a previous Minister for External Affairs, now Lord Casey, because when he held that portfolio for years in this Parliament there was tremendous criticism by members of the Opposition of what they called his incompetence and also of the frequency of his visits overseas. But now, one of the criticisms from members of the Opposition is that because the Minister for External Affairs is also Prime Minister he has not sufficient time in which to travel overseas as much as he should. That is a complete contradiction of the previous comments of the Opposition about Lord Casey. 1 come now to the Foreign Affairs Committee, about which the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) made some remarks which do not really support the arguments of the Opposition, although on the surface they may appear to do so. Only three or four weeks ago the Opposition said that that committee was a study circle and of no value at all, but it has now apparently achieved great importance, and is a vital committee, and the words of its chairman are all important. It is remarkable how the views of the Opposition have changed. Members of the Opposition talk about the switch by Cabinet and the Prime Minister in the United Nations, but that is nothing to the aerial acrobatics of the Opposition in this debate.
Members of the Opposition have referred to what they term “ the Suez crisis “, in which the Prime Minister was supposed to have lost us friends because of his actions. I would remind members of the Opposition of the fact that it was an honour to this country that our Prime Minister was selected by the London conference to be the representative to go along, as leader on behalf of a group of nations, to talk to Colonel Nasser. Whether the meeting with Nasser was successful or otherwise is beside the point. It was an honour to this country that our Prime Minister was selected for that rob. With all due respect to the United States of America, I believe that country let us down in that situation. I have an appreciation if one of the main reasons for that, which was that it happened to be election year in the United States of America.
– The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) should know what is rubbish and what is not, because he is one of the greatest exponents of it in this House. I remind honorable members that shortly after the Suez affair the United States of America landed troops in Lebanon and the British landed troops in Jordan. In my opinion the situation in Lebanon and Jordan was created by the unfortunate happenings in regard to the Suez Canal. For members of the Opposition to criticize the Prime Minister in this way shows a complete lack of appreciation and understanding of international affairs.
The Prime Minister was also criticized by members of the Opposition in regard to the five-power resolution calling for the holding of a meeting between President Eisenhower and Mr. Khrushchev, to which the Prime Minister moved an amendment calling instead for a meeting of the Big Four. The five powers which moved the resolution were Yugoslavia, Indonesia, the United Arab Republic, Ghana and India. The Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Nehru, criticized our Prime Minister, as he was perfectly entitled to do, because he is entitled to his own opinion, but the fact that Prime Minister Nehru criticized our Prime Minister does not necessarily mean that our Prime Minister was wrong. It does not mean that he should not have contended, for the reasons that he gave, that the proposal put forward by the five powers was not a valid one, nor would it be successful. The reasons for that situation are also obvious. As has been previously mentioned here, it occurred at a time when the then Preident of the United States was about to retire from office and there could be no continuity. To suggest that he should meet Mr. Khrushchev was one of the most absurd suggestions ever made. Yet we are told that, because of his action, our Prime Minister lost us the friendship of the Afro-Asian nations. That is one of the absurdities of the Opposition’s criticism of the Prime Minister.
I come now to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, of which members of the Opposition have made so much. They have spoken mainly not of what happened at the conference but of what happened before it, and of the South African policy of apartheid, in an endeavour to make political capital. Is it necessary that on every occasion we should agree with these new and independent nations which have come into the Commonwealth? Is it necessarily true that, because they have recently received their independence, everything they say is right and everything the old and established nations say is wrong? Look at the situation that exists between the Ceylonese and the Tamils, and that which exists between India and Ceylon, and the situation in South Africa between thenative South Africans and the Indians in that country. If members of the Opposition consider those things they will realize that this problem is not merely one of differences between Europeans and coloured people. I remind them of the situation in the Congo. There, it is not a matter of European fighting native but of native fighting native, and this shows what can happen when events are allowed to rush forward too quickly.
With all due respect to Tunku Abdul Rahman, our very good friendin Malaya, I think our Prime Minister’s statement in London did not have the effect of equating our immigration policy with the policy of apartheid. Any one who reads what the Prime Minister said will have an appreciation of that. What the Prime Minister said was that if we allow this criticism of one nation’s policy by other nations to become an established event within the Commonwealth of Nations at Prime Ministers’ Conferences, there is a danger that what other independent members of the Commonwealth are doing could be discussed and create further crises at such meetings. I can think of some things done by other nations that could be mentioned.
I refer now to the mis-statement of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) in regard to the salaries received by natives in South Africa. It was not surprising, because he said the other day, in a television broadcast, that the Chinese had a defensive army and not an aggressive army. I wonder what the people of Tibet and the Indians near the northern border of India would think about that statement.
The Opposition’s amendment should be thrown out. Any manis likely to make a mistake, but I say that this country has been extremely fortunate in having the right honorable member for Kooyong as its Prime Minister for the period that he has occupied that office. Instead of trying to kick him down in these times of world difficulty, the Parliament should give him the support that his actions have shown he deserves.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Calwell’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Order! The honorable member would be out of order in doing so. He has already spoken to the original motion and the amendment and therefore in accordance with practice has exhausted his rights.
.- Seeing that the rules of the House prevent my honorable friend from Perth (Mr. Chaney) proposing the amendment that he foreshadowed, I should like to give the House an opportunity to vote on the matter. Accordingly, J move -
That the following words be added to the motion: - “ and this House welcomes the cordial relations established by the Prime Minister with President Kennedy and senior members of his Administration. It commends the Prime Minister for his efforts at the conference of Prime Ministers in London, to preserve the unity of the Commonwealth, and for bis vigorous expression of Australia’s views-
– I rise to a point of order. You ruled, Mr. Speaker, that the honorable member for Perth could not propose the amendment because he had already spoken during the debate. I point out that the honorable member for Bruce has spoken also.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– The amendment continues - on matters of vital concern to Australia at this conference and at the South-East Asia Treaty Organization conference in Bangkok.
This House places on record the appreciation of the Australian Parliament and the people for his distinguished service in these and other important directions in the course of his recent overseas mission as head of the Australian Government.”
– I second the motion.
– Mr. Speaker, I should like an explanation of your ruling that the honorable member for Bruce was in order in moving that amendment but that the honorable member for Perth would not have been in order in doing so.
– Order! I have already ruled on that matter.
– The Opposition opposes this amendment for three reasons. First, the statements contained in it are not factual. Secondly, according to the evidence available, the amendment was drafted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies)’ himself and was handed to his supporters to move. Thirdly, no honorable member on the Government side thought of moving an amendment until after the Opposition had introduced its own. The amendment has been dragged in at the end of the debate to try to obtain from this Parliament a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister. Although our amendment was defeated, we are still of the same opinion that the Australian people - the great majority of them, at any rate - have no confidence in the Prime Minister as Minister for External Affairs. They think that the policy which he pursued after the Prime Ministers’ Conference did do harm to Australia’s relations with other member States and did do harm to Australia’s relations with other countries, particularly the countries of South-East Asia. Believing that, we could not in honesty vote for a resolution of confidence in the Prime. Minister.
If honorable members opposite had a free vote on this issue, they would vote with us. I challenge the Prime Minister to have a secret ballot on this question. Let us have a court-controlled ballot, if you like, and then see how many votes the Prime Minister gets. Of course, all the loudmouthed stooges on the back benches would vote for him, and a few more who hope to get into the Ministry would attach their visiting cards to their votes so that the Prime Minister would know on whom to call when he wanted another Minister for the Interior or something of the kind.
– You are going downhill.
– And you are going out of the Parliament altogether. In fact, you are very lucky to be in the Parliament at all - you know what I mean by that. If justice had been done you would not be here.
This amendment is not properly before honorable members. The amendment has not been circulated in the way of a parliamentary paper and every honorable member would have to get a copy of “ Hansard “ to find the terms of it. We are voting in the dark. In those circumstances, and for the very good reason that we have no confidence in the Prime Minister’s administration of his portfolio, no confidence in his Government, and no confidence in his supporters we shall vote against this amendment.
– Mr. Speaker, I rise to make a personal explanation. I do not propose to vote on the amendment. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has made two statements each of which is utterly untrue - I hope not deliberately untrue. The first statement that he made was that I had drafted this amendment. I had nothing to do with the drafting of the amendment, and if the honorable member has some of his old decency left he will acknowledge that and withdraw the suggestion. In the second place,, he called for a free vote and suggested that there was not a free vote on this issue. I have made it clear from beginning to end that there is no compulsion in respect of this vote. I want a genuine expression of the feeling of this Parliament, and I say here and now that I hope no one will vote for any motion or amendment on this issue unless he genuinely subscribes to it.
’. - I want to express my opposition to the amendment that has been submitted, and in case there is any doubt as to how I will vote, I will record an open vote. This amendment is not in accordance with fact. It holds up the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) as a great international figure and a gentleman who has met with unbounded success in his excursions overseas.
I shall go back a little way into the past. My first recollection of the Prime Minister in the international sphere is when he was excluded from Westminster Abbey at the time of the coronation rehearsal because he arrived wearing the wrong pants. What has the Prime Minister achieved overseas? Does any one still regard his activities in the Suez crisis as a great success? I remember the Prime Minister telling us that the Egyptians could not possibly operate the Suez Canal because it would take years to train pilots to a sufficiently high efficiency standard to do so. He predicted that it would take years but it actually took weeks for them to begin to operate the Suez Canal.
If you care to go back a little you will remember that this gentleman was eulogizing Hitler and Mussolini and the policies which they pursued in the international sphere. Is that a reason why we should now eulogize him? His judgment has been completely at fault and he has met with successive defeats overseas. What about the incident last year at the United Nations? Ministers came back to Australia and talked about the great speech that the Prime Minister had made. He is always making nice speeches, but when we came to judge the effect of his speech at the United Nations we found that he was able to muster, in addition to his own vote, only four other votes out of 99 nations. If the Commonwealth Electoral Office had been controlling the election at the United Nations the right honorable gentleman would have lost his deposit! I have some friends overseas, too.
– I bet you have.
– I have, and they keep me pretty well informed about what is happening in particular spheres of activity. I will say this for the Prime Minister - he must have a marvellous press officer because he is losing all his fights but is still being declared by his supporters to be the champion of the world. Do honorable members know what he is called in the United States of America? He is called the horizontal champion from Down Under. He has never won a bout.
Let the right honorable gentleman speak for himself. He says he does not want to address himself to the amendment. He does not intend to vote for it. I think that he should at least draw the line at voting for an amendment that he framed. Honorable members on the Government side are afraid to record their honest opinions and their honest feelings. Take the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who is hiding in his seat because he does not want his colleagues to see how he votes. I remember that not very long ago the honorable member said that the greatest service that Mr. Menzies could do to the people of this country would be to retire permanently from politics. We remember the remarks that were made on one occasion in this Parliament by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). We also know that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), the right honorable member for Cowper, and other members of the Country Party some years ago refused to serve in a government under the leadership of the present Prime Minister, ls this the gentleman who is being lauded to-day as a great international figure, and for whom a unanimous vote of the Parliament is sought? Is it not rather significant that the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) is not here? I do not worry about the views that he expresses in this chamber, but it is well known that he was dropped from the Cabinet because of a disagreement with the Prime Minister which goes back to their days in State politics. The honorable member for Chisholm has shown what he thinks about this amendment, which he knew was to be proposed, by going from this Parliament. He refuses to vote for the amendment. At least, the honorable member for Chisholm is honest in his attitude. Although he is chairman of the Government’s Foreign Affairs Committee, he has so little regard for the capacity of the Prime Minister that he leaves Canberra rather than record a vote for this amendment!
I do not think a secret ballot on this amendment would help us very much. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has indicated what would happen. As he said, honorable members opposite would be attaching their visiting cards to the ballot paper. If the Prime Minister wants to test whether the people of this country have confidence in his handling of international affairs, let them have a vote on the issue. Let us have a general election. Let the Government get out, because it is endangering the security of this country. Since the Prime Minister has been in office, he has been an utter failure. I often wonder whether it is better to have him in Australia or overseas. When he is in Australia, he makes a mess of our economic affairs. When he goes oversea, he makes a mess of our international affairs and damages our relations with other countries. I am quite certain that although Labour has not the numbers in this Parliament to defeat the amendment at least the people outside will be able to assess the genuineness of the amendment, which only eulogizes the right honorable gentleman for the succession of failures that he has encountered overseas. Even though the Government has the numbers in this Parliament I am quite certain that it has not got them in the Australian community generally.
Motion (by Mr. Downer) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Mr. Snedden’s amendment) be so added.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the motion (vide page 658), as amended, be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . 23
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I take this opportunity to clarify one or two matters which the forms of the House prevented me from making fully known last night. By way of interjection, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) charged me with having misstated the position of Mr. Chamberlain, the federal secretary of the Australian Labour Party, in respect of a reported account of an interview with Mr. Chamberlain which had appeared in the “ New York Times “. It is not clear to me whether the interview was on 27th February or whether the report appeared in the “ New York Times “ on that date.
Anyhow, the passage from the report of the interview with Mr. Chamberlain which I quoted in good faith in this House some time ago, knowing that the “ New York Times “ is a reputable newspaper and that Mr. Homer Bigart is recognized as a very competent and reputable reporter, who has been awarded a Pulitzer prize for accurate reporting, I understand, was in these terms-
He (Mr. Chamberlain) could not see why the United States, now that it has a new Administration, should have any qualms about letting Taiwan go to Communist China. Face could be saved by quietly fomenting a revolution in Taiwan against Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, he suggested. The United States did this in Seoul to get rid of Syngman Rhee and it could do it in Taipei, said Mr. Chamberlain seriously.
That was my quotation from the “ New York Times “ report. The Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ included that particular passage in its issue on 1st March, 1961.
Yesterday I was told that Mr. Chamberlain had denied the accuracy of that report. I asked whether some evidence of that could be supplied to me and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has given me a copy of a letter dated 3rd March, written by Mr. Chamberlain to the “ Daily Telegraph “ newspaper. I quote the following relevant portion from it - . . I have not been correctly reported by the New York Times correspondent, H. Bigart
I informed Mr. Bigart that the policy of the Labour Party had been, for some years, to advocate the recognition of mainland China, which would make a real contribution to world peace. I said that I felt that during the first period of office of President Kennedy this would also become the policy of the U.S.A.
I went on to say that the impact of world events would change thinking on this question in the same way that events in Korea had changed the thinking of America towards Syngman Rhee.
I also said that in my view there was no basic difference between Chiang Kai shek and Syngman Rhee.
That is the end of the letter. If Mr. Chamberlain’s version is to be accepted - I have merely given the House the facts - apparently this reputable reporter has done a think-piece about fomenting revolution in Formosa, as he claims Mr. Chamberlain sard the Americans had done in Korea. I have put the facts. To me they are not tremendously important, but I wanted to deal fairly with the matter since it had been raised.
The more important point is that, so far as I am aware, there has been no denial at any time by the federal president of the A.L.P., Mr. Stout, of the statement that I made last night that at the Victorian Labour Party conference in 1960 he went on record -as saying that he voted for the Communist Party in preference to the Liberal Party and the Democratic Labour Party. The current federal president of the A.L.P. prefers to vote for the Communist Party rather than the Australian parties represented in this Parliament. I think honorable gentlemen opposite will agree that it is no secret that Mr. Stout, the same federal president of the A.L.P., is a very staunch advocate of the right of the trade unions to use unity tickets if they wish to do so.
– No, he is not.
– Does the Leader of the Opposition seriously tell me that Mr. Stout has not argued vigorously in recent years for the view, for which the State executive of the Victorian Labour Party has persistently contended, that there shall be no interference by the political movement with , the manner in which union elections are held? What my namesake, who sat in this place, said on this matter, has been quoted. That has been repeatedly put forward as the view of the Victorian executive. The Leader of the Opposition was going into the Victorian executive to try to clean up the situation, but he discovered that the odds were against him and he made a retreat from Moscow, which I have no doubt he was very glad to do at the time.
I am putting it to honorable gentlemen opposite that both their federal president and federal secretary in recent years have been active supporters of the view that the unions should have the right to conduct their elections as they wish. I am giving that as my understanding of the facts. We have a situation in which the official policy of the party is not the policy held by the federal president and the federal secretary. I have here in my hand an issue of the official journal of the Australian Workers Union, numerically the largest union in Australia and, I think, historically the oldest. In this recent issue of 10th April it is made quite clear that unless this matter of unity tickets is satisfactorily resolved, at least the Queensland branch - it was in that State that the Australian
Workers Union had and, for all I know, still has its greatest strengths - will not reaffiliate with the A.L.P. I quote the following words from the front page - honorable gentlemen opposite may check it if they wish -
This practice has already distorted A.L.P. policy in the States, particularly in Victoria, and any ‘ attempt to make it easier for Communists to employ this method of drawing the life-blood from the A.L.P. would mean, almost certainly, that the Queensland Branch of the Australian Workers’ Union would not proceed further with its approach to re-affiliate with the Queensland Branch of the Australian Labour Party - a step which would probably receive the backing and co-operation of other branches of the Union by their withdrawal from the A.LJ*.
Time will not permit me to deal with this matter elaborately.
The point I was trying to make last night is that the A.L.P., by virtue of its constitution and structure, has found itself saddled with this Communist alliance, whether it likes it or not. The penetration has been going on. We know that unions, great in numerical and financial strength, are under the control of Communists. There will be no denial of that. Will honorable gentlemen opposite deny that those unions are affiliated with the A.L.P., that they pay capitation fees for their membership into the funds of the A.L.P., and that their members have the right to participate in ballots for the election of honorable gentlemen opposite? In the Australian Workers Union, from whose journal I have just quoted - I am not saying that it is a Communist union, of course - it is well known that the practice is to issue a union ticket year by year and attached to the union ticket is a voting coupon. It is the widely known practice of the union official to tear off the voting coupon as he hands the ticket to the member who has made himself financial for that year. With those tickets in his pocket he can go along and exercise that number of votes when a ballot is held for the election of officers.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- First, I should like to refer to the statements of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) about the accuracy of press reports. I can recall an instance which occurred a few years ago m this House, after the rape of Hungary, when senior Cabinet Ministers and many Government supporters said that the Russians were blood-thirsty, murdering butchers. Not long after that a Mr. Kadar, who had been a leader of these Russian blood-thirsty murdering butchers, was a representative of the Hungarian Government at the International Labour Organization conference. The Treasurer, then Minister for Labour and National Service, represented Australia at that conference, and he abstained from voting against the admission of Kadar as a delegate to the conference. He was reported in a newspaper to have been criticized by the Employers Federation, but he said that the report was not accurate. Apparently, according to the Treasurer, newspaper reports that do not please him are not accurate, but he has great faith in the accuracy of a report by an American reporter about Mr. Chamberlain. How silly can people get!
Then we come to this usual red bogy which is dragged out from time to time. Will the Treasurer deny that he has dined with Mr. Jim Healy? Will he deny that he has been to the Russian embassy, wining and dining with these bloodthirsty, murdering butchers? Will he deny it? Of course he cannot! Time after time, in this House, members of the Opposition have advocated the recognition of red China and have been classed as pro-Communists and fellow travellers. What about the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), the leader of the Australian Country Party, who wants to recognize red China? Is there any member of the Australian Country Party game enough to say that he does not want to recognize red China? Certainly not! That is because they are afraid of losing the support of the farmers and graziers.
The chief matter on which I rose to speak to-night was an incident that happened in this House this morning, when the Government disgracefully and unprecedentedly debarred a man from speaking on the recommendation of the Constitutional Review Committee. Although I do not agree with the politics of this man, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), I have nothing but admiration for his sincerity. I think that both sides of the House will agree that he has excellent ability in expressing his opinions. This man was a member of the Constitutional Review Committee and, with other members from both sides of the Parliament, he worked assiduously over years in preparing the committee’s report. He wanted to speak this morning, but the Government deliberately prevented him from speaking. Why did it do so? Because it did not want two Government supporters to speak in succession in favour of the proposals which, as we know, the Government has no intention of putting before the people.
The other member from the opposite side of the House who supported the proposals before it, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), said that these constitutional reforms must be put to the people. He said that great regions in Australia needed developing, but could not be developed because this Parliament does not possess the necessary power. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) put the puerile argument that we must think of the cost of a referendum. Has anybody ever heard such piffle? A total of £5,000,000 is to be spent on the Canberra lakes scheme! How ridiculous to compare that with the development of Australia and a proposal to seek from the people increased power for this Parliament! Who could compare the importance of a few sailing boats being put on a lake filled with fish and, probably mosquitoes, with the development of our outback regions?
The right honorable member for Cowper said that we need water and we need dams. This is the driest continent, yet we cannot go ahead with such plans because we do not have the power to do so. Is it not logical that the right honorable member for Cowper - an ex-Prime Minister, an ex-Treasurer, an ex-senior Cabinet Minister with 40 years’ experience in this Parliament - knows the frustrations that this Parliament suffers because we do not possess the power to do the things that we want to do? There is no doubt in my mind that pressure has been put on the Government not to introduce these proposals. It has been put on by the Government’s masters, the private banks and the vested interests.
Members of the Country Party, time after time, have protested in this House about exorbitant hire-purchase interest rates, but they always qualify their remarks by saying that it is a matter for the States. How ridiculous! How silly can any one be to think that the six States could agree unanimously on any matter of this importance. An attempt by the six Premiers to agree on such a matter would be similar to the Prime Minister’s eleven, which got messed about by the West Indies, going on the field with six captains. There is no chance of unanimity between the States on such issues. Why is it that vested interests have never protested about the States holding these powers? It is because they know that the States cannot implement them. But vested interests will certainly fight tooth and nail against their puppets here introducing a bill into the House in order to give people a chance to say whether or not they want these constitutional reforms.
Is it not quite logical to back up the argument of a man of 40 years’ experience, who has been Prime Minister, Treasurer, and a senior Cabinet Minister, and who is sincere in his endeavours to develop Australia? He knows in his own heart that it cannot be done under present powers, and he had the courage to get up this morning and express his opinion. Yet the Government denied his colleague, the honorable member for New England, who was a member of the Constitutional Review Committee, the opportunity to speak. The committee went to every State and heard the views of members of State parliaments and of people interested in the Constitution, including constitutional lawyers. Only then did the committee frame its report. Yet the Government has not the courage to let this gentleman speak.
It was quite noticeable this morning that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer), who as a private member was on the committee, did not take part in the debate. Why? Has pressure been put upon the Government not to do anything about this? Why should not the Government do something about it? The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) promised, at four different general elections, to appoint the Constitutional Review Committee. At last, in 1955, he moved for the formation of the committee. What is he going to do about its report? Is he still going to be ruled by the dictates of the private banks and vested interests, or will he act in the interests of Australia in the way outlined by the honorable member for Cowper?
.- I have only ten minutes in which to deal with three matters, so I shall deal with them briefly. First, I wish to refer to a newspaper article which was published in the “ Daily Telegraph “ on 22nd March, and which was subsequently reprinted in the “Worker”, the official organ of the Australian Workers Union, on Monday, 27th March. I am not going to quote this as an authoritative statement. Rather will I ask the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) whether he is prepared to deny what has been stated in this article. It said, referring to Mr. Dougherty as leader of the Australian Workers Union -
In his phone conversation Mr. Dougherty is known to have argued that there was an inconsistency in Mr. Calwell’s attitude in simultaneously pleading with the A.W.U. to reaffiliate with the A.L.P. in Queensland to lessen the Communist influence in that State while taking no action to curb Mr. Cameron’s anti-A.W.U. activities.
If this is true, Sir, then the Leader of the Opposition - and I will be guided by what he says - despite his furious and frenzied behaviour in the chamber last night, has himself asserted that there is Communist influence in the executive of the Australian Labour Party in Queensland and that he wants the assistance of the five delegates from the Australian Workers Union to that executive to reduce the effect of that influence. I am not asserting that that is true. I am asking the Leader of the Opposition whether he will deny the truth of it.
The second matter I want to raise again concerns the Leader of the Opposition. We remember, Sir, that last night I made certain charges in this chamber. The Leader of the Opposition, despite the fact that he stated that he did not fight out of his division, saw fit to come in directly after I had spoken, to answer the charges I had made and to debate the subject with me. In the heat and fury of his address, at a time when, admittedly, he had lost all selfcontrol, the Leader of the Opposition not only issued a challenge to me to repeat again the invitation to debate the matter of unity tickets in my electorate, but defied me to do so and threatened that he was coming to Queensland in the immediate future. Indeed, he said that he would go there at any time.
He challenged me, Sir, to accept his challenge to debate this issue with him in Queensland. Later, when I suggested by way of interjection that I would be happy to accept the challenge, the Leader of the Opposition said that he would not fight out of his division. I suggest, Sir, that judging by the contribution he made to the debate last night, he was well out of his division then. I ask the Leader of the Opposition whether he is going to welsh on his challenge.
Subsequent to the publication in Brisbane newspapers to-day of comments that I made here last night, seven members of the central executive of the Australian Labour Party in Queensland have denied that they appeared on unity tickets. I have here evidence which shows that they have. Let me first, though, refer to a statement made by Mr. Egerton. I am prepared to table in the Parliament the minutes of the meeting of the Trades and Labour Council at which he made the attempts to which I shall refer. I do not have them with me to-night; I rang Brisbane to get them and I shall table them next week when I return to Canberra. In 1957, Mr. Egerton took over the position of president of the Trades and Labour Council from Mr. Dawson, a well-known Communist. He did that by arrangement with Mr. Dawson and, having done so, he made the following statement, which is recorded in the minutes: -
I always wanted to be the president but would never stand against Mr. Dawson for this position. It is a good thing that we can show such unity and that all schools of thought can be represented on the executive and sub-committees without the necessity of holding a ballot.
This Mr. Egerton is a gentleman who has denied that he ever stood on a unity ticket. Let me go back to 1954. He has stood on this unity ticket every year since 1954, and I shall name the Communists with whom he has stood. On the unity ticket for election to the executive of the Trades and Labour Council, were Dawson, Daddow, Daley - that is Daley of the Hospital Employees Federation, in case anybody wants to know - Hanson, Nicol and A. Macdonald. They are all self-confessed Communists. None of them denies that he is a Communist, and each has stood on unity tickets with all the members of the State executive who have denied that they have stood on unity tickets, with one exception, that of Mr. Whitby, of the Hospital Employees Federation, who did not stand on a unity ticket until 1958, 1959 and 1960.
Members of the executive who denied that they had stood on unity tickets, but who in fact had done so - I propose in a moment to table the relevant document if permission is granted for my doing so - were Nolan, Waters, Milliner, Egerton and Stokoe. The 1954 unity ticket was authorized by V. Daddow. a well-known Communist, of Gordon-parade, Mount Gravatt, and the ticket was printed by the Brisbane City Printery, of Edward-street. The unity ticket nominated as president, Dawson, the well-known Communist, standing against Macpherson, of the meat employees union, an A.L.P. candidate.. For vice-president, there was Jack Egerton, now a member of the inner executive of the central executive of the A.L.P. in Queensland, who stood against T. Hughes of the A.L.P. For the executive, there were Milliner and McCabe as the nominated candidates on a unity ticket against Bushell and Parker.
For the hall committee, there was J. Daley, a Communist, of the Hospital Employees Federation, with F. J. Waters as his running mate. F. G. Nolan stood with a Communist named Lachlan, who had stood as a Communist Party candidate at the 1956 Queensland State elections. Nolan and Lachlan - Nolan being a member of the executive - combined to oppose Bredhauer and Oberthur, both members of the Australian Labour Party. For the library committee, Stokoe stood with Jasch, against Cannon and others of the Australian Labour Party.
I have here photostat copies of the minutes of the annual meeting of the Trades and Labour Council held on 8th July, 1959, in which the name of Mr. Whitby and the others I have mentioned, in association with the Communists, appear. I also have a photostat copy of the minutes of the annual meeting held on 20th July, 1960. They cover all the appointments to the hall committee and the executive of the party for 1959 and 1960. I ask for ler.ve to table the documents so that they may be examined by honorable members.
– Is leave granted?
– Yes, let him table them.
– Leave is granted.
– That is all I wish to say.
– The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) stumbled into this debate to-night and spoke about Homer Bigart, about unity tickets, and about Mr. Chamberlain, Mr. Stout and other members of the Australian Labour Party. Mr. Homer Bigart is a very famous reporter. I have met him. I spoke with him for an hour and a half on two separate occasions. He does not take his stories in shorthand; he takes them in longhand. He interviewed Mr. Chamberlain for two hours and took his story in longhand. I, too, could have complained of some of the things that Mr. Bigart reported, but I let them pass because they were of no consequence. I mention the fact, however, that Lord Casey was interviewed by Mr. Bigart, and that he complained of the misrepresentation to which he was subjected. I did not then hear anybody on the Government side say that Mr. Bigart was the winner of two Pulitzer prices for accurate reporting.
In regard to Mr. Stout, it is true that he took a certain stand in relation to unity tickets, but the decision of the Labour Party is opposed to unity tickets. Mr. Stout, as a loyal member of the Labour Party, accepts and obeys the decisions of the party, and so does Mr. Chamberlain. Mr. Chamberlain never at any time said that the Formosans were expendable. The Treasurer did not have the decency last night to withdraw that remark, nor did he have the decency to do so to-night.
– It was repudiated in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of 7th March, 1961.
– I am grateful to my colleague for that observation.
We now have the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) trying to strike an heroic pose and inviting all and sundry to demean themselves by debating with him. Well, I have no intention of debating with him. I would not mind debating with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), and after I had finished him off I would take on the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen), and then a few more in quick succession, all on the one night. I do not mind doing that, but I could never get down to the honorable member for Lilley until I had exhausted at least the 75th member on the Government side.
– You said you would do so.
– I did not say anything of the sort. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie is as silly as the honorable member for Lilley. I did not say anything of the kind, and there is nothing in any document to prove that I did. The honorable member for Lilley regales the House with a lot of documents, and we have given him permission to table them. Let me tell you where he got them. He got them from the National Civic Council or the Queensland Labour Party. I have in my possession a letter written by Mr. F. E. Doyle, divisional manager of the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen, the union to which the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) belongs. The letter is, in fact, addressed to the honorable member for Blaxland. It reads, in part -
I am promoted to write as a result of the feeling, particularly in the Lilley area - against Mr. Bruce Wight due to the fact that you exposed the source of information he used in the Federal Parliament whilst attacking the Trade Union Movement and the A.L.P. in Queensland.
It is apparent that many of his followers were shocked when this well timed exposure was made by you and there is no doubt that he will not gain any support as a result of his misguided statements and inferences.
The honorable member had a document which he got from the National Civic Council or from the Queensland Labour Party. Here is a copy of it. It purports to show the association between the Communist Party and the Labour Party. The honorable member was forced to admit that he got it from some of these sources. How ridiculous the document is is shown by a simple perusal of it. On the left hand side of the decument - appropriately enough, I suppose, from the honorable member’s point of view - we see some figures concerning the Australian Council of Trade Unions. The document says that at the biennial conference of the A.C.T.U. there were 97 affiliated unions and 420 delegates, of whom 350 were proCommunist and 70 anti-Communist - no
Labourites among them at all. Those 70, of course, would be people sympathetic to the Democratic Labour Party or the Queensland Labour Party and the rest of them would be pro-Communist. This is the document that the honorable member was flaunting as the result of his alleged great research. On the back of the document are shown 52 unions affiliated in Queensland, and the best that the honorable member, or anybody else, can show in respect of unity tickets are perhaps four or five or six examples over -the whole of the 52 unions in Queensland. If you take the 150 unions, approximately, throughout Australia, perhaps ten or twelve examples could be found. But the honorable member, of course, makes the mountain out of the mole hill.
The honorable member for Lilley is always careless with his facts. I have another letter dated 27th March, 1961, from the secretary of the Australian Labour Party in Queensland, Mr. Keeffe, who says -
I have now obtained copies of Hansard In Which the Federal Member for Lilley Mr. .Bruce Wight is alleged to have stated that I made a report on the Federal Division of Kennedy to the Queensland Central Executive and said that we were likely to lose this Seat and also the seat of Brisbane.
I would like to state quite categorically that never at any time have reports of this nature been presented to the Q.C.E. and Mr. Wight’s statement is a complete and utter fabrication.
It is unfortunate that this particular Federal Member has a habit of playing to the gallery and I recall that on one occasion last year when I was in attendance at a Social Function held at Zillmere (Lilley Division), at which Mr. Wight was also present, he stated to me that he had handed copies of the Bill covering the Amendment to the Crimes Act to legal men of Liberal and Labour persuasions, and when the matter came before the House, he would not necessarily be guided by his Party, but would accept the opinions of the two persons to whom he had given copies of the Bill for their opinion.
There is no doubt that untruthful statements made by this person from time to time, usually under privilege of Parliament, have a very bad effect, and I am happy for you to use the information contained herein in any way you deem necessary.
The honorable member is continually talking about Communists. Let me tell you something about his career in Queensland. He knew a man named Bill Banks.
– That is right.
– This man was once the endorsed Liberal candidate for the Nudgee seat in the Queensland Parliament.
– That is right.
– He was endorsed mainly at the instance of the honorable member for Lilley and Mrs. Jenny Hoffman, a great worker for the Liberal Party in Queensland.
– That is right.
– Well, my facts are right up to this point. Mr. Banks, who had been a wharf labourer, approached one of the Zillmere branches of the Australian Labour Party seeking membership, but because he was suspected of either being a Communist or having strong Communist Party leanings, he was not even given an application form to fill in, and so he joined the Liberal Party, and he won the support of the honorable member for Lilley. He failed to win the seat for which he was a candidate and, I understand, soon afterwards left the Liberal Party.
The honorable gentleman himself had ambitions of becoming a member of the Labour Party, because in about 1950 he told the secretary of the Queensland branch of the Australian Labour Party, Mr. Keeffe, and two friends at a social gathering in Brisbane - the honorable member has been challenged on this point, and it is a very sore point - that he would have liked to join the Labour Party because he wanted to be a politician, but the qualifying period of three years’ membership required by the Labour Party before a candidate can be endorsed was too long for him to wait, and so he joined the Liberal Party instead. Mr. Keeffe is prepared to confront the honorable gentleman with at least one of the persons who were present that night.
During one of the divisions last night the honorable member took his seat on one of the Opposition benches, and allegedly flaunted a unity ticket to a number of people in the gallery, saying, “What are you going to do about it? “ The honorable member’s friend, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), protested about breaches of privilege. Of course he told only half the truth. He is as careless in handling facts as is his friend from Lilley. They are two of a kind. If they have a grievance against people in the gallery, let them bring the matter before the Privileges Committee, and we will have a complete investigation carried out.
If the honorable member for Lilley will meet Mr. Keeffe in Queensland or anywhere where he can be challenged on any of these statements which I have made, we shall be happy to hear the result. But in this place he counts for nothing, and as far as debating with him is concerned, I treat his effusions with contempt, and I am sorry for the electorate that has to suffer him.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. lt is quite untrue to suggest that I ever at any time had any ideas of joining the Labour Party. I did not even know that it was necessary to have three years’ membership - I forget whether the Leader of the Opposition referred to membership of a trade union or of the Labour Party - before one could be endorsed as a candidate for a parliamentary seat. That is something I did not know, and it shows how untrue the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition is. I did support Mr. Banks, who has never had any association with the Communist Party. Mr. Banks is still a member of the Liberal Party. The statements that have been made by thi: honorable member I deny. They are untrue, and I pledge my word that this is so.
– I will not detain the House very long. Perhaps I can get a little assistance from my friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). J did not have the good fortune to be present in this House during the debate last night on the motion to adjourn the House, and 1 am. therefore relying entirely upon “ Hansard “ for an account of what occurred in that debate. The honorable member is reported to have said -
The Labour Party does not believe in unity tickets, and you will find that every member of this Parliament who is a Labour member, every member of the federal conference of the Labour Party which is meeting in Canberra, and for whose benefit this mid-night performance - this command performance - is put on, will state the same. He will state that he is against unity tickets.
I simply ask my honorable friend whether this is a correct report of what he said in the
House last night, because, according io “ Hansard “, he said that every member of the federal conference of the Labour Party would state that he was against unity tickets. I ask the Deputy Leader whether that is a correct report of what he said in the House last night.
– The “ Hansard “ report is correct, and so is the statement I made.
.Tonight the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) alleged that Mr. Stout, a much respected member of the Australian Labour Party, its federal president, and the secretary of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council, had stated that he gave his second preference to Communist candidates. Does the Treasurer possess so little intelligence, and credit the Australian elector with so little intelligence, that he is endeavouring to convey to the Australian electors that a second preference of any Labour candidate is an effective vote? The Treasurer, as an old political campaigner, knows full well that it does not matter a tinker’s curse to whom any Labour candidate’s votes are allocated, because almost without exception either the Labour or the Liberal candidate heads the poll and his second preference votes are never distributed. Does the Treasurer think that the Australian electors are so childish as to believe there is any legitimate point in the statement he made in the House to-night? Why does he not grow up?
The next thing I want to ask the Treasurer is why, if he really believes it is an evil thing for a Labour man to cast an ineffective number two preference vote to a Communist candidate, he does not do his duty as the number two Liberal member of the Cabinet by forthwith amending the Commonwealth Electoral Act to abolish preferential voting. That would prevent Mr. Stout or anybody else from allocating a preference vote. The onus is on you, Mr. Treasurer. What a lot of drivel you talk! Now let us have a look at the unity ticket argument. What are the facts about this unity ticket allegation, argument, disputation and discussion? After all, this concerns the main militant trade unions in Australia - the unions that are most articulate in their advocacy of better conditions for the workers of this country. The rank and file members of those unions have a most intimate knowledge of all the officeseekers in their organizations. The Waterside Workers Federation is an outstanding example. The arbitration court awards of that union give it the right to hold periodical stop work meetings and these meetings have rank and file attendances unequalled at any other union gatherings in Australia. Because of this the members of the Waterside Workers Federation know exactly who is who and what is what. When a ballot takes place for the election of officials, members of the Waterside Workers Federation - the same may be said of the Australian Railways Union - have a wide knowledge of the candidates offering. They know to a man who they are, what their record is, what their political colour is, and what their ambitions are. It does not really matter whether some group issues an Australian Labour Party ticket, a composite unity ticket, a D.L.P. ticket or any other old ticket. Every rank and file unionist is empowered under the rules of his union to drop into the ballot-box a ballot-paper voting for the candidate of his choice. He can do that just as an elector at an ordinary election is entitled to drop into the ballot-box a ballot-paper voting for the candidate of his choice. He can completely ignore any political, religious or industrial faction within his union. When honorable members opposite mouth all this drivel about unity tickets they are reflecting on the industrial laws and political consciences of the unions of Australia.
It is, in the main, to the militancy of the labouring and unskilled unions that the skilled and white-collar workers of Australia owe more than most honorable members on the Government side of this House have the intelligence to realize. After all, the skilled workers of Australia, the artisans, the salaried officers and all the rest of them owe to the Waterside Workers Federation, the Australian Railways Union, and the Australian Workers Union some debt of gratitude. It is because of their militancy that most industrial awards have been obtained. The conditions of work and rates of pay of bank clerks, bank managers, skilled engineers, town clerks and all the rest of them are based fundamentally on the awards of the militant industrial organizations of this country - the unity ticket unions. The skilled workers should be grateful to these people for the conditions they enjoy and the wages and salaries they receive.
Apparently Government supporters are so stupid that they believe that by this shadow-sparring and this appeal to ignorant and thoughtless people they can cover up their own incompetence and their inability to deal with commercial profiteers, racketeers and exploiters who to-day make it so difficult for young people to launch out and earn a decent living.
– There have been strange contradictions in what has been said by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) this evening. The Leader of the Opposition, in a speech that is perhaps unparalleled in this Parliament, made a personal attack on the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight). He devoted the whole of his speech to a complete attack on a back-bencher in this Parliament. No matter how bitter or how strong attacks made by the honorable member for Lilley in this Parliament may be, he has never attacked any one on a personal basis. He has always based his criticism on a matter of principle and on a matter in which he believes. The Leader of the Opposition made one of the worst personal attacks that has ever been heard in this Parliament. This attitude is strange, because the Leader of the Opposition said that he could not be bothered to debate with the honorable member matters which were of vital importance to the future of this country. The Leader of the Opposition claimed that the honorable member for Lilley was beneath his weight. Although this is in the “ Hansard “ report of the proceedings last night, the Leader of the Opposition denied that he had challenged the honorable member for Lilley to debate these matters. He withdrew his own challenge and refused a challenge offered by the honorable member for Lilley, clearly not being game to take up that challenge, as was another Labour member a while ago. If honorable members do not believe that the challenge was made, I refer them to page 776 of “ Hansard “ for last night. There the Leader of the Opposition is reported as having said -
The honorable gentleman–
That is my friend, the honorable member for Lilley - has not challenged anybody to repeat the performance in his electorate; he is sorry it ever happened.I shall be in Queensland. I will come at any time. I am never afraid to come . . .
But now apparently he will not come.
– Finish the sentence.
– The honorable gentleman will have an opportunity, if he wishes, to speak later. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) read the report of a section of a speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The Deputy Leader then rose and agreed that what he had said was true. On the admission of the Leader of the Opposition to-night, what the Deputy Leader said was not true. The first speaker on the adjournment motion to-night was the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). In his speech, the Treasurer quite clearly said that in recent arguments in Canberra Mr. Stout, the president of the Labour Party, had argued in favour of unity tickets. The Leader of the Opposition said in his speech that it is true that Mr. Stout had taken a certain attitude in regard to this matter, but that Mr. Stout is a good Labour man and abides by the decisions of his party. I did not write down his exact words, but that was clearly the sense of what he said, as honorable members who heard him will agree. That statement of the Leader of the Opposition is a clear admission by him that Mr. Stout argued in favour of unity tickets, and it clearly contradicts the statement made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, which the Deputy Leader said was true when he answered the honorable member for Mackellar.
.- As one of the newest members of the House. I find it rather sickening to hear members on the Government side of the House, particularly the honorable members for Lilley (Mr. Wight), Griffith (Mr. Chresby), Moreton (Mr. Killen) and Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser), frequently indulging in gutter politics in an effort to gain some political advantage by accusing the Austra lian Labour Party of nefarious and corrupt association with the Communist Party of Australia. The Labour Party has never changed its name since its inception and it has not diverted from its fundamental principles. If some of the ideals of the Communist Party are similar to the ideals of my party, that is a matter for its members.
I claim to have always had an open mind. What I have read and observed of the achievements of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in recent years has led me to believe that they have brought admiration from many millions of people throughout the world. Lord Montgomery is now producing a book dealing with the world’s greatest leaders. He names Moses, Cromwell, Chou En-lai and Khrushchev. If it is good enough for Lord Montgomery, who was Britain’s foremost soldier, to include in his book the name of Khrushchev as one of the greatest leaders of the world, I think there must be a lot of good in the Russian leader.
– What did he say about Menzies?
– He did not give him a ratin g. 1 have read recently that the Russian Government has reduced its armed forces by 2,000,000, men, and it recently reduced its defence budget while Australia increased its defence budget by approximately £4,000,000.
– Where do you stand on the figures?
– I stand on the side of sincerity, honesty, truth and principle, and you donot. I read in a newspaper to-day that the Russian Government intends to release Gary Powers, the spy pilot, in the next few months. Russia released the two survivors of the RB47 aeroplane, which was shot down after intruding into Soviet airspace in the Barents Sea.
– It was notintruding.
– It was intruding. Russia released those two airmen from the Soviet Union. I recently met a Russian poet, who impressed me sincerely. He said that his country does not want war. He said, “ We lost 6,000,000 servicemen in the last world war and 20,000,000 people altogether. Our hearts are open and our pockets are empty. This is proof to the world that we donot want war.” He said also, “ The dew from our tears is still damp and our hearts ar. still Weeding after what happened during the last war between 1939 and 1945 “. But what does this Government do? It gives shelter to a Nazi war criminal. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), a proclaimed legal genius, has allowed a mass murderer named Viks to remain in Aus tralia because, he said, there is no extradition treaty. There was no indictment, either, to fit John Somerville Smith, but the Attorney-General soon found one and commenced a successful prosecution. I admire him for finding the ways and means te bring Somerville Smith to justice. I was prepared to testify on behalf of the Crown. Some of the members of the Liberal Party were not game to go into the witness box, because they feared their integrity, character, and background would be subject to crossexamination.
– Speak up a little; we cannot hear you!
– Well, go and clean your ears. I did not think you bathed regularly. Your body is like your tongue; it is unclean.
The allegation that the Australian Labour Party is allied to the Communist Party it completely false. If honorable member opposite who launch these filthy attacks were able to gauge public opinion correctly, they would find that this is doing them more harm than good. The Government hai committed the Australian taxpayer, I am told, to an expenditure of approximate! £30,000,000 for the purchase from France of Mirage jet fighters, which will be delivered here in 1964. The latest achievement of Russia in putting a man into space has made the Mirage fighter obsolete, i is time that the Government made a sincere move towards world peace. I think that the interests of the Australian people would b; served if the Government sent a cable to thy Russian Premier congratulating him on successfully sending a ma-, into space.
I want to refer again to the case of Viks the Nazi war criminal who is being sheltered by this Government. Only a few months ago, a man named Bradley committed a most atrocious and wicked crime in this country and then left, supposed’ on his way to England. If Bradley had gone behond the iron curtain, every one in Australia would have been screeching from the rooftops for the iron curtain country in which he was sheltering to hand him over to us. I say that sincerely. Had Bradley not been brought to justice, tho expense of investigating the crime would have mounted year after year, and the cost to the New South Wales taxpayers would have been tremendous.
– What about unity tickets?
– I am talking about your attitude towards Russia. I am giving facts. Honorable members opposite may claim that they hate Russia to-day, but they will not hate her in the future. Russia is prepared to aid Western countries, such as Pakistan, in their search for oil. Let me quote from the “ New Times “ in which the following report appears: -
Is Pakistan rich in oil? Eight Western companies have long been exploring for it but are still unable to answer the question that agitates the minds of her people. And yet, Pakistan lies in the oil-bearing zone and has plenty of natural gas, the concomitant of oil.
Desirous of helping Pakistan solve this urgent problem, the Soviet Union responded favourably to her request for assistance. Under the agreement signed on March 4, the Soviet Union will help Pakistan to explore for oil, grant her a credit and send specialists and the necessary equipment.
The conclusion of the agreement was welcomed in Pakistan. The weekly “ Sunday Post “ stresses that the Soviet Union does not lay claim to any Pakistani oil, but merely wishes to help the country to find it. If the oil is found, it continues, it will belong 100 per cent, to Pakistan. The Karachi “ Morning News “ hopes this first agreement will pave the way to broader economic co-operation between the two countries.
And here we could put a stop to the story if it weren’t for one circumstance. The Edinburgh “ Scotsman “ (Mar. 16) writes that “ in Seato military circles polite pressure was put on Pakistan not to sign the pact.” Why this gross interference? The “ Scotsman “ does not give a direct answer, but its comment implies that behind the “ Seato military circles “ stand the Western oil monopolies. “ Every Pakistani knows,” the journal adds, “ that the Russians found oil in India, where the Western companies had not.” And so, the view popularly held in Pakistan is that these “ companies have faulted deliberately “ in India to keep the market for their expensive oil products.
The United Nations has been endeavouring for fourteen years to obtain peace in the world.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.I will not dwell on the speech of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) because I am sure that his remarks must have been a very great blow to a great many of his colleagues. I shall leave him to their tender mercies, trusting that they will quieten him and see that he does not embarrass them again in the future.
A great deal has been said about the Australian Labour Party and its attitude towards communism. A claim made by a member of the party during a debate in Brisbane recently with the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) was that every member of the Labour Party pledged that he was not a member of the Communist Party. The Labour Party claims that that pledge is a guarantee that there are no Communists within the Labour Party. Although it may be true that members of the Labour Party sign pledges stating that they are not members of the Communist Party, there is nothing in those pledges to prevent the persons who sign them from espousing and supporting Communist philosophy. That is a completely different matter. That is something that the Labour Party has never been able to overcome.
On 22nd March last, during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House, I made a statement in which I claimed that the former Leader of the Labour Party, Dr. Evatt, had endeavoured to turn Australia into a republic. I referred to the Statute of Westminster. When I resumed my seat the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) received the call and said -
I know the honorable gentleman’s great interest in legal matters -
– I rise to order. Is it a fact that under the Standing Orders no reflection may be cast on members of the judiciary?
– Order! The honorable member will not be in order if he reflects on any member of the judiciary.
– I was not reflecting on a member of the judiciary. I was merely citing historical facts. In his speech on 22nd March last, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said -
I know the honorable gentleman’s great interest in legal matters, but I must say with all respect to him that T think his understanding of that statute-
That is, the Statute of Westminster - is astray…..
To prove his point the Deputy Leader of the Opposition proceeded to refer to sections 8 and 9 of the statute. To-night I wish to direct the attention of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to a work entitled “The King and His Dominion Governors “. That is an authority on constitutional law, written in 1936 by the then Mr. Justice Evatt of the High Court of Australia. On page 295, Mr. Justice Evatt said -
Whatever political justification there was for the action taken, in fact the Legislature of Newfoundland surrendered powers which, according to ordinary notions of modern constitutional practice in political democracies, belonged to the citizens of that State. This illustrates again the special, and perhaps a dangerous feature of the Statute of Westminster which I refer to elsewhere.
On page 298, Mr. Justice Evatt said - lt will therefore have to be considered by the Dominion peoples-
In this document he refers to Australia as a dominion - whether special safeguards are not required to prevent a complacent Parliament from surrendering constitutional powers by the method permitted by sec. 4 of the Statute of Westminster and without the specific consent or authority of the Dominion people concerned.
The South Australian Attorney-General at that time said -
The effect of the adoption of the Statute of Westminster by the Commonwealth Parliament is to give that Parliament the legal right to secede from the Empire, and to become legally independent of His Majesty the King and the British Parliament, by taking the appropriate legislative steps without any necessity to have the concurrence of any State Parliament, and without any State Parliament which disagrees.
The Statute of Westminster was the beginning of the end of the British Empire.
The following report appeared in the daily press of 2nd November, 1948 -
Replying to a question at a Bristol meeting . . Sir Stafford Cripps said he adhered to a statement he made in 193S that it was essential to socialism that the British Empire should be liquidated. “ That is what we have done in the case of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon,” he added.
In 1933, Sir Stafford Cripps wrote a preface to a book entitled, “ Problems of a Socialist Government “. He also wrote an article in that book entitled. “ Can Socialism Come by Constitutional Means? “ I am referring to these matters in order to demonstrate that the intention was to ratify the Statute of Westminster and rush through a referendum in order to force the States to surrender certain powers to the Commonwealth because the requisite powers for the introduction of complete socialism in Australia rest within the several States, not within the Commonwealth Constitution. Once Labour gets the powers into the Constitution, it could cut the ties and become a republic without consulting the people. The article by Sir Stafford Cripps entitled “ Can Socialism Come by Constitutional Means? “ shows the line that was being taken by the Labour Party in the United Kingdom. And Dr. Evatt, who was at the time Deputy Leader of the Australian Labour Party in this Parliament, was trying to follow out the principles laid down by the British Labour Party. Those principles were enunciated by Sir Stafford Cripps in these terms -
Tt is of no use in this examination to minimize the difficulties with which such a change is surrounded. In the past we have been accustomed to see the conflict between Party and Party fought out with varying degrees of bitterness and intensity. In these major political battles the fight has ranged around specific topics of apparent importance . but always upon the understanding that, whatever Party succeeded, the fundamental capitalist structure of society would be preserved. The Labour Party is not now concerned so much with some particular political orientation of capitalist society as with the change from capitalism to socialism. Continuity of policy - even in fundamentals - can find no place in a socialist programme. lt is this complete severance with all traditional theories of government, this determination lo seize power from the ruling class and transfer il as a whole that differentiates the present political struggle from all those that have gone before.
In this article, Sir Stafford Cripps referred also to the intentions of the government of which he was a member. It was obvious that Dr. Evatt, who, as I have said, was at the time Deputy Leader of the Australian Labour Party in this Parliament, was trying to follow the same principles. The account of what the Labour Government in the United Kingdom wanted to do, as given at page 43 of this book, was as follows: -
The Government’s first step will be to call Parliament together at the earliest moment and place before it an Emergency Powers Bill to be passed through all its stages in one day. This Bill will be wide enough in its terms to allow all that will be immediately necessary to be done by ministerial orders.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Speaker, I wish to take only one-
Motion (by Mr. Downer) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.43 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
What are the (a) types, (b) quantities and (c) values of imported goods in bond upon which customs duties have not been paid?
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answer to the honorable member’s question: -
For my department to undertake such an extensive task as suggested would entail considerable time as well as expense, since it would amount to taking stock in every bond in Australia. However, I can advise that goods going into bond increased considerably during the first few months of this year without a corresponding increase in withdrawals from bond. The situation during March was that the quantities of goods going into bond have declined as compared with the previous two months, while the quantities leaving bond have increased slightly. The type of goods held in bond stores during February and March were tobacco, petroleum, machinery, alcoholic spirits, metals and metal manufactures, electrical appliances, textiles and paper pulp.
y asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Native Members of the Forces.
m asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Questions 1, 2 and 3. - (a) Rates of Pay for native soldiers notified in “ Gazette “ of 12th January, 1961. - The revised pay scales notified on 12th January, 1961, were originated by my department. A departmental committee of review was set up and met in Port Moresby during December, 1959, to examine a number of aspects of Army native service, including rates of pay. As a result of the committee’s report, my department submitted recommendations concerning the pay aspects to the Department of the Treasury on 28th July, 1960. The recommendations entailed not only adjustments to pay rates but a substantial change in the pay structure itself and in the qualifying conditions for the various trade and military skills. This necessitated a further examination of the recommendations by officers of the Departments of the Treasury, Territories and my department before departmental agreement was reached. The new pay scales were accepted by the Government on 6th October, 1960, to operate retrospectively from 1st July, 1960. The preparation of a statutory rule to give effect to the variations in pay and conditions presented unexpected difficulties, however, which required further consultation between the officers of the departments concerned to ensure that the Government’s intentions were correctly promulgated. The necessary statutory rule was referred to the Attorney-General’s Department on 13th December, 1960. It was returned to my department on 4th January, 1961.
Rates of Pay for native soldiers notified in “ Gazette “ of 20th February, 1961.- As the result of an agreement between employers and employees, the wages of natives employed in private enterprise in the Territory were increased from 2nd January, 1961. This necessitated a comprehensive review of the rates of pay and related conditions of natives employed by the Papua-New Guinea Administration. Pending the completion of such a review approval was given for an interim adjustment in the rates of pay of native administration servants and native members of the Royal Papuan and New Guinea Constabulary effective from 2nd January, 1961. To provide similar adjustments for the native soldiers of the Pacific Islands Regiment, officers of my department, in conjunction with officers of the Treasury and the Department of Territories, carried out a preliminary review of the native soldiers’ pay rates during the period 23rd-27th January, 1961. My department’s recommendations were forwarded to the Treasury on 27th January, 1961. The Government’s concurrence was received on 7th February, 1961, the new rates to operate from 2nd January, 1961. A necessary statutory rule was forwarded to the Attorney-General’s Department on 6th February, 1961, and was returned to my department on 9th February, 1961.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 April 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1961/19610413_reps_23_hor30/>.